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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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27 July 2008

Israeli army extra-judicially kill one man as Israeli army demolish at two houses
International Solidarity Movement 7/27/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - Between six o´clock on Saturday night and five the following morning, the Israeli army demolished at least two houses in the neighbourhood of Deir Bahaa in Hebron, extra-judicially killing one man. According to Palestinian Radio one of the house belonged to Hamas member Shihab al-Natashe, wanted by the Israelis, who was also killed in the course of the events. The other house destroyed belonged to the neighbouring al-Beitar family seemingly not involved at all. According to medical teams at the spot seven people were injured in total. This information is as of yet unconfirmed, as ambulances trying to get to the scene were stopped by Israeli military. According to news sources al-Natashe made fierce resistance to the attempts at arrest, a claim supported by information from neighbours, and the fact that the area was besieged and isolated by a large number of army troops for around eleven hours.

Hamas, militant group clash in Gaza Strip violence
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/27/2008
GAZA, July 27 (Reuters) - Hamas security forces clashed with gunmen from the Army of Islam, an al Qaeda-inspired group, in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, part of a security crackdown following a surge in internal violence. One Hamas commander was seriously wounded in the fighting, which started when the Hamas forces sought to arrest some Army of Islam gunmen, Hamas officials and local residents said. Two Army of Islam gunmen were arrested. Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip a year ago, launched the crackdown over the weekend after a series of bombings, including one on Friday that killed five Hamas members and a girl. As part of the crackdown, Hamas has arrested more than 160 activists from Fatah, the secular faction of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Adam Entous; Editing by Dominic Evans)

Israeli ministers call for redrawing Jerusalem boundaries, home demolitions, and deporting activists
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz warned during the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting held on Sunday that Jerusalem is becoming "a terror hub," and called for the government to adopt policies of demolishing homes, closing areas, and exiling Palestinian activists and their families in response to these "new threats. " Responding to Mofaz, Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said: "Those who think that the problem of Jerusalem and terror is limited, and that destroying houses will help resolve this problem, are burying their heads in the sand. The main question is whether the government wants Jabal Mukaber and Sur Baher as part of the state of Israel state or not. Those who want the fence to be east of Sur Baher actually determine that Jerusalem will live with the terrorist threat posed by the 175,000 Palestinians [in East Jerusalem] with no affinity to Israel.

West Bank residents face severe water shortage as drought continues
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/28/2008
West Bank Palestinians are suffering a serious water shortage this year as a severe drought has exacerbated already existing supply problems, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority said Sunday. Shadad Ateli said since mid-May, many Palestinians have been going without water for hours, and sometimes days at a time, because of a reduced supply as a regional drought enters its fifth year. He called on Israel, which controls some 90 percent of water sources in the West Bank to rethink its water policies. "Water shouldn’t be a part of the conflict. It should be divided according to human needs equally," Ateli said. Uri Shani, spokesman for Israel’s Water Authority, says Palestinians are receiving more water than their agreed share under an interim peace deal. The drought has affected Israel as well, with fresh water supplies below their. . .

Maan: American peace activist attacked by Israeli settler children near Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 7/27/2008
Press clippings - Hebron Region - An American peace activist with the Christian Peacemaker Teams was attached today by Israeli settlers near Hebron. A team of foreign activists was escorting a group of Palestinian children from Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed home from their summer camp in the nearby town of At Tuwani. The most direct road from the villages to At Tuwani is through the illegal Israeli settlement Ma’on south of Hebron. As the group passed through the settlement some of the settler children began throwing stones at Palestinian children. One activist ran ahead to usher the kids to safety, and another, Joel Gulledge, followed behind the group and filmed the attack. Gulledge was swarmed by the settler children, who hit him with stones, took his camera and beat him with it.

Fatah threatens to arrest 200 Hamas men in West Bank
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/28/2008
Abbas’ faction says wave of arrests retaliation for rounding up of dozens of Fatah men in Gaza following Friday’s explosion outside Gaza City -Despite attempts to preserve the relative calm, the internal strife between Hamas and Fatah is threatening to spread from Gaza to the West Bank, as Palestinian security forces are planning to round up Hamas gunmen and supporters starting Sunday night. Fatah is responding to the arrest of at least 200 of its members by Hamas security personnel in Gaza over the past two days. The recent conflict broke out Friday evening, when five Hamas men and a girl were killed in an explosion outside a cafeteria on the beach in Gaza City. Hamas blamed Fatah for the blast, whilePresident Mahmoud Abbas’ faction denied any responsibility. A Palestinian security officer told Ynet that since Saturday night some 40 Hamas men were detained, mainly in Tulkarem.

13 year-old maimed by UXO in Tulkarm
Defence for Children International/Palestine Section - DCI/PS, ReliefWeb 7/24/2008
A 13-year-old boy was maimed on 7 June by what appeared to be Israeli unexploded grenade he had found three days before in the fields near his home in Tulkarm Camp, while collecting grass for the goats. The boy tried to drill it open and suffered severe injuries in the subsequent explosion. His left foot was amputated his right leg was broken; he lost vision in his right eye and sustained lighter injuries all over his body. ‘I liked the shape of this object’On Wednesday 4 June in the afternoon, Anas and his two brothers where collecting grass for the goats in the fields near their home in Tulkarm Camp. At some point, Anas told DCI/PS, ‘I spotted an avocado-shaped object of a brown colour with protrusions coming out of it. I liked the shape of this object; it was under a fig tree. I was curious to know what that object was, so I picked it up, and it was made of reinforced plastic’.

Israeli military court postpones trial of Palestinian journalist for fifth time
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli military court of Ofer postponed on Sunday the trial of Palestinian journalist and writer Muhammad Al-Qeiq for the fifth time. They have not set a date for a hearing. Al-Qeiq appealed to all humanitarian organizations and to the Union of Palestinian Journalists to exert presure on the courts to release Al-Qeiq and other detained journalists immediately. Al-Qeiq was arrested on 4 June 2008 at the "Container" checkpoint between Bethlehem in the southern West Bank and Ramallah in the centre. [end]

Human rights organization condemns arrest of yet another Palestinian Legislative Council member
PCHR, Palestine News Network 7/27/2008
Gaza City - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the detention of Muna Mansour (46) a Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the pro-Hamas Change and Reform Party, who has been detained by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The Centre views this detention as a continuation of IOF policy targeting elected PLC members, which has been occurring since January 2006. In addition, the Centre views this detention as a form of reprisal against Palestinian civilians and a form of collective punishment that is prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 2:15 on Monday, 21 July, IOF moved into the city of Nablus and the adjacent Balata refugee camp, firing sound bombs and firing heavily. IOF raided the house of PLC member Mona Mansour in Balata camp.

Report: Worrisome findings at Israeli prisons
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Justice Ministry’s Department of Public Advocacy visits 33 detention facilities, revealing numerous cases of abuse, suicide attempts, etc. Israel Prison Service says in response improvements are underway - A closer look into Israeli prisons revealed, violence inflicted by wardens, severe punishment, bed-binding for hours, suicide attempts, lack of treatment and rehabilitation frameworks for the prisoners. These are just a few of the findings unleashed in the 2007 Justice Ministry’s Department of Public Advocacy report on the detainment and imprisonment conditions at the Prison Authority, police, and courts’ detention facilities. The advocacy’s report compiled the findings on official visits at 33 detention facilities around Israel. Eleven of the correction facilities were under the Prison Authority’s responsibility during the time of the visit,. . .

Jordanians demand release of prisoners from Israeli jails
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Amman – Ma’an – Dozens of Jordanians organized a sit-in in Jordan’s capital on Saturday demanding the Jordanian government secure the release of Jordanian prisoners from Israeli jails. The group also demanded that four Jordanians held in local prisons serving life sentences, who Israel handed over to Jordan on 5 July 2007, also be released. The men were convicted of killing four Israelis in 1990, and the countries agreed that the men would serve the rest of their sentences in Jordanian prisons. The sit-in was organized near the Jordanian Prime Minister’s office. The group held posters which said:"Lebanese detainees received as heroes, while heroic Jordanian prisoners are still detained in jails. " Rapporteur for the national committee on detainees and missing people in Israeli jails, Maysarah Mallas told the Agance France Presse there were 28 Jordanians detained in Israeli jails.

VIDEO - Settlers attempt to prevent farmers working their land in Susiya
International Solidarity Movement 7/27/2008
Hebron Region - Video - On Saturday 26th of July at 15:00 around 10 Palestinian farmers and 20 Israeli and international peace activists went to escort two Palestinians driving tractors in Susiya. The tractors would be escorted to land that they aren’t able to work without such assistance. While walking towards the land to be farmed the group was stopped by a settler who told one of the Palestinian farmers "your land is there, go there!". As a result there was an argument between the Palestinian and the settler, however the group was able to continue after a brief interruption. After the second interruption from the same settler the army arrived and attempted to block the group’s progression towards the land where the tractors were meant to arrive. The army however, was unable to stop the procession as they appear to have no jurisdiction over Israeli citizens.

IFJ calls for release of Al Jazeera journalist held by PA
NN, Palestine News Network 7/27/2008
P- The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is calling for press freedoms, as it does throughout the world. Often the problem for Palestinian journalists is the Israeli government, such as a local case wherein the journalist’s trial in Israeli Ofar Military Court was just postponed for the fifth time. However, right now we are focusing on the doings of the Palestinian Authority. Wadah Eid is an Al Jazeera reporter who had been held for six days [when the ICJ issued its report] without being charged by the Palestinian Preventive Security: a body of the PA that has clearly taken the title too far. Eid is a reporter for Al Jazeera in Nablus and other parts of the West Bank. He was arrested in the northwestern West Bank town of Qalqilia. "There is a severe violation of this journalist’s rights," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White.

Diskin: E. J’lem becoming Hamas hotbed
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
East Jerusalem neighborhoods on the "other" side of the security fence are fast becoming Hamas hotbeds and more "problematic" security-wise than much of the West Bank, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet on Sunday. PM spokesman Mark Regev on rising terrorism from east J’lemDiskin’s unsettling comments came during a security briefing to the cabinet in which he said that there has been a sharp upturn in terrorism in the first seven months of 2008, with some 30 terror-related deaths so far this year, as opposed to 13 in all of 2007. Half of the terrorist killings were carried out by east Jerusalem Arabs, the cabinet was told. Diskin told the cabinet that it was more difficult for the IDF and security forces to enter the Shuafat refugee camp in northern Jerusalem than the Jenin refugee camp.

Mofaz: Jerusalem becoming terror hub
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Transportation minister warns of new trend of attacks in capital, recommends change in policy including demolition of homes, deportation of terrorists’ families. Vice Premier Ramon contradicts him, says solution is placing Arab villages east of fence - Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said during Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that Jerusalem was fast becoming "a terror hub". His remarks referred to the second bulldozer attack that had taken place in the capital, and he said the increasing terror would require "a change in policies". Mofaz called for the demolition of homes, sealing off of areas, and the deportation of terrorists and their families, to be supported by these new policies. "We need a plan of action that will give a correct response to the threat," he said. Regarding this issue, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said that "those who think. . .

Palestinian societies warn of Israeli orders to demolish Jerusalemite houses
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Palestinian civil societies warned that the IOA issued demolition orders against hundreds of Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem at the pretext of unlicensed construction, calling for necessarily confronting this campaign publicly and legally because it is aimed at destroying the Palestinian presence and social fabric in the holy city.  The warning was voiced during an emergency meeting for the owners of houses threatened with demolition in the Isawiya town held by the Isawiya charitable society and the Makdessi development foundation in the presence of 32 home owners whose homes are threatened with demolition. Sheikh Riyadh Al-Isawi, the head of the charitable society, stressed the gravity of neglecting what is happening in Jerusalem, pointing out that a press conference will be held soon with the participation of all popular and official forces to confront this Zionist campaign.

ISRAEL: Fly-tipping, neglect in East Jerusalem suburb
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 7/28/2008
JERUSALEM, 27 July 2008 (IRIN) - "Every day," said Afif tiredly, "someone dumps more rubbish here. Day and night the trucks come. "Just below Afif’s home in Dahiyat a-Salam neighbourhood in northeast Jerusalem an illegal rubbish dump - larger than a football field and several metres high - is growing, thanks to criminals who have moved in to exploit an opportunity afforded by recent house demolition orders. The criminals make money by letting companies dump their waste here and the locals can do little to stop them. "Every day it’s a war," Afif said. "I tried to close the road [leading to the site]. But they just reopened it. ""The dumping started in 2007, after [the municipality] issued [demolition] orders against houses on the site," said Afif. Five houses were issued orders. This started a free-for-all on the location, with the criminals quickly moving in, realising the chance. . .

PLO Denies Progress in Palestinian-Israeli Talks
Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
Executive Committee Denounces settlement Activity in Jerusalem - The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on July 23 denied Israeli reports about a progress in the talks with the PLO and denounced the Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in Jerusalem, the military incursions and the closure of commercial centres and civilian institutions by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in Palestinian cities, particularly in Nablus, as violations of the bilateral signed agreements and understandings. The PLO Executive Committee denounced the “Israeli settlement activity in Jerusalem and all parts of the West Bank. The Israeli government’s activity is now focused on speeding up settlement expansion and openly colluding with extremist organizations to seize houses and properties,. . .

British Group, Israel Resume Talks over Gaza’s Gas Field
Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
BG Group, the British gas producer, has resumed talks with Israel over developing a gas field off the coast of Gaza, the UAE daily The National reported on Sunday BG holds a 90 per cent interest in the project to develop the Gaza field. That could drop to 60 per cent if the Palestinian Authority, which controls project licensing, exercises its option to take a stake in the development. The Palestinian Investment Fund - PIF -, a financial holding company owned mainly by independent Palestinian shareholders, holds 10 per cent of the Gaza Marine project. “I expect it to be quite a long and drawn-out process,” the daily quoted Frank Chapman, the chief executive of BG, as saying during a conference call to discuss the company’s second-quarter results. “The barriers relate to realism on the part of the Israelis regarding the value of gas today,” said Chapman about the obstacles that face the talks.

BG renews Gaza gas talks
Globes'' correspondent and Lior Baron, Globes Online 7/27/2008
BG Group CEO Frank Chapman: The barriers relate to realism on the part of the Israeli’s regarding the value of gas today. "Reuters" reports that BG Group plc (LSE: BG) will renew negotiations with the Israeli government for the sale of natural gas from the company’s reserves offshore from Gaza. Last month, the Ministries of Finance and National Infrastructures asked the company to resume talks, which were suspended in early 2008. The subject was raised during last week’s state visit by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. BG Group CEO Frank Chapman said, "It’s just another stage in the process which I expect to be quite a long and drawn out process. The barriers relate to realism on the part of the Israeli’s regarding the value of gas today. "He made the comments during a conference call. He added that another problem was the lack of agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on a stable framework to export the gas.

Haneyya undergoes surgery
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- PA premier Ismail Haneyya underwent a "successful" surgery on Sunday and returned to assume his duties from his home, the Palestinian government said. It extended congratulations to the premier on the success of the operation, which was made in one of the Gaza hospitals. The government statement said that Haneyya was enjoying good health and was following up his duties from his home. The statement did not mention what kind of operation Haneyya underwent. [end]

Hamas renews accusations of Fatah responsibility for Gaza explosions
Ma’an News Agency 7/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Hamas movement on Sunday reasserted that "Fatah leaders from the group that fled Gaza" bear total responsibility for the "massacre" on the Gaza beach, referring to the explosion in Gaza City on Friday evening which killed five Hamas members and a four-year-old girl. Hamas announced that it considered the Palestinian presidency’s statements that the crime resulted from internal disputes "an attempt to cover up Fatah’s role in the crime. "The movement said that it saw Abbas advisor Nabil Abu Rudeina’s statements that the crime resulted from the absence of legitimate authority in the Gaza Strip, and that such actions will continue as long as there is no legitimate authority, as "evidence of political motives for the crime. " In a press conference held in Gaza City on Sunday, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the media focus on the recent. . .

De facto government in Gaza continues Fatah arrests, clashes with Army of Islam
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fatah said on Sunday that the de facto government police in the Gaza Strip continued to arrest its members and close down its charities affiliated in all districts. Clashes also broke out with group linked with Al-Qaeda. Fatah said in a statement that dozens of its loyalists were arrested and one member, Imad Sheikh Khalil was shot in the foot Saturday evening. Abu Mahmoud, a spokesperson for Fatah’s armed wing the Al-Aqsa Brigades, told Ma’an via telephone, "the Al-Aqsa Brigades hold Hamas completely responsible for the life of its personnel and for the assaults against its organizations in the Gaza Strip. We will take practical measures on the ground against a number of Hamas leaders in the West Bank within the coming 12 hours if Hamas does not stop its attacks in the Gaza Strip. " Meanwhile, de facto government police continued to take control of Fatah-affiliated sport clubs and civil society associations.

1 dead in Hamas, Army of Islam clashes
JPOST.COM STAFF AND AP, Jerusalem Post 7/25/2008
An Army of Islam gunman was killed Sunday in clashes with Hamas security forces in a Gaza City neighborhood, a Palestinian medical official said. Hamas-Fatah tensions re-ignite in GazaA spokesman for the al-Qaida-affiliated group, identifying himself only by the nom de guerre Abu Hassan al-Makdesi, said that the clashes erupted as two of its members were arrested in a Hamas raid. Several people were wounded, including a Hamas man who was in a serious condition, Palestinians said. The confrontation came as Hamas launched a massive crackdown on Fatah supporters and institutions in the Gaza Strip following an explosion that killed six people, five of them members of Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam. RELATEDHamas rounds up Fatah men in Gaza after blast kills 6 Video:IDF kills man involved in Dimona bombing. . .

Palestinian factional fighting wounds six in Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/28/2008
GAZA CITY: Clashes broke out in Gaza City on Sunday, wounding at least six people, as Hamas-run security forces pressed on with a territory-wide crackdown on rival Palestinian factions after a deadly bombing. The fighting erupted when Hamas-run police moved to arrest members of the Army of Islam, a small shadowy group believed to have links to Al-Qaeda. "Hamas forces came to arrest us early this morning, just after midnight," one member of the group who asked not to be identified told reporters. "There was fighting for several hours, with rocket-propelled grenades, explosions and gunfire, but they did not arrest anyone," he added. Fatah has denied any involvement in the blast and said the attack was part of an internal Hamas conflict. Since the explosion Hamas-run forces have arrested more than 300 people, according to senior Fatah officials, most of them members of the movement which was largely expelled from Gaza when Hamas seized control.

IOF troops kill Qassam fighter after violent clash
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- A Palestinian fighter affiliated with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, was killed at dawn Sunday following a violent clash with Israeli occupation forces in Al-Khalil district. Sources in the area between Al-Khalil city and Tafuh village said that Shihabuddin Al-Natshe, 25, was killed after the IOF troops blasted the home he was entrenched inside for hours. They added that the IOF soldiers encircled the house on 7:00 pm Saturday and clashed with Natshe until 5:00 am Sunday when they demolished the house. The soldiers kidnapped three citizens from the same house including the landlord Wa’el Al-Bitar. The IOF intelligence accuses Natshe of extending logistical support to the fighter who carried out the Dimona attack, which killed and wounded a number of Israelis including two nuclear scientists.

Hamas: Assassinating Natshe will not bring security to occupation
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)--The Hamas Movement stated Sunday, in the aftermath of the assassination of Shihabuddin Al-Natshe, a Qassam commander, that the Israeli occupation will not enjoy security and stability, calling on Hamas cadres and its armed wing, the Qassam Brigades in the West Bank to strike Israel’s depth by all means and forms of resistance. In a statement to the Bayan information center, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said the liquidation of Natshe by blasting the house he was entrenched in reflects the level of human and moral degradation the Israeli occupation reached in its dealing with the Palestinian people. Following the assassination of Natshe, the IOF troops blocked Sunday morning all entrances to Al-Khalil city preventing citizens and vehicles from going into and out of the city and imposed arbitrary measures on them.

President Abbas discusses latest developments with President Mubarak
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/27/2008
The meeting between the two leaders comes ahead of three-way meeting invited for by the U. S Secretary of States, Condoleeza Rice. They discussed the latest developments with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli negotiatons as well as the recent internal unrest in Gaza. No further detains have been reported. [end]

Abbas says Egypt to relaunch Palestinian reconciliation talks
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urges Fatah, Hamas to sit around negotiation table despite recent violence - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Egypt plans to relaunch reconciliation talks between his Fatah faction and the militantHamas group which controls Gaza. Abbas met Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. Afterwards, he told reporters Egypt will start coordinating Fatah-Hamas talks immediately. He said he has no preconditions for the dialogue. Abbas’ willingness to enter new talks with Hamas comes after he vowed for more than a year not to talk with the Islamic movement unless it first gives up control of the Gaza Strip. Egypt has frequently mediated in disputes between Palestinian factions. Sunday’s meeting comes two days after a mysterious car bombing killed six people in Gaza and sparked the toughest Hamas crackdown against its Fatah rivals in months.

Hamas: Abbas’s talk of dialog a bid to divert attention from Gaza massacre
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that the statements made Sunday by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo about the existence of arrangements for starting Egyptian-sponsored national dialog represents an attempt to divert attention from the Gaza beach massacre committed by Fatah elements. In a press release received by the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas’s expressions of regret over the victims of the Gaza beach massacre are meaningless and an attempt to clear Fatah of the crime because the media outlets affiliated with the PA chief especially the Palestine TV channel celebrated shamefully the massacre, which means that the PA and Fatah adopted officially the massacre. As for the Egyptian invitation for Palestinian parties to start national dialog, Dr. Abu Zuhri underlined that Hamas heard about such invitation only through Abbas’s statements in Cairo and did not receive an official. . .

Palestinian security arrest 20 Hamas affilaites in Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an - Palestinian security services in Tulkarem arrested 36 Hamas affiliates in different parts of the district on Sunday. Ma’an’s correspondent in Tulkarem quoted sources in Hamas as saying that the Mufti of Tulkarem, Sheikh Ammar Badawi was arrested as well as vice-president of An-Najah National University in Nablus Dr Riyad Ar-Ras who was released hours later. The sources identified other arrestees from Tulkarem city as Sheikh Talal Jitawi, in charge of the Quran centre in Tulkarem, Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Husari, former director of the endowment office in Tulkarem, Sheikh Ammar Manna, the Imam of the new mosque in Tulkarem, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghoul, Imam of An-Nasr mosque in Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem as well as Baha Saridi and Usayd ’Arif from Nur Shams camp. In nearby towns and villages, Palestinian security arrested Abdullah Mihdawi, from Shuka region,. . .

Abbas: Palestinian dialogue to be launched immediately under Egyptian sponsorship
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Cairo - Gaza - Ma’an - After meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the two had agreed to launch an inter-Palestinian dialogue under Egyptian sponsorship starting from today. Abbas told journalists that Egypt will start inviting all Palestinian factions within days for the internal dialogue. In his summit meeting with Mubarak on Sunday, Abbas reviewed recent developments in the Palestinian arena and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on final-status issues, and prospects for the tripartite meeting scheduled for this week in Washington, where the heads of the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams will meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The two also reviewed the Gaza truce, which aims to ease the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and improve the flow of goods into the Strip.

’Egypt to relaunch Palestinian dialogue’
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
Egypt plans to relaunch reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday. Speaking after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Abbas told reporters Egypt would start coordinating Fatah-Hamas talks immediately. He added that he had no preconditions for the dialogue. The two leaders also discussed revamping negotiations over captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and peace talks with Israel. Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Nabil Amr expressed hope that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman would be able to negotiate a deal to secure the release of the soldier. Meanwhile, Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Political Bureau, told Israel Radio that a media blackout must be imposed on details of the Schalit talks.

Biggest Hamas Crackdown on Fatah, PNA since June 2007
Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
Fatah Blames Friday’s Gaza Blast on ‘Disputes within Hamas’ - In the biggest crackdown against Fatah since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Hamas arrested at least 160 members of Fatah and closed more than 42 Fatah institutions and at least three governorates of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the coastal strip after a blast killed a child and four members of the group’s military wing on Gaza beach on Friday, which Fatah and the office of President Mahmoud Abbas denied and blamed it on “disputes within Hamas” itself. Palestinian Foreign and information cabinet minister, Ritadh Al-Malki, briefed Arab ambassadors in the West Bank city of Ramallah on the situation in Gaza Saturday, saying that the Hamas crackdown was its response to President Abbas’ call for national dialogue.

Palestinian national security: all disturbers to be dealt with equally
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an – The Palestinian national security leadership confirmed on Sunday that security forces will respond quickly and decisively to any individuals disturbing the peace in Palestine. The media office of the national security forces said in a statement that police will deal with disturbers from any party of faction with equal force. They also warned against the use of weapons by all parties. The only legal arms in the area are those of the Palestinian security systems and are for the strict use of protecting civilians, their lives, property and security. [end]

Palestinian Media Coalition condemns partisan journalism
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Media Coalition (PMC) criticized the involvement of Palestinian media in the Hamas-Fatah rivalry on Sunday, and directly condemned the factional coverage of Friday’s explosions in Gaza City which left six Gazans dead. The coalition said in a statement, "we condemn the crime against Palestinian activists; we demand that media outlets be tool for construction rather than destruction. "The statement explained that "any news report or declaration here or there by a radio station or a satellite TV could arouse more disputes," and urged caution. Consequently, PMC demanded that media outlets report the truth as it is and avoid siding with one party against the other. The statement also called for the release of Sawwah Abu Seif, a photojournalist of the German News Agency who was arrested while covering the de facto government’s campaign against Fatah members after Friday’s explosions.

Hamas: AMB threats against the Movement are not unusual
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Saturday that the threats made by the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, to eradicate the Movement in the West Bank are not startling in light of its high-level security coordination with the Israeli occupation. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, underlined that the crimes committed against the Movement by Fatah and its security apparatuses have never stopped during the last period until now and that such threats to resume assaults are not surprising. Dr. Abu Zuhri added that there are dozens of Palestinian detainees affiliated with Hamas in the PA security apparatuses’ jails in the West Bank, 39 of them are from Nablus alone. He pointed out that the arrests which took place lately in Gaza were limited and unrelated to the Fatah Movement, because the arrested persons are either suspects or arrested in the past for criminal acts.

UNRWA Urges Israel to Reopen Gaza Border
Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency - UNRWA -, in a new report, urged Israel to reopen the borders of the Gaza Strip to help avoid despair among young people resulting from mounting unemployment In spite of "significant amounts of emergency and humanitarian assistance," last year the number of households in Gaza below the consumption poverty line surged to an all-time high of 51. 8 per cent, the UNRWA report said, according to figures from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. UNRWA also said the unemployment rate in the occupied Palestinian territory is one of the highest in the world, standing at nearly 30 per cent. Unemployment reached a record 45. 3 per cent in Gaza between July and December 2007. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the West Bank was 25 per cent, double the average rate in the Middle East and North Africa region.

As the situation between Hamas and Fateh worsens in Gaza the Israelis do not let up
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 7/27/2008
Amjad Al Shawa lives in what is often described as the "world’s largest open air prison. "He is the Director of the Gaza City branch of the Palestine Network of NGOs. The PNGO attempts to serve the Strip’s 1. 5 million residents. "I think you have a good description for Gaza and the worsening conditions since the Israeli siege. Since January until now we are suffering from shortages of many items, the main being basic food, medicine and fuel. So the conditions here in Gaza are getting worse and worse even though we have the ’cease-fire’ between Hamas and the Israelis, still the Israelis continue the siege on the Gaza Strip. They prevent the entrance of many kinds of basic materials. " Mainly I’m talking about the issue of fuel of which we are receiving just small quantities. For example yesterday the Israelis decided to prevent the entrance of fuel for three days, starting yesterday [16 July].

Egyptian security arrests three Palestinians fleeing Gaza through tunnels
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Egyptian security elements deployed along the borders with Gaza Strip have arrested three Palestinians while trying to cross the borders into the Egyptian Sinai peninsula at a late hour on Saturday, well informed sources said. They told the Palestine newspaper published on Sunday that the Egyptian forces detained the young men while trying to cross the barbed wire near the Rafah border terminal’s gate. The sources said that the three youths were from the Sabra suburb, east of Gaza city, but would not divulge their names. The young men confessed to the Egyptian security that they were involved in the bombing that killed six citizens in Gaza including a child and that they escaped fearing execution at the hands of the PA government in Gaza. The sources pointed out that the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, closed all tunnels in Rafah district that are used. . .

Paratroopers head to Gaza for first time in nearly 2 decades
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
After years of serving in the Central and Northern Commands, the Paratroopers Brigade will head down to Gaza for its first tour of duty in the Southern Command in close to two decades. The red-bereted paratroopers traditionally serve in the Central Command in areas like Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah. They are also frequently deployed in the North, along the Lebanese and Syrian borders and spent most of the Second Lebanon War inside southern Lebanon, clashing with Hizbullah. Col. Herzi Levi will make history as the brigade commander when he leads his four battalions down South to take up operations along the border with the Gaza Strip. Sources in the brigade said that officers were excited about the new tour. "There is a feeling that the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip with Hamas will collapse and we will be the ones there to deal with it," one officer said.

’In 5 years we’ll ask how this happened’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
The government needs to take a hard look at the situation in the Gaza Strip, because if it doesn’t, it will have to ask itself five years from now how it allowed the situation there to get out of hand, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet Sunday. He told the ministers that the arms-smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip continued, and that Palestinians had fired on Israeli communities in the western Negev since the calm went into effect last month. The security cabinet needed to meet and discuss how to deal with the situation, he said. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, however, took a more sanguine view of the calm, saying that Hamas was doing more than he’d anticipated to keep the various terrorist organizations inside Gaza from firing rockets into Israel. Unlike Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin, who said the Egyptians were. . .

Diskin: Hamas successfully rearming
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/27/2008
During weekly government meeting Shin Bet head delivers grave survey of recent events in Gaza; says 4 tons of explosives, Qassam-making materials, and 50 anti-tank missiles have entered Strip lately. In east Jerusalem, Hamas is moving in - Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin painted a bleak picture of recent occurrences in Gaza and east Jerusalem during the weekly government meeting on Sunday. "Since the ceasefire began, four tons of explosives have been transferred into the Strip for Hamas, as well as 50 anti-tank missiles, light arms, and materials for Qassam manufacture - metal rods and gunpowder," he said. "Most of the smuggling is taking place by land, through tunnels. Hamas has taken control of the tunnels in the area. There is Egyptian action aimed to prevent the smuggling, but there have been no special reports lately.

Khudari: Two ships to sail from Cyprus to Gaza on August 5th to break the siege
Palestinian Information Center 7/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, announced Sunday that two ships, under the auspices of the Free Gaza Movement, will sail from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip on August 5th, in an attempt to break the Israeli siege imposed on the Strip. In a press conference, MP Khudari stated that one ship will be carrying humanitarian aid and the other will be boarded by human rights activists, media crews and other personalities. The lawmaker expected that the Israeli occupation will intercept the ships as they enter the Gaza waters, pointing out that there are seats allocated for media workers who will cover the events on air. The lawmaker also said that in the event of the arrival of the ships to the Gaza shore safely, they will transport Palestinian patients for medical treatment abroad.

Solidarity boats to arrive in Gaza shores soon
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/27/2008
In a press conference in Gaza city, aL-Khudari pointed out that two boats will arrive in Gaza shores, coming from Cyprus. One of the boats will carry peace activists, foreign parliamentarians and Palestinian refugees from overseas. aL-Khudary expected that Israel will intercept the boats, saying that the boat’s passengers are ready to face any Israeli measures against them, even if they are forced to stay besieged on board. He pointed out that tens of Gaza boats will be welcoming the visiting boats, maintaining that a press conference will be held upon arrival of the solidarity boats. Israel has been imposing a crippling closure on the coastal region since June2007. Many essential food items and raw materials have been made scarce as unemployment and poverty rates have hit the highest records.

Disagreements within Israeli security services over Hamas arms smuggling in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli media outlets on Sunday reported contradictory assessments by different members of the Israeli security establishment regarding the continuation of weapons smuggling in the Gaza Strip. During the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, Yuval Diskin, director of the Israeli General Security Services or "Shabak," asserted that the Hamas movement is continuing to smuggle weapons into Gaza. He stated that the movement has smuggled four tons of explosive materials as well as other weapons into Gaza since the ceasefire began in June, mostly through tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border. On the other hand, Israeli press sources reported that other officials in the Shabak expressed their surprise and satisfaction to Israeli politicians that Hamas had refrained from smuggling arms into Gaza during the forty days of the truce, contrary to previous expectations.

Settlers assault Palestinian School Children and Internationals escorting the children near Hebron
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 7/27/2008
Janet Benvie, member of the Christian Peace Makers Team (CPT) in Hebron, told IMEMC that settlers attacked the children and internationals who accompany them as they were walking from the village of Tuba to a summer camp in the village of At-Tuwani, both in the southern Hebron hills. Settlers threw stones at the children and their accompaniers and wounded Joel Gullege, a CPT member from the United States. Settlers then kicked him on his legs, took his camera away and beat him both with the camera and their fists. Gullege has been taken to the hospital for treatment. According to CPT, the Israeli army has rejected a number of requests by the group to provide escort to the children because of anticipated settler assaults. CPT is a Christian organization arose from a call in 1984 for Christians to devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war.

Israeli settlers again attack Palestinian children in S West Bank
At, Palestine News Network 7/27/2008
PNN -Tuwani, Hebron -- The Christian Peacemakers Team reports that Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian children on their way to summer camp while the Israeli military refused to protect the kids. Earlier this week three Israeli settlers, one masked and wielding a stick, pursued fourteen Palestinian children who were on their way to a summer camp in -Tuwani. The children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed waited thirty minutes for the Israeli military escort that should have accompanied them on the most direct road between the villages of Tuba and -Tuwani. When the military failed to arrive, the children began walking along a long path through the hills to -Tuwani. When the children neared the Israeli settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on, three settlers with two dogs came out from the outpost and began walking in the direction of the children.

American peace activist attacked by Israeli settler children near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An American peace activist with the Christian Peacemaker Teams was attacked on Sunday by Israeli settlers near Hebron. A team of foreign activists was escorting a group of Palestinian children from Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed home from their summer camp in the nearby town of At Tuwani. The most direct road from the villages to At Tuwani is through the illegal Israeli settlement Ma’on south of Hebron. As the group passed through the settlement some of the settler children began throwing stones at Palestinian children. One activist ran ahead to usher the kids to safety, and another, Joel Gulledge, followed behind the group and filmed the attack. Gulledge was swarmed by the settler children, who hit him with stones, took his camera and beat him with it. He sustained moderate head injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Continued nonviolent resistance in the Jordan Valley
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/28/2008
On 20th July 2007 the residents of Al-Aqaba held another nonviolent protest against the plans of the Israeli government to destroy their village. Palestinians from all over the West Bank, and international solidarity activists from several European and North American countries came to the tiny village in the Tubas Governorate of the Jordan Valley to show their support to the village’s unbroken defiance in the face of threats by the Israeli occupation authorities to demolish 75% of the structures in the village. Also Sami Musallam, Tubas governor, and Mustafa Barghouti, secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, joined the gathering. In their addresses they expressed respect for the villagers’ persistent struggle to save Al-Aqaba and gratitude for the international support they have been getting. A group of young boys from Al-Aqaba performed the Palestinian national dance, dabke,

Praying against apartheid in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 7/27/2008
Ramallah Region - Friday the 25th of July the people of Ni’lin gathered once more to protest against the construction of the apartheid wall. About 150 villagers and about 20 internationals and Israelis could be found at the olive field overlooking the scar in the land, which is formed by the bulldozers, as a beginning of the wall. . The demonstration began with the Friday-prayer. After the praying most of the gathered people went down to the bulldozed road to put stones and branches on it, so that it became blocked. The roadblocks took up a distance of about 200 meters. The aim of the action was to delay the bulldozers and theIsraeli army vehicles which drive on the road, so that the work with the wall have to wait for the road to be cleared. The spirit of the demonstrators was high, there was singing, shouting, whistling, laughing and chanting.

Chicago Tribune: Israel targets West Bank charity sites
Joel Greenberg, Chicago Tribune, International Solidarity Movement 7/27/2008
Islamist outlets shut by crackdown deny backing Hamas or spreading agenda - HEBRON, West Bank"”For more than 40 years, the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron has provided social services to residents of this volatile West Bank city, helping orphans and needy families. Its new school for girls was to open next month, a mall it operated housed shops and offices, and it ran two bakeries and a sewing shop. But in a series of raids in recent months, the Israeli army ordered the mall vacated and emptied the charity’s main warehouse. The school gates were welded shut, school buses were seized and the sewing shop was closed in a nighttime sweep in which Israeli soldiers, their faces darkened by camouflage paint, stripped the place bare. The raid was part of a crackdown against business enterprises, schools and welfare groups in the West Bank that Israeli military officials say raise money

Israel set to deport Canadian volunteer arrested at fence protest
Josh Scheinert, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
Victor McDiarmid, a 23-year-old Canadian, is being deported from Israel after being arrested in Ni’ilin at a protest against the construction of the West Bank security barrier last week. McDiarmid, who had been living for a month in the West Bank town as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was arrested for allegedly taking pictures in a closed military zone of the IDF’s attempts to break up the protest. McDiarmid also says that the soldiers who arrested him beat him and spit on him for 20 minutes. Before McDiarmid’s remand was extended, ISM lawyers arranged for him to be released on bail with the condition that he stay away from Ni’ilin for two weeks. But an ISM representative who arrived to pick him up and sign the bail papers learned that McDiarmid had been moved to Interior Ministry custody at Ben-Gurion Airport, slated for immediate deportation back to Canada. A police officer said that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had requested his deportation.

Nablus protests Israeli attacks on civil infrastructure
International Solidarity Movement 7/27/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - Thursday the 24th July the popular organizations of Nablus arranged a protest march against the previous weeks military assaults on Nablus social and economic life. The 250 participants gathered in the city centre and marched to the local TV-station Afaq that was vandalized by the Israeli army. Before the march speakers acknowledged that the resistance against the assaults upon health clinics, mosques, schools and organizations will continue and that they will not let the social and economic life of the city get strangled by the military invasions. The protesters marched to the TV-station Afaq and opened the door that was sealed by the Israeli army during the invasion.

Women’s demonstration attacked with tear gas and sound bombs in Ni’lin
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/24/2008
On Wednesday 23rd, July IWPS volunteers attended a women’s demonstration in the village of Ni’lin in the Ramallah district of the West Bank. Over 150 women took part including Palestinians from Ni’lin, Ramallah and Tulkarm, and Israeli and international activists. The women were protesting against the construction of the Israeli segregation wall around the village and continued land confiscation, which has already resulted in a loss of over 80% of the village’s land since 1948. The demonstrators set off from the centre of the village at around 11. 30am and made their way to the construction site of the Wall, carrying banners that had been made by children in the village. Before the women reached the site, they were confronted by over a dozen Israeli soldiers. When the women tried to pass them, the soldiers threw sounds bombs and tear gas at them.

Initiative: Evacuation-compensation for Negev Bedouins
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Minister Edery says law must be adopted on retrieval of land seized by Bedouins in Israel’s peripheries, saying, "˜Whoever does not accept law, does not agree to evacuate in exchange for compensation, will be evacuated just like settlers’. Bedouin rep: We’ve owned these lands since before Israel’s inception - "The Knesset needs to adopt an evacuation-compensation law for the Bedouins of the south, similar to the Evacuation-Compensation Law for Gush Katif inhabitants," Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Jacob Edery (Kadima) told Ynet on Sunday. Edery is offering to compensate the Bedouins in a generous manner for the lands they overtook, based on suggestions made by the committee headed by Judge Eliezer Goldberg. This committee is presently working on a policy for regulating settlement in the Bedouin Negev.

Israel denies reports it plans to pull out of northern Ghajar
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 7/28/2008
Israel denies that it is planning a partial withdrawal from the divided northern village of Ghajar this week, as reported in the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Sunday. According to the report, Israel Defense Forces troops will pull out from the northern part of Ghajar, a village which straddles Israel-Lebanon border. The report also claims that Israel has destroyed IDF outposts in the northern part of the village captured during the Second Lebanon War. Ghajar is home to Alawai Muslims, a Syrian sect. The village is divided by the international border - its southern half is part of the Golan Heights and its northern part is in Lebanon. In 2005, Israel thwarted an attempt by Hezbollah militants who infiltrated through Ghajar to kidnap IDF soldiers. Since then, Israel has maintained a military presence in the area.

Livni warns against American pressure before Bush leaves
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 7/28/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni came out on Sunday against American efforts to have Israel reach an interim agreement with the Palestinians before the end of US President George W. Bush’s term based on the diplomatic talks that she has led. Speaking at a Kadima rally in Jerusalem that was closed to the press, Livni expressed concern that the Bush administration would pressure Israel, as president Bill Clinton did at Camp David before he left office in 2001. "I purposely am not setting deadlines [for the negotiations with the Palestinians], because I think that’s very bad," Livni said. "I very much don’t want to be in the same situation that Ehud Barak was in at at Camp David of the end of an American administration finishing its term and trying to put pressure on everyone to bridge gaps that cannot be bridged. "

Obama: We’ll make sure Palestinians have a state
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/27/2008
US presidential hopeful tells Meet the Press ’Israeli-Palestinian peace deal ’will weaken Iran and make it easier for Arab states and the Gulf States to support us when it comes to issues like Iraq and Afghanistan’ - WASHINGTON -"The Palestinian people are having a very tough time right now economically, and it is in US interests to make sure that they have a sense of hope and opportunity and a Palestinian state. I think it’s in Israelis’ interest as well," US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday on the heels of his Mideast tour. "What I’ve said is that we’re going to make sure that the Palestinians have a state that allows them to prosper as long as we also have certainty that Israel’s security is not being compromised. I think it’s in the interest of both parties, but we are the critical ingredient in terms of making sure that a deal actually gets done," he said.

EU renews support to Palestinian Authority through PEGASE PA arrears plan
Alix de Mauny, Palestine News Network 7/27/2008
Jerusalem - The European Union has provided a further €4. 7 million (over NIS 25 million) to help the Palestinian Authority to settle bills owed to the private sector. Through this assistance, the European Union provides critical support to both the private sector and to the Palestinian Authority in a bid to revive the economy and to ease the continued difficult financial situation of the PA. This is the fourth transfer of its kind under the new European mechanism for assistance to the Palestinians, PEGASE, bringing the total amount to just under €20 million this year. Ninety-five businesses will benefit from the payment, mostly small and medium sized enterprises; these companies provide a variety of goods and services to the PA. 48 of these companies are based in the Gaza Strip. "Meeting current expenditures remains a key challenge for the Palestinian Authority", explains Mr.

Arab Aid to Palestinians Short of Pledges
Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post July 27, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
In 2002, when oil prices were hovering around $21 a barrel, nearly two dozen Arab nations joined to pledge yearly contributions of $660 million to support the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget. Now, even with oil prices more than six times higher and the Palestinian Authority bordering on financial ruin, only a handful of Arab countries are sending even a small portion of the money they promised, according to data examined by The Washington Post. Out of 22 Arab nations that made pledges, only three -- Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- have contributed funds this year, while oil-rich countries such as Libya, Kuwait and Qatar have sent nothing and still owe the Palestinian government more than $700 million in past-due pledges. The Palestinian Authority uses the contributions to help pay salaries for civil. . .

Palestinian PM Fayyad Warns of Impending Financial Crisis
Originally published by the Palestinian news agency WAFA in Arabic, Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
July 22, 200 - Ramallah - Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad has expressed his concern that the PNA could face a financial crisis if the donor countries, particularly some Arab states, failed to transfer to the Palestinian treasury the funds they pledged to donate at the Paris Donors Conference. At a news conference he held today following his meeting with members of the parliamentary blocs in the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] headquarters in Ramallah, Dr. Fayyad noted that no foreign aid has been received yet. He said that the financial situation is difficult, stressing that the government is making enormous efforts to provide the necessary money to pay salaries and dues to employees and institutions. Fayyad said that there is a possibility that the PNA would suspend the implementation of the security plan in Palestinian towns because of Israel’s increasing hostile activities,. . .

Palestinian Police detain 27 fugitives in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Jenin- Ma’an- The administration of public relations and media department for the Jenin police announced that 27 fugitives in the town of Deir Abu Da’if were arrested. The arrests come as part of the new campaign for "law and order," that was launched recently. Police confirmed that they destroyed five illegal vehicles and detained another three civilians who attacked a vehicle owned by police of Jalqamus. [end]

High Court slams gov’t for shunning ruling on funding for yeshivas
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 7/28/2008
The High Court of Justice on Sunday issued stinging criticism of the Education Ministry’s evasiveness in abiding by 2004 Supreme Court ruling which forbade publicly subsidizing ultra-Orthodox educational institutions that refuse to teach their students the "core curriculum. ""The executive branch’s avoidance of adhering to a legal ruling issued by a court of law is one of the most worrisome and serious dangers that threaten the rule of law in a democratic state," the High Court wrote. "From the answers given by the Education Ministry to the petitions, and from its arguments in court, it has become clear that the court’s verdict in this process which was issued following the first set of proceedings was not enacted on time, and has not been enacted to this point, neither to the letter or to the spirit of the ruling.

Court blasts haredi school curriculum
Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
The High Court of Justice on Sunday blasted the Education Ministry for allegedly ignoring a ruling it handed down four years ago ordering it either to introduce the teaching of a core curriculum in haredi schools financed by the state or to stop financing them. A panel of three justices including Ayala Procaccia, Salim Joubran and Acting Justice Uzi Fogelman ruled that had it not been for the fact that the Knesset last week passed a law granting 60 percent state financing for schools that do not teach the core curriculum, they would have accepted the petitions calling for implementation of the court’s ruling. The petitions were filed by the Religious Action Center of the Progressive Movement in Israel and the High School, Seminar and College Teachers Association. They called on the court to order the ministry to implement the court’s 2004 ruling and immediately introduce the. . .

Uzi Dayan to join Likud after months of secret negotiations
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
The Likud is set to receive a big boost on Tuesday when the former IDF deputy chief of General Staff, Maj. -Gen. (res. ) Uzi Dayan, will join the party at a press conference with opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Dayan had been in secret negotiations with the Likud for months and the finalization of a deal for him to join the party was intended to be publicized only Monday, but a source in Netanyahu’s office mistakenly revealed the news to the press on Sunday. The addition of Dayan gives the Likud its highest-ranking soldier as a Knesset candidate since former IDF chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz left the party. It also gives Netanyahu the stamp of approval of one of the top activists against corruption in Israeli politics. A source close to Dayan said the fact that he was joining the party would send a message to the public that the Likud had overcome its former image as a haven for corruption, which it suffered from when the Likud central committee was seen as having an inordinate amount of power over the government.

Talansky suit against Israeli satellite firm dismissed in NY
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
New York financier Morris Talansky may soon find himself involved in a second Israeli legal process, this time not concerning cash envelopes he allegedly gave Prime Minister Ehud Olmert but on a completely different issue - spy satellites. Talansky was one of several plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Imagesat International satellite company that was thrown out of a New York court last Thursday on the grounds that it was not the correct venue to discuss the matter. It now appears that Talansky and the other stakeholders may need to file their suit in Israel. . . . In the lawsuit, Talansky and the other plaintiffs claimed that Imagesat had reneged on a lucrative deal with Venezuela due to diplomatic considerations between Israel and the United States. The plaintiffs claimed that the company was set up with the condition that it would operate independently of Israeli diplomatic interests.

VIDEO / MK Lieberman: Either charge me for corruption or drop case
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 7/27/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to either file an indictment over the ongoing investigation against him or dismiss the case. Lieberman is suspected of illicit business dealings in Russia and corruption offenses related to election campaign funding in 1998 and ’99. Police also suspect Lieberman of having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes while serving as a cabinet minister from 2001 to 2004. In the petition - which opens with the words "there has never been an incident like this in Israel’s history" - Lieberman accuses the attorney general of an ongoing delay of justice. Lieberman said that the prosecution and police are trying to draw out the investigation until the next elections.

Lieberman petitions High Court to end 10-year police investigation
Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz "at long last" decide whether to indict him or close the file against him "after a record 10 years have elapsed since the beginning of the police investigation. " Lieberman’s lawyer, Ya’acov Weinroth, wrote that "there has never been anything like this in the history of the State of Israel. "The police began investigating Lieberman in 1998 on suspicion that he had violated the party funding laws before the 1999 election campaign. Lieberman, after resigning as director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office under Binyamin Netanyahu in 1998, established the Israel Beitenu Party, which he continues to lead today.

’Probe paper for printing Obama note’
Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
Attorney Shahar Elon petitioned Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Sunday to order police to open a criminal investigation against the editor of Ma’ariv and other correspondents from the newspaper following its publication of the note US presidential candidate Barack Obama placed between the stones of the Western Wall early Thursday morning, Israeli media reported. "With its actions, in my opinion, the newspaper broke several clauses of the 1967 Preservation of Holy Sites Law and violated rights based on Basic Law - Respect for Man and his Freedom," wrote Elon. In addition, Elon called for a consumer boycott of the newspaper until it publishes an apology to Obama. "I declare a consumer protest against Ma’arivstarting today. I urge all MKs, ministers, judges, soldiers and other public sector officials to freeze or cancel their subscriptions to Ma’ariv in the coming month," he wrote.

Financial irregularities found in local election campaigns
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/27/2008
State Comptroller’s Office reveals fiscal faults in campaigns of 45 of 71 candidates in local elections; recommends 24 of them be made ineligible for government funding - State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss released Sunday his report on the financial conduct of the candidates and mayors of the local and regional councils. The report, which related to the local elections that took place in November of 2007, revealed the audits and fiscal management methods results of 71 candidates who ran in 26 local campaigns. According to the State Comptroller’s Office, 45 of the candidates failed to obey the letter of the law, whereas 26 of the candidates were found to have complied with all the regulations; 24 of the candidates who were found to be at fault were striped of all government funding, although the comptroller stated they would not be facing any legal sanctions.

Lebanese army restores calm in Tripoli, arrests wanted gunman
Daily Star 7/28/2008
TRIPOLI: The Lebanese Army shot and wounded a wanted suspect during a shootout in Tripoli’s Bab al-Tebbaneh neighborhood on Sunday, a security source told The source added that the gunman, Mohammad Ahmad al-Arour, had been wanted for opening fire on troops Saturday and was now in their custody. "Troops pursued Arour and arrested him after a 30-minute clash that left two soldiers wounded, one of them seriously," the source added. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army restored calm in the northern port city after nine people were killed in deadly clashes, which sent 2,000 families fleeing to safer areas, a security official said on Sunday. "Calm has been restored in Tripoli and no gunfire or firing of rockets has been recorded since 5 p. m. on Saturday," the official told , asking not to be identified. All through Friday night, militants from the rival Sunni Muslim and Alawite communities. . .

Pentagon chief: War with Iran ’disastrous on number of levels’
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 7/28/2008
Meanwhile, in another document bearing his signature that is due to be published soon, the 2008 National Defense Strategy, Gates omits Israel from the list of the United States’ main allies. - A war with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels," according to U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. In an article appearing in the latest issue of Parameters, the U. S. Army War College quarterly, Gates wrote that with the army already bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, "another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need" - despite the fact that Iran "supports terrorism," is "a destabilizing force throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia and, in my judgment, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. "Nevertheless, he continued, "the military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future

Israeli defense minister to visit US for talks on Iran
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/28/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is to travel to the US on Monday for talks with senior officials expected to focus on Iran. Israeli public radio said the talks are expected to focus on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, which Israel views as a major strategic threat, and on preserving the "qualitative advantage" of the Jewish state’s armed forces. A Defense Ministry spokesman declined to comment on the agenda of the talks, but said Barak planned to meet Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, senior military officials and members of Congress, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. [end]

''Time'': Israel attack on Iran after vote, if at all
Ran Dagoni, Washington, Globes Online 7/27/2008
The magazine claims Israel seeks to avoid harming the chances of Republican presidential candidate John McCain of being elected. The chances of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations is slim, and any military action will only be taken after the US presidential election in November, to avoid harming the chances of Republican candidate Senator John McCain of being elected, writes "Time" magazine. In its article entitled "Israel’s debate over an Iran strike," "Time" says that a former senior Mossad officer told it that "Israel is mindful that an air strike on Iran would jolt the US presidential election, probably rebounding badly on Republican contender, Senator John McCain. "Time adds, "Sources say that Israel sees a narrow "window of opportunity" for military action opening up between November and the swearing-in of the new American president next January.

Iran asks for non-permanent UN Security Council seat
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Islamic republic’s foreign minister says membership could ’create a positive development in the performance of the Security Council’ - Iran’s foreign minister says he has asked the Non-Aligned Movement to support Iran’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Manouchehr Mottaki tells an expert meeting of the 114-member group to support Iran’s bid to have a seat on the Security Council that will meet in 2009 and 2010. He says Sunday that a vote is expected soon and Iran’s membership could "create a positive development in the performance of the Security Council. " The Non-Aligned Movement includes countries that tried to act as a buffer between East and West during the Cold War.

Iran eyes seat on UN Security Council as Asia representative
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/28/2008
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki asked the Non-Aligned Movement on Sunday to support Iran’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Mottaki rallied for the support of the Non-Aligned Movement at a meeting of representatives of the 114-member group, saying that a vote is expected soon and "Iran’s membership could create a positive development in the performance of the Security Council. " The Non-Aligned Movement includes countries that tried to act as a buffer between East and West during the Cold War. Since Libya gained a seat on the Security Council in January, diplomats and critics have been finding it difficult to accept its presence as a member of the Council. Iran’s announced aim to submit its candidacy has bolstered the feeling among many that the council is losing its status and prestige.

Ahmadinejad says Islamic Republic has 6,000 centrifuges in operation
Hiedeh Farmani , Daily Star 7/28/2008
TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that Iran has 6,000 active uranium-enriching centrifuges, suggesting a rapid expansion of its nuclear drive in defiance of international calls for a freeze. The West "has agreed that the existing 5,000 to 6,000 centrifuges not be increased and that there is no problem if this number of centrifuges continues to operate," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state radio. Ahmadinejad said in April that Iran was working to install 6,000 more centrifuges at an underground hall in a plant at its nuclear facility in Natanz, where it already had 3,000 running. It is a major expansion of Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears could be aimed at making atomic weapons. The United States, which took the unprecedented step of sending a top diplomat to meet Iran’s chief negotiator at the Geneva talks, has warned Tehran of "punitive measures" if it spurns the offer and presses on with enrichment.

’Lebanon got a plump prisoner, we got bones in plastic bags’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Voices critical of Hizbullah respond to prisoner swap deal, including Kuwaiti columnist who says, ’Lebanon should thank God that Israel is its neighbor, rather than Saddam’s Iraq’ - A week has gone by since the implementation of the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah, but the winds have not yet died down inLebanon and the Middle East. Most of the Lebanese reactions commend Hassan Nasrallah and his organization, but a select few have uttered criticisms without reprieve. One of those critical voices comes from Kuwait, a country as despised Hizbullah ever since one of the organization’s leaders, Imad Mugniyah, was involved in the abduction of a Kuwaiti plane in 1986, which killed two passengers. Meanwhile in IsraelBarak to bereaved parents: We will learn from failures / Ronen Medzini Defense minister speaks before families. . .

Shin Bet head: Hizbullah swap increased appetite for kidnappings
HERB KEINON AND BEN SALES, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
The recently concluded swap with Hizbullah for the bodies of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev has increased the motivation of terrorist organizations to carry out other kidnappings, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told the cabinet Sunday. Diskin, who opposed the deal with Hizbullah, said there was intensive pressure from terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to "export" attacks to the West Bank. He said that during the first quarter of 2008 a "wave of terror" from Sinai into Israel was prevented, including what he said were a number of "harsh" attacks. He did not provide any details. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that the Rafah border crossing from the Gaza Strip into Egypt should be opened only if there was progress in securing the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, and only in coordination with the security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Soap opera shakes customs of Arab married life
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
Every evening for the past four months, a tall young man with soulful blue eyes has been stealing hearts across the Middle East, from the refugee camps of the Gaza Strip to the gated mansions of Riyadh. But it’s not just the striking good looks of Mohannad, hero of the hugely popular Turkish TV soap "Noor," that appeal to female viewers. He’s romantic, attentive to his wife Noor, supportive of her independence and ambitions as a fashion designer - in short, a rare gem for women in conservative, male-dominated surroundings. "Noor" delivers an idealized portrayal of modern married life as equal partnership - clashing with the norms of traditional Middle Eastern societies where elders often have the final word on whom a woman should marry and many are still confined to the role of wife and mother. Some Muslim preachers in the West Bank and Saudi Arabia have taken notice, saying the show is un-Islamic and urging the faithful to change channels.

cartoon of the day
Mariali, Palestine Think Tank 7/27/2008
Political canibalism of occupied Palestine: "Gaza is impossible to digest but the West Bank is delicious" [end]

Hamas militants vow revenge after Israel kills top operative
Daily Star 7/28/2008
Israeli forces killed a top Hamas operative in an early morning gunfight in the southern Occupied West Bank city of Hebron, according to Palestinian security officials who said another three people were arrested in the raid. Hamas’ armed wing vowed to take revenge for the killing of Shihab al-Natshe, who Israeli media reported was behind a suicide bombing in February that killed an Israeli woman and wounded 11 other people. In Sunday’s operation in Hebron, Israeli soldiers fired at the house of Natshe, 25, after he refused to surrender and shot at troops, local residents said. An army bulldozer later razed the dwelling. The militant’s mangled body was seen being removed from the rubble. Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, vowed to avenge the resistance fighter’s killing. "Our response will be swift and painful," it said in a statement.

Israeli troops in Hebron kill Hamas man behind Dimona attack
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/28/2008
Israeli security forces killed a top Hamas militant wanted over a deadly suicide attack on the southern city of Dimona earlier this year, during an operation in the West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday. Special unit troops and Border Police officers fired a shell at the house of Shihab al-Natsheh, after he refused to surrender and opened fire at troops, local residents said. A Hamas statement said the militant clashed with soldiers for 12 hours before being killed. An IDF spokeswoman said soldiers clashed with a group of gunmen in the city, killing a militant, but declined to give further details. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised the Border Police and Shin Bet combateers for carrying out the raid. "I can’t go into details, but I will stress that this was quite a successful operation,". . .

Dimona attack mastermind killed by IDF
YAAKOV KATZ, Jerusalem Post 7/27/2008
A Hamas terrorist who masterminded and directed a suicide bombing in Dimona earlier this year was shot dead by elite border policemen early Sunday morning during an IDF raid in Hebron. IDF kills man involved in Dimona bombingThe IDF said that in a joint Border Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) operation the forces surrounded a house where 25-year-old Shihab Na’atsha, a Hamas explosives engineer, was hiding. The IDF said Na’atsha had assembled the bomb belt used in the Dimona attack on February 4 that killed 73-year-old Lubov Razdolskaya and wounded 40 other people. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised security forces. "Due to the nature of the activity, I won’t go into detail, but this was a very successful operation," Olmert said during the weekly cabinet meeting. "I send the thanks of the cabinet and of the Israeli public to the members of the security services and to the Israel Police elite units that assisted.

Hamas activist dead after Israeli troops demolish Hebron home, crushing him
Ma’an News Agency 7/27/2008
Hebron – Ma’an - Twenty-five-year-old Shihab Ad-Dein Natshah was killed by Israeli forces near Hebron. Natshah was a Palestinian activist affiliated with the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He was killed by Israeli forces after they demolished a house were he was hiding in the Shi’b Al-Milh region between the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the nearby town of Taffuh, eyewitnesses say. The witnesses added that Israeli forces besieged the home on Saturday at seven in the evening. Palestinian medics reported seeing fire erupt from the besieged home, and other witnesses said heavy gunfire was heard in the area and at least 15 Israeli military vehicles were present. The military operation went through the night, with palpable tension in the area. Israeli forces summoned back-up forces accompanied by a military bulldozer to the area.

Israel Credit Insurance Co warns of US bankruptcies
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 7/27/2008
Israeli exports to the US are expected to exceed $10 billion this year. Israeli Credit Insurance Company Ltd. (ICIC) (TASE: BSSC) has warned its clients who export to the US of a sharp increase in bankruptcies in the US, which will increase the exporters’ debts at risk. The company warns that bankruptcies in the US will probably increase in the coming quarters. Israeli exports to the US are expected to exceed $10 billion this year. ICIC says that there were 39% more bankruptcies in the US in the past four quarters compared with the corresponding quarters in the preceding years. It adds that the number of bankruptcies has risen steadily over the past five quarters. The data is partly based on figures from Euler Hermes (XETRA; Paris: EUE), the world’s largest credit insurance company, and a shareholders in ICIC.

Lieberman petitions High Court against Mazuz
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman asks court to instruct attorney general to reach a decision on police investigation launched against him 10 years ago - Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that the court order Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to explain why he has failed to reach a decision on the investigation launched against the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman. Lieberman said upon submitting the petition, "After 10 years, it appears that they have no intention of completing the investigation against me. I demand that the attorney general make a decision. They should either draft an indictment or close the case. "Two years and three months ago, the State Prosecutor’s Office declared that it would work swiftly. No decision has been made to this day, and I think enough time has passed for such a decision to be made.

Bill to double university tuition
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Finance Ministry drafts proposal for 2009 State budget according to which certain academic studies such as law will cease to receive State funding, security budget for schools also cancelled. MK Yacimovich: Bill creates social inequality, cuts off lower classes - The Ministry of Finance has proposed a bill for the 2009 State budget, according to which tuition for certain university academic courses will be doubled and the security budget for learning institutions will be cancelled. MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) revealed these two clauses, just a small part of the impositions the Finance Ministry has planned for the country’s education system, which she received in a draft sent to the Ministry of Education. She said the Finance Ministry plans to submit the draft for the government’s approval without having first received comments by the Education Ministry.

Retired general Uzi Dayan to join Likud
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Netanyahu to announce former deputy chief of staff’s induction into center-right party this Tuesday but will apparently not secure him spot on Likud’s Knesset list -Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce the induction of Major-General (Res. ) Uzi Dayan as a Likud member, Ynet learned Sunday. Netanyahu and Dayan are set to hold a press conference on the matter this coming Tuesday, during which the general is expected to present his motives for joining the center-right party. During his illustrious military career, Dayan served as commander of Sayeret Matkal (elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit), head of the Central Command, and deputy chief of staff. He later headed the National Security Council. Following his release from the army Dayan formed the political party and social movement Tafnit (turnaround).

Arab-Israeli prisoner demands conjugal visit ’like Yigal Amir’
Sharon Roffe-Ophir, YNetNews 7/27/2008
Petition filed on behalf of man serving life sentence for terror offenses says Arab prisoners discriminated against, denied private spousal visits. Defining inmate as security prisoner as excuse to deny legal rights, implies practice applied on Arab prisoners only,’ attorney says -Walid Dakah, an Israeli Arab who was sentenced to life imprisonment for security offenses, filed a first-of-its kind petition Sunday morning with the Nazareth District Court, asking that it grant him conjugal visitsin order to allow him and his wife to bring a child into the world. Dakah was sentenced to life in prison in 1986, after he was convicted of membership in a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror cell that murdered IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984. Dakah was sent to prison at the age of 22, and the petition, which was filed on his behalf by Adalah. . .


’If I Forget Thee, Umm Touba...’
Uri Avnery, Palestine Chronicle 7/26/2008
      In one of the most beautiful songs in the Bible, the poet vows: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, / Let my right hand forget her cunning. / If I do not remember thee, / Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; / If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy!" (Psalms 137:5) A fact that should be remembered in any discussion about Jerusalem: there is no resemblance between the Jerusalem of the Bible and the "Jerusalem" of the current Israeli map. The object of the yearning of the exiles who wept by the rivers of Babylon was the real Jerusalem - more or less within the boundaries of the Old City, whose center is the Temple Mount. One square kilometer, that’s all.
     The redefined municipality of Jerusalem after the 1967 annexation comprises a vast area, some 126 square kilometers, from Bethlehem in the south to Ramallah in the north. This area has been clothed with the name of "Jerusalem" in order to bestow a religious-national-historic aura to what was nothing but an act of land-grabbing and settlement.

Witness - Return to Gaza

Wafa Amr, ReliefWeb 7/27/2008
      GAZA STRIP, July 27 (Reuters) - The air smelt of falafel cooking oil -- used by drivers to power their cars -- and a hint of sewage. I was in Gaza for the first time since before the Israelis pulled out in 2005. The place where I lived intermittently for six years was -- utterly -- gone.
     Beaches that once swarmed with people, gypsies dancing in Egyptian costumes barely covering their bodies to the cheers of young men and women, alcohol in some restaurants, the silver teeming of fish in the crowded market -- gone.
     Demand for fish has slumped because as sewage is pumped into the sea, people are afraid to eat it.
     At Erez border crossing, I stood for 15 minutes shut in a compartment like an airlock facing a concrete wall with another thick steel door carved in it, iron bars on the sides, and security cameras watching from above.
     People said they had been trapped there for more than hour, watched by some soldier but unable to communicate with anyone.

Nablus Bears the Brunt of Israeli Occupation

Mondli Makhanya, The Times July 27, 2008, Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
      On almost every wall in the Palestinian city of Nablus hang posters of men and women with superimposed pictures of machine guns in their hands.
     In military pose, some have on their heads those classic Jihadist bandanas, and Palestinian kaffiyehs around their shoulders.
     They range from very young teens to old men.
     These are, in the words of the locals, “martyrs” of the cause — fighters who lost their lives doing battle with Israeli forces.
     On one wall, commemorating the death of three generations of one family during an attack on Nablus by Israeli Defence Forces soldiers, are the chilling words: “We will never forget. We will never forgive.”
     You go to any Palestinian town and you will find these disturbing images glorifying men and women with guns.

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Kim Bullimore – The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 7/26/2008
      Dear Barack, Today, the Israeli newspapers said that throughout the day you had separate meetings with a variety of Israeli ministers, including the Israeli Prime Minister, President, Defense Minister, Public Security Minister and Foreign Minister. You also made a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial where you laid a wreath, as well as the Western Wall and visited Sderot in the south of Israel [1].
     Throughout the course of your stay, you only managed to allocate one single hour to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories and that hour was spent in the relatively reified atmosphere of the Muqata in Ramallah, with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. At no stage, did you take the time visit besieged Gaza or visit the apartheid wall or the Palestinian villages it impacted on. Neither did you take the time to go to any of the military check points to see the daily human rights abuses Palestinians must endure or visit any Palestinians who have lost family members to acts of state terror carried out by Israel.

The Path to One Democratic State in Palestine

Roger Tucker,, Palestine Media Center 7/27/2008
      What are the real options remaining for resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? The time has long since passed when the Zionists could contemplate driving out all non-Jews, or the Palestinians could seriously contemplate sending the Jews back where they came from. The Israeli people are here to stay, and it has become crystal clear that the Palestinians are not going to go meekly into exile or accept being permanently consigned to powerless reservations existing at the pleasure of their Israeli masters.
     Despite the conventional and cynical nonsense about a two-state solution, that door closed years ago with the construction of the Israeli Matrix of Control over the West Bank and the permanent occupation, within what prior to 1967 were the Palestinian Territories, by 450,000 Israeli settlers. This much is obvious to all keen observers of the situation who are not blinded by ethnic or religious ideologies.
     All that remains is the reality of a land in which reside both Israelis and Palestinians, some of the latter living as second-class citizens within Israel proper and the rest separated by the apartheid wall and imprisoned in the West Bank, and in Gaza. This situation cannot continue indefinitely. Somehow or other, one single state must emerge. The only question is what kind of state.