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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
26 July 2008

Hamas arrests Fatah supporters after Gaza blast
Middle East Online 7/26/2008
GAZA CITY - Hamas security forces fanned out across Gaza City Saturday, arresting dozens of people after a bomb blast killed five senior Palestinian resistance fighters and a girl of five. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known but Hamas blamed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, accusing it of collaborating with Israel. "This criminal act proves that the call for dialogue from Ramallah (Abbas’s headquarters) was a lie designed to throw sand in our eyes and conceal a conspiracy to kill and assassinate and terrorise our security forces," Hamas said in a statement. In the hours after the attack, security forces arrested dozens of people in sweeps across Gaza City, mostly Fatah members, according to witnesses. A senior Fatah official who asked not to be named said security forces arrested over 100 Fatah members and raided his party’s offices across Gaza, confiscating computers and documents.

Israeli forces injure and detain citizens in Beit Ummar
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Clashes broke out in the Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, on Friday when Israeli military vehicles invaded the village and soldiers opened fire randomly with rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition. Four citizens were wounded and four were arrested. An Israeli soldier shot 17-year-old Muhammad Musa Younis ’Arar in the face with a rubber-coated bullet from a close distance. Israeli forces then detained ’Arar, preventing medical staff from reaching him, and severely beat his brother, 30-year-old Mujib Musa Younis ’Arar, when the latter tried to help Muhammad. Mujib was also detained, and the two brothers were taken by Israeli forces to an unknown location. Three other Beit Ummar residents were injured by Israeli forces. ’Amr Shawkat Abd Ar-Rahman ’Alqam was shot in the arm and is in stable condition, while Salih Mustafa Ikhlayil and 27-year-old Ahmad ’Ali ’Aqil were. . .

Israeli forces besiege Palestinian home near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers on Saturday evening besieged a Palestinian home in the area of Shi’b Al-Milh, between the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the nearby town of Taffuh, according to eyewitnesses. The witnesses added that there was heavy gunfire in the area and 15 Israeli military vehicles. Palestinian medics also reported that they saw fire erupting from the besieged home. Meanwhile, other sources mentioned that Israeli soldiers arrested three Palestinians from the area, who were near the besieged home, but their identities remain unknown. The military operation is ongoing, with palpable tension in the area, as Israeli soldiers have summoned back-up forces accompanied by a military bulldozer to the area.

Security services begin campaign of arrests in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Security sources in Nablus told Ma’an’s correspondent that Palestinian security services arrested 21 locals from the village of Qabalan south of Nablus on Saturday morning. The arrests were carried out according to the security plan of the Palestinian Authority in Nablus. The source confirmed that 22 Palestinian patrols participated and arrested 21 locals including wanted criminals and other suspected individuals in the area. According to the source, the patrols began at midnight on Saturday and lasted until six in the morning. Fugitive from security services Mohamed Qatani 30-years-old was one of those arrested. [end]

Huge demonstration in Ni’lin following women’s demonstration
International Solidarity Movement 7/26/2008
Ramallah Region - The Israeli army responded aggressively to the largest non violent demonstration so far against the construction of the annexation fence in Nilin on Thursday. After the women organised action the previous day, many local women joined hundreds of other local people and Israeli and international supporters. When demonstrators reached the construction site the soldiers responded with force and detained two Israeli activists. Israeli law only permits the army to detain people for up to three hours but the two activists were illegally held for seven hours while the demonstration continued. Seven people were injured when soldiers fired tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. Groups of people traveled from Ramallah and Tulkarm to Ni’lin. A group of French activists and journalists also joined the demonstration.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Qalqilia
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
QALQILIA, (PIC)-- A number of Israeli settlers from the Kadumim settlement in Qalqilia protected by IOF troops assaulted physically a number of Palestinian farmers on their way to their lands located to the south of the settlement. Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that more than 10 settlers beat severely the Palestinian farmers as the IOF troops were watching without doing anything. The eyewitnesses added the IOF troops intervened when Palestinian citizens gathered to protest at the maltreatment of the farmers, where they fired bullets and tear gas at the protesters. Other Israeli settlers reportedly smashed and threw stones at Palestinian cars traveling near the Shavi Shomron settlement.

Israeli settlers fire missiles at southern Nablus villages
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/26/2008
Nablus -- Israelis settlers launched missiles toward Palestinians in Awarta, a town in southern Nablus, this week. Israeli settlements are in violation of international law. Israeli projectiles landed only a few meters from locals’ homes. Abdul Salam Awad, an Awarta resident, said this was the first attack of its kind against the village. "People were surprised when they discovered that the strange objects falling from the sky were missiles launched from Israeli settlements," Awad said. "The missiles have created terror in the hearts of Palestinians living in Nablus. They fear what would happen if the missiles exploded after landing only 30 meters from their homes. "This is not the first time Israeli settlers have launched missiles towards villages in Nablus. Earlier this month, Burin and Asira villages were the victims of such attacks.

Hamas calls emergency meeting following blast
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/26/2008
PM Ismail Haniyeh convenes leaders after beachfront explosion kills five Hamas operatives, young girl. ’Those responsible will be brought to justice,’ he warns. Hamas security forces storm offices of rival faction Fatah’s news agency, confiscate computers, files - The Hamas government in Gaza convened on Saturday for an emergency meeting following the unexplained car blast that killed five of the group’s operatives and a 6-year old girl. In response to the explosion, Hamas security forces launched a broad arrest operation and have so far taken a reported 200 Fatah operatives into custody to the prison facility known as ’Gaza’s Guantanamo’. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh instructed Gaza authorities to "track down the parties involved in the horrible crime committed yesterday," and warned that "those responsible for the blast will be brought to justice, to stand. . .

Fatah lawmaker calls for emergency Hamas-Fatah meeting in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fatah lawmaker Ashraf Jum’ah called on representatives from Fatah and Hamas to come together for an urgent meeting to discuss the recent developments and find a solution that will serve the higher interests of the Palestinian people. He said in a telephone interview with Ma’an that he had spoken with acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Dr Ahmad Bahar and asked him to call a meeting for all members representing Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Jum’ah also condemned all assaults and explosions which he dubbed as "criminal" affirming that "Fatah is innocent of those explosions as the wolf was innocent of Prophet Joseph’s blood. "He said explicitly that Fatah would never commit such an act. Jum’ah said that he held the Israeli occupation and their collaborators responsible for maintaining chaos and a state of rivalry in the area, after. . .

Fatah spokesperson and PLC bloc condemn bombings, de facto government actions in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Fatah movement on Saturday condemned Friday’s explosions in Gaza City which killed and injured a number of Palestinians, including women and children. On Friday evening, the car of Khalil Al-Hayya, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, exploded, killing five Hamas members and a young girl. Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Abdul-Rahman said, "We are interested to assert that since Hamas staged its coup in the Gaza Strip, the Fatah movement decided through its Central Committee and Revolutionary Council to avoid violent retaliations for the coup, whatever the motivations might be and whatever oppression the coup leaders might undertake against Fatah and the Palestinian people. " He added, "Our position stemmed from national motivations and a desire to solve all political rivalries through dialogue and the spirit of brotherhood which reflects our people’s stance towards the coup.

PCHR Condemns Gaza Beach Crime and the Response of the Government
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/26/2008
The fowling is the PCHR statement: PCHR strongly condemns the heinous crime perpetrated by unknown elements yesterday in Gaza that resulted in killing 6 people, including a 4-year old girl, and injuring 27 others. The crime was perpetrated by a directed explosive device in a beach-front café crowded with Hamas members and supporters. At the same time, PCHR strongly condemns the immediate reaction of the Government in Gaza and its security forces against supporters and institutions of the rival Fatah party, as if Fatah was behind the crime. This reaction included arresting dozens of Fatah activists as well as raiding and closing tens of civil society organizations, benevolent societies, and sports clubs affiliated with Fatah. The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 20:25 on Friday, 25 July, an explosive device went off in El-Hilal Café on the Gaza City beach.

PCHR condemns Gaza City bombing and de facto government response
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) on Saturday condemned both Friday’s bombing in Gaza City and the subsequent response of the de facto government in Gaza. The explosion near the Al-Hilal Café on Friday evening killed six people, including a four-year-old girl, and injured 27 others. Since then, the Hamas-affiliated de facto Gaza government has arrested dozens of Fatah activists and raided and closed charitable societies and organizations affiliated with Fatah throughout the Strip. According to PCHR’s investigation, an explosive device was detonated near the Al-Hilal Café, which is frequented by Hamas supporters, at about 8:25pm on Friday. The explosion killed five Hamas members: 27-year-old Nihad Muhammad Hussein Musabih, 33-year-old Tamir Sa’id Al-Hilou, 32-year-old Iyad Abdel Hamid Isma’il Al-Hayya, 37-year-old Nidal Khalil Ziyad Al-Mubayyad, and 28-year-old Hassan Muhammad Rushdi Al-Hilou.

IDF officers: Yeshiva teachers incite West Bank teens to violence
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/27/2008
Students at extremist yeshivas in West Bank settlements have been involved in a large number of violent confrontations with security forces there recently and in throwing stones at Palestinian cars, say military sources. Senior Israel Defense Forces officers are reportedly furious over the lack of effective legal measures against rioters and because the government is taking no steps against yeshiva teachers who incite to violence. The officers’ remarks followed last Thursday’s wave of unrest in which settlers in the area used beepers to call residents to the roads to attack Palestinian cars and confront security forces. The settlers’ move followed the destruction of a structure at the outpost of Adei Ad. This is not the first such reaction in recent months. The intent is to "extract a price" and create a kind of balance of fear vis-a-vis the security forces.

Settlers riot in Burin village
International Solidarity Movement 7/26/2008
Nablus Region - On Thursday, 24th July, the electric and telephone lines of the Burin Village were destroyed with a fire started by settlers from the nearby settlement of Yizhar. Thirty settlers arrived in seven cars and began to throw stones at the local people’s cars, in addition to starting the fire. The villagers called the Palestinian police, who alerted the Israeli police and army. Once at the scene, the soldiers began to tear gas the Palestinians to disperse the crowd. One settler took a gun from a soldier and for a few minutes shot at the villagers. The settler will receive only a week-long arrest and the settler who started the fire will be briefly arrested as well. While no one in the village was injured during this attack, an ambulance had to give medical attention to a woman who inhaled too much tear gas. The electrical and phone networks had to be replaced by the village.

U.S. makes formal statement to Israel, questions actions taken against Palestinians
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/26/2008
Jerusalem -- The U. S. Embassy submitted a formal statement to Israel last week regarding a series of operations carried out against Palestinians. Included in the statement was the need for clarification regarding Israel’s decision to expel the Umm Kamal Al Kurd family from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The U. S. also demanded an explanation for the Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank. According to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has responded to the statement, saying the decision to force the Al Kurd family out of their home was made by a civil court, which prevented the Israeli government from intervening in the case. A representative from the Israeli Foreign Ministry did say, however, that the Israeli Supreme Court investigating the Al Kurd case.

US, France not happy with Israeli settlement expansion
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A U. S. State Department spokesman said Friday that the expansion of Israeli settlement Miskot in the northern Jordan Valley will not "create a positive atmosphere. " France, which is currently heading the European Commission, also expressed deep regrets at the Israeli decision to continue the settlement construction. The settlement expansion will see the construction of 20 new homes in an area that has been used as a military post and site of a religious school, but not a residential area. U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei’ next Wednesday.

Al Ma’sra: Summer camps join the struggle against the Wall
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/25/2008
Young people attending summer camps in areas surrounding al-Ma’sra today joined the village for their weekly demonstration against the Apartheid Wall. Over 200 people gathered in al-Ma’sra before marching towards the area where village land is being destroyed to make way for construction of the Wall. As they reached the site of construction, they were confronted by occupation forces. However, facing down the soldiers the young people began pushing and pulling at the fence, and the Occupation forces were unable to push them back. Many of the young people involved in today’s demonstrations are too young to remember the days before the Intifada, and have grown up with continuous siege, checkpoints, invasions and the destruction of their family lands for the Wall. However, the crimes of the occupation will never become normal or acceptable to the Palestinian people, and the new. . .

More clashes in Nilin as villagers tear up foundations of the Apartheid Wall
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/25/2008
The people of Nil’in today clashed with occupation forces for the second day in a row, as the village continues its campaign to stop the construction of the Apartheid Wall on their land. Yesterday, occupation forces were forced to abandon work on the wall after being confronted by people from the village. The areas of paving they did manage to lay were torn up this morning. Seven hundred people gathered at around 11 am this morning and held Friday prayers on the lands on the edge of the village which have been destroyed to make way for construction of the Wall. As the villagers prayed, two military jeeps approached and began to disrupt the gathering and provoke the worshippers. Clashes erupted immediately and the jeeps retreated. Later in the day, youths from the village blocked the settler road running through the village lands with rocks and burning tyres.

Ynet: Canadian student faces deportation from Israel following protest
International Solidarity Movement 7/26/2008
Ramallah Region - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says volunteer detained while taking photos of IDF soldiers during rally against security barrier in Naalin, to detention center for people facing deportation. Father: I’m angry at human rights abuses in the West Bank. A Canadian student who took part in a protest against the West Bank security barrier in the Palestinian village of Naalin has been arrested and faces deportation from Israel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported on its website over the weekend. According to the report, Victor McDiarmid, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was detained on Wednesday at a demonstration by women from Naalin, where Israel plans to build the next section of its security barrier. CBC News said McDiarmid, 23, was arrested after taking photographs of Israeli soldiers who were breaking up the protest -- See also: Original story at YNet News

Former Al-Aqsa member announces hunger strike in PA prison
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - An official from the Al-Aqsa Brigades said that 30-year-old Iyad Hamad Al-Inabousi, who is detained in the Palestinian military intelligence headquarters of Jneid prison, announced that he would begin a hunger strike on Saturday. Al-Inabousi told a Ma’an correspondent in Nablus that his strike would continue indefinitely in protest of the Israeli postponement of the hearing of his case, and the stalling of negotiations between the Palestinian National Authority and Israel. In a deal between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Al-Inabousi along with a large number of other members of the Al-Aqsa Brigades was detained in the PA prison near Nablus. The mens weapons were confiscated and they were asked to renounce their affiliation with the Brigades before their release. Al-Inabousi, who says he has complied with all the conditions of his release, is now waiting for the "okay" from Israel so that he can leave the prison.

Family appeals for release of Palestinian prisoner with brain stroke
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
SALFIT, (PIC)-- The family of a Palestinian prisoner has appealed for his release from Israeli occupation jails after his health condition gravely worsened after suffering a brain stroke that paralyzed the left part of his body. The family called for the immediate release of Zahran Abu Osba before further deterioration of his condition. The lawyer of the Palestinian prisoner’s club said that Zahran, who is serving a 14-year imprisonment term, was suffering from numbness in the head causing pressure on the eyes. He added that the pressure led to temporary blindness, and underlined that the Ramle prison doctor could not diagnose his case. Meanwhile, three Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli jails, all minors, have complained of the Israeli Nahshon unit’s maltreatment during their transport to court and back to jail.

Religious community built around children’s summer camp in Nablus
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/26/2008
Nablus -- An Episcopal Church in the Old City of Nablus held a charity event Friday, marking the end of a two week long children’s summer camp. A number of government representatives, civil rights activists and foreigners were in attendance. The camp entitled "Living Together" brought together over 70 Islamic, Christian and Samaritan children in order to build love and tolerance between different religious faiths. The camp also strived to spark the children’s creativity and refine their individual talents. "This summer camp was the first in Nablus to encourage dialogue between religions in an attempt to spread a spirit of tolerance and coexistence, not extremism and sectarianism," the camp’s director said in his speech at the event. The Nablus Episcopal Church pastor Ibrahim Queiroz expressed his happiness to hold a camp that fostered religious solidarity.

Hassan Nazzal gives seminar and reads poetry at Jenin summer camp
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – The Department of Culture at the ministry of education in Jenin organized a cultural conference and poetry readings for students affiliated with the summer camp at the boys school in Jenin on Saturday. The cultural event was held in cooperation with the school’s administration. The Palestinian poet Hassan Nazzal talked about his poetry, and about life at a poet. He stressed on the importance of continuous reading, writing and language skills, in both literature and prose in order to to express oneself through the written word. Nazzal finished is presentation to the students bt reading some of his poems to the group. [end]

Organized ‘recreation days’ relieve stress for children in Gaza
Monica Awa, United Nations Children''s Fund - UNICEF, ReliefWeb 7/25/2008
GAZA, Occupied Palestinian Territory, 25 July 2008 - – Every day, children and adolescents throughout the Gaza Strip suffer from the disruption of basic services and deteriorating living standards. The children of Shoka, a small Bedouin area bordering with Israel, are no exception. Prior to the June 2008 Israeli-Palestinian truce, children here witnessed incursions and violence on a daily basis. Afraid to venture out, families cowered in their homes – many without electricity and water. ’I felt shaken and scared,’ said Qasem Al Rasoud, a 12-year-old boy living in Shoka. Feelings of insecurity and distress are all too common for children who witness violence. Often, they perform poorly in school, or drop out altogether. ’Some children have behavioural problems. Fear from sexual harassment, school drop outs and low school performance. . .

The PA threatens to take unilateral steps if deadlock in negotiations continues
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/26/2008
According to the newspaper source, the Palestinian Authority may conduct one of three steps. One, stopping all negotiations with Israeli, two announcing a Palestinian State from one side, three, removing all Palestinian security forces from the West Bank and redeploy them only in Jericho city. The Newspaper said that the Palestinian Authority will look to make a decision about what route to take by late September 2008. Meanwhile the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is leaving on Saturday night for Egypt where he is expected to hold talks with Hussni Mubarak, the President of Egypt, and other officials. Abbas is expected to discuss theongoing Palestinian internal talks and the latest updates on the negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian Israeli talks were reinstated last November, US demonstration has pledged to reach a final peace deal between the two sides by the end of 2008.

Palestinian Authority may resort to independent action if peace negotiations do not progress
NN, Palestine News Network 7/26/2008
P-- The Palestinian Authority stated that it may resort to making independent decisions in the wake of Israel’s continued operations in the West Bank and the lack of progress in peace negotiations. The PA said that it would resort to one of three options: halting negotiations with Israel, declaring the unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state, or removing Palestinian security forces from West Bank cities if Israel continues to raid these areas, Asharq Al Awsat newspaper reports. Palestinian sources said that a decision is expected to be made regarding the PA’s action by September. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive in Cairo on Saturday evening to talk about the possibility of resuming dialogue between the Palestinian factions. He will meet with the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and a number of senior officials including Chief of Egyptian Intelligence. . .

Report: PA Mulling Unilateral Declaration of Statehood
Haaretz, MIFTAH 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.

Abbas to attend fifth conference of ruling party in Tunisia
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Tunisia – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the invitation of secretary general of the Democratic Constitutional Rally (Rassemblement Constitutionelle et Démocratique) in Tunisia, to partake in the party’s fifth conference. Abbas will attend to observe and comment on the renewal and development policies of Tunisia’s government, which is the subject of the conference. A delegation of high-ranking Palestinian political officials will accompany the president. The conference is set to begin on 30 July and end on 2 August; it will be a forum for discussion of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s policy. It is the fifth in a series of similar conferences which tackled different issues and stages of the nation’s development. The first conference was intended to kick start a process of reform for the ruling party, and the second was aimed at deepening. . .

Palestinian Legislative Council condemns attacks in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Spokemen for the leadership of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Bahar condemned on Saturday the bombing on the coast near Gaza City, which led to the deaths of five Qassam leaders and one young girl. The Bahar said in a statement received by Ma’an that these repeated operations are dangerous and threaten the life of civilians. He pointed to the attack on the home of Dr Marwan Abu Ras, in a busy residential area, and called on police to track-down the individuals who took the lives of six, and endangered the welfare of countless. Interior Minister in the de facto Gaza government Sa’id Siyam has called for the issuing of new laws that will protect civilians from such incidents.

Hamas arrests 120 Fatah men after 6 die in Gaza blast
Reuters, YNetNews 7/26/2008
Islamist group blames ’members of fugitive party’ for Friday night’s blast that killed five Hamas men, girl. Fatah: Explosion related to internal Hamas disputes -Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip arrested 120 men aligned with the rival Fatah faction on Saturday after an Hamas gunmen and a girl, the Islamist group’s officials and Fatah said. Friday’s blast next to a car used by the armed wing of Hamas killed three gunmen and the girl, and two others later died of their wounds in hospital, Gaza’s ruling Palestinian Islamist group and medical officials said. The blast, the third of its kind in a day, marked one of the biggest flare-ups in internal Gaza violence since Hamas routed the forces ofPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah faction to seize control of the territory a year ago.

After car bombing in Gaza, Fatah members detained and charities shut down
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – De facto Gaza police confiscated the files, computers and furniture of a number of local non-governmental and private organizations in the Gaza Strip on Friday night and Saturday morning. Several Fatah members were detained. Forty-three year-old former Palestinian Intelligence Service colonel Muhammad Ajjour, Mahmoud Qassem Al-Barbar and cameraman for a German news agency Sawwah Abu Seif were all detained by the police. The contents of the Ash-Shamal association for social development and the Beit Lahia (hope and life) association, both located in the north of the Gaza Strip, were confiscated. The police also raided the home of the Owaydat family in the south of the Gaza Strip, who are said to be affiliated with Fatah. Police broke into the house and clashes broke out in the area. There were no arrests.

Jihad: Prosecuting culprits national, religious duty
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement on Saturday condemned the massacre at the Gaza beach late Thursday that claimed the lives of six people including a child and said that prosecuting the perpetrators was a national, religious duty. The Movement in a statement described the massacre and other attacks before it as "serious criminal acts". It asked the PA interior ministry to swiftly investigate the series of explosions and criminal aggressions and to adopt measures to deter the aggressors and unveil their identity in accordance with the law. "The attempt to drench the Gaza Strip in security chaos is part of the occupation’s schemes and policies; hence anyone contributing to that matter is only serving occupation and its agents," the Jihad emphasized. The Movement advocated immediate national dialog to avoid further deepening of the internal rift.

Hamas seizes Abbas-run agency in Gaza crackdown
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/26/2008
GAZA, July 26 (Reuters)- Hamas security forces stormed the office of a Palestinian news agency run by President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday and arrested dozens from his Fatah faction in their biggest crackdown since seizing Gaza, Fatah sources said. The sweep, in which 162 Fatah activists were arrested including two faction officials, came in response to an explosion on Friday that killed five members of the armed wing of the Gaza Strip’s ruling Islamist Hamas group and a girl. The blast, the third of its kind in a day, marked one of the biggest flare-ups in internal Gaza violence since Hamas routed the forces of Abbas’s more secular Fatah faction to seize control of the coastal territory a year ago. The sources said Hamas security men seized computers and files at the Gaza offices of the WAFA news agency, a Palestinian media outlet run by Abbas, and stormed 40 other Fatah offices.

Hamas: We won’t stay passive towards the Gaza beach massacre
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Saturday that it will not stay passive towards the massacre committed by a gang of rogues on the Gaza beach, calling on the national and Islamic forces to determine their positions towards this heinous crime. Four Palestinian citizens affiliated with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and a little girl were killed and many others were wounded Thursday evening in an explosion that targeted them while they were picnicking on the beach. It is believed that the explosion is the work of the remnants of the mutiny trend within the Fatah faction, as three of them were arrested Friday morning after targeting the home of MP Dr. Marwan Abu Ras with an explosive device that caused only material damage. In a statement received by the PIC, Hamas called on the Palestinian government to strike with an iron fist all perpetrators and accomplices in this crime and to expedite the investigation into it.

Gaza on the Brink After Beachside Explosions [July 20 – July 26]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
The unfortunate turn of events in the Gaza Strip on the evening of July 25 may re-spark the tense relations between Hamas and Fateh, which have been on a relative hiatus for the last few months. A mysterious car bomb on a Gaza beach killed six people, one of them a six-year old child. Twenty others were injured. The other five were members of Hamas’ Izzedin Al Qassam Brigades. Earlier in the day two other blasts took place in Gaza City but with no casualties. Although Hamas is not directly accusing Fateh for the blasts, it has vowed to "hunt down the perpetrators" and has reportedly stormed a number of Fateh offices and arrested several Fateh activists for questioning. A communiqué released today by Hamas read, "Everyone should understand that political freedom is guaranteed in the Gaza Strip, but that criminal action is prohibited. These crimes cannot pass. We will deter the criminals with strong punishment, to makes others think a thousand times. . . before they think of committing such crimes. "

Halt the raids in Gaza
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialouge and Democracy,strongly condemns the July 26 raid on the office Palestinian Legislative Council member andBoard of Trustees’ member Dr. Ziad Abu Amr in Gaza City by Hamas operatives. According to Palestinian sources in Gaza, members of Hamas’ security services broke into Dr. Abu Amr’s office and confiscated documents and equipment. MIFTAH is particularly disturbed by the fact that Dr. Abu Amr is a PLC member and supposedly enjoys parliamentary immunity, thus protecting him from such transgressions. calls on the immediate return of valuable documents and equipment that were taken from his office in addition to an official apology for the raid, which only serves to further drive a wedge between Palestinian factions already at odds. continues to encourage an open dialogue between all Palestinian factions with the goal of reaching a true state of national unity.

After an explosions kills five fighters and a child Hamas arrests Fatah activists all over Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/26/2008
The sources added that the Hamas run police raided several Fatah movement offices and confiscated computers and documents. The latest developments come hours after a homemade bomb targeting Hamas fighters at the Gaza coastal road west of Gaza city detonated killing five fighters and a child on Friday night. The Fatah movement headed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Saturday that the attack that killed the Hamas fighters is an internal conflict inside the Hamas movement. He denied that Fatah had played any role in the attack. Meanwhile the Hamas movement in Gaza accused Fatah of being behind the attack and said that an investigation will be conducted and that those responsible for the attack will be arrested. The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, announced on Saturday in a statement faxed to press, that the group demands those who committed the Friday attack to be punished.

Caretaker gov’t: The mutiny trend reached the level of serving the occupation
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya stated Saturday that the Gaza beach massacre carries political connotations indicating that the mutiny trend within Fatah reached the level of serving the Israeli occupation through killing and terrorizing the Palestinian people on its behalf.  In a statement following an emergency meeting held this morning to discuss the explosions that took place yesterday, the government underlined that the broadcast televised by the Fatah-affiliated Palestine TV channel in celebration of the criminal attacks is a real indication that these attacks have political objectives. According to a copy of the statement which was received by the PIC, the government stressed that one of the aims of these criminal attacks is to destabilize the state of security and calm in Gaza, pointing out that it issued directives to the interior ministry. . .

Condemnations of Gaza bombing pour in
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Condemnations of the Friday explosion near the beach in Gaza City come from all corners of Palestinian political scene. Spokesman for the leadership of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Bahar said in a statement received by Ma’an that incidents like the bombings in Gaza are dangerous and threaten the lives of civilians. He pointed to the attack on the home of Dr Marwan Abu Ras early Friday, in a busy residential area, and called on police to track-down the individuals who took the lives of six, and endangered the welfare of countless. Interior Minister in the de facto Gaza government Sa’id Siyam has called for the issuing of new laws that will protect civilians from such incidentsThe senior leadership committee of Fatah in the Gaza Strip denounced the explosions and confirmed their earlier position which made it clear that they refused to "give cover". . .

Abu Rudeineh threatens more chaos in Gaza if Hamas stays in power
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- In the aftermath of the Gaza beach massacre, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, threatened Saturday the Gaza people with more chaos and massacres as long as the Hamas Movement remained in power there. Abu Rudeineh justified his menace, in an interview with Al-Arabia Satellite channel, by saying that what is happening in Gaza is because of the absence of a legitimate authority, referring to the PA unconstitutional government in Ramallah, and the presence of a Hamas-led caretaker government. In the same context, Islam Shahwan, the spokesman for the Palestinian police in Gaza, said that that the police declared a state of alert in their ranks after the explosion, which claimed the lives of five Palestinian citizens affiliated with the Qassam Brigades and a little girl. Shahwan highlighted that the Gaza police will never stand idle towards such. . .

De facto government instructs security services to find those responsible for Friday bombing
Ma’an News Agency 7/26/2008
[Ma’anImages]Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip gave directives on Saturday to its security services to find the individuals responsible for Friday’s explosions in Gaza City which left 6 dead including 5 members of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades and a young girl. In an emergency session, the de facto government said, "every one who proves to be involved in the Gaza beach explosion will receive just and strict punishment; this will be a lesson for anyone who dares to shed Palestinian blood. " "The real target of such criminal acts," continued the statement, "is to disturb the state of tranquility in the Gaza Strip. " The de facto government implied that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah may have been behind the explosions. "While the government supports political freedom," it said, "there is a difference between political. . .

Five killed and 15 injured in Gaza explosion
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/26/2008
Gaza -- Four Palestinian activists and a young girl were killed in a car explosion on a coastal road west of Gaza City Friday night. Victims of the explosion include the nephew of Hamas member Khalil Al Haya, Al Qassam Brigades leader Amar Masbah and activist Osama Al-Helou. Palestinian medical and security sources also report that a young girl was killed and at least 15 Palestinians were injured in the explosion. The cause of the explosion is currently unknown, although members of the Al Qassam Brigades have implied they believe that a faction of the Fateh party is responsible. Two other explosions took place in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The first occurred outside a café in Gaza, killing a Palestinian man and injuring three others. The second, a bombing near the house of Hamas member Marwan Abu Ras, did not cause any injuries, officials report.

The Israeli army kidnaps 3 civilians near Ramallah
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/26/2008
Local sources said that Israeli troops stormed the camp then searched a number of homes there, soldiers left after kidnapping three men, witnesses said. The three kidnapped were identified as Abed Al Ghanni Qattash, 24, Mohamed Al Hihy, 23, and Ibraheem Iliyan, 22. [end]

IDF drill sees rockets land in Ashdod
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Exercise designed to test cooperation, coordination between army, emergency response organizations, local municipalities in event of escalation of attacks on South - Sunday morning will see the defense establishment staging an exercise for command HQs simulating an escalation of the security situation in southern Israel and the Gaza-vicinity communities. The drill is designed to examine the cooperation between the various government ministries, emergency response organizations and local municipalities. It will include extreme scenarios, such as the firing of rockets towards the city of Ashdod. Other municipalities taking part in the exercise are: Ashkelon, Netivot, Kiryat Gat, the Eshkol Regional Council, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sedot Negev and Hof Ashkelon. The exercise will be held entirely in the Kirya base in central Tel Aviv and not in the field, so no irregular troop movement is to be expected.

South to hold rocket attack drill
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 7/26/2008
A number of nightmare security scenarios will be drilled Sunday by the IDF Home Front Command and rescue services, following a directive from Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i. The exercise will simulate mass rocket and mortar attacks on Gaza-border communities that prompt panic and a large-scale evacuation. "The quiet [from Gaza] has not made us calm," Vilna’i said. "We continue to prepare at an increased pace. We are responsible for being prepared for any possibility of escalation. " One of the scenarios includes "parents searching for their children. . . abandoned work places and roads jammed with civilians seeking to evacuate affected areas," as well as "thousands of families leaving the South for the center of the country. " Firefighters, Magen David Adom and the National Emergency Authority will take part in the drill.

Sweden increases monetary support for the Palestinian Authority
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Swedish government announced on Thursday that it will donate SEK 50 million in direct support to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Sweden is one of the largest donors to the Palestinians, providing approximately SEK 700 million in 2008. Although some of this budget was already earmarked for direct support to the PA, over the last few months it became increasingly clear that the Palestinian Authority needed further budget support, and the Swedish government decided to make an additional donation. The Swedish government noted that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad appealed to the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) for increased direct support to the PA. The AHLC is a coordinating body for donors to the Palestinians. "The Palestinian National Authority is in a difficult economic situation and risks collapse if wage and other payments cannot be made.

Ki-Moon deeply concerned about Israeli intents to expand settlement in WB
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
NEW YORK, (PIC)-- Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary-general of the UN, expressed deep concern about the Israeli intention to build 20 settlement units in the Aghwar area located in the northern flank of the West Bank. Michelle Montas, a UN spokeswoman, stated that Ki-Moon has repeatedly stressed that settlement construction or expansion is contrary to the international law and Israel’s commitments under the roadmap plan. The spokeswoman added the UN chief urges Israel to respond to the call of the international quartet to freeze all settlement activities, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. Israeli government officials announced Thursday that Israel is preparing to build 20 settlement units in Maskiot, a former army base in the Aghwar area. The construction still needs the final go-ahead from Israeli war minister Ehud Barak.

’Egypt to Host Israel-Hamas Separate Talks Next Week’
Abd Al-karim Shweiki, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
Sources in Egypt have told The Media Line news agency that Israeli and Hamas delegations are expected to hold separate talks next week with the Egyptian intelligence officials brokering negotiations between the parties. The planned talks are described as an attempt to initiate an "intensive" dialogue that will result in a prisoner exchange. The sources cautioned that the negotiations may nevertheless be postponed by Hamas until Israel agrees to preconditions it has set. These include the strengthening of the ’calm’ agreement in the Gaza Strip; the opening of the borders between Gaza and Israel; and Israel’s acceptance of the list of prisoners that Hamas submitted to the Israelis a few months ago. If the two sides do agree to begin the talks, the delegations will meet in an undisclosed site in Egypt. Each delegation will comprise three men, the sources revealed. The Hamas team is expected to be headed by Mahmoud A-Zahhar; Israel’s team by Gen. Ofer Dekel; and Egypt’s team by Maj. -Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim.

Zahhar: Abbas impeding opening of Rafah terminal
Palestinian Information Center 7/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, one of Hamas’s prominent leaders, has charged that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was the one obstructing the opening of the Rafah border terminal between Gaza Strip and Egypt, along with Israel that wants it to remain a pressure card on the Palestinians. Zahhar said that Abbas claims the terminal should operate according to the 2005 agreement or else Israel would give up its commitments. Hence, Abbas charges any party trying to bypass this agreement that it wants to absolve Israel from its commitments or to enforce a political disengagement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the MP elaborated. He told Al-Resala newspaper in a lengthy interview that would be published on Monday that the same was said when resistance forced Israel to evacuate the Gaza Strip mainly that the settlement drive would intensify in the West Bank and that political disengagement would take place between the Strip and the West Bank.

Police seeks earlier questioning of Olmert in corruption probe
Jonathan Lis Tomer Zarchin and Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 7/27/2008
The National Fraud Unit of the Israel Police wants to push up its next session of questioning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to an earlier day. Police sources said this weekend that Olmert’s defense team had been asked to submit alternate times and to block out more time for each session. On Thursday Olmert’s aides told police investigators that the prime minister could reserve only two hours, and that only next Friday, for questioning. Police officials said Saturday that the dates of the next sessions depended on the progress made during questioning, and on the degree of cooperation from the prime minister. The head of the police investigations and intelligence department, Maj. -Gen. Yohanan Danino, emphasized in remarks made over the weekend that Olmert was making it hard for the investigations team to properly investigate the allegations against the prime minister.

’Olmert weighs quitting after primary’
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is seriously considering quitting the premiership following the mid-September Kadima leadership race if the winner can form a new government, Channel 1 diplomatic correspondent Ayala Hasson reported Friday. Olmert told Hebrew newspapers in stories published Friday that he had not even started thinking about whether he should run in the primary, let alone about what to do if someone else won. But in the interviews, in which he lashed out at law enforcement authorities, he made clear that he understood that his political fate had already been decided in the court of public opinion. Kadima’s election committee, headed by retired judge Dan Arbel, will meet this week to choose a date for the primary between September 14 and 18. The committee will also set a deadline a month before that for candidates to join the race.

Israeli Police to Quiz Olmert Next Week
Gulf News, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
Occupied Jerusalem: 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 2 session, less time than police had requested. It would be the fourth round of questioning in a case probing allegations Olmert took bribes from a US 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. Olmert’s lawyers this week wrapped up five days of cross-examination of US fund raiser Morris Talansky who has alleged that he gave the Israeli leader cash-filled envelopes. Talansky’s cross-examination will resume on August 31 and September 1.

Petitioner: PM too busy briefing reporters to be questioned
Jerusalem Post 7/26/2008
Yoav Yitzhak, head of the News First Class Web site, charged Friday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had enough time to devote half a day to briefing political reporters but not enough time to answer police questions. In a brief to the High Court of Justice, Yitzhak called on the justices to order Olmert to hand over his diary for the month of July so the court could see how full it was of matters relating to his position. Yitzhak’s brief followed a petition he filed on July 13 demanding that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz suspend the prime minister for a set period and enable police to question him regarding all the investigations underway against him. Yitzhak also asked the court to order Olmert to show up for questioning by detectives at short notice and for as long as police wanted.

Livni Advantage Narrows in Israel Party Leadership Race: Poll
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s advantage as front-runner in the leadership race for her centrist Kadima party has narrowed, according to a public opinion poll published on Friday. Kadima, currently headed by Ehud Olmert, will hold a September primary that could lead to the embattled prime minister’s replacement. It is unclear whether Olmert, facing several corruption investigations, will choose to stand. Even if Olmert were to stand, Livni has been seen as most likely to win, but the poll in the Yediot Aharonot daily showed that former defence minister and current transport minister Shaul Mofaz is narrowing that gap. Asked to choose among five theoretical candidates including Olmert, 35 percent said they backed Livni and 26 percent opted for Mofaz. That compared with 37 percent for Livni in a poll on July 11 and 22 percent for Mofaz. Friday’s poll predicted an even closer race if only the two were running, with Livni at 47 percent and Mofaz at 45 percent.

Barak: Labor will demand justice job in next gov’t
Jonathan Lis Tomer Zarchin and Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 7/27/2008
The Labor Party will demand that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann be replaced by someone from its ranks as part of the coalition negotiations toward the formation of a new government, senior Labor officials close to the party chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said this weekend. Meanwhile, the National Fraud Unit of the Israel Police wants to push up its next session of questioning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to an earlier day. Police sources said this weekend that Olmert’s defense team had been asked to submit alternate times and to block out more time for each session. On Thursday Olmert’s aides told police investigators that the prime minister could reserve only two hours, and that only next Friday, for questioning. Police officials yesterday said that the dates of the next sessions depended on the progress made during them and on the degree of cooperation from the prime minister.

Report: Ahmadinejad says Iran now possesses 6,000 centrifuges
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/26/2008
New figure double the 3,000 centrifuges Iran previously said it was operating in its Natanz uranium enrichment plant; Fars quotes Iranian leader as saying world powers have consented that ’operation of this number of centrifuges is not a problem’ -President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Iran now possesses 6,000 centrifuges, a significant increase in the number of uranium-enriching machines in its nuclear program, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. "IslamicIran today possesses 6,000 centrifuges," Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as telling university professors in the northeastern city of Mashhad. The new figure is double the 3,000 centrifuges Iran had previously said it was operating in its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz. In April, Ahmadinejad said Iran had begun installing 6,000 centrifuges at Natanz.

Israel: Ahmadinejad is probably lying about centrifuges
Mark Weiss And Ap, Jerusalem Post 7/26/2008
Israeli officials have expressed doubt over claims by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday that his country now possesses 6,000 centrifuges. Ahmadinejad’s announcement, reported by a semi-official news agency, is a significant increase in the number of uranium-enriching machines in Teheran’s nuclear program. It also comes a week after the US reversed course in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program by sending a top American diplomat to participate in talks between Teheran and world powers. But an Israeli official who closely monitors the Iranian nuclear program told The Jerusalem Post that Ahmadinejad was probably lying. "Our assessment, based on the latest available information and recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency, is that the figure of 6,000 centrifuges is unlikely," the official said.

Pentagon: S-300 won’t reach Iran in 2008
Jpost.com Staff And Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 7/26/2008
Iran is not expected to receive an advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft system this year, Pentagon officials were quoted by Army Radio as saying on Friday. The US assessment is at odds with a view expressed by the Israeli intelligence community earlier this week. Military analysts say the S-300 missile batteries might become a significant hindrance to any Israeli plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. On Wednesday, Israeli sources said Iran was set to receive the system, also known in the West as the SA-20, by the end of the year. 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. But Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said: "We firmly believe, based upon our understanding of the situation, that the Iranians will not be receiving that Russian anti-aircraft system this year.

POLITICS-US: Iran in the Spotlight at Christian Zionist Confab
Ali Gharib, Inter Press Service 7/27/2008
WASHINGTON, Jul 26(IPS) - The controversial Christian Zionist pastor John Hagee and thousands of supporters filled a convention centre in downtown Washington this week for his Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organisation’s Washington-Israel Summit, where the "Iranian threat" was a recurrent theme. CUFI is a proponent of Christian Zionism -- the belief that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical "End Times" prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. Its founder, Pastor Hagee, recently came under fire from Jewish groups and others for a sermon in which he described Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust as part of God’s plan to drive the Jews from Europe and bring them to Palestine. The CUFI conference, in support of two bills regarding divestment and sanctions against Iran that participants would lobby for on Capitol Hill, hosted a panel. . .

’Ma’ariv’ blasted for printing Obama’s note in Kotel
Aron Heller, Jerusalem Post 7/26/2008
The decision by Ma’ariv to publish a handwritten note that Barack Obama left this week in the cracks of the Western Wall drew criticism as an invasion of his privacy and his relationship with God. Ma’ariv published a photograph of the note on its front page on Friday. It said the note was removed from the wall by a student at a Jewish seminary immediately after Obama left. In the note, placed at Judaism’s holiest site, Obama asks God to guide him and guard his family. "Lord - Protect my family and me," reads the note. "Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will. "The paper’s decision to make the note public immediately drew fire from religious authorities. The rabbi in charge of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitz, said publishing the note intruded on Obama’s intimate relationship with God.

Report: Rabbis slam removal, publication of note Obama left in cracks of Western Wall
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/27/2008
Senior rabbis have voiced their criticism over the apparent removal of a note stuffed between the cracks of the Western Wall by U. S. presidential candidate Barack Obama last week, and its subsequent publication in the media, the BBC reported Friday. Obama visited the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, at the end of a two-day trip to Israel, as part of a tour of the Middle East and Europe. Obama wrote a note and stuffed it, as many do, into a crack in the wall, situated in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City. Tradition says that requests left between the holy stones will be granted. According to the BBC report, no one knows who removed the note after the presidential hopeful had left. The content of the note was "Lord ? protect my family and me. Forgive my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair.

Israelis, Palestinians: Mixed Feelings About Obama
Mark Lavie, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
Both Israelis and Palestinians came away from Barack Obama’s visit to the Holy Land with the feeling he would do more for Mideast peace than President Bush has. But neither side seemed fully convinced that Obama would have their interests at heart. Israelis fear that an Obama administration would be too soft on Iran and too hard on them, and his visit didn’t seem to fully dispel those concerns. And Palestinians spoke of a clear bias toward Israel. " Instead of running away from the Middle Eastern issues, he intends to place them on the top of his diplomatic list of priorities," Israeli commentator Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily. The Democratic presidential candidate toured Yad Vashem’s Holocaust memorial, where he donned a skullcap, and he stopped in an Israeli town that has been barraged by Palestinian rocket fire. Obama also visited the Western Wall - Judaism’s holiest site - where he touched it and prayed. His one stop in the West Bank was the headquarters of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Europe’s Obama cheers ring hollow in the Middle East
Palestine Monitor 7/25/2008
Here the US leader has much less power. Israel calls the shots, and the reality on the ground is gloomy and anti-peace. - "Why have a ceasefire in Gaza, but not one in the West Bank? Do they want us to develop missiles and rockets here before we can have a ceasefire? "asks Mustafa Barghouti, one of the most respected independents in the Palestinian parliament. He points to the spate of arrests by Israeli troops in recent weeks in Nablus, Hebron and Jenin, which have gone virtually unreported. The Israelis conduct almost nightly raids on schools, clinics and charities, seizing files, computers, and patients’ records. What a contrast. In western Europe Obama-mania is in full flood, epitomised by raving crowds in Berlin last night as well as the polls which show the Democratic candidate to be far more popular than John McCain in almost every country. In Israel he is met with apprehension, and in the Palestinian territories there is only the faintest hope that the deadlocked conflict will ever end.

Nine killed in fighting in Lebanon
Middle East Online 7/26/2008
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - Nine people including a boy of 10 were killed in fierce sectarian clashes which raged through the night in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli, a security official said on Saturday. Lebanese army tanks patrolled the streets after militants from the rival communities fought with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons in the latest bout of violence to rock the Mediterranean city. Among the dead were a 10-year-old boy and two women, while another 50 people were injured, the security official said. Lebanon has been hit by sporadic outbreaks of violence despite a power-sharing deal between rival political factions in May which led to the election of Michel Sleiman as president and the creation of a unity cabinet. The latest unrest comes after the new cabinet hit snags in deliberations aimed at drawing up a policy agenda ahead of a parliamentary. . .

Syrian representatives ‘gratified’ by US reception
Middle East Online 7/26/2008
DAMASCUS - A Syrian delegation visiting Washington this week to ramp up diplomacy efforts with the United States expressed satisfaction with their visit, despite an apparent snub by the US State Department. Joshua Landis, co-director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the Syrians “were gratified by the warmth” with which they were received in Washington, and were encouraged that “people are eager to move forward” in improving relations. The delegation was led by Samir al-Taqi, a prominent intellectual and doctor who has advised Syrian prime minister Naji al-Otari on medical affairs, the other members being journalist and academic Sami Moubayed and economist Samir Saifan, both of whom are on good terms with the Syrian authorities. The three-man delegation visited Washington think tanks and members of Congress, but a plan for a meeting with a State Department official was turned down at the last minute.

Women suicide bombers seeking revenge in Iraq
Middle East Online 7/26/2008
BAQUBA, Iraq - In the war-ravaged streets of Iraq, US-led forces say insurgents are recruiting women driven by revenge to act as suicide bombers in the latest tactic against coalition troops. Motivated by poverty, desperation or vengeance against the US-led military they blame for the deaths of family members, Iraqi women are joining the insurgency. Thursday evening a female suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 20 after she detonated her explosives-filled vest in Baquba, the capital of Diyala, one of the most dangerous regions in the country. The bomber targeted a Sahwa or Awakening patrol of Iraqi forces -- former insurgents recruited to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq and paid by the US military. The blast demonstrates a growing trend of using women in insurgent attacks. "One of the reasons for women to kill like this is a desire for vengeance," said Captain Kevin Ryan, commander of a US base in Baquba.

Iraq’s rejected election law being reworked
Middle East Online 7/26/2008
BAGHDAD - Iraqi politicians are reviewing a rejected bill on provincial elections and will return it to parliament with fresh suggestions within 48 hours, a senior official said on Saturday. Sheikh Khalid al-Attiya, the deputy speaker of parliament, said two committees attached to the lawmaking body were reviewing the controversial draft rejected on Wednesday by the three-member Presidency Council. "I hope a compromise formula that satisfies all the parties will be found," Attiya said. "The two committees and the deputies are committed to presenting a final report to the parliament in the next 48 hours. " Iraq’s 275-member parliament on Tuesday initially adopted the provincial election law that would have allowed provincial polls scheduled for October to proceed. The United States is keen for the election to take place, as it believes it legitimises Iraq’s fledgling. . .

Barack Who? Arabs Weigh in
Caryle Murphy, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
Several copies of Barack Obama’s "The Audacity of Hope" are prominently displayed in Jarir Bookstore here. They have not moved in weeks. Browser Najla Khaled doesn’t change that. Standing before the same shelf and lifting her full-face black veil to survey her choices, she grabs novelist Jeffrey Archer’s latest release and walks away. It’s not that she dislikes presidential contender Obama. "I saw him on Tyra Banks’s show and I think he has great opinions," says the 17-year-old high schooler. But his policies have not roused Najla, who’s only heard "some random stuff. . . here and there. " Senator Obama’s campaign may have launched groundswells of hope, ardor, and optimism at home and in Europe. But at the start of his closely watched trip to the Middle East, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee is little known in the Arab world, and has yet to generate widespread interest or enthusiasm.

Syrian students hit hard by inflation
Middle East Online 7/26/2008
DAMASCUS - Yousuf al-Nabulsi, a 21-year-old geography student at Damascus University, has found a way of saving money – he only eats two meals a day. Nabulsi, who lives in a rented room an hour away from Damascus, comes from a poor family and has been hard hit by the spiraling cost of basic items like food and fuel. He has reduced the quality of the food he eats to “anything that staves off hunger”. “The high costs make it difficult for me to pay for my basic needs,” he said. “It’s causing me a lot of problems, both for studying and living. ” Inflation has had a major impact on those attending Syria’s universities, and they are struggling to get by, according to education experts and students. The International Monetary Fund projects an annual inflation rate of seven per cent for 2008, the same as last year, but other economists say this estimate is on the low side.


Articles


What the world doesn’t see
B. Michael, Ynet News, International Solidarity Movement 7/26/2008
      Army quick to condemn rare cases while hiding daily abuse of Palestinians - The whole world saw the obedient Israeli soldier (according to his own version at least) following the order he got without hesitation and shooting the foot of a handcuffed man.
     The whole world also saw our defense minister immediately express his shock and regret over the incident, while military commanders vowed to act quickly to eliminate this phenomenon. The world also saw the army spokesman rushing to condemn the incident, and the quick investigation that is already underway.
     And so, the whole world again saw how wonderful the only democracy in the Middle East is, and how quickly and decisively it addresses such unusual act, "which does not befit a fighter," (according to Ehud Barak’s reprimand.
     Oh, how wonderful and useful are those photogenic unusual incidents, which serve to hide the terrible routine. How convenient and effective it is to condemn the unusual, thus giving the norm a clean bill of health. How nice it is to praise oneself for condemning a rare act, thus clearing oneself of any wrongdoing when it comes to frequent acts; to festively renounce the resounding sins, thus cleansing the serial crimes. -- See also: Original article at YNet News

Museum Offers Gray Gaza a View of its Dazzling Past

Ethan Bronner, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
      It may sound like the indulgence of a well-fed man fleeing the misery around him. But when Jawdat N. Khoudary opens the first museum of archaeology in Gaza this summer it will be a form of Palestinian patriotism, showing how this increasingly poor and isolated coastal strip ruled by the Islamists of Hamas was once a thriving multicultural crossroad.
     The exhibition is in a stunning hall made partly of stones from old houses, discarded wood ties of a former railroad and bronze lamps and marble columns uncovered by Gazan fishermen and construction workers.
     And while the display might be pretty standard stuff most anywhere else — arrowheads, Roman anchors, Bronze Age vases and Byzantine columns — life is now so gray in Gaza that the museum, with its glimpses of a rich outward-looking history, seems somehow dazzling.
     “The idea is to show our deep roots from many cultures in Gaza,” Mr. Khoudary said as he sat in the lush, antiquities-filled garden of his Gaza City home a few miles from the museum. “It’s important that people realize we had a good civilization in the past. Israel has legitimacy from its history. We do, too.”

Palestinian family losing Jerusalem home after five decades

Middle East Online 7/26/2008
      Illegal Jewish settlers attempt to drive out Palestinians from their homes in Arab east Jerusalem.
     JERUSALEM - "I was married here, I had my five children here and I want to die here," says a defiant Fawzia al-Kurd, determined that illegal Jewish settlers will not drive her family from their home in Arab east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967.
     But sadly for the Al-Kurds, whose single-storey two-room house of golden stone that has been their home for the past 52 years, Israel’s High Court – who has no legal right to make a ruling on Palestinian territories - has ruled differently. They are to be expelled, and the house, a wing of which has already been taken over by illegal settlers will be lost forever.
     The house, in the Sheikh Jarrah district, has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance against the steady pressure of illegal Jewish settlers seeking to take yet more terrain in Arab east Jerusalem.
     It’s a hot July afternoon, and Fawzia is sitting outside under a large black tarpaulin stretched from the eves of the house. By her side, lying on mattresses in the shade are two young Swedish activists, ready to act as human shields if the Israeli forces show up with the eviction order.

In Palestine, even camera lies

Akram Salhab, Palestine Monitor 7/26/2008
      As I lead a delegation of UK students around the West Bank, I thought about how the trip was to benefit the Palestinian people. When they spend money, they help the Palestinian economy, their solidarity helps boost morale and when they record incidents of abuse they help give legitimacy to Palestinian claims of oppression.
     The power that international qualifications of abuse give to Palestinians was shown by the release, earlier this week, of a video showing the shooting of a Palestinian youth. The video shows a soldier grabbing the young man and dragging him to his feet. He is blindfolded and handcuffed and looking unstable as he stands, the senior officer holding him instructs a nearby soldier to shoot him in the leg. The soldier raises his gun and shoots, at which point the photographer drops her camera in surprise and by the time the camera returns to him, the victim is on the ground in what appears to be quite a fair amount of pain.

Poverty pushing people into Hamas militia

Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/26/2008
      The Hamas de facto government is one of the only employers in Gaza with a growing payroll, after a record slump resulting from the Israeli blockade imposed when the Islamic faction took control a year ago.
     This emerges from a new UN report showing that more than an unprecedented 52 per cent of Gaza households have now plunged below the internationally-designated poverty line despite continued humanitarian assistance, while unemployment has reached 45 per cent for the first time.
     The report, from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), contrasts the more than half of households in Gaza living in poverty with the 19 per cent living in poverty in the West Bank, thanks to the lifting of the Israeli and international embargo on the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority last summer. Poverty means a family of six spending below £66 per week.
     It also points out that the record unemployment rate compares with 29 per cent in the occupied Palestinian territories as a whole – itself one of the highest jobless levels in the world. The closure of the crossings to commercial goods has shut down 95 per cent of Gaza’s private-sector industry.

Weighing the Need for Dialogue with Hamas as a Peace Partner

As''ad Abdul Rahman Gulf News, Palestine Media Center 7/24/2008
      In a recent report published in Maariv, Ofer Shilah, wonders whether the Israeli army intends to attack Gaza or not, confirming that neither Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, nor his Defence Minister Ehud Barak, believe that such an attack is beneficial. Had they believed in it, Shilah writes, they would have attacked a long time ago.
     Thus, as he believes it is futile to remove Hamas government by force, he also insists that it is imperative to talk to Hamas. While a majority of Israelis and none-Israelis think this way, many others think the opposite. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is an example of those who oppose talking to Hamas. "Engaging Hamas" Satloff wrote, "also would knock the wind out of Abbas’ administration, essentially throwing the Palestinians to the wolves of Hamas. ... Unsatisfying as it may be, the right course for US policymakers is to persist in the strategy adopted after Hamas’ Gaza putsch last summer." In face of such viewpoints that openly encourage Palestinian schism, we do commend the Palestinian President’s last initiative (June 5, 2008) for a dialogue with Hamas.
     The question of engaging with Gaza/Hamas today is most urgent. Gaza is a human disaster caused by a harsh Israeli and international blockade, by a continued Israeli military aggression and by a national schism, both geographic and political. All this is apt to lead to radical reactions that may not be confined to the Gaza strip, but may ’radiate’ into Israel, the West Bank and the whole neighbourhood. Besides, it is of paramount importance for everybody’s interests to keep Hamas united because there will be one clear address to deal with, especially as Hamas has shown interest in being a partner, something that will eventually lead it to accepting international facts, not what Israel wants to impose.

Bil’in’s Che Guevara

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/26/2008
      Bil’in village has been struggling for its land, resources and liberty, and against the apartheid Wall for 4 years. When the struggle is that long, almost every resident of the village is involved in non-violent resistance. And amongst those, there is Ashraf, "Bil’in’s Che Guevara", who has dedicated his life to the village’s resistance. Since Sunday, when Bt’selem, the Israeli human rights group, released a video showing him being shot at close range by an Israeli soldier, the young man is no longer anonymous.
     Earlier this week, the Palestinian and Israeli press, as well as international newspapers, released the story of Ashraf, a young Palestinian man from Bil’in who appeared in a video shot by a young girl from Ni’lin village. On the screen, he was blindfolded and handcuffed, with a soldier aiming his weapon at Ashraf’s leg, from less than 2 meters away. The soldier targeted, and fired, a rubber coated steel bullet at his toes.
     We met Ashraf in his friend’s house in Bil’in, the town where he was born and raised, and to which he has dedicated his life. The huge house overlooks the hills and would offer a great view over a beautiful land planted with olives trees"¦ if there was not an Israeli settlement in the middle.

Collision Course

Daoud Kuttab, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
      Without realising it, an American philanthropic organisation, planning to set up a $16.5 million children’s hospital in Palestine, is on a collision course with radical Jewish settlers at a time that American officials are constantly repeating calls for a contiguous and independent Palestinian state. One wonders how someone like Barack Obama, who is presently visiting the region, would respond to actions by Jewish settlers preventing the creation of a hospital.
     The story began on April 26, 2007 when the Israeli army unilaterally removed its military base from an area of land south of Bethlehem. Locally referred to as Ush Al Ghurab (which literally means the nest of the falcon, the area lies within the municipal boundaries of Beit Sahour, a Palestinian town built on the fields where Christians believe angels appeared to shepherds watching their flocks at night, heralding the coming of Jesus.
     Once the Israeli army dismantled their equipment, the city’s Palestinian Christian Mayor Hani Hayeq, and the city council announced that they are willing to contribute the land free of charge to any local or international organisation that is interested in using it for the public good. At nearly the same time, a US-based organisation was looking for land to build an orthopaedic hospital for the children of Palestine....

The Glass Menagerie

Yossi Sarid, MIFTAH 7/26/2008
      As long as the Israel Defense Forces continue to coin lies and half-truths, don’t sell me the story about the army that has rehabilitated itself, where a new spirit has arisen. When commanders and their subordinates continue to grow on the lie culture’s bed of rotting straw, they are bound to leave their boots in the sand, and if not their boots then shabby illusions. The Second Lebanon War was the stinking fruit of an all-embracing and disgraceful culture of whitewash (and so was the first), we were warned. Trust is more important than training, always.
     All this happened this week: A gang of soldiers attacked two Druze families that were trying to vacation on the beach at Atlit. The soldiers were violent, they were drunk, they were skinheads even if they had hair - and they were IDF soldiers. The army has given its version of the incident, which even the police have had a hard time accepting. And in Carmiel, Hazam Jubran of the town of Rama was attacked. Dozens of youths, before or after conscription, overturned his car on him, injuring him. "He was just minding his own business."
     And near the village of Na’alin a soldier shot at Ashraf Abu Rahma from one meter away. Ashraf was handcuffed and blindfolded. Two weeks have gone by since then. Had a teenage girl not been looking out her window and filming, the sickening story would not have come to light, and it’s a rare thing that a teenage girl happens to come along with a camera to a crime scene.

Ready to Face the Facts About Israel

Paul Craig Roberts, Palestine Chronicle 7/26/2008
      Israel is demonstrating that veracity lies in Lenin’s doctrine that violence is the effective force in history and that the evangelical Christian Zionist churches agree.
     "On October 21 (1948) the Government of Israel took a decision that was to have a lasting and divisive effect on the rights and status of those Arabs who lived within its borders: the official establishment of military government in the areas where most of the inhabitants were Arabs."-Martin Gilbert, Israel: a History Rev. Are is a Presbyterian pastor who used to tell his Atlanta, Georgia, congregation: "I am a Zionist." Like most Americans, Rev. Are had been seduced by Israeli propaganda and helped to spread the propaganda among his congregation.
     Around 1990 Rev. Are had an awakening for which he credits the Christian Canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and author Marc Ellis, co-editor of the book, Beyond Occupation.
     Realizing that his ignorance of the situation on the ground had made him complicit in great crimes, Rev. Are wrote a book hoping to save others from his mistake and perhaps in part to make amends, Israeli Peace Palestinian Justice, published in Canada in 1994.