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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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25 July 2008

4 dead, 20 injured as car of Hamas leader explodes near Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Four are dead and twenty injured after the car of a Hamas leader in Gaza exploded west of Gaza City Friday evening. One of the dead is reported to be Amar Mussubyih, who was wanted by the Israeli army. He was a prominent leader of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades in the area west of Gaza City. Also killed were Iyad Al-Hayah, nephew of local Hamas leader Khalil Al-Haya and Nidal Mabiad. All are affiliated to the Al-Qassam Brigades. The fourth death was that of an unidentified little girl. Ihab Al-Ghussain, spokesperson for the de facto ministry of the interior, said that the reasons behind the explosion are unknown. He affirmed that Gaza police will search for the perpetrators, though he did not rule out the idea that the deaths were the result of "outsourcing" by the Israeli army. This is the third explosion in Gaza on Friday.

The Israeli army invades two refugee camps, kidnaps 3 civilians in Nablus city
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, and kidnapped three civilians. The Israeli army invaded Askar and Balata refugee camps, and Fureek village located in eastern Nablus, according to local sources. The sources stated that the the names of the kidnapped civilians in Balata refugee camp are, Ali Sroje, Murad Abu Slaid, and Mu’een Mansour. The Israeli army took them to an unknown detention camp. [end]

30 Israeli settlers invade the local park of Esh Ghrab in Beit Sahour
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
30 Israeli settlers invaded Esh Ghrab Park in the town of Beit Sahour nearby Bethlehem on Friday midday. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura from the scene reported that 30 Israeli settlers accompanied by 20 Israeli soldiers arrived at the old military base in Esh Ghrab and prevented journalists and internationals from entering the area. An armed Israeli settler tried to attack journalists and internationals and the Israeli soldiers did not intervene. Later on, the Israeli soldiers forced the settlers out of the park and prevented the internationals from entering the old military base. The Israeli soldiers placed a line dividing the park and announced the area a closed military zone. They threatened to shoot anyone who crossed the line. The Israeli settlers had previously planned to attend a group breakfast at the park.

MIDEAST: Poverty in Gaza Hits ''Unprecedented'' Level
Omid Memarian, Inter Press Service 7/25/2008
Flour sacks arrive at UNRWA’s food distribution centre, Beach Camp, Gaza Strip. Credit:UNRWAUNITED NATIONS, Jul 25(IPS) - In both the West Bank and Gaza, young people aged 15 to 24 are the most likely of any group to be unemployed, while the number of households in Gaza below the poverty line has reached an historic high of nearly 52 percent, according to a new report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) issued Thursday. "The unprecedented level of poverty in Gaza is bad news," UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness to IPS in a call interview from Jerusalem. "To resign a whole generation to a future without hope is not in the interest of anyone. It is not in the interest of the refugees we serve as UNRWA, and it is not in the interests of anyone who believes in the wider interest of peace and stability.

Five injured including Dubai TV crew in peaceful Ni’lin anti-wall protest
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Ni’lin/Ramallah - Ma’an - Five Palestinians were injured after the Israeli army fired rubber coated metal bullets on a peaceful demonstration in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas bombs at a Dubai TV crew interviewing Salam Jamal Kan’an, the young girl who filmed the shooting of Ashraf Abu Rahmah, who was bound and blindfolded, earlier this month. Salam was describing the intentional shooting incident to the television crew. The army fired dozens of tear on gas bombs on Salam’s family during the interview. During the attack Dubai TV reporter Mohamad As-Sayid along with his cameramen were suffocated with tear gas. The demonstration made its way to the construction site of the separation wall at noon where they performed the Friday prayers. On their way to the site, Israeli soldiers tried to prevent the crowd from reaching the area.

Haaretz: U.S. protests eviction of Arab family from East Jerusalem home
Akiva Eldar, International Solidarity Movement 7/25/2008
Jerusalem Region - The United States this week filed an official protest with Israel for harming Palestinians, including the eviction of the al-Kurd family from their home in the Shimon Hatzadik complex in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The U. S. also demanded explanations for the harassment of Palestinian residents in the West Bank by Israeli settlers. A diplomatic source told Haaretz that the Foreign Ministry responded that the decision to evict the al-Kurd family was made under civilian jurisdiction, so the state has no standing to intervene in a matter still being heard by the Supreme Court. Regarding harassment of Palestinians, Israel replied that the state regards this seriously and that law-enforcement officials take all necessary steps to prevent it and bring the perpetrators to trial.

Israel relaunches plan for West Bank settlement in snub to US
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/25/2008
Israel has has taken a decisive first step towards reviving a controversial plan for a Jewish settlement in the West Bank which it was forced to withdraw two years ago under pressure from the US. The military’s civil administration has announced plans to go ahead with the construction of at least 20 homes in the Jordan Valley for settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Peace Now, which campaigns against settlement, believes the move is part of a larger plan which could mean the establishment of about 100 homes in Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley. The plan, initially approved by the then Defence Minister, Amir Peretz, in 2006, ended up being shelved after a vigorous protest by the US State Department. The US made no immediate comment on the revival of the plan as Palestinian and Israeli negotiators struggle to fulfil George Bush’s aspiration of an outline agreement on a two-state solution by the end of the year.

Miliband expresses ’dismay’ at Israeli colony plan
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/26/2008
LONDON: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Friday he was "dismayed" by Israel’s plans to build a settlement in the Occupied Jordan Valley, urging it not to go ahead with the proposals. Israel is constructing 20 housing units in Maskiot, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official told AFPon Thursday, despite the international community urging it to freeze settlement activity in the occupied territories. The new construction still needs the final go-ahead from Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "I was dismayed to learn of plans for new settlement construction in the Jordan Valley," Miliband said. "At this important moment in the peace process, all sides need to take steps to build confidence and ensure practical progress. "He added: "I urge Israel not to approve these plans. We have made our views clear directly to the Israeli government.

Ban Ki-Moon calls on Israel to freeze settlements in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, on Friday called on Israel to immediately freeze settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. His spokesman said that Ban Ki-Moon was very concerned about the new projects regarding the new Israeli settlements especially in the West Bank, following the decision on Thursday issued by the Israeli government to build 20 homes in the northern Jordan Valley in the West Bank. Only one year ago Israel scrapped a plan to build 180 new houses at the same settlement due to demands made by the US administration. In recent visits to Israel both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Premier Gordon Brown, have called for an immediate freezing of all settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Khudari: Occupation is imposing a different form of blockade in the West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal al-Khudari, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS) condemned the Israeli occupation raid, on Thursday, on the industrial zone of Beit Fujjar, to the south of Bethlehem. Khudari issued a statement on Friday in which he said that the IOF raid of about 45 workshops which specialise in cutting and shaping granite as well as different kinds of stone for building meant extending the blockade to include the West Bank. The raids targeted a vibrant sector of the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and Bethlehem in particular. A sector which employs a large number of workers and which is depended on by the construction industry in the West Bank in general. The IOF confiscated millions of dollars worth of  bulldozers, compressors, saws, generators and lorries. Khudari stressed that the occupation aims to destroy the Palestinian national economy. . . -- See also: Israeli forces close down factories and confiscate equipment in Hebron and Beit Fijar Mayor to PNN: this is not the first time

Report: PA mulling unilateral declaration of statehood
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/26/2008
The Palestinian Authority is considering cutting off its diplomatic contacts with Israel and unilaterally declaring statehood, the Arabic-language a-Sharq al-Awset daily reported on Friday. "In light of the crisis we have encountered in talks with Israel, the Authority is testing a number of options," one Palestinian official told the daily. According to the report, the Palestinian Authority is also re-evaluating how to proceed with consolidating its security services. Salah Rafat, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) council told the daily that"The Palestinian leadership will be able to make a clear and serious decision regarding the peace process," following trilateral talks in Washington next week. U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday there was still time to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of 2008.

Israeli forces arrest ten in Bethlehem, Nablus and Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces arrested ten Palestinians from cities across the West Bank after they raiding houses in the early hours of Friday morning. Israeli sources said that of the ten men detained three were from Bethlehem, three from Jenin and four from Nablus. All of those arrested have been transfered to interrogation centers for questioning. Included in those arrested in Bethlehem were Mohammed Shehadeh and Ahmad Al-Balbol, both 18, who are both the sons of assassinated activists. These arrests come as part of an ongoing campaign of raids and arrests by Israeli forces, which have seen Nablus targeted in particular. Over the last few weeks a large number of Nablus citizens have been arrested and important commercial centers shut down. Negotiations are currently being held between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli military commanders in an attempt to resolve the situation in the city.

International Federation of Journalists demands release of detained media correspondent
Palestine News Network 7/25/2008
The International Federation of Journalists called on Thursday for the release of detained Al Jazeera correspondent Waddah ’Eid. Waddah ’Eid has been held without charge for over six days by the Palestinian Preventative Security Service (PPSS) in the West Bank town of Qalqilya. ’Eid is the Al Jazeera correspondent for Nablus and other areas in the West Bank. "The rights of this journalist have been severely violated," General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists Aidan White said. "If no official accusation has been made, then he must be released immediately and allowed to continue working as a journalist. We are concerned that this arrest is an attempt to intimidate our colleagues and influence the press. " According to Al Jazeera, the PPSS said that Waddah ’Eid has not been detained because of his work in journalism.

UPDATE: Canadian activist beaten and spat on by Israeli army during arrest in Ni’lin facing deportation
International Solidarity Movement 7/25/2008
Ramallah Region - Canadian activist Victor MacDiarmid, who was arrested at a non-violent demonstration against the construction of the apartheid wall in Ni’lin on the 23rd July, is to challenge his Israeli deportation order that was issued this morning (25th July). Victor was arrested with Jamal Amirra, the father of the girl who filmed the Israeli army shooting a bound detainee in Ni’lin. Jamal is currently being held in Ofer Military Detention Center awaiting a court hearing, while Victor isbeing held in Maasihau Detention Center, with the Israeli authorities having started deportation proceedings. This is despite him not being brought before a judge so as to be able to challenge his arrest and be given the opportunity to a fair trial. Both Victor and Jamal were observing the women only demonstration against the construction of the apartheid wall in Ni’lin when the Israeli army attacked the demonstration using extreme violence.

Canadian activist ordered deported after arrest at Ni’lin protest
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Canadian activist Victor MacDiarmid was ordered deported on Friday, after being arrested Wednesday at a protest march in Ni’lin, north of Ramallah. MacDiarmid was arrested alongside Jamal Amirra, father of the young girl who recorded the abuse of a Palestinian by Israeli soldiers on 7 July. Both men had been observing the women-only protest, but intervened when Israeli soldiers attacked the group. According to an ISM statement released Friday, MacDiarmid plans to challenge the deportation order. The report states that MacDiarmid is being held in the Maasihau DetentionMacDiarmid reported that he was repeatedly punched, kicked and spat on for aproximaetly twenty minutes before being taken into police custody for interrogation. After he was taken into police custody, the man’s lawyer was told that he had declined legal representation, a statement that MacDiarmid strongly denies.

Ashraf Abu Rahmah walks bound and blindfolded in Bil’in anti wall protest
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Ashraf Abu Rahmah, who was hospitalized for more than three weeks after being shot while bound by an Israeli soldier, participated in Friday’s protest and walked with a group from the center Bil’in towards the wall. During the protest Israeli journalist David Reep was hit with a tear gas canister and dozens of Bil’in residents inhaled tear gas when the Israeli army attacked the weekly anti-wall protesters in the village west of Ramallah. The residents of Bil’in rallied after the Friday prayer, and were joined by International and Israeli peace activists. The group carried Palestinian flags and banners denouncing Israeli policies including the construction of the separation wall, land confiscation, settlement expansion, road closures, siege waged on cities, and the killing of civilians and arrests.

VIDEO - Women’s demonstration in Ni´lin is attacked by Israeli army
International Solidarity Movement 7/25/2008
Ramallah Region - Video - Photos - On the 23rd of July a women’s demonstration against the construction of the apartheid wall took place in Ni’lin. Girls from the local summer camp had painted placards and made two big banners saying "Women against the Apartheid wall" for the demonstration. Palestinian women came all the way from Tulkarem and Ramallah to join the demonstration. In total around 100 Palestinian, international and Israeli women participated in the march aiming at the bulldozers working on the construction site of the apartheid wall. When having the bulldozer in site the women were violently stopped by Israeli soldiers who used teargas, sound bombs and physical violence. The women did not surrender but continued the chanting and tried to reach the bulldozers. The demonstrators succeeded to approach the bulldozers until being only 20 meters away.

2 Border Guard policemen hurt in West Bank protest
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Anti-fence protestors hurl stones at forces; IDF officer: Dramatic rise in leftist protests this year - More violence near fence: Two Border Guard police officers sustained light wounds Friday afternoon during a leftist demonstration near the Palestinian village of Naalin, west of Ramallah. Dozens of protestors arrived in the area Friday in order to rally against the construction of the West Bank security fence. The demonstrators included left-wing activists, Palestinians, and foreigners. The protesters at the site hurled stones at Border Guard forces, who responded with crowd-dispersal means. The wounded Border Guard police officers were treated at the scene. Earlier Friday, a senior IDF officer said that a total of 25 police officers and soldiers were hurt in the past month during riots in Naalin.

A non violent weekly protest in Bil’in village
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
Scores of international and Israeli peace activists along with villager marched against the illegal wall being built on Bil’in village nearby the west bank city of Ramallah on Friday midday Protest headed from the village entrance after the weekly Friday prayers, the protestors were demonstrating against the Israeli killings, closures, confiscation of lands and property, the protester headed towards the wall trying to get to the villagers lands behind it. Israeli troops shot tear gas, steal-rubber- coated-bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters which caused many to suffer gas inhalation; moreover an Israeli reporter was shot by the Israeli troops. [end]

Weekly peaceful protest of the wall at Al Khader village
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
A group of 200 non violent protesters marched in protest against the illegal wall on Friday midday at al Khader village nearby the West Bank city of Bethlehem. IMEMC’s correspondents reported that the protest took place after the Friday prayer at the village. A group of 200 non-violent demonstrators marched in protest against the apartheid wall being built on the village lands Israeli troops stopped the protest by shooting tear gas and sound bombs at the protesters. [end]

Trapped Gazan students appeal to Ban Ki-moon
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A delegation representing students trapped in the Gaza Strip along with the representative of the British campaign "Let Palestinian Students Study" met, on Thursday, with John Ging, the UNRWA head of Gaza operations. Rami Abdo, representative of  the "Let Palestinian Students Study" campaign said in a statement on Friday that the delegation handed Ging a letter to the United Nations General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, calling on him to intervene to allow them to leave the Gaza Strip and join their universities abroad. Abdo also praised the position of John Ging which he described as responsible and reflects his appreciation of the suffering of the trapped students and the fact that one of their basic rights, the right to education, is being violated by the Israeli occupation, something which threatens their future.

Qassam lands on Palestinian side of fence
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 7/25/2008
After several days of relative calm, rocket fired from Gaza at western Negev; no injuries or damage reported - A Qassam rocket was fired from the northern Gaza Strip just before noon Friday, landing on Palestinian territory near the border fence. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The relative calm in Gaza vicinity communities has been maintained over the past few days. About a week ago, a Qassam rocket landed near the Kissufim crossing, without causing injuries or damage. Two days earlier, a rocket landed in an open area near a community in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Hamas has been trying to prove that it is fighting the factions firing Qassams. Abu Kusai, a spokesman for the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, said that following the firing of a rocket, Hamas men "kidnapped Fatah members at the Jabalya refugee camp.

Palestinian projectiles fall in western Negev near border with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli media sources reported Friday that a projectile was launched from within the Gaza Strip. The right wing Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot said that the homemade device landed in the western Negev not far from the Gaza-Israel border. No casualties or damages have been reported. [end]

Activists to test Gaza naval blockade
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
Taking the protest against the Gaza blockade to a new level, two boats packed with foreign left-wing activists will attempt to sail from Cyprus to the sealed Gaza harbor in two weeks’ time. Israel Navy ship Photo: IDF- NavySlideshow: Pictures of the weekThe operation is being directed by members of the International Solidarity Movement and the Israeli Commission against House Demolitions. A Web site, FreeGaza, has been set up to collect donations and update the public. The group - which numbers some 40 activists - has purchased two boats, one called SS Free Gaza and the other SS Liberty, named after the USS Liberty that was mistakenly bombed by the Israel Air Force during the Six Day War. Thirty-four American sailors were killed in the bombing. The boats are scheduled to set sail from Cyprus on August 5 and arrive, according to organizer Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, at the Gaza coast a day or two later.

Azzam: We will activate crisis unit to monitor Israeli violations
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Sheikh Nafeth Azzam, the leader of Islamic Jihad, added his voice on Friday to those supporting the creation of a crisis unit which would monitor Israeli violations of the Israeli-Gaza truce, now in its sixth week. In an interview with Ma’an Azzam said he held a meeting with Saeed Seyam, interior minister in the de facto government;Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders as well as representatives from the Popular and Democratic fronts in the Gaza Strip. During the meetings the representatives discussed the truce and Israeli violations as well as the need to establish a crisis unit. Azzam also said the men were frank in addressing of the issue of internal Palestinian relations and the national dialogue between Fatah and Hamas. There has been talk of setting up a crisis unit since the start of the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Siyam: Israeli Occupation is not committed to the truce in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- PA interior minister Sa’eed Siyam has accused on Thursday the Israeli occupation government of not abiding by the calm agreement in the Gaza Strip, charging that the IOA didn’t take the truce seriously. Siyam’s remarks came in a press conference he held in his home in Gaza city after he met with representative from the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) to discuss future of the truce. "This meeting [of the four Palestinian resistance factions] comes in line with Hamas’s efforts to be in continuous consultation and liaison with other Palestinian factions on the ground to evaluate, and to decide on the fate of the truce", asserted Siyam, who is also a senior Hamas political leader. He said that the Palestinian resistance factions were of full conviction that the Israeli. . .

Hamas leader: No talks on Shalit
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Mahmoud Al-Zahar denies reports that Hamas, Israel engaged in talks aimed at securing release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit; senior Hamas figure slams Israel, says it has failed to adhere to Gaza Strip ceasefire agreement - Despite recent reports that Israel and Hamas are engaged in talks on the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar says the negotiations are on hold. " At this time there are no negotiations on a Shalit deal," al-Zahar said in an interview published by the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab newspaper. The Hamas leader said his organization did not hand over to Israel a list containing the names of prisoners it wishes to secure as part of the deal. Hamas conveyed its demands orally, via Egypt, Al-Zahar said Gilad Shalit’Israel to free Barguti for Shalit’ / Diplomatic sources tell. . .

Matters of Deterrence / Shin Bet head Diskin: Cease-fire with Hamas unlikely to hold
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/26/2008
A seven-minute ride from Talansky, a minute’s walk from Obama, the murderous tractor driver who launched his attack on Tuesday afternoon in central Jerusalem provided a reminder from real life. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not going anywhere in the near future. The day after the terrorist attack, the newspapers gave prominence to what was said by Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet security service, at a briefing he gave to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee some two hours before the bulldozer attack. Diskin’s forecast about there being copycats of the first "tractor terrorist," like his fierce criticism of the lack of law-enforcement and deterrence in East Jerusalem, were viewed as a prophecy that fulfilled itself at lightning speed. The small but well-oiled media section of the Shin Bet succeeded in presenting its. . .

Basque delegation show artistic solidarity in Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/25/2008
Gaza - A joint project between Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and an international delegation resulted in the creation of an artistic mural in Gaza City. The Palestinian Progressive Youth Union (PPYU) and the Progressive Student Action Front (PSAF) collaborated to organize a project with a group of young artists from the Al Aqsa University of Fine Arts and a delegation from the International Basque Foundation, an organization from the Basque region of northern Spain. Young Palestinians, artists and members of the Basque delegation created a mural on the headquarters of the Legislative Council in Gaza City to show their solidarity with Palestine. At the conclusion of the work, the PPYU and the PSAF hosted a meeting in which they reiterated the importance of such visits in order to expose the repressive practices against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as well as in the West Bank.

The siege on Gaza - Israel severely infringes Gazans’ right to education
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, ReliefWeb 7/24/2008
Since Israel tightened the siege on the Gaza Strip last year, hundreds of Palestinian students have been unable to reach their educational institutions in the West Bank and abroad. Not only are the students being denied their right to education, but Palestinian society suffers as a whole from this impediment to its development. The harm to students is only one example of grave harm resulting from the siege. Israel has almost complete control of Gaza’s borders, and its policy toward the Strip breaches its obligations under international law. Student hardship in Gaza There are three universities in Gaza, which offer a limited number of programs for bachelor’s degrees. No programs are available in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, dentistry, and many other fields. Master’s degrees are even more limited, and PhD programs are non-existent.

oPt: New UNRWA project targets the poorest refugees in Gaza
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 7/24/2008
UNRWA has initiated additional cash grants to lift the most disadvantaged Palestine refugees out of abject poverty in Gaza. The grants will be distributed between July and December 2008 to 55,000 of the poorest refugees, within the classification by UNRWA as ’special hardship cases. ’ The targeted cash grants are in addition to UNRWA’s food assistance and will give refugee families the flexibility to make purchases according to their own needs. The grants will also give refugees increased access to fresh market produce. The cash subsidies were made possible by a $6. 3million donation from the European Commission, announced in April 2008. John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza, said, ’With this money, the European Commission is showing a real sense of solidarity with some of the most disadvantaged people in the Gaza Strip.

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians wounded, 80 abducted in Israeli attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 17 - 23 July 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 32 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces abducted 80 Palestinian civilians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. In Nablus alone, Israeli forces abducted 74 Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces also abducted the father of a young girl who filmed an Israeli soldier firing at Palestinian civilian in Ne;lin village, west of Ramallah, on 7 July. The number of Palestinian civilians who have been abducted by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of this year now stands at 1,628.

UNRWA: More than Half of Gaza Households Slump below the Poverty Line
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
Jerusalem, 24th July, 2008: The number of households in Gaza below the poverty line has reached an unprecedented high of nearly 52 per cent, according to a new report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In its report published today UNRWA says that ’the number of households in Gaza below the consumption poverty line continued to grow, reaching 51. 8 per cent in 2007, despite significant amounts of emergency and humanitarian assistance’. By contrast, household poverty levels in the West Bank fell to just over 19 per cent, ’likely driven down by the lifting of the international embargo on the Palestinian Authority’. The UNRWA report, which is based on figures provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), says that ’the real average unemployment rate in the occupied Palestinian territory (as a whole) remained amongst the highest in the world at 29.

Israeli forces shoot two and arrest 80 Palestinians this week
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/25/2008
Nablus -- Israeli forces shot two Palestinians, including a child, and arrested 80 from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during nonviolent protests this week. Several Palestinians protested in response to the escalating number of Israeli invasions in Nablus and nearby villages. On Wednesday, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian in Beit Hanoun located in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces shot him from the Israeli border 300 meters away. In their weekly report, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that Israeli forces have been using "excessive force in systematic attacks against peaceful protests organized by Palestinians and Palestinian human rights defenders. "In Bil’in, a village in western Ramallah, Israelis used force to disperse demonstrators, injuring dozens and asphyxiating two. . . "

The Israeli army kidnaps two Palestinians in Jenin city
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
The Israeli army invaded Jenin city and Muthalath ash-Shuhada’ village on Friday at dawn, kidnapping two Palestinians. Local sources reported that the Israeli army invaded Jenin city twice on Friday. First they shot gun fire and sound bombs, then kidnapped Mu’taz as-Salfene, 20. In the second instance Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli military vehicles, blockaded a café in the village and kidnapped Yousef Ali As’os, 23. [end]

Woman detained at Al-Aghwar checkpoint for possession of knife
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces at Al-Aghwar checkpoint in the Jordan Valley detained a Palestinian woman on Friday accusing her of the possession of a knife with the intention of attacking a soldier. She has been transfered to an interrogation unit. This arrest follows a similar incident on Thursday near Jenin, where a female doctor was detained for carrying a vegetable knife in her car. [end]

IOF troops, Israeli settlers intensify their aggressions on W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
NABLUS, [PIC]-- Armed Israeli settlers had joined on Thursday the Israeli occupation army in attacking Palestinian citizens in the West Bank as a group of those settlers assaulted cars of Palestinian citizens and set their olive groves ablaze. According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, fanatic Israeli settlers from the colony of Yitshar smashed windows of parked Palestinian cars in Borin village, south of Nablus city. They added that the settlers also burned Olive fields in the village before Palestinian fire engines arrived at the scene and prevented fire from spreading to nearby fields. Also in Borin village, tens of Israeli settlers from the colony of Brakha destroyed electric posts in the village prompting total blackout before they sealed off roads linking the village with Nablus city. For their part, the Israeli occupation soldiers intensified their attacks and arrest campaigns. . .

CPT: Israeli settlers pursue Palestinian children on their way tosummer camp
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Hebron – CPT Report - On Wednesday 23 July, three Israeli settlers, one masked and wielding a stick, pursued 14 Palestinian children who were on their way to a summer camp in At-Tuwani. The children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed waited 30 minutes for the Israeli military escort that should have accompanied them on the most direct road between the villages of Tuba and At-Tuwani. When the military failed to arrive, the children began walking along a long path through the hills to At-Tuwani. When the children neared the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Havot Ma’on, three settlers came out from the outpost and began walking in the direction of the children. The settlers had two dogs with them. International observers yelled to the children to alert them to the approaching settlers, who were pursuing them from behind.

Settlers threaten to exact ’price’ in response to evacuations
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Following tense day of clashes in West Bank, settlers warn they will continue to respond to any attempt to banish them. Their ire, however, mostly directed at IDF’s behavior in media -Settlers had uncommonly harsh words for the IDF’s conduct on Thursday following a day of violent clashes in the West Bank. The most scathing criticism, however, was directed not towards the army’s behavior during the evacuation of the Adi-Ad outpost, but rather its portrayal of the settlers in the media. "We’re not the IDF’s punching bag," they proclaimed, pointing towards several instances throughout the day when the army accused settlers of violently attacking soldiers. The settlers vehemently denied troops were assaulted, and threatened to sue the army for libel. In one such incident, the army said a settler seized an assault rifle from a soldier near the settlement of Shiloh and fired several rounds in the air.

IDF commander: We must deal with settler ’provocateurs’
Uri Blau and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/26/2008
The outgoing commander of the Samaria Brigade, Col. Amir Baram, last month told Israel Defense Forces and legal officials that efforts should be made to "deal with provocateurs" among settlement leaders. Baram cited Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss and Rabbi Gadi Ben-Zimra, who heads an Orthodox girls’ high school in the northern West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Levona as specific examples. At that meeting, with IDF officers and officials from the State Prosecutor’s Office, Baram focused in particular on two yeshivas in the northern West Bank whose students have been party to crimes against Palestinians in the area. One, called Dorshei Yihudcha, is located in Yitzhar and headed by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, an associate of Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, who headed the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva that was formerly located at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.

A Car explosion in Gaza kills three Hamas fighters
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
A car explosion in Gaza city killed on Friday evening three Hamas fighters and wounded 20 other people. Palestinian medical sources said that Ammar Mossabeh, Iyad Alhaiya and Nedal Almobayeid, were killed and 20 other people were wounded, in a mysterious blast of a car in Gaza city. Palestinain security sources in the Hamas-led government said that the blast occurred on the coastal road of Gaza city , as the car, in which the three victims, was driving near a local Cafeteria on the Gaza coastal road, west of Gaza city. Spokesman of the Hamas interior ministry said the reasons for the blast remain unclear yet he pledged that the police will start thorough investigations into the incident and bring perpetrators to justice very soon. The Alqassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, accused the Fatah party of targeting a school trip convoy on the coastal road.

One killed, ''Fatah elements'' arrested as two explosions rock Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza police said on Friday that they have arrested elements affiliated to the Fatah movement after two explosions in Gaza City. One Palestinian, believed to be the bomber, was killed in the first blast at Ag-Gazira café in the centre of the city in the early hours of Friday morning. Security sources in the Gaza Strip had earlier reported that unknown persons launched an explosive device at the café, resulting in the death of at least one person and massive damage to the building. A few minutes later there was another explosion outside the house of Dr Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, also in Gaza City, though no one was injured. Media spokesman for the police Islam Shahwan, said that they have sufficient information that Fatah elements were involved in an attempt to attack high profile Hamas figures in Gaza.

Massacre committed by collaborators in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Four members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and a little girl were killed on Friday evening in an explosion that targeted a group having a picnic on the Gaza beach. It is believed that the explosion is the work of the remnants of the mutiny trend within the Fatah movement, as three of them were arrested Friday morning after targeting the home of Dr. Marwan Abu Ras with an explosive device that caused vast material damage to house, but no human casualties. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told PIC that the atrocity targeted a mosque organised picnic to the beach using a road-side bomb which has resulted in the death of 4 Qassam fighters and a little girl who was in the vicinity of the explosion and whose identity was still unknown. He stressed that the atrocity was premeditated and said: "We hold the remnants of the criminal groups and their leaders who fled to Ramallah responsible for this crime. "

Bahar condemns attack on Abu Ras; three suspects are caught
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Acting PLC speaker MP Ahmad Bahar has strongly condemned on Friday the attack on Hamas lawmaker Dr. Marwan Abu Ras that inflicted clear destruction on the legislator’s home. "This criminal act had indeed left clear destruction on parts of the MP’s house, and exposed his life and the life of his family and neighbors to real danger, which proves that the attackers meant to inflict big human and material losses in the attack", asserted Bahar in a statement he issued in the aftermath of the crime. According to Bahar, the attack on Abu Ras’s house falls in line with the Israeli targeting of legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, adding that the Israeli occupation army had rounded up and still holding more than 45 Palestinian lawmakers from the Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc.

5 dead in Gaza blast
Ali Waked and Reuters, YNetNews 7/25/2008
At least five people, including senior Hamas member, killed after bomb explodes at major Gaza intersection; explosive device planted near Hamas police parking site - A bomb exploded at a major junction in the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing five Palestinians including Amar Masbach, a senior member of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam military wing. Notably, Masbach survived an Israeli assassination attempt last year, after elite troops attempted to kill him in the Strip. Three other Hamas men were killed in the blast, including Iyad al-Haya, the cousin of senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya. Osama, al-Haya’s son, was among the wounded. A girl who happened to be in the area was also killed. More than 15 people were wounded in the explosion, west of Gaza City. The blast is believed to be related to intra-Palestinian tensions.

Gaza bomb blasts kill four, wounds 23
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
A powerful explosion ripped through a car on a busy Gaza City beach Friday night, killed four and wounding 23, Hamas security officials said. It was the third mysterious blast of the day in Gaza after a relatively calm period that has followed a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. No one in Gaza blamed Israel for Friday’s violence and it is likely internal Palestinian battles. The late night blast killed Amar Musubah, a Hamas military field commander, Hamas member Eyad Al-Hia, a child and a fourth unknown individual. All the wounded were civilians, medical officials said. Earlier in the day, unknown assailants set off two bombs in Gaza City, killing one man. The first explosion took place just after midnight outside the Al Jazera cafe. The cafe has been hit twice in the past year by similar attacks, presumably perpetrated by radical Muslims who also target record shops and institutions they see as signs of Western influence.

UNIFIL lodges complaint with Israel over violations of Lebanese airspace
Dalila Mahdawi, Daily Star 7/26/2008
BEIRUT: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Friday lodged a formal complaint with Israel for a series of violations of Lebanese airspace over a two-day period. In a press release Friday, UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouzianne demanded Israel bring a halt to their over flights as they constituted "a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and of Lebanese sovereignty. "According to the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA), there was a flurry of Israeli military activity in and around the Israel-Lebanon border village of Ghajar between Wednesday and Friday. Armored personnel carriers were said to be stationed at the entrances to the Israeli side of the village while unmanned surveillance drones and war planes entered Lebanese airspace. Israel took over Ghajar in 1967 when it captured the Syrian Golan Heights.

’UNIFIL flaws may lead to new conflict’
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
UNIFIL soldiers assigned to maintain the cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 are not carrying out their mandate and are potentially laying the groundwork for another round of violence between Israel and Hizbullah, Israel’s outgoing UN ambassador Danny Gillerman has told The Jerusalem Post. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman. Photo: Ariel JerozolimskiSlideshow: Pictures of the weekIn a parting interview, Gillerman, who has served in the sensitive position for the past six years, had harsh words for the UN’s failed implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought the war to an end on terms, he said, that should have constituted an achievement for Israel. "They [UNIFIL] should be much more proactive - more aggressive in going after Hizbullah - in detecting [and] identifying arms depots.

Three killed in fighting in north Lebanon
Middle East Online 7/25/2008
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - At least three people were killed in fierce sectarian clashes in Lebanon’s northern port of Tripoli on Friday as fighters exchanged rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire, a security official said. "Three people have been killed," the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that one of the dead was a woman and that another 22 people were wounded. One of the wounded was caught in crossfire between fighters in the Bab al-Tebbaneh district and the neighbouring largely Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen. Another person was wounded by a sniper earlier on Friday, the security official said. A rocket-propelled grenade slammed into an apartment building near a vegetable market, setting it ablaze after hours of sporadic sniper fire, a mdia correspondent said. Another rocket hit a mosque in Bab al-Tebbaneh, the correspondent said.

Fadlallah insists Hizbullah’s weapons ’necessary’
Daily Star 7/26/2008
BEIRUT: Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah said the national dialogue should focus on the way that all Lebanese parties take part in the defense of Lebanon. "I do not believe that the permanent debate over the legitimacy of the resistance’s weapons can change the fact that those arms are necessary for Lebanon," Fadlallah said in his weekly Friday sermon delivered from the Imamayn Hassanayn Mosque in Haret Hreik. "This is why we should not lose a big strategic card that has always been present for the sake of the country and nation," he added. According to Fadlallah, some Lebanese parties would not be able to conduct the upcoming parliamentary elections "in an independent way. ""Some political parties cannot conduct parliamentary elections without factionalism or in the absence of regional and international intervention through the financing of particular groups or coalitions," he added.

Hizbullah recruits S. Lebanese Sunnis
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
Hizbullah is recruiting members for "resistance battalions" in the Southern Lebanese Sunni villages of Chebaa, Kfar Chouba and Hebbariye opposite the Shaba Farms (Mount Dov), a Beirut-based Western journalist has told The Jerusalem Post. In recent years, support for the Shi’ite militant group has wavered in the South-eastern Arkoub region and the recruits are an attempt to gain ground in the ongoing battle for political dominance between Hizbullah and Sunni groups. "There is a real tussle for control of this area between Hizbullah and the Future Movement, Lebanon’s main Sunni political party," the journalist said. "The Future Movement got the upper hand after the 2006 war, and Hizbullah is trying to make inroads again into the area.

More Syria talks following ’progress’
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
Israel and Syria are expected to hold a fourth round of indirect diplomatic talks in Turkey next week, amid reports that the two sides are dealing with issues such as borders, water rights, security, and normalization of ties. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian President Bashar Assad. Photo: APSlideshow: Pictures of the weekThe Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote Thursday, citing Syrian sources, that agreement was close in three areas: water rights, borders and security, with little progress having been made on normalization issues. Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, who have kept all information about the indirect negotiations very close to the chest, would not confirm the report. Turkish officials, however, said it was difficult to speak about getting close to agreement while the negotiations remained indirect.

IDF vets train NY Jewish paramilitaries
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
Yonatan Stern, the "Sgan Mefaked Hakita" (deputy squad commander) of Kitat Konenut New York, insists his "paramilitary emergency armed response team" is no "group of vigilantes or a JDL [Jewish Defense League]. " "The goal of the organization is to have a competent and professional group of armed volunteers ready to respond to a threat at a moment’s notice in any area where Jews reside," explains the Israeli combat veteran. "We do not carry out demonstrations or political activity of any kind as we have no political agenda. Our agenda is to protect Jews wherever and whenever necessary and by any means needed. " On Friday, the third session of the group’s training camp will begin in the Catskills woodlands of upstate New York, on land belonging to a Jewish supporter of the organization.

’I thought I was going to be arrested but not shot’
Mel Frykberg, Daily Star 7/26/2008
Inter Press Service - BI’ILIN, Occupied West Bank: A Youtube video, uploaded on the Internet this week, showing a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian being fired on at close range by an Israeli soldier in the presence of a lieutenant-colonel, has made international and regional headlines. On July 7, Ashraf Abu-Rahma, 27, from Bi’ilin village near Ramallah in the central Occupied West Bank was arrested, beaten up, forced to sit blindfolded and handcuffed in the blazing sun for three hours without water, and then deliberately shot on his foot from less than a meter away, allegedly on his commander’s orders. "I thought I was going to be arrested but not shot," Ashraf told IPS during an exclusive interview in Bi’ilin. An army medic tended Ashraf, who was left with a swollen big toe with internal bleeding. Fortunately for the young Palestinian man, his thick boot absorbed most. . .

Body of bulldozer attacker not released to family, relatives hold ceremony in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The family of Ghassan Abu Tir, who carried out last week’s bulldozer attack in Jerusalem, held a ceremony on Friday to mourn the loss of their son. The ceremony was held in his relatives home in the town of Abasan Al-Kabira in the south of the Gaza Strip after Israeli authorities prevented his family from hosting the ceremony in their home in Um Tuba, near East Jerusalem. Ziyyad Abu Tir, one of Ghassan’s relatives said that the family members performed a prayer and a mourning ceremony in Abasan al Kabira. They were unable to hold a funeral for Ghassan, since his body was not released to his family. Nineteen Israelis were injured last Tuseday when Abu Tir carried out a bulldozer attack in Jerusalem, he was shot and killed by an Israel at the scene.

This Week in Palestine - Week 30 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/25/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for July 19th, through July, 25th, 2008. Top Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurei, is set to head to Washington for talks over the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. As the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its sixth week, the Israeli army kills one Palestinian and shoots another in Gaza. These stories and more coming up stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Rula Shahwan has the details: Nearly 200 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader, located near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, were joined by International peace activists for the weekly prayer service and march to protest the illegal wall Israel is building around the village.

oPt: 2008 Gaza/West Bank humanitarian response
Church World Service - CWS, ReliefWeb 7/24/2008
Appeal #6824 Appeal Goal: $180,000 SITUATIONSince the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000, political, economic and social conditions have continued to deteriorate for the 3. 8 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Action by Churches Together alliance, with CWS support, has responded to the emergency with a number of appeals to alleviate the suffering of the population in both Gaza and the West Bank. In 2007, ACT launched an appeal following the Gaza crisis, when intensive factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip left more than 100 persons killed. Since then, the overall humanitarian conditions for the population in the territories have worsened. In Gaza, the population continues to suffer from the extended blockade, closure of crossing points and severe limitations on basic supplies being allowed into the territories.

The humanitarian and development situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Eleventh report of session 2007-08. Volume I
House of Commons - International Development Committee - IDC, ReliefWeb 7/24/2008
SummaryOn 19 June 2008, Hamas and Israel agreed a six-month ceasefire leading to an easing of the restrictions on the opening of Gaza’s borders. These have been virtually closed by Israel on security grounds since Hamas seized power in Gaza a year ago. The takeover of Gaza by Hamas was neither justified nor acceptable. We welcome the ceasefire brokered by Egypt and call on all parties to abide by it and to use this opportunity to move the peace process forward. The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been acute. Food, fuel and water have been in short supply and the public health system has been under severe pressure. Israel has obligations to ensure the health and welfare of the Palestinian population, which it has not met. We believe this situation was allowed to continue for too long and that the Quartet did not exert sufficient pressure on Israel to open the crossings.

New publication: The humanitarian and development situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
House of Commons - International Development Committee - IDC, ReliefWeb 7/24/2008
DON’T MISS TRUCE OPPORTUNITY TO TACKLE GAZA CRISIS, MPs URGE - The Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas offers an important opportunity to ease the restrictions imposed by Israel on Gaza’s borders which have resulted in shortages of food, fuel and water and placed the population of Gaza under severe pressure, says today’s Report from the International Development Committee on The Humanitarian and Development Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman of the Committee said: ‘The takeover of Gaza by Hamas was neither justified nor acceptable. However, the humanitarian situation in Gaza has seriously deteriorated since the closure of its borders. Israel has obligations to ensure the health and welfare of the Palestinian population, which it has not met.

WAFA Interviews British Spokesman on PM Gordon Brown’s Visit
Zalfa Shahru, originally published by WAFA website in Arabic, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
BBC Monitoring Middle East - British government spokesman John Wilks said today: "A resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be a key solution to all problems in the Middle East. We are focusing on building the capabilities of the institutions of a Palestinian state because we desire a true partnership with this state after a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state. " In a statement to WAFA, Wilks said: "There is a real opportunity for finding a solution to this problem this year. We have no details about the negotiations. We have received positive and encouraging signals from the Palestinian and Israeli sides on the possibility of finding a solution this year. "He added: "There is a soon-to-be political deal. In his talks with the Palestinians and Israelis, the British Prime Minister discussed the future of the region. "

UK commits to further support for Palestinians
United Kingdom Department for International Development - DFID, ReliefWeb 7/25/2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) from 19-21 July, bringing with him to the OPTs a high-level business delegation that sent a strong message that ‘Palestine is open for business’. Mr Brown made history during the three days as the first British Prime Minister to address the Israeli Knesset, while his trade minister, Lord Digby Jones, became the first UK trade minister ever to visit the OPTs. Building the Palestinian economyMeeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, where they discussed the peace process, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to reiterate Britain’s support for a viable and prosperous Palestinian state - one based on 1967 borders, living in peace and security with Israel, and with Jerusalem as the capital of two states.

Gillerman: We are better than most of world
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/25/2008
After five and a half years at top of global diplomacy, Israeli ambassador bids farewell to UN with his head held high - WASHINGTON - He was a diplomatic rookie who had served as president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, when then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres decided to bet on him and send him to representIsrael at the United Nations in January 2003. Armed with good knowledge of English and an understanding of the media rules of the game, Dan Gillerman landed in New York as a great mystery. Next week he will complete five and a half years as Israel’s envoy to the UN, pursued by the American media until the very last moment. Gillerman is considered "a man of people", of small gestures and laughs. He turned on his personal charm on quite a few ambassadors, including those representing countries which have no diplomatic relations with Israel - and even envoys of hostile countries.

UN Security Council Considers Middle East Situation
United Nations Security Council, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
Shoulder Responsibility or See Credibility Undermined, Permanent Observer of Palestine Warns 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.

Hamas asks Egypt to help save ’Mother of Martyrs’
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
Miriam Farhat, the Palestinian mother who became famous in 2002 when she appeared in a video encouraging her son to attack a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, was reported Thursday to be in critical condition after suffering a massive heart attack. "When I see all the Jews in Palestine killed, that will be enough for me," she said on camera. "I wish he will kill as many as he can, so they will be scared. " Her son Muhammad, 19, killed five teenagers and wounded 23 people at Atzmona before he was shot dead in March of that year. Hamas seized the opportunity of her illness to exert pressure on the Egyptians to reopen the Rafah border crossing so that she could be transferred to an Egyptian hospital. The Egyptians initially refused to allow her in, but later succumbed to the pressure and reopened the crossing.

National Conciliation Committee expresses hope for dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The National Conciliation Committee has released a report about its continued efforts toward ending the division among Palestinians. The committee has hosted meetings with Prime Minister of the de facto government in the Gaza Strip Ismail Hanieyah, and representatives from several other Palestinian leftist parties, civil organizations and national figures. The meetings focused on ways emerging from the current crisis into a situation where national dialogue is possible. The committee has been acting silently since 15 January 2008 under the leadership of individuals representing Palestinian civil organizations, academics and clergymen. The very formation of the committee is seen as a milestone, in that its diverse membership agreed on its goals and structure. They have presented papers and proposals on possible formations of a committee for national dialogue, its goals and mechanisms.

An-Nunu slams Abd Rabu’s call for Siyam’s arrest
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Spokesperson of the de facto Hamas-led government in Gaza, Taher An-Nunu responded Friday to the Fatah call for the arrest of Sa’id Siyam, minister of the interior of the de facto government. The call came from Yasser Abd Rabu, the Secretary General of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In addition to the arrest he asked Egyptian authorities to deny Siyam access to Egypt. In his response to the call An- Nunu said that" these statements represent Abd Rabu himself [i. e. not Fatah]. He is just working on deepening the division through these statements. " He called in response to the statement for "all of the Palestinian factions in the PLO to kick out Yasser Abd Rabu immediately. "He added that "the day when Palestinians will judge Yasser Abd Rabu will come.

Ma’an Poll: Hamas/Fatah split has reached point of no return
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – The majority of respondents in the weekly poll carried out by the Ma’an Arabic site believe that the disagreements between Fateh and Hamas have become so entrenched that there is no chance of an agreement between the two. 56. 89% of the 11,472 people who took part in the poll said that they believed the split had reached the no return point. 38. 62% responded that they believe it is realistic to expect the formation of a Palestinian transitional unified government that would put an end to the divisions. A further 4. 49% said that they ’do not know’ either way.

Hamas organizes a group wedding in the Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas in cooperation with the local society Ayadi Al-Kheir (Caring hands) organized on Thursday evening in a mass wedding festival for more than eighty couples. A massive number of guests turned out for the event in Beit Lahiya, including ministers of the de facto government, Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) members and de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Speaking at the celebration Haniyeh said, "we won over the siege in the battle of principles and steadfastness. This joy is proof of victory of the Palestinians over siege. " "Our greatest joy," he added, will be when "we return to the homeland which we have been expelled from, alongside the refugees, we will carry flags of victory to the Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary around the Al-Aqsa mosque). " In his speech PLC member for Hamas, Musheer Al-Masri, spoke to Israel about the siege, saying. . .

Israeli press uses Arab coverage of Hezbollah exchange
Fadi Abu Sa''da, Palestine News Network 7/25/2008
The Israeli press failed considerably in covering the exchange deal with Hezbollah. Several Israeli newspapers relied entirely on the Arab press for information surrounding the exchange. An Israeli journalist told that the Yediot Ahronot newspaper took 100 percent of its information from Arab news agencies. Specifically, the Israeli press took information from Al Quds Al Arabi, Asharq Al Awsat and Dar al Hayat, which are all Arab newspapers. Assafir and Al Akhbar, two Lebanese newspapers, were also used as primary sources of information. Yoav Stern, a correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, initially told that Haaretz had exclusive coverage of the exchange deal. He later said the newspaper relied heavily on the information reported in Al Akhbar newspaper. Stern also said, "The prisoner exchange in 2004 was marked by frequent leaks of information, which ultimately delayed the release of Samir Al Qantar. . . "

Kuntar: Allah willing, I’ll kill more Israelis
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
Days after his release last Wednesday, convicted Lebanese Druse terrorist Samir Kuntar told Arab television stations that he plans to earn a master’s degree in "military resistance" and reiterated his commitment to kill again. Kuntar said he was "proud" of killing Israelis, and "Allah willing, I will get the chance to kill more Israelis," in an interview with Lebanon’s Future TV,according to a transcript provided by The Middle East Media Research Institute. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Washington-based watchdog organization, published excerpts this week of a number of Arab-language interviews with the released prisoner. Kuntar, who served 29 years in an Israeli prison for his part in killing a father and his daughter as well as an off-duty policeman in Nahariya in 1979, was released with four other Lebanese prisoners on July 16 in exchange for the bodies of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Palestinians in Israeli prisons celebrate release of Dalal Al-Mughrabi’s body
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an -Palestinian prisoners in Israel celebrate symbolic release of Dalal Al-Mughrabi’s body. Detainees in the Negev desert prison of An-Nakab from the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (affiliated with Fatah)celebrated on Friday the symbolic return of Dalal Al-Mughrabi’s body. The prisoners also honored released prisoner Samir Quntar. During the celebration they delivered speeches to honor the Hizbullah deeds and Hassan Nasrallah’s efforts in releasing prisoners and bringing back hope. They called on Abbas to continue his efforts to secure the release of all Palestinian prisoners. [end]

Rice says Israelis, Palestinians can still reach peace deal this year
Daily Star 7/26/2008
There is still time for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace agreement before US President George W. Bush leaves office, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday. "There’s still time for them to, in accordance with Annapolis, reach agreement by the end of the year and we’ll keep working towards that goal," Rice told a news conference in the West Australian capital Perth. At talks in Annapolis outside Washington last November, Israel and the Palestinians revived negotiations aiming at concluding a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of 2008. "The Israelis and the Palestinians have their first serious peace process in seven years, and they are discussing very sensitive and difficult issues," Rice said. She said details of a trilateral meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Washington next week would not be made public on a day-by-day basis.

IDF chief receives decoration from US army
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi meets with chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff as part of series of security discussions in America. Admiral Michael Mullen surprises his Israeli counterpart by honoring him with US military’s highest awardWASHINGTON – Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, surprised IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi on Thursday by honoring him with the US military’s highest award. Following the reception, the two met face-to-face and discussed the issues on the agenda for about two hours. Ashkenazi left for the United States last Saturday on an official week-long work visit, following an invitation extended to him by Admiral Mullen. He met with US Vice President Richard Cheney and with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. According to estimates, the IDF chief’s talks with the Americans focused on the Iranian threat and possible military solutions.

Obama is a man of few words in meeting with Abbas
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/25/2008
Ramallah -- Democratic candidate for the US Presidency Barak Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to hear about the Palestinian situation in Ramallah on Wednesday. Obama has met with several representatives from the Israeli government. This was his first meeting with the Palestinian president. A source who asked to remain anonymous in an interview with Asharq Al Awsat, an Arab-English newspaper, said, "The man did not have an agenda of his own, except to gain campain support in the election against Republican candidate John McCain. " "Obama told President Abu Mazen (Mahoud Abbas) that he came to listen and understand, not to talk. But he promised to pursue the peace process in the event of his victory in the elections," the source added. Obama said that he wished to be "the apostle who promises peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Obama on Iran, Syria, J’lem and settlements - full interview
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
Two months ago in the Oval Office, President George W. Bush, coming to the end of a two-term presidency and presumably as expert on Israeli-Palestinian policy as he is ever going to be, was accompanied by a team of no fewer than five advisers and spokespeople during a 40-minute interview with this writer and three other Israeli journalists. In March, on his whirlwind visit to Israel, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to the interview our diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and I conducted with him, looked to Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed by a question relating to the nuances of settlement construction. On Wednesday evening, toward the end of his packed one-day visit here, Barack Obama, the Democratic

Obama: It’s Not US Job to Dictate Status of Jerusalem
Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
Erakat: He Will Be Full, Positive Partner in the Peace Process - Hailing Israel as a “miracle” and committing to guarantee its security, US Senator and Democratic Party candidate for the American Presidency, Barak Obama, said during his Israeli visit that the capital of Israel should be Jerusalem, but added that the matter should be settled through a negotiation by the parties. “That’s an issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis, and it is not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take,” Obama said, “but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history. ” Obama angered Palestinians last month by saying an undivided Jerusalem must remain Israel’s "capital," while the Palestinians want the occupied eastern sector of the city as the capital of their promised future state.

In Ramallah, Obama s Visit Leaves Them Unfazed
Avi Issacharof, Haaretz July 24, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
The guard at Yasser Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah yesterday did not know much about this "Barack Obama character" everyone was expecting. In fact, he’d never heard of the man. He remained quite indifferent after his partner explained. Other security personnel did not seem much more enthusiastic. Ramallahans in general did not seem to have trouble curbing their enthusiasm about the visit by the man who could become the next president of the U. S. within a few months. Some were skeptical about his ability or desire to bring change. "They are all the same," said Amjad Badran, a shop owner on Manara Square. "The American policy hasn’t changed in the last 50 years. All the American presidents have supported Israel. Besides, he won’t be elected because he’s black. At the end of the day, it’s the Senate and the Congress who determine U.

Sergei Lavrov: Rice Confirms US Support to Moscow Conference
Itar-Tass July 23, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
SINGAPORE -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has confirmed the US support to calling a conference on the Middle East in Moscow. Commenting to journalists on his meeting with Rice, the Russian foreign minister said that they have discussed, among other things, the Middle East situation. “The US state secretary has confirmed US support to calling the Moscow conference (on the Middle East). We agreed that when we meet in September in New York as members of the Quartet within the framework of the UN General Assembly, we will determine the timeframe and agenda of this event in Moscow,” Lavrov stated. Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Russia intends to hold a Middle East conference in Moscow. -- See also: Itar-Tass

Obama vows permanent support to Israel; rejects Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 7/25/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- US Democratic presidential  candidate for the 2008 elections Barack Obama has vowed on Thursday full and permanent support to the Israeli occupation government, saying he won’t talk to Hamas Movement. Remarks of Obama came as he visited occupied Palestine and met with Israeli leaders before he paid a visit to the Buraq Wall, which Jews calls "Wailing Wall" in a step that was seen by political observers as an attempt from him to gain the support and blessing of the influential Jewish lobby in the United Sates to win the presidential elections there. He also asserted that he was "a friend of Israel", and that he won’t pressure Israel into giving compromises that would jeopardize security of the Hebrew state during peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Furthermore, the US senator alleged that "the state of Israel was facing enemies hell-bent on destroying. . .

Israeli police to quiz Olmert next week - officials
Daily Star 7/26/2008
Israeli police plan to question Prime Minister Ehud Olmert next week as part of an investigation that could force the Israeli leader out of office, officials said on Friday. A government official said Olmert’s office has agreed to allot two hours for the August 1 session, less time than police had requested. It would be the fourth round of questioning in a case probing allegations Olmert took bribes from an American businessman and whether he made duplicate claims for travel expenses. The political turmoil could derail US-backed peace talks between Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Legally police do not have to make an appointment in order to question Olmert, but they have allowed him to set the schedule in deference to his position. Israel’s attorney general criticized Olmert over the scheduling, saying Olmert stonewalled police efforts to question him over corruption allegations, the press reported on Friday.

World Likud campaigns against Bishara
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
The World Likud Organization will mount a multi-lingual campaign in the coming days, not to push candidates in elections, but to divest a politician - former MK Azmi Bishara - of pension benefits he receives due to his years in the Knesset. Former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara. Photo: Ariel JerozolimskiSlideshow: Pictures of the weekAccording to data received by the organization, Bishara receives a monthly pension of NIS 7,100, despite the fact that he has not returned to Israel since last year after an investigation was opened against him for allegedsecurity-related crimes. After learning about the pension payments, WLO chairman Dani Danon decided to submit a appeal to the Supreme Court in the hope of revoking Bishara’s citizenship and beginning legal proceedings that would result in the seizure of Bishara’s remaining assets in Israel.

Simon Shahin Opens East Jerusalem Music Festival
Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
Simon Shahin, accompanied by American and Israeli musicians, on Wednesday opened an international music festival in an amphitheater in east Jerusalem’s “Kings’ Graves,” Ynet reported Thursday. The festival is scheduled to last eight days. It is sponsored by the French and Spanish Consulates as well as the UN. Last year the event hosted many international artists, including the well-known violinist Nigel Kennedy and the famous jazz guitarist Claude Barthelemy. This year singer Rim Bana will perform accompanied by Spanish musicians, in addition to the Greek Lakis Chalakis, and the Palestinian children’s choir, in a joint performance with the German ensemble “Colgium Musicum. ” The festival is produced by the “Yavuz” society. Rania Elias, leader of the society and founder of the festival, said the event would be held this year under the banner of the 60 year anniversary of the Nakba (Palestinian day of mourning coincident with Israel’s Independence Day). PMC © All Rights Reserved

Leo Kramer: Israeli, Palestinian Doctors Affect Change on Ground
Leo Kramer Middle East Times, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
Last week, Prof. Marc Gopin wrote an article titled, "Leo the Healer: an untold story of Jewish/Palestinian medical partnership. "The first responses have been positive and encouraging. The article asks what we can do to help Israelis and Palestinians live in peace with justice. Prof. Gopin examined one of the foremost difficulties existing between the two sides: the border closing problems between Israel and The West Bank/Gaza, and the daily struggle of medical practitioners to save lives when political issues interfere. How can people who care deal with these issues? Writing about them publicizes an unspoken reality, which lends support to those working to find solutions; conferences bring together those who want to help. These efforts, however, must also be directed toward achieving results on the ground.

Rights group wants US officials probed for ordering torture
Middle East Online 7/25/2008
WASHINGTON - A Nobel-prize-winning rights group on Thursday said US officials committed war crimes by ordering what the group says was torture of detainees, and called for them to be probed and prosecuted. "There must be a complete and independent investigation of what happened in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other places where terrorist suspects were detained," Allen Keller of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) told a briefing in the US House of Representatives. "We urge that a full investigation in the form of an independent non-partisan commission that has access to all documents and has subpoena power to obtain relevant documents as well as the testimony of officials," PHR president Leonard Rubenstein said. "There must be accountability. . . accountability must include prosecuting individuals who have committed war crimes, whatever their place in the chain of command," he added.

Rice wanted for ‘war crimes’ against Iraq
Middle East Online 7/25/2008
WELLINGTON - New Zealand university students offered a reward Friday for anyone making a citizens’ arrest of visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as an alleged war criminal. Rice was due to arrive in Auckland late Friday ahead of talks on Saturday with Prime Minister Helen Clark and Foreign Minister Winston Peters. Auckland University Student Association (AUSA) president David Do said the reward of 5,000 NZ dollars (3,725 US) was being offered for Rice’s arrest for her role in "overseeing the illegal invasion and continued occupation" of Iraq. "We thought we’d give our students a chance to make a dent in their student loans and work for global justice at the same time," Do said. Police said any attempt to make a citizen’s arrest could lead to "very serious consequences". "I would strongly advise the association representatives who’ve put this challenge out,. . .

Syrian forces detain Lebanese soldier - report
Daily Star 7/26/2008
BEIRUT: Syrian security forces at the Abboudiyeh border crossing in northern Lebanon detained on Thursday night a Lebanese army sergeant and a civilian, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper reported on Friday. Al-Liwaa newspaper said on Thursday that heavy shooting took place between the Syrian military unit and Lebanese sergeant Asaad al-Sawmai and civilian Ahmad al-Mohammad, before the two were "detained" by the Syrian forces. Contacts to secure their release took place on the level of the Higher Lebanese-Syrian Council, the Al-Liwaa daily reported. Whereas security sources maintained that the detention occurred inside Syrian territory, local inhabitants said that the clash and arrest took place within Lebanon, Al-Liwaa reported. The security sources said that the problem was an individual one between the two parties, and that the Syrian unit had not crossed the border, Al-Liwaa added.

Report: Ex-Mossad chief says strike on Iran could ’affect us for 100 years’
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/26/2008
Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy told Time magazine in an interview published Thursday that an Israeli attack on Iran "could have an impact on us for the next 100 years" and should only be considered as a last resort. Halevy, who currently heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, added that an Iranian attack on Israel would probably have little impact, because Iranian missiles would largely be intercepted by Israel’s advanced anti-missile defense system. Another former senior Mossad official, who reportedly served during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s administration, told the American magazine that "Iran’s achievement is creating an image of itself as a scary superpower when it’s really a paper tiger. "An additional Israeli source told Time that Israel sees the period between the U.

Ex-Mossad chief: Iran strike could impact us for next 100 years
Ynet, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Former Mossad Director Halevy tells Time Magazine that Israel should only strike Iran as a last resort in light of immense implications of such attack; Iranian strike on Israel won’t cause much damage as dozens of missiles will be shot down, he says - Ex-Mossad chief issues warning:An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could impact Israel "for the next 100 years," former Mossad Director Ephraim Halevy told Time Magazine. Halevy told Time, which interviewed several Israeli intelligence officials on the Iran question, that an attack aiming to disrupt Tehran’s nuclear program "will have a negative effect on public opinion in the Arab world. Israel should only strike Iran as a last resort, he said. The former Mossad chief also sought to downplay the Iranian threat, saying that "Iran is not 10 feet tall. "

’Still time for peace deal this year’
Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there was still hope that Israel and the Palestinians could reach a deal before US President George W. Bush leaves the White House at the end of his second term early next year. Rice during a visit to Kings Park State War Memorial in Perth, Australia. Photo: APSlideshow: Pictures of the week"There is still time for them to, in accordance with Annapolis, reach agreement by the end of the year," Rice told reporters in Australia. "We will keep working toward that goal. " Rice is to sit down with senior negotiators from each side next week in Washington for so-called trilateral talks. "The important thing right now is to take note of how seriously they are negotiating, to note that there was not even last year a peace process at this time, and to recognize that since this president came to office, the notion of two states. . .

Rice: Still time for Mideast peace deal under Bush
Middle East Online 7/25/2008
PERTH - There is still time for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace agreement before US President George W. Bush leaves office, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday. "There’s still time for them to, in accordance with Annapolis, reach agreement by the end of the year and we’ll keep working towards that goal," Rice told a news conference in the West Australian capital Perth. At talks in Annapolis outside Washington last November, Israel and the Palestinians revived negotiations aiming at concluding a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of 2008. "The Israelis and the Palestinians have their first serious peace process in seven years and they are discussing very sensitive and difficult issues," Rice said. She said details of a trilateral meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Washington next week would not be made public on a day-by-day basis.

Rice: still time to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace before Bush leaves office
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday that there is still time for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement before the end of US President George W. Bush’s term. In a press conference in Australia Rice said that the peace could be reached on the path started at the Annapolis peace conference. She affirmed that US administration will continue working to achieve this goal. Rice agreed that while Israelis and Palestinians must engage in serious negotiations and tackle highly sensitive issues. She restated her belief, however, that an agreement is possible before January.

FAQ on Obama’s Visit to the Holy Land
The Institute for Middle East Understanding - IMEU July 21, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/22/2008
1. When is Obama’s visit? Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama began a week-long trip to the Middle East and Europe this weekend with visits to Afghanistan and Iraq. He is set to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman, and is expected to arrive in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Although specific details of his itinerary have not yet been released, Senator Obama is expected to spend roughly 24 hours in the occupied West Bank and Israel between Tuesday and Wednesday. 2. Where will he go in Israel/Palestine? Senator Obama’s trip will include stops in both Jerusalem and Ramallah. It has also been announced that he will make a visit to the southern Israeli city of Sderot and the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, as did presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain during his visit to Israel earlier this year. -- See also: Institute for Middle East Understanding

US judge to IDF: Learn lessons of ’Liberty’
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
It happened more than 41 years ago, but the IDF is still eager to learn lessons from the case of mistaken identity that resulted in the Israel Air Force bombing the USS Liberty during the Six Day War. On June 8, 1967, the IAF bombed the US Navy technical research ship they believed to be an Egyptian military supply boat, killing thirty-four sailors and injuring over 150. At the request of OC Navy V. -Adm. Eliezer Marom, Judge A. Jay Cristol, who sits on the US federal bench in Florida, this week addressed several hundred Israeli naval officers on the lessons that can be drawn from the incident. Seventy-nine-year-old Cristol, himself an enthusiastic pilot, is the author of The Liberty Incident, a 2002 book on the disaster. In the book, Cristol concludes that the bombing was accidental and Israel had mistakenly identified the Liberty as an Egyptian ship.

Knesset makes it legal: Yeshivas don’t need to teach math and English
Shahar Ilan and Zvi Zrahiya, Ha’aretz 7/26/2008
The Shas Party was too happy for words on Wednesday, when the Knesset passed the second and third readings of a law exempting Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools from teaching the core curriculum. The law enables the Education Ministry to continue funding Haredi yeshiva high schools to the tune of 60% of what ordinary high schools receive. Thus after almost 60 years in which the state funded these yeshivas in violation of the law, as of the upcoming school year, this funding will be completely legal. "Blessed is He who performed this miracle for us," Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai effused in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Hai. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it," he added, quoting the Psalms. He also said he expects United Torah Judaism’s newspapers to admit that the rival party is "lucky Shas is in the coalition.

Barak, Dichter slam Olmert’s attacks on police
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Defense minister speaks at Labor Party forum, says public must back courts, police and State Prosecutor’s Office ’in face of attempts to damage their authority and freedom of action. ’ Internal security minister says, ’Prime minister’s attacks on the law enforcement system won’t stop the police officers and State Prosecutor’s Office from performing their holy service’ - The courts, the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office must be protected through the public’s support in the face of attempts to damage their authority and freedom of action, Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday morning. Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter also defended the law enforcement systems on Friday, saying, "I repulsively reject the prime minister’s aggressive attack against the law enforcement system - the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office - on the media this morning.

1,400 Ethiopians encouraged to migrate to Israel
Ma’an News Agency 7/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The Israeli Ministerial Committee on immigration agreed on Thursday to encourage the migration of 1,400 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. The Commission met to examine the Israeli Government’s policy with regard to the migration of Jews to Israel. The Committee is considering the possibility of setting up camps in Ethiopia to encourage migration and prepare prospective migrants for integration into Israeli society. Despite the recent encouragement of large-scale migration of Ethiopian Jews into Israel, sources have said that the Israeli ministry of immigration and the Jewish Agency have discussed the idea of halting the recruitment of Ethiopian immigrants.

Olmert to be grilled again next Friday
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
A few hours after Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for "evading" detectives trying to schedule a fourth session of questioning, the premier’s lawyers informed police that he would be available for questioning next Friday. Olmert at the weekly cabinet meeting. Photo: Ariel JerozolimskiSlideshow: Pictures of the week"Olmert’s lawyers have said he’s available for questioning next Friday, but we are not yet sure if this is when the interrogation will take place," a National Fraud Unit spokesman said. "We’ll see. " However, according to various reports Friday, police had indeed agreed to question the prime minister next week. Olmert’s media adviser Amir Dan on Friday morning rejected Mazuz’s criticism, saying that the prime minister had always complied with all questioning requests.

New prosecutor spells new Katsav case delay
Jerusalem Post 7/24/2008
There will be a further delay in the state prosecution’s decision about what to do with the case against former president Moshe Katsav due to a change in the leadership of the prosecution’s team of investigators, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced Thursday. According to Mazuz, the former head of the team Irit Baumgarten, an attorney from the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office, has been replaced by attorney Ronit Amiel, of the Central District Attorney’s Office. Baumgarten had asked to be relieved of the post after Mazuz decided not to press charges against Katsav in the case of Beit Hanassi Aleph. The decision to drop the charges in this matter against Katsav, which had appeared in the original indictment drafted before the hearing granted to the former president’s. . .

You need Uncle Sam, Iraq told
Gareth Porter, Asia Times 7/26/2008
WASHINGTON - Instead of moving toward accommodating the demand of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for a timetable for United States military withdrawal, the George W Bush administration and the US military leadership are continuing to pressure their erstwhile client regime to bow to the US demand for a long-term military presence in the country. The emergence of this defiant US posture toward the Iraqi withdrawal demand underlines just how important long-term access to military bases in Iraq has become to the US military and national security bureaucracy in general. From the beginning, the Bush administration’s response to the Maliki withdrawal demand has been to treat it as a mere aspiration that the US need not accept. The counter-message that has been conveyed to Iraq from a multiplicity of US sources, including former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander William Fallon, is that

Iraq Sahwa seek more US cash to fight Qaeda
Middle East Online 7/25/2008
BAQUBA - The Iraqi officer leading a US-financed anti-jihadist group is in no mood for small talk -- either the military gives him more money or he will pack his bags and rejoin the ranks of Al-Qaeda. "I’ll go back to Al-Qaeda if you stop backing the Sahwa (Awakening) groups," Colonel Satar tells US Lieutenant Matthew McKernon, as he tries to secure more funding for his men to help battle the anti-US insurgents. Most members of the Awakening groups are Sunni Arab former insurgents who themselves fought American troops under the Al-Qaeda banner after the fall of the regime of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Some, like Satar, had served in Saddam’s army before joining Al-Qaeda. Others were members of criminal gangs before deciding to fight the insurgents, with the backing of the US military. They earn around 300 dollars a month and their presence at checkpoints and. . .

US: No Russian missiles expected for Iran this year
Reuters, YNetNews 7/25/2008
Pentagon says Iran won’t be getting advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft system this year - Bad news for Ahmadinejad? Iran is not expected to receive an advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft system this year, the Pentagon said on Friday, an assessment at odds with a view expressed by Israeli officials earlier this week. Experts say that if Tehran acquires and operates the S-300 missile batteries it would make any strike by Israel or the United States on Iran’s nuclear facilities more difficult. Israeli defense sources said on Wednesday that Iran was set to receive the system, also known in the West as the SA-20, by the end of the year. ’Highly unlikely’First delivery of the S-300 batteries was expected as soon as early September, one Israeli source said, though it could take six to 12 months for them to be deployed and operable.

Report: Convoy shipping arms to Hizbullah destroyed in Tehran blast
Ynet, YNetNews 7/25/2008
London-based Daily Telegraph reports of mysterious blast in military convoy leaving Revolutionary Guards Base last weekend. At least 15 people killed in explosion, but Iranian authorities seeking to silence incident - Was sabotage responsible for disrupting a shipment of arms from Iran to Hizbullah? The London-based Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Friday of a mysterious explosion which devastated an Iranian supply convoy intended to reach Hizbullah. According to the report, the strong blast took place in one of Tehran’s suburbs as a military convoy left a Revolutionary Guards’ ammunition storehouse. At least 15 people were killed in the explosion. Western sources reported that the blast took place on July 19 and that the convoy was carrying military equipment for the Lebanese "terror" organization.


Road Map or Bulldozer Map?
Nasser Lahham, Middle East Online 7/25/2008
      BETHLEHEM, West Bank – Palestinian journalists and writers seem to have found it difficult to address the current trend of bulldozer attacks in Israel. The piece of construction equipment appears to have joined our national conflict as a new weapon in the hands of Palestinians working inside Israel.
     I see this astonishment, however, as something that Palestinian writers have picked up from the Israeli media. This is perhaps understandable, since the subject of bulldozer attacks has no precedent, and it is not an easy subject to approach. The response of Palestinian newspapers, then, has been to tackle the issue from a purely journalistic perspective, and most journalists are still dazzled at what is happening.
     Chief Editor of the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Hafidh Al-Barghouthi, however, seems to have been able to digest the phenomenon. In his paper he is calling the trend a "Bulldozers’ war." The crux of the bulldozer issue is complicated, and what the machine represents to Palestinians may explain why their use in attacks is so astonishing and yet comprehensible.

Jewish Family Protects Palestinians from Lynching by Jews

Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
      A Jewish family sitting at their home in Jerusalem last night fought off an enraged mob of Orthodox yeshiva students trying to lynch two Palestinian men - and nearly paid for it with their lives, Israeli daily newspaper the Yedioth Ahronoth has reported. Two ultra-Orthodox guys . . . yelled, ’Murder the Jews who protect Arabs!’" said the stunned owner of the home, who had joined relatives for the traditional Jewish mourning for his father-in law.
     The man, who requested anonymity, told Yedioth Ahronoth, "Suddenly . . . two Palestinians stormed into the house bleeding and bruised, followed by an angry mob.
     "Dozens of ultra-Orthodox from the nearby yeshiva entered the back yard and severely beat up the two Palestinians while we, still shocked, were trying to break it up."
     He said he and his son tried to smuggle the Palestinians to safety through a back alley.
     But the mob "caught [the Arabs] and beat them up terribly," he said. " . . . Then, two Orthodox men arrived, and one told us: ’You’re saving Arabs?’ They pulled out knives."

This is Palestine

Frank Barat, Jerusalem, The Palestine Chronicle July 21, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/23/2008
      -5.30am, Beit Sahour (suburb of Bethlehem): Departure from accommodation.
     Need to take taxi to Gilo Checkpoint (to go to Jerusalem). A lot of taxis go past me. They are all full.
     -5.50: find taxi. Sharing with 8 other Palestinians.
     -6.00: Arrive at checkpoint. Vision of horror. Between 200 and 400 Palestinians (Men, women and children) are queueing outside the checkpoint. Loads of noise, screaming, shoving and pushing. Gilo checkpoint is one of the worse. Convoluted, long, it seems without end. You first have to walk up for about 200 yards through a long narrow and fenced corridor, then walk down for about 100 yards then up again for 50 yards. You then turn left, and walk for a few extra yards, get to big grey building and finally reach a desk where behind a glassed window seats an 18 years old kid.
     Looking at all those men, women and kids queueing, walking at around 5 yards/min only to get under this fence, stacked like cattle, I feel sick. Really sick. Powerless, ashamed, disgusted. -- See also: Palestine Chronicle

Palestinian Al-Kurd Family Fights Settlers in Jerusalem

Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent, The National July 23, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
      JERUSALEM -- It must be the smallest Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories: just half a house. But Palestinian officials and Israeli human rights groups are concerned that it represents the first stage of a plan to eradicate the historical neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off one of the main routes by which Palestinians reach the Old City and its holy sites.
     The home of Mohammed and Fawziya al-Kurd has been split in two since 1999 when the Israeli courts evicted their grown-up son Raed from a wing of the property. The elderly couple have been trying to regain possession, but were stymied last week when an Israeli high court backed the petition of a group of settlers and ordered the immediate eviction of the Kurds. The decision paves the way for the takeover of 26 multi-storey houses in the neighbourhood, threatening to make 500 Palestinians homeless.
     The verdict has been denounced by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and in the past few days the Kurds have been visited by foreign diplomats, including from the United States. In a letter to consulates in Jerusalem, including those of the United States, Britain, France and Germany, Rafiq Husseini, Mr Abbas’s aide, warned that the takeover of the Kurds’ home was part of a wider drive to change the geography of Jerusalem by forcing out Palestinians and replacing them with Israeli settlers. Such a development would deal a death blow to already-strained peace negotiations, he wrote. -- See also: Haaretz: U.S. protests eviction of Arab family from East Jerusalem home

The Ordeal of Mohammed Omer

Kenneth Ring, Middle East Online 7/25/2008
      We are used to hearing about the hazards, often fatal, of being a journalist these days.Everyone is familiar with accounts of courageous Russian journalists who have been assassinated and of course withstories of war correspondents who have been killed or gravely wounded in the course of reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. But what about the dangers of just being a Palestinian journalist who is simply trying to return to his own hometown in Gaza after being abroad?
     Consider the case of a twenty-four-year-old reporter named Mohammed Omer.
     Some background first: For the past six years Mohammed has been covering and reporting on the situation in Gaza and has published his articles in various periodicals in Europe, for the Inter Press Service News Agency and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. His articles have received much recognition and several awards, including, most recently, the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, which was presented to Mohammed in a special ceremony in London in June, 2008 – about which more in a moment.

Testimony: Israeli police severely beat Palestinian student in Tel Aviv

Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/25/2008
      Tareq Ziad Abu Laban, 21, works for , and studies journalism at the Hebrew University. He is a resident of East Jerusalem. His testimony was given to Kareem Jubran at HaMoked’s offices on 6 July 2008.
     On Thursday, 19 June 2008, my friend Khalil Ahmad Khalil and I decided to go to Tel Aviv at night to visit Ahmad Barghouti, a friend of ours who works at a hotel there, and hang out on the beach together.
     We left Jerusalem around 11:00pm. When we got there, Ahmad was waiting for us outside the hotel. We went to a restaurant for supper and then walked around. About 1:45am, we were on our way back to the hotel to drop Ahmad off and then go back to Jerusalem. Just before we reached the hotel, I noticed a car behind us. I was driving. The driver of the other car blinked his lights, and I saw it was a police car, a GMC with a siren. I pulled over to the curb and stopped. The car stopped next to me, and one of the people in it asked, "Where are you from?" I told him I was from Jerusalem. He told me to turn off the engine. The car pulled up and stopped in front of me and three SWAT-team policemen got out. They were wearing dark-blue shirts and black pants. They came over to my car. One of them, who was short, light-skinned, with short, gelled hair, told me to give him the car registration and insurance and our ID cards. I gave him the documents. We remained in the car, waiting for them to finish checking.

These Enemies Have Faces

Trita Parsi and Roi Ben-Yehuda, Middle East Online 7/25/2008
      TEL AVIV – The looming Iran-Israel confrontation has a seemingly deterministic quality to it. Listening to the politicians, one gets a sense that powers beyond our control are pulling us toward a 21st-century disaster. Yet a great deal of the force propelling us into confrontation is fuelled by ignorance and dehumanisation. Israel is demonised as "Little Satan," while Iranians are portrayed as irrational Muslim extremists.
     Indeed, mutual ignorance of our respective societies plays into the hands of the hard-line leaders who are calling for blood and destruction. They manipulate and distort; above all, they do everything to prevent us from recognising that the enemy has a face.
     Not that either of us is naive enough to believe that mere knowledge of one another will offer a miraculous solution. We do believe, however, that mutual understanding will go a long way toward allowing us to feel empathy and compassion for each other, and to sound off at those calling for bloodshed and war.

Shalit saga continues

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/24/2008
      With Hizbullah scoring a victory in its prisoner exchange deal with Israel, pressure is building on Hamas to do even better.
     The recent "spectacular" prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah, which plunged Israel into a state national confusion while feelings of triumph spread in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world, is already impacting on efforts to resolve the Shalit affair.
     Hamas, like all other Palestinian factions, welcomed wholeheartedly the prisoner swap, arguing that it proved that Israel would be willing to release prisoners "who have blood on their hands" in return for the release of Israeli prisoners, dead or living.
     quot;If they are willing release ’prisoners with blood on their hands’ for dead Israelis, then they should be even more willing to release similar prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who is alive and well," said Mushir Al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker.

Haifa Conference, the Jaffa Declaration

Yoav Bar, Party for Socialism and Liberation July 23, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
      One-state solution would guarantee the rights of all citizens
     The writer is a member of the political bureau of Abnaa elBalad and was active in the initiating committee of the Haifa conference. This is an initial report from the conference, originally published July 18 by Campo Antiimperialista and republished here with minor edits.
     The "48 territories" refer to the large portion of historic Palestine that came under Israeli control in 1948 shortly after Israel’s creation; the "67 occupied territories" refer to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, occupied by Israel during the 1967 war.
     June 20 (Friday) and June 21 (Saturday)—after a year of dreaming and working for it to happen—the Haifa conference was such a great success that we hardly believed it was real. … But on Saturday night, as we made the five-minute drive from elMidan back home to Hallisa, a poor, mostly Arab, neighborhood in east Haifa, the racist and un-democratic state of Israel was clearly and vigorously there—the streets were filled with police and special "anti-riot" units, stopping people and beating them at random. We spent the next week collecting evidence and organizing a demonstration against police violence. -- See also: Party for Socialism and Liberation