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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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16 July 2008

The Israeli army attacks a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tubas
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Wednesday morning Al Fara’ refugee camp south of the West Bank city of Tubas, with a huge military force, kidnapping at least 5 civilians and injuring a number of locals. Eye witnesses reported that over 20 military vehicles invaded the neighborhoods of the camp shooting gunfire, tear gas and sound bombs intensively. Local medical sources reported that a number of civilians were injured with gun fire and rubber bullets and they were taken to local hospitals in Tubas and Nablus for treatment. Moreover the Israeli army banned the ambulances for an hour to enter the camp and transport the injured civilians to local hospitals. Local sources reported that the Israeli army ransacked dozens of homes in the camp and shot sound bombs inside the houses. In addition to that the homes were drastically damaged due to shooting and breakage of doors This Israeli. . .

Israeli forces storm Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - Israeli forces stormed the West Bank city of Tulkarem and the neighboring refugee camp in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s correspondent that a large number of Israeli patrols carried out a widespread inspection operation in the western neighborhood of the city. They raided the homes of Samir Al-Haroun and Khaled Al-Haroun, saying they were looking for “wanted” resistance fighters. The forces also stormed houses in the Tulkarem refugee camp, including the homes of two Palestinian security personnel. The sources added that the forces withdrew early in the morning with no detentions reported. [end]

Israel bars the entry of fuel and cement to Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Popular Committee Against the Siege reported on Wednesday that Israel barred the entry of fuel and also barred for three days the entry of cement used for constructions. The Israeli authorities did not give any explanation for their decision. The committees stated that regardless of the declared truce, border crossing are not fully operating, and the amounts of goods allowed through are insufficient especially since Israel reduced the amounts instead of increasing them. The committees also said that Israel is barring the entry of industrial equipment which obstructed the work of several factories. Head of the Popular Committee, legislator Jamal Al Khudary, stated that the current situation in Gaza does not indicate the there will be a real improvement in the near future. He also said that the situation on the crossing is still bad.

Freed detainees receive heroes’ welcome
Daily Star 7/17/2008
Lebanon welcomes back its liberated sons, Israel mourns its slain soldiersFive Lebanese prisoners freed by Israel arrived to a hero’s welcome in Lebanon Wednesday, hours after Hizbullah handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers seized two years ago. Among those freed in a prisoner swap greeted with triumph in Lebanon but anguish in Israel was Samir Kontar, who was sentenced to five life terms for a a deadly raid in 1979. The prisoners were transported to Lebanon in a convoy of four International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles via the Naqoura border crossing, where they were cheered and applauded by crowds of Hizbullah supporters who had been waiting all day for their arrival. They were then flown by helicopters to Beirut, where they were accorded a red-carpet welcome by Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the entire Cabinet and a host of lawmakers and religious leaders.

OPT: Students still trapped in Gaza
Gisha, ReliefWeb 7/16/2008
Since June 14, 2007, 1. 5 million people have been trapped in Gaza. Their ability to lead healthy, dignified lives is jeopardized by the continued closure of Gaza’s crossings for people and goods. Chart of Crossings Activity Status. [end] -- See also: Full_Report (pdf* format - 911. 9 Kbytes)

Palestinian house to be demolished after Israeli Court reverses decision
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The house of an Arab family in East Jerusalem, the Al- Kurds, is set to be demolished on Thursday after the High Court reversed its decision to allow the family to remain in their home. The decision comes after a long dispute between the family and a Jewish group who took over part of the property in 1999 claiming that the land had belonged to the Va’ad Sefaradi, a council of Rabbis, before 1948. The high court previously ruled that the settlers must leave the house and that the Al-Kurd family should remain, but no action was taken against the settlers and they remained in the house. This Tuesday the court reversed its decision stating that no claim could to the property could be authenticated and ruled that the family should vacate the house within 24 hours and that it should be demolished.

Israeli forces raid Nablus overnight; arrest five and confiscate computers
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested five young Palestinian’s then confiscated computers and documents from a lawyer’s office in Nablus on Wednesday. One of those arrested was 20-year-old Qadri Shaheen, son of the acting mayor of Nablus Hafidh Shaheen. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that more than 15 Israeli military vehicles stormed several neighborhoods in Nablus overnightand arrested, along with the mayor’s son: 17-year-old Hamza Al-Jawhari, 17-year-old Basim Kalbouna, 23-year-old Mu’min Al-Qaysi, 24-year-old Mus’ab Mi’ari and Karim Abu ’Issa (age not given). Sources affirmed that Israeli forces ransacked the office of lawyer Faris Abu Al-Hasan in the centre of the northern West Bank town of Nablus. The office’s computers were confiscated along with any documents that recorded Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. . .

Farmers of Kafr Qallil, Nablus, refused access to their land
International Solidarity Movement 7/16/2008
Nablus Region - July 13th and 14th a family from the village of Kafr Qallil, south of Nablus, tried to harvest almonds on their land near Huwwara checkpoint. After two days of harassment from settlers and soldiers the family was forbidden to continue the harvest indefinitely. The family owns 49 dunums of land between Huwwara check point and the illegal settlement of Bracha. The land, which is now crossed by a settler road, has been owned by the family for many generations. Due to resent harassments from settlers and soldiers the family was accompanied by international solidarity activists. On both days the farmers were told to leave their land by armed settlers, soldiers and Israeli police claiming random reasons. Finally, on the 14th, in spite of earlier promises of permission, the army declared the area a closed military zone. The army also informed the family that they had to prove their ownership of the land to receive permission to continue the harvest.

Detained deputy PLC head tortured and barred from seeing his lawyer since 45 days
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
Qbdul-Qaher Srour, deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) imprisoned by Israel along with several legislators including PLC head Dr. Aziz Dweik, has been under interrogation by Israel in Al Maskobiyya Interrogation facility since May 29 and was not allowed to see his lawyer. His wife voiced an appeal for his release and urged human rights groups to intervene especially since he is still under interrogation which started after he was kidnapped by the army on May 29. In an interview with the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies, the detained legislator’s wife said that her husband is suffering from a bad health condition as he was supposed to conduct a heart surgery which was planned to be conducted in early June. Srour was kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel six times in addition to his current imprisonment.

PLC Speaker Dweik to undergo surgery in Israeli prison
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The elected speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Dweik, is undergoing surgery to remove gallstones at Ramle prison in Israel. Attorney Samira Halayqa said that a team of doctors ordered the surgery after Dweik suffered severe pain throughout his imprisonment. A total of 45 Palestinian members of parliament are held in Israeli prisons. Israel abducted most of the deputies in 2006, and has linked their release to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is held by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. [end]

The Popular Committee slams Israeli attacks against reporters
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Popular Committee issued a press release on Wednesday slamming the Israeli military attacks against the reporters in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and the kidnapping of reporter Mosab Husam Qataloony, 25, after breaking into his home on Tuesday at night. Soldiers searched the home of Qataloony, confiscated his computer and several documents and took him to Huwwara military camp near Nablus. He was interrogated there for several hours and was released later on. Secretary-general of the Popular Committees, Azmi Shiokhy, slammed the Israeli attacks against Palestinian reporters and Palestinian media outlets which escalated recently and included the kidnapping of several reporters. Last month, the Israeli army kidnapped five reporters in the West Bank and released three of them later on. The five were identified as Mohammad Al Qeeq, Fuad Al Froukh, Rami Hajahja, Nabil Nabil, and Mohammad Marboo’.

Israeli forces detain civilian in Jalqamus
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli forces detained a civilian in the village of Jalqamus east of Jenin after searching his house early Wednesday. Security sources said that Israeli forces detained 30-year-old Abdel Rahim Sami Al-Haj after storming his house. Seven military vehicles participated in the raid. Civilians told Ma’an’s correspondent that Israeli forces surrounded the house and asked residents to evacuate via loudspeaker. The men who exited the home were detained, and the house was searched using police dogs. Sound bombs were also heard in the area. Al-Haj was taken by Israeli forces to an unknown location. [end]

The Israeli army invades Abu Eshedem village near Ramallah
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Wednesday at dawn Abu Eshedem village north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah Official sources reported that five Israeli military forces invaded several neighborhoods in the village and spread its troops in the area, but no kidnaps were reported. [end]

The Israeli army invades several villages in the West Bank city of Jenin
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Wednesday at dawn Kabatia, Kuffer Raee’ and Barkeen villages in the West Bank city of Jenin Official sources in Jenin reported that the Israeli military vehicles invaded the village’s neighborhoods at dawn and walked through them shooting sound bombs and intensive gun fire. Official sources also added that the army attacked some villager’s lands in the area and ransacked some homes. The Israeli army withdrew and no kidnaps were reported [end]

Israeli forces raid three towns near Jenin; no arrests
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank towns of Qabatia, Kafr Ra’I and Birqin in Jenin district on Wednesday morning. No arrests have been reported. Local sources told Ma’an’s correspondent that Israeli patrols toured the towns firing gunshots and sonic bombs into the air. Soldiers used police dogs to conduct searches of yards and agricultural fields in all three towns. Soldiers withdrew at dawn. [end]

The Israeli army kidnaps a civilian east of Jenin
Rula Shahwan Editorial News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Israeli army invaded Jalqus village eastern of the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday at dawn and kidnapped a civilian taking him to an unknown detention camp. Local sources reported that the 32 year old Abd Al Raheem Al Haj was kidnapped from his home at dawn after a huge Israeli military force surrounded his home and ransacked it; moreover the Israeli army used police dogs in the nearby farms. [end]

Settlers and Israeli army harass farmers in Susiya
International Solidarity Movement 7/16/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - On Wednesday 9th of July and the seven days that followed, the small Palestinian farming community of Susiya have experienced varying degrees of exclusion from their land. Armed settlers and the Israeli army have jointly forced farmers off their grazing land. The week began with the army arriving and a discussion taking place where an Israeli soldier was quoted as saying "if you come back to this land … I will get you arrested". The following day the army came and blocked the shepherds from entering their land short of a well which provides the main water source for the sheep. During the discussion which followed, a meeting with a lawyer was arranged to take place on Tuesday 15th July. Friday and Saturday the sheep were herded without interruption in areas of Susiya which had previously not been grazed since some settlers attacked the community at night nearly two months ago.

Israeli forces withdraw from Beit Fajjar after carrying out widespread raids
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Bethlehem- Ma’an- Israeli forces withdrew from the town of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem on Tuesday evening after storming it at dawn, detaining four. A large number of Israeli military vehicles stormed the town from all directions and closed all entrances to the town by blocking streets with piles of earth and rocks. Forces then imposed a curfew. Ma’an’s reporter stated that Israeli forces occupied several buildings, including the former headquarters of the municipality. The four men detained were Thaer Taqatqa, Hussein Jum’a, ’Alaa Taqatqa and ’Alaa Thawabta. According to local sources Israeli soldiers rounded up dozens of youth, and corralled them into the center of town. The men were held there until the troops left the city.

The Israeli army invades a number of civilian residences in Tulkarem
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
Sources reported that the Israeli Army invaded the West Bank city of Tulkarem at dawn. Eyewitnesses reported that a number of military vehicles invaded Tulkarem and ransacked the homes of Samir al-Haroon and Khaled al-Haroon. Eyewitnesses added that the Israeli army withdrew in the early hours of the morning and no kidnappings were reported. [end]

Palestine Today 071608
Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 2 m 7s || 1. 95 MBWelcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Wednesday July 16th, 2008. The Israeli army invaded several cities in the West Bank kidnapping 14 civilians. These stories, and more, coming up, stay tuned The news cast The Israeli army continued on Wednesday targeting charitable institutions in the West Bank city of Nablus, as it attacked the city at dawn and kidnapped 8 civilians. Moreover it invaded the city mall and ransacked the office of the Solidarity Institution for Human Rights. The troops confiscated a number of computers and files of the Palestinian detainees. For the second day the Israeli army invaded on Wednesday Al Fara’ refugee camp in the southern West Bank city of Tubas with over 20 military vehicles kidnapping at least five civilians.

Gaza blockade death toll reaches 209
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Elderly woman dies from untreated cancer, bringing the death toll of the Gaza blockade to 209. The woman, known as Abu Nasser was from Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza Strip. She passed away on Wednesday morning. Abu Nasser had just been granted permission to leave Gaza for treatment in Israel, even though efforts to get the woman a permit had started over a month ago. Hundreds of patients are still waiting for permits to receive treatment outside the Gaza Strip. [end]

Caretaker gov’t: Israel violates the truce by downsizing goods allowed in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya stated Tuesday that the Israeli occupation is blatantly violating the truce and its requirements by allowing in reduced quantities of commodities to the Gaza Strip, highlighting the urgent need for opening the Rafah border crossing immediately. During its weekly cabinet meeting, the government discussed the mechanisms which are followed by the concerned ministries in Gaza to distribute essential items such as construction materials and fuel to consumers in order to ensure that they are not monopolized and sold in huge prices. The government strongly denounced, in a statement received by the PIC, the Israeli occupation and other parties for pressuring Tony Blair, the international quartet envoy, not to visit Gaza to witness the extent of damage caused by the IOF troops and the destructive impact of the siege on the lives of citizens.

MIDEAST: Gaza Siege Batters Women
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 7/16/2008
GAZA CITY, Jul 16(IPS) - The siege of Gaza has led to a sharp rise in the number of battered and sexually abused women and children in the Gaza Strip, say members of the Gaza Community Health Programme (GCHP). Manal Awad, director of the women’s empowerment project of the GCHP, said reports of domestic violence had been slowly increasing since the outbreak of the second Intifadah (uprising) in 2000 but had spiked dramatically during the siege of Gaza over the last year. "We are not sure of the exact numbers as it is extremely difficult to get the exact figures. Gaza’s, and to a lesser extent the West Bank’s, conservative society relies heavily on the extended family to resolve issues internally, and any outside interference in private domestic matters is regarded as taboo," said Awad. quot;Even when we go house to house interviewing people, the women are not free to speak as the men, many of whom are unemployed, sit in on the interviews," she added.

Hamdan: No resumption of talks on Shalit unless crossings are opened
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, on Wednesday asserted that his Movement was not interested in having a new deal with Israel as long as it did not respect the calm agreement. He told Al-Quds radio station that the calm agreement should be implemented in full including the opening of all crossings together with the Rafah border terminal. Israeli sources said that Hamas had frozen the prisoners’ exchange negotiations through Egyptian mediation and told Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman that it would not send its delegation this week to Cairo because it needs more time to think (over the issue). An Israeli official said that Hamas’s step was meant to pressure Egypt to open the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and Gaza Strip. Hamas had earlier held Israel fully responsible for delaying the prisoners’ swap deal and asked Cairo to pressure Tel Aviv to stop wasting time.

Haneyya: Israel has to pay a price for return of captured soldier
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, on Wednesday told reporters that Israel has to pay a price in return for its captured soldier Gilad Shalit. He called on the Israeli occupation government to respond to resistance’s conditions and to release Palestinian prisoners serving high sentences, women and MPs. Haneyya described the prisoners’ exchange deal between the Lebanese Hizbullah party and Israel as "honorable", and added, "We also are keen on having an honorable deal and getting our prisoners (out of jail)". [end]

Israelis turn East Jerusalem neighborhood into garbage dump
Palestine News Network 7/16/2008
Jerusalem / PNN -- In the northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Daheeyat Salam dozens of trucks have been seen unloading construction, industrial and medical waste into the neighborhood. According to B’Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), this one of the most neglected neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The Israeli Municipality will not help them with infrastructure, nor can they create it themselves. Anything they build will be torn down for "lack of permit. "This is the case throughout East Jerusalem. The truckloads have been arriving for years, dumping in the direct vicinity of homes and the civilian population. Jerusalem has a dump, but it is not as close by as the Palestinian neighborhood, nor is it free. Smoke from burning the waste, dust and horrific smells fill the neighborhood at times, while children play in the area.

Médecins du Monde to help improve ten clinics in Jerusalem area
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Ramallah- Ma’an- Minister of Health Fathy Abu Moghli signed an agreement with the French organization Médecins du Monde in his office in Ramallah on Tuesday. The project aims to rehabilitate, reconstruct and maintain ten governmental clinics in the Jerusalem area. General Coordinator of the program Dr. Stephanie Jones represented the organization and in the signing of the agreement with Director General of Health Care and Public Health Dr. As’ad Ramlawi. In the coming year, clinics will be furnished with new medical equipment and essential medicines. Staff will also be sent to health and awareness training, with the aim of transmitting the information to civilians.

Family of female prisoner appeals to physicians for human rights to intervene
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The family of female prisoner Khulud Al-Masri, a member of the municipal council in Nablus, appealed to human rights organizations especially physicians for human rights to urgently intervene to provide their daughter with medication and to work to get her released as soon as possible for the sake of her five children. The family said that a center for the defense of human rights called HaMoked informed them that the Israeli prison authority transferred Khulud, 40, to the Beilinson hospital after the deterioration of her health, pointing out that their daughter suffers from weakness in her heart muscle. The wife of prisoner Abdelkader Sorour, the director of the PLC speaker’s office, appealed to humanitarian organizations to necessarily intervene to get her ill husband, 36, released from the Israeli Maskubia prison.

Palestinian Court Sentences Collaborators to Death
Wael Al-ahmed, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
A Palestinian military court on Tuesday sentenced two Palestinians to death by firing squad for collaborating with Israel, a court statement said. The three-judge military court in the northern West Bank city of Jenin ruled that Wael Said Saad and Mohammad Saad had "contacted the enemy". They were found guilty of "treason" and sentenced to death by firing squad. However, it is unlikely the men will be put to death because the sentence must be authorised by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has never before taken such a step. The statement did not say whether the two men -- one of whom was present for the sentencing -- pleaded guilty or not, but said the verdict could not be appealed. Human rights groups have sharply criticised Palestinian military courts, saying trials are unfair because there is no right of appeal, and arguing they should not try civilians.

Rights group urges Abbas to commute sentences of two collaborators
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to commute the sentences of two convicted collaborators and instate a moratorium on the death penalty in the Palestinian territories. On Tuesday, a special Military Court sentenced 27-year-old Wa’el Sa’id Sa’ed Sa’ed and 44-year-old Mohammad Sa’ed Mahmoud Sa’ed to death by firing squad for supplying information to the Israeli occupation. Both men are from the town of Yatta, south of Hebron, in the West Bank. The death sentence was passed against Wa’el Sa’ed in his presence, and against Mohammad Sa’ed in absentia, as he has already fled to Israel. The military court charged both men with treason and conspiracy, in violation of Article 131 of the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979. By law, the Palestinian President must give final approval before the sentences are carried out.

Two prisoners at a P.A prison deny allegations they were tortured
IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Maan News Agency reported on Wednesday that two prisoners detained by the Palestinian Military Police in Qalqilia District, in the northern part of the West Bank, denied allegation that they were tortured for membership with the Hamas movement. The two prisoners, Eyad Salmi and Basil Abu Suleiman, were interviewed by a Maan reporter and said that they are receiving proper treatment without any attacks or humiliation. Several weeks ago, the agency reported that the two prisoners voiced an appeal to President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene as they were being abused in prison. The two prisoners said they had no knowledge of what was published as they did not voice any appeal. The two prisoners seemed to be in a good health and no torture marks were present on their bodies. Head of the military police, representatives of the Public Relations Office of the Palestinian Security and the mothers of the two detainees also attended the interview.

Acting PLC speaker: national unity will solve many issues
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Dr Ahmad Bahar spoke in Gaza City organized by the Hamas public relations department outside Al-’Umari mosque on Wednesday. Bahrar spoke on a number of issues, foremost of which was that of national unity. All concerns, it seemed, stemmed from that issue. The Israeli military campaign against charities, humanitarian, economic and educational organizations in the West Bank, said Bahrar, aims first at making life difficult for Palestinians. Second, he suggested, the campaign is a plot to arouse rivalries amongst Palestinian factions. Bahar called upon Hamas and Fatah to work towards dialogie, though he did express the opinion that dialogue will be difficult during the term of the current United States president. This does not excuse Abbas’ decision to exclude Hamas from the Damascus meetings which involved several other factions, he said.

Islamic Jihad: PA security arrest campaigns are complementary to the IOF troops
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement stated Tuesday that the persistence of the PA security apparatuses in their vicious arrest campaigns against the Palestinian resistance fighters because of their political affiliation and their resistance against the IOF troops bear out that they play a complementary role to the Israeli occupation. In a statement received by the PIC, the Islamic Jihad called in this regard on the PA security apparatuses to release all its detainees in their jails especially Abduallah Bisharat and Qusai Swafta. It underscored that the PA security apparatuses became an additional burden on the Palestinian fighters and their activities, and their role became complementary to the Israeli occupation. The statement called on all national and Islamic forces in Palestine to assume their responsibilities and to pressure the PA to end its political arrest in. . .

Hamas: PA security detain three Hamas members in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Nablus - Salfit - Ma’an - Hamas announced on Wednesday that Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces detained three members of the movement in the West Bank. Hamas said in a statement that security forces detained Ibrahim An-Nouri in the Nablus governorate, Hussam At-Tammam in the Tulkarem governorateand Mujahed Nofal in Qalqilia. It is still unclear why the men have been detained. [end]

Palestinian journalists and academics call for a code of ethics accepted by all
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian academics and journalists called on all Palestinian journalists to draft a "charter of honour" which outlines the codes of practice that can guarantee objectivity and professionalism. They stressed that drafting such a charter "will contribute to a certain extent to get out of the internal media crisis and help build an independent national media that is not influenced by loyalty to parties. " The recommendation was made during a workshop held on Tuesday in Gaza city as part of a project that explores the role of the media in confronting party fanaticism. The workshop was organised by the Palestinian Forum of Media Professionals in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany. The workshop itself was entitled: "The Palestinian media discourse, what are the goals and how to achieve them? "The workshop was attended by Dr.

EU Raps Israeli Settlements After Med Union Summit
Jeffrey Heller, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
The European Union criticised Israel on Monday for what it called continued settlement activity on Palestinian land, while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was still in Paris after a Euro-Mediterranean summit. A statement issued by the French EU presidency said the 27-nation bloc was "deeply concerned" by an Israeli decision to issue a call for tenders for new housing units in Arab East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. " This decision serves to undermine the credibility of the ongoing diplomatic process," the EU statement said. The statement, while Olmert was in Paris to attend France’s Bastille Day military parade and meet U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, appeared to be a consolation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian officials said Abbas was angered by the failure to mention Israeli settlements and the occupation of Palestinian land in the final communique of the 43-nation founding summit of the Union for the Mediterranean on Sunday.

Palestinian Officials to Washington Amid Low Expectations for Peace
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
Palestinian negotiators arrive to Washington on Tuesday to hold talks with US officials in what could be a last bid to overcome the stalemate in a peace process that seems out of reach before the end of the year. " The meeting in Washington is to talk to the Americans about what can be achieved before President George W. Bush leaves office," said the Director of Middle East Democracy at Brookings Tamara Cofman Wittes in an interview with KUNA. " It is impossible and too complicated to get a final status agreement before next January," she added. Chief Palestinian negotiators Ahmad Qurei and Saeb Ereikat are to spend three days in Washington to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, White House’s National Security staff, congressional leaders, and the Special Envoy for Middle East Security General James Jones. " There is a sort of strange gap between formal negotiations and what is actually happening between the Israelis and the Palestinians on the ground," observed Cofman Wittes.

Hezbollah - Israeli prisoner exchange underway
Palestine News Network 7/16/2008
Naqoura / Exclusive to PNN / special Israeli source -- Beginning yesterday the border town of Naqoura was declared a "closed military zone" because of the exchange taking place Wednesday morning. The two Israeli bodies were handed over by Hezbollah. Their DNA was quickly checked. It was confirmed to be the missing soldiers so the Israelis began their part of the deal. Palestinians factions are referring to the exchange as a "victory for the resistance. " Hundreds of Lebanese are waiting at the border, or as close as they can get to it, to greet their family members. As it stands, all of the Lebanese prisoners and corpses kept by the Israelis have been moved to Naqoura on the Lebanese -- Israeli border, including Samir Kuntar. Kuntar has spent 19 years in Israeli prison. He is Lebanese but came to fight with the Palestinian resistance.

Israel mourns fallen soldiers
YNetNews 7/17/2008
Hundreds flock to homes of fallen soldiers Regev and Goldwasser to offer condolences, crying teenagers light memorial candles; preparations for military funerals underway, IDF rabbis to stay by coffins, read psalms throughout the night - Israel NewsNation mourns its fallen soldiers: Hundreds of Israelis flocked to the home of the Regev family in Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, throughout the day to offer their condolences to relatives of fallen IDF soldier Eldad Regev. The visitors included teenagers and children who showed up throughout the day and lit memorial candles. At one point, IDF representatives also arrived in the area and posted notices informing residents of the funeral arrangements. Sad day (Video: Reuters, Ynet, Channel 1. Edited by Tamar Avraham)A short while after the abduction of IDF reservists Eldad Regav and Ehud Goldwasser, neighbors. . .

Olmert: We paid a high price for our troops out of moral duty
Barak Ravid and Anshil Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that Israel’s duty to its soldiers led the government to carry out a prisoner exchange earlier in the day, in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces reservists abducted by Hezbollah in 2006. The coffins holding the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were later > delivered to an army delivered to an army base in northern Israel where their families were waiting. base in northern Israel where their families were waiting. The statement by Olmert acknowledged the apparently skewed exchange, in which Israel freed one of its most notorious prisoners, Samir Kuntar, and four Hebzollah fighters in return for the bodies.

Peres: Moral victory is ours
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 7/16/2008
President Peres slams Lebanon celebrations, stresses differences between Israel, Hizbullah -Addressing the tragic return of kidnapped troopsEhud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, President Shimon Peres said Wednesday afternoon tht "today we are all members of the Goldwasser and Regev families. " "We paid a painful price in order to bring Ehud and Eldad back home to rest," he said. During Peres’ speech at a conference for socially involved communities at his Jerusalem residence, the president stressed the difference between Israel and Hizbullah. "There are victory celebrations in Lebanon. They are stepping out with drums and dances to greet Kuntar the murderer who crushed the skull of four-year-old Einat with his gun and shot her father cold-bloodedly. "

Israeli confirms identity of soldiers’ bodies
Reuters, The Independent 7/16/2008
Hizbollah handed the bodies of two Israeli soldiers to the Red Cross today to be exchanged for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in a deal viewed as a triumph by the Lebanese Shi’ite guerrilla group. Many Israelis see it as a painful necessity, two years after the soldiers’ capture sparked a 34-day war with Hizbollah that killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon and 159 Israelis. Two black coffins were unloaded from a Hizbollah vehicle at a UN peacekeeping base on the Israel-Lebanon border after a Hizbollah official, Wafik Safa, disclosed for the first time that army reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were dead. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) took the coffins to Israel. The Israeli army later said it had identified the cadavers as those of its missing men, Israel radio said.

Hamas: Prisoner swap ’victory for resistance’
Middle East Online 7/16/2008
GAZA CITY - The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said a prisoner swap on Wednesday between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah was a "victory for the resistance. " "Hamas considers the exchange of prisoners between Hezbollah and the Israeli occupation to be a great victory for the resistance and Hezbollah," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement. "It proves that a useful way to liberate prisoners from the jails of the occupation is to capture Zionist soldiers, since the occupation refuses to release prisoners and keeps arresting more of them. " The reaction came as Israel and Hezbollah were in the process of exchanging two Israeli soldiers captured in 2006 -- and handed over in coffins -- for five Lebanese prisoners and the remains of 199 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. Israel used the the capture of the two soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid in July 2006 as. . .

Isma’il Haniyeh congratulates Al-Quntar’s adoptive mother over release
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Isma’il Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas de facto government in Gaza, visited Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday, to congratulate Um Jabir Washah, the adoptive mother ofSamir Al-Quntar, over his imminent release. Al-Quntar, who has been in prison since 1979 for the killing of three Israelis, is due to be released as part of the prisoner swap between Hizbullah and Israel. His release was one of Hizbullah’s key demands in the negotiations to secure the dealUm Jabir became Al-Quntar’s adoptive mother when her son was imprisoned in the same jail as the Lebanese militant. After her son was released, Um Jabir continued to visit Al-Quntar, providing him with the support usually reserved for a real son. The Palestinian organization, Detainees’ Support, also distributed sweets in the streets of Gaza City in celebration of the prisoner swap.

VIDEO - Abbas congratulates Kuntar’s family; Haniyeh: Israel will pay more
YNetNews 7/17/2008
(VIDEO) Palestinian president welcomes swap deal between Israel, Hizbullah. Hamas’ prime minister in Gaza says, ’The resistance’s victory proved the rightness of our way. ’ Spokesman for Popular Resistance Committees says kidnapping soldiers is ideal way to release Palestinian prisoners - Israel NewsVIDEO - Celebrating in Gaza and Ramallah as well: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday welcomed the execution of the prisoner exchange deal betweenIsrael and Hizbullah. Abbas congratulated the family of released Lebanese murderer Samir Kuntar and sent his condolences to the Lebanese families receiving their loved ones’ bodies as part of the deal. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv Hamas’ prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, congratulated Kuntar and Hizbullah for "the great victory of the resistance, which proved the rightness of our way.

Turkey sees Syria, Israel as committed to peace
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/17/2008
ANKARA: Turkey believes that both Israel and Syria are committed to peace, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Wednesday ahead of a fourth round of indirect talks between the two sides under Turkish auspices. "The talks so far took place in a sincere and constructive atmosphere," Babacan said in an interview on NTV television. "Our prevailing opinion is that both parties have a genuine political will to reach a settlement," he added. A date was set for a fourth round of indirect talks in Istanbul, Babacan said, but declined to disclose it, only saying they would be held "in a few weeks. "Under the format of the negotiations, Israeli and Syrian officials do not see each other and Turkish diplomats shuttle between them. Babacan said the talks’ success would have wider regional impact and could lead to peace talks between Israel and Lebanon.

Turkey: Israel, Syria committed to peace
AFP, YNetNews 7/16/2008
Though Paris summit left them estranged, Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan claims Olmert, Assad ready to talk; adds fourth round of talks to be held ’in a few weeks’ -Turkey believes that both Israel andSyria are committed to peace, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Wednesday ahead of a fourth round of indirect talks between the two sides under Turkish auspices. "The talks so far took place in a sincere and constructive atmosphere," Babacan said in an interview on NTV television. "Our prevailing opinion is that both parties have a genuine political will to reach a settlement. "A date was set for a fourth round of indirect talks in Istanbul, Babacan said, but declined to disclose it, saying only that they would be held "in a few weeks. "Under the format of the talks, Israeli and Syrian officials don’t see each other and Turkish diplomats shuttle between them.

Turkish FM: Israel, Syria show will for peace, to hold 4th round of indirect talks
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/16/2008
Israel and Syria both have the political will to end tensions between them and will hold a fourth round of indirect talks soon, Turkey’s foreign minister said Wednesday. Ali Babacan told Turkey’s private NTV television that his country would mediate those talks in Istanbul in the coming weeks but refused to disclose the exact date, citing security concerns. "Both sides have the political will for a solution," Babacan said. "There is hope. We wouldn’t have engaged in the negotiations if there weren’t. " Turkish mediators have been shuttling between the Israeli and Syria negotiators through three previous rounds of indirect talks since May. The talks have been conducted in secret in Istanbul and results have not been made public. Babacan said Turkey is trying to get both sides to meet in person.

Noam Shalit: Feelings of grief, relief mixed
YNetNews 7/16/2008
Father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit says his family ’supports, loves and strengthens Regev and Goldwasser families on this hard day’ - Israel NewsFor two whole years they stood side by side - the families of the Israel Defense Forces troops kidnapped into Lebanon and the family of soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held in the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday morning, Gilad’s father Noam expressed his support for the Regev and Goldwasser families and shared their grief. The bereaved families and the entire country watched live TV images of the coffins containing the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser being taken off aHizbullah truck on their way to Israel. Two years of tension and hope turned at once into grief. " I am certain that the captives’ families in Nahariya and Kiryat Motzkin are experiencing feelings of grief mixed with. . .

Health minister: My regional tour was successful at all levels
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Basim Na’eem, the health minister, stated Tuesday after returning from an official tour to Egypt, Syria and Turkey that his mission was successful at all levels, pointing out that he witnessed considerable Arab and Islamic sympathy with the Palestinian people. During his meeting with a number of journalists including the PIC reporter, Dr. Na’eem explained that during his visit to Egypt he met with Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League and the regional director of the WHO office in addition to a number of personalities and officials, adding that he briefed them about the humanitarian and health situation in the besieged Gaza Strip and the obstacles faced by the health sector. The health minister added that his visit to Syria was more than a success where everyone he met there hailed the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and their adherence to. . .

Ramallah Readies for Obama Visit
Khaled Abu Toameh, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
Palestinian Authority officials on Monday welcomed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plans to visit Ramallah next week, saying they would brief him on the situation in the PA territories and the status of peace talks with Israel. The officials, however, warned that Obama’s meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, slated for July 23, did not mean that the Palestinians favor Obama over his Republican rival John McCain. " The Palestinians don’t interfere in the internal affairs of the US," a top PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "Obama’s visit to Ramallah does not mean that we have endorsed him. " Another PA official said that the Palestinian leadership was "quite excited" about the candidate’s visit to Ramallah. " This visit shows that the man is interested in the Middle East," he said. "President Abbas will brief him on the general situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the status of the peace talks with Israel. "

Blair cancelled trip to Gaza despite de facto police assurance of safety
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – De facto police and security officials say that Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair cancelled his trip to Gaza despite safety assurances. The cancellation was announced without any reason to de facto Hamas government representatives. According to Ismael Al-Ja’bari, director general of security services and police in the de facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, the last time Blair’s security personnel contacted security officials in Gaza, "the security situation in the Gaza Strip was in good standing and the security at the sector [Blair was to visit] was at its highest level. " Al-Ja’bari confirmed that the de facto police had gone through all the necessary precautions. Security personnel were stationed throughout the areas Blair was scheduled to visit, and teams of inspectors were continuously patrolling the roads, pathways and school yards.

Haneyya: Blair cancelled his Gaza visit at the request of Olmert
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, said that Tony Blair, the international quartet committee’s envoy, had cancelled his visit to Gaza at the request of Israeli premier Ehud Olmert and his army leaders so as not to witnesses for himself the disastrous consequences of siege. Haneyya told Ramattan news agency in a televised interview on Tuesday that his government had adopted all necessary security preparations to ensure success of Blair’s visit but "we were surprised at the massive pressures on him and we were surprised to see him return (without entering Gaza)". The premier said that he had hoped that the visit would take place so that the international envoy would see for himself the destructive effects of the Israeli siege so that he would pressure the quartet committee to adopt daring decisions to lift the oppression befalling the Gaza Strip.

POLITICS-US: Doves Outnumber Hawks in Jewish Community
Daniel Luban, Inter Press Service 7/16/2008
WASHINGTON, Jul 16(IPS) - A new poll suggests that U. S. Jews hold views about the Middle East that are considerably more dovish than frequently acknowledged, with large majorities favouring diplomacy with Iran, supporting a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine, and advocating U. S. withdrawal from Iraq. U. S. Jews also favour Barack Obama over John McCain by a wide margin in the upcoming November presidential elections, according to the poll, which was released Wednesday by the Jewish advocacy group J Street. And as Washington prepares for a major summit next week hosted by Pastor John Hagee’s hawkish Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the poll finds U. S. Jews highly sceptical of political alliances with right-wing evangelical groups such as CUFI. "There is a major gap between the attitudes of American Jews and the conventional wisdom about how they view America’s role. . . "

50 percent reduction in medical licenses for a month and a half
Palestine News Network 7/16/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- Palestinian Minister of Health Dr. Fahti Abu Mgali is cutting the licensing fees in half for medical professionals. But they must pay fast. Beginning today anyone working in the field can pay their current licensing fees for the next years and those in arrears, but they only have until the end of August to do it. Beginning 1 September anyone who pays their licensing fee will be expected to shell out the full price. The General Director of Public Relations at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Omar An Nasser, said on Wednesday that the decision was made due to the poor economic conditions faced by all Palestinians. This is a relief move for those in the working in the medical field. The Ministry is encouraging all to pay quickly in order to take full advantage of this reprieve.

Palestinian college entrance exam results may be delayed
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The announcement of the Palestinian college entrance exam (Tawjihi) results may postponed to Sunday, because the Palestinian Education Ministry in Ramallah has still not received the scores from Gaza, a high-ranking source at the Ministry said on Wednesday. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the reason was that the Ministry has not received the data CDs containing the Gaza scores. Approached by Ma’an on Wednesday, a number of officials at the Education Ministry in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip refused to say whether the results would be announced on Thursday or not. Earlier this week the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education in Gaza, Muhammad Abu Shqer, had said that the results would be announced on Thursday. Students called on the Palestinian governments to announce the scores from both the West Bank and Gaza on the. . .

Israel concerned by U.S. plans to meet with Iranian envoy
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
Israel is concerned by American plans to send a senior envoy to meet with a senior Iranian representative to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. "There is a bad feeling in Israel and dissatisfaction with the U. S. move," Israel told senior Washington officials, according to a source in Jerusalem. "There can be no concession on the demand to end uranium enrichment as a precondition to negotiating with Iran," Israel added. UN Security Council members, Germany and the European Union have been holding regular meetings with Iranian representatives, and U. S. Under Secretary of State William Burns, considered No. 3 in the State Department, will be participating for the first time. The U. S. informed Israel of its plans to send Burns to the talks, emphasizing that this is a one-time meeting and not a change in policy.

US envoy to meet Iran’s nuclear negotiator
Middle East Online 7/16/2008
WASHINGTON - The United States is to send a top ranking diplomat to attend international nuclear talks with Iran on Saturday, marking a major shift in Washington’s policy on negotiations with Tehran. Undersecretary of State William Burns will attend the weekend meeting in Geneva between EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Tehran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, a US State Department official said. The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran and until now has refused to even participate in preliminary discussions with Iranian officials unless Tehran first suspends its nuclear enrichment activities. Burns, the United States’ third-ranking diplomat, would be in Geneva "to receive the Iranian response" to the latest package of incentives for suspension offered by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

After 30 years, US to send diplomats to Iran
Ewen MacAskill in Washington, The Guardian 7/16/2008
The US is planning to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years, a remarkable turnaround in policy by president George Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to Iran throughout his time in office. The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section in Tehran, a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country. The news comes at a critical time in US-Iranian relations. After weeks that have seen tensions rise with Israel conducting war games aimed at Iran and Tehran carrying out long-range missile tests, a thaw appears to be under way. [end]

Report: Iran to hold large air force exercise to strengthen deterrence
Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
Iran’s air force plans to hold a large-scale exercise to strengthen deterrence against any threats, a media report said, a week after the countrytest-fired missiles in war games criticised by the West. Air force commander Ahmad Mighani said on Tuesday the combat and defensive drills will be held in the near future, Iran’s state Press TV satellite station said on its website. Iran is estimated to have 280 combat aircraft, including Russian-made MiG 29 aircraft, but serviceability may be 80 percent or lower. Iran last week tested missiles in the oil-rich Gulf, including one it says could reach Israel and U. S. bases in the Middle East, and Washington reminded Tehran that it was ready to defend its regional allies. The Pentagon said on Tuesday that Iran has the ability to launch a ballistic missile capable of hitting sections of eastern and southern Europe.

US says Iran has missile that could hit Europe
Reuters, YNetNews 7/16/2008
Air Forces official says Iran apparently has 1,250-mile range missile. Islamic Republic claims it test-fired ’new’ Shahab-3 missile that could hit Israel -The Pentagon said on Tuesday that Iran has the ability to launch a ballistic missile capable of hitting sections of eastern and southern Europe. Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters he believes Iran now has a missile with a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 km), but he declined to say whether the weapon has been test-fired. Iran said last week it conducted two missile tests involving a number of weapons including what Iranian state television called a "new"Shahab-3 missile, a medium-range missile that could be used to strike Israel. Tensions over Iran’s missile arsenal and accusations from the United States and its allies that Tehran is pursuing. . .

Iran threatens President Bush
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 7/16/2008
Spiritual leader Khamenei: Iranian nation will punish Bush if he orders military strike - Harsh words from Tehran:Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a personal threat against American President George W. Bush Wednesday, warning the US leader that he will be punished by the Iranian nation if he orders a strike on Iran. "If George Bush orders a military strike against Iran, even if he leaves it up to the next Administration, the Iranian nation will sue and punish him even after his term in his office is over," Khamenei said. In a speech delivered on national television, Iran’s supreme leader promised a harsh response to any attack. "If anyone attacks Iran, our response will be decisive," he said. "The fact that the US government and Zionist regime are talking in order to cover up their own internal problems is their business. "

IRAQ: Call for more help for Iraqi refugees
M.Bernard/UNHCR, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 7/17/2008
BAGHDAD, 16 July 2008 (IRIN) - A group of Iraqi non-governmental organisations (NGOs) appealed on 14 July for more support from the Iraqi government, the UN and the international community for Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries. "There is an obvious violation of the rights of the Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries - mainly Jordan, Syria and Lebanon - as their needs have not been met properly," said Basil al-Azawi, head of the Iraqi Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, a coalition of over 1,000 Iraqi NGOs inside and outside Iraq. "Like other international reports, ours has shown clear negligence by the Iraqi government which doesn’t support these refugees properly - either directly by giving them money and/or help in receiving food rations, or indirectly by helping their host countries," al-Azawi said.

JORDAN: Government stops issuing residency permits to Iraqis
P.Sands/UNHCR, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 7/17/2008
Officials in Amman have said they will no longer issue or extend residency permits to Iraqis in Jordan - AMMAN, 16 July 2008 (IRIN) - The authorities in Amman have said they will no longer issue or extend residency permits to Iraqis who are resident in the kingdom legally or illegally. A deadline by which Iraqis were supposed to get their paperwork in order expired on 17 June 2008. Jordan is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no refugee law or asylum procedures. The Jordanian government, therefore, regards the estimated 500,000 Iraqis as "guests", "temporary visitors" or "illegal aliens". In March, the Jordanian government asked those Iraqis who had been residing in the kingdom without proper permits, to rectify their status. They were given two options - leave the country in exchange for the writing off of fines imposed for not having the right documents, or. . .

Veteran Mideast journalist Eric Silver dies aged 73
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
Eric Silver, doyen of the foreign press corps in Jerusalem, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 73. Silver, who lived in Jerusalem for the last two decades, was a foreign correspondent for The Guardian before deciding to move permanently with his wife Bridget and their three daughters to Israel. Silver was born in Leeds in 1935 and after studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford, he began working as a journalist for the Harrogate Herald and The Northern Echo. In 1960 he joined The Guardian, which sent him to cover the 1967 Six-Day War. During the 1960s he was also the Jerusalem Post’s correspondent in London. In 1972, he was sent to Israel as correspondent for The Guardian and The Observer, and covered all the major events from the Yom Kippur War to the Israel-Egypt peace deal and the first Lebanon War.

Abbas congratulates Kuntar’s family for killer’s release
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
In Gaza, meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday hailed Kuntar as "a great hero" and said Israel’s decision to release him and four Hezbollah fighters had undermined Israel’s policy of not freeing "prisoners with blood on their hands. " Haniyeh also branded the exchange of prisoners as "a victory" for Hezbollah and armed resistance against Israel. "The Israelis should pay the price for the release of Gilad Shalit," Haniya said in a statement in central Gaza, referring to the Israel Defense Forces soldier kidnapped by Gaza militants in June, 2006 cross-border raid. "It is hard to see thousands of prisoners still held in Israeli jails," He added. People celebrated in the streets of the Hamas-controlled coastal territory, and handed out sweets in support of Hezbollah. "Today is a great victory for the resistance movements and to Hezbollah, said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

VIDEO - Captives’ families devastated at footage of coffins
YNetNews 7/17/2008
(VIDEO) Regev, Goldwasser family members break down after seeing images of loved ones’ coffins turned over to Israel; said to identify remains later Wednesday, hold ceremony at northern IDF Shraga’s Base - Israel News VIDEO - After two years of holding out hope the worst has happened:Cries of horror sounded at the Regev and Goldwasser homes Wednesday, as family members witnessed the TV broadcast of the prisoner exchange, in which the coffins of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were shown being turned over to the Red Cross. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv The prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah began at 9 am at the Israel-Lebanon border crossing at Rosh Hanikra. Final StretchIsrael-Hizbullah prisoner exchange kicks off/ Ynet reporters Abduction affair which ignited Second Lebanon War comes to its end as. . .

ANALYSIS / In Lebanon, prisoner swap is Hezbollah victory
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
Hezbollah has been touting the prisoner exchange deal with Israel as confirmation that the Shi’ite militant group ultimately defeated Israel in the Second Lebanon War, but the swap is at least as much of a Hezbollah victory within Lebanon. "The signatures of Olmert and Peres on the swap means official confirmation of the defeat and failure of the July aggression in the face of the will of the resistance," said Nabil Kaouk, Hezbollah’s commander in southern Lebanon. But the swap may be even more significant within Lebanon. Since the end of the war, Hezbollah has been trying hard to prove that even if it was mistaken in its assessment of Israel’s response to its abduction of Israeli soldiers, the war had a positive outcome. Despite UN Resolution 1701, which theoretically set strict limitations onmilitary action, Hezbollah. . .

Naqoura rolls out red carpet for liberated detainees
Jihad Siqlawi, Daily Star 7/17/2008
Agence France Presse NAQOURA: Five Lebanese prisoners arrived to a triumphant red carpet welcome in Lebanon on Wednesday after being freed by Israel in a prisoner swap after years behind bars. The five - Samir Kontar and Hizbullah members Khaled Zeidan, Maher Kurani, Mohammad Srour and Hussein Suleiman - were given a heroes’ welcome when they set foot on Lebanese soil late afternoon at the Naqoura border crossing between Lebanon and Israel. The men changed out of their grey sweatshirts and into Hizbullah military uniforms before marching down the red carpet behind Hizbullah soldiers carrying the yellow flag of the resistance group and the Lebanese and Palestinian flags. Kontar, who was serving five life sentences, waved at applauding crowds as he and his comrades walked toward the stage under a shower of confetti.

’We cut out newspapers to show you when you returned’
Eli Ashkenazi Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
The families of the two abducted Israeli reservists whose bodies were returned as part of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah held a private ceremony Wednesday night at an army base in the north, where the coffins of the two had been delivered. The ceremony was quiet, intimate, brief and emotional. The families of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were abducted by Hezbollah in July 2006, were joined by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi and his predecessor Dan Halutz. The latter led the army during the 2006 war triggered by the abduction. The officials visited each family as they said their farewells in separate tents at the base. A tearful Karnit Goldwasser, wife of Ehud, was embraced by Olmert as they stood alongside his coffin.

Kuntar: My release completes war victory
YNetNews 7/16/2008
Samir Kuntar freed at Lebanon border Wednesday afternoon; Hizbullah celebrations underway - Israel News Child-killer freed:A short while after the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were identified, murderer Samir Kuntar and the four Hizbullah prisoners headed to the Lebanese border. They were brought to the border crossing around 5 pm and were handed over to the Red Cross before crossing into Lebanon. Triumphant return - Kuntar in his new outfit (Photo: AFP) Hizbullah’s al-Manar network reported that Kuntar and the four prisoners were received by masses of supporters, cries of joy, and lively music. Following a short ceremony, the freed prisoners were set to head to Beirut for a mass rally to celebrate their release. In his first statement after being released, Kuntar told al-Manar: "I want to congratulate all those who sacrificed for the sake of this new victory.

Israel identifies bodies of soldiers
Globes Online 7/16/2008
An ID process has confirmed the identities of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are expected back in Israel today as part of the prisoner swap with Hizbullah. “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal) reports that Hizbullah claims that both soldiers have reached the Israel-Lebanon border. The cabinet gave the final go-ahead for the swap last night, and President Shimon Peres signed the pardon for Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar. The border zone at Rosh Hanikra, where the swap will take place, was declared a closed military area last night and only authorized personnel will be allowed in. Israel security forces deployed along the border at 7 am today. Red Cross representatives in Lebanon transferred two coffins to the Israeli side of the border. The IDF Rabbinate will handle the identification procedure with assistance from forensic staff from Abu Kabir, if necessary.

Hezbollah prisoners freed in swap for dead Israeli soldiers
Middle East Online 7/16/2008
NAQURA, Lebanon - Five Lebanese prisoners freed by the Israeli authorities arrived in Lebanon Wednesday, hours after Hezbollah handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers seized by its resistance fighters two years ago. Among those freed was Samir Kantar, who was sentenced to five life terms. The prisoners were brought across the border in a convoy of four International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles and were greeted by Hezbollah’s chief prisoner swap negotiator, Wafiq Safa. Kantar, the longest serving Arab prisoner in Israel, was wearing a grey sweatshirt and jeans as he descended a vehicle to embrace crowds of wellwishers. His mother, Siham Kantar, 71, was shown on television embracing the freed man’s brother and crying tears of joy as she awaited him at Beirut airport where all five prisoners are expected to be flown later "I never gave up hope for a day," she said, choking back tears.

Olmert: We paid heavy price for captives
YNetNews 7/16/2008
Prime Minister Olmert issues official statement, says his heart goes out to captives’ families - Israel NewsPrime Minister Ehud Olmert issued Wednesday evening an official statement after the prisoner swap with Hizbullah was completed. and in the wake of the tragic return of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who returned to Israel in coffins. "The entire nation of Israel is hugging the mourning Goldwasser and Regev families," the statement read. "We are tearful and our heart goes out to the relatives, who fought tirelessly and did not lose hope until the last moment. " Olmert said "this was a day of removing doubts, certainly in respect to the fate of Udi and Eldad, may they rest in peace, but also with regards to the people of Israel’s moral strength. " "Based on this strength, we decided to bring back the boys even at the heavy price of releasing a despicable murderer," he said.

Hamas stages rally in Gaza to celebrate handover of Lebanese prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas staged a demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening to celebrate Israel’s release of five Lebanese prisoners, including Samir Quntar. Hamas leaders, including members of parliament, joined the march, which started in front of the Al-Khulafa mosque in Jabalia refugee camp. Hamas leader Yasser Harb said the prisoner exchange broke Israel’s policy of refusing to release detainees who have "blood on their hands. " Israel handed over the prisoners to Hizbullah on Wednesday Afternoon, along with the remains of about 200 dead fighters. Earlier Hizbullah returned to Israel the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. Hamas has been attempting to negotiate a similar prisoner exchange with Israel. The group is demanding that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in Gaza since 2006.

Festival in Ramallah honouring released bodies
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Za’arir confirmed on Tuesday evening that his movement has completed preparations to hold a festival in Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday. The festival will honor the resistance fighters whose bodies are scheduled to be released from Israel as part of the prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah. Patricipants in the festival will rally at the tomb of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. Za’arir said in a Ramallah press conference that Fatah was "proud of the martyrs and all the others who have sacrificed their lives for Palestine. " According to Za’arir the bodies being returned are: Dalal Al-Mughrabi, Azmi Zghayyar, Bilal Al-Awsat, Kamal Udwan, Yahya Scaf, Muhammad Shammari ( from Yemen), Ali Murad (Lebanese), Ahmad Jur’an, Muhammad As’ad, ’Amir ’Amiriyya, Muhammad Musamih, Abdul-Razzaq Abdul-Salam, Khalid Abu Isba’ and Hussein Fayyad.

Hezbollah and Israel completed the swap deal
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
Israel and Hezbollah completed the exchange of prisoners and remains of dead soldiers and fighters Wednesday afternoon. Five Arab, including Palestinian, prisoners, in Israeli jails have been released including Samir Qintar, Israel’s longest held Lebanese prisoner who has been incarcerated in Israeli jail for the past 30 years. In return, Hezbollah will give back Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, two soldiers the group captured in July 2006, and the remains of other Israeli soldiers killed in the 34-day war that followed the operation. Red Cross Trucks came from Jordan and loaded the remains of 200 killed Arab fighters from the cemetery of numbers and drove to Lebanon. The remains also include Dalal Al-Mughrabi a Palestinian female fighter who was killed in 1978. Ehud Barak, current Defense Minister of Israel was seen on TV shooting bullets at her dead body and dragging her on the ground.

Barghouthi: Prisoner swap a triumph
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian lawmaker and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi affirmed on Wednesday that the prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah marked a triumph for Lebanese and Palestinian steadfastness and continued resistance. He issued a statement congratulating freed prisoners emphasizing that completion of the deal is a guarantee that all prisoners will be set free eventually. Barghouthi added that the profile of more than 11,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody topped the priority list of the Palestinian people. He therefore called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization to focus on the matter of a Palestinian prisoner exchange so that the men might live in freedom with dignity. He explained that Israel used Palestinian prisoners to blackmail the PA, and that they have used. . .

Hamas: Prisoner-exchange deal big victory for resistance, Hizbullah
Palestinian Information Center 7/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday said that the ongoing prisoners’ exchange between Lebanese Hibzullah party and Israel was a big victory for resistance and for Hizbullah. The Movement in a press release said that the prisoner exchange deal was a proof that the only way to liberate prisoners from Israeli jails was kidnapping Israeli soldiers as long as occupation is adamant on retaining those prisoners in its jails. Israel’s release of Samir Al-Kuntar and his colleagues, who were serving high sentences, had broken occupation’s previous rejection to free prisoners serving high sentences and made its former positions "worthless and meaningless". Hamas assured the Palestinian masses that the day "our prisoners are freed from occupation prison is coming no doubt", and added that Hamas was doing all it could to release those serving high sentences.

Deputy FM Whbee: Beirut celebrations shameful
YNetNews 7/16/2008
Deputy foreign minister: Kuntar fans laud man who prides himself on smashing child’s skull - Israel NewsThe Beirut celebrations organized in honor of released murderer Samir Kuntar are shameful and attest to the lowly moral standards of his supporters, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee said Wednesday evening. "The large celebration in honor of the despicable murderer Kuntar is a shame to the Lebanese people, whose leaders choose to celebrate the release of a man who prides himself on smashing the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran," he said. (Attila Somfalvi)"All the leaders who are celebrating Kuntar’s release or are offering their congratulations to his family prove how lowly their moral standards are, and to what extent the politics of hatred robbed them of human compassion," Whbee added.

Hizbullah and Israel exchange prisoners, bodies
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel and the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah exchanged prisoners and bodies at the Naqoura border crossing on Monday. The exchange began just after 10am, with Hizbullah handing over the corpses of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured in a cross border raid in 2006. The Red Cross later confirmed the identities of the men. Late on Wednesday afternoon, Israel handed over five Lebanese prisoners, including Samir Quntar, until now the longest-held detainee in Israel, and the corpses of 190 other fighters. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Lebanese President Michael Suleiman and Parliament Speaker Nabih Birri were waiting for the returned fighters at the Beirut airport. The main event was later. The Hizbullah movement welcomed the prisoners home with a mass rally in Beirut.

Danny Haran’s brother: I feel defeated and humiliated
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 7/16/2008
Keren family watches as their relatives’ murderer set free in exchange for soldiers’ coffins. ’If I could, I would have killed him myself,’ says Ronnie Keren -The relatives of Danny Haran, who was murdered together with his two daughters in 1979 by a terror cell headed by murderer Samir Kuntar, on Wednesday watched the footage of kidnapped IDF soldiersEhud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev returned in coffins from mother Nina Keren’s home in Kiryat Tivon - furious at the fact that Kuntar has been released in return for dead soldiers. Baruch Keren, Danny’s brother, said: "When I saw our coffins I felt defeated and humiliated. If the soldiers were alive, at least one of them, I would have accepted it differently no doubt. But when you see the coffins you understand how we’ve been toyed with this whole time.

UN chief: Our thoughts and prayers are with bereaved families
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/16/2008
Ban-Ki-moon conveys ’heartfelt condolences’; House Speaker Pelosi: Hope replaced by grief - WASHINGTON- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday his thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families, following the return of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The secretary general conveyed his heartfelt condolences and said he is deeply satisfied that the humanitarian aspects of Security Council Resolution 1701 have finally been met. Mr. Ban also expressed his hope that there will be action soon for the release of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit and of Palestinian prisoners. He said believes these steps will contribute to improving the overall humanitarian situation in the region. ’May their memory be a blessing’ Meanwhile, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also offered her condolences.

VIDEO - Kidnapped troops return in coffins from Lebanon
YNetNews 7/16/2008
(VIDEO) Abduction affair which ignited Second Lebanon War comes to its tragic end as bodies of Eldad Regev, Ehud Goldwasser transferred to Israel, undergo final identification. Earlier, Samir Kuntar, four other Lebanese prisoners leave Israeli prison, arrive at IDF base in northern Israel before being returned to Lebanon - Israel NewsVIDEO - Abduction affair which ignited Second Lebanon Warcomes to its tragic end: The bodies of Israel Defense Forces soldiersStaff Sergeant Eldad Regev and Sergeant Major Ehud Goldwasser were handed over to the Red Cross on the Lebanese side of the border Wednesday morning, more than two years after they were kidnapped into Lebanon on July 12, 2006. Upon the caskets’ arrival in Israel, they underwent an identification process, which was completed Wednesday afternoon.

Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange: profiles
The Guardian 7/16/2008
Ian Black and Hugh Macleod look at the backgrounds of some of those due to be exchanged, and at one who is notable by his absence from the swap - Samir Kuntar: A Lebanese Druze, Kuntar was 17 in 1979 when he took part in a raid on the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Front. Captured and tried, he was sentenced to multiple life sentences amounting to 542 years for killing an Israeli policeman, a civilian called Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, whose skull he smashed with a rifle butt. Compounding the tragedy, Haran’s terrified wife Smadar hid in a wardrobe with another daughter but accidentally smothered her to death while trying to stop her crying. Kuntar, now 41, is a hero to many Lebanese and Palestinians and is reviled in Israel as a despicable murderer.

Background: previous prisoner exchanges
Associated Press, The Guardian 7/16/2008
Details of previous prisoner deals done since 1983 - Israel and Hizbullah exchange an Israeli civilian and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers for 436 Arab prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters. 1996 - Israel frees 65 Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of two soldiers captured in fighting in Lebanon. 1991 - Israel trades 51 Lebanese prisoners for proof that one of its soldiers held in Lebanon is dead. 1985 - Israel releases 1,150 Arab prisoners, almost all of them Palestinians, in return for three soldiers captured by Lebanese guerrillas in 1982. 1983 - Israel swaps 4,600 Palestinian and Lebanese captives for six Israeli soldiers abducted September 4 1982, from their forward post in Lebanon. Most of the Arab prisoners had been rounded up during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Tens of thousands celebrates release of Kuntar, 4 Hizbullah POWs
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 7/16/2008
Hizbullah’s leader told tens of thousands of cheering supporters on Wednesday that there would be no more defeats at the hand of Israel as they celebrated the return of five freed Lebanese guerillas released by the Jewish state in return for the bodies of two soldiers that led to its 2006 war with the Iranian-backed group. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Hizbullah had achieved its two major goals since the end of the war, to gain the release of all Lebanese prisoners in Israel and form a national unity government from the country’s fractured political parties. "The age of defeats is gone, and the age of victories has come. This people, this nation gave a great and clear image today to its friends and enemies that it cannot be defeated," Nasrallah said before being whisked away by bodyguards.

Shlomo Goldwasser: News of sons’ death painful, not surprising
YNetNews 7/16/2008
(VIDEO) Regev, Goldwasser families await final results of remains’ identification as they slowly try to grasp loss of loved ones. ’We didn’t kid ourselves,’ says Ehud’s father - Israel News VIDEO -Shlomo Goldwasser and Zvi Regev, fathers of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, spoke on the phone Wednesday after their sons’ coffins were turned over to Israeli custody. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv The two soldiers, who have been held captive by Hizbullah for 734 days, were returned toIsrael as part of a prisoner exchange deal with the Shiite group. According to the deal’s outline, the bodies were returned in exchange for murderer Samir Kuntar, four Lebanese prisoners and some 200 bodies of Hizbullah operatives.

VIDEO - Lebanese killer released as part of Israeli soldier swap
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/16/2008
Five Lebanese prisoners, including the notorious murderer Samir Qantar, crossed free out of Israel today in a prisoner swap after the Hizbullah militant group handed over two black caskets containing the remains of two Israeli soldiers. Although it was widely assumed in Israel that the two soldiers were dead, it was the first confirmation for their families that Eldad Regev, 27, and Ehud Goldwasser, 32, had died either during or after their capture in a Hizbullah ambush two years ago, which sparked the Lebanon war. A convoy of Hizbullah four-wheel drive cars delivered the caskets to the border crossing at Rosh Hanikra where they were carried over by the Red Cross and handed to the Israeli military.

Abu Ar-Rish brigades congratulate Hizbullah on prisoner swap
Ma’an News Agency 7/16/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Ahmad Abu Ar-Rish brigades, a military wing of Fatah, congratulated Hizbullah for the "great victory they accomplished on Wednesday through the prisoner swap deal with Israel. " Spokesperson of the brigades Abu Haroun told Ma’an that "resistance is the best way to deal with Israelis at this time. " [end]

Senegalese president slams Mediterranean Union
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/17/2008
DAKAR: The new Mediterranean Union, a brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will split Africa and also erode the African Union, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said Wednesday. The outspoken Wade said the new forum, launched last week and bringing together the 27 countries of the European Union with states from north Africa, the Balkans and Arab nations with Israel, would alienate the Maghreb from Black Africa. He said it would "lead to the eventual pullout of certain African states from the African Union for Europe" and that "North African countries will be absorbed by Europe. ""With North Africa turned towards Europe, the Sahara will become - and this is exactly what we have been trying to prevent - a political wall splitting our continent in two parts," Wade said in a statement. Wade said Europe was wooing Africa to boost its falling population rate in the face of stiff competition. . .

MIDEAST: Conflict Tops Med Union Agenda
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 7/16/2008
CAIRO, Jul 16(IPS) - The Union for the Mediterranean, a French-led grouping of EU nations plus 16 non-European Mediterranean states, was inaugurated Sunday (Jul. 13). The launch of the forum, of which Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is co-president, was dominated by issues related to the perennial Arab-Israeli dispute. "Most Arab states participated in hope that the new union would adopt a balanced position on the Arab-Israeli conflict," Ayman Abdelaziz Salaama, international law professor at Cairo University, told IPS. Held in Paris amid much fanfare, the event brought together heads of state from the 27 countries of the EU and 16 countries of the Middle East, North Africa and the West Balkans. Participants from the Middle East and North Africa were Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Albania, Monaco, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina,. . .

Wade: New Mediterranean bloc will split Africa
Middle East Online 7/16/2008
DAKAR - The new Mediterranean Union, a brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will split Africa and also erode the African Union, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said Wednesday. The outspoken Wade said the new forum, launched last week and bringing together the 27 countries of the European Union with states from north Africa, the Balkans and Arab nations with Israel, would alienate the Maghreb from Black Africa. He said it would "lead to the eventual pullout of certain African states from the African Union for Europe" and that "North African countries will be absorbed by Europe. " "With North Africa turned towards Europe, the Sahara will become -- and this is exactly what we have been trying to prevent -- a political wall splitting our continent in two parts," Wade said in a statement. Wade said Europe was wooing Africa to boost its falling population rate in. . .

At mid-year, $3.4 billion still needed for consolidated humanitarian aid appeals
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 7/16/2008
(New York/Geneva, 16 July): Six months into 2008, United Nations agencies, the International Organisation for Migration, and 239 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) still require USD 3. 4 billion to respond to the world’s most severe crises through this year’s Consolidated and Flash Appeals. Overall humanitarian funding requirements for 2008 for the 34 countries covered by these 11 Consolidated Appeals and six Flash Appeals have risen from $5. 4 billion at the start of the year to $6. 5 billion now. The biggest increases are for Somalia (up $235 million to $641 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (up $161 million to $736 million), West Africa (up $104 million to $416 million), Sudan (up $81 million to $1. 95 billion), the Myanmar flash appeal (recently revised up by $294 million, to $481 million) and Zimbabwe (up $78 million, to $394 million).

Israeli Army Arrests 8 Palestinians in Nablus
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
The Israeli Army arrested 8 Palestinians in Nablus, Tuesday, who Israel claims are affiliated with Hamas Movement. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces arrested the former head of a charitable society in the city, Dr. abdulhaleem Al-Hanbali, after storming his house and also arrested two members of Nablus Municipality, Kholoud Al-Masri and her husband and Husam Qataloni and his son. A Nabuls Municipality statement said Israeli forces arrested 6 members out of a staff of 15 and claim they are affiliated with Hamas. The sources added the Israeli forces also arrested administrative board member of the General Women’s Union Ms. Haneen Druzah and her son, as well as Finance Director of the Women’s Union Hospital Mohyee Al-Deen Al-Saloos. The arrests are the latest in Israeli crimes against the people of Nablus after several shops and charitable institutions were closed down recently with the pretext of being part of Hamas infrastructure.

Palestinians: IDF Arrests Three Hamas Officials in Nablus Raid
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops early Tuesday arrested three Hamas council members in a raid on the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Over the past year, Israel has arrested Nablus’ Hamas mayor and six of the Hamas-controlled municipal council’s 14 members in its efforts to crack down on the militant group’s activities in the West Bank The IDF did not immediately comment on the raid, which occurred in the early hours of the morning. Witnesses and residents say a total of 24 Hamas members were arrested, including the municipal officials. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his government have said the Israeli raids on Nablus damage his standing among the Palestinian public. Palestinians recently deployed security forces in Nablus and elsewhere in the West Bank under a security plan integral to peace talks. The IDF last week shut down a number of Hamas institutions in the northern West

Mustafa Barghouthi showing support to the city of Nablus
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 7/16/2008
Ramallah, 15-07-08: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the General Secretary of thevisited Nablus for the second time on Monday afternoon to show support to the residents of the city after the recent Israeli raids on the city Mall and a number of mosques and charity organizations last week. After visiting the Old city and meeting its residents, hearing their grief and expectations, Barghouthi focused his support on the youth community in Nablus by holding a meeting with teenagers. The Secretary General, along with the Palestinians Youth Forum, met around 40 students from Al Najah University to discuss and debate about the current situation and issues faced by youth students in Palestine. The 41 years of Israeli occupation, and the siege on Nablus that have lasted for 7 years have incredibly devastated the Nablusian economy.

The Israeli Army kidnaps 8 civilians and confiscates an institution in Nablus
Ghada Salsaa NEWS, International Middle East Media Center News 7/16/2008
The Israeli Army kidnaps 8 civilians from the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday at dawn. Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli Army invaded Nablus Mall and ransacked the office of the Solidarity Institutions for Human Rights, confiscating a number of computers, documents, and the files of the Palestinian detainees. The sources added that the kidnapped Palestinians are: Hamza Ghassan al-Jawhari, Bashar "˜Ali Kalbona, Kadri Shaheen, Mo’men al-Kayse, Karem Abu "˜Issa, Mos’ab "˜Ata Me’yari, Mos’ab Abu Salha, and Khalil Mohammad Nadi "˜Akra’. [end]

Saudi-sponsored interfaith meet kicks off in Spain
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/17/2008
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was kicking off an interfaith conference in Madrid on Wednesday - an effort to bring Muslims, Christians and Jewscloser together. Spanish King Juan Carlos was also addressing the gathering - which the Saudis have billed as a strictly religious affair, with no mention of hot-button issues like the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iranian nuclear ambitions or rising oil prices. Abdullah has made reaching out to other faiths a hallmark of his rule since taking over the oil-rich kingdom following the death of his half brother in 2005. He met with Pope Benedict XVI late last year, the first meeting ever between a pope and a reigning Saudi king. And in June, Abdullah held a religious conference in Mecca in which participants pledged improved relations between Islam’s two main branches - Sunni and Shia.

US envoy to meet Iran’s nuclear negotiator
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/17/2008
WASHINGTON: The United States announced Wednesday a senior US diplomat would attend international nuclear talks with Iran in the highest-ranking meeting between the two foes in three decades. In a major policy shift, the White House and State Department said Under Secretary of State William Burns would attend the Saturday talks with Iran on a "one-time" mission to underline US conditions for ending the atomic stalemate. In Tehran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran was ready for negotiations over the nuclear crisis but warned it would not step over any "red lines" in the search for a deal. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Burns would go to Geneva "to listen" to Tehran’s reply to a new incentives offer for freezing uranium enrichment - a program the West fears conceals a drive for nuclear weapons.

IRAQ: Unrest Surfaces in Fallujah Again
Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service 7/16/2008
FALLUJAH, Jul 16(IPS) - Security has collapsed again in Fallujah, despite U. S. military claims. Local militias supported by U. S. forces claim to have "cleansed" the city, 70 km to the west of Baghdad, of all insurgency. But the sudden resignation of the city’s chief of police, Colonel Fayssal al-Zoba’i, has appeared as one recent sign of growing unrest. Authorities may have controlled the media better than the violence. "Assassinations never stopped in Fallujah, but the media seems unwilling to cover the actual situation here," a human rights activist in Fallujah, speaking on terms of anonymity given the tense situation, told IPS. "The two bomb blasts that killed six policemen earlier this month and another two that killed three on the weekend seem to have terminated the silence. " People in Fallujah say they still suffer despite the relative improvement in the security situation.

US diplomat to talk nukes with Iran
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/16/2008
Third highest-ranking diplomat in US is expected to meet Tehran’s envoy in Switzerland in hope of convincing Islamic Republic to halt nuclear development program - In a break with past Bush administration policy, a top US diplomat will for the first time join colleagues from other world powers at a meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Thehas learned. William Burns, America’s third highest-ranking diplomat, will attend talks with the Iranian envoy, Saeed Jalili, in Switzerland on Saturday aimed at persuading Iran to halt activities that could lead to the development of atomic weapons, a senior US official told the AP on Tuesday. Winds of Change? Is Iran changing its nuclear strategy? / Ron Ben-Yishai US, European experts believe Iran already has full nuclear capabilities but has chosen to appease international community, suspend uranium enrichment. . .

Obama slams Bush, McCain on Iraq
Middle East Online 7/16/2008
WASHINGTON - Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday slammed President George W. Bush for pouring US firepower into Iraq, saying any new terror strike on US soil would likely derive from Afghanistan. The speech, to be delivered later Tuesday in Washington, is designed to set the stage for Obama’s looming trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe. "If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan. " Obama promised to concentrate on five main goals: "ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Al Muharraqi painting exhibition in Abu Dhabi
Middle East Online 7/16/2008
ABU DHABI - The Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation in association with Meem Gallery, Ghaf Art Gallery and the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage, proudly present an exhibition of the works of Abdulla Al Muharraqi, featuring a journey with the artist. Abdulla Al Muharraqi is recognized as being the founding father of Modern Arab Art in The Gulf. Born in Bahrain, his work is held in the highest esteem by the leading collectors throughout the GCC. The artist specializes in depicting local Gulf scenes and traditions, mingling realism with warmth. Muharraqi shares Bahrain and the Gulf with the world through his paintings. Over the years, he has painted more than one thousand oils, seventy of which he keeps as part of his private collection. His works, whether in romantic realism or simple cubism, reflect a style that’s instantly recognizable by art connoisseurs.

Cartoon of the day
Mark Hurwitt, Palestine Think Tank 7/16/2008
Mark Hurwitt is an Illustrator, Cartoonist, Designer, Writer and Teacher residing in Brooklyn New York. [end] -- See also: Mark Hurwitt website


The Colour of Water '''' Thirst in the Palestinian Territories
Alice Gray, Palestine Monitor 7/16/2008
      This article was first published in the magazine of the YMCA/YWCA Joint Advocacy Initiative, East Jerusalem.
     "œWho says water has no colour, flavour or smell? Water does have a colour that reveals itself in the unfolding of thirst........And water has the flavour of water, and a fragrance that is the scent of the afternoon breeze blown from a field with full ears of wheat waving in a luminous expanse strewn like the flickering spots of light left by the wings of a small sparrow fluttering low." - Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness, August, Beirut, 1982.
     "œWater is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights." - United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
     The water crisis has started early this year in the Palestinian Territories.
     In scores of towns and villages throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, people listen eagerly for the gurgle of water in pipelines, and turn on their taps with trepidation, watching anxiously for the first drops to appear, waiting to see if they turn into a stream, or splutter and gurgle to nothing after a few seconds. Others watch and wait for the arrival of water tankers, transporting the life-giving liquid to them from distant sources across an obstacle course of road blocks, checkpoints and military closures put in place by the Israeli Authorities, an inherent feature of their ongoing military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian Territories.

A family under siege

Philip Rizk writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008
      At the end of my visit they started asking me to take pictures for their brothers, uncles, sons and fathers detained in Israeli prisons for over four months -- a picture of a newborn not yet seen by the imprisoned father, one father’s favorite girl and a picture of the detainees’ pictures hanging on the wall to let the prisoners know they are missed, they are celebrated.
     On 19 March Israel rounded up Assad Salach and his sons Fahmi and Salach and Assad’s brother Sa’id and his son Ghassan along with over 300 men age 16 and above along its northern border with the Gaza Strip. It is not the first time that Israel arrests the male members of the Salach family.
     These days when homemade Qassam rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip they are usually launched from within the cities, not these border areas. Thus, it makes little sense for these men to be arrested solely for security purposes. Rather, it seems to be a method of pushing the families inhabiting the border areas into the cities and deserting their only source of income, their land. Israel is successfully destroying the potential of the fruit basket of the densely populated Strip. The once luscious green land is now reduced to an arid no-man’s-land, easily monitored by Israel’s security towers and drones overlooking it all. But more importantly the economic crisis caused by this ongoing intentional de-development of Gaza’s economy is destroying the society’s makeup.

No Mediterranean Union shortcut around Arab-Israeli conflict

Hasan Abu Nimah, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008
      French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to establish a Union for the Mediterranean. The idea of cooperation between countries north and south of the Mediterranean is by no means new. Decades ago the European Community had envisaged closer ties of partnership with the Maghreb countries. Those countries had been a secure source of cheap labour for Western European industry in past times. Through trade, 19th and 20th century European colonial policies and cultural and economic interaction, Arab communities had grown in various European countries, mainly those on the Mediterranean northern rim. It became natural as a result for both sides to harvest the historic process in a manner that served mutual interests.
     Later in time, those foreign communities turned burdensome. The tendency of people from the poor south to migrate by any available means, sometimes illegal, to the prosperous north in pursuit of jobs and better living conditions, had eventually led to the formation of ghetto-like foreign quarters in some European capitals. With conditions for integration often difficult, the presence of those foreign communities had sharpened the contrast between different cultures rather than acting as the desired catalyst for cultural and social interaction.

Whose Crimes? Against Whose Humanity?

Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 7/16/2008
      WASHINGTON, DC -- We stand before a decisive moment today, with the demand July 14, by a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a warrant to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on ten charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, for his policies in Darfur. This is a moment of historical reckoning for the leaders and people of the Arab world. How the Arab world responds to this challenge may well determine whether our region collectively shows its desire to affirm the rule of law as its guiding principle, or instead moves deeper into the realm of dysfunctional, brittle and violent statehood as its defining collective identity.
     It is a classic example of how the Arab world is politically tortured and ethically convoluted by its twin status as both victim and perpetrator of various crimes and atrocities. President Bashir is being accused and may be tried -- at one level. But at another level, many in the Middle East and elsewhere will ask if this is a new form of racism and colonialism that applies different standards of accountability for different countries.

Détente or Hidden Agendas? A sign of ''The Times''

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/15/2008
      Back in 2003 I wrote, “If ‘world peace’ is our main concern, we must achieve a balance of power, we must let the oppressed people of this world have access to the most advanced weaponry…. Balance of power is the only key to peace.” Nowadays, when Israel and its supportive lobbies are doing everything within their powers to drag us all into a third world war, I find it necessary to say it again. The only way to spare the Middle East and the entire world from another devastating cycle of bloodshed is to let the Iranians have their nuclear toy. But it goes even further, seemingly, the only way to save the Jewish state from its merciless parade of belligerent omnipotence is to let Iran join the nuclear club ASAP. The only thing that may cool down the Zionist militant genocidal enthusiasm is an overwhelming Iranian might of deterrence.
     But it isn’t only Iran. The only possible way to bring peace to the region is to equip Syria, the Hezbollah and the Hamas with the exact weaponry that would help make the Israelis think twice. As much as the Israelis love to punish their enemies they really hate to pay the ultimate price. Once the Israelis become aware of the clear possibility of their own destruction, they may rapidly develop some real inclination towards peace and reconciliation.

Can we Count on Obama?

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 7/16/2008
      When Barak Obama first appeared as a presidential candidate, it was as if a tiny breath of fresh air had swept across America, making its way over the Atlantic and into the lungs of Palestinians desperate for a change in the almighty Oval Office. Palestinians aren’t that naïve, however, to actually believe Obama could ever make any significant change to their plight, vis-à-vis Israel’s occupation over their lands. Still, his face was young and fresh, he had a Muslim – albeit estranged – father and he was black, thus establishing some common ground between them.
     The love affair was short lived however, tainted with episodes of betrayal. While Obama understandably sang to the tune of any presidential candidate who strives for half a chance, pledging his support to Israel and its security, Obama managed to distance himself slightly from the usual gushing associated with support for the Jewish state.
     For one, Obama was clear about his intentions to push the peace process forward, saying he undeniably supports the establishment of a Palestinian state and would actively work towards realizing this goal. The Palestinians seem to believe him as well, unlike their lack of faith in the current US President George W. Bush who "talks the talk" of a vision of a Palestinian state but certainly doesn’t "walk the walk."

Meet the Lebanese Press: Free at last!

Hicham Safieddine, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008
      The petty politics of forming a national "unity" government in Lebanon will be overshadowed this week by a development with local and regional implications. All Lebanese political prisoners still held in Israeli jails will return home. Five in total, including Samir Kuntar, the dean of Arab detainees, who has spent close to three decades of his life in captivity. (See details of the deal as ratified by the Israeli cabinet and published in As-Safir below.)
     With the return of prisoners, another chapter of Hizballah’s struggle against Israel has closed. This raises a set of questions not only about the future rules of engagement between the organization and Israeli forces, but Hizballah’s internal political agenda and its regional policies vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict.This latter point is particularly important in light of regional tensions between the US and its Arab and Israeli allies and Hizballah’s long-standing relationship with Iran and Syria. Ibrahim al-Amine of Al-Akhbar explores what this agenda might look like.
     Meanwhile, painstaking haggling between the different Lebanese factions has given birth to a 30-member government with 11 seats for the opposition, three for the president, and 16 for the loyalist camp. Concern about making gains ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections prompted the two leading groups in each camp, the Hariri-led Mustaqbal movement and Hizballah, to make concessions to their Christian allies.

The Israel-Hizballah prisoner deal

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 7/16/2008
      The Israeli cabinet’s decision to strike a prisoner-exchange deal with the Hizballah movement in Lebanon -- on the eve of the anniversary of the war between the two sides of 12 July-14 August 2006 -- will not be remembered as one of Israel’s most glorious moments. Even its chief architect, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has referred to the deal in terms of "sadness" and "humiliation" while it has been staunchly opposed by the heads of Israel’s internal-security agency (Shin Bet) and foreign-intelligence agency (Mossad), as well as by a number of Israeli politicians across the political spectrum. Indeed, the exchange of captives itself (or in the case of two Israeli soldiers whose seizure precipitated the 2006 war, their remains), which is planned to occur by 16-17 July 2008 at latest, can be described as a replay of what Israel’s own investigative commission into that war regarded as a historic defeat.
     True, Israel has made similar deals in the past -- some involving the release of much larger numbers of prisoners than the five Lebanese to be freed this time. But the very nature of the current exchange, as well as its strategic implications, renders it a zero-sum game in which Israel loses and Hizballah again emerges triumphant. In implementing it, Israel will effectively fulfill Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s "truthful promise" to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel (the original aim of the operation Hizballah carried out on 12 July 2006 when it abducted two Israeli soldiers on the Israel-Lebanon border) and reconfirm his oft-repeated slogan: "just as I always used to promise you victory, now I promise you victory once again." The overall impact will be to give these popular catchphrases the appearance of strategic foresights.

The General of Onions and Garlic

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Palestine Monitor 7/16/2008
      Here is the "next thing" in the war against terror: the war against hairdressers. After Hamas took over half the Palestinian people, in no small measure because of Israel’s policies, after we tried to fight Hamas with weapons and siege, destruction and killing, mass arrests and deportations, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service have invented something new: a war on shopping malls, bakeries, schools and orphanages. First in Hebron, now in Nablus. The IDF is closing beauty salons, clothing stores and clinics, and even one dairy farm, all on the pretext that they are connected to Hamas, or the rent they pay is given to a terror organization.
     These bizarre pictures of a closure order issued by the general of command, stuck on the window of a cosmetics store or a physiotherapy center, of a confiscation order stuck to a pita oven, show that the Israeli occupation has gone crazy. A few months ago I visited the charity institutions and commercial centers the IDF has begun closing in Hebron; I saw infuriatingly absurd scenes. A modern school, intended for 1,200 students, standing closed on orders of the GOC, and a library for young people about to shut.