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

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10 July 2008

’This is like apartheid’: ANC veterans visit West Bank
Donald Macintyre in Hebron, The Independent 7/11/2008
Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle said last night that the segregation endured by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories was in some respects worse than that imposed on the black majority under white rule in South Africa. Members of a 23-strong human-rights team of prominent South Africans cited the impact of the Israeli military’s separation barrier, checkpoints, the permit system for Palestinian travel, and the extent to which Palestinians are barred from using roads in the West Bank. After a five-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories, some delegates expressed shock and dismay at conditions in the Israeli-controlled heart of Hebron. Uniquely among West Bank cities, 800 settlers now live there and segregation has seen the closure of nearly 3,000 Palestinian businesses and housing units.

Israeli troops kill unarmed Palestinian at Gaza border
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/11/2008
GAZA CITY: Israeli troops shot dead an unarmed Palestinian on the border in the Gaza Strip Thursday, the first fatality of a three-week-old truce, prompting retaliatory rocket fire. Troops "identified a suspicious person crossing the fence from Gaza into Israel near Kissufim. The force called on him to stop and fired warning shots but he did not stop and the soldiers fired at him and killed him," an army spokesman said. "When they approached his body they saw he was unarmed," he said, alleging that there had been several attempts by Palestinian militants to plant bombs in the border area. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, claimed that the man, Salim al-Hamedi, was one of its members. "We will respond to this crime soon," it said. Several hours later, two homemade rockets were fired on southern Israel from Gaza, without any initial report of casualties, the army said.

The Israeli army attacks Hebron, demolishes two homes and kidnaps 7 civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
The Israeli army demolished two Palestinian-owned homes and kidnapped seven civilians during separate attacks targeting the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. Israeli forces surrounded two homes that belong to Karamah family located in Hebron city center on Thursday morning. Witnesses said that troops forced the family out then demolished the two homes. Ied Karamah told reporters that the Israeli army sounded his brothers homes and his mother’s. Troops asked the family to leave the homes then opened fire at them, he said. The two homes which house more that 20 people were demolished; in addition Mohamed Karamah was taken by the soldiers to an unknown location. During the attack Ied said that his mom Mirfat sustained bruises and had to be moved to the hospital along with another family member after the soldiers attacked them.

Israel Approves New Homes in East Jerusalem Settlement
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
An Israeli commission has approved the building of 920 new homes in occupied east Jerusalem, the municipality said on Wednesday, in a new blow to shaky peace talks with the Palestinians. " The district commission has approved for construction 920 housing units in Har Homa," a statement said, referring to a neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, known in Arabic as Jabel Abu Ghneim, that has more than 10,000 residents. The Har Homa project is part of a plan to build some 40,000 new homes over the next decade in neighbourhoods in both east and west Jerusalem, that the housing minister approved in June, a ministry official told AFP. Until now specific aspects of this project were unknown. Israel occupied and annexed the eastern half of the city after the 1967 war in a move not recognised by the international community or the Palestinians, who wish to make the Holy City the capital of their future state. A total of 245,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem alongside more than 200,000 Jewish settlers.

Fayyad: Israeli decision to close Nablus mall void
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called on residents of Nablus to reopen their stores in the Nablus Mall. The Israeli army told shop owners this week that the property rights to the Nablus mall will be transferred to Israel as of 15 August. The army said they will imprison anyone who enters the building for 5 years. The mall, they claimed, is being used to fund terrorist activities. Fayyad called the closure of the mall by Israeli soldiers this week invalid, and has affirmed to residents of Nablus that the Palestinian government is committed to compensating all the losses caused by Israeli forces. Speaking in front of the closed mall to a group of civilians on Thursday, Fayyad confirmed that he has been personally following up on the case, as well as that of a number of other institutions that have been closed by Israel this week.

Israeli High Court: Nu’man villagers reside illegally in ancestral homes
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
[Ma’anImages]Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli High Court decided on Wednesday that the "facts on the ground" in Nu’man village, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, are "non-negotiable. " The practical reality of the "facts on the ground," is that the 220 inhabitants of Nu’man have become illegal residents in their homes, and must apply to the Israeli Ministry of Interior to legitimize their presence. As it stands, residents can be arrested for "illegal residency" at any moment. Such arrests, in fact, were what precipitated the villagers’ initial 1993 petition to the Israeli judicial system, according to the human rights organisation Al-Haq. Arrests began shortly after the villagers learned that their homes had been included within the boundaries of the Municipality of Jerusalem, even though Nu’man is in the West Bank, on the east side of the Green Line.

Ramallah: the Israeli army attacks a hospital and damages property
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the central West Bank city of Ramallah reported that the Israeli army attacked and ransacked the Ramallah public hospital on Thursday at dawn and ransacked it. The sources said that soldiers surrounded the hospital then searched the rooms including the ones that had patients inside greating a state of panic among the staff and patients. During the search witnesses said that soldiers destroyed equipment and doors. The Palestinian Minister of Health Fathi Abu Meghali issued a statement on Thursday condemning the Israeli attack, he said that this attack is illegal according all international laws of human rights; he added that this attack is aimed at escalating the situation in the Palestinian areas.

Israeli Troops on Rampage against Nablus Civilian Life
Palestine Media Center, Palestine Monitor 7/9/2008
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided the Palestinian city hall of the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday, confiscating five computers, on the third day of a crackdown on Hamas-affiliated civilian infrastructure during which a 70-shop compound, charities, schools and at least five societies were ordered closed and six mosques raided. Palestinians in the West Bank’s largest city and commercial center defied the IOF orders and were to go on a general business strike to protest the crackdown on Wednesday. The city’s deputy mayor Hafez Shaheen said the IOF troops confiscated five computers from the city hall, raided six mosques in the city and seized five buses belonging to schools close to Hamas. Nablus’ elected mayor, Adli Yaish, is a Hamas politician who has been imprisoned by Israel for the last years.

Ni’lin: dozens injured as army continues its cark down
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
700 people demonstrated in Ni’lin village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah again on Thursday, in defiance of the Israeli army crackdown on protest organized against the illegal wall being built on the village land. Earlier this week, Ni’lin was subjected to a four day siege and curfew, which failed to break the ongoing popular action to stop the construction of the Wall on village land. Clashes started as the villagers converged on the site where the Wall is being built on village land. As villagers approached from all directions, Israeli forces stationed in small groups among the olive trees opened fire with teargas and rubber bullets, before attacking with batons. At least 25 people had to be have been injured, three of them seriously. Among the injured is Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, who has been shot with a rubber bullet in his knee.

Knesset passes stiffer anti-terror bills
Rebecca Anna Stoil, Jerusalem Post 7/9/1908
Three bills seeking to enforce additional punishments on Israeli residents involved in terror attacks passed their preliminary readings on the Knesset floor Wednesday, a week after the deadly tractor attack carried out by an east Jerusalem resident on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road. Arab MKs, however, were less than satisfied with the proposed legislation. The wave of legislation began when a bill, sponsored by Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa’ar, to enable the state to seize property owned by terrorists passed by a sweeping majority of 50 to 13. The bill is designed to provide the state with a system of organized property confiscation, through which the minister of defense would have the power to seize the terrorist’s residence or property and transfer it to the state, which would then have the right to sell or utilize the property.

Israel has not dismantled any section of the Separation Barrier that was nullified by the High Court
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, ReliefWeb 7/9/2008
The Separation Barrier has not been moved in any of the sections that were built and later nullified by the High Court of Justice. The human rights organization B’Tselem published this finding today, 9 July 2008, marking the fourth anniversary of the advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, which held that building the barrier in the West Bank breached international law. The High Court nullified three sections, on grounds that the harm to Palestinians was disproportionate, and ordered the state to move the fence. The state has not yet moved the barrier in any of these sections. The sections that were nullified are as follows: the barrier around the settlement Alfe Menashe, which the High Court nullified almost three years ago, on 15 September 2005; the section running on the land of the villages of ‘Azzun and Nebi Alias, nullified over two years. . .

Most Attacks on Palestinians Go Unpunished: Israeli Group
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
Nine out of 10 investigations into attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank are closed without anyone being indicted, the Israeli Yesh Din human rights group said on Wednesday. It said that of 163 such completed investigations it monitored in recent years, only 13 led to indictments being filed, 149 files were closed without indictments and one file was lost and never investigated. Yesh Din said police investigating a case rarely visited the crime scene, often failed to collect testimony from key witnesses and suspects, and hardly ever carried out lineups of suspects. It said that in the investigation files it had seen alibis presented by suspects were never checked out. Ninety-one files were closed on grounds of "perpetrators unknown," 43 for "lack of evidence," nine for "no criminal culpability," five for unknown reasons and one was closed for "lack of public interest," Yesh Din said.

Israeli forces detain 7 civilians, demolish homes in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Hebron - Ma’an - Seven civilians from Hebron were detained by Israeli troops at dawn on Thursday. The troops also demolished two houses and razed lands in the city, an eyewitness reports. Abdel Salam Karameh, a civilian from Hebron, told Ma’an that a large military force stormed the house of his 39-year-old and 50-year-old brothers Jamal and Mohammad in the Abu Kteileh neighborhood on the western side of Hebron. The forces evacuated 80 people from their homes, shouting orders through loudspeakers, and threatened women and children with weapons as they questioned them. Karameh said that his brothers told the soldiers, “there is nobody at home, you can check yourselves. " The soldiers then brought in a bulldozer and destroyed the front walls of the brothers’ houses, and razed the surrounding land owned by Farid Abu Zeineh.

Israeli army enforced curfew on Kifl Haris and installed roadblocks, preventing villagers from entering or leaving
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/10/2008
Time of incident: Starting at approximately 8 p. m. - Date of incident:July 8th 2008 - Place:Kifl Haris, Salfit district- Witness/es: Villagers, IWPS - Description of Incident: On Tuesday July 8th, at approximately 8 p. m. , IWPS volunteers observed six Israeli military jeeps driving on the local road connecting the villages of Haris and Kifl Haris in the direction of the latter. Five of the vehicles continued directly into the village of Kifl Haris, while one jeep installed a checkpoint on the road, approximately 1 km away from the western entrance into Kifl Haris. The army prevented cars, pedestrians and IWPS volunteers from entering and exiting the village. According to the villagers’ accounts, the soldiers in the jeeps that had entered the village threw sound bombs and tear gas canisters while patrolling through the village and declaring a curfew.

The Israeli army attacks Al Khader village near Bethlehem
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
The Israeli army attacked the village of Al Khader near Bethlehem and then ransacked the home of the mayor, on Thursday morning. Witnesses said that several army jeeps invaded the village the surrounded the house of Ramzi Salah, the mayor of Al Khader, troops searched and ransacked his home then attacked his brothers’ homes. The army left after some time, no kidnappings were reported. The village of Al Khader organizes each Friday a protest at the nearby Israeli settlers road that splits the village from its lands where the army is building the illegal wall. [end]

Israeli forces detained five Palestinians across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces detained five ’wanted’ Palestinians from several cities in the West Bank, at dawn on Thursday. Israeli sources said that the five are from Dura near Hebron and from Nablus. All the detainees were transferred to investigation centers for questioning. [end]

Hamas arrests Gaza rocket squad after two Qassams hit Negev
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/11/2008
Hamas arrested three Palestinians who fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a militant faction said, in the first such detentions since the Islamist group and Israel agreed on a cease-fire last month. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, said Hamas men pursued its members after the attack and "abducted them" in Jabalya refugee camp. "We demand their immediate release," said Abu Qusai, a brigades spokesman. The cease-fire deal calls on Hamas to prevent cross-border rocket fire and attacks from the Gaza Strip and for Israel to halt its raids and ease an economic blockade of the impoverished territory. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said "we stress that all parties should maintain the national agreement that was reached with a consensus.

One killed, three injured, three missing in Rafah tunnel collapse
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - One Palestinian was killed and three others injured when a tunnel collapsed on top of them in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, medical sources announced on Thursday. Another three people are still missing. Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanein, director general of ambulance and emergency services in the Gaza Strip, said that a medical crew had removed the deceased and the three injured from the collapsed tunnel. He said that one of the injured is in a serious condition. It is noteworthy that there are many tunnels at the Egyptian-Palestinian border and many were collapsed and resulted in the death of many traders. A network of tunnels runs underneath the Gaza-Egypt border, near Rafah. The tunnels are used to smuggle goods into the besieged Gaza Strip.

IOA to build 1883 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli controlled municipality of occupied Jerusalem has endorsed plans to build 983 new housing units in Jabal Abu Ghunaim (Har Homa) south of occupied Jerusalem. An Israeli society monitoring settlement activity in occupied Jerusalem reported that the municipality would soon publish its scheme before final endorsement to allow objections. It added that the municipality sanctioned another plan to build 900 housing units north of occupied Jerusalem specifically in Pisgat Ze’ev settlement. Meanwhile, the Israeli information center for human rights B’Tselem said that the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank would annex 60 settlements to the 1948 occupied lands. It added that 11. 9% of the total area of the West Bank would be confiscated at completion of the wall, and noted that 498,000 Palestinians live in those areas in 92 villages.

Abu Shaar slams building of 1800 settlements in Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- PA Awkaf (endowment) minister Dr. Taleb Abu Shaar has strongly condemned on Thursday the Israeli decision of building 1800 new settlement units in the occupied city of Jerusalem, accusing the IOA of distorting Muslim identity of the city. "The Zionist institution had been and still is working for the distortion of the Muslim identity of Jerusalem as evident with the new decision of constructing 1800 new settlement units in the occupied Jerusalem in an unprecedented construction momentum in the city with the full support of the Israeli occupation government", asserted Abu Shaar in a statement he issued in this regard and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC. He also added, "The Israeli occupation’s practices against occupied Jerusalem and the holy Aqsa Mosque became very well known across the world and not only in the Arab and Muslim worlds".

Jerusalem hotel shortage pushes hoteliers to consider Gush Etzion
Irit Rosenblum, Ha’aretz 7/10/2008
Jerusalem tourists are finding it increasingly difficult to find accommodations in the city, leading hoteliers to consider expanding in the nearby [illegal settlement] Gush Etzion bloc. The bloc, which is inside of the West Bank, is nevertheless considered an integral suburb of Jerusalem that Israel will keep in the event it cedes territory to the Palestinians. There are plans under consideration now to expand the 35-room hostel in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion as well as in the nearby ranch of Meshuot Yitzhak. The Kfar Etzion Field School, which conducts tours in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, also plans to by adding a further 25 rooms, at a cost of about $3 million. The Meshuot Yitzhak hostel could cost up to $10 million.

Abu Zuhri: Negotiations provided cover for occupation to continue settlement
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, on Thursday warned the Israeli occupation authority of continuing to build settlements in occupied Jerusalem and its environs. Abu Zuhri, in a statement to the PIC, said that the IOA settlement activity targets judaizing Jerusalem and isolating it from the West Bank. He urged the PA leadership in Ramallah to stop the "harmful" negotiations with the IOA, and called on the Arab and Islamic countries to stand alongside the Palestinian people in face of occupation and its settlement drive. The Israeli controlled municipality of occupied Jerusalem had announced on Wednesday new plans to construct more than 1800 settlement units in the holy city.

Palestinians threaten to halt talks over settlement building
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/11/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Palestinian leaders are threatening to halt peace talks with Israel to protest the continued expansion of settlements in occupied territory, a senior Palestinian figure said on Thursday. The leadership is "studying and considering the possibility of freezing all relations with the Israeli government, including the talks, because the Israeli government is insisting on the policy of building new settlements in Palestinian territory, especially in Jerusalem," Yasser Abed Rabbo told a news conference. "We believe this is not only a violation of the understandings of the Annapolis conference but an attempt by the Israeli government to undermine the process that was stated at the conference," added Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was referring to a US-hosted conference last November in which Israel and the Palestinians agreed to resume peace talks after an eight-year hiatus.

Palestinian Premier Criticizes Israeli Raids
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
The Palestinian prime minister charged Wednesday that Israeli military operations in the West Bank are hindering his administration’s campaign to improve security in the territory. Such operations "undermine grossly our efforts aimed at rebuilding our capacity and re-establishing law and order," Falam Fayyad said at a news conference he held in the West Bank city of Ramallah with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Hours later, Israeli forces fatally shot a wanted Hamas militant trying to escape arrest in Kufr Dan, near the city of Nablus, Army Radio reported. Palestinians said another suspected militant was arrested. The military had no immediate comment. Earlier Wednesday, Israeli troops raided the Nablus city hall, confiscating five computers in what appeared to be part of a crackdown this week on institutions that Israel suspects of having ties to the militant group Hamas. Troops also raided six mosques and seized five buses belonging to schools close to Hamas, said Nablus’ deputy mayor, Hafez Shaheen.

Arab states ask UN to condemn new Israeli settlements
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 7/9/2008
New York_(dpa)_ Just hours after news of Israel’s plans to build another 1,800 homes on occupied West Bank land, Arab states asked the UN Security Council on Wednesday to re-declare Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories illegal and condemn new constructions in East Jerusalem. Libya, a council member and head of the Arab group in the UN, submitted a draft resolution calling on Israel to immediately stop its expansion in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The United States opposed the demand. ’For us, the criteria for an acceptable resolution which can make it to the council, is that it is balanced,’ said US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. , explaining that achievements or setbacks from both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts must be reflected in the draft. Khalilzad urged Arab governments to be patient and work with the council to resolve the Middle East conflict.

Mostafa: Israel is Seeking Reviving Negotiations to Buy Palestinian Gas
Jaffar Sadka, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
The managing director of the Investment Fund, Mohammaed Mostafa, has revealed yesterday that Israel is seeking to revive negotiations to buy Palestinian gas, while the Palestinian side and the British Gas company, the main developer of gas from Gaza’s beaches, are being cautious in making a decision over this issue until they are certain of Israel’s seriousness. In last December, "British Gas" stopped negotiating with Israel and closed their office in Tel Aviv because of the differing positions of both sides regarding prices, the mechanism of supplying the West Bank and Gaza with gas in order to generate energy, and the mechanism of delivering to the Palestinian Authority’s treasury its proceeds from the project. In a meeting with Journalists in Ramallah, Mostafa said: "since negotiations stopped, the Israelis have contacted us more than once asking to restart negotiations. We are carefully listening. "

West Bank: ICRC helps Bedouins facing acute water shortage
International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC, ReliefWeb 7/10/2008
Jerusalem / Tel Aviv (ICRC) – After three successive years of drought and a very cold winter, Bedouin and herder communities in the occupied West Bank are on the brink of an emergency, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned today. Their plight is aggravated by tightened restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli authorities. Israeli settlements, bypass roads, military zones, nature reserves – all are preventing herds from moving and gaining access to free grazing areas and to water, a crucial factor for the livelihood of some 50,000 Bedouins and herders living in the West Bank. The ICRC has started an emergency distribution of water for 1000 people and their 50,000 sheep in the southern district of Massafar Yatta, which is one of the worst-affected areas. "Herders have less and less access to grazing land for their livestock," said Katharina Ritz, head of the ICRC’s mission in Jerusalem.

Poverty among Arab children double Jewish rate - report
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 7/10/2008
A report by charity "Sikkuy" reveals that 65. 7% of Arab children live below the poverty line. Some of the gaps between the Jewish and Arab population in Israel continue to widen, a report by civil rights group Sikkuy - The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israelreveals. According to the report, the average life expectancy among the Jewish population in Israel is four years longer than that of the Arab population. The report also reveals that while the infant mortality rate in the Arab sector is 8. 4 babies per 1,000 births, the rate among the Jewish population is 3. 6 babies per 1,000 births. The Sikkuy reports also claims that 65. 7% of Arab children live below the poverty line, compared with 31. 4% of Jewish children. The Arab population does, however, have an advantage when it comes to home ownership - 93% of Arab citizens own their homes, compared with 70.

Israeli soldiers torture 10-year-old in his home
Report, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section, Electronic Intifada 7/10/2008
A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2. 5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family’s shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault. On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop. Interrogation and abuse in the shop One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, "your father sent us to you to collect his gun. "

IOF troops execute Palestinian resistance fighter in cold blood
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- A special force of the Israeli army executed a Palestinian resistance fighter in Jenin district on Wednesday night in cold blood after wounding him in an ambush, local sources reported. They said that the Israeli occupation forces killed Talal Abed, 32, after injuring and detaining him along with another fighter in Kufur Dan village west of Jenin city. Abed is field commander in the Abu Ammar Brigades, an armed wing that is targeted by the IOF command and the PA security apparatuses in the West Bank. Hebrew sources claimed that Abed died while en route to hospital after he was hit with a bullet in the neck by the soldiers of the special unit that intercepted his vehicle. They added that Abed tried to flee the scene but was shot along with Mohammed Abed, 25, another fighter. The local sources said that the special unit members used a civilian car that chased, fired at and killed Abed who was riding in a car along with Mohammed.

Student Prisoners: The Right to Education Violated by Arrests
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/10/2008
Fadi Hamad, the president of Student Council at Birzeit University, was arrested by the Israeli military on November 25th, 2007. Fadi was charged with "holding a position of responsibility" and for "belonging to an illegal organization", as well as with breaking probation from a previous arrest. The probation prevented Fadi from working with student groups for the next three years. Fadi was arrested in December of 2004, and spent ten months in prison because of his membership in the Islamic Bloc and for holding the office of president of the Student Council. According to Birzeit University’s Right to Education Campaign, Fadi "represented the interests of some 7,000 students before the university administration, and was responsible for welfare programmes for students, providing them with sports and cultural activities as well as help with registration, paying fees, [and] their studies.

Palestinian Minister of Health condemns Ramallah hospital attack
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Palestinian Minister of Health Fathi Abu Moghli strongly condemned the Israeli storming of Ramallah governmental hospital at 2am Wednesday night. In a statement made Thursday, Abu Moghli also condemned the searching of the hospital’s medical stores as well as the invasion into the intensive care unit and destruction of the door sealing the room filled with heart surgery equipment. “These practices are barbaric and cannot be justified under any circumstances,” said Abu Moghli, referring to a number of similar actions which, he continued, "did nothing but disrupt work in hospitals, and frighten healthcare workers and their patients, especially children. " Abu Moghli aimed his statement at Israeli Minister of Health Yaacov Ben Yizri, to whom he declared that such actions undermine the security and stability in PA areas, and violate the simplest humanitarian and legal rights defined by the Geneva Convention.

Nonviolent resistance continues in western Ramallah, 16 injured
Palestine News Network 7/10/2008
Ramallah / PNN - Israeli forces injured 16 people, including eight foreigners in western Ramallah’s Nil’in Village on Thursday. Campaign Coordinator of the Committee against the Wall in Western Ramallah, Salah Al Khawaja, told PNN that attacks by Israeli forces in the town are ongoing following a demonstration by hundreds of Palestinians and foreign supporters against the Wall. Nil’in was held under Israeli siege for four days last week. Israeli forces returned, besieging the village once again when nonviolent protests against the Wall resumed yesterday. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad travelled to Nil’in this afternoon to speak with the Council about the situation. Yesterday, 9 July, marked the four year anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion to dismantle the Wall. The recommendation, which called for compensation for Palestinians affected by the Wall, has been virtually ignored by the international community.

Four years after the ICJ decision: Palestinians don’t forget and don’t surrender
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/10/2008
In the days of the fourth anniversary of the decision of the International Court of Justice, the popular committees against the Apartheid Wall across the West Bank mobilized, escalating resistance against the Wall. Protests called for the Wall to be torn down and the international community and Palestinian leadership to finally fulfil their duties to ensure the implementation of Palestinian rights. On Wednesday, July 9, eight demonstrations were held from Jenin to south Bethlehem district. In Beit Hanina around 100 people gathered in the center of the village and marched to road number 443 - the apartheid road that divides Beit Hanina in two isolated parts. In front of the road, the Occupation forces deployed to defend the free movement of the settlers. These soldiers declared the entire area a military closed zone. However, the protestors defied the orders and continued their protest, chanting slogans and waving flags.

Leftists, Border Guard officer hurt during anti-fence rally in Naalin
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Peace activists, security forces clash during demonstration at Palestinian village against continued construction of West Bank barrier; protestors say excessive force used to disperse them, Israeli security personnel say attacked with stones -At least 10 demonstrators, including five Israelis, were injured Thursday afternoon during a rally held in the town of Naalin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, in protest of the construction of the West Bank security fence in the area. According to the organizers, security forces used excessive force and tear gas to disperse the 400 Israeli left-wing activists, Palestinians and foreign nationals who arrived at the Palestinian village, located north of Ramallah. The IDF, which imposed a

48 hours in Ni’lin - local solidarity breaks the siege
Stop The Wall 7/9/2008
Latest News, Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign,The Occupation curfew on Ni’lin was broken on Monday evening, when people from nearby areas marched on the village. The curfew, which had been in effect since Friday, confined people to their homes and totally blocked the movement of goods and people in and out of the village. On Monday evening, nearly 400 people from Budrus, Shuqba, Qibbiya, Deir Qaddis, Bil’in, Saffa and Beit Ur made their way to Ni’lin in an effort to break the four day long curfew and siege on the village. The marchers were met by the residents of Ni’lin, who left their homes in defiance of the curfew to confront Occupation military forces. Violent clashes ensued, with soldiers firing live rounds at villagers and injuring three. 26-year-old Nil’lin resident Jamil Al-Far Srur, was critically wounded when he was hit in the stomach.

Israeli forces block South African delegation including a Justice of the Supreme Court, in WB
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Palestine News Network 7/10/2008
Jeruslaem - Today, Wednesday, July 09, 2008, the Israel Police blocked a tour of The South African Human Rights Delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The police declared the delegation’s visit to the city as an "illegal gathering", and arrested the three Israeli guides accompanying the delegation. As of 2:30 pm, the 25 members of the delegation were camped opposite the Hebron police station, demanding that the police releases the three detainees. Among the South Africans present at the event are a Justice of the South African Supreme Court, several members of Parliament, senior attorneys, journalists, and human rights activists.

Fatah calls for crisis unit to tackle Israeli crackdown in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - The Fatah movement in Nablus has called on the Ramallah-based government to set up a crisis unit to tackle the Israeli crackdown on so-called Hamas institutions in the West Bank city. For four consecutive days Israeli troops have targeted institutions, such as media outlets, medical centres, governmental centres and schools in the city, claiming they are Hamas-affiliated and are "funding terrorist activities. "A shopping mall in the city centre, containing 50 shops and businesses has also been closed down a the Israeli authorities claim head of the mall’s administration, Adli Yayish, is affiliated to Hamas. Fatah issued a statement, condemning the ongoing Israeli attacks in Nablus, saying they were " an attempt to tear down the infrastructure of life in Nablus. " They called on the international community to take a stand against such Israeli practices.

Fatah: Israeli crackdown on Hamas charities emboldens Islamist group
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Members of Abbas’ faction call campaign against Palestinian charities ’war crime’, claim IDF oblivious to difference between terror-sponsoring groups, bona fide foundations. Hamas vows to find ways to support needy -Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week declared a crackdown on 36 Palestinian charities Israel claims are funneling money toHamas. On Wednesday an IDF force raided the offices of a charities in the West Bank city of Nablus, confiscated documents an ordered its closure for a period of two years. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in protest, claiming the closure of the foundations was hurting the needy. The Israeli army has recently raided 10 charity foundations in Nablus and Ramallah. On Tuesday Israel ordered the closure of Nablus’ only shopping mall, saying the company that runs it is linked to Hamas.

Nafha Association ordered to close; calls measure arbitrary and unjust
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - "Yes for having strong and effective Palestinian civil society organizations…No to the Israeli arbitrary unjust measures," says a press release issued by the Nafha Association for Defending Human and Prisoners Rights. The Nablus Association was one of a number that were ordered shut down this week, during raids and property confiscation carried out by Israeli forces. The Nafha offices were attacked at dawn on Tuesday, and according to the press release, all property was confiscated. In addition, said the statement, the army has "issued a military order signed by the commander of the Israeli army forces for the West Bank, imposing the closure of the society for two years, based on the accusation that the association promotes terrorism. " The Nafha Association maintains that it is a "civil institution that provides legal, social. . .

Israeli crackdown on ''Hamas'' institutions in Nablus continues
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Israeli army continued its campaign against alleged Hamas-affiliated institutions in Nablus for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, despite local and international criticism. Health and media associations were targeted, with Israeli forces closing the headquarters of the Hamas-affiliated Al-Afaq Television Station in Nablus, confiscating equipment. Sajed Abu Salha the 21-year-old security guard at the building said that Israeli soldiers raided the building and its mosque at 1am. Palestinian security sources said that more than 50 Israeli military vehicles stormed the city in the early hours of Thursday morning, breaking into the Ar-Rahma clinic in Fesal Street and the At-Tadamon clinic in the Rafidya neighbourhood, confiscating computers and medical equipment from the clinics.

The Israeli army attacks local NGOs in Nablus and kidnaps two civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli army attacked the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, during the attacks Israeli troops kidnapped two civilians and ransacked local NGO’s. On Thursday at dawn Israeli troops invaded the village of Akraba, located near Nablus searched homes then kidnapped Waled Diriah, 37, and Mohamed Zuhri, 25. Later on Thursday morning the Israeli army stormed Nablus city and searched a number of local NGOs that provide charitable aid to the Nablus area. Local sources said that in addition the army attacked the Islamic Bank in the city and took computers and documents; in addition troops took a school bus that belongs to the Islamic school in the city.

Israeli forces detained two Palestinians near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Israeli forces detained two Palestinians after storming their houses in the village of Aqraba, south of Nablus, at dawn on Thursday. Local sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that the Israeli forces detained 37-year-old Walid Diriyah and 25-year-old Mohamed Wagih. They were taken to an unknown destination. [end]

Closing West Bank charities dirty war against Hamas: Haneya
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 7/9/2008
GAZA, Jul 09, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Deposed Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas Ismail Haneya said on Wednesday that the Israeli closure of charity organizations in the West Bank is ’a dirty war against Hamas movement. ’ Haneya also slammed the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank for joining the ’war with Israel against the charity organizations in the West Bank due to internal hatred. ’ He accused both Israel and the PNA in the West Bank of closing 137 charities, adding that the PNA closed 100 charity organizations and Israel was responsible for the rest. ’Closing charity organizations that serve the Palestinian society in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Ramallah is a real crime against humanity,’ said Haneya, who called to reopen the organizations ’which serve poor families.

Israel denies Gaza journalist claims of abuse at W. Bank crossing
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/11/2008
A Gaza journalist and the government offered sharply conflicting versions Thursday of what happened to him at an Israeli border crossing twoweeks earlier. Mohammed Omer said he was forced to strip naked at gunpoint during questioning and then was not given medical attention for more than an hour after he collapsed. Israeli officials denied he was threatened with a gun and insisted he was treated fairly at all times. Omer’s allegations about his treatment at the Allenby Bridge crossing also made diplomatic ripples. The Dutch Foreign Ministry said the Israeli government had been asked for clarifications because Dutch diplomats served as Omer’s escort for part of his journey. Palestinians have long complained about rough treatment at Allenby. However, Omer’s allegation of being forced to strip naked appeared unusual.

Two Canadian firms sued over West Bank colonies
Hossam Ezzedine, Daily Star 7/11/2008
Agence France Presse OCCUPIED RAMALLAH, West Bank: Palestinian villagers are suing two Canadian companies, accusing them in a Quebec court of war crimes for building a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The writ, made public on Thursday, claims Green Park International and Green Mount International are building and selling homes in the Israeli settlement of Modiin Illit on land that belongs to the Palestinian village of Bilin. This, the village council argued, is a violation of international war-crimes laws that prohibit an occupying power from transferring civilians into the land it occupied. The petition was filed with the Superior Court in Montreal on Wednesday, according to Shaawan al-Jabbari, who heads the Al-Haq human-rights legal center which has been assisting the Bilin villagers.

West Bank village sues corporations over settlement construction
Press release, Al-Haq, Electronic Intifada 7/10/2008
In a continuation of their struggle for justice in the face of unlawful appropriation of their land, the people of Bil’in village yesterday commenced legal proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec against Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc. The defendants are Canadian corporations registered in the Province of Quebec that have been involved in constructing, marketing and selling residential units in the illegal Jewish-Israeli settlement of Modi’in Illit in the occupied West Bank, on the land of the village of Bil’in. The land in question has been appropriated by the Israeli military authorities in violation of the laws of occupation. The defendants, on their own behalf and as de facto agents of the State of Israel, are constructing residential units on this Palestinian land for the purpose of housing Israeli settlers.

Companies involved in settlement building being taken to court
Palestine News Network 7/10/2008
Ramallah / Al-Haq - In a continuation of their struggle for justice in the face of unlawful appropriation of their land, the people of Bil’in village yesterday commenced legal proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec against Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc. The defendants are Canadian corporations registered in the Province of Quebec who have been involved in constructing, marketing and selling residential units in the illegal Jewish-Israeli settlement of Modi’in Illit in the occupied West Bank, on the land of the village of Bil’in. The land in question has been appropriated by the Israeli military authorities in violation of the laws of occupation. The defendants, on their own behalf and as de facto agents of the State of Israel, are constructing residential units on this Palestinian land for the purpose of housing Israeli settlers.

Bil’in residents to sue Canadian construction companies
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Residents of West Bank village demand Canadian court order construction companies to halt building in Jewish settlement of Modi’in Illit. ’Companies part of occupation that seizes our lands and hands them over to the settlers,’ Palestinian says -Residents of the Palestinian village of Bil’in are expected to file a lawsuit Thursday against Canadian building companies involved in the construction of a Jewish neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Modiin Illit. According to the claimants, the neighborhood is being built on Bili’n lands. The lawsuit states that the Canadian construction companies are in violation of Canadian law, which has adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The statute determined that war crimes include a nation transferring its civilian population into territory that it has occupied as a result of war.

Palestinian United Call for BDS against Israel
Palestine Think Tank 7/10/2008
One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel’s Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court’s decision. Thirty eight years into Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel continues to expand Jewish colonies. It has unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and is now de facto annexing large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall. Israel is also preparing - in the shadow of its lanned redeployment from the Gaza Strip - to build and expand colonies in the West Bank.

Masri: We seek the release of all prisoners including Barghouthi
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Mushir Al-Masri, secretary of the Hamas-affiliated parliamentary bloc, has underlined that his Movement demands the release of Marwan Al-Barghouthi, a Fatah leader and an MP, in its list of prisoners that should be released in return for the freedom of the Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Masri denied Arab and Hebrew press reports that claimed Hamas did not include the name of Barghouthi in the list of prisoners to be released in return for Shalit. He stressed that Hamas is keen on the release of all Palestinian prisoners especially leaders of factions including Barghouthi. Masri charged that a number of Fatah leaders are not interested in having Barghouthi out of jail and were circulating such news. A Kuwaiti paper had quoted "reliable sources" in Egypt as saying that Hamas did not include the name of Barghouthi in its list of prisoners and was only interested in getting its prisoners out of occupation jails.

Hamas denounces PA security for complementing role of IOF troops
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced the PA security apparatuses for complementing the role of the IOF troops and assaulting Wednesday the headquarters of the Islamic association in Ramallah which had been stormed Tuesday by IOF troops. In a statement, Hamas underlined that the IOF troops stormed the association at night and then the next day at noon the PA security apparatuses attacked it, confiscated computers and files and rounded up its manager Mahmoud Ghanem. The statement said that such actions bear out that the PA security lost its sense of honor and patriotism which makes its role an object of suspicion more than ever.   It added: "The security agencies have lost all patriotic sense, which makes their role more suspicious than ever before. " The statement warned PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his security leaders not to be persistent in assaulting the interests. . .

Five PLO and Islamic Jihad factions start dialogue in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Five factions affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Islamic Jihad called on Thursday to put an end to Palestinian internal conflict and want to set a date for a meeting of all parties. The call came after a workshop organized by the five PLO factions in the Gaza Strip, and was attended by representatives of the Palestinian National Authority, as well as local village leaders. "We have one opportunity to have a Palestinian national dialogue that brings Palestinians all together and there is no alternative for the Yemeni initiative," Fatah leadership Ibrahim Abu An-Naja said, referring to a February proposal put together by the President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Salih, to bring Hamas and Fatah members back to the discussion table. Abu An-Naja added that the state of division within Palestine benefited no one but the Israelis, who are. . .

Misery without borders
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/10/2008
According to Cairo, factional reconciliation can end the agonies of Palestinians caught on the border at Rafah, Dina Ezzat reports - It appears the time to launch a Palestinian reconciliation dialogue is not fully ripe yet, but contact is ongoing between all concerned parties, especially main rivals Fatah and Hamas, to conceptualise its tentative agenda. This, according to concerned Egyptian officials close to mediation efforts. Storms may lie ahead, however. Hamas has informed Egypt, along with other Arab parties, of its apprehensions relative not only to dialogue with Fatah but also about the fate of its less than three-week old fragile ceasefire with Israel. Egypt is at odds with the political reasoning of Hamas regarding both the truce and reconciliation with Fatah. However, according to official sources, Egypt is aware of the difficulties attendant to both.

Ever Divided
The Economist, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
The oldest Palestinian party tries to heal its divisions, but new ones fast emerge - THE charter of Fatah, the more secular of the two main Palestinian political parties, says that unless there are “exceptional circumstances”, a general party congress must be held every five years. The last one was in 1989. But this year may at last see an exception to the exceptional. In the past few months the party has been holding district elections for delegates to the congress. Officials say these will be over in another two months, but no date has yet been set for the congress itself. If and when it is held, it could do much to determine the Palestinians’ fate. Fatah’s election defeat in 2006 by its Islamist rival, Hamas, owed a lot to splits in Fatah between a cabal of leaders clinging to power and various factions of a “young guard” that is already far from young.

Fatah parliamentary bloc call for burial of Dalal Al-Mughrabi in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said on Thursday that they are calling on the Palestinian leadership to pressure Israel to return the body of Dalal Al-Mughrabi to the West Bank for burial. The body of the Tel Aviv bus hijacker is due to be released by Israel in the upcoming prisoner exchange with Hizbullah. "Before Dalal Al-Mughrabi’s heroic operation she wrote a letter to her family prohibiting the use of Palestinian weapons against other Palestinians and asking to be buried her in her homeland, Palestine," Al-Ahmad said. "The Fatah parliamentary bloc demands the Palestinian leadership work seriously with the Israeli side to bring back the body of Dalal Al-Mughrabi, the eternal heroine who represents Palestinian woman in the Palestinian struggle," he added.

Despite claims of safety, Ramallah maternity ward ordered closed for klebsiella tests
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Minister of Health Fathi Abu Moghli issued an order Thursday demanding the closure of all incubators in the maternity ward of the governmental hospital in Ramallah. He has instructed hospital staff to open a new ward in a different wing of the hospital, which will be furnished with new equipment. Moghli also said in a press statement that he has ordered the formation of a committee of bacteria and infection specialists to investigate the presence of klebsiella bacteria in the maternity ward. The statement came in responce to an earlier announcement by Palestinian medical sources which said that klebsiella bacteria were responsible for the deaths of 9 premature babies in the Ramallah government hospital this month. According to reports, klebsiella bacteria were discovered in the hospital on 26 June.

Haneyya condemns Israeli closure of charities accuses Ramallah of collusion
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, condemned on Wednesday the Israeli closure of dozens of charities and civil institutions in the West Bank. During his visit to the ministry of endowments and religious affairs, Haneyya told reporters that the PA leadership and its unconstitutional government in Ramallah is an accomplice in the Israeli war on charitable institutions where the PA had already closed more than 100 charities and orphanages. The premier described the Israeli closure of about 37 charities and civil institutions in Nablus and Ramallah during the past three days as a "heinous crime against humanity", calling for ending these actions immediately and reopening these institutions which sponsor orphans and needy families. In a press statement received by the PIC, MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege,. . .

Al-Aqsa Brigades doubt Israeli committment to truce; threaten response
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fatah’s Al-Aqsa brigades said on Thursday that the Gaza truce has not had any positive affects for Palestinians, the brigades said in a statement. They also accused the Israeli forces of continuous attacks and detentions since the truce came into effect on June 19. "There will be an exact time when the brigades will respond to all these attacks," the brigades announced. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades record all Israeli truce violations
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said on Thursday that Israel has continued to violate the June 19th truce. The Brigades established a department of “War Media” in order to keep track of Israeli violations of the truce, and has thus far recorded nine violations in the three weeks of truce. The information collected by the department revealed a systematic targeting of Palestinian fishermen working in the sea off the Gaza Strip. According to the Brigades, Israeli soldiers opened fire on fishermen three times in the third week of the truce and seven times in the first two weeks. The violations recorded during 3-9 July 2008 (the third week of truce) were as follows:1. Thursday 3 July- warplanes and reconnaissance planes fly over the Gaza strip throughout the day.

UN envoy visits Gaza to assess humanitarian situation
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 7/10/2008
With Israel and Gaza declaring a halt in fighting last month, a senior United Nations official today travelled to Gaza to assess how the world body can restart stalled humanitarian programmes in that area of the occupied Palestinian territory. Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), visited housing, environmental and sanitation works projects in Khan Yunis, as well as witnessed first-hand the impact of the sewage problem on Gaza. According to UNSCO, the current lull in violence in Gaza provides an opportunity to boost the situation there, with a resumption of UN projects helping to consolidate the recent calm. Yesterday, the Coordinator wrapped up a series of discussions in Cairo, Egypt, and Amman, Jordan, following earlier talks with President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Israeli officials.

Governor of Jenin receives delegation from International Red Cross
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Jenin- Ma’an- Governor of Jenin Qaddoura Moussa met in his office on Thursday a delegation of the International Red Cross (IRC) to discuss current situations of the Jenin governorate. IRC representatives Michael Greenwood and Dima Mahajneh proposed a series of minor economic projects for owners of small trades that will give income to a number of the small villages in the governorate. Greenwood confirmed the role of IRC in protecting residents and improving their living conditions. He said that the IRC is following the Palestinian situation closely, in order to make decisions that will help reduce suffering and pressure Israel to do the same. The delegation discussed the success of the May deployment of 600 Palestinian security forces in Jenin. The campaign was an Israeli and US-backed one called Operation Smile and Hope, and aimed at seeing law and order re-established in the West Bank.

Aid Pledged to Strengthen West Bank Police
Julio Godoy, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
International donors have promised to channel more aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), particularly to strengthen the police and the judiciary. But the Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law failed, as did an aid conference in Paris in December last year, to address the most pressing issues: Palestinian territorial unity, how to deal with the Hamas party that controls Gaza, and to end Israeli occupation and settlements in Palestinian territory. International donors committed 242 million dollars to finance the judiciary, police, and similar institutions in the West Bank. The area is governed by the PA, which is seen as relatively conciliatory towards Western countries and Israel. The aid announcement does not cover Gaza, in line with efforts to isolate Hamas. Israel, which withdrew its troops from Gaza in September 2005, has established a near total blockade of the strip after Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, following its electoral victory a year earlier.

Israeli army shoots dead 18-year-old Palestinian near Kissufim crossing
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli army killed a Palestinian on Thursday near the Kissufim crossing southeast of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Medical sources from Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza named the dead man as 18 year-old Salim Jum’a Hamidi from the village of Az-Zawaydeh in the central Gaza Strip. Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanein, director general of ambulance and emergency services in the Gaza Strip, said that Israeli officials reported that a young man was shot dead by Israeli troops at 7:30 am on Thursday. Dr Hassanein said that Hamidi had sustained bullet wounds to the stomach and shoulder, and that medical evidence indicated his injury was sustained at approximately 4am. No report of the incident, however, was made until 7am, by which time it was too late to resuscitate the young man. Hamidi’s body was taken to the Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza, medical sources said.

IDF kills Palestinian in Gaza for ’first time since truce declared’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Givati soldiers shoot dead Palestinian attempting to infiltrate Israel near Kissufim crossing; still unclear whether man was looking to carry out terror attack or seek work; no weapons found on his body - Palestinian sources in Gaza reported Thursday morning that a Palestinian was killed by IDF fire near the Kissufim crossing. They did not say whether the man was a gunman belonging to one of the terror organizations or a civilian attempting to infiltrate Israel i order to seek work. The IDF said that during the incident, which occurred at around 4 am, soldiers manning an observation point in the area spotted a suspicious figure approaching the security fence near the Kissufim crossing in south Gaza. Givati Brigade soldiers who arrived at the scene noticed that the Palestinian was heading toward Israeli territory, demanded that he halt and fired warning shots in the air.

Israeli forces kill Gaza man, later identified as Salim Hamidi
Palestine News Network 7/10/2008
Gaza / PNN -- Israeli forces opened fire on a man in the Gaza Strip early Thursday, reported Dr. Mua’weh Hassanein, the Director of Emergency and Ambulance in the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The man, whose was later identified as Salim Juma Hamidi, was apparently within the vicinity of Israeli forces that are stationed just inside the Gaza boundaries, as reported by PNN’s correspondent in the Strip. Israeli military sources contacted Dr. Hassanein and informed him of the presence of the corpse on the ground in the southern Gaza Strip’s Qarara Village, just north of Khan Younis. The Israelis claimed the man was approaching the boundary line, and that this prompted them to shoot him. Dr. Hassanein said that an ambulance went to the scene immediately to take Hamidi’s remains to the hospital.

Israeli army kills a Palestinian near a border fence in southern Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
The Israeli army killed early on Thursday morning a Palestinian resident in the southern Gaza Strip, the first Palestinian causality since Israel and Palestinian resistance factions agreed to ceasefire three weeks ago. [end]

Palestine Today 071008
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/10/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Thursday July 10th, 2008. The Israeli army kills a Palestinian civilian in the Gaza Strip and another in the West Bank. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast The Israeli army killed a Palestinian resident in the southern Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, the first Palestinian causality since Israel and Palestinian resistance factions agreed to a ceasefire three weeks ago. The Israeli army confirmed that the soldiers, manning the Kussofim commercial crossing in the southern Gaza Strip spotted and shot dead a Palestinian man this morning. The areas adjacent to the crossing are agricultural and are inhabited by dozens of Palestinian farmers.

Hamas arrests Gaza rocket cell
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/11/2008
Islamist group detains gunmen from Fatah military wing who fired Qassams into Israel on Thursday, further endangering volatile ceasefire. Meanwhile Fatah lashes out at Israel, with Abbas saying talks may be suspended over settlement building - Hamas arrested three Palestinians who fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, in the first such detentions since the Islamist group and Israel agreed a truce last month, a militant faction said. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group, said Hamas men pursued two of its members after the attack and "abducted them" in Jabalya refugee camp. Two Qassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza towards Israel on Thursday afternoon, one of them landed near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council.

Muzaini: Our delegation in Cairo carried a plan to regulate the opening of Rafah
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Osama Al-Muzaini, a prominent Hamas leader, stated that the Hamas delegation, which arrived Tuesday evening in Cairo, carried a plan to open the Rafah border crossing regularly thus ensuring the participation of all parties involved without any form of presence of the Israeli occupation. In a press statement to the Palestine newspaper, Dr. Muzaini said that if there was an agreement between Hamas and the Egyptian side on the Rafah crossing without any Israeli presence, a meeting would be held in this regard including all Palestinian factions and the relevant parties. The Hamas leader underlined that Cairo talks would not deviate from three issues, which are, the Rafah crossing, the Israeli violations of the truce and the Palestinian detainees in Egyptian jails. He preivously told the same newspaper in a press statement that the negotiations about the Israeli captive. . .

Israel: projectiles launched at Negev by Al-Aqsa violate truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza- Ma’an- Two more projectiles launched from the Gaza strip landed in the Western Negev on Thursday, Israeli sources said. The projectiles landed in an empty field in the Negev, no injuries or losses were reported. The Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the two projectiles, as well as the launch of two mortar shells at the Kissufim military post. The Brigades told Ma’an the projectiles were in response to the recent raids and assassinations in the West Bank. Brigades claim Hamas kidnapped projectile launchersShortly after the initial report for the incident, Brigades representatives claimed that the de-facto government detained two of their members, suspected of launching the projectiles. In a statement, the Brigades said that the detentions are meant to prevent them from retaliating against the Israeli assassination of Salim Al-Humeidi.

Hamas warns occupation of exploiting factions’ self-restraint
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Thursday strongly condemned the Israeli occupation forces’ killing of a Palestinian citizen on the Gaza Strip borders east of Deir Al-Balah earlier today. It warned the Israeli occupation authority of exploiting the Palestinian resistance factions’ policy of self-restraint. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, one of the Movement’s spokesmen in Gaza, told PIC that the murder constituted a "clear escalation and a grave breach of the calm". He also warned that the murder might carry serious consequences on the calm agreement. The spokesman called on all concerned parties to pressure the IOA to desist from further violations of the calm. The IOF soldiers killed the Palestinian teen near the Kissufim crossing east of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, who was thus the first martyr after the calm went into effect three weeks ago.

2 Qassams land in western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claims responsibility for firing of two rockets from northern Gaza in response to earlier shooting incident with IDF - Two Qassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza towards Israel on Thursday afternoon, one of them landed near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused. Shortly after 3:40 pm the Color Red rocket alert sirens blared throughout Sderot and neighboring communities in the western Negev, sending residents running to bomb shelters. Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, claimed responsibility for the fire. The organization said this was in response to the killing to Talal Abad near Jenin on Wednesday. Earlier on Thursday a Palestinian man was killed by IDF fire near the Kissufim crossing.

2 killed in collapse of smuggling tunnel under Gaza-Egypt border
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Two Palestinians killed in collapse of tunnel locals say was used to smuggle drugs, fuel into Strip -A Palestinian health official said two Palestinians have been killed Thursday in the collapse of a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border. Health Ministry official Moawiya Hassanain said that five people were pulled out of the tunnel alive. Local residents say the tunnel was used for smuggling drugs and fuel into Gaza. Gaza has been virtually sealed off from the world since the Islamic militant Hamas seized control by force a year ago. Tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt are used to bring in a range of items, from weapons to medicine, cement and clothing.

East Jerusalem cell arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Security forces detain eight members of Popular Front for hurling Molotov cocktails at cars in Jerusalem area; suspects confess during questioning, four have been indicted - Security forces arrested eight residents of the village of Issawiya, located north of Jerusalem, on the suspicion that they had been throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles traveling through roads in and around the capital, according to a report cleared for publication on Thursday. The youths were detained several weeks ago, and have confessed their actions had been intended to harm Jewish citizens. Two of those arrested were adults and six were minors. The arrest was a collaborative effort by Shin Bet, Jerusalem Police, and Border Guard forces. The arrest followed an undercover investigation and intelligence operations carried out by the Shin Bet.

More than 100 cargo trucks enter Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – More than 100 truck loads of essential commodities were transported through the Sufa Crossing into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The border police affiliated to the de facto government confirmed that large quantities of iron and many other goods that have not been imported for a year passed through the commercial crossing. Quantities of fuel and cooking gas were also admitted to the sector through the Nahal ’Oz crossing. The Department for Crossings in the Gaza Strip said they expect the transfer of goods to continue during the coming days if the Israeli authorities allow the crossiong to remain open. Israel has closed the crossings five times since the truce agreement came into effect on June 19 because of the continued launching of projectiles at the southern Negev.

Kadima sets mid-September date for party primaries as Olmert faces third police grilling
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/11/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s governing Kadima Party decided on Thursday to set a mid-September date for a leadership election under a deal reached to quell a crisis over the latest scandal to embroil Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The embattled premier was also facing a third police questioning on Friday over suspicions he had unlawfully accepted large sums of cash stuffed in envelopes from a US businessman before becoming premier in 2006. Kadima’s steering committee convened on Thursday to ratify the agreement hammered out by Olmert and the party leadership to hold the election between September 14 and 18, Kadima chairman MP Tzahi Hanegbi said. According to the draft proposal, a second round of polls will be held before September 25 if needed. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is viewed as the front-runner in the primary, while Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter are also eyeing the top position.

Cops to quiz Olmert today; sources say if he wasn’t PM, he would have been arrested
Jonathan Lis Tomer Zarchin and Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 7/11/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned again Friday about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he allegedly received over 15 years from Jewish-American millionaire Morris Talansky. The interview comes amid heightened wrangling between the police and Olmert’s associates. A police source said Thursday that the allegations are extremely serious and that an ordinary citizen would have been arrested by now had such accusations been leveled. Olmert’s associates accused the police of turning the case into a "personal campaign" against the prime minister, suggesting that Olmert would not be treated fairly during the interview. Olmert has allocated two hours for his talk with the police. A source familiar with the investigation said new evidence strengthens the suspicions against Olmert.

Kadima primaries underway without Olmert
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 7/10/2008
The elections for party leader will be held between September 14 and 18. "Galei Zahal" (IDF Army) radio reports that with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert due to be questioned by police for the third time, the "Kadima" central executive will officially announce today that the party primaries will be held in ten weeks time, between September 14 and 18. Under the agreement reached between the candidates, the elected party leader will try to put together an alternative government under his leadership, and if he succeeds, Olmert will be forced to resign. If the new leader is unable to form a government, a date will be set for early elections, and Olmert will remain prime minister until then. Despite the understandings between Olmert and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, this option does not officially appear in the proposal that will be brought before the central executive today, and this will leave Olmert with an escape route.

Olmert’s attorneys demand additional inquiry in Talansky case
Morris Talansky arrives in Israel for five-day cross-examination; prime minister’s attorney turns to Jerusalem District Court for additional interrogation time following receipt of material concerning Talansky’s financial activities in US - Israel News Morris Talansky’s cross-examination in the case againstPrime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to go on for five days, but Olmert’s attorneys have already announced that they will need additional time in order to complete the interrogation of the key witness. The prime minister’s attorneys sent a letter to the Jerusalem District Court Thursday, requesting the judges set a date for another round of questioning. DivulgencePM’s advisor accuses police of disrupting investigation/ Efrat Weiss Ahead of Olmert’s interrogation Friday, key witness Talansky’s cross examination next week, prime minister’s. . .

Kadima sets primaries for mid-September
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/11/2008
Prime Minister Olmert’s party votes to hold leadership election in under three months, though some say he may not have to step down from office even if overthrown. Prime contender Livni welcomes decision, says party will be voting for country’s next prime minister. ’And may the best woman win,’ she says - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s centrist Kadima Party approved a motion on Thursday to hold a leadership election in mid-September that could lead to his ouster. It recommended that the vote be held between September 14 and 17. "Kadima is taking a new path," said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a leading contender to succeed Olmert as head of the party. "Despite the mess - this is a good day for Kadima, because Kadima is going back to what it was, and returning Israel to what it was," she said. "It is choosing a new leader who will be prime minister.

IDF non-combat reservists say they’re being thrust into war zones
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/11/2008
The Israel Defense Forces is requiring reservists who serve in logistical, non-combat roles to assume operational duties in the West Bank despite their lacking the requisite training, according to a complaint obtained by Haaretz on Thursday. The soldiers, who served on bases in Israel proper and who underwent technological training as part of their compulsory service, were ordered to drive armored jeeps into the Palestinian territories. The soldiers completed Rifleman 02 basic training, which is geared for non-combat servicemen and women. Thus, they have not undergone adequate combat training. After the soldiers protested that they lacked sufficient training, their commanders responded that they were needed as drivers due to a shortage in personnel which was due in part to the increase in the scope of training and operational activity in the IDF.

UN: Lebanon situation ’fairly fragile’
Daily Star 7/11/2008
The United Nations political chief said Wednesday that the situation in Lebanon remains "fairly fragile" nearly two years after the cessation of hostilities following the 2006 war with Israel, and warned about the presence of armed groups in the country. "My main message today was that while the cease-fire has been holding, there still is a lot of work there to do," Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told reporters after he briefed the Security Council on UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s recent report on the implementation of Resolution 1701, which ended summer 2006 war. Pascoe added that the deadly clashes in May between pro- and anti-government forces, as well as fighting in the Northern city of Tripoli on Wednesday, were indications of the fragile nature of the situation in Lebanon. "We would urge them [Lebanese leaders] to move as quickly as possible to fulfilling. . .

Olmert: Hizbullah scared to death of Israel
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/10/2008
PM tells Israeli Arab newspaper that ’everyone knows Hizbullah fears confrontation with Israel’; says he is not sorry for starting Second Lebanon War as no shells have fallen in north for two years - Two years after the Second Lebanon War, it appears Prime Minister Ehud Olmert still believes Israel came out on top. "Everyone knows Hizbullah fears a confrontation with Israel. It’s scared to death," Olmert remarked during an interview with the Arab Israeli newspaper Al-Sinara, published in Nazareth. In the interview, to be included in Friday’s edition, the prime minister said he did not regret his decision to start the Second Lebanon War, and reiterated the position by which he would not hesitate to respond in the same manner if Hizbullah were to perform similar acts in the future. " I don’t regret my decision (to start) the war," Olmert said, adding that one. . .

Lebanon army boosts forces in restive Tripoli
Middle East Online 7/10/2008
TRIPOLI - The Lebanese army boosted its forces in the northern city of Tripoli on Thursday to try to shore up a ceasefire after four people were killed in gunbattles between rival sectarian factions. Dozens of army vehicles moved into the restive districts of Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen in the northeast of the port city where fierce fighting between rival factions erupted late on Tuesday. Fighting intensified overnight despite a ceasefire that was meant to come into effect at 1700 GMT Wednesday, but eased on Thursday as armed militants moved off the streets. Four people were killed and 58 wounded in street battles between militants armed with rockets, sniper rifles and grenades on Wednesday, causing panicked residents to flee and shops and schools to close. The dead included two brothers killed by snipers, a Palestinian nurse and a resident of the Jabal Mohsen district. . .

Israel sees Mediterranean Union as way to expand ties with Arab states
Marius Schattner, Daily Star 7/11/2008
Agence France Presse JERUSALEM: Israel hopes the new Mediterranean Union will help improve relations with the Arab world, but Arabs warn against any attempt to bring normalization in through the back door. "Israel has always considered that it is in the interest of all the peoples of the Mediterranean to reinforce their cooperation, which is why we are happy to participate in the Mediterranean Union," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said of the entity that will be launched at a Paris summit on Sunday. "This is the first time that the top leaders of the Mediterranean meet" with the participation of Israel, he said. "As with every international meeting, we hope that it will provide the opportunity for direct encounters" between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Arab leaders, he added. One Arab leader attending the summit will be Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose country. . .

Jordan closely watching situation without interfering
Palestine News Network 7/10/2008
Amman / PNN -- Jordan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Bashir said on Thursday, "We know that it is impossible to reach a solution without problems. But we are prepared to ensure that a just solution as possible. " The official was speaking with the Jordanian press regarding a final solution to the situation in Palestine. He was quoted as saying that his country was "closely watching the peace negotiations between all parties without directly intervening. "Bashir also hoped that, "Jordanian interests are taken into account in any agreement reached by the Palestinians and Israelis. " The Jordanian Foreign Minister stressed that his country wants to play a role in any proposed solution to the conflict, but they are primarily committed to adhering to international law. Bashir stressed that Jordan needs to be taken into account with considering a solution to the situation:. . .

Iran test-fires more missiles in Gulf war games
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/11/2008
TEHRAN: Iran test-fired more weaponry on Thursday as it continued war games, ignoring global concern over its launch of a broadside of missiles amid efforts to end the crisis over its nuclear program. The weapons fired in the Gulf by the naval section of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps included shore-to-sea, surface-to-surface and sea-to-air missiles, state television said. It said the war games also included firing the Hoot (Whale) torpedo that Iran unveiled in April 2006 and which it says is a hogh-speed weapon capable of hitting enemy submarines. Iran on Wednesday test-fired its Shahab-3 long-range missile, which the Islamic Republic says can reach Israel and US bases in the Gulf, and eight other medium- and short-range missiles. The move sparked major concern in Western governments, which say they fear Iran’s nuclear drive is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies.

Israel hints at pre-emptive attack on Iran
Rupert Cornwell in Washington, The Independent 7/11/2008
The sabre-rattling over Iran’s nuclear progamme has grown louder as a defiant Tehran claimed to have conducted missile tests for a second day running, the US warned that it would defend its interests and its allies in the region, and Israel hinted it was ready to stage a preventive attack to destroy Iranian nuclear installations. With the latest tests -- and the wide front-page coverage given to them by the national media -- Tehran is signalling it will not be cowed by international pressure to end a programme which the West suspects is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, and that any attack by the US or Israel will be answered in kind. The tests, including launching the 1,250-mile range Shahab-3 missile that can hit Israel, should be "a lesson to our enemies", the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was quoted as saying.

US will not hesitate to defend Israel, Rice warns Tehran
Julian Borger and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian 7/11/2008
Leaders threaten to shut vital oil route if attacked - The US vowed to defend Israel and its other allies in the Gulf, as Iran carried out its second ballistic missile test in two days yesterday. As the situation worsened in the Gulf, the French oil company Total said it would pull out of a large-scale investment in an Iranian gasfield - a serious blow to Tehran, which is keen to exploit its gas reserves, and a victory for the Bush administration, which has been seeking to isolate the Iranian government. A spokeswoman for the company said it was too risky to invest in Iran at present. Oil prices resumed climbing yesterday as Opec said it would not be able to replace any shortfalls if Iran were attacked and took its crude supplies off the market.

Barak warns Iran ’we won’t hesitate to act’
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Defense minister issues stern warning aimed at Tehran, says ’Israel is the strongest country in the region, and it has proven in the past that it is not afraid to act when its vital interests are threatened’ - With Iran continuing to flex its military muscles with Wednesday’s ballistic missile tests, Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a strongly-worded warning on Thursday evening, warning Tehran that Israel would not hesitate to resort to military action. "This is a challenge not only for Israel but for the entire world. The focus now is sanctions and diplomatic action. Israel is the strongest country in the region, and it has proven in the past that it is not afraid to act when its vital interests are threatened," Barak said in an address at the Labor party’s Tel Aviv headquarters. The defense minister urged, however, for caution.

Israel announces plans to run spy-plane to Iran
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israel announced Thursday that it will begin runs of an advanced plane that will be used to spy on Iran. Israeli army radio said that Israel is launching runs of the plane as a response to the recent missile experiments performed in Iran. Israel has stated that it considers Iran dangerous and hopes to prevent it from producing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials have expressed the belief that Iran will use any nuclear capability against them. Iranian officials, however, say that they are developing nuclear material for strictly peaceful and scientific purposes. [end]

Schoolboy designs fluorescent camel vest to prevent road deaths
Rosalind Ryan and agencies, The Guardian 7/10/2008
Specially designed fluorescent vests for camels could be used to help prevent traffic accidents in Israel. A Tel Aviv schoolboy developed the idea of a vest as part of a class project after hearing about a fatal crash between a driver and a camel in the Negev desert. The vest looks similar to a blanket fitted over the camel - with a hole in the middle to accommodate the hump. The boy’s father, Assaf Hochberg, told Reuters the vests could reduce the number of fatal accidents between motorists and the animals. "We thought that if somehow we could mark the camels, it can save lives," he said. The Hochbergs said they do not plan to market the vests, but hope the idea may be taken up by other manufacturers. It is believed that 10 Israeli motorists have been killed in the last 10 years after accidents with camels.

’Who’d want to invite relatives to a bar mitzvah at a kindergarten?’
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 7/11/2008
The media buzz around the dedication in May of Israel’s first state-funded Reform synagogue in Modi’in drowned out an equally historic event which took place nearby a bit later: the opening of the Conservative Movement’s first subsidized place of worship in Israel. For the Conservatives, this represents a huge leap indeed. "We were preparing a big event for the media, but the Reform community had their party first, so they got a lot of press," explains U. S. -born Rabbi Paul Arberman, who heads Modi’in’s Conservative community. "We should have thought ahead and had it earlier. But never mind. "Like Modi’in’s Reform community, Yozma, the Yedid Nefesh Masorti Conservative Congregation had been using a kindergarten as their place of worship before receiving their new synagogue. But unlike Yozma, the smaller Conservative community - which consists of some 25 families, of whom roughly 10 are. . .

First state-funded non-Orthodox shuls are a ’drop in the ocean,’ say leaders
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 7/11/2008
Despite their recent dramatic achievements, Modi’in’s non-Orthodox leaders say their fight for equal treatment has just begun. Notwithstanding, the opening there in May of Israel’s first state-funded Reform and Conservative synagogues seems to have started a nationwide shift - which make some Orthodox leaders uneasy. In any case, detractors and supporters of non-Orthodox Judaism appear to be in agreement about one thing - that immigrants from English-speaking countries have made a major contribution to the recent advances in the status of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel. "What we achieved is a drop in the ocean," says Yossi Aud, the executive director of Yozma - Modi’in’s reform community, referring to a compromise which the Yozma group reached with the city and the state, securing funds and land for a new synagogue.

Serry: The humanitarian situation in Gaza is a priority for the UN
Palestinian Information Center 7/10/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- Robert Serry, the special coordinator for UNSCO, stated during a visit to Cairo that the situation in Gaza is a priority for the UN work due to the poor living conditions of the Gaza people, adding that the UN mission in the Strip is concentrating on improving the humanitarian conditions. Serry said that the UN had called via the international Quartet for following a different strategy in dealing with Gaza which is experiencing the worst closure in modern history. The UN official also pointed out that the UN is trying to convince Israel to open all crossings with Gaza for the transit of goods. In a joint statement after a regular follow-up meeting on Monday to monitor the aid effort, Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero criticized Israel’s checkpoints in the West Bank. . .

Iran test-fires more missiles in Gulf war games
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/11/2008
TEHRAN: Iran test-fired more weaponry on Thursday as it continued war games, ignoring global concern over its launch of a broadside of missiles amid efforts to end the crisis over its nuclear program. The weapons fired in the Gulf by the naval section of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps included shore-to-sea, surface-to-surface and sea-to-air missiles, state television said. It said the war games also included firing the Hoot (Whale) torpedo that Iran unveiled in April 2006 and which it says is a hogh-speed weapon capable of hitting enemy submarines. Iran on Wednesday test-fired its Shahab-3 long-range missile, which the Islamic Republic says can reach Israel and US bases in the Gulf, and eight other medium- and short-range missiles. The move sparked major concern in Western governments, which say they fear Iran’s nuclear drive is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies.

Arabs fear fallout of nuclear conflict
Ian Black, The Guardian 7/10/2008
Arab governments are deeply worried about the prospect of war between Iran and Israel and/or the US for the very good reason that several of them would be directly in the firing line if hostilities erupted. Any fallout could have devastating consequences. Iranian retaliation against oilfields, refineries and desalination plants in the Gulf, especially in eastern Saudi Arabia, is an obvious worry. Tehran has gone on the record as threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, the choke point for 40% of globally-traded oil, if it is attacked. Washington quickly insisted that it will not let that happen. As the sabres rattled this week, Iran warned that it would strike at Tel Aviv and the US navy, though Revolutionary Guard Shehab missiles would find it difficult to distinguish between American and Arab targets: the US Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain; US Central Command in nearby Qatar and the US navy has long relied on docking facilities at Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.

Did Revolutionary Guards doctor missile photos?
Ynet, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Discrepancies between photo, video of Iranian missile test indicate possible attempt to cover up technical difficulties during Persian Gulf exercise -On Thursday evening a senior US officer told CNN that Iranian reports on its missile tests were false. The network quoted him saying that Iran had not conducted trials with long-range missiles, as it had claimed on Wednesday. The officer said the US believes Iran had fired seven short to medium-range missiles. US intelligence reports stated that one of the missile launches was not successful, and it was fired by the Iranians on Thursday. The Iranian news agency that generally publishes documentation of drills of this sort has not published any new photos from the large-scale launch that was allegedly held by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The only documentation of the event was published by the Revolutionary. . .

Is Iran changing its nuclear strategy?
Ron Ben-Yishai, YNetNews 7/10/2008
US, European experts believe Iran already has full nuclear capabilities but has chosen to appease international community, suspend uranium enrichment in favor of investing in new centrifuge formation, which in time would allow it to reach its nuclear goals doubly fast -The international pressure and the technical difficulties involved in uranium enrichment have prompted Iran to change its nuclear development strategy, Western diplomats and nuclear experts said Thursday. Based on the recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and intelligence reports, the Iranians are no longer aggressively trying to create fissionable uranium. Fissionable uranium contains 90% of uranium isotope 235, which can be used to create a nuclear warhead. According to assessments, the Iranians are no longer developing new warheads for the missiles they posses and are now funneling. . .

Total chief: Too risky to invest in Iran
Middle East Online 7/10/2008
LONDON - The head of French energy giant Total said in an interview published Thursday that it is too politically risky to invest in Iran, dealing a serious blow to the Islamic republic’s key energy sector. Chief executive Christophe de Margerie’s comments virtually cripple Tehran’s hopes of boosting its gas exports because Total is the last major western energy group considering a big investment. "Today we would be taking too much political risk to invest in Iran because people will say: ’Total will do anything for money,’" de Margerie told the Financial Times newspaper. Total was to develop phase 11 of Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) alongside Malaysia’s Petronas. Iran has vast untapped gas reserves and wants to develop the sector for export. The news came amid escalating tensions the United States and Tehran.

Report: Iran test fires more missiles
News agencies, YNetNews 7/10/2008
State media says Revolutionary Guards tested more missiles ’with special capabilities’ in Persian Gulf, day after West slams test-firing of nine rockets. Rice: US won’t back down in the face of Iranian threats against Israel - Iran tested more missiles "with special capabilities" in the Gulf, state media reported on Thursday, a day after drawing Western criticism for test-firing nine rockets. The report said the weapons fired included missiles launched from naval ships in thePersian Gulf, as well as torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles. Washington, which fears Tehran wants to master technology to build nuclear weapons, said on Wednesday Iran should halt further missile tests if it wanted to gain the world’s trust. Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill last month.

US plays down immediate Iran nuclear threat
Middle East Online 7/10/2008
WASHINGTON - The United States on Wednesday played down concerns about any immediate dangers from Iran’s nuclear program. "While Iran seeks to create the perception of advancement of its nuclear program, real progress has been more modest," said William Burns, the top official handling Iranian issues at the State Department. The UN Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran for not suspending its uranium enrichment activities, which some powers fear could be used to make a nuclear weapon. Washington has been in the forefront of efforts to impose the sanctions and lawmakers attending Congressional hearings in which Burns testified Wednesday persistently raised concerns about Iran’s nuclear threat. But Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, said Iran had not yet mastered uranium enrichment efforts.

Iran fires more test missiles
AP, The Independent 7/10/2008
Iran has test-fired medium and long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf for a second day. Today’s missiles were reported to have "special capabilities" and they were launched throughout the night. Yesterday Iran test-fired at least nine missiles, including ones capable of hitting Israel. Iranian officials said the tests aimed to show Iran’s readiness to strike back if attacked by the United States or Israel. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has warned Iran that the United States will not back down in the face of threats against Israel. Ms Rice said today, at the close of a three-day eastern European trip, that the US would defend its interests and allies.

Exchange rate soars as Bank of Israel steps up dollar purchases
Zeev Klein and Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 7/10/2008
The Bank of Israel is increasing its purchases of dollars to $100 million a day. Beginning today, theBank of Israel is increasing its purchases of dollars to $100 million a day. The representative shekel-dollar exchange rate rose 2. 6% to NIS 3. 314/$. The shekel-euro exchange rate was also higher, rising 2. 561% to NIS 5. 2061/€. The shekel-dollar and shekel-euro rates had been falling sharply before the announcement. The Bank of Israel said that it decided to increase the pace of purchases after examining the program in light of current market conditions, and the cumulative and rapid change in the exchange rate of the shekel. In March, the Bank of Israel announced a program to increase the level of foreign exchange reserves to $35-40 billion. Until today, the Bank of Israel purchased dollars during regular foreign currency trading days when its publishes the representative rates.

UBS: Linked debt risk to Israel
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 7/10/2008
If the shekel starts to weaken, the Israeli economy will be exposed to the full force of inflationary pressures, UBS says. UBS sees a risk to the Israeli economy from its high level of index-linked debt, now that inflation in the country is on the rise. The risk is faced by all sectors: government, companies, and consumers, according to UBS analyst Darren Shaw. "Israel’s economy is unique as around 50% of total debt is CPI linked. We believe the recent spike in CPI in Q2 (2. 5% in Q2 = 10% annualised) surprised most market participants, and we are concerned that further upside surprises to inflation, could be negative for the Israeli economy," Shaw writes. Shaw notes a high correlation between inflation in Israel and the shekel-dollar exchange rate. The recent strength of the shekel has so far mitigated inflationary pressures, but if the shekel were to weaken, those pressures would rise.

Israel unveils espionage aircraft at British show
Ynet, YNetNews 7/10/2008
It may look like a standard private business jet, but it is anything but. For over a year the IAF has been using ’Itim’ as a sophisticated mobile radar station. Watch it in action - Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is set to showcase its prized Conformal Airborne Early Warning & Control (CAEW) aircraft (known as ’Itim’) at the Farnborough international aerospace exhibition in Britain next week. The Israeli Air Force has already taken delivery of three of the s, converted by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and a subsidiary, ELTA, to function as Conformal Airborne Early Warning and Control planes. Promotional video released by IAI ahead of showing It will be the first public viewing of the jet, which has already been in service for over a year. The IAI released a special presentation video ahead of the exhibition.

Shekel-dollar rate continues dive
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 7/10/2008
Easy Forex’s Gil Regutkovitz: The day when we’ll see the shekel-dollar exchange rate at NIS 3/$ is probably not far off. The shekel continued to appreciate against the dollar and euro in inter-bank trading this morning. By mid-morning the shekel-dollar exchange rate fell 0. 38% to NIS 3. 22/$, a 12-year low. The shekel-euro exchange rate fell 0. 32% to NIS 5. 06/€. The shekel-pound exchange rate rose 0. 24% to NIS 6. 391/₤ ahead of the Bank of England’s interest rate decision at 2 pm Israel time today. Capital market sources believe that the UK interest rate will be kept unchanged at 5%. Easy Forex research development manager Gil Regutkovitz says, "The shekel’s appreciation against the dollar in recent years is continuing and the day when we’ll see the shekel-dollar exchange rate at NIS 3/$ is probably not far off.

Elbit and Alliant collaborate on laser-guided rocket
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 7/10/2008
The system is currently being tested by the two companies. Defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) and Alliant Techsystems (NYSE:ATK) will collaborate on a new laser-guided rocket system. Elbit and Alliant announced that they have signed a teaming agreement to develop the Guided Advanced Tactical Rocket - Laser (GATR-L). The system is currently being tested by the two companies. The GATR-L, a 70mm rocket, can be used by any fixed-wing, rotary-wing, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) platform. It uses a semi-active laser (SAL) guidance package. The firms say that the system can lock-on before launch to ensure only the target of interest is engaged. Alliant is a US aerospace and defense company with more than $4. 5 billion in revenue and 17,000 employees.

Olmert: Israeli Arabs discriminated against
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 7/10/2008
In conference for Arab sector PM calls on citizens to work towards integration, especially in economy. ’One state should have one economy,’ he says - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday called on the Arab sector in Israel to "take responsibility as partners in the State, and not just as bystanders who criticize. "Olmert spoke at the prime minister’s conference for the Arab sector, held in Haifa. According to Olmert, "the Israeli Arabs are not a strategic threat and I don’t see them as a strategic threat. There is discrimination against the Arab population in Israel; some of it is unintentional, but it has an effect. The citizens of Israel must be taught that the Arabs in

Thursday’s weather
Ma’an News Agency 7/10/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian metrological department expects Thursday’s weather to be hot and dry with temperatures rising 3-4 degrees above the annual average. Winds will be northwesterly to moderate, and the sea will be tranquil. On Friday, Temperatures will remain similar to Thursday’s. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 22 to 32 / Ramallah: 21 to 31 /Qalqilia: 22 to 33 / Salfit: 22 to 32 / Nablus: 21 to 34 / Jenin: 22 to 36 / Tubas: 22 to 35 / Hebron: 22 to 31 / Jericho: 25 to 42 / Gaza City: 27 to 35 / Khan Younis: 27 to 35 / Rafah: 26 to 36[end]

Jerusalem Municipality funding Shas events?
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 7/10/2008
Capital’s deputy mayor greenlights city event endorsing Shas despite municipal legal counsel’s order to the contrary; claims it’s a regular arts department ceremony - Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Eli Simchayof has recently authorized an official NIS 550,000 (approx. $170,000) city event endorsing Shas, despite a memorandum sent by the municipality’s legal advisor forbidding the use of city funds for any event which may be perceived as part of an election campaign, especially with the municipal elections just three short months away. The event in question targeted the city’s ultra-Orthodox community, but was categorized as an "eastern culture event" and was funded by the city’s general arts budget. Normally, such an event would be categorized as a "community event," and would be funded by a different municipal body.

Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva to get direct train line, after plan initially pulled
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/10/2008
The government announced on Thursday that a direct train line would be built between Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva, despite an earlier decision to cancel the construction plans. After meeting on Wednesday, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On agreed that the southern train line would still be included Israel Railways development plans. Transportaton Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman, will meet this Sunday with the Finance Ministry’s budget supervisor, Ram Blinkov, to discuss the option to cut back on the railway development plans. It is possible that ministry will decide to cancel other railway projects, instead. The ministries agreed two weeks ago to compensate construction costs that exceed the original budget by NIS 4 billion.

Saudi to present liberal face at Madrid forum
Middle East Online 7/10/2008
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia hopes to showcase a new more liberal face of its austere version of Sunni Islam at an unprecedented forum that will bring together Muslim, Christian and Jewish clergy in Spain next week. The three-day meeting will be opened next Wednesday by King Abdullah, who won the backing of Sunni and Shiite clerics to go ahead with the ground-breaking meeting in Mecca last month. The interfaith idea has sparked interest from Jewish and Christian groups around the world, coming after the Saudi king held talks with Pope Benedict at the Vatican last year. Saudi rulers have embarked on a series of reforms to improve the image of a system in which the Saudi royal family rules in alliance with clerics who are given free rein to administer Islamic sharia law as they interpret it. Abdulaziz al-Gasim, a pro-government reformist cleric, said the conference was part of efforts. . .

Gathafi rejects Mediterranean Union plan
Middle East Online 7/10/2008
Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi will boycott the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean on Sunday, a flagship project of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Gathafi has assailed the club as a neo-colonialist ploy to weaken Arab and African unity and warned it would be a flop. "This project is doomed to fail. It will fuel terrorist acts from Islamist groups who consider it a new crusade project and will attack Muslim member states," Gathafi said in Tripoli on Wednesday. Another no-show is Jordan’s King Abdullah who is sending a representative while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to attend despite concerns that the grouping will undermine Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Spain, which had shepherded the Barcelona process between the EU and the Mediterranean region since 1995, also felt slighted after Sarkozy began touting the project as his own.


‘Do you have love in your culture?’
Dahr Jamail, Middle East Online 7/10/2008
      Muhammad Omer and I jointly received the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in London on 16 June. Omer is a 24-year-old Palestinian with whom I feel honoured to have shared this award, as I told the audience at the prize-giving ceremony. His work from his Gaza homeland has been a beacon of humanitarian reportage; it is a model of peace, and an attempt at reconciliation with Israel.
     But Omer’s journey to London to receive the award was almost impossible. When I heard about the prize, I booked my flight from San Francisco and boarded my plane. By contrast, Omer struggled even to get an exit visa: His home has been crushed by an Israeli bulldozer, and most of his seven siblings have been killed or maimed by the Israeli army of occupation. The veteran journalist John Pilger, who presented our awards, described Omer’s journey: “Getting Muhammad to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has a perfidious control over Gaza’s borders, and he was only allowed out with a Dutch embassy escort.
     Then, after the ceremony, there were our even more different return journeys. My biggest problem was an hour’s delay for the flight back to my home country, the United States, which last year gave Israel $2.38bn in military aid, and will give that amount in the coming fiscal year, along with an extra $150m. (By July 2006 direct US aid to Israel had reached $108bn according to conservative estimates.

Do no harm: A torture victim remembers

Naji Ali writing from San Francisco, US, Live from Palestine, Electronic Intifada 7/10/2008
      I wasn’t really surprised by the watchdog group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s (PHR-I) latest intervention to Israel’s health ministry, in which they accused Israeli doctors of complicity in the torture of Palestinian detainees in Israeli interrogation centers. Indeed, it sounded all too familiar to what I experienced during 550 days of incarceration in a South African prison from 1990 through 1992.
     PHR-I reached its conclusion based on the testimony of two Palestinian prisoners who were tortured during interrogation and developed trauma-related symptoms including hearing loss, panic attacks and incontinence. The doctors who treat Palestinian detainees conduct medical checkups on the prisoners during and after interrogation but they fail to report the findings and symptoms, which make them an actor in the torturing of detainees, PHR-I said.
     The report about those tortured Palestinian detainees leads me to recall my own experience. I returned to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela after he served 27 years in apartheid prison. I chose to go back to the birthplace of my activist father, the land that I grew up in for the first eight years of my life, and the place where my older brother was shot and killed right in front of me when I was just five years old.

Artistic censorship in Chicago

Richard Silverstein, The Guardian 7/10/2008
      The cancellation of an exhibit deemed too critical of Israel sacrifices artistic integrity for conservative politics.
     Chicago’s Jewish leaders are testy about criticism of Israel. Jewish directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs apparently pressured its director to cancel a talk by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer last year. Now some of the same figures may have deemed an art exhibit at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies too hot to handle. As a result, the exhibit, Imaginary Coordinates, which featured works investigating Israeli and Palestinian concepts of homeland has been shut down two and a half months early because of complaints that it was anti-Israel.
     What precisely was so threatening? In one video installation, an Israeli artist appeared nude on a Tel Aviv beach spinning a barbed-wire hula-hoop as it lacerated her skin, symbolising fortified barriers which cause pain to those they encircle.
     In another video, an Israeli woman drove through Jerusalem asking for directions to Ramallah. Each person provides different directions and describes Ramallah as far away, when it is actually quite close, illustrating how psychic distance affects the maps in our minds.

No section of the wall nullified by Israeli court dismantled

Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/9/2008
      The separation barrier has not been moved in any of the sections that were built and later nullified by the Israeli high court. The human rights organization B’Tselem published this finding today, 9 July 2008, marking the fourth anniversary of the advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, which held that building the barrier in the West Bank breached international law.
     The high court nullified three sections, on grounds that the harm to Palestinians was disproportionate, and ordered the state to move the fence. The state has not yet moved the barrier in any of these sections. The sections that were nullified are as follows: the barrier around the settlement Alfe Menashe, which the High Court nullified almost three years ago, on 15 September 2005; the section running on the land of the villages of ’Azzun and Nebi Alias, nullified over two years ago, on 15 June 2006; and the section by Bil’in, nullified 10 months ago, on 6 September 2007 (the residents of Bil’in only recently received the army’s proposed changed route).
     As of May 2008, 409 kilometers of the fence, 57 percent of the planned route, have been built, 66 kilometers (nine percent) are under construction, and construction on 248 kilometers (34 percent) has not yet begun. Upon completion of the barrier, 11.9 percent of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), will lie west of the barrier or be surrounded completely or partially by it. These areas are home to 498,000 Palestinians (222,500 in East Jerusalem) living in 92 towns and villages.

Rumors of Peace Amid Rumors of War

Claude Salhani, MIFTAH 7/9/2008
      There has been much talk lately behind the long hallways of power in the U.S. capital of an impending move toward peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. To become a reality the many pieces that make up the Middle East’s complicated geopolitical jigsaw puzzle have to come together at the right time to fit in correctly.
     The trouble in previous failed attempts at solving the Middle East imbroglio may be blamed – at least partially – on the fact that to date each piece of the puzzle was tackled as though it were a separate conflict sharing no relation to the original dispute.
     Indeed, while some of the clashes unfolding in the Middle East today may have become "autonomous" from their original disputes — the question of Palestine, for instance – a quick study of their origins will reveal how most, if not all current disputes in the Middle East today are closely intertwined.
     Is there one piece of the jigsaw puzzle that stands out as crucial?
     Most analysts, diplomats and politicians would be quick to reply that the crux of the problem impeding peace in the Middle East today continues to be the dispute between Palestinians and Israelis over land and water rights - a conflict that has been eating away at the region for the last 60 years.

Sarkozy sells a mirage

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/10/2008
      The French president’s project for Mediterranean cooperation has much to do with positioning France next to the US and little to do with Arab interests, writes The heads of state of the European Union and of southern Mediterranean countries are scheduled to meet in Paris on 13 and 14 July. Their summit is expected to conclude with the proclamation of the establishment of a new international grouping called the "Union for the Mediterranean". It is perhaps premature to predict whether the new entity will be able to produce a qualitative shift in a historically shaky relationship between the two banks of the Mediterranean and thereby succeed where the "Barcelona process", set into motion in 1995, has failed so far. However, it is possible to note some opportunities for the new project and some obstacles that may mar its path. In order to identify these we must bear in mind some important facts as follows.
     Sarkozy’s original project, which was to be called the Mediterranean Union, was to create a more powerful institutional framework than the so-called Barcelona process. Its membership was to be restricted to countries bordering the Mediterranean. The project was a product of Sarkozy’s European policy that aims, firstly, to halt the expansion of the EU in order to preserve its Christian identity, which translates into keeping Turkey out of it, and, secondly, to position France so it can play a leading role in a European Union that is more powerful and effective politically and militarily and less bureaucratically cumbersome at the social and economic levels. Sarkozy believes that France’s leadership of a new formula -- partnership between Mediterranean countries -- will help it achieve these two aims.

A Country with 60 Years of Peace and a Nation with 60 Years of Struggle

MIFTAH, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
      On July 2, Mr. Masahiko Koumura, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs hosted the third ministerial-level meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity”. The meeting was attended by representatives of Palestine, Israel, and Jordan: Dr. Samir Abdullah, Minister of Planning of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Gideon Ezra, Minister of Environment Protection of Israel, and Mr. Saladin Al-Bashir, Foreign Minister of Jordan. Minister Koumura declared his aim was to promote Japan’s support for co-existence and co-prosperity between Israel and Palestine by stabilizing the Palestinian economy. The meeting was focused on establishing the site of the planned Agro-Industrial Park in the West Bank and facilitating the transportation of goods.
     (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the four parties reconfirmed their commitment towards the project as they recognized the urgent necessity for the propulsion of the peace process. Access to water and borders for exporting goods can be accomplished only through cooperation of the stockholding countries and this urges those countries’ commitment towards peace. This concept is expected to improve employment opportunities and to bring hope for the people in the regions of Palestine, Jordan and Israel. The action plan is slated to begin as soon as the beginning of 2009. The meeting ended with confirming the next technical-level meeting in autumn, 2008 which will discuss the technical issues in detail.

Kawther Salam - A Sincere Offer of Peace to Israelis

Kawther Salam, Palestine Think Tank 7/10/2008
      From Kawther Salam’s Blog: The following speech was delivered on Sunday, 6 July 2008, in the auditorium of the Faculty of Dental Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, in Madrid, Spain. I was invited to give this speech by the organizers of the conference “Mundo de Mujeres / Womens World 08“, in the parallel conference “Mediterranean Voices II”, discussing gender and peace in the Mediterranean region.
     The conference and the various parallel conferences dedicated to special issues was visited by around 5.000 women from the different countries around the Mediterranean; it was sponsored by various ministries of the Spanish Government, by the City of Madrid, indirectly by various EU institutions and many well-institutions of the economic and social life of Spain. Thank you again the the organizers and to the sponsors for the invitation. It was a honor and a needed opportunity to speak about the Palestinian issue. I hope that my speech will contribute towards an improvement for my people. I have given it the title “A Sincere Offer of Peace to Israel”.
     The following speech was delivered on Sunday, 6 July 2008, in the auditorium of the Faculty of Dental Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, in Madrid, Spain. I was invited to give this speech by the organizers of the conference “Mundo de Mujeres / Womens World 08“, in the parallel conference “Mediterranean Voices II”, discussing gender and peace in the Mediterranean region.

Palestine: Hizb Al-Tahrir Flourishes Where Hope Withers

Omran Risheq, MIFTAH 7/10/2008
      The failure of the Palestinian national movement and its shaken credibility in the public eye are giving strength to religious movements, which are expanding to fill a widening gap. But the movements that are gaining are not Hamas or Islamic Jihad, which gained their legitimacy more or less as other Palestinian movements did: by taking part in the liberation struggle while upholding the aspiration to establish an independent national state. Rather, there are now other Islamist parties and groups that deny the national project and are hostile toward democratic and social freedoms.
     Perhaps the most influential of these movements, and the one with the clearest political platform, is the Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (the Islamic Liberation Party), which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by the Islamic judge Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani. Hizb al-Tahrir made the idea of resurrecting the caliphate a permanent watchword of its political activity and a religious duty, in addition to being a panacea for the political, economic, and social problems of the world’s Muslims. According to its beliefs, the caliphate will not be founded through popular revolution, but rather through a military coup in a Muslim country. The caliph will then proceed to conquer the world, including liberating Palestine from the Jews. It is worth noting that this theory largely replicates the Marxist-Leninist vision of revolution as led by a vanguard adopting its ideas as a way to take power.

Chasing a mirage?

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/10/2008
      A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Tuesday for talks with Egyptian officials to resume truce negotiations frozen by the movement last week as well as discuss a prisoner swap deal involving Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held captive since 2006.
     Hamas hopes to exchange Shalit for a number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. There are over 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
     The Hamas delegation, which includes leaders from both the Gaza Strip and the Diaspora, will also ask the Egyptian leadership to step up efforts to bring about Palestinian national reconciliation between Fatah -- which Egypt leans towards in support -- and Hamas.
     Rafah is also high on the agenda with some Hamas leaders privately criticising Egyptian reluctance to reopen the border crossing, saying that keeping it closed is causing unwarranted distress for desperate Gazans. Hamas leaders also take issue with Egypt’s refusal to release Hamas members held by authorities in Egypt -- some for years. Egyptian officials acknowledge that tension has marred contacts with Hamas.