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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
8 August 2008

Israeli army sprays toilet water at Bil’in protesters
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces used a new weapon against Bil’in protesters on Friday, and opened up streams of contaminated water on Palestinians, Israelis and international activists protesting the construction of the separation wall on village lands. Protesters gathered at the center of the village and moved towards the construction site. Once they arrived at the site and chanted - while raising photos of the murdered children Ahmed Husam Yousif Musa and Yousif Ahmed Amera - slogans against the occupation soldiers and their officers that command them to shoot unarmed civilians. Soldiers soon began firing tear gas and then pulled out hoses and sprayed water at the group. Several protesters were immediately sick after they were sprayed with the water. The Bil’in popular committee against the wall plans to have samples of the water taken in for analysis.

The Israeli army attacks a non-violent protest at Al Ma’sara village
Rula Shahwan & Marina Ayyoub, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
Local sources reported that the Israeli army attacked the weekly non-violent protest at al Ma’sara village south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday midday. A group of internationals, peace activists and villagers marched in a protest against the illegal wall being built on the village lands. The protestors headed towards the wall. Israeli troops attacked the protestors and stopped them from reaching the farms lands on the other side. Israeli troops shot grenades, gunfire and tear gas at the protestors causing many to suffer from gas inhalation. Mazen Al Azzah, a member of the local committee against the wall and settlement construction announced that they will keep protesting until the wall is removed from their lands and Israeli troops stop attacking Palestinians

Israel issues bids for 447 settler homes in Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
The Israeli Housing Ministry issued on Thursday bids for the construction of hundreds of settler homes in Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) in Bethlehem district and Beitar Elit settlement near Jerusalem. The Israeli government intends to construct 130 units in Abu Ghneim settlement and additional 317 in Beitar Elit. The new bids were considered another blast in the already trembling peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The announcement of the new bids came only one day after the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, met with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. Hamas movement said that this announcement became a reoccurring event which follows every meeting between Abbas and Olmert. Settlements in the occupied territories are illegal and violate by the international law, but the international idleness and silence encourages Israel to annex more Palestinian lands in order to build illegal settlement.

Israeli settlers attack British diplomats’ car
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
LONDON - A car carrying British diplomats was attacked in the West Bank by a group of Israeli settlers on Thursday, Britain’s Foreign Office said. "We can confirm that a delegation of visiting British diplomats were attacked in their car by a small group of Israeli settlers while visiting in Hebron," the Foreign Office said in a statement. "There were no injuries. The Israeli police intervened and we are assisting then with their investigation of the incident," it added, without giving further details. Israel on Thursday approved construction of 400 new homes in a Jewish neighbourhood in annexed east Jerusalem (which belongs to the Palestinians) and invited bids for construction of another 416 settler homes in the occupied West Bank. Jewish settlements (which are illegal under international law because they are built on Palestinian land occupied by the Israeli military). . .

PA forces close four charitable societies, two press houses in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Four charitable organizations and two print and copy shops were closed in Hebron on Friday on the orders of the caretaker government’s ministry of the interior according to Palestinian security sources. Security sources confirmed that closed were: the Islamic complex in Ath-Tahahreya town south of Hebron, the cultural center in the village of Tafuh and the charitable society of Beit Ula west of Hebron city in addition to two printing and copy shops in the al-Huda and Lujein areas of the city. The closure order came from Minster of Interior of the care taker government Abed Ar-Razaq Al Yahya, after he reportedly received information that the organizations and copy centers had materials that might incite violence or other action against the Palestinian Authority and the care taker government in Ramallah. They are closed until further notice.

Water supply to Arab sector cut off due to local councils’ debts
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 8/8/2008
While Arab sector residents pay water bills, local authorities fail to settle outstanding debt to Mekorot Water Company, forcing it to cuts off supply to Arab towns. Citizens for Environment organization claims it biased act, saying they don’t recall such measures being taken against Jewish sector - At least 23 Arabs towns have had their water supply cut off in the past few years due to the local authorities’ outstanding debts to Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company. A recent survey conducted by the non-profit organization Citizens for the Environment (CFE) in the Galilee portrays a rather somber picture of the treatment of Arab population in Israel. A few organizations and associations are planning a rally this coming Sunday, in protest against what they call "collective punishment". A Different AngleNow at Home Center: Discounts for Arabs only / Roni. . .

Press Release: ''Israeli Authorities Continue Ethnic Cleansing Campaign against Bedouins and Farmers''
The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center issued its monthly report stating that the Israeli Ethnic cleansing policy is escalating; especially, towards the Bedouins and farmers, e. g. the illegal procedures imposed on the residents of Kherbet Twal / north Aqraba in Nablus district. The Center stated that 15 residents were notified that their residency and their animals establishments, (which is considered the sole source of their living), will be demolished. In addition to that issued a decision to remove the sources of electricity that provides the area with the electric energy, which was considered by JLAC's lawyer Bassam Karageh a decision for making impossible, the like of the residents of the area, who had been residing the area for decades before the 1967 Israeli occupation. The Village Mayor sent a written letter to JLAC illustrating their situation, and that the residents

Palestinian refugees still homeless sixty years on
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
JERUSALEM - An Israeli parliamentary caucus has been formed to look at "solutions" to the Palestinian refugee problem, now in its 60th year. "The idea of the caucus is to look at the refugee problem from a humanitarian perspective, not to focus on why there are refugees, but to look at solutions," a spokesman for member of parliament Amira Dotan, a co-chairperson of the group, told IRIN. Dotan, a member of the ruling Kadima party, told IRIN: "The caucus is an attempt to conduct a dialogue with UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestinian refugees] and not an attempt… to force a solution," she said. UNRWA, with a labour force of some 26,000 “drawn almost exclusively from the Palestine refugee community” (UNHCR report State of the World’s Refugees 2006, Box 5. 1), provides humanitarian assistance to some 4. 6 million Palestinian refugees, including their descendants, from the 1948 war, in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Gaza siege claims the lives of 6 patients in 24 hours
Palestinian Information Center 8/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Spokesman for the Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), Rami Abdu, announced on Thursday evening the death of six patients raising the number of patients who died as a result of the siege to 233. Abdu said that 33-year-old Wael Arafat who suffered heart problems died as a result of lack of medication and being barred from seeking medical treatment abroad as a result of the Israeli imposed siege on the Gaza Strip. The family of Muhammad Junaid, an elderly patient suffering renal failure, had prepared all the paperwork needed for him to be able to travel abroad for medical treatment, but the siege meant that he had to stay and die in Gaza. Ibrahim al-Ghoul, another elderly patient, also died as a result of lack of medicine and being barred from travelling abroad to seek treatment. The death of three other patients was announced on Thursday by PCAS; Nafisa. . .

National poet undergoes open heart surgery
Palestine News Network 8/9/2008
PNN – The sublime Mahmoud Darwish, author of poems such as “I Come from There,” and “State of Siege,” underwent open heart surgery last week in Houston, Texas, USA. The Palestinian poet had already undergone two heart surgeries in 1984 and 1998. He recently completed his latest poem, “Wall. ” The current operation was conducted on 26 centimeters of his aorta, which doctors reported had expanded beyond the point of “safety” or “medical acceptability. ” The operation, conducted on 6 August by a surgeon of Iraqi origin, Hazim Safi, was a success according to medical reports. Darwish underwent a series of tests before the surgery and is expected to leave the hospital within three days before returning to Amman via Paris. Among the pertinent lines of his poem, “The Wall,” reads, “Make yourself what you want. ” PNN English includes a personal favorite from Mahmoud Darwish: "State of Siege"

Israeli army arrest municipality member in Nablus
International Solidarity Movement 8/8/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - On the night between the 5th and 6th of August, Israeli army invaded Nablus to arrest Majida Fada, a 38-year elected member of the municipality. People from the neighborhood report that the army arrived around 1:30am, closing the area and shooting out street lights. About ten soldiers then moved into the residential building where Majida Fada lived with her parents, forcing the doors open and storming into family homes. A man named Based Khader was reported to have been used as a human shield while soldiers carried out their search. Majida Fada, head of the municipality committee responsible for the beautification of Nablus, is one of 7 municipality council electives who have been arrested this year. This is the second time Majida Fada has been arrested. Three years ago she was held for six months without trial before being released.

Israeli soldiers invade international apartment in Tel Rumeida
International Solidarity Movement 8/8/2008
Hebron Region - On Friday 8th of August at 20:45 two international volunteers came home to find their roof occupied by three soldiers. The soldiers had been occupying their roof terrace since 18:45. When asked what the soldiers were doing there, they responded by pointing their guns at the internationals and said "we’re just looking", the soldiers then told the international volunteers to leave their own house. To this the internationals responded by telling the soldiers that they hadn’t got anywhere else to stay. One of the soldiers then proceeded to tell the two volunteers that they were under arrest. While detained on the roof the soldiers surrounded the two international volunteers pointing guns at them constantly. They then told the two volunteers to sit in the corner of the roof terrace, when asked why, a soldier replied saying that if they didn’t sit in the corner of the roof terrace he would shoot him in the head.

Israeli forces detain Islamic Jihad leader Qassim As-Sa’di
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Jenin – Ma’an - The Israeli army stormed the Jenin home of Islamic Jihad leader Ash-Sheikh Qassim As-Sa’di, arrested the man and removed him to an unknown location. Sources within Islamic Jihad said that a large military force stormed Jenin early Friday morning and surrounded the house of 55 year-old As-Sa’di. Isreali forces bound As-Sa’di, covering his face with a cloth, and forced his family members into a room while the home was ransacked. Qassem As-Sa’di is the father of released prisoners Rabi’ and Abdul Karim As-Sa’di, though his brother Ghassan is still in Israeli prison. The leader’s mother was killed by Israeli forces several years ago. [end]

Report: Fleeing Gazans interrogated on Shalit
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Egyptian sources tell Al-Hayat Israel questioned Fatah men who escaped Strip following fierce clashes with Hamas on whereabouts of captive soldier. ’Hamas trying to break IDF’s morale,’ one of them says -Israel interrogated dozens of Fatah-affiliated Palestinians who fled Gaza following clashes with Hamas last week on the whereabouts of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Egyptian sources were quoted as saying Friday by the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat. The sources said most of those questioned were residents of Gaza City’s Sajaiyeh neighborhood, whereclashes between Hamas security personnel and members of the Fatah-affiliated Hilles-clan on Saturday left at least 11 people dead and dozens more wounded. Hamas security forces eventually asserted control in the Fatah stronghold, prompting residents with ties to Mahmoud Abbas’ faction to flee the Strip.

PRC: ''Truce in Gaza could collapse in three weeks''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) stated on Thursday that the fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas ruling part y in Gaza could collapse in three weeks. The truce started on June 19, 2008, and witnessed repeated Israeli violations and invasions. Abu Mojahid, media spokesperson of the PRC stated that the group and several resistance factions are annoyed by Israel’s lack of action towards reopening the Rafah Border Terminal, between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. He also stated that Israel is not advancing towards a prisoner swap deal for the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in exchange for releasing Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel. The statement of Abu Mojahid came when he addressed Hamas fighters undergoing training in the Gaza Strip. He told the fighters that Israel has until the end of the tenth week of the ceasefire, which is nearly. . .

Impact of Gaza siege on strawberry and flower exports
Palestine News Network 8/7/2008
Gaza City / Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - "The permission to allow the export of limited quantities of strawberries was a smoke screen ’ Our lives have been poisoned. We plant strawberries; then we destroy the crop or sell it dirt cheap. "Nathir Rajab El-Attar, farmer from Beit Lahia. "’ Out of fear, I was forced to sell the crop in the local market at a price of 2. 5 NIS per kilogram instead of 15 NIS/Kilo when exported. "Khaled Ghaben, farmer from Beit Lahia. "We had hoped for a successful season since Karm Abu Salem Crossing was opened for cut flower exports ’ 250,000 cut flowers were exported to Holland. But Israel went back and closed the crossing for exports. "Zaher Ahmad El-Qadi, farmer from Rafah. "Every morning I go to the flower greenhouses with the intent to uproot them; but I couldn’t do it. "

Death toll 233 due to the Israeli siege on the Gaza strip
Rula Shahwan & Marina Ayyoub Editorial Group, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
Medical sources reported on Friday morning that the number of patients who have died in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli siege has reached 233 as six more patients died today at the Rafah crossing. [end]

Israel interrogates dozens of fleeing Fateh men on Shalit
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
The London-based Al Hayat Newspaper reported that it was informed by Egyptian sources that the Israeli security services interrogated dozens of Fateh men who fled out of the Gaza Strip following clashes with Hamas security forces. The Fateh men were interrogation on the whereabouts of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. The clashes took place last Saturday in a Gaza neighborhood and at least eleven Palestinian were killed in addition to dozens of injuries. The Hamas-controlled security forces in Gaza managed to gain control over the neighborhood which was considered a stronghold for Fateh movement, headed by Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. The Fateh men fled to the Nahal Oz crossing and were taken by Israeli soldiers. Twenty-two of the Fateh men, who were wounded in the clashes, were hospitalized in an Israeli prison hospital.

Israel to allow 72 million shekels into Gaza to ameliorate currency crisis
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Israel will let 72 million shekels into the Gaza Strip in order to solve the pending currency crisis faced by Gaza banks and allow workers to be paid on time. The announcement was made by Dr Jihad Al-Wazir, Deputy governor for the Palestinian Monetary Authority told the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Ayam that the currency is expected to enter the area soon, so that banks can cash salary cheques. A delay of several days or weeks has been standard since the siege began, he added. Al-Wazir estimated that banks lacked about 100 million shekels in bills. The crisis has two principle causes, Palestinian officials say. Israeli authorities are not allowing sufficient reserves of currency into the Strip, and the Israeli businesses that deal with Gaza will only trade in shekels, meaning that banknotes are leaving Gaza without being replaced.

MP Khudari: IOA must open Mintar crossing to allow more goods into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 8/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian lawmaker MP Jamal Al-Khudari has asserted on Thursday that the Israeli occupation government must open the Mintar crossing point to increase quantities of foodstuff and basic goods into the besieged Gaza Strip. "The Israeli promises of increasing quantities of goods entering into the Gaza Strip couldn’t be carried out unless they [Israelis] open the Mintar crossing point which is well equipped and well prepared to allow more trailers entering into the Strip", Khudari, who heads the Popular Committee Agaist the Siege (PCAS) in the Gaza Strip, explained in a statement he issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC. He added that the Sofa and the Nahal Oz crossing points could only allow little goods into the Strip that couldn’t meet even the minimum needs of the Strip’s inhabitants, pointing out that the Israeli occupation government allows limited. . .

Israeli army and Shin Bet argue over course for Gaza truce
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The truce between Israel and Hamas is approaching its two month mark, but the Israeli army and the Shin Bet (Israeli general security services) are still arguing over the best way to handle the current situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army insists on continuing the truce with Gaza, however, according to Israeli media sources, Shin Bet leader Yuval Diskin called on the army to be prepared for a military attack that covers the area. The leadership of the Israeli army sees the truce as positively effecting the situation in the Negev and the areas close to the Gaza Strip since for the last few weeks there have been no projectile attacksThe leadership of the Shin Bet, on the other hand, is keen to launch a military attack on the Gaza Strip and said that the truce has been used by Hamas as a period of quiet in which to train Palestinian elements.

Zahhar sees moment of releasing Palestinian captives near
Palestinian Information Center 8/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The prominent political political leader in Hamas Movement Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said on Thursday that the Palestinian factions that hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit won’t relax their conditions for releasing him, vowing to have an honorable prisoners’ swap deal. The remarks of Zahhar were uttered during a massive rally organized by the Waed society that caters for Palestinian captives to celebrate the release of Palestinian captive Hisham Sha’ath who spent 20 years in Israeli jails. "Don’t believe what the Israeli occupation says about the Shalit deal. We are strong enough, and, Allah willing, we won’t compromise our conditions for releasing him till those demands are met [by the Israeli occupation government]", asserted Zahhar. "Although the swap deal might be difficult and long, yet, by Allah’s help and with prayers’ of the sincere people we can say that we. . .

Israeli forces attack protesters in Al-Ma’sara
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Popular Campaign Against the Wall (PCAW) organized a demonstration in the village of Al-Ma’sara in the Bethlehem district, to protest against Israeli expansionist plans. The demonstration took place on Friday. The Palestinian National Initiative (PLI), political party headed by Mustapha Al-Barghouthi PLC member, attended Friday’s rally to support popular protests against the Israeli occupation. As the protesters moved towards the land that will be confiscated for the construction of the separation wall, Israeli soldiers cut the area off with barbed wire and attacked protesters with tear gas, sound bombs and rubber coated metal bullets. Mazen Al-A’za, coordinator of PCAW said that the protest activities will continue despite the oppressive tactics of Israeli forces.

VIDEO - Continued violence and repression against the popular protests against the wall in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 8/8/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - On the 7th of August around 300 hundred people protested against the building of the apartheid wall at the land of Ni’lin. The demonstration started at 11 am and marched from the village centre. It reached the construction site managing to stop the bulldozers from working for a while before being attacked and driven back by border police. They kicked, punched and arrested Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters, also using tear gas and sound grenades. In a continuing pattern of intimidation of Ni’lin’s Popular Committee, Mohammed Abdelkader Amira was arrested along with an Israeli activist. Due to the violence from the border police the demonstration pulled back and clashes soon broke out between the Israeli army and young men and boys from the village.

Weekly peaceful protest of the wall at Al Khader village
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
A group of 150 non violent protesters marched in protest against the illegal wall on Friday midday at al Khader village nearby the West Bank city of Bethlehem. IMEMC’s correspondents reported that the protest took place after the Friday prayer at the village. A group of 150 non-violent demonstrators marched in protest against the apartheid wall being built on the village lands Israeli troops stopped the protest by shooting tear gas and sound bombs at the protesters causing two civilians to suffer from gas inhalation. [end]

General Dayton: Israel agrees, Palestinian security to get new equipment, better forces
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has agreed to support the efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United States aimed at strengthening Palestinian security forces. The information was announced by US Palestinian Security coordinator Lieutenant General Keith Dayton during an interview with the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, published on Friday. Dayton said that plans to introduce 200 bullet-proof vests and 142 police cars, which were suggested some time ago, will facilitate the introduction of a new cohort of police who were recently trained in Jordan. Palestinians, said Dayton, have prepared well for this next phase in security development. He also estimated that Palestinian security forces may soon be able to take on responsibility for security in the West Bank. This, he added, would allow Palestinians to stop attacks against Israel, and allow Israeli forces to leave the area.

Dayton: ''Israel agreed to P.A bullet-proof vests and 145 military vehicles''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, the United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (P. A), stated in his first interview with the Israel media that Israel and the United States agreed to help the Palestinian Authority in strengthening it security forces, the Arabs48 news website reported. Dayton stated that Israel agreed to transfer 200 bullet-proof vests and 145 military vehicles to the Palestinian security forces, under the control of president Mahmoud Abbas. The equipment was supposed to be transferred to the P. A a long time ago, but was not delivered due to Israeli objections. Also, Israel agreed to ease the entry of Palestinian security men who underwent military training in Jordan. Dayton also said that he is impressed by the capabilities of the Palestinian security forces and added that "with time, the Palestinians will be capable of maintaining. . . "

Hamas: PA role against resistance exposed as occupation allows military supplies
Palestinian Information Center 8/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that General Keith Dayton’s statement to the Haaretz newspaper, proves the role played by the US administration in creating discord in the Palestinian arena. In a statement to PIC on Friday, Abu Zuhri said that the revelations made by Dayton expose the role of the Ramallah PA security agencies which is essentially fighting the resistance on behalf of the Israeli occupation and the US administration. He stressed that these revelations and events on the ground mean that the weapons of the security forces which are used against the Palestinian people make these weapons illegitimate and that the only legitimate weapons in the Palestinian arena are those of the resistance. General Dayton, had earlier revealed the Israeli occupation will allow Abbas’s security forces to receive 200 bullet-proof vests and 142 vehicles and. . .

Gulf paper: Cairo asks Washington to lift the veto on PA-Hamas dialogue
Palestinian Information Center 8/8/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- A gulf paper revealed on Friday that the Egyptian government urged the United States no to abort Palestinian unity and the formation of a national unity government with the participation of Hamas. An Egyptian diplomatic source told al-Khaleej paper that Egypt and other Arab parties interested in the peace process expect from the US not to place restrictions that abort the formation of a national unity government in which Hamas participates pointing to Egyptian-American contacts with the aim of stressing the importance of this issue in the light of the regional situation. This revelation reinforces Hams’s constant claims that it is not Hamas that is hampering the efforts to bridge the rift with Fatah, but rather that there is a US veto preventing Mahmoud Abbas from talking to Hamas. Dr. Amre Mousa, Secretary General of the Arab League, emphasised this fact when he. . .

Hamas police in Gaza releases 60 Fateh men
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/9/0200
Palestinian security sources in the Gaza Strip reported that the Hamas police and security forces released on Friday 60 Fateh supporters who were arrested in recent days after interrogation revealed that they were not involved in the recent explosions in Al Shujaeyya neighborhood in Gaza. The police stated that several other Fateh members and supports were released in recent days as "they were not involved in any attacks". Also on Friday, Ismail Radwan, one of Hamas leaders, told the Maan News Agency that the clashes left 9 Palestinians dead and that dozens of residents were wounded. He added that nearly 150 members of Hallas family, which supports Fateh movement, were arrested and 200 other were displaced due to the heavy clashes. The Hamas police and security forces said that they attacked the neighborhood after receiving info that the family is hosting residents involved in. . .

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM FREE GAZA
Palestine Think Tank 8/8/2008
Dear Endorsers and Supporters - The moment we’ve all worked so long for is nearly here: on August 12th or 13th the Free Gaza Movement will begin its trip from Cyprus to Gaza. They will sail in two boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty with 40 people on board. If all goes well, the journey should take 20 hours. But a lot can happen along the way and it’s not unlikely that as the boats approach Gaza’s coastal waters or even before, they will end up in a stand off with the Israeli navy. You can track the progress of the boats by going visiting Free Gaza and clicking on the BOAT UPDATES tab on the top right-hand side of the pageFree Gaza intends to resist Israeli attempts to board the boats, and all other forms of intimidation. If the boat is stopped at sea, fired on, boarded, towed or otherwise subjected to Israeli attack, it is very important that everyone. . . -- See also: FreeGaza.org

Turkey to donate 15 Ambulances, PA asks for support for An Najah University hospital
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Cooperation between Turkish and Palestinian health ministries will see 15 new ambulances delivered to local hospitals, and Palestinian Authority (PA) representative asks for support to build a university hospital at An Najah. Palestinian Minister of Health in the care taker government in Ramallah, Fathi Abu Mughlimet a Turkish delegation including a representative of the Turkish consulate, Ali Ghoneyah and a representative of the Turkish Agency of Development (TIKA). Abu Mughli reiterated his promise to An –Najah University in Nablus to build a university hospital. He asked the representative of the Turkish consulate to support the establishment of a hospital in the northern West Bank city of Tubas which would serve the city and its surrounding villages.

Free Gaza Movement: Break the siege by sea
Palestine News Network 8/7/2008
Background of the Break the Siege by Sea campaign: 2008 marks the 60-year anniversary of the Nakba, "the catastrophe", when the overwhelming majority of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their ancestral homeland to create the state of Israel. In contravention of International law, human rights, and basic principles of morality, Israel continues to deny these refugees and their descendants their right to return home. More than 5 million Palestinian refugees languish in refugee camps, while their homes, farms, and properties are inhabited by Jewish immigrants who arrived in Palestine from around the globe. The historic illegal appropriation of Palestinian land, home and heritage is at the heart of the Middle East conflict. It has given rise to the largest ongoing refugee population in the world.

EU raps new ’illegal’ Israeli settlements
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/9/2008
BRUSSELS: Israel’s decision to allow hundreds of new houses to be built in settlements in Palestinian territories and Occupied Jerusalem undermines the credibility of the peace process, the EU’s French presidency said Friday. The EU presidency is "deeply concerned by the decision by the Israeli authorities to approve the construction" of 400 housing units in the Neve Yaakov settlement in Occupied East Jerusalem and to invite tenders for a total of 416 housing units in the Beitar Illit settlement in the Occupied West Bank and Har Homa, also in East Jerusalem. Jewish settlements are widely seen as one of the major hurdles in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that were revived at a US conference in November but have failed to make much tangible progress. At the conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Israel agreed to freeze settlement activity, but the Israeli government. . .

Israeli settlement plan to build 447 settlement units in the W. Bank exposed
Palestinian Information Center 8/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli housing ministry has announced on Thursday more construction tenders to build hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem in clear undermining of the ongoing PA-Israeli negotiations. Hebrew sources revealed that the Israeli occupation government was planning to build 130 settlement units in the Har Homa settlement near Bethlehem, and another 317 units in the settlement of Betar Eileet near the occupied city of Jerusalem. The Israeli disclosure of such beddings come only one day after PA chief Mahmoud Abbas met Israeli premier Ehud Olmert in the occupied city of Jerusalem, which, according to political observers, constitutes a big blow to Abbas. Palestinian observers noted that the Israeli occupation government announces the construction of more settlement units after every meeting between Abbas and. . .

EU: Settlements undermine peace process
Reuters, YNetNews 8/8/2008
French EU Presidency expresses deep concern over Israel’s intention to build 447 new housing units - Israel’s decision to approve the building of hundreds of new housing units in the Jerusalem area undermines the credibility of the Middle East peace process, the European Union said on Friday. A statement from the French EU Presidency said it was deeply concerned by the Israeli move. " This decision serves to undermine the credibility of the ongoing peace process," it said, adding that the building of such settlements was illegal under international law. " Settlement activities prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations and compromise the viability of a concerted two-state solution," the EU statement said, calling on Israel to freeze settlement activities. Israel issued a tender for the construction of 447 housing units in settlements in the. . .

816 new settlement homes to be constructed
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Four hundred new homes will be constructed in the Israeli East Jerusalem settlement Neve Ya’akov, and another 416 are planned for other nearby settlements. The Israeli Interior Ministry announced the plans on Thursday, and is backed by the Jerusalem municipality, which had announced the project on 10 March 2008. The municipality presented funds to build 286 housing units in Betar Illit, a settlement west of Bethlehem, and 130 housing units on the Abu Ghneim Mountain of East Jerusalem. [end]

Israeli army invades West Bank cities, kidnapping 3 civilians
Marina Ayyoub, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank cities of Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem on Friday at dawn, local sources reported. In the West Bank city of Jenin, a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the city. Israeli troops targeted Qasem al Sa’di’s house, a leader in the Islamic Jihad party. Eyewitnesses reported that the Israeli troops locked the family in a room while they searched and ransacked the house. Israeli troops bound Qasem and blindfolded him before kidnapping him. Meanwhile, the Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Tulkarem kidnapping two civilians and taking them to unknown detention camps for investigation. In addition to that, the Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Nablus.

Israeli forces detain two Palestinians in Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Two Palestinians labeled "wanted" by the Israeli army were detained in Tulkarem early Friday morning. Israeli sources confirmed that their West Bank troops detained one man in Tulkarem and one from the nearby town of Shweika. Sources added that the detainees were taken to investigation centers for questioning. [end]

Israel: settlers arrested by our troops after entering Nablus illegally
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Five Israeli settlers were arrested by Israeli army solders on Friday as they snuck into Joseph’s shrine in Nablus. Settlers must coordinate their movement in Palestinians areas with Israeli troops, who ensure that confrontations between locals and settlers are limited. Earlier Friday soldiers had escorted a bus of 50 settlers to the shrine where they prayed, and were escorted back to their settlements. Later Friday morning, however, the five settlers arrived in the area in private cars. This is a violation of the terms set out by the Israeli army. The individuals were all arrested. [end]

High Court petitioned to rescue 8 Fatah members from Gaza
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Center for Defense of Individual demands Israel save eight Palestinians targeted by Hamas. ’Individual’s outcry must not be subject to cynical political considerations,’ group says -HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual filed Friday a petition with the High Court of Justice demanding that Israel rescue eight Fatah members left in the Gaza Strip after last Saturday’s Fatah-Hamas clashes. HaMoked claims in its petition that the eight men are wanted and persecuted by Hamas operatives, asking the government to state its reasons for not allowing the men toleave the Strip for the West Bank or any other place in order to save their lives. The State was orderded to submit its response by 6 pm. Scraping For NewsReport: Fleeing Gazans interrogated on Shalit / Roee Nahmias Egyptian sources tell Al-Hayat Israel questioned. . .

Arab students visit Israeli embassy in Washington
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Students from Arab countries experience first close-up encounter with Israel as part of US-led young leadership program - Dozens of students from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar visited the Israeli embassy in Washington this week. The Arab students, who arrived in Washington in the framework of a young international leadership training program sponsored by the US government, listened to diplomatic briefs from embassy employees and asked questions. " It was a unique opportunity to explain Israel’s position first hand," said Rafi Harpaz, director of Public Affairs at the embassy, in a report sent to the Foreign Ministry. When the briefing was over, the Arab students, all from affluent homes, shook Harpaz’ hand and asked to take photos with him, telling the director it was their first time meeting an Israeli.

Israel likely to skip next UN racism conference
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
GENEVA - Israel will almost surely boycott the next UN racism conference in Geneva, its ambassador said Wednesday. Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s departing UN envoy in Geneva, said the event April 20-25 would need to be completely reworked for Israel to participate. Levanon said the Geneva follow-up to the contentious 2001 conference in the South African city of Durban had the making of another international "bashing of Israel. " Levanon did not want the participants to "only focus on Israel," adding that he would only "attend the meeting only if there is a radical, substantive change. " The Bush administration has taken a symbolic position opposing the conference. In December, Washington cast the only "no" vote when the UN General Assembly passed a two-year budget because of objections to funding for the conference.

Al-Jazeera apologizes to Israel for ''unethical'' coverage of Quntar’s return
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Al Jazeera TV issued an apology to Israel on Thursday for their coverage of the events marking the release of Lebanese prisoner Samir Quntar. Israeli authorities had earlier threatened to boycott Al-Jazeera if they did not apologize. Israel said that the Al-Jazeera coverage of the warm Lebanese reception of Quntar hurt the feelings of Israelis, since he was charged with the deaths of four Israelis including two young children. One particular complaint was over the comments of Al-Jazeera’s Beirut office Director Ghassan Ben Jeddou, who described Quntar during the broadcast as an "Arab Hero. " Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz published a letter of apology issued by Director General of Al-Jazeera TV Waddah Khanfar, which stated that the program, prepared and presented by Ben Jeddou on Saturday 19 July represented a breach in Al-Jazeera’s ethical code.

Shiite MP: Hezbollah has more arms than 2006
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah now has more arms and personnel than it did before the 2006 war with Israel, a Shiite MP said on Friday. "The resistance gives the assurance that it has become more powerful in equipment and number after the July war" with Israel, said Hassan Fadlallah. Hezbollah, which has both a political party as well as a militia, "will not refrain from reinforcing its capabilities," he told Lebanon’s official news agency. Hezbollah, which has repeatedly touted the strength of its resistance in the war summer against Israel two years ago, is part of a national unity government in Lebanon that was formed on July 11. But negotiations on a policy statement were hampered by disputes on the key issue of the arsenal of Hezbollah, which has continued to insist on the "right to resist" Israel.

Hizbullah has more arms, fighters than in 2006 - MP
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/9/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah now has more arms and personnel than it did before the summer 2006 war against Israel, an MP in the party’s bloc said on Friday. "The resistance gives the assurance that it has become more powerful in equipment and numbers after the July war" with Israel, said Hassan Fadlallah. Hizbullah, which has both a political party as well as a military wing, "will not refrain from reinforcing its capabilities," he told Lebanon’s state- run National News Agency. Hizbullah, which has repeatedly touted the strength of its resistance in the summer war of 2006, is part of a national unity government in Lebanon that was formed on July 11. But negotiations on a policy statement were hampered by disputes on the key issue of the arsenal of Hizbullah, which has continued to insist on the right to resist Israel.

Siniora: We must regain occupied land
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/9/2008
PM Siniora: Lebanese people fought hard to liberate land, must regain areas still occupied - The Lebanese people have fought hard to liberate their land and now must "regain the land that has remained occupied," Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Friday, referring to areas currently under Israeli control. The Lebanese leader made the remarks during a festive session where the new Lebanese government sought the endorsement of parliament. This included clause 24 of the new government platform that maintains the right to liberate occupied land, meaning that Hizbullah would be able to continue its struggle against Israel. "We view the establishment of this government as a new stage in the joint work of the Lebanese people on behalf of their homeland and country, and for the sake of the future of Lebanon’s democratic regime," Siniora said.

Bil’in Popular Committee: Toilet water - the new kind of weapon used against the people from Bil’in
International Solidarity Movement 8/8/2008
Bil’in Village - Today, 8th August 2008, after the Friday Prayers, the inhabitants of Bil’in, Israeli, and international peace activists participated in a demonstration against the wall. They raised Palestinian flags and signs with slogans that condemn the policies of the occupation. The slogans condemned the construction of the wall, the confiscation of Palestinian lands for the construction of settlements, the road closures, and the seizure of Palestinian villages, towns, and cities. The protesters also carried signs with slogans against the killing of innocent civilians, especially children. In addition, the slogans condemned the attacks on detainees, in particular, shooting at them while detained, hand cuffed and blindfolded. The protest started from the centre of the village, and the protesters chanted similar slogans in addition to those that called for national unity. -- See also: Bil''in village website - English

Sewage and gas will not deter the Palestinian nonviolent resistance
Palestine News Network 8/8/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- In western Ramallah’s Bil’in Village the weekly Palestinian nonviolent resistance has not given up. Today while protesting the Wall, settlements, and land confiscation, dozens of Palestinians and their supporters were injured. Israeli forces sprayed waste water and gas into a crowd singing songs for freedom from oppression. They also chanted against the killing of children, the abuse of political prisoners and the occupation in general. The march began after noon prayers wound through the streets of the town before arriving at the Wall, holding pictures of the two children recently killed by Israeli forces in the central West Bank’s neighboring town of Na’lin. The demonstrators managed to reach the Wall also shouting against the Israeli soldiers and the officers who ordered the shooting of children and unarmed civilians.

The Israeli army attacks the nonviolent protest in Bil’in village
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
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. local sources reported. After the weekly Friday prayer, a group 300 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 and for the first time Israeli troops threw smelly manure at the protestors.

Human rights report on weekly Israeli violations
Palestine News Network 8/8/2008
Gaza City /PCHR - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights issued its report for the period of 30 July through 6 August. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT): IOF killed a Palestinian civilian in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah: 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded by the IOF gunfire: IOF conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank: IOF arrested 49 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children: IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world: IOF troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested at least 4 Palestinian civilians: IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property:Israeli

this week in Palestine week 32 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 11 m 0s || 10. 0MB || This Week in Palestine 32 2008 This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for August 2nd, through August, 8th, 2008. Lead: Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, stated his belief on Thursday that a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis is unlikely by the end of this year. As the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its seventh week death toll in Gaza reaches 227. 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 On Monday morning, Palestinian medical sources in the central West Bank city of Ramallah told IMEMC that 17-year-old Yousif Amira, who was shot in the nearby Nil’in village on Wednesday evening, had been pronounced dead.

PCHR Weekly Report: Palestinian youth killed, 2 injured in Israeli attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/8/0200
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 30 July - 06 August 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. In addition, 2 Palestinian civilians were wounded by the Israeli gunfire. During 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank,Israeli forces abducted 49 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children. Israeli attacks in the West Bank: During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 2 others in the West Bank. On 30 July 2008, following the funeral procession of a Palestinian child who had been killed by Israeli forces on the preceding day, dozens of Palestinian civilians demonstrated and threw stones at Israeli forces military vehicles. Israeli forces fired at those civilians.

A visit to Naalin
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Peace Now tours West Bank village; local ’guide’ slams IDF, makes no mention of stone throwers - A delegation of Peace Now members from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem toured Wednesday the Palestinian village of Naalin, which has been a focal point of clashes between Israeli security forces and rioters protesting the West Bank fence construction. Participants in the tour said they were aiming to see what goes on at the site with their own eyes. They were joined by some writers and artists invited to join the tour in order to boost its publicity. " We want to bring the mainstream to Naalin and expose what’s happening there," said Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer. "The story of Naalin has been portrayed as a pro-Palestinian struggle against the fence and against IDF troops. Yet this is not a struggle against the fence, but rather, against the fence route and the. . .

Married but without rights in Israel
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
BEERSHEBA/JAFFA, Israel - Some 15,000 Palestinians who married Israeli citizens in the past decade are illegal or temporary residents. Their lives and those of their families have become "unstable," according to non-governmental organisations. "Many families are being forced to live underground," said Orna Cohen, an attorney from Adalah, an Israeli rights group fighting the ban on “family unifications” (mixed marriages involving Palestinians or some other Arabs) in Israel. While most foreign nationals who marry Israelis can live in the Jewish State and eventually obtain citizenship, Palestinians and some other Arabs are unable to do so. What started out in 2002 as a temporary order - enacted at the height of regional violence - preventing Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from marrying Israeli citizens and residents and moving to Israel, has now become law, which seems more permanent than provisional.

Ma’an poll shows Palestinians divided on ramifications of Olmert resignation
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Ma’anArabic’s weekly poll showed that Palestinians are unsure what to expect after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert steps town from his office in September. The poll recorded the opinion of 8417 readers of Ma’an’s Arabic News site on whether they thought Olmert’s resignation would mean positive change for the Palestinian people, or negative change. Voters were close to evenly split on the issue; 37. 7% said that the end of Olmert’s term would be good for Palestinians, while 32. 86% said that Olmert’s resignation would make the Palestinian situation worse. Almost equaling those with a clear idea of what will happen in September were those who responded "I do not know," which this week was 29. 44%.

Olmert faces fifth police grilling session on six separate corruption allegations
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/9/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Friday for the second time since he announced he would resign after his centrist Kadima party chooses a new leader in September. Anti-fraud officers questioned Olmert for more than three hours at his official residence in Occupied Jerusalem, the fifth such interview since claims the premier accepted illegal funds from a wealthy US financier emerged in May. Police said the grilling covered all the allegations against Olmert, who is under investigation in six different affairs. One probe focuses on claims he sent out multiple bills for trips overseas and another on allegations he received illegal funds from a wealthy US financier. Police also suspect he used his influence to buy a house in Occupied Jerusalem below market price, while he is likewise under investigation on allegations of influence peddling.

Olmert questioned for 5th time on corrupiton affairs
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Fraud unit investigators interrogate PM on Talansky, Cremieux Street affairs and double claims for travel expenses he allegedly made as trade minister -Investigators of the police’s National Fraud Unit questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert under advisement for the fifth time on Friday at his official residence in Jerusalem. The latest round of questioning, which began at 10 am, lasted a little over three hours after Olmert agreed to extend it. Police are investigating allegations that the embattled leader took bribes from American businessman Morris Talansky and made double claims for travel expenses while he served as trade minister and mayor of Jerusalem. The investigators, headed by Brigadier-General Shlomi Ayalon, were also expected to question the PM over the Cremieux Street affair and other corruption affairs he was allegedly involved in.

Former Olmert assistant arrested, PM questioned fifth time over fraud
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli police arrested Eldad Rotman former personal assistant to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in connection to their ongoing fraud investigations of Olmert. Israeli press sources reported that Rotman was kept under house arrest on Thursday night. The arrest came twelve hours before police arrived at Olmert’s home for a fifth round of questioning for the state’s case against him. [end]

Diplomacy: The Foreign Minister’s ’newfound social skills’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 8/7/1908
Going-away parties at the Foreign Ministry for officials taking up positions abroad are not uncommon occurrences. People come and go in that ministry all the time - it is the nature of the beast. Nevertheless, eyebrows were raised this week at just such an event for Roni Leshno Yaar, the outgoing deputy director-general of the ministry’s UN and international organizations division, who is leaving to take over as ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva. The reason: a rare guest appearance by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. In her more than two and a half years in the Foreign Ministry, one recurrent complaint against Livni has been that she has remained aloof: She doesn’t meet with employees, rarely interacts with them, goes to some select meetings of the top-flight staff and does not involve herself in the day-to day-operations of the ministry.

Palestinians: Israel to allow bank notes into Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Transfer of $20 million aimed at replenishing reserves used to pay this week’s salaries of Palestinian Authority workforce -Israel will allow banks to transfer 72 million shekels ($20 million) into theHamas-controlled Gaza Strip to ease a shortage of bank notes, Palestinian officials said on Friday. The cash infusion will replenish reserves used to pay this week’s salaries of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority workforce. The workers receive their salaries by withdrawing cash from bank tellers and machines. Officials initially said Gaza banks did not have enough cash for all the withdrawals, but by borrowing among themselves they managed to pay the salaries without a cash transfer. A senior official from the Palestine Monetary Authority said the new shipment of bank notes would arrive in Gaza on Monday and be used to resupply the banks after this week’s payday.

EU favors ending Syria’s isolation - Poettering
Daily Star 8/9/2008
BEIRUT: The European Union (EU) wants to end the international community’s isolation of Syria, but Damascus must prove itself to the EU by taking specific measures toward recognizing Lebanon, such as the exchange of embassies and demarcating the common border, said European Parliament head Hans-Gert Poettering. Poettering is on a three-day visit to Lebanon, and he gave The Daily Star an exclusive interview late Thursday evening, from which the transcript below is taken. Q: What did you discuss with President Michel Sleiman? A: I’d like to put it this way. The points of discussion with President Sleiman - [and] with Prime Minister [Fouad] Siniora, with the President of Parliament Mr. [Nabih] Berri, with the foreign minister, with the representatives of the political groups - were the questions of the peaceful development in the country, institution-building and then the relations. . .

MIDEAST: On HIV and AIDS, the Good News from Palestine
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 8/8/2008
EAST JERUSALEM, West Bank, Aug 8(IPS) - Palestinians from all ranks of society have pulled together to tackle the issue of AIDS, despite the increasing factional violence and chaos in the Palestinian territories. Hamas, which has authority in Gaza, and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in charge of the West Bank, and Christian and Muslim leaders, in conjunction with various UN organisations and NGOs, have worked together to ensure that the Palestinian territories retain a very low rate of HIV and AIDS infection. Simultaneously, further awareness and prevention are being proactively tackled. "We have implemented an ABC strategy (’A’ stands for abstention, ’B’ for beware and ’C’ for condoms)," Ziad Yaish from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) based in Jerusalem and active in AIDS prevention told IPS.

International spinal surgeon trains Palestinian doctors in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An international spinal surgery expert arrived in Nablus on Monday to run a week of seminars and surgeries at the Specialist Hospital. Dr. Charles Johnston of the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, Texas will be performing free surgeries on patients born with spinal deformities and training local surgeons with the goal of developing a scoliosis surgery program in Palestine. The week of services and surgeries is supported by Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), which has brought several teams of international specialists into the area in order to train local doctors and give patients access to free surgeries. [end]

Parliament holds first debate in nearly two years
Daily Star 8/9/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Parliament held on Friday its first session in 22 months to discuss the new government’s policy statement in preparation for giving the 30-member national unity cabinet a vote of confidence. The vote is not likely to take place until early next week, as 65 lawmakers are expected to deliver speeches during the Parliament sessions. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri opened the session at 6 p. m. , expressing hope that the rival March 14 and March 8 blocs would join efforts to achieve Lebanon’s best interest. Berri then asked Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to read the draft ministerial statement before Parliament. MPs Walid Jumblatt, Mohammad Raad, Saad Hariri, Talal Arslan, Michel Pharon, Henry Helou and Bassem al-Shab were recorded absent. Siniora read out most of the draft statement, which was approved by the Cabinet on Monday, but skimmed over the latter portions. . .

Study: Strike won’t curb Iran’s nuclear program
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 8/8/2008
US experts say Iran would be able to quickly repair damage in wake of military strike on its nuclear facilities; moreover, attack by Israel, US would boost support for Iranian regime, strengthen its resolve to acquire nuclear weapons, study warns - WASHINGTON- A military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could boost Tehran’s resolve to acquire nuclear weapons, a study published in the United States Friday warns. According to study, conducted by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, Iran’s uranium enrichment sites are too widely dispersed and too well protected and concealed to be destroyed in an aerial strike. Moreover, the study warns that Iran would be able to quickly repair the damage that such strike would cause. " Following an attack, Iran could quickly rebuild its centrifuge program in small, easily. . .

GCC chief rips Iran for attacking Arab monarchies
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/9/2008
RIYADH: A senior Gulf official on Thursday slammed an Iranian deputy minister for questioning the legitimacy of pro-Western Arab monarchies in the region, saying such remarks can only fuel tensions. "Such suspicious comments do not at all help build trust. . . among states of the region. They can only stoke conflicts and drag the region into a cycle of dangerous crises," Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary general Abdurrahman al-Attiyah said in a statement received by AFP. He was responding to a statement by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi in which he predicted the downfall of Arab monarchies in the Gulf. "Soon another crisis will grip the Persian Gulf area, and that is the legitimacy crisis of the monarchies and traditional systems in the region," Mohammadi was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying.

EU tightens sanctions against Iran over nuke program
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/9/2008
The European Union tightened trade sanctions against Iran on Friday to punish Tehran for not committing to a long-standing demand of the international community that it freeze its nuclear enrichment program. The new EU restrictions go slightly beyond existing UN trade sanctions and are designed to deny public loans or export credits to companies trading with Iran. France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said European governments would also carefully watch financial groups doing business with Iranian banks and step up checks on ships and airplanes traveling to Iran. This resolution expands the range of restrictive measures adopted by the UN Security Council, in December 2006 and March 2007, an EU statement said. The EU called on member nations to "show restraint when granting new public loans for trade with Iran.

New EU sanctions against Iran over nuclear program
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/8/2008
Slightly stricter trade sanctions meant to deter countries from doing business with Islamic Republic; fourth sanction looms on Tehran if it doesn’t accept incentive package -The European Union tightened trade sanctions against Iran on Friday to punish Tehran for not committing to a long-standing demand of the international community that it freeze its nuclear enrichment program. The new EU restrictions go slightly beyond existing UN trade sanctions and are designed to deny public loans or export credits to companies trading with Iran. France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said European governments would also carefully watch financial groups doing business with Iranian banks and step up checks on ships and airplanes traveling to Iran. "This resolution expands the range of restrictive measures adopted by the UN Security Council," in December 2006 and March 2007, an EU statement said.

Peres to Chinese counterpart: Help disarm Iran of nukes
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 8/8/2008
President meets Hu at Beijing parliament; Chinese president says looking to ’reinforce our support for stability and peace in the Middle East’ -"China can be a key player in disarming Iran of its nuclear weapons,"President Shimon Peres told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao Friday during their meeting at the parliament building in Beijing. President Hu responded by saying "we would like to reinforce our support for stability and peace in the Middle East. We are following every regional development in the Middle East and Iran and are working constructively to increase China’s contribution and involvement in that area. " Peres landed in Beijing Thursday as a guest of the Chinese government and Olympic Committee. Red carpets were rolled out to greet the Israeli president, and all roads leading from the airport to the Olympic stadium were closed for traffic until Peres’ convoy reached his hotel.

Inside Iran’s garden of diplomacy
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 8/9/1908
"One must imagine Sisyphus happy. "- Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus - With Russia contradicting the United States and Britain over Iran’s nuclear program, saying there is no agreement on whether to try to get further United Nations sanctions against Iran, Tehran is driving a diplomatic wedge between the six powers dealing with its case. Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, has compared the country’s nuclear diplomacy to its unique talent in weaving exquisite carpets, promising to deliver a fine and sumptuous "silk carpet" at the end of the day, and this is what is happening in negotiations with the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. It is a tough challenge and assumes Iran can overcome multiple and entrenched obstacles, such as United Nations sanctions and collective efforts by the big powers to pressure Iran into compliance with UN demands.

Sadr to dissolve militia if US agrees to withdraw troops
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/9/2008
Hassan Abdul ZahraAgence France Presse NAJAF, Iraq: Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his Mehdi Army militia to lay down its arms if a security pact between Baghdad and Washington provides for a withdrawal from Iraq, his spokesman said Friday. "We want to see whether the provisions of the agreement are serious. We will be satisfied if the agreement contains the withdrawal of US forces," Salah al-Obeidi, chief spokesman for the Sadr movement, toldAFP "If so, we will complete the reorganization of the Mehdi Army which aims to transform it into a social organization," he said in the Shiite stronghold of Najaf, about 160 kilometers south of Baghdad. But he also warned that if the pullout terms were not written into the agreement then Sadr’s forces would remain armed. "We will be forced to await the decision of withdrawal of American forces.

Anti-Semitic graffiti prompts Sarkozy’s son to take legal action
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/9/2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s son Jean Sarkozy has taken legal action over anti-Semitic graffiti in the Paris suburb where he is a local councilor, the website of the daily Le Parisien said on Thursday. The website said Jean Sarkozy had seen the words "Sarkozy, thieving jews" sprayed on the wall of a court building in Neuilly-sur-Seine and had filed a complaint with local police. It said the same tag was sprayed in three other locations. No comment was immediately available from Sarkozy’s office. The complaint follows a controversy over suggestions in a satirical magazine that Jean Sarkozy, 21, was preparing to convert to Judaism following his engagement to a member of the Jewish family that controls electronics retailer Darty. The comments, in the magazine Charlie Hebdo, led to the sacking of the columnist responsible. . .

DISARMAMENT: Binding Treaty Eludes Small Arms Trade
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service 8/8/2008
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 8(IPS) - The international community, which successfully negotiated treaties outlawing anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs, has made little headway in drafting a U. N. convention to control the proliferation of illicit small arms. " Unfortunately, the world community is still far away from this goal," says Natalie J. Goldring, a senior fellow with the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Despite the availability of over 600 million small arms in open and underground markets, there is no international treaty to control the reckless spread of these light weapons, according to the United Nations. "Governments have a clear choice," Goldring told IPS. "They can either continue with business as usual, which costs an estimated 1,000 deaths each day due to gun violence,. . . "

Sadr to dissolve militia if US withdraws from Iraq
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
NAJAF, Iraq – Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr will dismantle his Mahdi Army militia if a security pact between Baghdad and Washington provides for a withdrawal from Iraq, a top aide said on Friday. "We want to see whether the provisions of the agreement are serious. We will be satisfied if the agreement contains the withdrawal of US forces," said Salah al-Obeidi, chief spokesman for the Sadr movement. "If so, we will complete the reorganisation of the Mahdi Army which aims to transform it into a social organisation," he said. Baghdad and Washington are still in negotiations on a security agreement that would govern US troops levels and allow them to operate after a UN mandate expires at the end of the year. US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Iraq by the end of July, but controversy has delayed the arrangement.

Iraq resumes oil exploration after long break
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
BAGHDAD - Iraq said on Friday it was resuming exploration of its immense oil reserves after a break of nearly 20 years because of crippling UN sanctions. "Today the Iraqi oil ministry celebrates a return to work by Iraqi oil exploration teams after 20 years of interruption," ministry spokesman Assim Jihad said. Oil Minister Hussein Hussein al-Shahristani will attend a ceremony to mark the event at the Al-Garraf field near Nasiriyah 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of Baghdad, Jihad said. He said the ministry would deploy three exploration teams trained abroad in the latest techniques. OPEC member Iraq hopes the squads will uncover deposits that will enable it to double its proven oil reserves, currently standing at 115 billion barrels of crude. After the regime of executed dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the United Nations imposed a strict oil. . .

UN mission’s mandate in Iraq renewed
Middle East Online 8/8/2008
UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to renew for one year the mandate of the UN mission for Iraq. It adopted Resolution 1830, sponsored by Britain, Italy and the United States, which also called on the Iraqi government and other member states to continue to provide security and logistical support to the UN mission in Iraq. The 15-member body extended the mandate of the 767-strong UN mission (UNAMI) for 12 months from Thursday and expressed its intention to review the mandate "in 12 months or sooner, if requested by the government of Iraq. " "This is a good day for Iraq," said Belgium’s UN Ambassador Jan Grauls, who chairs the council this month. "This shows the support of the international community for what they are doing. " As the world body prepares to commemorate the August 19, 2003 truck bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad,. . .

IRAQ: Students Fail, Like So Much Else
Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service 8/8/2008
BAGHDAD, Aug 8(IPS) - Living from one crisis to another, without electricity or freedom to move under a collapse of security, massive numbers of Iraqi students are failing their exams. "It is a natural result of what is going on in Iraq under this U. S. occupation that so many Iraqi students failed the high school exams," Mahmood Jassim, a teacher in Baghdad told IPS. "How can a student pass such difficult exams feeling terrified, exhausted in the heat, in darkness without electricity, having to work in the absence of a dead or detained father, and all the problems of the world over his head. " Jassim says about 75 percent of his students are failing their exams. "I am ashamed of the results my school achieved this year," a school headmaster in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS.


Articles


Report: Israel coerces medical patients into collaboration
Report, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Electronic Intifada 8/8/2008
      The increasing restrictions imposed by the state of Israel on entry and exit of money, goods, services and persons via Gaza crossings and the closure of Rafah Crossing into Egypt since June 2007 have led to a sharp decline in the ability of to provide services to patients.
     The results have been a sharp increase in the number of patients referred to external medical centers (in Israel, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Jordan) via Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing, and a much sharper increase in the proportion of patients denied exit permits: from 10 percent in the first half of 2007 to 35 percent in the first half of 2008.
     Whereas this process raises urgent questions regarding the responsibility of the state of Israel, as Occupying Power, to ensure the health and welfare of the civilian population of Gaza, the present report focuses rather on the mechanisms of denial of access to medical care, on the increasingly central role played by the Israeli General Security Service (GSS, shabak) [1] within this mechanism, and on the coercion of patients in the course of this process.

The ’security vacuum’ in Jerusalem

Nicola Nasser, Daily Star 8/9/2008
      Occupied Jerusalem, the casus belli of the Palestinian national struggle of liberation and the rallying cry of the Zionist movement for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, was recently described as becoming "a terror hub," a "hotbed" of violent Palestinian neighborhoods and as being "encircled" by "a security vacuum," where going into the Palestinian refugee camp of Shuafat "is more dangerous than the [northern Occupied West Bank] Jenin refugee camp," according to the former Israeli "defense" minister who now holds the transport portfolio, Shaul Mofaz, and the director of Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, respectively.
     Those descriptions of the holy city came as commentary on the lone Palestinian payloader attack in Occupied Jerusalem on July 2 and a similar attack 20 days later. Both "lone" attacks and an earlier bloody one on a Jewish seminary in March were used by Israeli officials to whip up a mounting internal and external campaign of incitement and hatred against the native Palestinian Jerusalemites, which led Martin Sieff, a conservative defense industry editor for United Press International to stretch the exaggeration out of proportion to write on August 6 that, "A new front in the global war on terror has opened up" in Occupied Jerusalem.

The Zionist Stratagem

M. Shahid Alam, Palestine Chronicle 8/8/2008
      ’Despite its military superiority, Israel feels paranoid.’
     "Anti-Semitism has grown and continues to grow, and so do I." -- Theodore Herzl [1] As a self-defined movement for the national ’liberation’ of European Jews, Zionism had an anomalous relationship with its perennial Other, the Gentile nations, from whom it wanted the Jews to secede and become a distinct nation under a Jewish state.
     The Zionists did not define Europe’s Gentile nations as the adversary they would have to oppose, and against whom they would struggle, to secure the rights of Jews to emerge as a distinct nation.
     On the contrary, the Zionists would harness the strength of their perennial Other -- their adversary -- to gain their nationalist objective. Unlike nationalists who secede from a state or empire by drawing new borders, the Zionists did not demand any European territory; they planned to establish their Jewish state outside the borders of Europe.
     In other words, the Zionists were offering to execute what any state facing secessionist demands would have embraced quite avidly: the Jewish ’secessionists’ would sail away from Europe and establish their state in the Middle East, well-removed from Europe.

A voice from Gaza: All I need is my freedom

Sameh Habeeb, Palestine Think Tank 8/8/2008
      Freedom is a broad expression that includes a mosaic of freedoms for humans in all aspects of life. It means being guaranteed certain things by all laws for all the time that law has been for the people, adopted by civilized countries and widely acknowledged by the few democratic nations - headed by the USA and Israel. I really like and highly respect the Israeli Democracy from the inside. This democracy accepts the other and allows multiplicity. It gives much freedom to Israelis that we really miss here in Gaza and the Arab world.
     I respect and love that democracy, but unfortunately when it comes to Palestine, specifically Gaza, it becomes the most pejorative expression. Around 1.5 million are not allowed to move feely into and out of Gaza. They are being collectively punished for crimes they never committed. If a useless and innocuous homemade rocket is being fired into Israel; it retaliates excessively against not those who fired it, but the innocent civilians. Yet, the only loser from this policy is Israel. It grows more hatred and spirit of revenge from those civilians. Not far from Gaza, Israeli settlers in the West Bank have successfully manufactured their homemade rockets. They have shelled many Palestinian villages in the West Bank. I hope this would debunk the pretext of Israel that we fire rockets, now we have Israel and its settlers shelling at Gaza and the West Bank. -- See also: Gaza Today

United by Misery: Two Boys from Gaza and Nilin

Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 8/8/2008
      Mohamed Bahloul is suffering from kidney failure.
     Ahmed Moussa was a 12-year-old Palestinian boy from the West Bank village of Nilin, near Ramallah. Mohamed Bahloul is a 12-year-old Palestinian boy from Gaza City. The former was shot and killed 29 July by Israeli forces following a peaceful protest against the Israeli apartheid wall. The latter is awaiting death in a dilapidated hospital in Gaza.
     Reports on Moussa’s death vary. The Anti- Apartheid Wall Campaign’s report said that the boy was "sitting under a tree with his friends when a military jeep drove up and the army shot him -- a live bullet pierced his head. The boy died immediately."
     Agency France Press’s report, the day following his death, confirmed the nature of the death but said that the boy was killed during the demonstration. Nilin, one of the numerous villages losing land to the Israeli wall -- deemed illegal according to the International Court of Justice in 2004 -- holds regular protests against the confiscation and destruction of the village’s farms. It’s part of a sustained non- violent campaign that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and international peace activists.

Report: Israeli violence enjoys impunity

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 8/8/2008
      RAMALLAH, West Bank (IPS) - Only six percent of probes into offenses allegedly committed by Israeli soldiers and settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank yield indictments, a new report says.
     The report "Justice for All" released last week by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din examined 205 cases of alleged assault by Israeli settlers that were reported over the years. Only in 13 cases were indictments filed, while 163 cases were closed.
     "Conviction rates of Israeli settlers and soldiers involved in violence against Palestinians are around six percent of cases opened due to what we consider unprofessional investigations," Yesh Din’s research director Lior Yavne told IPS.
     "In many instances the paperwork is either ’lost’ or the police or military personnel involved in the investigations claim they are ’unable to identify the perpetrator,’" said Yavne.
     The report followed an Israeli investigation into the death of a young Palestinian boy who was shot dead by Israeli troops during a protest against the building of Israel’s wall on Palestinian land in the village of Nilin near Ramallah in the West Bank.

The refuge that allows Gaza to reflect on past glories

Donald Macintyre in Sudaniya, Gaza, The Independent 8/9/2008
      It may seem an odd dilemma in a territory where more than half of families live below an internationally defined poverty line, but Jawdat Khoudary is wondering whether there should be museum charges in Gaza.
     As the owner and creator of the Strip’s first purpose-built archaeological museum, he has no doubt that the most prized patrons, the organised parties of schoolchildren already starting to flock to it, must come for free. And having sunk a small fortune -- he won’t say how much -- into building this elegant and air-conditioned space overlooking the Mediterranean just north of Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, he certainly isn’t trying to make money from it. But the 48-year-old owner of one of Gaza’s biggest construction companies worries that if he doesn’t charge a couple of shekels for individual entry, Gazans may not realise the value of their heritage as much as he does.

Apologies Remain Due

Robert Thompson, Middle East Online 8/8/2008
      The old British Empire and the former French Colonial Empire have now ceased to exist, but the damage which they wreaked in their greed and arrogance lives on.
     Every nation has black spots in its past, and it often seems appropriate that, in such a case, it should apologise for the wrongs done to others, even if long ago, especially when the present effect of such wrongs is the cause of much present trouble.
     On 16th May 1916, roughly half-way through the First World War, two of the then major powers in the world (which they have long ceased so to be), the British Empire and the French Colonial Empire signed an infamous agreement drawn up during negotiations between their representatives. The subject of this document was the proposed "carve-up" of the Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire after their victory and its collapse, and the negotiators were Sir Mark Sykes and Mr François-Georges Picot (which explains why it is known as the "Sykes-Picot Agreement.
     The lands concerned became, as a direct result of this agreement, the modern states of Iraq, Syria, the Lebanon, Jordan (originally known as Transjordan) and Palestine. Neither of these colonial powers considered that the inhabitants had any right of self-determination, despite the magnificent efforts made during the war against the Ottoman Empire by the Arab forces, and they divided the lands into zones of influence. Using the present-day names, the British Empire was to have power over Iraq, Jordan and Palestine and France was to control Syria and the Lebanon....

Our Living Dead

Reham Alhelsi, Palestine Think Tank 8/5/2008
      During a seminar I attended in Germany about journalism and its role in conflicts, some participants were against the idea of TV stations like Aljazeera showing the horrific photos of Palestinian victims. They argued that seeing such pictures would only increase the hate and the anger and fuel the conflict. I was against that, and said that when we talk about the Zionist crimes committed against us, we are either accused of lying or exaggerating, and since the written word in western press is mostly pro-Israeli, we have only these photos left to speak for us. It is because one single such photo speaks a thousand honest words, many prefer not to see them or pretend not to know of their existence. When Palestinians distribute pictures of the victims killed by the IOF to news agencies, they are accused of using their dead for propaganda. But when the Israelis spread pictures of their dead, they are pitied for their loss and their dead are glorified. The world is allowed to see Israeli mothers crying near their dead sons and allowed to see scenes of suicide bombings with blood all over the place, but not that of Palestinian mothers crying the loss of their loved ones, or of the scenes of the various massacres or Palestinian houses covered with blood after an Israeli raid. How come we are not allowed to see photos of Palestinian victims who were killed while on their way to school or work, or who were simply killed by an Israeli air strike while sitting in their own living rooms? It has nothing to do with the photos being too graphic, too horrific to be seen, too inappropriate for the viewers or even the excuse that it might increase the hate. It is true that many of these photos are horrific and painful to look at, but they constitute the very few instruments available to us to speak about our suffering in a world that practices a selective freedom of press. And because these photos speak for themselves and on behalf of the victims condemning the killers, they are forbidden. As far as I can remember the Israeli TV was continuously showing films about the Holocaust, the concentration camps and photos of the victims. Western media does the same. Almost 70 years after the Holocaust, we are reminded of it on an almost daily basis through all forms of media, but there is almost no mention whatsoever in this same media about the Palestinian victims and their ongoing Holocaust.

War with Iran: On, Off or Undecided?

Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 8/8/2008
      ’Talks on Iran’s nuclear program have been ’Kabuki theater’’
     There’s good news and bad, mostly the latter but don’t discount the good. On May 22, (non-binding) HR 362 was introduced in the House - with charges and proposals so outlandish that if passed and implemented will be a blockade and act of war. It accused Iran of:
     -- pursuing "nuclear weapons and regional hegemony" that threatens international peace and America’s national security interests;
     -- overtly sponsoring "several terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah;"
     -- having close ties to Syria;
     -- possibly sharing "its nuclear materials and technology with others;"
     -- developing "ballistic technology" and ICBMs exclusively to deliver nuclear weapons;
     -- calling for the "destruction of Israel;"...

The sins of their fathers

Tanya Gold, The Guardian 8/6/2008
      A relative of Hitler is now Jewish and living in Israel. So is the son of a Waffen-SS man. Tanya Gold talks to the descendants of Nazis who have embraced Judaism.
     Two years ago I read a strange little story in an obscure American magazine for Orthodox Jews, claiming that a descendant of Adolf Hitler had converted to Judaism and was living in Israel. I had heard rumours in Jewish circles for years about "the penitents" - children of Nazis who become Jews to try to expiate the sins of their fathers. Could it be true? I dug further and discovered that a man with a family connection to Hitler does indeed live in Israel as an Orthodox Jew. Virtually unnoticed in the English-speaking world, he was exposed seven years ago in an Israeli tabloid. Then he sank from sight. I went to Israel to meet him - and on the way I was plunged into the strange subculture of the Nazi-descended Jews.
     ...So why did she convert? She grimaces. "It isn’t rational. We are talking about religion here." But she says she ran away to Israel to convert when she was 25. And today, she berates herself for her immaturity in doing it. She was shocked by the racism in Israel. Towards her? "Towards the Arabs," she replies. "I felt that I was being told that to be a good Jew, you had to hate Arabs." So she stands at West Bank checkpoints to observe the behaviour of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians....