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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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1 August 2008

Maan: Bil’in - dozens injured after inhaling tear gas, town waits for court verdict
Ma''an, International Solidarity Movement 8/1/2008
Bil’in Village - Photos - Dozens of residents and a Palestinian journalist suffered breathing problems after inhaling tear gas fired on them by Israeli soldiers during a peaceful protest in the village of Bil’in on Friday afternoon. The protest is a weekly event against the construction of the separation wall which cuts the village off from its ancestral land. After Friday noon prayers, Bil’in residents took to the streets alongside international and Israeli peace activists, carrying Palestinian flags and banners denouncing Israeli policies such as construction of the wall, land confiscation, settlement building, road closures, the siege of Palestinian cities, and the killing of civilians, especially children. Other slogans condemned shooting detainees while they were hand-cuffed and blind-folded, as Israeli forces were recently filmed doing in the nearby village of Nil’in.

Palestinian woman stoned near West Bank settlement outside Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - A Palestinian woman and her daughter were seriously injured when a large stone was launched through the window of their car near the illegal West Bank Israeli settlement Yizhar south of Nablus. Israeli media sources reported an eyewitness as saying that a car with yellow Israeli license plates was seen driving away from the injured woman. It appears that Israeli settlers threw the rock at the car, carrying 31-year-old Filistine Sa’ad Mu’la, her husband, and her 7-year-old daughter Hadil Hazim. Medical sources say that Filistine is in critical condition, and her daughter sustained moderate head injuries. Palestinian Authority police said that the injured were transferred to Rafidah hospital in Nablus, but said they are coordinating with Israeli officials to have them moved to Tel Hashomer hospital north east of Tel Aviv.

Palestinian family resists Israeli order to quit East Jerusalem home
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/2/2008
OCCUPIED 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 Jewish settlers will not drive her family from their home in Occupied East Jerusalem. But sadly for the Kurds, whose single-storey two-room house of golden stone that has been their home for the past 52 years, Israel’s High Court has ruled differently. They are to be expelled, and the house, a wing of which has already been taken over by Jewish colonists will be lost forever. The house, in the Sheikh Jarrah district, has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance against the steady pressure of Jewish settlers seeking to take yet more terrain in Occupied 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.

Soldiers charged with assault yelled ’Arabs must die’
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Indictments filed against four soldiers serving as security guards at naval facility accused of shocking racially-motivated assault against group of Druze youths at Atlit beach, one victim a Border Police officer - Two soldiers serving as security guards at a facility used by the Navy’s elite commando unit were indicted on Thursday on charges of racially-motivated aggravated assault. The two are accused of attacking a group of Israeli Druze youths at an Atlit beachfront two weeks ago. According to the indictment, one of the soldiers called out: "They are Arabs, they must die" during the attack. Two other soldiers from their unit, who also took part in the attack, were indicted on charges of aggravated assault. The altercation occurred on July 19th. According to the indictment filed by the Military Prosecution, two of the soldiers left their base while drunk,. . .

Israeli forces detain two north of Salfit, steal money
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained two young Palestinian men from the town of Kifl Haris, to the north of Salfit, on Thursday and stole three thousand Shekels from the house after destroying its contents, local sources told Ma’an. The sources told our correspondent that at 2:00am on Thursday more than 12 Israeli vehicles and 70 Israeli soldiers stormed the town of Kifl Haris and broke into Jamil Sharif Abu Yacoub’s house, where soldiers shouted abuse at the owners of the house and destroyed its contents. Israeli soldiers then stole three thousand shekels from on of the bedrooms of the house and detained Hamza Jamil Sharif 17 year-old, the sources claim. Israeli forces also stormed the house of Fayez Al-Qaq in the town and detained his 15 year-old son.

Candidate who wants Olmert’s job once ’sought deaths of 70 Palestinians a day’
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 8/1/2008
A leading candidate to be Israel’s next premier called for a death toll of 70 Palestinians a day when he was head of the military during the second intifada, according to a best-selling book by two Israeli journalists. The account of a briefing given in May 2001 to senior West Bank army commanders reinforces the image of hawkishness enjoyed by Shaul Mofaz. He has emerged as the main rival to the Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, for the leadership of the Kadima party being vacated by Ehud Olmert. Mr Mofaz is expected to stress his security credentials as a former chief of staff and defence minister in his campaign to defeat Ms Livni, the most popular among the Israeli public of the candidates to succeed Mr Olmert as party leader. According to the book Boomerang, by Ofer Shelah, of Yedhiot Ahronot, and Raviv Drucker, of Channel Ten, Mr Mofaz convened a meeting of brigade and regimental. . .

Activists aim to break Gaza blockade by boat
Middle East Online 8/1/2008
NICOSIA - Two boatloads of several dozen activists are to leave Cyprus next week bound for Gaza in a bid to break an Israeli blockade of the poverty-stricken Palestinian territory. "We want to bring it to the world’s attention that Gaza is virtually an outdoor concentration camp," Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the US-based Free Gaza Movement, said on Thursday. She said the group hopes that the boats, due to sail in early August, will draw attention to the plight of 1. 5 million Palestinians suffering chronic shortages of many essentials from fuel to food since an Israeli crackdown. "It’s a small flotilla for justice," she said. "We expect Israel to honour its commitment that Gaza is no longer occupied. We are going to challenge the siege of Gaza. " She said the group was determined to enter Gaza by sea to raise international awareness about its plight.

Five injured in Ni’lin protest
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Five locals were injured after being hit by rubber coated metal bullets at a protest in the West Bank village of Ni’lin on Friday. The demonstration was held to protest the construction of the separation wall that will see large tracts of the village’s land confiscated. It began with a peaceful march to the construction site where demonstrators began to carry out their Friday prayers. The crowd was attacked by Israeli forces, who fired barrages of rubber bullets and tear gas, injuring five. Local sources say that the soldiers pursued the locals to the entrance of the village where they fired teargas into some houses causing breathing problems amongst residents, including women and children. Ayman Nafi, head of Ni’lin municipality said that a number of gas canisters were fired at the health clinic and started a fire in the surrounding area which was extinguished by fire fighting vehicles that rushed to the scene.

Northern West Bank activists join Ni’lin launch women’s movement against the Wall with demo
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/24/2008
A women’s demonstration organized by the Ni’lin Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall marched yesterday from the center of Ni’lin to the land threatened by confiscation by the Occupation forces. Headed by female activists and organizations from all over Palestine, hundreds of demonstrators including town locals, other Palestinians, and international solidarity activists took part in this first popular demonstration of women in Ni’lin. The Woman Against the Wall Society (Tulkarem), Women of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, the Working Woman Society and the Woman Initiative took part in the demonstration. Above: Women from the north of the West Bank arrive in Ni’lin. Participation in the demonstration of the women from the north was decided after over a hundred women and several women’s grassroots organizations took part in workshops and meetings organized by the Anti-Apartheid. . .

Seven injured as Ni’lin continues its struggle against the construction of the apartheid wall
International Solidarity Movement 8/1/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - On the 1st August, Palestinian protesters, joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists, marched to the construction site of the apartheid wall in Ni’lin. Well over 100 meters of barbed wire at the site was eventually removed from the construction site and placed in front of the bulldozers so as to delay planned work on the wall the following day. This action was similar to the one that saw 10 year old Ahmed Mousa killed by Israeli forces on the 29th July. Five Palestinians and two internationals were then injured by rubber-coated steel bullets as Israeli forces attacked the demonstration. and invaded the village. As the Israeli army withdrew from the village, protesters regathered and marched back to the construction site and finished moving the barbed-wire so as to hinder the building of a wall that will seize over 2500 Dunums of Ni’lin’s land.

Montreal Mirror: Land grabs and lawsuits
Jesse Rosenfeld, The Montreal Mirror, International Solidarity Movement 7/31/2008
A Palestinian village sues two Montreal-based companies over the construction of a West Bank settlement - Accused of war crimes for their involvement with Israeli settlement expansion, two Quebec-registered companies are being sued in Canada by the occupied West Bank Palestinian village of Bi’lin. Toronto lawyer Mark Arnold filed a claim in Quebec Superior Court on behalf of the village against Green Park and Green Mount International three weeks ago. The case is part of a combined Palestinian, Canadian and Israeli effort to halt expansion of the Modi’in Illit settlement. The sister construction companies are being charged with violating both Canadian and international law, while also acting as agents of the Israeli state due to their construction of residences in Mattityahu East, a hilltop adjacent Modi’in Illit’s main settlement block.

Bil’in: dozens injured after inhaling tear gas, town waits for court verdict
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Dozens of residents and a Palestinian journalist suffered breathing problems after inhaling tear gas fired on them by Israeli soldiers during a peaceful protest in the village of Bil’in on Friday afternoon. The protest is a weekly event against the construction of the separation wall which cuts the village off from its ancestral land. After Friday noon prayers, Bil’in residents took to the streets alongside international and Israeli peace activists, carrying Palestinian flags and banners denouncing Israeli policies such as construction of the wall, land confiscation, settlement building, road closures, the siege of Palestinian cities, and the killing of civilians, especially children. Other slogans condemned shooting detainees while they were hand-cuffed and blind-folded, as Israeli forces were recently filmed doing in the nearby village of Nil’in.

Dozens suffer from Gas inhalation during the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in village
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
The Israeli army dispersed the weekly nonviolent protest located in Bil’in village north of the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday midday with gas, guns and grenades. After the weekly Friday prayer, a group of internationals and peace activists marched a nonviolent protest in solidarity with the people of Bil’in village. The protest was against the illegal wall being built on the village lands. The protestors were demonstrating against the Israeli killings of local civilians as well as the illegal closures and confiscation of lands and property. The protestors walked towards the wall with the intention of reaching the villagers lands behind it. Israeli troops shot CS gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and concussion grenades at the protesters. A number of civilians reported suffering from gas inhalation.

Unknown assailants hurl brick at car in West Bank, injuring 7-year-old Palestinian girl
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/2/2008
A Palestinian woman and her 7-year-old daughter were wounded Friday when unknown assailants hurled a brick at their car as it was passing the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Security officials in the area told Haaretz the incident is severe, and they will investigate suspicions that the assailants are settlers who live in the area. Local authorities in the area of Judea and Samaria where the incident took place met with police Friday to demand they bring the assailants to justice. Civilian authorities allowed the mother and daughter to drive to Tel Aviv for medical treatment at Ichilov Hospital. The two victims, residents of Ramallah, were visiting relatives in Tul Karm and were on their way home when the incident took place. Recent weeks have seen an upturn in the number of reports of violent incidents against Palestinians by West Bank settlers.

Israeli settlers wound a little Palestinian girl and her mother
Palestinian Information Center 8/1/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli settlers from the Yetshar settlement in the northern West Bank on Friday afternoon seriously wounded a seven-year-old girl who was travelling with her family in a car in the area. The settlers threw a rock at the car as it passed near the settlement. The rock broke the window and hit the girl and her mother who was lightly wounded. Both the girl and her mother were taken to a hospital in Nablus. Attacks by Israeli settlers, who are usually armed, on Palestinian civilians have increased in all areas in the West Bank. They usually take the form of attacking Palestinians working their fields or Palestinian cars travelling near the settlements. [end]

Vehicle stoned near Jerusalem
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Police search for suspects after stones hurled at vehicle traveling on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway - Vehicle stoned in heart of Israel: A car traveling on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway Friday was stoned close to the Abu-Gosh interchange near Jerusalem. No injuries were reported in the attack, but the vehicle’s windshield was damaged. Police received a call around 3:30 pm about stones being thrown at a vehicle traveling on the highway. Police forces were promptly dispatched to the scene and proceeded to scour the area in search of suspects. Friday’s incident is not the first of its kind on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. At the end of June, stones were hurled at vehicles in the same area. A total of four cars were damaged at the time but no injuries were reported. Police scoured the area following the attack but no suspects were detained.

Senior Border Guard officer faces damages suit
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Yesha Council pursues legal action against Brig. -Gen. Shlomi Even-Paz for allegedly attacking photographer during incident at former settlement of Homesh. Suit filed after police decide to subject officer to mere disciplinary action - The Yesha Council’s human rights’ branch filed a damages suit against Brigadier-General Shlomi Even-Paz, who heads the Border Guard Command in Judea and Samaria, earlier in the week. According to the suit, filed with the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Even-Paz attacked a photographer who was documenting the interaction between Border Guard forces and right-wing activists who were trying to re-settle the West Bank settlement of Homesh; ordered his soldiers to capture the camera and proceeded to destroy the camera’s memory card. ClashesYitzhar settlers riot in West Bank/ Residents of West Bank settlement clash with IDF,. . .

Israeli army invades Jalazun Camp, arrest 5 injure 3 brothers
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Five residents of Jalazun Refugee Camp were shot and three brothers arrested during an Israeli invasion of the camp north ofof Ramallah on Friday. The five shot sustained minor injuries and were transfered to an unknown location. The three brothers arrestedwere identified as Ashraf, Shareef and Mohamad Al-Bayid. The Israeli forces withdrew shortly after. Local witnesses told Ma’an that more than twenty Israeli militaryjeeps invaded the camp Friday evening and started firing rubber-coated metal bullets. [end]

Ahmed Qurei’: Israel and US given list of Palestinian names for release
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian negotiating team presented Israeli and American officials with a list of names of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons who they demand be released. The Head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiating team Ahmad Qurei’ announced the presentation of the list on Friday, saying that it was handed over in Washington during a set of talks on Wednesday. List of "wanted" Palestinians pardoned by Israel obtainedAlso relating to prisoner negotiations, it appears that American journalist Aaron Klein has obtained a confidential list of 24 Palestinian names which Israel officially pardoned two weeks ago according to a deal between Israel and the PA. Sources have added, however that the list of those pardoned does not match exactly the list of names obtained. Two of the individuals excluded from the pardon were accused of coordinating. . .

Livni: hopes for peace-deal by the end of year alive
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an - Tzipi Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister and tipped to be the next Prime Minister said on Thursday that there is still hope of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians by the end of the year and appealed to all parties to unite around the cause. Livni’s comments came after a meeting with Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General. For his part Ban Ki-Moon told reporters, following the meeting, that Livni was committed to reaching a peace-deal and that she was working hard to achieve it. Livni did not comment directly on the calls from Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the rightist Likud Party, for early elections after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigns in two months. She did however indicate that her party wants to form a government without holding early elections, calling all other parties to unite for the sake of Israel’s security.

MK Sarsur: Arabs want peace, Israel prefers war
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Knesset Member Ibrahim Sarsur says peace is Arab world’s strategic choice while Israel prefers war; Arab MK claims Muslim connection to Jerusalem is ’absolute,’ says Israel must give up east J’lem if it wants peace - War and peace: Arab countries are committed to peace while Israel prefers war, Arab Knesset Member Ibrahim Sarsur said Friday evening in a speech before thousands of people attending a Muslim festival. "The Arab world decided that peace is its strategic choice, but to our regret war and the use of force remain Israel’s preferable option," Sarsur said. "The region is facing serious challenges and risks, with Israel bearing most of the responsibility for them. " Turning his attention to Jerusalem, the Knesset member said that "Muhammad the Prophet’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and from there to the heavens created in an absolute and eternal manner a connection to the holy sites.

Abbas frees rivals as Hamas makes more detentions
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/2/2008
NABLUS, Occupied West Bank: Fatah security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday released several Hamas members recently arrested in the Occupied West Bank, a Palestinian official said, amid reports that top Fatah officials had been detained by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "Four Hamas militants, including Mohammad Ghazal, a member of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank, have been released on Abbas’ orders," the official said, adding that more would be freed later. The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that Abbas had ordered the release of "all the Hamas militants" detained by Fatah security forces recently. A Fatah official who asked not to be identified said early Friday that Hamas had arrested major Fatah leaders in Gaza, identifying them as Zaccaria al-Agha and Ibrahim Abul Naja, both members of the executive committee for political operations, and Mohammad al-Kutra, governor of Gaza City.

Siyam: PA arrests in W. Bank massacre against Palestinian intellectuals
Palestinian Information Center 8/1/2008
Gaza, (PIC)-- PA interior minister Sa’aeed Siyam on Thursday  described the arrests of Palestinian university professors, and social reformists in the West Bank as "carnage" against the Palestinian intellectuals. Tens of university professors, students, and local Imams (preachers) believed to be members and supporters of Hamas Movement in the West Bank were rounded up by the PA security apparatuses over the past few of days. Among those arrested by the Abbas’s security forces was Hamas’s senior political leader and member of its political; bureau Dr. Mohammed Ghazal, who is also a  well-known professor at the Najah University in Nablus city. In a press conference he held in Gaza, Siyam underlined that those arrests are in harmony and in fulfillment of the first part of the "infamous" roadmap plan, describing those arrests as " a crime that the Palestinian people wouldn’t forgive".

Report: Hamas arrests Abbas representatives
Reuters, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Security forces detain two officials appointed by Palestinian president to oversee Fatah in Gaza, stepping up crackdown after series of bombings in Strip -Hamas security forces arrestedPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ top Fatah representatives in the Gaza Strip on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the rival factions. A day earlier, Abbas ordered his Fatah-dominated security services in the West Bank to release all pro-Hamas activists, according to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency. Hamas said the activists had not yet been freed. Hamas security men detained Ibrahim Abu an-Naja and Zakaria al-Agha, who were appointed by Abbas to oversee Fatah in the Gaza Strip after Hamas Islamists seized control a year ago, Fatah officials said. Hamas forces also arrested three local governors appointed by Abbas, whose West Bank-based government is backed by the United States and other Western powers.

Abbas’s security men arrest a prominent Hamas leader in the northern West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 8/1/2008
Abbas’s American-trained security forces are used to repress Palestinians on behalf ofoccupation OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Despite official talk of Abbas ordering his security to release the Hamas leaders who were arrested last week, his security men arrested on Friday afternoon Sheikh Reyad Walweel. Walweel is a prominent Hamas leader in the northern West Bank who was imprisoned before by the Israeli occupation. In addition to Walweel, Abbas’s security men arrested Dr. Muhammad al-Masri who is a heart specialist. More than 220 Hamas sympathisers and leaders, including a number of lecturers and leaders were arrested during the past week by Abbas’s security men. Sheikh Walweel, who was released from Israeli occupation jails, was also detained several times in PA jails. There was an attempt on his life by armed men thought to be affiliated with Fatah.

PFLP calls for demonstrations in protest at arbitrary arrests
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The continuing arrests in both the West Bank and Gaza require no just denunciation but also direct action and public events to put an and to the practices, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said in a press statement released on Friday. They said that the actions on both sides, "violated the red lines of public freedoms. " The time for simply condemning the detentions, they said, has passed, and it was now time to take to the streets in protest at the political arrests that have escalated since Hamas began arresting Fatah affiliates after blaming the movement for the explosions in Gaza City on 25 July. The Front stressed that measures should be put in place to ensure that this kind of retaliatory campaign of detentions ends and does not occur again as it, "only serves the Israeli occupation and hurts the Palestinian national struggle.

People’s Party condemns arrest of Fatah leaders
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The arrest of a large number of Fatah leaders by the de facto government in Gaza is unacceptable, the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) said in a statement released on Friday. The statement comes as a reaction to the arrest of several high profile Fatah leaders, including the governor of Gaza, on Friday. The PPP said that this move threatened the chances of starting a comprehensive national dialogue on the issue of the internal rift in Palestinian politics. The party denounced the arrests, especially in light of the fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has issued instructions to Palestinian Authority police to release all political prisoners detained in the last week as part of a tit-for-tat campaign of arrests by both Hamas and Fatah after the explosions in Gaza on 25 July. The People’s Party demanded that Hamas immediately release the Fatah leaders. . .

De facto government to sue several media outlets for biased coverage
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – De facto government in Gaza will file a suit against Ma’an News Agency for what they describe as "mistakes" that the agency made when reporting on crimes committed by security forces in Gaza. Dr Hassan Abu Hasheesh, head of the media office of the de facto government said on Friday that where Ma’an dealt "with the violations and crimes committed by the security forces in the West Bank as a campaign to restore order…it deals with the performance of the security forces in the Gaza Strip as clear violations of law. " During Abu Hasheesh elaborated on his complaints during a meeting of media representatives, saying that the de facto government’s media office has "addressed Ma’an Agency more than once" regarding biased coverage. He said that "the agency expressed its apology and took out the fabricated news report or article [when asked] But repeated has the same mistakes" several times since.

Human rights organization condemns PA arrests of Hamas members in West Bank
PCHR, Palestine News Network 7/31/2008
Gaza - Gaza City’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns the campaign of arrests by Palestinian security forces against Hamas supporters in the West Bank over the past several days. The Centre is concerned that these arrests are an act of reprisal in response to arrest campaignsas well as raids and closure of dozens of Fateh-affiliated NGO’s and sports clubs in the Gaza Strip. The Centre calls upon the governments in Ramallah and Gaza to put an end to all forms of arbitrary arrests, and to immediately release all political prisoners on both sides. The Centre’s preliminary investigation indicates that in the evening hours of Saturday, 26 July, a joint force of Palestinian security services embarked on an arrests campaign in several areas of the West Bank. Approximately 30 leaders, members, and supporters of Hamas were detained.

Palestinian Affairs: Where there’s smoke...
Jerusalem Post 7/31/2008
The latest standoff between Hamas and Fatah is yet another reminder of the severe power struggle that has been raging in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than two years. The recent crisis, which erupted after a mysterious explosion of a vehicle killed five Hamas men who were picnicking on the beach in Gaza City last Friday, shows that the two parties are far from ending their bloody dispute. Hamas leaders continue to insist that Fatah was behind the explosion. And though they have yet to provide concrete evidence to back up the charges, Hamas leaders were quick to order an unprecedented clampdown on Fatah, arresting more than 160 of its members and closing dozens of institutions run by Fatah supporters and members in four days. The only "evidence" that Hamas has been able to provide thus far is a clip from the Fatah-controlled Palestine TV, in which "revolutionary" music accompanies the pictures of the explosion in Gaza City.

Coalition of leftist parties calls for unity and the release of political prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A coalition of Leftist parties renewed their condemnation of the detention of dozens of political leaders and activists on Friday and called for the immediate release of all political detainees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They further called for agreement from all factions to end the current state of division. The group called for the immediate fulfillment of the decision made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which asked all factions to release those political activists detained after the 25 July bombing of the car of a Hamas leader on the beach in Gaza. The coalition of parties includes the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP).

Fatah: Al-Agha arrested, demand release
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The media spokesman for Dr Zakareya Al-Agha confirmed Friday that dozens of de facto security forces of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip surrounded the man’s home earlier in the day and took him to unknown location. Al-Agha heads both the higher committee of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip and the committee of national action. The spokesperson denounced of Al-Agha’s arrest as well as the detention of other members of the leadership committee and demanded human rights organizations and Palestinian factions intervene immediately to secure his release. He also said in his statement that the arrest goes against the recent efforts to create an atmosphere of cooperation in preparation for proposed national unity talks. Actions such as this, he said, will not help to create national unity.

Haneyya’s government confirms respect to press freedom
Palestinian Information Center 8/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Hassan Abu Hashish, the head of the information office in the PA government under premier Ismael Haneyya, has confirmed on Thursday that his government doesn’t deal with journalists from a security point of view, and that it respects honest journalism. However, Abu Hashish explained that the latest measures taken by the PA police against "unbalanced" media outlets had spared those outlets strong retaliation from relatives of victims of the latest crime at Gaza beach. Five fighters from the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas Movement, and a five-year-old girl were killed in an explosion when a bomb exploded in a car next to them last week. A number of media outlets affiliated with Fatah Movement had clearly undermined agonies of the victim’s relatives by publishing false information on the incident.

Hizb Ut-Tahrir events closed down by PA security forces
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Palestinian security forces prevented Hizb Ut-Tahrir from holding several conferences and marches in Jenin and Bethlehem and detained a number of party members, the movement said on Thursday. Palestinian Authority (PA) Security forces were stationed at the entrances to the cities to stop the arrival of people hoping to attend the events, where they apparently arrested dozens of young men affiliated to Hizb Ut-Tahrir. PA forces stopped a similar event from going ahead in Hebron on 29 July, where clashes between security forces and supporters of Hizb Ut-Tahrir broke out as attempts were made to disperse the crowds. The party said in a statement that it is determined to continue its operations in the West Bank and that they will speak out at various mosques in the West Bank after Friday prayers to remind people of the Muslim caliphate, an Islamic form of. . .

Hizb Ut-Tahrir announces cancellation of Hebron rally
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Hizb Ut-Tahrir, a movement that calls for the establishment of Islamic law across the Muslim world,has cancelled a rally due to take place in Hebron on Saturday in the face of Palestinian Authority (PA) closures of its events over the last few days, Dr Maher Al-Ja’bari, the spokesperson for Hizb Ut-Tahrir announced on Friday. Al-Ja’bari said that Hizb Ut-Tahrir "decided to respond to calls from different sides and especially from the Hebron governor and to the head of the municipality’s call to delay the rally until further notice. " Recent Hizb Ut-Tahrir Events in Bethlehem, Jenin and Hebron have been shut down by PA forces. A number of supporters have been arrested, and clashes have occuerd between security forces and supporters of the Islamic party. Khalid Al-Asali, head of the Hebron municipality, welcomed the party’s move and added that "we thank Hizb Ut-Tahrir for their response.

PA security release 7 Hamas members; more to follow
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority (PA) forces released seven Hamas affiliates in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, including Dr Mohammd Ghazal , member of the Hamas political leadership after a two day detention, on Friday afternoon. The security forces confirmed that this is the first group to be released in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ order on Thursday that all political prisoners arrested over the last week be released. A senior commander of the PA forces told Ma’an that others will be in the following hours. Friday evening three more prisoners were indeed released. Those released along with Dr. Ghazal were Ra’ed N’eerat, professor of political science at An-Najah University; Sharif Msameeh, professor of Physics at An-Najah and Baha’ Ya’eesh, a business man. Dr Jabir Al-Bitawi a teacher at An Najah university in Nablus, Husam Khreim,. . .

Fatah: Hamas are escalating internal crisis
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Hamas are escalating the internal Palestinian crisis with the arrest of more Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip, the caretaker government claimed in a press statement on Friday. The statement claims that Palestinian while President Mahmoud Abbas is taking concrete steps towards the resolution of the rift, by intensifying contacts with Arab states, the halting of the closure of institutions connected with Hamas and ordering on Thursday the release of all political prisoners, Hamas are doing nothing to make moves towards reconciliation. There have been tit-for-tat arrests of both Hamas and Fatah leaders over the last week after several Fatah members were arrested following the explosions in Gaza City on 25 July that were blamed on the movement. The Hamas lead de facto government in the Gaza Strip did announce on Thursday, in what was seen as a conciliatory move,. . .

Femle detainees suffering in Israeli prisons
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Freed Palestinian prisoner Seema A’nbas revealed Friday that her fellow prisoner 36-year-old Amal Jum’aa is suffering from uterine cancer. A’nbas heard the news about Jum’aa after the latter’s sister returned from a visit to the women’s prison. She said that the cancer was discovered two days ago after doctors conducted her regular checkup in the prison. Jum’aa is 36-years-old and a resident of Askar refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus and is serving an 11 year sentence. A’nbas called on prison authorities to provide medical care for Jum’aa and allow a specialist into the prison to conduct the required medical assessment. She added that the prison authorities should allow a doctor in to examine all women who suffer from illnesses, and give medicine to those who need it. She asked Human Rights organizations working in the Palestinian territories. . .

Five PLC members injured in Israeli custody
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli authorities deliberately injured five detained members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) causing two to be hospitalized, Dr Ahmad Shweidih, Minister of Detainee’s Affairs for the de facto government in Gaza, said on Friday. The minister said that the deputies had deliberately been injured to provoke and humiliate them while being transported in a prison truck. Dr Shweidih claimed that this is not a one-off incident, but a regular occurrence, particularly when imprisoned PLC deputies are concerned, because they are seen as symbols and representatives of the Palestinian resistance. He added that the injuries were sustained when the truck driver who was transporting the deputies to court intentionally braked hard several times so that the deputies, who were hand-cuffed, would be flung from their seats in the back of the vehicle.

Five kidnapped Palestinian MPs injured inside a recklessly driven prison van
Palestinian Information Center 8/1/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Five kidnapped Palestinian lawmakers of the change and reform bloc, which is affiliated with Hamas Movement, were injured as they were being transported in a prison van to court. According to a letter leaked out of prison on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, the van driver braked sharply several times, causing the lawmakers, whose hands and feet were tied, to slam against the walls and ceiling of the van. The injured PLC members were MPs Mohammed Abu Tair, Nayef Al-Rejoub, Dr. Khalil Al-Rubaie, Dr. Azzam Salhab, and Dr. Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, the secretary of the PA legislature. Injuries of Abu Tair and Rejoub were described as "moderate", and were hospitalized, but the three other parliamentarians were treated of light wounds they sustained. More than 42 Palestinian lawmakers from Hamas Movement, including PLC speaker Dr.

Five detained legislators wounded while being transferred to court
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
Palestinian sources reported that five Hamas legislators, imprisoned by Israel, were wounded while being transferred to an Israeli court as the military truck driver kept stepping on the breaks without any warning, A letter that was sneaked from prison and was received on Thursday by the Palestine Information Center, which is run by Hamas, revealed that legislators Mohammad Abu Teir and Nayef Al Rajoub were moved to Al Ramlah hospital after suffering moderate injuries. Three other legislators, identified as Khaleel Al Rabee’ey, Azza Salhab, and Mahmoud Al Ramahy, sustained mild wounds. The legislators were handcuffed and their legs were tied so they were unable to protect themselves and their heads slammed into vehicles iron top.

Female member of Nablus city council moved to administrative detention
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies reported that the Israeli Authorities transferred Kholoud Al Masry, 42, member of Nablus City Council, to administrative detention after a decision from a judge at an Israeli Military court. Her daughter, Safa’, stated that the Israeli Security Services claimed that they have a "secret file" against Kholoud. In these cases, neither the detainee not the lawyer are allowed to see this file. Kholoud Al Masry is a mother of five children, aged 10 -- 20. Al Masry was kidnapped by the army on July 15, 2007, he husband is also imprisoned by Israel. Fuad Al Khoffash, head of the Ahrar Center For Detainees’ Studies, slammed the Israeli decision and Israel’s ongoing violations against the elected Palestinian officials and legislators.

Palestinian serving 67 back-to-back life sentences beaten and abused
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Abdullah Al- Barghouthi, who is serving 67 back to back life sentences in Israeli prisons, has sustained severe bruising after he was attacked in Ashkelon prison which is north of the Gaza Strip. Buthaina Duqmaq, lawyer and head of the Mandela Foundation announced the news on Friday after visiting Al-Barghouthi in prison. She said that Al-Barghouthi reported not feeling well after being the victim of a surprise attack by Israeli interrogators who broke into his cell the day of Lebanese prisoner Samir Quntar was released on July 16. Al-Barghouthi reported that he had been surprised while watching TV in his cell, when eight masked soldiers from "Metsada" entered and attacked him using fists and batons. According to Duqmaq soldiers continued to attack as he lay "on the ground helplessly.

Anti-Zionist Jewish Rabbis protesting against Zionists barbaric demolitions of Palestinian homes
Palestine News Network 7/31/2008
Commenting on the Israeli demolition of a five story home in East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina which rendered another 70 Palestinians homeless, Rabbi Meir Hirsh, a leading rabbinical figure within the Jerusalem ultra - Orthodox community, of Neturei Karta Palestine, issued the following statement:"Thus it is precisely because we are Torah believing Jews that we have come here today to protest the destruction and confiscation of individual’s homes in historic Palestine. "Tragically this is not an isolated incident. Over the years the NaZionists government has plunged itself ever deeper into the abyss of moral blindness, performing acts of senseless cruelty that have only fanned the fires of hate in the Middle East. " Rabbi Hirsh continues, "What a very different world it would be if all Jews would seek to emulate the traits of Abraham our forefather.

Al-Quds Brigades will not stand for ’Israeli violations’
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaz – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, will not continue sticking to the truce between Israel and the Gaza Strip if the Israelis carry on violating its terms, Abu Hamza spokesperson for the brigades said on Friday. In a statement released to the press, he indicated that the Brigades are following closely the Israeli violations in the Gaza Strip and its actions in the West Bank including arrests, shootings and other attacks. He said that "Israel is not interested in peace. The Israeli army wants the Brigades to carry out an offensive to have a justification for carrying out more massacres, arrests and continuing the siege. Abu Hamza also called on Hamas to return to dialogue in an attempt to restore unity among Palestinians and called for an end to arrests in the West Bank.

Ma’an Arabic Poll: majority believe truce should be scrapped
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –The majority of respondents of a Ma’anArabic poll this week believe that if Gaza crossings do not open soon the truce should be cancelled. The poll asked whether the Israeli failure to open the crossings constituted a failure of the terms of the truce. Out of 11439 respondents, 7559 (66. 08%) answered that yes, if the Gaza borders are not opened the truce should be declared voidA minority, 2918 (25. 51%) said that Palestinians should continue with the truce in order to make it work, even if Israel does not open crossings immediately. A small percentage, 8. 41%, of respondents indicated that they were unsure how to react to the current situation of the truce that began on 19 June.

15 rescued one missing after tunnel collapses in Rafah
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fifteen Palestinians suffocated and a sixteenth is missingafter the collapse of a tunnel in the Al– Barazil area of Rafah near the border with Egypt in the Gaza Strip Friday evening. Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanein, director general of ambulance and emergency services ifor the de facto ministry of health in the Gaza Strip told Ma’an that 15 residents were suffocated and moved to Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Dr Hassanein said that the fate of the missing person inside the tunnel is not known. [end]

Sick infant dies due to the siege in Gaza, twenty patients died in July
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported on Thursday that a 3-month old infant from Deir Al Balah town, in the central Gaza Strip, died of a heart disease as the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip emptied the hospital in the coastal region from the basic medical supplies and equipment. The infant was identified as Ahmad Eid Abu Amra, 3 months, he was born with a heart condition. With his death the number of patients who died due to the siege in Gaza in July arrives to twenty, including five children. At least 220 patients died since the beginning of the siege. The Ministry reported that the infant is the 26th casualty since the truce deal with Israel was achieved more than 42 days ago. The Ministry stated that the Israeli occupation is not committed to the truce deal especially the sections regarding opening the border crossings in the Gaza Strip in order to enable the residents, especially the patients, to be able to leave the Gaza Strip.

A number of children were injured during a nonviolent protest in Bethlehem
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
Local sources reported that a number of Palestinian children were injured during a non violent protest against the illegal wall in Al Ma’sara village near by the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday midday. [end]

This Week in Palestine 31 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 12m 0s || 11. 00MB ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for July 26th, through August, 1st, 2008. Palestinian negotiators confirmed this week that the Palestinian side has handed over a list of to-be-released prisoners to the Israeli side during two-days in Washington, meanwhile Death toll in Gaza due to the Israeli siege 221, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Rula Shahwan has the details: Nil’in In Nil’in village south of Ramallah city the Israeli army attacked non-violent protests against the illegal wall on the village lands several times this week. During the clashes 2 children were killed and at least 40 protesters were injured.

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 Palestinians killed, 17 injured in Israeli attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 24 - 29 July 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank this week. 17 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, and 2 international journalists were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinians, including a child, and wounded 17 civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank. On Saturday, 26 July 2008, Israeli forces killed a member the ’Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) in Hebron. Israeli forces shelled the house where the victim was hiding and then demolished it over him. During this operation, Israeli forces used the victim’s parents as human shields.

Rightists score legal victory over police
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Itamar Ben-Gvir, two other extreme right-wing activists file wrongful arrest suit against police for detaining them at rally celebrating Yasser Arafat’s death. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court finds in favor of plaintiffs, awards minor damages -The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled Friday that the State must pay extreme right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir, Baruch Ben-Yosef and Israel Bramnson NIS 4,500 (approx. $1,300) each in restitution, after they were unduly arrested while celebrating the death of former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, back in 2004. The three were arrested in November of 2004 at Jerusalem’s Paris Square, after staging a celebratory barbeque "in honor" of the news of Arafat’s death. Police forces who were called to the scene asked Ben-Gvir and his companions to vacate the premises, but they refused and were subsequently taken into questioning and held for three hours.

Ministers ink draft backing ’legal’ forms of resistance
Daily Star 8/2/2008
BEIRUT: The ministerial committee in charge of drafting the new government’s platform finally thrashed out a policy statement late Friday, with the council of ministers expected to ratify the draft on Monday before presentingit to Parliament later next week. Information Minister Tarek Mitri walked out of the committee’s 14th and final meeting to tell reporters at the Grand Serail that the committee has finally reached an agreement over the ministerial statement despite some reservations by Minister of State Nassib Lahoud. Mitri said that the reservations, which were later clarified by Lahoud, would hopefully be dropped after further consultations between the ministers and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora ahead of an expected cabinet session on Monday. Regarding the controversial issue of how to refer to the resistance in the ministerial statement, Mitri said that the committee agreed. . .

Lebanon readies new government manifesto
Middle East Online 8/1/2008
BEIRUT - A manifesto that will allow the new Lebanon government to take office will be ready on Friday, Information Minister Tareq Mitri said on Thursday. "The meeting tomorrow (Friday) will be the last and we will submit the declaration of the policy statement to the government so it can be ratified as soon as possible," Mitri told journalists. A new national unity cabinet was formed two weeks ago, but negotiations on a manifesto have been hampered by disputes on the issue of weapons held by Hezbollah, the powerful political movement and militia. Mitri, on a joint committee of majority ministers and opposition ministers, was speaking after the cabinet met for the 13th time in nearly three weeks to try to thrash out the policy statement. He added that ministers had expressed "reservations about some of the wording" in the proposed statement, but that the committee would resolve any differences by Friday.

Hizbullah: Option of war awake
Ynet and Reuters, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Senior Hizbullah figure says group stronger than before; Lebanese political say unity government agrees on statement that grants Hizbullah right to ’liberate occupied land by all means possible’ - A senior Hizbullah commander says that while the group does not seek war with Israel, it is ready for one and is stronger than before. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s national unity government agreed on a statement that political sources said grants Hizbullah the right to use all possible means to liberate "occupied land. " The policy statement, expected to be approved by Lebanon’s cabinet Monday, recognizes the right of Lebanon, its government, people and resistance to use all means possible to regain Lebanese sovereignty over Shebaa Farms and nearby Israeli-held parts of Ghajjar village. Are Hizbullah, Lebanon preparing for war? (Photo: AFP) Earlier, Hizbullah’s. . .

A triumph for Turkey - and its allies
M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times 8/2/1908
The Israelis are expected to know something extra about their tough neighborhood that we do not know. In all probability, the two Israeli officials - Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz - knew when they set out for Ankara on Tuesday that Turkey’s government was far from dysfunctional or was going to be in any danger of extinction within the next 24 hours. The two advisors to (outgoing ) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were on a sensitive mission to hold the fourth round of peace talks with Syria under Turkish mediation. The format of the talks is such that Turkish officials shuttle between the Israeli and Syrian diplomats, who do not come face to face. The Turks seem to have done a masterly job. On Monday, Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, speaking on a public platform in Washington, said, "We [Syria and Israel] desire to recognize each other and end the state of war. "

Olmert’s decision bittersweet victory, say bereaved parents
Sharon Nevot, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Families who lost loved ones in Second Lebanon War relieved by PM’s decision to step down, admonish him for not taking personal responsibility for war during announcement. Multiple fatalities is not something to be proud of, they say -For many of the Second Lebanon War’s bereaved families, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement that he would not be seeking reelection was a bittersweet victory that spelled a certain relief, but very little else. Moshe Moskal, David Einhorn and Ilan Moreno lost their sons during theSecond Lebanon War and have been leading the campaign for Olmert’s replacement ever since. The announcement, they said, did not feel like much of a victory. This is a sad day for Israel, which is seeing a failed prime minister go home. As far as they are concerned, however, the recent slew of police investigations against the PM was simply the final straw.

Ma’ariv: ’Peace deal between Israel and Syria’
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Syria and Israel have negotiated a peace deal to end over 40 years of conflict, as a result of indirect negotiations being conducted between the two sides, Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv claimed on Friday. The newspaper said that the agreement would see an end to the aggression between Israel and Syria and also to the close relationship between Syria and Iran. The biggest issue for the Syrians is the Golan Heights that have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 six-day war. It is not clear however whether any substantial movement has been made on this issue. There are doubts that any considerable moves can be made on Israel’s part, due to the weakness of Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who announced on Wednesday that he would be standing down in two months time. A poll by Ma’ariv on Thursday showed that 55% of Israelis do not believe that Olmert could legitimately carry on leading peace talks.

Police grill Olmert for three hours over graft claims
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/2/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police grilled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for three hours on Friday over graft allegations that have dogged his term in office, two days after his surprise resignation announcement. It was the fourth time since May that anti-fraud squad officers have interviewed Olmert, 62, at his official residence in Occupied Jerusalem in connection with the allegations of wrongdoing, which he has strongly denied. Police remained tight-lipped but the questioning had been expected to focus on claims Olmert illegally received electoral and other funding from a wealthy US financier and that he sent out multiple bills for the same overseas trips. The investigators asked the prime minister to explain allegedly incriminating documents, some written by his own hand, Israeli media reported. The latest round of questioning came just two day after the premier announced he. . .

Olmert to be questioned for fourth time over corruption allegations
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned by police over allegations of corruption on Friday at his home in Jerusalem for the fourth time in recent months. A police source said that this investigation will be the last in the case concerning campaign contributions from Jewish-American businessman, Morris Talansky. It is said that during the questioning that will last two hours Mr. Olmert will be presented with documents supporting the allegations against him for the first time. The case concerns contributions made to Mr. Olmerts campaign fund when he was running for Mayor of Jerusalem. Talansky has testified that he gave over $150 000 of cash in envelopes to the then mayoral hopeful. Israeli news sources have reported that the police plan to send the several cases against the Israeli Prime Minister to the Public Prosecutor by the end of this month.

Barak: We’ll join coalition that functions according to spirit of our values
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/1/2008
Defense Minister, Ehud Barak met on Friday with representatives of the immigrant organization at the Labor Party Headquarters in Tel Aviv. Barak referred to the latest political events, saying: "If it turns out that a government can form in this Knesset that functions according to the spirit of our values, we will consider joining it. If it turns out that we must hold elections, then we will be prepared for elections. "Barak added that Israel is currently in the middle of negotiations with the Palestinians and is simultaneously feeling out negotiations with Syria. In referring to the issue of Gilad Shalit, Barak said "We are examining the calm with Hamas, and are taking advantage of it to become stronger, to prepare and to intensively advance the efforts to return Shalit home. " When speaking to the representatives of the immigrants organization of the Labor. . .

Livni, Mofaz vie for support of fellow Kadima ministers
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 8/1/2008
The two leading candidates to succeed Ehud Olmert at Kadima’s helm, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, will focus their efforts in the coming days on rallying the support of leading party members. Thus far, almost none of these leading figures has officially come out in favor of either one. Analysts have said that the struggle between Livni and Mofaz may be decided by fewer than 1,000 votes. Therefore, the role that senior party figures could play in throwing support to one or the other might prove decisive. The most sought-after people are those ministers and MKs who are considered close to Olmert, including Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, MK Tzachi Hanegbi,and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. The prevailing wisdom is that most Kadima politicians are inclined to support Livni,. . .

Poll: Livni beats Netanyahu, who beats Mofaz
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 8/1/2008
If elections were held now, Kadima under Tzipi Livni would quash Likud while also stealing votes from Labor. Under Mofaz however, Likud triumphs. Study conducted hours before Prime Minister Olmert announced he would step down -As Ministers Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz vigorously courtKadima’s top brass ahead of the impending primary elections in September, a poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute for Ynet reveals which candidate would bode better for the orphaned party in the even of a general election. Pollsters hung up their phones on Wednesday after a two-day operation, mere hours before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert delivered his dramatic resignation address. Respondents were asked to cast their votes in a hypothetic general election, with the identity of Kadima’s leadership playing the changing variable.

Kadima, led by Livni, would beat Likud
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 8/1/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would lead Kadima to victory over Likud if elections were held today, according to a special poll conducted by Dialog yesterday on behalf of Haaretz. The results of the poll are expected to have a dramatic effect on Livni’s standing inside Kadima and on her race with Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz for the party’s leadership. For all the bitter struggle between Livni and Mofaz, yesterday’s poll, conducted a day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he would not seek reelection as Kadima’s leader, shows that the foreign minister is the only politician who currently has enough public support to defeat Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. The poll of 503 Israelis, which has a margin of error of 4. 1 percent, showed that in national elections, Kadima headed by Livni would win 26 seats in the Knesset, compared to 25 for Likud under Netanyahu.

Olmert questioned once again
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/1/2008
National Fraud Unit team arrives at premier’s Jerusalem residence for fourth round of questioning on recent corruption affairs. Police, AG expected to base decision on any further interrogation on session’s results -A team of police investigators, led by Head of the National Fraud Unit, Shlomi Ayalon, arrived at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s home Friday morning, for a fourth round of questioning on two recent corruption affairs. Olmert’s interrogation began at 10 am and was expected to last two hours. Following the police’s request, the prime minister agreed to extend the questioning session by an additional 45 minutes. According to the prime minister’s associates, it was Olmert who asked to extend the interrogation, which eventually ended at 1:20 pm. Olmart’s aides said the prime minister answered questions regarding the recent inconsistencies discovered in travel. . .

Kadima primaries / Say good-bye to the coalition
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/1/2008
Right now it appears that child allowances, not the peace process, will determine whether the next Kadima Party leader can form a government. If that person manages to reach an agreement to increase allowances that satisfies Shas, and if Labor and Kadima’s members are willing to live with that agreement, there will be a coalition. A coalition without Shas seems nearly impossible, leading a senior member of the ultra-Orthodox party to conclude: "Shas is in the best political position a party can hope for - holding real swing-vote power. "Let us be clear: If there is something about Tzipi Livni that bugs Shas, it’s not her gender, but her ethnic affiliation. Not because she’s Ashkenazi - there have been plenty of Ashkenazi prime ministers - but her North Tel Aviv heritage, which espouses high-minded language and is preoccupied with human rights.

Lupolianski won’t run for another term
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Haredi factions’ leading candidate for Jerusalem mayor is United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush - Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski will not run for another term in November’s municipal elections. His party, United Torah Judaism, will elect a new candidate for mayor, who will compete against Russian-Israeli billionaireArcadi Gaydamak and his Social Justice party. At the moment, the leading candidate is Knesset Member Meir Porush. Lupolianski heads the UTJ faction in Jerusalem, which is comprised of the Hasidic Agudat Israel and the Lithuanian Degel Hatorah. In the previous elections, five years ago, Agudath Israel endorsed the Lithuanian candidate in order to form a united front against businessman Nir Barkat. The parties agreed that in the 2008 elections, Degel Hatorah will support Agudath Israel’s candidate.

Majority of Israelis in favor of general elections
YNetNews 8/1/2008
Tami Steinmetz Center publishes latest War and Peace Index, reveals 53% of Israeli Jews would like to see government dissolved, 69% believe PM Olmert lacks moral stature - Israel NewsOver half of the Jewish public in Israel (69%) believes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is lacking in moral stature and therefore he shouldstep down regardless of the outcome of the police investigation in his matter, July’s War and Peace Index, which was published on Friday, indicates. The War and Peace Index is conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. Published monthly since 1994, it is run by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann and is compiled of a monthly telephone survey of 600 Israeli citizens representing the various sectors in Israeli society.

ISRAEL: Environmentalists concerned over Red-Dead canal plans
Tamar Dressler/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/1/2008
HERZELIYA, 1 August 2008 (IRIN) - Environmental groups have expressed concern about plans to build a canal between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea - transferring water from the former to save the latter. They say not enough research has been done and alternative options have not been checked. "We are concerned about what will happen to the Dead Sea when this amount of marine water is pumped into it," said Gidon Bromberg of Friends of the Earth Middle East, at a 30 July public hearing organised by the World Bank in Herziliya, which followed two others in Ramallah and Amman. Bromberg said it was also unclear how extracting water would affect the Red Sea, and what problems might be created by moving so much water across the desert. Some experts have pointed out that the area is known for seismic activity. The Red-Dead project would take water out of the Red Sea, desalinating some. . .

Israeli forces mortally wound Nilin teenager after funeral
Transcript, Flashpoints, Electronic Intifada 8/1/2008
The following is a transcript of Flashpoints , hosted by Nora Barrows-Friedman, broadcast on 31 July 2008: We continue our drumbeat coverage of the ongoing ethnic cleansing by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank, specifically in the village of Nilin. As we reported yesterday, Israeli forces shot and killed a ten-year-old boy, Ahmed Mousa, in the head with live ammunition fired from an M16, on Tuesday evening. Around the time of the funeral procession for Ahmed Mousa last night, Israeli occupation forces returned to the village and opened fire on villagers, shooting another young Palestinian teenager in the head. Eighteen-year-old Yousef Ahmad Amira went into a coma after he was shot twice in the head, according to Palestinian news agencies and eyewitnesses. The Mayor of Nilin village said that six other young men were also shot and injured by rubber-coated steel bullets after

Second youth targeted in two days: Yousef Amira (17) from Ni’lin mortally wounded
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/31/2008
The Occupation forces have once again escalated their attempts to suppress the daily demonstrations of Palestinian popular committees and villagers to the construction of the Apartheid Wall. Yesterday evening at around 10 pm, Israeli occupation forces shot two rubber coated bullets into Yousef Ahmad Younis Amira’s head. He is now lying brain dead in the intensive care unit of Ramallah Hospital. Yousef Amira, 17 years old, was attending the funeral of Ahmad Mousa (12), who was murdered by the Occupation forces the day before with a live bullet to the head. In the late afternoon villagers started renewing their on-going daily protests against the Wall and settlement construction by blockading the main road to the village that is being transformed into a settler-only road. The Occupation forces, attempting to clear the road for the use of Israeli settlers, initiated confrontations with the Palestinian villagers at around 8 pm.

Palestinian Super Star Murad As-Suwieti returns to a fanfare in Jericho
Ma’an News Agency 8/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestine’s Super Star Murad As-Swieti returned to Jericho on Thursday after placing a close third in the program "Super Star," a Lebanese series similar to the "National Idol" shows that have been popular around the world. Murad’s return to Palestine was met with a grand reception in Jericho, where local Boy Scout troupes played and Jericho mayor lawyer Hasan Saleh called him the "pride of all of the Palestinians. " In an interview with Al-Qamr radio in Jericho Murad explained that"I shed tears when the results were announced because I was not able to give the Palestinians the lift they deserve as a people who love life and joy. " During the competition Palestinians rallied around Murad as a national representative. Even the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed their support, and thanked Palestinian phone company Jawal for reducing. . .

Adieu Chahine
Hani Mustafa, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/31/2008
The Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine, who died last Sunday at the age of 82, will be remembered both as one of Arab cinema’s great auteurs and as a brave man who always sided with the oppressed. No one person has influenced Arab cinema and the Arabs’ perception of cinema more than Youssef Chahine, who began making films in 1950 following his return from a three- year period of study in the United States. From the very beginning of his career, Chahine’s style of filmmaking presented a marked shift from what many people at the time assumed cinema to be. For Chahine, there was never any easy resolution of a film’s dramatic conflict, as he set himself the task of not only entertaining his audiences, though he did do that with consummate skill, but also of challenging audiences to think and to understand the intellectual content of his films, something which earned many of his films the reputation of being difficult fully to comprehend. -- See also: Youssef Chahine: A life in cinema and The French connection

US, Israel discuss diplomatic push on Iran
Reuters, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Transportation Minister Mofaz voices displeasure at recent American engagement with Tehran, urges Bush administration to stand firm on demanding Islamic republic abandon nuclear projects with bomb-making potential - Israel voiced displeasure on Thursday at recent US engagement withIran and urged the Bush administration to stand firm on demanding Tehran abandon nuclear projects with bomb-making potential, an Israeli official said. In a shift of policy, US diplomat William Burns joined envoys from other world powers for a July 19 meeting with an Iranian delegate at which his country was given two weeks to answer calls to curb uranium enrichment or face more sanctions. The turnaround raised eyebrows in Israel, which has long looked to its US ally to lead efforts to isolate Iran. Since the multi-party talks in Geneva, Iran has said it would press ahead with its nuclear plans.

Mofaz: Iran on way to major nuclear breakthrough
Reuters, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Minister Mofaz says effort to curb Iranian nuke program is ’race against time and time is winning,’ calls for new UN sanctions; Kadima leadership candidate also tells Washington audience talks with Syria must continue - Iran is heading toward a major breakthrough in its nuclear program, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Friday. " As soon as 2010 (Iran) will have the option to reach (uranium production) at military levels," he told an audience in Washington. However, Mofaz said he supported diplomacy and spoke of other options as "last resort". "It is a race against time and time is winning," Mofaz said. Mofaz said another UN Security Council resolution with new sanctions will be needed this year if Iran does not meet the deadline for responding this weekend.

American military says it is holding Iraqi Reuters cameraman
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/2/2008
BAGHDAD: American forces in Baghdad said on Friday they are holding an Iraqi cameraman working for Reuters news agency, and a media rights group said he has been held for nearly a week without charge. Ali al-Mashhadani was arrested last Saturday by US troops at the Iraqi Parliament press center in Baghdad’s heavily fortified government and diplomatic Green Zone compound, the news agency said. It said Mashhadani also works freelance for the BBC and US-based National Public Radio, and urged the American military to free him immediately or produce evidence that would justify his continuing detention. A spokesman for the US military confirmed to AFP that Mashhadani was in custody. Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the cameraman "must be freed at once. It is unacceptable that US troops arrest a journalist and hold him on security grounds. "

Christian, Muslim leaders in interfaith dialogue
Middle East Online 8/1/2008
NEW HAVEN - A conference of Muslim and Christian leaders aimed at promoting interfaith dialogue ended here. The four day event hosted by the Yale University Divinity School is the first of a series of Christian-Muslim talks to be held around the world. Future events will be hosted in Britain, at the Vatican, and in Jordan. Some 150 religious leaders and academics gathered for the event -- mainly protestant theologians and evangelical leaders on the Christian side, and Shiites, Sunnis and Sufis on the Muslim side. Six Jewish guests were present as observers. "The practical issues included world poverty, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the situation in Palestine and Israel, the danger of further wars, and the freedom of religion," said Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, describing the closed-door meetings.

Barak says Labor will consider joining new government
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Defense minister hints his party will agree to take part in cabinet headed by elected Kadima chairperson, but clarifies, ’If elections are needed, we’ll be prepared for elections’ - Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that his party would consider joining a new government which will be headed by the elected Kadima chairperson, following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement that he would step down after the Kadima primaries. "If it becomes evident that a government can be established in the Knesset according to our values, we will consider joining it," Barak said during a meeting with theLabor Party’s immigrant organization in Tel Aviv. The defense minister hinted that he would not push for new elections, adding, "It’s no secret that the political system is in a period of complicated turmoil.

Israel picks up the pieces
Peter Hirschberg, Asia Times 8/2/1908
JERUSALEM - The announcement on Wednesday evening by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he will resign as soon as his ruling Kadima party has chosen a new leader in mid-September did not shock Israel’s political establishment, but it did crystallize the political timetable: Israel will either have a new prime minister by early November or Israelis will be back at the polls for a general election in the first few months of next year. Beset by corruption allegations, Olmert has been under growing pressure in recent months to stand down and he finally succumbed on Wednesday, announcing at a surprise press conference at his official Jerusalem residence that he would not run in the Kadima leadership primaries to be held September 17. " Once the party has chosen a new leader, I will resign from my post as prime minister to enable them to put together a new government quickly and efficiently," he said.

Kadima party’s rank and file gear up to become kingmakers
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 8/1/1908
As a registered Kadima party member, Netanya businessman and self-described political organizer Maxim Elgrably may be choosing the country’s next prime minister. One of the front-runners in the party’s upcoming primary race, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, spoke of Kadima contractors like Elgrably, saying in an interview in Washington on Thursday that they have been given the "grave responsibility of choosing Israel’s next prime minister. " Party heavyweights like Elgrably havebeen flexing their political muscle and signing up hefty numbers of constituents as members, to vote for the candidate they’ve decided to endorse ahead of the Kadima primary, scheduled for September 17. The party’s membership drive ended on Thursday. "I’m going with Mofaz and at least 80 percent of my people are going with Mofaz," Elgrably said by phone on Thursday.

EU diplomats flexible on deadline for Iran’s incentives response
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/2/2008
BRUSSELS: The clock is ticking for Iran to respond to an offer by major powers on its nuclear program, but European diplomats say they are ready to wait a few more days beyond Saturday’s informal deadline for an answer. Major powers asked Iran on July 19 to respond within two weeks to their offer to hold off on imposing more United Nations sanctions if Tehran would freeze any expansion of its nuclear work. Iran has dismissed the idea of having a deadline to reply. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana - who leads nuclear talks with Iran for the six major powers - will not be looking at his watch or declare Iran has missed the deadline if it does not reply by Saturday, EU diplomats said, but the West wants a reply in the next week. "One should not focus too much on Saturday," one EU official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

EU awaits Iran nuclear reply, not in hurry
Reuters, YNetNews 8/1/2008
Europe: We won’t make big fuss over delayed response to nuke offer; Iran: We’ll stand up to foes - The clock is ticking for Iran to respond to an offer by major powers on its nuclear program, but European diplomats say they are ready to wait a few more days beyond Saturday’s informal deadline for an answer. Major powers asked Iran on July 19 to respond within two weeks to their offer to hold off from imposing more UN. Sanctions if Tehran froze expansion of its nuclear work. Iran has dismissed the idea of having a deadline to reply. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic would "stand against" Its enemies. "Whenever the enemies have failed against this nation they have tried to make excuses, but the Iranian nation will stand against them with its power," he said, without elaborating.


Truth and Consequences Under Israeli Occupation
Mohammed Omer, Middle East Online 8/1/2008
      Israeli attacks on journalists are not new; nor are they rare, but the story of award-winning Palestinian journalist and photographer Mohammed Omer is shockingly egregious. The youngest winner of the Gelhorn Prize for Journalism recently, Omer was detained and severely beaten by Israeli authorities on his return from accepting the award in London. I am a Palestinian journalist from Gaza. At the age of 17, I armed myself with a camera and a pen, committed to report accurately on events in Gaza. I have filed reports as Israeli fighter jets bombed Gaza City. I have interviewed mothers as they watched their children die in hospitals unequipped to serve them because of Israel’s embargo. I have been recognized for my reporting, even in the United States and United Kingdom, where I have won two international awards. I have also been beaten and tortured by Israeli soldiers.
     This summer, at age 24, I was honored to learn that I had become the youngest journalist to receive the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, named for the famed American war reporter and awarded to journalists who counter propaganda with the truth. Although Israel has sealed Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians in what many now call the world’s largest open-air prison, Dutch MP Hans Van Baalen lobbied the Israeli government to let me leave Gaza to receive my award in person. Upon my return from London, I was surrounded by Israeli security officers. I was stripped naked at gunpoint, interrogated, kicked and beaten for more than four hours. At one point, I fainted and then awakened to fingernails gouging at the flesh beneath my eyes. An officer crushed my neck beneath his boot and pressed my chest into the floor. Others took turns kicking and pinching me, laughing all the while. They dragged me by my feet, sweeping my head through my own vomit. I lost consciousness. I was told later that they transferred me to a hospital only when they thought I might die.

The struggle against Jerusalem’s quiet ethnic cleansing

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 8/1/2008
      In the first hours of dawn, Nader Elayan was woken by a call from a neighbor warning him to hurry to the house he had almost finished building. By the time he arrived, it was too late: a bulldozer was tearing down the walls. More than 100 Israeli security guards held back local residents.
     The demolition, carried out four years ago, has left Elayan, his wife, Fidaa, who is now pregnant, and their two young children with nowhere to live but a single room in his brother’s cramped home. It is the only land he owns and he had invested all his savings in building the now destroyed house.
     Over the past few years, the Elayans’ fate has been shared by two dozen other families in the Palestinian village of Anata, on the outskirts of East Jerusalem. Hundreds more families have demolition orders hanging over their homes. "Not one person in my neighborhood has a [building] permit," Elayan, 37, said.
     The problem of house demolitions affects Palestinians throughout the occupied territories. But according to Hatem Abdelkader, an adviser to Salam Fayyad, the appointed Palestinian Authority prime minister, the situation is particularly acute in the East Jerusalem area.

Free Gaza Movement to break the siege via sea

Debbie Menon, Palestine News Network 7/31/2008
      Edward Said reminded the world shortly before his death in 2003 that it is easier for the West to demonise the Palestinians -- through ’the vicious media and government campaign against Arab society, culture, history and mentality’ -- than actually attempt to humanize what they don’t fully understand.
     The Gaza imprisonment in the summer of 2005, paraded as an Israeli generous withdrawal, produced the Hamas and Islamic Jihad homemade missile attack and capture of an Israeli occupation soldier.Even before the capture of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army bombarded indiscriminately the Gaza Strip.
     Putting a human face to the Palestinian people and explicitly saying Israeli policies towards Palestinians are immoral should be acceptable in Western democratic mainstream news media."It is Not!"Why is it controversial to advocate Palestinian human rights and an independent homeland? After all, the Jews already have Israel. It is time for radical thinking of the conflict.

The Nakbah Project: A nightmare of shattered lives

Jane Frere, Electronic Intifada 8/1/2008
      Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, is caught in an unending nightmare. "What can we do?" Amal, a Palestinian woman, asked me when I met her in the town. A 17-year-old boy was shot dead in Bethlehem Square in the snow. "A [Israeli] tank came in looking for a couple of kids and he threw a single stone as it passed by. They put two bullets in him, one in the chest and the other in the leg. His friends started to carry him to try and get him to hospital, but he was dead."
     "What time of day?" I asked, incredulous. I had just returned from my Christmas break in the UK, and such scenes still belonged in my mind to TV news. "Two o’clock in the afternoon," said Amal. "We were shopping, then my son came dashing up to me -- ’Don’t go into the square, Mum, they just shot a boy.’"
     I was in Bethlehem working on The Nakbah Project, a program of artistic workshops with Palestinians to create an art installation, Return of the Soul, marking the 60th anniversary of their expulsion from their homeland in 1948. Amal was one of three women I worked with in the ancient town -- the others were called Imurad and Shama -- who had agreed to make 200 figures. Normally these three ladies would eke out a living by creating the most exquisite Palestinian embroidery, or other craft folklore, to sell to the dwindling tourist trade. But now such tourists comprise only the most dedicated of pilgrims, bold enough to venture beyond the eight-meter-high towering wall, through hostile check points, to seek out the birthplace of Christ.

Education in the Palestinian Authority Era

Yousef Joudeh, Palestine News Network 7/31/2008
      Gaza - Since the formation of the Palestinian National Authority in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 1994, governmental institutions have been nationalized. The Ministry of Education was, in the eyes of many observers, one of the most active, least corrupt and continuously operating of those ministries.
     A large number of new elementary, middle and high schools have been built to meet the very fast increase in the local population and to improve the quality of education by limiting the number of students in each class.
     Other accomplishments were the enhancement of teachers through courses in educational methods, workshops and regular meetings with supervisors. New teacher occupations were introduced in order to modernize the whole system such as the position of ’school counselor’ who is considered a source of help and comfort for the students, especially those who face difficulties at home or in school.

Palestinians on the Iraqi borders: How did this story start?

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 8/1/2008
      The methods used by the Zionists to drive Palestinians out of their country 1948, including claiming they had a Nuclear bomb like the one dropped on Hiroshima.
     The story starts almost here..
     The Zionist Haganah gangs worked on expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, supported by the British mandate then, through the Balfour Declaration which gave away Palestine to the Zionists on a gold platter, besides using various other mechanisms to terrorize the Palestinians to force them to evacuate their properties and lands.
     They exercised terrorism against Palestinian towns and villages, committing many massacres against its inhabitants. As well as spreading false news and rumours among the people of Palestinian cities and villages to terrorize and intimidate them. Forcing them to leave their homes, and never to think of returning back - ever.
     For example the newly arrived Jewish in Palestine has sent a message to the people of the Palestinian city of Safad saying that they have a Jewish atomic bomb exactly like the one dropped on Hiroshima, and they are intending to use it on them. One can imagine the impact of such rumours on the people of the city.

Square one again

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/31/2008
      A horrific beach bombing takes Hamas and Fatah back to the edge of open strife.
     Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of killed Hamas militants through the streets of Gaza Saturday after an overnight bomb blast killed five senior Palestinian militants and a five-year-old girl; Palestinian President Abbas speaks to the press after meeting with President Mubarak in Cairo Sunday; Palestinians inspect the destroyed house of Hamas member Shihab Al-Natche, 25, following an Israeli army operation in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron Sunday. Israeli soldiers arrested three other men in the raidThe enduring strife between Hamas and Fatah took a turn for the worse this week when an explosive device went off beneath a car parked at a Gaza beach, killing five Hamas military personnel as well as a six-year-old girl. The incident occurred Friday 25 July, as thousands of Gazans flocked to the sea, fleeing the unusually severe heat of summer.
     The victims, who were also vacationing at the beach, included prominent figures in Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, including the son-in-law of Khalil Al-Hayya, a key Hamas leader. Hamas held "the treasonous trend" within Fatah -- an allusion to the US-backed group led by former Gaza strongman Mohamed Dahlan -- responsible for the bombing, vowing to capture the perpetrators and punish them severely.

Enshrining resistance

Lucy Fielder, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/31/2008
      Lebanon’s leaders are haggling again, though the true balance of power has been laid bare, Lebanon’s politicians squabbled this week over whether or not to enshrine Hizbullah’s resistance to Israel in a ministerial statement to be adopted by the fledgling national unity government. But with the balance of power in favour of the Shia movement laid bare since the May strife, analysts said there was little doubt the alliance they dominate would again prevail.
     A ministerial committee met 11 times at the time of writing to try to draw up the statement, with some from the "14 March" anti-Syrian movement opposing including the "right to resist" clause in the document. Hizbullah wants that right spelled out in the statement, as it was in the 2005 policy statement when the last government was sworn in, but the 14 March team wants a more vague wording.
     This week, ministers have been expressing optimism that agreement was close. President Michel Suleiman, elected in late May under the Doha deal that halted Lebanon’s descent into crisis, reportedly brought some pressure to bear. Analysts said capitulation was in any case all but inevitable. Hizbullah is in a strong position to push its demands, particularly following its lopsided prisoner swap with Israel in mid-July.

Do not pass go

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/31/2008
      Were last week’s bombings in Gaza intended to push Palestinian national dialogue out of reach?
     The bombs that targeted Hamas military and political leaders returned Palestinian domestic relations to square one. In one attack a small girl was killed alongside five leaders of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, and dozens were injured. The bombings also targeted the home of Marwan Abu Ras, head of the Palestine scholars’ confederation and a Hamas representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
     After the dismissed Haniyeh government announced that initial investigations indicated the involvement of Fatah members in the bombings Hamas security agencies arrested dozens of Fatah activists and closed many of the organisation’s offices. Hamas leaders say the offices will reopen once it is established staff are not involved in cases of financial or managerial corruption. A statement attributed to Al-Awda Brigades, a group affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for the bomb targeting Al-Qassam Brigade leaders. A second statement then appeared in which the group denied any link with the operation and accused others of attempting to cover up the "real perpetrators".

Advice to Heed

Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 8/1/2008
      WOODS HOLE, Massachusetts -- It is difficult to get an impartially accurate perspective on US-Middle East relations in Washington. This is because people involved with the region are either Middle Easterners who have brought their torrid battles to the United States, or Americans who have exacerbated our region’s own proclivity for extremism with their romantic adventurism, ignorant militarism, or shameless pro-Israeli obsequiousness.
     The lack of any knowledgeable and neutral American policy input on the Middle East leaves the United States these days incredulously enjoying dwindling credibility, impact and respect simultaneously, even while it unleashes its armed forces. A smarter approach would benefit from the rich reservoir of knowledge that exists among some of America’s seasoned diplomats who have devoted their entire professional lives promoting US national interests in the region.
     I had a chance to experience this last weekend during a working visit to the idyllic town of Woods Hole, on Massachusetts’ enchanting Cape Cod. I spend several days intermittently discussing US-Middle East relations with a man who spent 35 years in that world -- Robert Pelletreau, Jr., former Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, and ambassador to three Arab countries.

Search for conspiracy

Doris Norrito, International Middle East Media Center News 8/1/0200
      The other man’s story
     Yesterday, I visited with Sameeh Hammoudeh and his family. He was a co-defendant in the terrorism trial of Dr. Sami Al-Arian. It was a very important visit and before I describe it, you’ll need this background.
     In February 2003, at the same time Dr. Sami Al-Arian was arrested, Sameeh Hammoudeh was also arrested. Accused of terrorist activities, Hammoudeh was one of the three co-defendants who appeared with Al-Arian in the high-profile federal case that took place in Tampa, Florida. The six month trial ended in December 2005. All defendants were found "not guilty" of any terrorist activities." Before the trial, U.S. citizens Ghassan Ballut and Hatim Fariz were released on bail. Bail for Hammoudeh and Al-Arian had been denied and they spent two and a half years before the trial in prison, most of the time in solitary.
     As of today, Al-Arian remains imprisoned. The other defendants were freed. But for Sameeh Hammoudeh, who was exonerated of all charges and had already served two and a half years of pre-trial imprisonment, the suffering and anguish continued for another six months. Held in a detention center awaiting deportation, we began to correspond by letter.