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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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23 July 2008

ISM report: Father of girl who filmed Israeli soldier shoot bound Palestinian arrested
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Israeli army have arrested the father of the girl who filmed the 7 July incident where an Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian man, who was handcuffed and had his feet bound together. The man was shot at close range as an Israeli commander watched. On Wednesday, the girl’s father Jamal Hussein Amirra was arrested. The arrest occurred today near the Palestinian village of Ni’lin, north of Ramallah, where villagers were peacefully protesting the construction of the separation wall. Today’s protest was a women’s only event, and Amirra was watching away from the actual protest. When the Israeli army attacked the unarmed women, Amirra went in to protect the demonstrators, while Victor MacDiarmid, a Canadian citizen, took photographs. The two men were arrested within minutes.

Civilian shot by Israelis in the north of Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Palestinian medical sources announced on Wednesday morning that a civilian was shot by Israeli forces in the north of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened fire at a group of civilians in the north of Beit Hanoun injuring Mohammad Abdel Aziz Hamdan in his leg who is in his twenties of age. Hamdan was transferred to Beit Hanoun hospital then to Kamal Udwan hospital for treatment, doctors described his situation as “stable”. This incident will be seen by the de facto Hamas government in Gaza as constituting another Israeli breach of the truce between Israel and the Gaza Strip. [end]

UNRWA official: Gaza poverty mounts despite Hamas-Israel truce
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 7/23/2008
GAZA, Jul 23, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) --A UN official in Gaza Strip said Wednesday that poverty in the enclave is mounting despite an one- month-long truce between Israel and Hamas. "The situation in the Gaza Strip continues to deteriorate and the number of poor people continues to increase one month after a truce has been reached," John Ging, operation director of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the impoverished enclave told reporters. Following a truce brokered by Egypt between Israel and Gaza militant groups, which took effect on June 19, Israel has slightly eased the blockade imposed on the strip and allowed more amounts of food, fuels and raw materials into Gaza. "The poor people here in Gaza don’t feel the benefits of the truce and their living conditions continue to deteriorate as Israel still doesn’t allow all kinds of basic goods and food supplies into Gaza," said Ging.

Shin Bet: reoccupation of Gaza Strip
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/23/2008
Gaza -- Israeli forces are 300 meters into the Gaza Strip as it stands now, in spite of the ’calm’ and despite the fact that they ’withdrew’ from the Strip years ago. The buffer-zone, as it is called, prevents farmers from reaching their lands and people who live near these areas from being safe. But now it is going to get worse. The head of the Israeli security Shin Bet has called for a full re-occupation of the Gaza Strip and to maintain a permanent military presence there. The onus is being placed on Hamas once again, the party with whom the Israelis have the ’calm. ’ Projectiles have been launched from the Strip since the period began, but so too have Israeli forces opened fires on civilians and members of the resistance, kept the crossings closed, killed Palestinians, and bulldozed lands. The projectiles launched have come from every faction, but the Shin Bet is focusing on the few from Hamas’ armed resistance wing.

Israeli military vehicle runs over child in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Hebron - Ma’an - Police and medical sources told Ma’an that an Israeli military vehicle ran over 6-year-old Hamza Nabil Fawzi Aj-Julani in the area of Farsh Al-Hawa west of Hebron. Public relations in the Al-Ahli hospital informed Ma’an that the child is in serious condition and that he had been transferred to Hadassa Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem for treatment. [end]

Israeli settlers attack a house in Nablus City
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
Israeli settlers attacked a house in Boreen village in the southern part of Nablus city and injured the residents of the house. [end]

Hezbollah spells out prison swap terms
Middle East Online 7/23/2008
UNITED NATIONS - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has spelled out his terms for further prisoner swaps with Israel, according to a letter from UN chief Ban Ki-moon to the president of the Security Council seen here Wednesday. Ban said he had received a letter from the Lebanese Shiite leader indicating "his readiness for participation in the remaining humanitarian cases of Israeli MIA (missing in action) of the 1980s," the UN chief said in his letter addressed to Vietnam’s UN Ambassador Le Luong Minh, the council chair this month. Ban said Nasrallah made it clear that his positive attitude would depend on "the nature and extent of Israeli humanitarian moves on behalf of Palestinian and Arab victims. " Nasrallah stated that a "minimum requirement" would be the release of "hundreds" of "minors, women and elderly people being held in Israeli detention" as well as detainees suffering from health handicaps and injuries, according to Ban’s letter.

Hamas: IOF targeting of farmers, fishermen provocative
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday warned the Israeli occupation forces of continuing to violate the calm agreement, describing targeting farmers and fishermen as provocation for them for the resistance factions that are still committed to the truce. The Movement’s spokesman in northern Gaza Abdul Latif Qanu underlined that his Movement was deeply concerned with the "Zionist enemy’s firing at farmers in Beit Hanun on Wednesday morning that injured the citizen Mohammed Hamdan in his left foot". He said that the shooting was a "flagrant violation of the calm and an attempt to provoke the farmers working in their own fields and the resistance factions". "The Zionist enemy is daily violating the calm agreement," Qanu charged, adding that Egypt should interfere in the issue since it vowed to commit "the Zionist enemy to halt aggression, violations and to open crossings".

Israel keen to crack down on East Jerusalem terrorists
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/24/2008
Responding to the sharp rise in terrorist attacks in the capital, carried out by Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities are keen to expedite procedures that would authorize the resumption of punitive measures, such as the razing of terrorists’ homes. For the second time in three weeks, a Palestinian terrorist went on a rampage with a bulldozer in central Jerusalem. Twenty four Israeli civilians were injured, one seriously, before the driver was shot and killed by a Border Police officer and a civilian. The attack occured close to 2 P. M. , near the King David Hotel, where Barack Obama, the presumptive U. S. Democratic presidential candidate, stayed Tuesday night. Security sources expressed concern Tuesday at the sharp rise in the number of attacks in the capital, and the role of East Jerusalem’s Arab residents in them.

Bulldozer incident fuels Israeli push for ethnic cleansing
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/23/2008
Jerusalem -- Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit is calling for control of Palestinian entry into Israeli boundaries in the wake of the recent bulldozer incident in Jerusalem. But this has been an Israeli policy in the works for years, to prohibit Family Reunification. Sheetrit suggested in a radio interview Wednesday morning that East Jerusalem residents be prohibited from working on construction sites in West Jerusalem. While some have suggested that the bulldozer driver’s house be demolished, Sheetrit expressed his desire for Israeli forces to abide by legal standards as imposed by the international community regarding demolition of homes. Palestinians who carry Israeli passports, some 20 percent of the Israeli population, are at risk of losing their homes should they leave them to visit family outside Israeli boundaries.

Israel announces pardon of 24 members of Al-Aqsa brigades
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli military leaders have informed the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Israel is willing to pardon 24 wanted resistance fighters affiliated to the Al-Aqsa brigades, the military wing of Fatah, an Israli source said on Wednesday. This decision came as a concession in the wake of continued israeli incursions into the city. The decision was conveyed in a meeting between Palestinian officials and Israeli military leaders which was held on Tuesday in Nablus to discuss the situation in the city. The sources said that four of the wanted fighters would be allowed to move freely inside the West Bank, while the others will only be allowed to move in the fully PA controlled, area “A”. All of their names will be deleted from the list of wanted Palestinians. The meeting was between the Chief of Civil Affairs, Hussein Ash-Sheikh, Mahmoud Abbas’ consultant, Hikmat. . .

Quds Brigades: IOF coordinated with PA security to assassinate 3 of our elements
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, charged in a statement on Tuesday evening that a unit of the Israeli occupation forces and another of the PA security in the West Bank tried to assassinate three of its elements north of Tulkarem. A senior commander in the armed wing said in a statement late Tuesday that the PA security elements were chasing a car carrying Fadi Kittani, one of the armed wing’s commanders, and two other Mujahideen in Qufin village, north of Tulkarem, on Tuesday afternoon when suddenly ten IOF jeeps intercepted the car. He said that the three fighters exchanged fire with the IOF soldiers until they managed to safely evacuate the scene without being harmed while the PA security vehicle retreated inside the village. The source said that the IOF troops blew up the fighters’ car and searched a number of homes in the area and tried to capture the fighters but they managed to retreat safely.

Barhoum: Joint IOF-PA attacks on Hamas in WB reveal falsity of dialog calls
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas charged on Tuesday that the "ferocious" campaign of arrests waged by the PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security apparatuses in harmony with the IOF troops aims at eliminating Hamas and liquidating Palestinian resistance in the West Bank. A press release by Hamas’s spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the arrest campaign also reveals falsity of Abbas’s call for comprehensive, national dialogue. He warned that the "rabid" campaign against the Movement and its cadres seek to prepare the atmosphere for a "serious project" that serves Zio-American projects and wipes out the Palestinian people’s rights and constants for which they had sacrificed for long decades. Barhoum noted that security coordination between the PA and the IOF in the West Bank had noticeably increased as of late that was coupled with a joint campaign to deprive the Palestinians in the West Bank from benefiting from charitable projects that boost their steadfastness.

Hamas sources: ''P.A security arrests 14 Hamas supporters in the West Bank''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
Hamas media sources reported on Wednesday that Palestinian security forces, loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, arrested on Tuesday 14 members and supporters of the movement in several West Bank areas. In Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, Palestinian security forces arrested Monther All Hadmy, Mohannad Abu Sil, Yousef Issa, Hathefa Al Daghaghma, Raed Al Halayqa, Mohammad Al Hour, Mohammad Al Teety, and Haitham Al Karaky. In Nablus district, in the northern part of the West Bank, security personnel arrested Mahmouad Habeesha and Moayyad Ahmad. Ahmad was recently released from an Israeli detention facility. In Bethlehem district, security forces arrested two Bethlehem university students identified as Nour Ed Deen Dannoun, and Mohammad Fuad. Both were arrested outside the main gate of the university.

PA: Hamas security forces detention of PLO commitee members is unacceptable
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Az-Za’arir, condemned Hamas’ retention of PLO executive committee members, Zakariyya Al-Agha and Riyad Al-Khudari near the Erez crossing into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Hamas security forces apparently confiscated their identity cards and prevented them from traveling to Ramallah to attend meetings of executive committee. Az-Za’arir claimed that Hamas has escalated its actions against leaders of other factions in Gaza since the begining of the truce between it and Israel. He called for the end to such practices as a precondition to the ending of the split between Hamas and Fatah.

Minister of Planning: government may not be able to pay salaries, waiting for promised aid
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Minister of Planning Dr Samir Abdullah warns of a looming financial crisis as the government faces a shortfall waiting for Arab and foreign aid promised at the Paris conference to come through. The minister said that the government budget is one billion 600 million dollars per year and the government needs 210 million dollars monthly in order to function. One hundred and ten million dollars of that monthly budget goes to paying the salaries of civil servants and government staff. Currently, there is not enough money in the government’s accounts to pay salaries. According to Abdullah, "90 million dollars of the budget is currently under Israeli control. "Most of this money goes to Israel in the form of import taxes on goods brought into the Palestinian areas. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has agreements with Israel that a certain percentage of these taxes be transferred to the PA.

Among many others Islamic cemetery under threat, but this one escapes immediate desecration
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/23/2008
Nablus - A magistrate court in Eilat issued a sanction against excavations and construction work in the Islamic cemetery of Umm Rashrash a few days ago. The new long-term injunction replaced the previous temporary measure, and will remain in place until a final decision is made on the matter. The Al Aqsa Foundation for the Reconstruction of Islamic Sanctities uncovered a mass grave at the Umm Rashrash cemetery earlier this year. It contained Muslims remains, buried in military clothes, and parts of the Qu’ran. This discovery attracted wide scale Arab media attention at the time. Continuous efforts by the foundation have been made to preserve the site. The foundation’s leader, Sheikh Ali Abu Sheikha, said, "The resolution is a good achievement for the prevention of the violation of the Islamic cemetery in Umm Rashrash, but at the same time the Israeli establishment. . .

The Ofer Military Court extends remand of a Palestinian author
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
The Ofer Israeli military court, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah extended the remand of Palestinian Author and media writer Mohammad Al Qeeq, for the fourth time since he was kidnapped by Israeli forces. On June 4, 2008, Al Qeeq was detained for several hours at the Container roadblock between Bethlehem and Ramallah and was moved to a detention facility. The court renewed the detention of Al Qeeq four times since he was abducted by the army and the Israeli prosecution never pressed charges against him. Dozens of Palestinian reporters were kidnapped by the army and were imprisoned for different periods, which is yet another Israeli violation against the freedom of press and against Palestinian writers and intellectuals.

Three Palestinian officials to appear in Israeli court
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Three Hamas-affiliated members of the Palestinian National Council, Dr Samir Al-Qadi, Dr Muhammad Badir and former minister Issa Al-Ja’bari, all from Hebron in the southern West Bank, are scheduled to appear in Israeli court on Wednesday. The court will decide whether to extend their terms of detention. Forty three Palestinian legislators and ministers are still detained in Israeli jails. [end]

Soldier who killed peace activist denied appeal
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/24/2008
Taysir Hayb tells military committee hearing his appeal that he sent taped apology to family of British peace activist Tom Hurndall, whom Hayb killed while he was shielding Palestinian children from gunfire; however family denies receiving tape - A special IDF committee has denied an appeal by the soldier Taysir Hayb, who was convicted of killing British photographer and peace activist Tom Hurndall, for early release from prison. Hayb has served half of his sentence, and the committee determined that when he completes two-thirds his case will be reconsidered. Hurndall, 21, was shot in the head during a protest in Rafah, while acting as a human shield for Palestinian children that had been caught in the crossfire. He lost consciousness following the injury and eventually died from complications of the onset of pneumonia.

IOF kidnap father of girl that filmed soldier shooting handcuffed detainee
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- IOF troops on Wednesday kidnapped Jamal Omaira, the father of the girl whofilmed an IOF soldier while shooting at a handcuffed, blindfolded Palestinian detainee in Na’lin village west of Ramallah city a few days ago. The soldier said that he was following orders of his commander who ordered him to shoot at the helpless detainee. In the meantime, large numbers of IOF troops stormed the city of Tulkarem and Qufin village searching for Islamic Jihad activist Fadi Kittana, who survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday night. The soldiers detained Ahmed Abu Abed from the same village after wreaking havoc in his home and other stormed homes in the village. In Qalqilia, a commercial strike was observed on Wednesday at the call of the national committee to break the Israeli siege. The committee said that the city has been under Israeli siege for a year. . .

Polygraph ’confirms’ IDF officer didn’t order soldier to shoot cuffed Palestinian
Yuval Azoulay and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 7/24/2008
The Israel Defense Forces officer accused of ordering a soldier under his command to shoot a bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainee has passed a polygraph test verifying his testimony that he did not give the order to open fire. Lieutenant colonel Omri Fruberg, commanding officer of IDF regiment 71, took the polygraph on Tuesday in a private institute at the recommendation of his lawyers. The investigation began after the soldier, who was filmed shooting a Palestinian protester during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Na’alin, said he just been carrying out an order by Fruberg. In the video, Fruberg is shown holding the arm of the Palestinian, Ashraf Abu-Rahama, 27, while a soldier under his command opens fire at close range. Abu-Rahama sustained light wounds to his foot in the incident.

Israel Probes ’Detainee Shooting’
BBC News, MIFTAH 7/23/2008
Israel says it has launched an inquiry after an Israeli human rights group released footage that appears to show a soldier shoot a Palestinian detainee. The video is blurred when the gun fires, but the Palestinian man says a rubber bullet hit his left big toe and he was treated by an army medic. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) called the incident "grave" and in "direct contradiction" of the army’s values. Rights group B’Tselem said the incident occurred on 7 July in the West Bank. B’Tselem said the video clip showed a soldier firing a rubber-coated steel bullet, from close range, at a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee. It said the shooting took place in the presence of a lieutenant colonel, who was holding the Palestinian man’s arm when the shot was fired. InvestigationA 14-year-old girl reportedly filmed the incident from the window of her home in the town of Nilin, which has been the scene of violent protests against Israel’s West Bank barrier.

Relocation of Palestinian refugees to Sudan is not a lasting solution
Refugees International - RI, ReliefWeb 7/14/2008
Refugees International Urges U. S. to Resettle Vulnerable Palestinian Refugees from Syria-Iraq Border - Washington DC - Refugees International (RI) called on the U. S. government today to urgently resettle 3,000 Palestinian refugees from the Syria-Iraqi border in response to announcements that the vulnerable population would be relocated to Sudan. RI expressed deep concern over the decision taken by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Sudan to relocate this population to pre-fabricated housing in a Khartoum neighborhood, with no path to citizenship. As the three parties prepare to start processing the refugees, Refugees International called for the UN, the U. S. , and other resettlement countries to ensure a voluntary, dignified process that allows this vulnerable population to find a permanent, stable home.

Three arrested at Women only protest against the wall
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Three people including one at least one international were arrested in Ni’lin, near Ramallah in the central West Bank, on Wednesday at a peaceful demonstration against the separation wall. The protest was organized and participated in solely by women. The demonstration started at 11:30 when the women made their way to the construction site of the wall carrying banners. They were met with fierce resistance from the Israeli forces who fired tear gas at the crowd. One international on the demonstration said, "The use of force was totally disproportionate, we put our hands up to show we had no weapons, but the soldiers continued to assault us. " There have been regular twice weekly demonstrations at Ni’lin in recent months but this is the first women only protest. Organizers say it will become a regular event.

Women’s demonstration in Ni’lin
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Women in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, near Ramallah, will hold demonstration against the building of the separation wall on Wednesday. The village has been the site of regular demonstrations in recent months but this is the first organized and participated in solely by women. Locals will be joined by women from Israeli and international solidarity groups. The group will make their way to the construction site of the wall carrying banners and balloons. Organizers say that this will be the first in a series of such protests. [end]

A nonviolent protest in Ni’lin village west of Ramallah
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
Nonviolent peace protesters marched a protest against the illegal wall being built on Palestinian lands on Wednesday midday. [end]

Israeli army invades three Palestinian areas, kidnap one civilian
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
Israeli Army invaded a number of Palestinian cities Wednesday at dawn, and kidnapped one civilian in Tulkarem. Local sources reported that a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the city of Nablus and drove through several neighborhoods for a couple of hours. The army withdrew without taking anyone prisoner. Nablus and the nearby villages and refugee camps, have been subject to frequent Israeli invasions in the past three weeks. During those three weeks dozens of civilians were kidnapped, homes were ransacked in addition to the closure and invasion of educational, social, commercial and religious facilities. Israeli troops also invaded the city of Jenin, its refugee camp and the nearby village of al-Yamoun in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Local sources reported that a number of Israeli vehicles invaded area and troops patrolled the city’s neighborhoods and shot intensive gun fire and sound bombs.

The Israeli Army kidnaps a Palestinian in Hebron
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
The Israeli Army invaded on Wednesday at dawn the southern West Bank city of Hebron. and kidnapped a civilian. [end]

Kittani survives fourth assassination attempt
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/23/2008
Tulkarem -- Three leaders of Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad, survived an assassination attempt by Israeli forces Tuesday evening in the northern West Bank region of Tulkarem. Israeli forces chased a car containing Fadi Kittani and two other leaders of Saraya Al Quds, as reported in a Palestinian Authority press release. They found themselves surrounded by over ten Israeli military jeeps and special forces vehicles. Israeli forces exchanged fire with the three men, who then escaped from their vehicle shortly before it was blown up. The men were brought by Palestinian security to a safe place in town. Israeli forces carried out searches of several houses in a failed attempt to find the men. This is the fourth assassination attempt survived by Kittani.

Kitani evades capture again as Israelis storm Qaffin
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - Israeli forces stormed the houses of civilians on Wednesday morning in the town of Qaffin north of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, searching for Fadi Kitani, leader of Islamic Jihad’s military wing. A source from Islamic jihad told Ma’an that the raids happened at 1am Wednesday morning and targeted the houses of relatives of Kitani. The soldiers apparently opened fire in the houses and attacked a number of the inhabitants before arresting one man, named as Ahmad Abu Abed. Israeli forces have been searching for Kitani for a number of years and he dramatically escaped the fifth attempt to assassinate him on Tuesday, when troops surrounded him and blew up his car. In the early hours of Wednesday, 16 military vehicles arrived in the town and closed off the Al-Ajjouli area in Qaffin in order to stop Kitani from escaping.

Settlers spray unknown chemicals on Palestinian farmers
Palestine Monitor 7/23/2008
At approximately 5. 30pm on July 21, 2008, two Palestinians farmers from Immatin in the Qalqiliya district were working on their land, in a valley close to Far’ata when they saw five settlers from the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Gilad approaching, two on horses, three on foot. As the settlers started surrounding the two Palestinian farmers, they phoned their family for help. In the meantime, an additional fifteen Palestinians from Far’ata who had been working in their land nearby rushed over towards the farmers from Immatin to help them. Seeing this, the settlers went up the hill, yelling at the Palestinians that they would beat them, throwing stones on them and starting smaller fires. Approximately 15 more masked settlers gradually joined them. At approximately 6pm some 15 Israeli soldiers arrived. The Palestinian farmers reported that they did not do anything to push the settlers away.

Palestine Today 072308
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Palestine Today 072308 Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Wednesday July 23rd, 2008. The Israeli army injures a Palestinian civilian in Gaza and runs-over a Palestinian child in the West Bank, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News cast In the Gaza Strip, The Israeli army shot a Palestinian on Wednesday midday from a nearby Israeli military zone located on the northern borders of the Gaza Strip. Medical sources reported that Israeli troops opened fire at the 25 year old Abed Hamdan causing the injury of his foot and he was transferred to a local hospital for treatment. The Israeli army fire today came following an Israeli decision two weeks ago to shoot at any moving object just 300 meters away from the border fence.

Shin Bet probes ’settler rocket fire’ near Nablus
Yaakov Katz And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 7/21/2008
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) was looking into Palestinian claims on Monday that settlers from Har Bracha and Yitzhar in the West Bank fired two rockets into fields near Nablus. This burnt cylinder, which Palestinians claim is a homemade rocket, was found in a field near Nablus on Sunday. A picture of the "rocket" provided by a left-wing activist and obtained by The Jerusalem Post shows a burning metallic cylinder lying in a field near Nablus. The Shin Bet said it could not confirm what the cylinder was and raised the possibility that settlers had fired a homemade rocket or that Palestinians had discovered an old military shell and set it on fire. One of the two projectiles landed in a field near the villages of Awarta and Odala, Hani Dalrashi of Awarta told the Post. He said it was the fourth time that settlers had fired rockets at Palestinian villages south of Nablus.

Israel’s press office cuts off contact with Al-Jazeera over Kontar ’celebration’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/24/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s government press office cut all contacts with pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television Wednesday, accusing its Beirut bureau of throwing a party for a freed Lebanese militant who committed a triple murder in Israel. Press office director Daniel Seaman toldAFP the decision was made following reports that the bureau hosted a party for Samir Kontar, who was convicted by an Israeli court of killing three of its in a 1979 attack and was returned to Lebanon last week in a prisoner swap with Hizbullah. "We received information that they had a party in their offices in Beirut in the presence of Samir Kontar. They hailed him, praised him," he said. "The fact that an organization that considers itself professional is celebrating the murderer of a child is disgusting. It is despicable. "Seaman said the decision was made by the press office itself, not the government, and that Al-Jazeera employees could keep their press credentials.

US wants Lebanon to talk to Israel about Shebaa
Daily Star 7/24/2008
BEIRUT: A US initiative to resolve the dispute over the occupied Shebaa Farms is still on the table, and is being considered by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, An-Nahar newspaper’s correspondent in Washington on Wednesday quoted an American official as saying. "The essence of the proposal is that Lebanon engages in indirect negotiations over the fate of Shebaa Farms, either through United Nations mediation or through an intermediary of the Tripartite Military Committee that groups Israel, Lebanon, and the UN," An-Nahar said. The same official and other US officials told An-Nahar that placing the territory under UN guardianship following an Israeli withdrawal, as Lebanon has demanded, would not be possible "before the final status of the zone has been determined. ""The officials argue that Lebanon must engage in negotiations with the Jewish state before any Israeli pullout from the Farms," the daily reported.

Hizbullah hands Syria remains of 114 Arab fighters returned in prisoner swap
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/24/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah turned over the remains of 114 Syrian and Arab fighters to Syria on Wednesday after receiving them as part of a prisoner swap with Israel last week. The coffins were taken from Beirut to the Masnaa border crossing in the eastern part of the country by Hizbullah’s Islamic Health Committee. Hundreds of people gathered to attend the handover ceremony. Relatives of the deceased had waited on the Syrian side of the border from early morning. Members of Syria’s Republican Guard received the coffins before they were transported to the Umayyad Square at the entrance of Damascus. "Syria always stood alongside the resistance, whether in Palestine, Lebanon or Iraq," Yasser Hourieh, a senior member of Syria’s ruling Baath party, said in a speech marking the occasion. "Syria has paid dearly for this position, but it will never change it.

Top US State Department official won’t meet with visiting Syrian group
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 7/23/2008
WASHINGTON - The State Department is reversing track and turning down a Syrian delegation’s request for a meeting with a top US diplomat for the Middle East. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said Wednesday that Assistant Secretary of State David Welch would not meet the delegation. Earlier, the United States had said that Welch would schedule a meeting if requested. The delegation includes an adviser to Syrian Prime Minister Naji Otari. But a Syrian government official involved in negotiations with Israel canceled his visit. [end]

HRC ready to rebuild 619 homes hit by 2006 war
Daily Star 7/23/2008
BEIRUT: The Higher Relief Council (HRC) has finished the paperwork to rebuild 619 residential units in South Lebanon that were damaged or destroyed during the summer 2006 war, according to a statement released on Tuesday. "Since 2006, the council has finished the paperwork for 2,439 residential units in South Lebanon and has provided the Council for South Lebanon with checks to be distributed to affected families amounting to $26,190,270," the HRC said. According to the HRC statement, the residential units are located in several towns across the South, including Nabatiyeh, MarkabaGhaziyyeh and Ain Ebel. The total cost of rebuilding the housing units is estimated at around $6 billion, or L. L. 9,612,535,000. - The Daily Star Tags: Lebanon Printable Version Send to a friend

UN’s Ban details Hizbullah letter on prisoner swap
Reuters, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Nasrallah outlines Shiite group’s conditions for further prisoner deals with Israel, declares his readiness for ’participation in the remaining humanitarian cases of Israeli MIAs of the 1980s’ -UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday released details of a letter he received from Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah outlining his group’s conditions for further prisoner deals withIsrael. Last week the leader of the Lebanese guerrilla group made a rare public appearance in Beirut to welcome five Lebanese released from captivity in Israel after Hizbullah returned the bodies of two captured Israeli soldiers. Israel is also due to release Palestinian prisoners in the future as a gesture to the UN secretary-general. Nasrallah said he had written to Ban asking him to use his good offices.

Syria takes bodies as part of Hizbullah-Israel swap
Reuters, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Remains of 114 Arab combatants returned from Israel transported to Syria, paraded through center of Damascus -Syria received the bodies of 114 Arab fighters on Wednesday that were handed over by Israel as part of a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah. The 114 were among the bodies of 197 mostly Palestinian and other Arab fighters exchanged for remains IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev last week in a deal mediated by the United Nations. Israel also released five Lebanese prisoners, including notorious murderer Samir Kuntar. Hundreds of relatives greeted the bodies as they came on flatbed trucks through the Jedaideh crossing point between Lebanon and Syria. They were later paraded through the center of Damascus. Syrian nationals and Palestinians who grew up in refugee camps in Syria comprised around 100 bodies, which will be buried in Syria this week.

Lebanon: Displaced, again
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, ReliefWeb 7/23/2008
Over 24,000 people, mainly Palestine refugees and a small number of Lebanese remain dis-placed from Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon following three months of fighting there in 2007 between Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese army. To date, small numbers of refugees have been able to return to their homes in areas adjacent to the camp also affected by the fighting. A full return is expected to take two years or longer because of the complete destruction of homes and infrastructure. Among the most pressing concerns is to ensure ade-quate temporary accommodation for refugee families, as well as addressing their loss of live-lihoods. Many refugees and host families continue to rely on humanitarian agencies to provide them with shelter and food assistance. Displaced communities have raised concerns about their security and free movement, particularly as security measures have tightened as. . .

Non-Lebanese children get raw deal in nationality law
Middle East Online 7/23/2008
BEIRUT - Thousands of children in Lebanon are denied full access to education, healthcare and residency because they do not have Lebanese citizenship. Lebanese women cannot pass on their nationality to their children and in the event of separation, it is the father who gains automatic custody, according to Lebanese nationality law. There is a saying in Lebanon: The only woman you’ll see in parliament is the one wearing black, mourning for the death of her husband or brother, whose political mantle she has inherited. In a country famed for being the region’s most socially liberal and politically democratic, just one woman, Bahia Hariri, the sister of slain former premier Rafik Hariri, became a member of Lebanon’s new unity cabinet, announced in early July. Although Bahia was an MP before her brother’s assassination in 2005, women cabinet ministers such as Nayla Moawad, former. . .

Kite flying festival offers Palestinian children brief reprieve from camps
Annika Folkeson, Daily Star 7/24/2008
BEIRUT: A lone yellow kite greeted the visitors approaching Jal al-Baher Beach in Tyre on Tuesday morning. Soon, however, three more buses with Palestinian children from camps all over Lebanon arrived to participate in Tuesday’s kite flying festival. Around noon, a bustling crowd of over 600 children could be seen dancing, playing games - on the beach and in the water - and, of course, trying to master the art of kite flying. Ten young kite-making experts from "Atfal al-Ghad" (Children of Tomorrow) center helped train 60 children in each refugee camp, who subsequently taught other children in their camp, to make kites. On Tuesday, these children brought their kites, with messages renouncing violence or greetings to loved ones written on them, to Jal al-Baher Beach. "It’s great! The children get a chance to get out of the camps, see other parts of Lebanon, and meet lots of other children to make friends with," said one of the participants.

Commander of IDF’s south Gaza brigade seriously hurt in car accident
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Colonel Shlomi Dahan on life support after suffering severe head wound as his Isuzu jeep flips over; his driver moderately wounded -Colonel Shlomi Dahan, head of the IDF’s southern regional brigade along the border with the Gaza Strip, was seriously injured in a car accident Wednesday morning at the Magen Junction in south Israel. Dahan and his driver, who sustained moderate wounds in the accident, were evacuated by helicopter to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center. Magen David Adom paramedics who arrived at the scene found an Isuzu jeep overturned at the side of the road, with Dahan and his driver trapped inside. They were pulled out of the vehicle by the paramedics and firefighters that were dispatched to the scene and then taken by an army helicopter to Soroka. Colonel Dahan remains unconscious after suffering a severe head injury and is on life support.

Intelligence bodies warn threat from global Jihad ’substantial’
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Representatives from IDF Intelligence, Shin Bet, Mossad warn government global terror groups like al-Qaeda, which use civilian information technology to enlist, mobilizing operatives - Substantial threats to Israel, its citizens, and Jewish people all over the world exist from worldwide Jihad organizations, specifically al-Qaeda, intelligence reports discussed by the government’s Security Cabinet on Wednesday stated. Representatives from IDF Intelligence, the Shin Bet, and the Mossad said during the discussion that global Jihad constitutes a threat to all Western countries, democratic regimes, and moderate Arab nations. They also expressed fear that the worldwide organizations would develop cooperation with local extremist groups such as

Shin Bet: Hamas has rockets that can hit the city of Ashdod
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The head of the Israeli Shin Bet (General Security Service) Yuval Dickson said during a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security at the Knesset on Wednesday that Hamas has rockets that can hit Kiryat Gat and even the city of Ashdod. Dickson claimed that the Palestinian organizations smuggled the rockets into the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal in 2005. He said that they have 222 tons of explosive materials in addition to ten million rifles and various types of anti-tank missiles. He further accused Hamas of making use of the truce to smuggle in weapons. Even if Hamas is just silent for the sake of the truce, he continued, they are simply using the time to develop their forces in the Gaza Strip.

Diskin: Truce only strengthens Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Chief of internal Israeli intelligence "Shabak", Yoval Diskin, warned on Tuesday that Hamas would exploit the truce to strengthen its military power in the Gaza Strip as well as laying mines in widespread areas. The comments were made as he appeared in front the committee of foreign and defence affairs in the Knesset. He also claimed that Hamas owns projectiles that are capable of reach Kiryat Gat and maybe as far as Ashdod, cities in the south of Israel. Diskin claimed that Hamas’ adherence to truce was due to their recognition that it would strengthn their hand, both militarily and politically in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Egyptian security discovers tunnel under its borders with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egyptian security on Wednesday discovered an underground tunnel beneath the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in Rafah in the south of the Strip, Radio Israel reported. The tunnel was apparently being used to smuggle goods from Egypt to Gaza. Egyptian police also announced that they have arrested 8 Egyptians for attempting to cross into Israel through the Sinai Peninsula to look for work in Israel. [end]

Israel allows more products into Gaza
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 7/23/2008
GAZA, Jul 23, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) --Israel has allowed limited shipments of daily necessities into the Gaza Strip, easing the blockade over one month after a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect, a Hamas official said on Wednesday. Hatem Owaida, an aide to the economic minister of Hamas unity government based in Gaza, said 87 trucks, including seven truckloads of cement, nine truckloads of shoes and clothes and eight truckloads of juice and cakes, have passed into Gaza through Sufa commercial crossing in southeast Gaza Strip. These products were banned from entering Gaza since Israel sealed off the coastal enclave in June last year after Hamas took control of the territory. The rest trucks carried "various food products" that used to be allowed into the impoverished strip before the ceasefire took place on June 19, Owaida said.

Israel failing to deter Jerusalem attacks, security chiefs warn
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/24/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s security chiefs said on Wednesday that more needed to be done to protect Occupied Jerusalem from Palestinian attacks as debate raged after a second payloader rampage in the holy city this month. A Palestinian from Occupied East Jerusalem plowed through a crowded street on Tuesday, wounding 16 people before being shot dead in an apparent copycat attack modeled on a similar rampage earlier this month that killed three people. There have since been mounting calls for Israel to return to a policy of destroying the family homes of Palestinian attackers, despite a military report that concluded in 2005 that the practice was ineffective. "Sanctions should be applied against the families of terrorists in cases where it is proved that they collaborated in attacks, or did nothing to stop them," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told Public Radio.

Border Guard officer injured in Old City shooting attack dies of wounds
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 7/23/2008
David Shriki critically wounded in attack 12 days ago passes away at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court issues gag order on attack investigation as hunt for shooter continues -Border Guard officer Lance Corporal David Shriki from Rishon Letzion, who was critically wounded in the shooting attack near the Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem 12 days ago, died of his wounds Wednesday at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in the capital. Shriki, who suffered a head wound, was shot together with fellow Border Guard officer Imad Gadir, who was moderately injured, by a terrorist who escaped to a nearby Muslim cemetery and has yet to be captured. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court issued a gag order on the shooting attack’s investigation details. First to arrive at the shooting scene were another Border Guard officer and a policeman who were patrolling the area.

Border police officer injured in Old City of Jerusalem after a shooting attack, dies of wounds
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
Border police officer Lance Corporal David Shriki , who was critically wounded in the shooting attack near the Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem 12 days ago, died of his wounds on Wednesday at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in the capital Jerusalem. [end]

Ahrar Al-Jalil claim bulldozer attack
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The Ahrar Al-Jalil Brigades, Imad Mughniyya group, on Tuesday night claimed responsibility for bulldozer attack near the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that left 19 Israelis requiring medical attention. In a statement received by Ma’an, the group named the bulldozer driver as Ghassan Abu Teir, and claimed that the operation came in response to Barak Obama’s visit to Israel to the King David Hotel scheduled for Wednesday. Doubt has been cast on the authenticity of the statement. The group has claimed responsibility for a large number of attacks that they are unlikely to have carried out. [end]

Haaretz: Court upholds ruling to evict Palestinian family from East Jerusalem home
Akiva Eldar, International Solidarity Movement 7/23/2008
Jerusalem Region - The High Court of Justice last week upheld a ruling for the eviction of a Palestinian family from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, whose house is owned by religious Jews. The eviction spurred protest by senior Palestinian Authority officials, and diplomats from several consulates have already visited the house. The Khurd family has lived in the contested building since 1956, when the area was under Jordanian control. After the area came under Israel’s control in 1967, the Committee of the Sephardi Jewry and the Committee of the Knesset of Israel - two religious bodies - presented the Israeli authorities with various documents showing that they had purchased the area during the Ottoman rule. The Palestinian families residing there were allowed to stay on as protected tenants, until they stopped paying rent.

Spanish court issues warrants of arrest against seven Israeli officials
Palestinian Information Center 7/22/2008
MADRID/GAZA, (PIC)- The Spanish national court, which is the highest judicial institution in Spain, has issued on Tuesday an arrest warrant against seven Israeli officials for committing war crimes. The Palestinian center for human rights filed a lawsuit against seven former Israeli military officials before the court last month on behalf of six Palestinians who survived an Israeli extra judicial execution operation in the Gaza Strip in July 2002. Warrants of arrest were issued by the court against Binyamin Ben Aliezer, who was then the Israeli war minister, Avi Dichter, the then Israeli intelligence head, Dan Halutz, former Israeli air-force commander, former chief of staff  Moshe Ya’alon, commander of the IOF southern command Doron Almog, the national security advisor Giora Eland, and Micky Herzog, military advisor of the war minister.

The National: West Bank construction challenged
Brendan Howley, International Solidarity Movement 7/23/2008
International Actions - In an inventive legal action, two lawyers for the West Bank Palestinian village of Bi’ilin have filed a civil statement of claim against a pair of Jewish-owned Canadian construction companies building condominiums in the village for Israeli settlers. Damages of $2 million Canadian (Dh7. 3m) are sought as compensation, the suit said, for "crimes against humanity" alleged to have been committed by the occupying Israeli forces. The incoming settlers represent a transfer of the occupier’s civilian population to occupied territory, illegal under international war crimes law. The statement of claim argues that the Canadian companies are "aiding and abetting" building of illegal housing on Palestinian land occupied by Israel since 1967, in contravention of Canadian war crimes legislation and the Geneva Convention.

Roadblocks cripple West Bank economy
Electronic Intifada 7/23/2008
HEBRON (IPS) - The Israeli military has erected three additional roadblocks, further blocking vehicular access on the road between the south Hebron village of al-Tuwani and the commercial hub of Yatta in the southern West Bank. The West Bank is the Palestinian area west of the Jordan river, much of it under Israeli control. Besides being the main economic hub for the region, Yatta is also the principal provider of critical services such as hospitals, secondary schools and public administration offices. Yatta is a town of just under 45,000 people situated eight kilometers south of Hebron, which is 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem in the southern West Bank. Several communities in the South Hebron Hills continue to be cut off from basic supplies. This is particularly problematic as the road is the main artery for the supply of water to these areas which are currently experiencing a severe drought.

The Israeli army erects a military check point in Bethlehem City
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
The Israeli army has erected on Wednesday morning a military checkpoint at the entrance of Al Shawawra village north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. [end]

Bahar announces Arab, Islamic tour for PLC delegation
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting PLC speaker, has announced that a delegation of the PLC would embark on an Arab, Islamic tour by the end of this week to brief the Arab and Islamic countries on repercussions of the two-year-old Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip in addition to means of activating inter-Palestinian dialog. Bahar, in a press statement published on Wednesday, said that the three-week tour would include Syria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and other countries. He said that discussions would be made with members of parliaments in those countries to brief them on latest developments in Palestine in addition to the PLC conditions and its accomplishments despite the siege. The delegation would also explain the destructive results of the Israeli siege and the tragic conditions of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip especially in the Strip.

Aqsa Foundation warns of preparations to build the Jewish temple
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Aqsa Foundation for the maintenance of Islamic holy shrines on Tuesday warned of a series of activities launched by fanatic Jewish groups to prepare for the construction of the alleged temple after demolishing the holy Aqsa Mosque. The Foundation said that the activities point to the escalating Israeli schemes to target the Aqsa Mosque. The Hebrew media on Tuesday said that a fanatic rightist group was organizing courses over a period of three weeks in 200 areas to rehabilitate cadres to work inside the temple. The Foundation in a statement said the "mad" escalation of the Israeli institutions meant that the holy site was in great danger. It appealed to the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rulers and ruled to immediately act to save the Aqsa and to pressure for halting all forms of aggression on the holy site without any further delay.

Mazuz wants Olmert to take polygraph test
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 7/23/2008
The Attorney General seeks the source of leaks about the investigation of the prime minister. Attorney General Menachem (Meni) Mazuz wants to formulate a list of all the persons with access to the investigation material in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s envelopes affair. Mazuz wants their consent to undergo polygraph tests in order to identify who leaked the material to the media. Olmert is one of the persons that Mazuz wants to take the polygraph, as well as Olmert’s former bureau director, Shula Zaken. There are four groups involved in the envelopes affair investigation: the Israel Police team (the National Fraud Unit compartmentalizes the investigators in different cases); the State Prosecutor team and officials from Attorney General Office who participated in the discussions about the case; Olmert’s lawyers; and Zaken’s lawyer.

Olmert: I’ll take polygraph to prove I didn’t leak probe info
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 7/23/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his legal team relayed on Wednesday that they are willing to undergo a polygraph test to prove that they did not leak material from the graft probe against the premier dubbed the "envelopes affair. " Olmert’s attorney, Eli Zohar, has handed over to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz a list of 26 people who were exposed to the investigation’s material, in response to a request to do so by Mazuz. The attorney general has also asked for a similar list from the attorney representing Shula Zaken, the prime minister’s former bureau chief. The probe is into suspicions that Olmert illicitly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Jewish American millionaire Morris Talansky over the course of 15 years. Mazuz’s move came after Olmert lodged a complaint with him on Monday about the leaks.

Shas exacts price: Braverman in, maths and English out
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 7/23/2008
A bill exempting yeshiva students from the core curriculum was given accelerated passage today. A few hours after Shas voted in favor of the appointment of MK Avishay Braverman (Labor) as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, came the price for their support - the immediate tabling of a bill that will exempt yeshiva students from the core curriculum. The Knesset usually discusses preliminary bills only on Wednesdays, but the latest bill is set to be approved by the house for both the second and third readings. The move has been described by some in the Knesset as underhand. The bill was supposed to be introduced next Monday, but many MKs are in the house on that day of the week, which is when no-confidence votes are held, so the chance of it being passed was slim. On Wednesday, on the other hand, the Knesset empties fairly early on, and the coalition will have a much better chance of getting the bill passed.

Knesset votes on bill granting it power to suspend PM
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Proposed amendment would give plenum authority to force prime minister to temporarily remove himself from office in face of criminal investigation against him. To restore him to power, suspended PM would need 61 votes -The Knesset on Wednesday voted in favor of an amendment which would allow parliament to effectively force a reigning prime minister into temporary suspension, should police launch a criminal investigation against him or if his health is found to be seriously impaired. Twenty-four MKs voted in favor of the amendment and only two voted against. According to the proposal, a majority of 61 votes would be required to implement the forced suspension.

Medical Aid for Palestine Concert in London
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 7/23/2008
Hear wonderful musicians, have a marvelous night out, and contribute to humanitarian projects that help Palestinian people to develop rehabilitation centres, health care facilities and places of aggregation for youth. MAP siteTUES JULY 29TH @ THE 606 CLUB 7. 30 pm London Call 0207 352 5953 to book a table for dinnerTickets £15 www. 606club. comJoin us for a gala night of eclectic music, gastronomic delights & surprise special guests! Proceeds will go to aid those suffering in Palestine & refugee camps in the region. MAP UK registered charity no: 1045315 Celloman Sensuous, funky flights of melody from an extraordinary cello virtuoso. Ivan Hussey has featured on countless hits & albums including the work of Mick Jagger, Maxi Priest & Incognito. Tonight he performs his stunning, solo set fusing middle-eastern sounds with classical melodies to hair-raising effect.

Dalal Al-Mughrabi summer camp launched in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – A summer camp was started in Hebron Tuesday named after the popular Palestinian heroine of the women’s resistance movement Dalal Al-Mughrabi. Dalal’s body was recently returned to Lebanon in the 16 July prisoner swap. Although her body was returned with two different name tags on it, DNA tests confirmed that she had been transferred out of Israeli custody. The Dalal Al-Mughrabi Brigades had prepared a massive welcoming and prepared for celebrations around her final burial in her native land. Israeli authorities, however, denied permission to the brigades saying that she could not be buried in the West Bank as planned. Sources said that Israel feared that the burial and the tomb would become flashpoints in the conflict. Dalal’s legend lives on, however. Speaking about the launch of the Dalal Al-Mughrabi summer camp in the Sa’ad Sayel region of the Hebron. . .

Tulkarem family appeals to president for scholarship for daughter
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The family of Eynas ’Udah, a girl from the village of Sayda in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank who got 96. 6% in the Tawjihi exam, appealed on Wednesday to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to provide a scholarship for the girl. The family say that Eynas hopes to studying paediatric medicine, but will not be able to unless a scholarship can be provided. [end]

In a symbolic act; Gaza children attempt to demolish Rafah Wall with plastic hammers
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
In a symbolic nonviolent act, hundreds of Palestinian children gathered on Wednesday noon near the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt carrying plastic saws and hammers and symbolically attempted to demolish the wall in a move that shows their rejection to the siege imposed on Gaza. The protest started after nearly 300 children gathered near the Salah Ed Deen Gate close to the borders in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The children carried plastic hammers, plastic saws and also carried posters that had "Stop the torture, open the Crossing, no to the Separation Barrier" written on them. The protest was called for by the Palestinian Child Rights Society and aims at highlighting the Palestinian rejection to the barrier, siege and the imprisonment of more than 1. 5 million Palestinians in Gaza. The Gaza Strip remains under strict illegal Israeli siege since two years affecting all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA gives 22 million Shekels to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Head of UNRWA for Gaza John Ging announced 22 million shekels (6,330,000 US dollars) of support for 93 Palestinians who will open several UN centers across the Gaza Strip at a press conference in Gaza on Wednesday. öThe centers are meant to give needed services to the 1. 5 million Gazans living in the area. According to Ging UNWRA and the new centers will support about 56% of the people’s needs in the Gaza Strip, he called on the international community to intervene to ensure that no individual went without food or fuel. At the same time, Ging announced UNRWA’s continued efforts to open the Gaza Strip. Specifically, he said, they are asking that the crossings let in at least 75% of the necessary foods and fuel. "After a month on the truce," he said "people are feeling that there is still no benefit and just 25% of basic goods are being transferred to the sector.

Israel has opened the border with Gaza to imports of Dutch seeds for Palestinian flower growers
Government of the Netherlands, ReliefWeb 7/23/2008
Since his visit to Israel in May, foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen has repeatedly called on Israeli ministers, including defence minister Ehud Barak, to open the border. Mr Verhagen underscored the political and socioeconomic significance of the Dutch flower project. ‘Since Hamas took control of Gaza, the economy has practically come to a standstill. It is important to offer the people of Gaza an alternative, the prospect of a better future, based on peaceful economic cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis. ’ The project, which is worth one million euros, provides jobs for more than 1500 Palestinians. In the next few days, eleven trucks will deliver Dutch seeds to the growers in Gaza. The flowers – carnations – should be ready for sale round Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.

Ging: Humanitarian conditions in Gaza still on the decline
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- John Ging, the UNRWA operations manager in the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday warned that the humanitarian conditions were still on the decline in the Strip due to the continued Israeli ban on entry of enough goods in spite of the calm agreement. Ging told a press conference in Gaza city that the conditions in Gaza were difficult and deteriorating, adding that the Gaza inhabitants were suffering from acute shortage in basic life needs. He said that the Israeli partial opening of the crossings allowed entry of only 25% of what used to access the Strip more than a year ago before the siege was tightened in mid June 2007. The international official asked all parties concerned to open all Gaza crossings especially the Rafah border terminal, which he said should be opened before the patients, students and stranded citizens.

oPt: Protection of civilians weekly report 09 - 15 Jul 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 7/15/2008
Military activities affecting civilians - The relative calm felt in Gaza and the Western Negev (Israel) since the ceasefire agreement went into force on 19 June continued during the reporting week. Only one serious incident was recorded, in which the IDF shot and killed a 23-year-old Palestinian unarmed civilian who approached the border fence east of Khan Younis. Moreover, four rudimentary rockets and two mortars were fired by Palestinian militants at Israel (three of which landed in Gaza), resulting in no Israeli fatalities or injuries. No incursions or air strikes were conducted by the IDF. By contrast, this week was characterised by intense IDF military activities throughout the West Bank. One of the major IDF operations was conducted in the town of Beit Fajjar on 15 July (Bethlehem). In the course of the operation, the IDF closed all the main entry points to the town with earthmounds,. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: Improved flow of goods into Gaza
WFP, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 7/23/2008
JERUSALEM/GAZA, 23 July 2008 (IRIN) - Since a ceasefire a month ago between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, humanitarian aid groups have reported an improved flow of goods into the enclave. For the first time since the Islamist Hamas movement took over Gaza in the summer of 2007, cement, gravel and steel items have been imported. Shoes and clothes have also been allowed in, along with juice and some other goods which had been blocked for most of last year. Fuel imports, while still lagging far behind what Gaza needs, have also increased in the past week. However, power is intermittent: In most areas residents report being without electricity for 10-20 percent of the time. This has also affected the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), responsible for the supply of water and the sewerage system: "To compensate for the intermittent [mains] power supply, we use fuel [for diesel generators to power the pumps]," said Monther Shoblak, head of the CMWU.

A peek into Gaza’s underground lifeline
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/23/2008
For the right price, residents can have almost any commodity smuggled into Gaza through elaborate tunnels. ’This is a full-fledged competitive business that requires maintenance,’ source says -Ever since Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in June 2006, the Strip’s residents have had to rely on underground tunnels to smuggle in the most basic necessities, as well as cell phones and petrol fromEgypt. Over the past few months an entire industry emerged in which, for the right price, people can have almost any commodity smuggled into Gaza through elaborate tunnels. The smuggling operation has not been slowed down despite the recent ceasefire between Israel and the armed Palestinian groups and the opening of some border crossings for the transfer of goods. " The smuggling tunnels are far from being just holes in the ground," a source in Gaza told Ynet,. . .

British delegation visits HQ of Palestinian Security Forces
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A British delegation headed by Teresa Johns, head of political relations in the British Ministry of Defence, and Mark Rock, the British military attaché to the region, on Wednesday visited the HQ of the Palestinian National Security Forces (PNSF) in Ramallah in the central West Bank, to meet with the National Forces’ commander Thiab Al-Ali. The visit is part of a fact finding mission to discover what the security forces need in terms of aid from the British, who have commited to increasing support to the PNSF, in order for them to be better able to carry out their role. Those involved agreed to hold a series of meetings to follow up and deal with developments.

Zubeidi leaves Jenin for first time in 8 years
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Within framework of amnesty agreement with Israel, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander ventures outside of Jenin, travels to Ramallah for errands. ’For the first time I felt what it was like to walk around without looking to the skies for UAVs or fear suspicious vehicles,’ he told Ynet - Perhaps the most prominent commander of Fatah’s military wing in the West Bank, Zakariya Zubeidi, traveled to Ramallah on Wednesday for his first excursion from Jenin in over eight years. Zubeidi, who headed the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades infrastructure in the Jenin refugee camp, is among the 24 wanted Palestinians granted amnesty by [end]

Haneyya’s government warns of new Oslo agreement
Palestinian Information Center 7/22/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA caretaker government under premier Ismael Haneyya has warned Tuesday the PA leadership in Rammalh city of surprising the Palestinian people with a new agreement similar to the infamous Oslo agreement. "There is no one authorized to compromise any of our people’s firm and essential rights in our country, our holy shrines, and the right of the Palestinian refugees to return", the government asserted in a statement it issued in Gaza and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.   The PA government’s remarks came at the conclusion of its weekly meeting on Tuesday as talks on possible agreement between the PA leadership and the Israeli occupation government was persisting. The government also deprecated PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s description of Shimon Peres as "man of peace", asserting that Perez’s role in many war crimes wasn’t a secret as the Qana massacre in Lebanon,. . .

Palestinian Information Minister briefs EU representatives on recent events
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Information Minister Riyad Al-Maliki attended a meeting at the French-German Centre in Ramallah on Wednesday. The meetings are a monthly event aimed at briefing European officials on recent developments in the Palestinian territories and the status of negotiations with Israel. In a joint press conference held after the meeting with French consul general for Jerusalem Alain Rémy, Al-Maliki called on "donor countries, namely Arab countries, to pay what they pledged to the Palestinian Authority," so that the PA could meet promised salary payments. He added that he was "fully convinced that France will play a positive role to encourage other European states to take a role in the Palestinian cause. "Al-Malaki expressed thanks for the recent visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy to the Palestinian territories, saying that the president’s "speech. . .

Obama, in Sderot: World must prevent Iran from obtaining nukes
Barak Ravid , Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/24/2008
Democratic presidential hopefulBarack Obama visited the rocket-battered southern town of Sderot on Wednesday, where he said that the entire world must act to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. "A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Obama stated. The Illinois senator also warned that a situation in which Iran had achieved this capability would be "game-changing. " "Not just in the Middle East, but around the world," he added. "Whatever remains of our Non-Proliferation Treaty would begin to disintegrate. "Obama vowed that as president he would not force Israel into making concessions that would put the country in danger for the sake of the peace process. "I don’t think that Ms. Livni or Mr. Barak or Bibi [Opposition leader Benjamin] Netanyahu or the others, President Peres, when they spoke to

World must stop Iran from getting nuclear weapon, says Barack Obama
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/23/2008
Barack Obama is escorted through the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust history museum in Jerusalem. Photograph: Daniel Berehulak/Reuters Barack Obama today pledged his "unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security" after a day of meetings with Israel’s most senior leaders and a helicopter flight to a town targeted by rockets from Gaza. Most of the talks on his visit were dominated by the Israeli government’s concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions "” a concern echoed by the Democratic presidential candidate. "A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Obama said. Obama also spoke of his hope for a Middle East peace agreement that would see the creation of a "viable and peaceful Palestinian state" alongside a secure Israel. The Illinois senator travelled in a heavily guarded convoy to Ramallah, in the occupied

Barack Obama: I will not waste a minute in brokering Middle East peace
Mark Tran, The Guardian 7/23/2008
Barack Obama today pledged to "not waste a minute" in tackling the Middle East conflict if elected president, Palestinian officials said. The Democratic presidential hopeful made the commitment after meeting the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah in the West Bank. Saeb Erekat, an aide to Abbas, said Obama was willing to immediately engage in peace efforts. "Obama confirmed to President Abbas that he will be a constructive partner in the peace process," he said, adding that Obama told Abbas he would "not waste a minute" if elected in November. Obama talked to Palestinian leaders after earlier telling Israeli officials he wanted to be a partner in bringing peace to the region. "I’m here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States, my abiding commitment to its security, and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a. . . senator or as a president, in bringing about a more lasting peace in the region," he said.

Obama pledges to work for Middle East peace
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/23/2008
Barack Obama arrived in Jerusalem for a 24-hour visit to Israel and the West Bank after promising he would work for a negotiated breakthrough in the Middle East conflict, "starting from the minute I’m sworn into office". Before what may prove the toughest and -- in a political sense -- hazard-strewn visit of his high-octane world tour, Mr Obama implied he wanted to break with the presidential habit of leaving the Israeli-Palestinian issue to a second term. Having secured Iraqi government backing for his plans for US military withdrawals, signalled his intention to persuade Nato to focus greater military resources on Afghanistan and edged the US administration into more diplomatic contacts with Iran -- Israel’s No 1 external preoccupation -- Mr Obama arrives on a foreign policy roll. And while he was careful to say in Amman that it was "unrealistic" to expect a US president. . .

US Presidential Candidate Barack Obama visits Jerusalem and Rammalah on Wednesday
Kendra Puryear and Taylor Bray, International Middle East Media Center News 7/23/2008
United States Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama visited Jerusalem and Ramallah on Wednesday meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and other dignitaries. While in Jerusalem, Obama met with President Shimon Peres and stated that the security of Israel will be of great importance to his administration if elected. Obama stated in a meeting with Peres that "I’m here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel’s security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a U. S. senator or as president,"Obama also expressed his deep concern about the conflict and if elected would start working towards a solution to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Iran’s president vows no retreat in nuclear row
Reuters, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad goes on national television, promises Islamic republic will never budge from its nuclear development plans - Iran will not "retreat one iota" over its disputed nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday. At a meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in Geneva on Saturday, six world powers gave Iran two weeks to answer calls to rein in its nuclear activities, which they suspect may be aimed at producing atom bombs, or face tougher sanctions. "The Iranian nation. . . Will not retreat one iota in the face of oppressing powers," Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television. Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive to generate electricity so that the Islamic Republic, the world’s fourth-largest crude producer, can export more of its oil and gas.

UN ambassador slams Israeli violations of 1701
Daily Star 7/24/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Ambassador to the UN Nawwaf Salam sharply criticized on Tuesday Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s comments last week that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 "is not and will not be implemented. "Salam said Israel was violating Resolution 1701, thus it was hampering its implementation. He gave a detailed list of Israel’s ongoing violations during a Security Council session on the Middle East on Tuesday. Salam said Israel was carrying out an average of 20 violations per day. He also claimed that the latest Israeli violation was the Jewish state’s "infiltration" into Lebanon’s telephone network after the prisoner swap with Hizbullah last week. Some Lebanese civilians have received audio and SMS messages from "the State of Israel. "Salam said the territorial violations were detailed in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s seventh report on the implementation of Resolution 1701, which put an end to the summer 2006 war.

Italian Parliament speaker stresses his country’s commitment to UNIFIL
Mohammed Zaatari, Daily Star 7/24/2008
TYRE: Italian Parliament Speaker Gianfranco Fini said on Wednesday that Italy has no intention of withdrawing its troops from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Fini told the French weekly Politique Internationale that Italy can help restore peace to war-torn regions with the help of international cooperation. "Italy has evolved on the international level because of the strength it has shown in shouldering responsibility in peace missions throughout the world," Fini said. Meanwhile, Italian Chief of Army Staff General Fabrizio Castagnetti inspected the headquarters of the Italian Cavalleggeri battalion in the Tyre region of Mansouri on Wednesday. Among those who received him were the Italian commander of the western sector of UNIFIL, General Vincenzo Iannuccelli, in addition to a number of Italian officers.

Israeli, Libyan delegates exchange ‘views’ at UN
Middle East Online 7/23/2008
UNITED NATIONS - Israel’s outgoing UN envoy Dan Gillerman on Tuesday excoriated Libya, the lone Arab member of the Security Council. In a farewell speech to the 15-member council, Gillerman said, clearly referring to Libya: "We do have a member here whose main aim is to block any reasonable resolution. " "That reality should be thought out when we next come to elect a member to the Security Council," the Israeli ambassador said during an open debate on the Middle East. "The standards should be higher, the consideration should be deeper. " His comments brought an acerbic rejoinder from Libyan deputy ambassador Attia Mubarak, who said: "Instead of providing us what he said about the conduct of Libya he (Gillerman) should improve the conduct of his country which is based on terrorism. " "We thank God that this is the last statement made by (him) in this council," the Libyan diplomat added.

Israel to Free Barguti for Shalit
Roee Nahmias, MIFTAH 7/23/2008
Israel has agreed in principle to release Marwan Barguti and a number of prominent Hamas leaders from prison – diplomatic sources were quoted as saying in Monday’s ’Al-Bayan’ newspaper, based in the United Arab Emirates. According to the report, Israel will free Barguti, Fatah’s former secretary-general in the West Bank, and the Hamas officials as part of the burgeoning exchange deal with the Islamist Hamas group in return for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The paper asserts that Egypt has been successful in reconciling the differences between Israel and Hamas over the deal, but now fears other groups in the region may attempt to sabotage the deal. According to the paper, Israel has given its consent, in principle, to the release of 300 Palestinian prisoners, including Hamas leaders Hassan Salame, Abdullah Barguti and Ibrahim Hamed.

Olmert considers release of Marwan Barghouthi
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is said to be considering the release of former Fatah leader and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Marwan Barghouthi, Israeli paper Ma’ariv said on Wednesday. The possible move is said to be politically motivated, with the intention of strengthening President Abbas’ hand in the run up to the presidential elections next January to the detriment of any Hamas candidate. The report claims that the majority of the Israeli cabinet is in favour of such a move. Earlier this year at the Elysee summit in France Olmert announced that he would be willing to release Palestinian prisoners if it would strengthen the position of President Abbas, even if those prisoners ’had blood on their hands. ’There had been rumours that Barghouthi would be released as part of a prisoner swap with Hamas, but the alternative may be favourable. . .

McCain: Israel faces gravest threat in its history
Reuters, YNetNews 7/24/2008
Republican candidate calls Iranian pursuit of nuclear power greatest threat to Israel since its inception; meanwhile his campaign slams rival Obama’s willingness to negotiate with Tehran - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, appealing to Jewish voters while rival Barack Obama visits the Middle East, said on Wednesday Israel faced the greatest threat in its history because of Iran. The Arizona senator has long criticized Obama for saying he would meet with US enemies such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and McCain advisers held a conference call to highlight Obama’s past statements on the issue. At a town hall-style campaign event in the electoral battleground state of Pennsylvania, McCain said the danger of an Iranian nuclear program, the proximity of terrorist groups at its borders and internal political disruption were all threats to the Jewish state.

IN PICTURES / Barack Obama visits Israel
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/24/2008
Obama in Sderot: Nuclear Iran would be game-changing ANALYSIS / Obama visit is all about wooing Jewish American voters ’No excuses,’ says Obama about bulldozer terrorist [end]

Obama visits Sderot, warns of nuclear Iran
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Visiting US presidential hopeful travels to rocket-battered town in southern Israel, says he would use any means to stop fire against his home. Earlier Obama met with Peres, Barak, Netanyahu -Israel should not negotiate with Hamas so long as the Islamist group poses a threat to Israeli citizens, US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Wednesday during his visit to the town of Sderot. Obama said that if someone were firing on his home, where his two daughters were sleeping, he would do everything to stop the attacks - and that this is how he expects Israel to act as well. During his brief visit to Sderot Obama also noted the terror attack in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Hizbullah attacks and the Iranian nuclear program, saying that all of these were genuine threats Israel faces alongside the Qassam rockets from Gaza.

Obama meets Abbas in Ramallah; would support peace process
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Senator and Democratic Party candidate for the American Presidency Barak Obama in Ramallah on Wednesday. Obama’s message to Palestinians was that if elected as US president he would work hard to continue the peace process. Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that Abbas spoke to Senator Obama at length about the internal Palestinian situation as well as the current negotiations with Israel. "The president stressed his commitment to the peace process, the negotiations and the need to stop settlement activity in order for peace to be achieved," said Abu Rudeineh. Obama stressed that if he takes office this fall he will not "start from zero" with the Palestinian peace process. Rather, he said, "he will continue peace process efforts.

Jewish Guerrillas Told British: Quit Palestine or Die
Marcus Leroux, MIFTAH 7/23/2008
A pamphlet warning Britons to leave the Middle East or face death has come to light in a stash of illicit propaganda. The document does not hail from Basra or Baghdad, nor was it penned by the Islamists of al-Qaeda or the al-Mahdi Army. It was found in Haifa, about 60 years ago, and it was issued by the underground group led by Menachem Begin – the future Prime Minister of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The document, which surfaced at an auction house this week, is addressed to “the soldiers of the occupation army” and aimed at British soldiers serving in Palestine, then under the British Mandate, preceding the establishment of Israel in 1948. The print has faded and the paper has discoloured since it was unearthed from a grove of trees in Haifa in the summer of 1947. Yet the language and the concerns remain current. Bombings and murders by underground groups, such as Begin’s Irgun, hastened the British withdrawal and the United Nations declaration that led to the founding of modern Israel.

Barak: we will support Palestinian economy if you can guarantee Israel’s security
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - Israeli sources said that Israeli Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, told Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that Israel was willing to boost the Palestinian economy if the Palestinian authority (PA) can ensure against attack on Israel. During a meeting held on Wednesday morning in King David’s hotel in Jerusalem, Barak said, “as well as our efforts towards improving the political situation between Israel and the PA; we recognize the importance of supporting the Palestinian economy. " According to Israeli sources, the main issue discussed with Fayyad was the establishment of institutions to impose law and order in the Palestinian territories. [end]

Shoulder responsibility or see credibility undermined, Permanent Observer of Palestine warns as Security Council considers Middle East situation
United Nations Security Council, ReliefWeb 7/22/2008
Underlining the permanent responsibility of the United Nations for the question of Palestine until its resolution, the Permanent Observer for Palestine warned the Security Council today that its credibility would be undermined unless it shouldered its responsibility in that regard. Addressing the Council during a debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, she said her people had continued to appeal to the international community to address Israel’s continuing denial and violation of their inalienable rights, because it was a matter of international peace and security. The Council’s failure to address the issue would continue negatively to affect the image of the United Nations and feed the perception of double standards, in the Middle East and the developing world.

Unemployment hits 19-year low
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 7/23/2008
The number of unemployed in Israel fell to 179,500 in May. The unemployment rate fell to 6. 1% of the civilian labor force in May 2008, according to trend figures, published by the Central Bureau of Statistics today. This is the lowest level in 19 years and belies pessimistic expectations that unemployment would rise. The number of unemployed fell to 179,500 in May, after a drop of 0. 3 percentage points, or 11,700, from the beginning of the year. Israel now has 112,000 fewer unemployed than in mid-2003, when the unemployment rate peaked at 11. 2%. The unemployment is expected to rise in 2009 and 2010 because of the expected economic slowdown. Earlier this week, Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer said that recently economic data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, especially the drop in industrial output and private consumption, were a warning that the slowdown has already arrived.

Bad job news on the way
Avi Temkin, Globes Online 7/23/2008
The good figures will worsen - it’s just a question of when. The unemployment figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics today belong, in some sense, to a past era, to the era of Israel’s economic boom. Unemployment figures always lag changes in economic growth. When the economy begins to recover after a recession, the unemployment rate still continues to rise; when the economy slips into a slowdown, the unemployment rate still continues to fall, just as is happening now. This is because many employers are not yet feeling the full impact of the recession, or because of decisions taken a month or two ago to hire new workers, or because employers don’t want to fire employees in hope that the slowdown will be fleeting. That is why it is no wonder that the unemployment rate fell to 6. 1% of the labor force in May.

Bardawil: Hamas will not recognize Abbas as president after his term expires
Palestinian Information Center 7/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Salah Bardawil, the spokesman of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, on Wednesday asserted that his Movement would not recognize PA chief Mahmoud Abbas as president when his term in office expires on 9 January 2009. The presidency on 9/1/2009 will legally be transferred to PLC speaker Dr. Aziz Dwaik, who is currently in Israeli jails, and his deputy is Dr. Ahmed Bahar, Bardawil explained. He told Quds Press that Hamas insists on application of the law, and added that Hamas has a detailed legal memo on the president’s tenure and any explanation contrary to the law would be "meaningless". The PLC will take over presidency at end of Abbas’s term in office, a period that could be extended for one more month, until a new president is elected, the lawmaker elaborated. Bardawil asked Abbas to abide by the law and to act on forging national consensus that is imperative before any election.

Ministry of Education working to protect Palestinian students from academic fraud
Ma’an News Agency 7/23/2008
Nablus/Salfit – Ma’an - The Ministry of Education and Higher Education works to protect Palestinian students from academic fraud. Universities in the West Bank, Egypt and dozens of countries abroad have been offering admission to unaccredited university programs. As a response, the ministry has issued a call on Tawjihi students to refer to their new website, which lists all accredited universities and their various programs, in order to avoid paying for and studying at universities whose degrees are not recognized. The ministry has had issues in the past when they have been given certificates from unaccredited programs as certification of qualification for government positions. (http://www. aqac. mohe. gov. ps)

Record 450 French immigrants to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport
Hannah Glass and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/24/2008
A record 450 French olim were to arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport Wednesday, on three special flights sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the AMI immigration association. The immigrants were to be welcomed in an official ceremony, where they were to be addressed by Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski, Immigration and Absorptiion Minister Eli Aflalo and AMI founder Pierre Besnainou. France has one of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel, totaling nearly half a million people. Its population is second only to America’s Jewish population, which has now exceeded 5 million. Since 2000, there has been a marked increase in the number of French citizens immigrating to Israel, arguably due to the waves of growing anti-Semitism in the European state.

VIDEO - Olmert: Talansky left great imprint on my life
Ynet, YNetNews 7/23/2008
(Video) Birthday video made by prime minister nearly five years ago at request of Morris Talansky’s family has him sending heartfelt regards to his friend, praising him for ’never wanting anything for himself’ - VIDEO - Five years ago Ehud Olmert, then mayor of Jerusalem, was asked to make a short video in honor of one of his dearest friend’s 70th birthdays. That friend was none other than American businessmanMorris Talansky, who is now a key witness in the corruption investigation against the prime minister. It was one of Talansky’s grandchildren who asked Olmert to take part in the family project, and he was more than happy to oblige. " Morris is an unusual character. I must say of all the people that I met in the last decade this guy has left the greatest imprint on my life and on my day to day activities of all the people I met.

Unsolicited advice for Bush on Iran
Jim Lobe, Asia Times 7/24/2008
WASHINGTON - Two of Washington’s most prominent foreign policy graybeards praised Saturday’s direct participation in multinational talks with Iran by a senior US diplomat, but called on the administration of President George W Bush to drop his demands that Tehran freeze its uranium enrichment program as a precondition for broader negotiations. Retired General Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser under Republican presidents Gerald Ford and George H W Bush, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, who held the same post under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, urged Bush to go further by offering immediate rewards to Tehran in exchange for such a freeze. And both men warned that repeated US threats to use military force against Iran were counter-productive and strengthened hard-line forces in the regime led by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Al-Qaeda’s got a brand new bag
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times 7/24/2008
WASHINGTON - Al-Qaeda is back - with a vengeance of sorts. Listen to Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed - a senior al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan, in a very rare interview with Pakistan’s Geo TV, shot in Khost, in eastern Afghanistan. " At this stage this is our understanding - that there is no difference between the American people and the American government itself. If we see this through sharia [Islamic] law, American people and the government itself are infidels and are fighting against Islam. We have to rely on suicide attacks which are absolutely correct according to Islamic law. We have adopted this way of war because there is a huge difference between our material resources and our enemy’s, and this is the only option to attack our enemy. " The interview is not only about defensive jihad. Yazeed delves into classic al-Qaeda strategy - inciting a cross-border Taliban jihad against the US

Tens of thousands of US troops prepare for assault on Diyala
Marc Bastian, Daily Star 7/24/2008
Agence France Presse -BAQOUBA, Iraq: Some 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and police are to launch a military assault against Al-Qaeda fighters and insurgents in Diyala Province from August 1, army and police officers said Wednesday. "The operation is aimed at cleansing the region of insurgents, Al-Qaeda and militias who are still there," a senior Iraqi military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. He said some 30,000 soldiers and policemen from across Iraq would take part in the crackdown in the central province starting August 1. Senior Iraqi police officials in Baqouba, the capital of Diyala, confirmed the assault would start on August 1. "It will be an operation led by the Iraqi Army. The US Army will probably only watch. . . If they need help, we’ll help them. If not, we will not do anything," a US military officer said.

A bird in the hand is worth two against Bush
Joschka Fischer, Daily Star 7/23/2008
For two weeks, it looked like the regime in Iran had finally gotten the message that, if it continued to pursue its nuclear program, serious military confrontation was likely to result. Indeed, there were interesting - and previously unheard of - statements and signals from Tehran that suggested an increased willingness to start negotiating about Iran’s nuclear program and regional security issues. And America’s decision to send Undersecretary of State William Burns to a meeting with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator this past Saturday suggests that those Iranian signals are being taken seriously. But the recent military muscle-flexing with rocket tests and the rejection of a compromise by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his foreign minister have shown that the country’s leadership is seriously divided over the strategic line that Iran should pursue.

IRAQ: Most NGOs Losing Face
Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service 7/23/2008
BAGHDAD, Jul 23(IPS) - Welcomed at first after the U. S. -led invasion in 2003, most NGOs have run into scepticism and mistrust. Few remain to help. Hundreds of local and foreign NGOs became active in Iraq since the U. S. -led invasion in 2003, after decades of restrictions under the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein. "The former Iraqi regime did not trust NGOs, and always thought them to be spies," Muath A’raji of the National Societal Organisation, a human rights NGO based in Baghdad told IPS. "Iraqis used to think the regime was wrong, but now they have changed their minds because of the many false foreign NGOs that look more like contracting companies than humanitarian and human rights organisations. " Iraqis expected NGOs to ease the agonies caused by both the U. S. occupation and corruption of the Iraqi government.

Report: Iran purchases Russian anti-aircraft system
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Defense officials say new system could pose challenges to Israeli air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, though setup, deployment time may take 6-12 months - Iran is set to receive an advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft system by year-end that could help fend off any preemptive strikes against its nuclear facilities, senior Israeli defense sources said on Wednesday. First delivery of the S-300 missile batteries was expected as soon as early September, one source said, though it could take six to 12 months for them to be deployed and operable - a possible reprieve for Israeli and American military planners. Nuke TalksRice: Tired of Iran’s ’stalling’ tactics/ Associated Press US secretary of state slams accuses Tehran of not taking negotiations seriously, warns new sanctions may be forthcoming.

Improvising to the sound of slamming door
Dalila Mahdawi, Daily Star 7/24/2008
BEIRUT: Jazz may not be the first genre that comes to mind when eavesdropping on Beirut’s music scene. An evening stuck in traffic adjacent the city’s multitude of night spots suggests the standard fare ranges from traditional Middle Eastern melodies - from divas like Fairuz and Umm Kulthoum to pop tarts like Haifa Wehbe - to the Western pop, rap and electronica preferred by some younger folk. That said, if you’ve strolled through popular quarters like Hamra or Gemayzeh over the last few months, you may have heard the sound of upbeat, sonorous jazz rhythms percolating from venues like the Zawaya and Blue Note cafes or BarLouie. If so, Beirut Be Bop! may be to blame. The most-recent addition to the city’s venerable tradition of hybrid jazz ensembles, this laidback group has been a mutable musical feast since it first saw the light of day last September.

Gush Katif evacuees suffering financial, medical problems
Ynet, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Maagar Mohot survey shows 81% of evacuees still in temporary housing, 50% unemployed; Evacuees flunk government, SELA Administration in handling pullout, claim their youth reluctant to join IDF -Three years after Gaza pullout and 81% of the evacuees are still living in temporary housing, said a Maagar Mohot Institute survey, headed by Professor Yitzhak Katz. This survey, the first large-scale one of its kind, examining the evacuees’ financial, emotional and medical situation as well as their attitude towards state institutions. The data is scheduled to be presented before the Knesset on Wednesday. According to the data, 44% of those who took part in the survey said they believe it will take at least two more years before they are transferred to permanent housing; thus prolonging their stay in the temporary structures by five years at least.

Rising popularity in use of internet rabbis
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 7/23/2008
Joint survey conducted by Ynet, Gesher reveals that 68% of surfers on Halachic Q&A sites say internet more accessible than rabbis - The various Jewish section sites on the internet hold a collection of hundreds of thousands of Halachic (Jewish law) Questions and Answers. The rabbis supplying the answers justify the virtual communication between rabbis and the public and explain that for many, this is their only link. However, there are those who warn about the loss of a personal connection between a rabbi and his community, saying the phenomenon "disrespects the Halacha. "  What do the surfers have to say? A survey conducted for Ynet Judaism and the Gesher organization revealed that most people turning to the Q&A sections do so for technical reasons like internet accessibility and lack of accessibility to rabbis.

Most ’Russian’ olim still suffer from discrimination
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 7/23/2008
JDC study finds most immigrants from former Soviet Union would like to be seen as Israeli but feel they are not, even though motivation to enlist in IDF is high among their sector - Most of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union believe the Israeli people see them as "Russians," while they would prefer to be viewed as just Israeli, concludes a new study conducted by the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Israeli government. The study revealed that 54% of the olim would like to be considered Israeli by the veteran inhabitants of Israel, but only 18% reported they felt themselves perceived in this way. One out of every four immigrants said they had been discriminated against because of their national background, the most prominent culprits being police, the legal system, and the Hebrew-language media.

Not unlike a genocide sing-a-long
Daniel Phillips, Daily Star 7/21/2008
Review BEIRUT: "I hate all politics," says Mona Trad Dabaji, by way of introduction. Judging by the paintings that comprise her latest show, "My Land is Not for Sale," though, Dabaji does recognize politics’ role in the world, like it or not. It’s somewhere up there with religion, work, and family. "My goal was to show the people," she continues, "ordinary people, and how they live and work in their environment. "The title piece of Dabaji’s exhibition, "My Land is Not for Sale," is fittingly representative of her corpus of work over the last three years. Her medium here is an ornate, folding wooden door, rescued from the urban wreck that Beirut’s southern suburbs became in the wake of the 2006 war with Israel. One side depicts a farmer in the Bekaa Valley, his red kifayya whipped horizontal off his head by the stiff winds as he utters the phrase of the title.


Jones Drafts ’Extremely Critical’ US Report of Israel’s Policies
Palestine Media Center, Palestine Monitor 7/23/2008
      The United States security coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, retired general James Jones, is preparing an extremely critical report of Israel’s policies in the territories and its attitude toward the Palestinian Authority’s security services, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
     A few copies of the report’s executive summary (or, according to some sources, a draft of it) have been given to senior Bush Administration officials, and it is reportedly arousing considerable discomfort.
     In recent weeks, the US administration has been debating whether to allow Jones to publish his full report, or whether to tell him to shelve it and make do with the summary, given the approaching end of President George Bush’s term, Haaretz said.
     Jones was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following the Annapolis peace conference last November. His assignment was to draft a strategic plan to facilitate stabilization of the security situation, as a necessary accompaniment to Israeli-Palestinian final-status negotiations. In this context, he assessed the PA security forces in the West Bank, whose reform is being overseen by another American general, Keith Dayton. Jones has visited the region several times and met with senior Israeli government officials and army officers.

Seeing the Dome of the Rock

Electronic Intifada 7/22/2008
      Some might think that I am overreacting about the short trip out of Gaza to a place only two hours away. But I would say to them that for me and so many other Palestinians in Gaza, it is not just a short trip, but rather a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The trip was a window that opened suddenly to allow in the fresh air and joy of life, and one that I may never experience again.
     Life is never fair. For some people things are so easy and available, while for others, they are only a dream. I cannot find an answer if you ask me why I didn’t apply for permission to leave Gaza earlier. All I can say that the life in Gaza is suffocating to the extent that it drains all the feelings of being alive, all the feelings of tasting and experiencing any source of joy, so why try?
     After I reached the office in Jerusalem where I finally met with my colleagues whom I had never seen before, only known through the phone, they decided to take me on a quick tour around the city. I felt so overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety, I refused to take a break or to rest even though I am eight months pregnant. But I did not have the same feeling of tiredness as I used to have in Gaza. It is as if the air outside the borders of Gaza is a healthy fresh air that energizes me and provides me with an endless power.

The Nakba, Intel, and Kiryat Gat

Electronic Intifada 7/23/2008
      In an extravagant ceremony that featured acrobats, drummers, a children’s choir, and speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (in person) and the two top executives of chipmaker Intel Corp. (on giant video screens), the company this month dedicated a new, state-of-the-art chip-manufacturing plant in the south-central Israeli town of Kiryat Gat.
     The hoopla is understandable, from the Intel and Israeli perspectives. The new facility, known as Fab 28, is the largest private-sector investment ever made in Israel: the company has sunk $3 billion into it, and the Israeli government kicked in another $525 million. Since the groundbreaking 28 months ago, it’s been the biggest construction project in Israel -- this side of the apartheid wall, that is.
     Together with another multi-billion-dollar facility Intel built a decade ago on an adjoining site, the work has transformed Kiryat Gat, a drab and previously obscure industrial town on the northern edge of the Negev desert, into one of the crown jewels of Israel’s booming high-tech economy. Once the plant reaches full production next year, it’s expected to produce $10 million worth of Intel’s most advanced microprocessors every day -- by itself enough to boost Israel’s gross domestic product by nearly two percent.

Climbing up the Rabbit Hole to the Real World

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 7/23/2008
      Even Lewis Carroll would have a difficult time picking through the politics of Palestine and Israel.In Alice’s world, everything is upside down – cats that disappear and reappear at their own will, talking rabbits, hookah-smoking caterpillars and rabbit holes that lead to a world of wonder. Still, at the end of Carroll’s famed "Alice in Wonderland", Alice realizes that logic and reason are not as mundane as she once thought and serve a purpose in real life.
     In Palestine, logic and reason go but so far and what politicians say and pledge is far removed from their realities. In our own Alice in Wonderland version of reality, peace is near and the world is on the side of establishing a Palestinian state. Unfortunately, neither logic nor reason follows this vision given the hard facts on the ground, which prove the opposite.
     Let’s examine the Wonderland version first. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is invited to the home of Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. This is the first time any Palestinian president has been invited to the Jerusalem home of an Israeli president. The closest Palestinians have ever gotten was when late President Yasser Arafat was invited to former Israeli President Ezer Weisman’s home in Caesaria.

Top-ranking IDF Sadists

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/23/2008
      We learn from the Israeli press that a criminal investigation has been launched against the soldier caught on tape firing towards a bound Palestinian. However, there is a detail the Israeli press in English is reluctant to share with us. The shooting soldier was not just an ordinary low-ranking infantry recruit, he was a First Sergeant. But it goes much further, the soldier who is caught on video holding the bound Palestinian detainee is no less than a regiment commander, an IDF Lieutenant Colonel.
     In case someone fails to understand, it is a high-ranking Israeli officer who is caught on video holding a handcuffed man as a still target for the merciless vengeance of another IDF soldier. An unavoidable question pops to air. What are these people made of? Do they share any recognised qualities with the rest of humanity? Clearly, cruelty is deeply rooted in Israeli society. It may take two to tango, but apparently it doesn’t take more than two Israeli soldiers to prove to us all what Israel and the Jewish national revival is all about.

Israel, a Middle East superpower of wine and cheese

Daily Star 7/23/2008
      As of this moment, the state of affairs between Israel and the Arabs is discouraging from the Israeli standpoint and encouraging from the Arab point of view. Everything appears to have been reversed: If in the past Israel relied on its wiles and the Arabs fell for its ruses, now the relationship has been turned upside down, as so often happens in life.
     Again and again, we encounter this reversal of roles. Once, unable to deal with the superiority of Israel’s cunning, the Arabs were sustained by delusions or waited for miracles. Now the situation is topsy-turvy: The Arabs rely on cunning and the Israelis grasp at useless dreams.
     If in the past Israel was reputed to be a country that would do everything to avoid abandoning its wounded or captured soldiers and the Arabs were thought of as disdaining these values, here too things have been reversed. The one who strives to bring his warriors home alive is the enemy, not Israel. We are led astray and swallow lies.

US wars and terrorism: an initial review

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 7/23/2008
      It is a sign of the times that Barack Obama made his first two presidential campaign stops abroad in recent days in two active theaters of war where 180,000 American troops have been engaged in fighting for nearly six years. It would be useful to ask the right questions about these wars, now that a new leadership will take office in Washington. A good place to start is to learn the right lessons from the conduct and consequences of these wars, so that any mistakes here are not repeated in future elsewhere.
     From Washington, where I am, Obama’s visits to Afghanistan and Iraq seem to be mostly electoral events, understandably so. From the start, the center of gravity of these two wars has always been firmly in the United States. The wars were launched after September 11, 2001, to stop terrorists from attacking Americans. The justification for war may have been reasonable; almost everything else about these wars has not been.

Power and morality

Martin Jacques, The Guardian 7/23/2008
      Foreign policy is often dressed up in moral rhetoric, but ultimately might is stronger than right.
     You may remember that Robin Cook, newly appointed as Britain’s foreign secretary back in 1997, promised to introduce an "ethical foreign policy". Such talk disappeared long ago, brought to an abrupt end by the illegalities and immorality of the invasion of Iraq. I was reminded of Cook’s efforts by Gordon Brown’s address yesterday to the Israeli Knesset, where he uttered barely any criticisms of Israel and fulminated long and hard against Iran and its alleged nuclear policy. I have a serious problem with western hypocrisy over Iran and the bomb. We are against nuclear proliferation and yet no one breathes a word about the fact that Israel has many nuclear weapons, and has had them for a long time. So, why not Iran? One might add that Israel has always lived by the sword in the Middle East but the same cannot be said of Iran.
     I am against nuclear proliferation (though sceptical that the line can be held in the long term) but only if the policy is even-handed (there is also the small fact that it clearly privileges those that already possess them). This is clearly not the case in the Middle East. Israel is the agent and surrogate of the United States and as such is treated entirely differently from every other country in the region. How can anyone expect Iran to accept that it is right for Israel to have nuclear weapons while itself being disallowed.

US elections: Obama’s political straitjacket

David Hearst, The Guardian 7/23/2008
      Barack Obama’s schedule and statements in the Middle East make clear his determination to court Israeli opinion.
     When a US presidential candidate arrives in town, there is only one question on every Israeli’s mind: how good a friend to Israel will this man be? Eager to answer this question, Barack Obama said: "Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s." That much is of course beyond dispute - his aides said he had intended to say the United States.
     The bungled statement was an early sign of his nerves on a trip where every phrase he utters will be linguistically x-rayed for incipient signs of bias. Mr Obama had every right to be nervous.
     Just yards from the King David hotel where Mr Obama was due to stay, a Palestinian driver of a bulldozer went on the rampage injuring 16 Israeli civilians, one seriously, before being shot dead by a civilian and a policeman. It was the second time in three weeks that an attack had been launched by Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem with a blue identity card, which gives the holder virtually all the rights of an Israeli citizen except the right to vote.

How to take on an arms manufacturer -- and win

Mark Steel, The Independent 7/23/2008
      A trial took place recently in Belfast that seems to explain how nothing makes any sense. It revolved around a factory owned by the arms company Raytheon, which was set up in Derry soon after the IRA ceasefire. John Hume, who’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize, was among those who announced the opening of the plant, welcoming it as a result of the "peace dividend".
     So now the men of violence had agreed to give up their weapons, the area could attract a peaceful company with a turnover of $17bn from making weapons, announced by a man with a prize for bringing peace.
     ...But then it became clear that they were being used by the Israelis in Lebanon, and one such system guided a missile into a block of flats in Qana, killing 28 people, mostly children. A few days later the local anti-war group, including the journalist and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann, decided to occupy the Raytheon building as a protest. A group of nine got into the plant, and as a gesture they threw a computer or two out of the window.