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

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27 August 2008

Jewish settlers plan to build 1,761 illegal housing units in Occupied East Jerusalem alone
Inter Press Service, Daily Star 8/28/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has published tenders for the construction of 1,761 illegal housing units for Israeli settlers in Occupied East Jerusalem alone, according to the Israeli rights group Peace Now. The expansion plans come despite promises by the Israeli government at last year’s peace summit at Annapolis, Maryland to freeze all settlement growth. "Once again this government has shown that its words and commitments are meaningless, and they have no intention of keeping to their word," says Peace Now. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has stressed repeatedly that settlement construction or expansion in the Occupied West Bank is contrary to international law and Israel’s commitments under the "road map" peace process. The road map was a series of peace-building measures proposed by US President George W. Bush in 2002 and subsequently developed by the so-called diplomatic "Quartet". . .

Gaza crossings to remain closed
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/27/0200
Israel will keep border crossings into the Gaza Strip closed to commercial and humanitarian goods "until further notice," Israeli media outlets reported Wednesday. The Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak ordered the borders closed late on Monday, despite of the ongoing talks to free the captured Israeli soldier in Gaza Strip Gilad Shalit. The decision, according to Israeli media sources, comes after an alleged violation of the truce deal between Hamas and Israel. According to a Palestinian source, Israel has violated the truce more than 50 times in the first few days following the begining of truce. Israel says, Palestinians fired home-made shells at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip.

OHCHR welcomes nonviolent resistance that brings attention to continued Israeli occupation of Gaza
Palestine News Network 8/27/2008
The United Nations OHCHR, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed the Free Gaza boats and the activists aboard who are scheduled to leave the Gaza Strip tomorrow, Thursday. "The landing of two wooden boats carrying 46 human rights activists in Gaza this past weekend is an important symbolic victory," says Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory. "This nonviolent initiative of the Free Gaza Movement focused attention around the world on the stark reality that the 1. 5 million residents of Gaza have endured a punitive siege for more than a year. This siege is a form of collective punishment that constitutes a massive violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. " "The siege, the coastal blockade, and the overflights by Israeli aircraft all bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s claimed. . .

Medical workers in Gaza declare open ended strike against Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Palestinian union of medical professionals has declared a total strike in the Gaza Strip following the reported firing of more than 40 union members from their jobs in the Strip, the latest in a series of labor actions against the de facto government of Gaza. Sources in the union told Ma’an that the open-ended strike will protest the "violent practices" of the Hamas-led government in Gaza. The union is urging its members to stop work in hospitals affiliated with the Hamas-run government and instead donate their services to nongovernmental hospitals that treat people for free. Earlier the Palestinian union of civil servants threatened to go on strike in all ministries in the Gaza Strip in protests against the ruling Hamas movement’s policy of "dismissing and marginalizing large numbers of employees.

Settler Accused of Injuring Palestinian with Stone
Raanan Ben-zur, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
A young man suspected of injuring Palestinian mother and her two daughters stands trial. The State Prosecutor’s Office on Monday filed an indictment against 19-year-old Daniel Avraham of the settlement of Yitzhar, accusing him of injuring a pregnant mother and her seven and two-year-old daughters. According to the indictment, a Palestinian family – Mali Hazen, his wife Palestine, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and their three daughters – drove by Yitzhar on August 1. Avraham, along with two other youngsters, arrived at the Yitzhar Junction at 4 pm and hurled a large stone at the vehicle, before fleeing the scene. The indictment went on to say that the stone hit the mother in her head, and she was hospitalized at an intensive care unit and underwent surgery. The seven-year-old girl was injured in the skull, her eye socket was fractured and she sustained wounds in her limbs. She was also hospitalized. The two-year-old child was lightly hurt in the incident.

Brand Israel
Haskell Nussbaum, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
After 60 years of Diaspora Jews complaining that Israel’s hasbara efforts fall flat, there is finally reason for Jews worldwide to believe that the Foreign Ministry is beginning to get it. September marks the beginning of an ambitious new pilot program, being run by the consul-general in Toronto, Amir Gissin, to "rebrand" Israel. Starting with print ads that will be featured prominently in bus shelters and billboards across the city, and continuing with radio and editorial content, Torontonians can expect to see Israel being portrayed as an innovative leader in technology that brings real benefits to their own lives. One ad, for example, depicts an Indian mother and daughter smiling under the words "Coronary stent. Lifesaver. "At the bottom is a new iconic logo, "Innovation Israel," and the tag line "Touching lives.

Palestinians: IDF arrests 5 Islamic Jihad operatives in Nablus Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
IDF elite troops arrested five Islamic Jihad operatives in Nablus late Wednesday bight, according to Palestinian sources. The five were reportedly part of the movement’s student leadership at the West Bank town’s An-Najah University. The IDF confirmed that there had been an operation in the town, during which several arrests were made. [end]

Israeli military forces invade West Bank cities, kidnap three civilians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/27/0200
An Israeli military force kidnapped three Palestinian civilians from the West Bank cities of Hebron, Nablus and Jenin on Wednesday morning, local sources reported. A number of military vehicles invaded the southern Hebron and the nearby Surief town and Beit Ula village. Troops launched a wide scale search of residents homes. Eyewitnesses reported that the Israeli soldiers took Tahseen Abu Ayesh, Sharif Adwan and Ibrahim Saraheen prisoner and led them to undisclosed location. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported Wednesday that the number of civilians imprisoned by Israeli troops during the month of August in Hebron stands at 48. In Nablus troops roamed the main roads of the city, searched and ransacked residents’ homes in nearby Balata and Askar refugee camps. Troops opened their gunfire and concussion grenades, no injuries were reported.

New Israeli settlements ’erase the green line’
Missionary International Service News Agency - MISNA, ReliefWeb 8/26/2008
"Israel is erasing the Green Line through the massive construction of illegal homes in Palestinian territories", said a report by Peace Now, an Israeli pro-peace NGO, according to which "in the first half of 2008, Israeli construction activity in the West Bank has almost doubled even though Israel had promised, at the Annapolis conference of 2007, to freeze settlements". The study proves that "over half of the new homes built since the start of the year is located east of the green Line (established by the UN after the 1967 war), reaching the suburbs the Bethlehem and Ramallah"; a similar trend was noted in the eastern part of Jerusalem where a drastic increase of Israeli construction has been noted. The report says that there has been an overall construction increase of some 550% compared to the same period in 2007. "By negotiating with the Palestinians on the one hand, while continuing. . . "

MIDEAST: Israel Pushes Ahead with Settlement Expansion
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 8/27/2008
JERUSALEM, Aug 27(IPS) - Israel has published tenders for the construction of 1,761 illegal housing units for Israeli settlers in occupied east Jerusalem alone, according to the Israeli rights group Peace Now. The expansion plans come despite promises by the Israeli government at last year’s peace summit at Annapolis, Maryland (in the U. S. ) to freeze all settlement growth. "Once again this government has shown that its words and commitments are meaningless, and they have no intention of keeping to their word," says Peace Now. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed repeatedly that settlement construction or expansion in the West Bank is contrary to international law and Israel’s commitments under the ’road map’ peace process.

US-born Israeli activist detained after breaking Gaza siege
The Daily Star and Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/28/2008
ASHKELON, Israel: Police on Wednesday released an Israeli they held overnight for joining international activists who sailed to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. US-born Jeff Halper, who was detained when he walked across the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel on Tuesday, told AFP he was freed on a 2,000 shekel ($570) bond. Halper said he was accused of violating a military order that generally bans Israelis from entering Gaza, which has been ruled since June 2007 by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group pledged to Israel’s destruction. He said he was also charged with "being a nuisance," adding that authorities told him this was because Israeli troops would have been sent in to rescue him had he been kidnapped. But he said he felt more threatened inside the Israeli prison than in Gaza.

ICAHD founder Jeff Halper to be released from Israeli custody
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Prominent Israeli activist Jeff Halper is expected to be released from jail later on Wednesday after spending the night in Israeli police custody for violating a military order banning Israelis from entering the Gaza Strip. Halper has been charged with breaking a general’s order, and causing a public nuisance, said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, spokesperson of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), the organization Halper founded. Godfrey-Goldstein said Halper that as a condition of his expected release, he would have to sign a pledge not to enter Gaza again and provide a financial guarantee. Halper was one of over forty human rights advocates who sailed to the Gaza seaport on Saturday as a challenge to Israel’s military blockade of the Strip. He was arrested at the Erez border crossing on Tuesday evening while attempting to re-enter Israel over land.

Israel radio bans ad rapping sanctions on Gaza students
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/28/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s national broadcast authority has rejected radio ads criticizing the government for stranding Palestinian university students in the Gaza Strip, a broadcasting official said Wednesday, calling them too controversial. Submitted by a group working for freedom of movement for Palestinians, the ads target Israeli sanctions that have trapped hundreds of Gaza students who hoped to study abroad. The group, Gisha, is appealing the decision. The ads feature two prominent Israeli authors and a former Cabinet minister calling on Israel to let the students out. In one, author Yonatan Geffen recounts how as a young man he was given a scholarship to study English literature in Cambridge, England and met his first girlfriend there - "Anne, an incredibly beautiful blonde. ""The right to study crosses borders and conflict.

Free Gaza boats to leave on Thursday, vowing to challenge Israeli blockade again
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The siege-breaking ships that arrived in Gaza on Saturday will depart for Cyprus tomorrow, but has vowed to return quickly to challenge the Israeli blockade again. "We have made all arrangements for the activists, and they chose to leave us tomorrow at 9am heading to Cyprus," said Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, during a press conference in Gaza City. The international human rights advocates plan to bring with them 12 to 14 Palestinians who have been denied exit permits by Israel, including students with valid visas or dual citizenship, who have been accepted to universities abroad. They will also bring one Palestinian professor who will return to teaching in Europe and a Palestinian woman who will be reunited with her husband. The 44 activists have spent the last three days bearing witness to the effects of the Israeli. . .

Israel faces quandary over Gaza boats
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Two boats full of international activists that were allowed to sail into Gaza’s harbor on Saturday may be detained by the navy on Thursday as they set sail back to Cyprus, this time with 14 Palestinians on board. On Wednesday, the Free Gaza Movement held a press conference in Gaza City to announce the departure of the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty early Thursday morning. In addition to the 40 foreign activists, organizers said, the boats would also be carrying some 14 Palestinians who had previously been denied the right to exit Gaza by Israel. The organizers said that among the Palestinians were students with valid foreign visas or dual citizenships who had been accepted to universities abroad. Additionally, a Palestinian professor will be leaving to return to teach in Europe, and a young woman will be trying to reunite with her husband abroad.

OHCHR: UN rights expert welcomes landing of relief vessels in Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 8/27/2008
International Actions - Gaza Region - View original report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) - 25 August 2008 - The landing of two wooden boats carrying 46 human rights activists in Gaza this past weekend is an important symbolic victory, says Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. This non-violent initiative of the Free Gaza Movement focused attention around the world on the stark reality that the 1. 5 million residents of Gaza have endured a punitive siege for more than a year. This siege is a form of collective punishment that constitutes a massive violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The siege, the coastal blockade, and the overflights by Israeli aircraft all bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s claimed "˜disengagement’ in 2005,. . .

Jeff Halper, israeli activist on the ''˜Free Gaza’ boats arrested when leaving Gaza
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 8/27/2008
Jeff Halper, an Israeli left wing activist who sailed as a member of the "˜Free Gaza’ ship to challenge Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip was arrested by the Israeli police at the Erez Crossing this Tuesday, on his way to leave Gaza and return to Jerusalem. According to the Maariv newspaper, the police decided after deliberations to arrest the Professor who will be submitted to Ashkelon Court tomorrow morning to consider his case. The Israeli authorities accuse Halper of violating a decree banning any Israeli citizens from entering the Gaza Strip, although Jeff Halper is also holder of American citizenship. The professor spent three days in the Gaza strip after the arrival of the boat before trying to enter Israel through the Erez crossing, where the police arrested him and took him to Sderot for further interrogations.

Settler shoots farmer’s dog in front of him in Susiya
International Solidarity Movement 8/27/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - On Tuesday August 27th at 7. 30 pm, Palestinian shepherd Khaled, and his son were walking their sheep and goats back to their tent camp in Susiya when a settler stopped his car in front of them and shot their sheep dog in the mouth before driving off again. A white Toyota stopped in front of Khaled and his son when they were on their way home after a long day in the fields with their goats and sheep. A settler from the illegal settlement in the nearby archeological site took out his gun and shot the sheep dog. The bullet hit the dog in the mouth making a hole in it’s tongue and damaged the side of it’s mouth. An international activist living with the Palestinians heard the shot and ran to the two shepherds, together they caught the dog that had run away and called the police. The Israeli police came and interrogated the two shepherds and the international. . .

Israeli Bar: Palestinian captives in isolation for five years without trial
Palestinian Information Center 8/25/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli barristers’ syndicate has issued a report on Monday, revealing that there were a number of Palestinian political prisoners who spent many years in solitary confinement in Israeli jails without being charged or brought to courts. The report also monitored the bad conditions of the Israeli jails, and the sharp shortage in medical services that put lives of captives at risk, and resulted in the death of a number of them. In addition, the report focused on the maltreatment of the Palestinian prisoners at the hands of the Israeli Nahshon unit, which is in charge of transferring prisoners from one jail to another. According to the report, seven Palestinian political prisoners were thrown into the darkness of the solitary confinement at the Israeli Ayalon prison without knowing the charges against them, adding that those prisoners weren’t classified. . .

Egypt urges Israel to stop threatening Lebanon
Middle East Online 8/27/2008
BEIRUT - Egypt has urged Israel to stop making threats against Lebanon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on a visit to Beirut on Wednesday. "We reject any threat to the unity and sovereignty of Lebanon. . . especially from Israel," he told a news conference after meeting Lebanese President Michel Sleiman. "Yesterday (Tuesday) we spoke with the Israelis during Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Egypt, and asked them to stop thinking about threatening this friendly Arab country," Abul Gheit said. Israeli leaders have issued several warnings to Lebanon since the formation of a national unity government in Beirut in which the Hezbollah-led opposition has 11 ministries and the power of veto over cabinet decisions. "The moment the Lebanese government confers legitimacy on Hezbollah, it must understand that the entire Lebanese state will be a target in the same. . .

UN extends UNIFIL mandate
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 8/27/2008
But meanwhile Israel, Lebanon both blame other side of failing to abide by Security Council’s resolution ending Second Lebanon War - The United Nations’ Security Council voted on Wednesday evening to extend the mandate of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon, which was to expire at the end of the montThis the meeting was mostly a technical discussion, Israeli representative utilized the opportunity to note that Resolution 1701, which brought theSecond Lebanon War to an end, is not being fully implemented. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Daniel Carmon said, "It has been over two years since the adoption of Resolution 1701 and the situation in Lebanon appears to be one of ongoing concern. Today, more than ever, we are witnessing challenges to UNIFIL’s activity and mandate. " He also said, "Instead of encouraging one of the main elements of Resolution. . .

UNIFIL, Lebanese Army conduct joint maneuvers along border
Daily Star 8/28/2008
SOUTH LEBANON: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) carried out a joint military maneuver along the Lebanese border Wednesday in a bid to "build up the skills of fighting groups and preserve their efficiency," the peacekeeping force said in a statement. The drill took place in the region located between the border region of Ras Naqoura and the Naqoura village and included UNIFIL and LAF field artillery. It was conducted in the presence of high-ranking Lebanese, French, Italian, Chinese and Spanish commanders. "What was remarkable in this maneuver was that six field guns were firing several shots toward the sea at the same time," the statement said. "While planning for this maneuver, our priority was to avoid bothering the local population in residential areas.

Sleiman urges world to open up to Syria
Daily Star 8/28/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman on Wednesday urged the international community to open up to Syria because of its key role in the region. "The international community must open up to Syria, following the example set by France, because Syria plays a fundamental role at the regional level," Sleiman said in a statement released by the presidential palace. He made his remarks at a meeting with an American delegation led by Deputy Assistant to the Undersecretary of State for Near East Affairs David Hale. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to visit Damascus on September 3 and 4 in the wake of the announcement by Syria and Lebanon that they will establish diplomatic relations for the first time. Paris froze high-level contacts with Damascus after the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

Egyptian FM, Suleiman discuss ’Israeli threats’
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
A visit to Beirut by the Egyptian foreign minister on Wednesday is another sign that Egypt, along with other Arab countries, has an increasing interest in Lebanon as the region braces for change with the upcoming American elections, an Egyptian political expert told The Jerusalem Post. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said he had discussed "Israeli threats" against Lebanon with the country’s president, Michel Suleiman. He had also offered assistance in helping to build up the capabilities of the Lebanese Army to help it shoulder its responsibilities, according to the Lebanese news site Naharnet. "It’s an indication of increasing Egyptian interest in Lebanon - Egypt’s interest not to be marginalized in Lebanon [and] to strengthen ties with different actors, particularly those that can be potential allies, and those that have working relations with Egypt," said. . .

Jamil Sayyed sues Detlev Mehlis for ’distorting’ Hariri investigation
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/28/2008
BEIRUT: A former Lebanese security chief detained over the murder of Lebanese Former Premier Rafik Hariri is suing a former UN investigator in the case, his lawyer said on Wednesday. General Jamil Sayyed, the former head of General Security, filed the lawsuit in France against Detlev Mehlis, attorney Akram Azouri told reporters. Sayyed is among four officers, believed to be close to Syria, who are in custody in Lebanon over the February 2005 assassination of Hariri in a massive Beirut car bombing. "Jamil Sayyed’s lawyers in France have filed the lawsuit against Mehlis for distorting the investigation and calling false witnesses," Azouri said. Sayyed and the other officers - former presidential guard chief Mustafa Hamdan, the former head of the Internal Security Forces Ali Hajj and the former chief of Army Intelligence Raymond Azar - have been held without charge since August 2005 but all have professed their innocence.

Security Council renews UNIFIL mandate by 1 year
Herb Keinon And Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
Israel welcomed the Security Council’s decision Wednesday to renew UNIFIL’s mandate in southern Lebanon, even though Jerusalem would have liked - and indeed has raised the matter in numerous capitals over the last few months - to see the peacekeepers’ rules of engagement strengthened. The 15-member council voted unanimously to extend the mission until August 31, 2009. Meanwhile, no progress has been made securing large swaths of Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria and security at the main Masnaa border crossing to Damascus is "disorganized and highly unsystematic," according to an independent inspection team dispatched last month by the United Nations. UNIFIL operates according to a UN Charter Chapter 6 mandate that only allows it to open fire in self-defense and prevents it from entering Lebanese villages without an escort from the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Israeli peace pioneer Abie Nathan dies aged 81
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Abie Nathan - Israeli peace pioneer, pirate radio station founder and former Royal Air Force pilot - has died in Tel Aviv at the age of 81, officials at the city’s Ichilov Hospital said Wednesday. Nathan burst onto the world of Middle East diplomacy in 1966 with a dramatic solo flight to Egypt in a rattletrap single-engine plane, more than a decade before Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty. Although he failed in his initial bid to talk peace with the Egyptians, his daredevil escapade won the affection of many Israelis, and he launched a long and often eccentric one-man crusade to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Over time, he earned a reputation as a maverick peace activist who often took diplomacy into his own hands. He was called a crackpot and a prophet. But many admired the daring of the former Israel Air Force fighter pilot. . .

Peace activist Nathan dead at 81
Ynet and AP, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Iranian-born Abie Nathan passes away at Tel Aviv after long illness. He served in Israel’s first airforce squadron, founded the ’Voice of Peace’ radio station and fought relentlessly for peace - flying solo to Egypt and serving jail time for meeting with Arafat - Abie Nathan, the pilot, entrepreneur, peace activist and founder of the groundbreaking ’’Voice of Peace’’ radio station, died Wednesday at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital, the hospital said in a statement. He was 81. President Shimon Peres eulogized Nathan as "a great warrior against war, against poverty and against discrimination. "The president praised Nathan as "a man who dedicated his life for others, for the betterment of humanity. He feared no risk, and didn’t hesitate to be at the head of every front. He was the greatest conqueror of hearts and a man of faith in a time when there was none.

Hospital: Israeli peace pioneer Abie Nathan dead at 81
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
Hospital officials say Israeli peace pioneer Abie Nathan has died at the age of 81. Nathan burst onto the world of Middle East diplomacy in 1966 with a dramatic solo flight to Egypt in a rattletrap single-engine plane, more than a decade before Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty. Although he failed in his initial bid to talk peace with the Egyptians, his daredevil escapade won the affection of many Israelis and launched a long and often eccentric one-man crusade to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. For many years he ran the "Voice of Peace" pirate radio station off the coast of Israel, appealing to all sides to end their decades of conflict. After suffering a stroke, he was inactive in recent years. He died Wednesday in a Tel Aviv hospital.

Haneyya: Dialog is still in the early stage of exploring views
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, on Wednesday said that internal dialog was still at its early stages as various parties are being explored for their views over that issue. Haneyya, who was inspecting the northern district of Gaza, told reporters that the dialog path is not easy but could reach satisfactory results for the Palestinian people if good intention prevails and if certain parties got rid of the American veto and put the higher interests of the Palestinian people ahead of personal interests. He would not say for sure that Egypt would open the Rafah border terminal before Ramadan, adding, "We are still asking our brothers in Egypt to open the Rafah crossing".

Hamas: PA forces detain 6 Hamas members in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Hamas said that Palestinian Authority (PA) security systems detained six Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. Hamas said in a statement that security forces detained Bashar Samaro, Ra’ed Munir, Sameh Abu Shamt and Riyad Qaradah, who was only released a few days ago. In addition, Hamas said, the PA arrested Ala’ Jarar’a and Ahmad Deirawi from the village of Asira ash Shamaliya, north of Nablus, after summoning them for interrogation. [end]

Detainee in Abbas’s jail loses 20 kg of his weight
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Relatives of Sheikh Adnan Al-Husary have expressed concern over news that the Sheikh had lost 20 kilograms of his weight during 50 days of detention in the preventive security apparatus’ jails in Tulkarem. Well informed sources said that the security apparatus, loyal to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, refuses to allow any visits to the detainee while his relatives are appealing to the Red Cross and human rights groups to call on him and ask for his release. The relatives said that Husary suffers from a number of diseases due to his incarceration in Israeli occupation prisons for two years under administrative detention. Meanwhile, relatives of another detainee in Abbas’s jails Ali Daraghme are concerned about the reported deterioration of their son’s health after one month in detention. They appealed to legal and human rights organizations to intervene and demand his release.

Egypt holds separate bilateral talks with Palestinian groups
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 8/26/2008
Cairo_(dpa) _ Palestinian officials holding talks in Egypt on ending divisions among the various Palestinian groups said Tuesday that talks between all Palestinian groups are to resume at the end of next month. Egypt is to hold separate talks with individual Palestinian factions throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts September 1, Mohamad al-Hindi, a senior official of the Islamic Jihad group, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. But the all-inclusive round of talks would resume after the Eid el-Fitr feast, during the first three days after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "Both Hamas and Fatah are invited to these separate talks," al-Hindi said. Islamic Jihad held a second day of talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Tuesday that al-Hindi told dpa had focused on the presence of Egyptian security advisors in the Gaza Strip.

P.A Ministry of Health slams Hamas for firing 40 health workers in one day
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 8/27/0200
The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank reported that the Hamas government in Gaza and its security forces fired 40 health workers, including physicians, pharmacists, lab specialists and X-Ray technicians in one day under the claims that they do not recognize the legitimacy of the Hamas government in Gaza. The Ministry added that the violations of Hamas has significantly increased and are becoming another threat to the Palestinian people besides the Israeli siege on the coastal region. The Ministry also said that since Hamas "violently took over the Gaza Strip, its militias attacked hospitals, medical centers, employees and every place that does not accept their rule in Gaza". Furthermore, the ministry added that while it already lacks employees, Hamas fired 40 personnel in one day without any proper cause although the fired employees are competent and received all needed trainings.

PA threatens its teachers with cutting salaries if they return to work
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA in Ramallah rejected the decision taken by the union of teachers in the Gaza Strip to end the strike as of Wednesday and threatened the union’s cadres who are actually affiliated with Fatah with cutting their salaries if they carried out their decision. Jamil Shehadeh, the secretary-general of the union of teachers in the West Bank, rebuffed the decision taken by the union leadership in Gaza to return to teaching, alleging that the decision was invalid and illegal because there was no party in Gaza empowered to talk on behalf of the union. An official source of the union in Gaza told the PIC reporter that the union of teachers, after extensive consultations, decided to refrain from the strike and return to schools, pointing out that there was an obvious PA threat to cut the salaries of all cadres of the union if they resumed teaching in Gaza schools.

Hamas backers replace Gaza’s teachers
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
The ruling Hamas movement on Wednesday replaced hundreds of striking teachers with its own supporters, purging Gaza’s education system of its political rivals and deepening its control of the coastal territory. The labor strife has disrupted the public school system at the start of the academic year and added to the misery in Gaza, which has suffered from international isolation and Israeli economic sanctions since Hamas violently seized power last year. During the takeover, Hamas routed forces loyal to the rival Fatah movement. The local teachers’ union, one of the last remaining Fatah strongholds in Gaza, called its strike this week to protest the transfers of dozens of educators to new schools. It said Hamas forced the transfers to give its supporters key posts in the education system. Hamas denied this, but then installed hundreds of new teachers almost immediately after the strike began.

Hamas: ''Fateh security forces arrested nine Hamas members in the West Bank''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 8/27/0200
Sources within the Hamas movement reported on Tuesday that Palestinian security forces, loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, arrested in the West Bank nine members and supporters of Hamas in the West Bank cities of Jenin, Qalqilia, Tulkarem and Bethlehem. In Jenin district, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Mohammad Zuhdi Hijazi, from Dir Abu D’eif village, and also arrested Yousef Hasan Abu Al Rob, Bassim Omar Abu Al Rob, and Imad Mahmoud Abu Al Rob. All are from Jalboun village. In Qalqilia, also in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Tamer Assaf, a university student. In Bethlehem, security forces arrested a university student identified as Mohammad Manasra from Wadi Fokeen village. In Tulkarem, security forces arrested Tamer Sukkar and Mohammad Aref.

Khader accuses parties within Fatah, PA of delivering him to IOA
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Liberated prisoner and former Fatah MP Husam Khader has accused influential circles within Fatah and PA leadership of handing the Israeli occupation authority a file filled with lies about him, which led to his detention. Khader, who was released on Monday from Israeli prisons along with 197 others mostly Fatah affiliated cadres as a "gesture of goodwill" to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement to Al-Jazeera. net that the file was filled with provocations and lies. He said that those circles had been greatly harmed by the outbreak of the Aqsa intifada in late September 2000 and its political and military results on the ground and their interests were also harmed when Hamas won the legislative elections because their interests that used to supply them with millions were obstructed. The Fatah leader said that he would try to mediate between his faction and Hamas movement in a bid to achieve clear national unity and program.

Officials: Cairo Talks Unlikely to Reconcile Hamas and Fatah
Reuters, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
A new round of Egyptian mediation starting on Monday and aimed at reconciling the rival Hamas and Fatah factions is unlikely to produce a breakthrough, officials familiar with the talks told. Sharp differences between Egypt and Hamas on two key issues will make it even harder for Cairo to broker a deal between the Islamic militant group that now rules the Gaza Strip and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, they said. " Egypt is not happy because Hamas suspended the talks on a Gilad Shalit prisoner swap and Hamas is angry because Egypt remained reluctant to host talks over the reopening of [Egypt’s] Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip," one official said. Shalit is an Israel Defense Forces soldier kidnapped by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. He is believed to be still held in the coastal strip. Hamas and other groups that took part in his capture have offered to trade him for hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Hamas lashes out at Ajrami’s discriminatory mentality
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Hamas expressed utter dismay at the statement by Ashraf Al-Ajrami, the minister of prisoners’ affairs in Ramallah government, in which he claimed that Hamas will not includ Fatah captives in its prisoners’ exchange deal. The Movement, in a press release issued in the West Bank, said "such stupid talk is only expected from a bigoted mentality like that of Ajrami who has been known for his notorious discrimination among prisoners". Hamas stressed that it asked for inclusion of prisoners of all factions when it demanded the release of prisoners serving high sentences and oldest serving prisoners. The Hamas list includes Fatah MP and leader Marwan Al-Barghouthi and PFLP secretary general Ahmed Saadat. It noted that Saadat was handed by the PA authority in Ramallah to the Israelis while the PA chief, Mahmoud Abbas, is seeking not to include Barghouthi in the Hamas’s swap deal.

Nunu: Strike threats would not extract political concessions
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Taher Al-Nunu, the spokesman of the PA caretaker government in Gaza, has asserted that the Ramallah authority’s threats of a general strike in Gaza would not succeed in achieving political gains and would not dissuade the government from its reform path. Nunu in a statement to the PIC on Wednesday said that the threats of the so-called employees syndicate in Ramallah to go on a general strike in all ministries in Gaza was a "ridiculous gag". "All knows that the majority of those who receive salaries from Ramallah do not go to work in the first place," he explained. Nunu stressed that such methods would not succeed in pushing the government into offering concessions or endorsing the schemes of those people. For his part, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press release on Wednesday that the Ramallah team was still exerting strenuous efforts in a bid. . .

Palestinian citizen of Israel killed in drive-by shooting
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian citizen of Israel was shot dead by masked attackers on Wednesday morning in the Galilee region of northern Israel. Police said 37-year-old Rabah Hijazi, from the village of Tamrah, was shot several times in the head. "Two masked men traveling in a white car opened fire at Hijazi in another car. Police are searching for the suspected car," a police statement said. Unidentified people on Wednesday morning shot dead a Palestinian holder of Israeli identity card, from the city of Tamrah in northern Israel. [end]

Palestine Today 082708
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/27/0200
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Wednesday August 27th, 2008. Israeli military forces continue to invade West Bank cities and kidnap Palestinian civilians, meanwhile Israel keeps Gaza crossing closed as Free Gaza Boats prepare to leave, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast An Israeli military force kidnapped three Palestinian civilians from the West Bank cities of Hebron, Nablus and Jenin on Wednesday morning, local sources reported. A number of military vehicles invaded Hebron and the nearby Surief town and Beit Ula village. Troops launched a wide scale search of residents’ homes. Soldiers took Tahseen Abu Ayesh, Sharif Adwan and Ibrahim Saraheen prisoner and led them to undisclosed location.

Israeli report: IOA gradually erasing green line
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- A report prepared by an Israeli leftist movement revealed that the Israeli occupation authority was continuing to expand settlements in the West Bank at an accelerated rate that would eventually erase the green line separating the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 from those occupied in 1948. The report by the peace now movement said that the increasing settlement activity aimed at erasing all features of the green line through intensifying building that would link settlement blocs to isolated settlements in the heart of the West Bank. It noted that more than 1,000 new buildings are under construction in the first half of 2008 that include around 2,600 housing units. The report pointed out that 55% of those buildings were built to the east of separation wall, and quoted the Israeli central statistics department as indicating that construction in settlements had almost increased double fold since last year.

Attacks on Officials and Public Institutions
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 8/27/2008
Bomb Explodes in al-Azhar University Campus in Gaza - On Tuesday, 26 August 2008, a bomb exploded in a classroom in the campus of al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City, but causing no casualties. This incident is part of the state of security chaos prevailing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 11:30 on Tuesday, 26 August 2008, a bomb placed in a classroom on the first floor of al-Katiba building, which is designed for humanitarian studies college, at al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City. The room was heavily damaged, but no casualties were reported. A number of college students had attended an exam in the room shortly before the explosion.

Bomb explodes at Al-Azhar University campus in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A bomb exploded in a classroom at Al-Azhar University in Gaza on Tuesday morning, causing no casualties. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported the incident in a statement released on Wednesday. The bomb went off in the Al-Katiba building on the campus in the West of Gaza City at 11:30am. The room was "heavily damaged. "A number of college students had attended an exam in the room shortly before the explosion. On Tuesday, 26 August 2008, a bomb exploded in a classroom in the campus of al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City, but causing no casualties. This incident is part of the state of security chaos prevailing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

As Rice Arrives in Region, Israel and PA Far from Peace Accord
Aluf Benn, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
The visit of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will seek to determine whether it will be possible to present an Israeli-Palestinian accord to the world, or even a partial document of agreement, before the end of the current year. Nine months have passed since the Annapolis conference, which was held at the behest of Rice and where the participants promised to "make every effort" to reach a settlement by the end of 2008. Any attempt to redeem that promise will take place in the shadow of a political crisis in Israel. Is a settlement possible? There are serious disagreements in the Israeli leadership over the answer to this. Before bridging the differences between Israelis and Palestinians, Rice will have to pave the way between the contradictory viewpoints of her hosts in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes that it is possible and necessary to reach a "shelf agreement" now - a deal whose implementation will be spread over a decade.

Israel Releases 198 Palestinian Prisoners as Rice Visits
Mohammed Assadi, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
Israel freed nearly 200 Palestinian prisoners to a hero’s welcome in the West Bank on Monday, seeking to bolster President Mahmoud Abbas as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began a new peace mission. Making her seventh visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories this year in the long-shot U. S. effort to secure a peace agreement by December, Rice welcomed the release as "something that matters a lot to the Palestinians. " She said she still aimed for a peace deal before President George W. Bush leaves office in January but played down chances of any partial accord in time for the September U. N. General Assembly. " It’s extremely important just to keep making forward progress rather than trying prematurely to come to some set of conclusions," Rice told reporters as she flew to Tel Aviv. " We continue to have the same goal which is to reach agreement by the end of the year," Rice said. She added later Washington was not pressuring the sides to "bridge the gaps," and acknowledged it would be hard to strike a deal this year.

Rice to Make New Push for Mideast Peace Agreement
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left for Israel and the Palestinian territories on Sunday in another bid to push the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process forward. Rice "will travel to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on August 24," said spokesman Sean McCormack. McCormack said Rice’s talks would include senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and would cover "ongoing efforts to create positive and lasting peace in the region and progress towards the shared goal of a peace agreement in 2008. " Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP on August 17 that Rice will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, then hold three-way talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and senior Palestinian diplomat Ahmad Qorei. The two sides formally relaunched the peace process after a seven-year hiatus at a US conference in November, with the goal of signing a full peace deal by the time President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009.

Hamas: Rice-Livni-Qurei meeting aims to tighten siege on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday charged that the meeting in Jerusalem between American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and former PA premier who is in charge of negotiations with Israel Ahmed Qurei is aimed at pressuring the Palestinians. Ayman Taha, one of the Hamas leaders, said in a press statement that the Americans are trying to pressure the Palestinians into accepting more concessions benefiting from the political discord in the Palestinian arena. He added that the tripartite meeting falls in line with attempts to tighten the siege on Gaza and isolate it from the outside world. "Regretfully the meeting does not fall in the interest of the Palestinian people," he said. Palestinian national dialog is still an American red line, Taha said, adding that the talks currently being held in Cairo were no more than exploration. . .

Masri: Rice visit desperate attempt to bring life to a dead ''peace process''
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Mushir Al-Masri, the secretary of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, has said that American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region bore "bad omens" with only the "Zionist enemy" benefiting from her visits. Masri told PIC on Tuesday that the visit constituted a "desperate attempt to bring life to the dead  "peace process" with the nearing end of tenure of the three weak leaders [PA chief Mahmoud] Abbas, [American president George] Bush and [Israeli premier Ehud] Olmert". He expressed conviction that the visit would not offer anything in the interest of the Palestinian people. He accused those who rush to meet Rice as the "owners of the failed project that did not succeed in realizing the minimum aspirations of the Palestinian people and is not expected to achieve any progress in face of the Zionist arrogance and the American bias".

Rice: ''Deal with PA still possible in 2008''
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/26/0200
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, does not believe that the Israeli government is intentionally expanding settlements in the West Bank and believes that a peace deal with the PA is possible this year, media sources reported on Tuesday. Israel accelerated the expansion of illegal West Bank settlements, deemed to be one of the primary obstacles to a Peace agreement. In spite of this, Rice made a remark during a press conference with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and sdad that she has faith in the Israeli intentions. "I don’t believe that it is Israel’s policy to increase activity in the settlements, rather it is to decrease activity", she stated. Rice also stated that she considers settlements an obstacle to the peace process. After meeting on Tuesday morning in Jerusalem, Rice and the Israeli Prime Minister Olmert released a joint statement claiming "progress" in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas to meet with Bush in September
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/27/2008
Ramallah -- President Abbas is slated to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert next week in preparation for a meeting in New York with US President Bush to be held later in September. Former Palestinian Prime Minister and current negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, made the announcement to the press that the meeting between Abbas and Bush will be held on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in Manhattan. The last time that President Abbas met with the Israeli Prime Minister was 6 August. [end]

Egypt discovers 140 smuggling tunnels under Gaza border
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egyptian security forces recently discovered 140 smuggling tunnels under the borders with the Gaza Strip, thanks to high-tech equipment Egypt received from the United States, Israeli radio reported on Wednesday. These details were related to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak during his meeting on Tuesday with Egyptian Defense minister Hussein Tantawi and director of Egyptian intelligence Umar Sulaiman in Alexandria. During that meeting, the officials tackled the perception that Hamas is showing no flexibility regarding the list of prisoners they want released in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The reason for that inflexibility is believed to be the prisoners swap between Israel and Hizbullah in July, which has emboldened Hamas to be firm with its demands.

85 tons of illegal gas seized en route to Gaza
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Infrastructure Ministry inspectors find 1,700 gas tanks hidden in Ashkelon warehouse, say stolen tanks were intended for terror groups in Gaza - Infrastructure Ministry inspectors seized some 85 tons of illegally manufactured gas in a warehouse in the southern part of Ashkelon’s industrial zone. The gas, which was stored in tanks, is believed to have been in intended for smuggling into the Gaza Strip. The ministry received a tip-off regarding the operation and dispatched inspectors to investigate. They raided the warehouse on Wednesday night, uncovering 1,700 large tanks. "The tanks were in a huge warehouse that is not suited for gas storage; it was filled with wooden platforms and had no fire extinguishing system in place. It posed a very grave threat to local residents," said Shimon Ben-Shlomo, a senior inspector with the ministry.

Awaida to PNN: never know if crossings will be open until night before
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/27/2008
Gaza -- Israeli forces continue the closure of all commercial crossings in the Gaza Strip for the second day running. The Director General of the Ministry of Economy in the Hamas government, Hatem Awaida, told PNN on Wednesday, "The Israelis continually close the crossings. We don’t know until night if they will be open the next day. " The District Coordinating Office that deals with the Israelis reported that the closure will last until further notice because of a rumored projectile launch on Monday, however no damage or injuries were reported by any source. The Palestinian security forces announced today that the information about possibly opening the crossings on Thursday came from Israeli forces late last night. Local radio stations in Gaza are reporting that the closure of the three commercial crossings will continue until further notice based on a directive of the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Health ministry: 46 patients, including 10 children, died since truce started
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The health ministry in the PA caretaker government has warned that the continued Israeli occupation authority’s delay in opening the Gaza crossings would entail serious repercussions on lives of many patients. The ministry in a press release on Tuesday said that victims of the siege are on the rise despite the lapse of 78 days on the start of the calm agreement, and noted that 46 Palestinian patients have died during this period including 10 children and 14 women. It said that the health conditions in the Strip are worsening daily with medical supplies and equipment still barred from entry and the ministry’s medicine stores are running out of stock. The ministry appealed to Egypt in its capacity as the patron of the calm agreement to pressure the IOA into opening crossings including that of Rafah and allow patients to travel abroad for treatment and allow entry of. . .

Israel decides to keep Gaza crossings closed
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Informed Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli occupation told Palestinian officials in Gaza and Ramallah that it would retain the commercial Gaza crossings closed until further notice without clarifying the reasons for this extension. The crossings were expected to be reopened on Wednesday after Israel closed them at the pretext that a Palestinian rocket landed in an Israeli settlement adjacent to Gaza. In another context, Palestinian sources said that a large number of Israeli police and intelligence elements stormed Tuesday the Jerusalemite club of Beit Hanina smashing doors, ransacking and confiscating contents. They also kidnapped three Palestinians who were in the club. In the wake of this raid, they headed directly to the house of Hazem Gharabli, the club manager, who was not home then, and left him a summons after searching the house.

46 Patients, including 10 children, died since the truce was declared
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/27/0200
The Palestinian Ministry of Health at the Hamas-led government in Gaza reported on Tuesday that 78 days after the truce deal came into effect in the Gaza Strip, 46 patients including 10 children, died due to the ongoing Israeli siege on the coastal region. The ministry said that a total of 241 patients died due to the siege which emptied all hospitals from the basic medical supplies and equipment while the patients were barred from leaving the Gaza Strip for medical treatment elsewhere. It added that Israel is ongoing with its violations, and continues to close all border terminals which are inflicting further suffering among the residents, especially the patients. The ministry also said that the Israel continues to violate the terms of the truce deal as it was supposed to fully open the border terminals in Gaza.

Taha: Egypt promised to open crossing before Ramadan for humanitarian cases
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Egypt has promised to open the Rafah border terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt before the holy month of Ramadan for a limited period before humanitarian cases, Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader said. He said in a statement on Monday evening that the Palestinian government in Gaza had received pledges from the Egyptians that the terminal would be opened for two days. Taha denied press reports that the crossing would open on Tuesday before the sick and stranded Palestinians. Egypt had partially opened the crossing on a few occasions before the sick and stranded but it remained virtually closed for over two years. [end]

IOA closes down Gaza crossings claiming 2 rockets were fired on Israeli targets
Palestinian Information Center 8/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority declared that all Gaza commercial closings would be shut down on Tuesday at the pretext that two locally made missiles were fired from Gaza into Israeli areas adjacent to it. The Hebrew radio said that a meeting between war minister Ehud Barak and his deputy last night ended with the decision to close all crossings. The Israeli occupation forces said that a projectile slammed west of Sderot and another rocket fell in the western Negev without causing any damage or casualties. No Palestinian faction adopted responsibility for firing the two missiles. Meanwhile, in the West Bank IOF soldiers broke into a prisoner’s home in Balata refugee camp near Nablus and searched it thoroughly. In Jenin district, a group of settlers last night roamed the streets of a number of villages, escorted by IOF soldiers, and terrorized inhabitants.

Following ’warm return’ policy, IDF sends African refugees back to Egypt
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
The Israel Defense Forces has in recent days returned to Egypt African refugees who tried to infiltrate into Israel, after being instructed to do so by the government in accordance with the policy called "warm return. "IDF soldiers stationed along the border with Egypt informed Haaretz on Tuesday of the refugees’ deportation. An army spokesman confirmed the report and said that "the IDF returned illegal infiltrators in recent days following instruction in recent months from the political echelon to do so, and following bilateral agreements between Israel and Egypt. The return was made possible by Egypt’s willingness to absorb the infiltrators. "Human rights organizations said in response that the IDF’s actions came in opposition to what the state had told the High Court of Justice.

Egypt arrests 33 migrants crossing illegally into Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/28/2008
AL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian authorities have arrested 33 African migrants, including four children, who were trying to cross the border illegally into Israel, a security official said on Wednesday. "The group, which included four children aged three to eight, was arrested on Tuesday evening in central Sinai near the border with Israel," the official told AFP. The porous 250-kilometer Egypt-Israel border has become a major transit route for migrants, asylum-seekers and drug smugglers. So far this year, 20 migrants have been killed attempting the crossing and 641 have been arrested, according to an AFP count. In a report published last week, Amnesty International urged the Egyptian government to launch an investigation into the shooting dead by police of people crossing the border illegally. - AFP

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for two days on occasion of Ramadan
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- An Egyptian media source has stated that Cairo will officially open the Rafah border crossing on next Saturday and Sunday before the Gaza citizens especially patients on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. In a press statement to the Quds Press, Egyptian specialist in the Palestinian affairs Ibrahim Al-Darawi, said that the decision taken by Cairo to open the Rafah crossing is considered a humanitarian gesture and a step to absorb the Arab and Egyptian popular pressure on the Egyptian leadership especially during a distinctive religious month like Ramadan. In another context, Darawi revealed that the visit of the delegations of the popular and democratic fronts to Cairo, which had been scheduled on Wednesday, was postponed until next Sunday. He pointed out that the democratic front’s delegation will be headed by its secretary-general Nayef Hawatmeh and the popular front by its undersecretary-general Abdelrahim Mallouh.

Iran: Israel too vulnerable to attack
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Revolutionary Guards commander says Tehran’s ballistic capabilities act as deterrent to any Israeli strike, warns Iran’s allies will also retaliate in event of attack -Israel would not dare launch an attack onIran for fear of the Islamic Republic’s missile array and the support of its Islamic allies in the region, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said on Wednesday. "In the event of an attack against Iran, the Israelis know that with the capabilities that the Islamic world and the Shiite world have in the region, they will suffer deadly strikes," the Mehr news agency quoted Jafari as saying, in an apparent reference to Hizbullah. " Our strategic assessment shows that if the Zionist regime took action, whether alone or with the United States, in minimal time all of its territory would be vulnerable because this country. . .

Iran’s Republican Guard: Zionist Entity in range of our missiles
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
Iran could hit back with missiles if Israel attacked it and could also rely on allies in the region to strike, the commander of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday. Israel, like the United States, has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to resolve a row over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The West and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons, despite Iran’s insistence that it wants technology to make electricity so that it can save more of its vast oil and gas resources for export. "Our strategic calculations show that if the Zionist regime wants to make the smallest move against our interests, either independently or with America, in the shortest time all the territories under the Zionist regime’s control will become unsafe," Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said.

Iran-Israel arms race heats up, both boost naval capabilities
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for August 26, 2008. The arms race between Israel and Iran is moving to the sea. In Iran, the production of domestically-made submarines recently began. The Iranian defense minister, who visited the production line Monday, said the purpose of the submarines would be to defend the oil pipelines in the Strait of Hormuz, through which up to 40 percent of the world’s oil supply passes. But of particular interest to Israel is the fact that the submarines will have the capability to launch what the Iranian state media called "various kinds of missiles. "No further details were provided. Meanwhile, the Israel Navy has its own plans. Two years after Hezbollah almost sank one of Israel’s top warships in the Second Lebanon War, naval supremacy has moved up on the military’s list of priorities.

Jordan reaches out to Hamas
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Amman changes approach to Palestinian Islamic group amid fears collapse of peace efforts may bring untold thousands of refugees into country. Israel slams move as ’unhelpful’ while worried Fatah dispatches envoy to Jordan - In an about-face, Jordan is reaching out to Hamas amid fears that a collapse of Mideast peacemaking would bring an influx of refugees. But the US ally must walk a delicate line to avoid angering the West. Hamas is outlawed in Jordan, which has accused the group in the past of trying to destabilize it. But Jordanian intelligence chief Mohammed al-Dahabi held two covert meetings with top Hamas leaders this month, ending a nearly decade-long banishment of the group. The talks don’t mean Jordan, which signed a 1994 peace deal with Israel, is embracing the Islamist group or is turning its back on Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Israel slams Jordan’s talks with Hamas as ’unhelpful to peace process’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
Israel on Wednesday criticized Jordanian overtures to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, saying the Hashemite Kingdom’s reversal of long-standing policy is "unhelpful to the peace process. In an about-face, Jordan is reaching out to Hamas amid fears that a collapse of Mideast peacemaking would bring an influx of refugees. But the U. S. ally must walk a delicate line to avoid angering its U. S. and Israeli friends. Hamas is outlawed in Jordan, which has accused the group in the past of trying to destabilize it. But Jordanian intelligence chief Mohammed al-Dahabi held two covert meetings with top Hamas leaders this month, ending a nearly decade-long banishment of the group. The talks don’t mean Jordan, which signed a 1994 peace deal with Israel, is embracing the militant group or is turning its back on Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Bank of China denies transferring funds to Hamas and Islamic Jihad
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A major state-owned Chinese bank denied charges on Wednesday filed against it in Los Angeles that it transferred money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. A group of 100 Israeli citizens filed the lawsuit last Thursday against Bank of China, alleging that the institution helped to fund "terrorism," in violation of American banking laws. "The accusation is absolutely groundless," Bank of China Ltd. said in a statement. "Bank of China is prepared to fight the suit. " A bank spokesperson said that the bank is considering a countersuit against the Israeli group. The lawsuit alleges that Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials in Iran and Syria used the bank’s services to transfer money toeventually to their allies in Gaza.

Gisha appeals Israel Radio ban on ad
Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
The human rights organization Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement on Wednesday appealed against a refusal by the Israel Broadcasting Authority to air a paid radio ad protesting the government’s refusal to allow university students from the Gaza Strip to study abroad. An IBA spokesman told The Jerusalem Post the authority had also banned a paid ad by the "Headquarters to Save the People and the Land" which used the word "expulsion" to describe the 2005 disengagement. The spokesman said both ads had been submitted by organizations with a political agenda and were in violation of the regulations dealing with paid commercials drawn up by the IBA. Last week, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition calling for the cancellation of the regulations prohibiting the airing of "politically controversial" commercial ads in the IBA and the Second Authority.

Petition: Shut down Army Radio on Shabbat
Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
IDF soldiers working for Army Radio will not be allowed to operate the station on Shabbat and Jewish holidays if the High Court of Justice accepts a petition filed Wednesday by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel. The organization’s lawyer, Yitzhak Bam, charged that soldiers -whether regular, reserve or professional - were in violation of the orders of the Supreme Command by doing so. Bam wrote that the orders of the Supreme Command prohibit all work by soldiers on Shabbat and Jewish holidays aside from combat and combat support activities or other emergency actions. "Radio broadcasts in the sense of broadcasts directed at the general public do not belong to the categories that the Supreme Command orders permit on Shabbat," Bam wrote. Bam added that the legal status of Israel Army Radio is problematic in general.

Israel Broadcast Authority silences radio campaign for students trapped in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli human rights organization Gisha filed an appeal with the Israel Broadcast Authority on Wednesday over the state’s banning of radio ads urging the government to allow Palestinian students to leave the Gaza Strip. Gisha had sought to buy advertising slots on Israel Radio (Reshet Bet) to air the spots, in which former Israeli education minister Yossi Sarid calls on the government to allow Gazans to travel abroad to study. However, Gisha was informed that "the director general of the Broadcast Authority does not approve the recording and airing of the campaign in the radio stations of the Voice of Israel since the subject matter of the campaign is politically and ideologically controversial and because the data provided in the commercial are not unequivocal. " In the appeal, Prof.

Ethics @ Work: Stifling expression in the name of fostering it
Asher Meir, Jerusalem Post 8/21/2008
In 2002, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Ami Ayalon (subsequently a Labor MK and cabinet minister) and Palestinian academic and former Palestinian Authority representative Sari Nusseibeh drafted an envisioned "final status agreement" for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Their belief was that this extra-governmental agreement could attract widespread grassroots support from large numbers of Israelis and Palestinians, and thus convince leaders of the viability of a solution and perhaps pressure them to implement one. The initiative was named Mifkad Leumi, literally "National Referendum," and was given the English name "People’s Voice. In 2003, the People’s Voice sought to buy airtime on state-owned television and radio, in order to publicize their initiative. However, after a few advertisements were aired, their request was refused; the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) decided

Prosecution: Talansky won’t testify if U.S. doesn’t give him immunity
Tomer Zarchin and Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
The Jerusalem District Prosecutor on Wednesday informed the Jerusalem District Court that Morris Talansky - the key witness in the graft probe against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - will not return to Israel for further testimony until an immunity deal with American authorities is reached. Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel told the court that, until now, American authorities have not supplied an answer to Talansky’s request for immunity against self-incrimination. Abarbanel informed the court that he spoke with Talansky’s Israeli attorney Jack Chen, who told him that Talansky had not yet purchased a plane ticket to travel to Israel despite being scheduled to testify on Sunday. Abarbanel added that it would have been better if Olmert’s attorneys had finished their cross-examination of Talansky last month.

Arab MK forms new party
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Abas Zkoor, one of Islamic Movement’s founders, decides to establish party which will care for interests of minorities in Israel following dispute with United Arab List Chairman Ibrahim Sarsur - Knesset Member Abas Zkoor (United Arab List-Ta’al) plans to leave his party and form a new Arab party. Zkoor announced Wednesday that he has launched negotiations with representatives from the Muslim, Bedouin, Christian and Druze sectors in a bid to care for the needs of the minorities inIsrael. "Instead of wandering around in Syria, the Palestinian Authority and Qatar, it is time to deal with the distress of citizens here," he stated. A dispute broke out recently between Zkoor and his party’s chairman, MK Ibrahim Sarsur, who also serves as head of the Islamic Movement’s southern branch. Sarsur demanded that Zkoor resign from the Knesset in accordance with the party’s rotation agreement.

Labor primaries ahead? Ayalon may challenge Barak
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 8/27/2008
While Mofaz bashes rival contender Livni as Kadima primary elections heat up, Labor’s Ayalon announces he may decide to run against current chairman Barak - In one rink we have Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz vs. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and in the other stands Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposite MK Ami Ayalon (Labor). In another attempt to slam Livni, Mofaz attempted persuading Kadima party members in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona that he is the best choice for their party’s chairmanship. During his tour of the city the transportation minister said, "I came here to Kiryat Shmona which I have been very familiar for many years. "I served here when I was in the IDF and in my position as defense minister. This is a city that underwent more than any other in Israel.

’Government too busy with primaries to free Gilad’
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Gilad Shalit will celebrate his 22nd birthday tomorrow, his third in Hamas captivity. As hundreds gather outside Gaza crossing for first of several events marking grim milestone, Miki Goldwasser slams government inaction -Some 150 people gathered just outside the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening to mark the 22nd birthday of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. It will be his third birthday spent in Hamas captivity. The event took place at the Suffa border crossing, where Palestinian gunmen abducted Shalit to Gaza on June 2006. Speaking to reporters ahead of the event, Miki Goldwasser slammed the government’s inaction towards securing Shalit’s release. After the body of her abducted son, Ehud Goldwasser, was repatriated by Hizbullah, Goldwasser has vowed to continue fighting for Shalit. Preparing the rally outside Gaza (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)

For Shalit’s birthday: Renewed negotiations?
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Olmert, Barak, Livni decide to ease conditions necessary for release of prisoners with blood on their hands, in hopes to renew negotiations with Hamas for kidnapped soldier’s release -On the eve of Gilad Shalit’s 22nd birthday, it seems there is a possibility of renewed negotiations for his release. The ’kitchen cabinet’ (comprised of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni) decided Wednesday afternoon to begin the process of easing conditions for the release of Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands. The decision comes on the heels of Barak’s meetings in Alexandria with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian head of intelligence Omar Suleiman. A ministerial committee to change the criteria for release of Palestinian prisoners is scheduled to take place on Sunday.

Nigerian militants say willing to help locate abducted Israeli
Barak Ravid Yossi Melman and, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
Assaf Uni Tags:Nigeria IsraelKidnappings The separatist militant group accused of abducting an Israeli businessman at gunpoint denied Wednesday that it was behind the kidnap, though it did say it would be ready to assist in locating him if the Israeli embassy appealed for such help. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, a militant Nigerian indigenous peoples group, said it had no part in the kidnapping of a 60-year-old project manager, who was abducted by armed gunmen near his home late Tuesday in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt. "MEND has no problems with construction companies but only with oil companies, military and Nigerian government," a source affiliated with the group told Haaretz. "If the Israeli people solicit our assistance through your ambassador, we are willing to help.

Israel walks tightrope as US and Russia dispatch ships to Georgia
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
As the US and Russia sent military vessels to dock at different Georgian ports on Wednesday, Israel continued to tread carefully, issuing no statement regarding Russia’s recognition of the breakaway Georgian provinces and - in an apparent show of balance - is planning to send humanitarian aid not only to Georgia, but to North Ossetia as well. Anatoly Yurkov, the charge d’affaires at Russia’s embassy in Tel Aviv, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview that Moscow appreciated the balanced position Israel had taken throughout the crisis, as well as its "low profile. " A first meeting was held in the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to discuss Russia’s recognition a day earlier of the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Post has learned that while Israel would most likely decide to continue to recognize Georgia’s "territorial integrity," it was unlikely. . .

Russia to up naval presence in Syria Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
Russia plans to increase its military presence in the Mediterranean by using Syrian ports more frequently, Reuters reported a Russian diplomat as saying on Wednesday. "Our Navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase," Igor Belyaev, the Russian charge d’affaires, told reporters in Damascus. "Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently. " "The visits are continuing," he added. The comments come despite a recent phone call between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in which the latter reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to maintain strong ties with Jerusalem amid tensions which surfaced between the two states as a result of the conflict in Georgia. Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Moscow last week, prompting concerns in Jerusalem that Russia might boost arms sales to Damascus.

Awkaf ministry warns of an Israeli scheme to bombard Aqsa Mosque with rockets
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA Awkaf (endowment) ministry in Gaza city has warned Wednesday of an Israeli plan to fire rockets at the Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, urging Arab foreign ministers to immediately convene in defense of the holy shrine. The ministry also called for an international committee to check the Israeli violations against the Mosque, including the excavation works that the Israeli occupation government was and still is carrying out that put the existence of the Mosque at risk. However, the ministry made it clear that any Israeli attempt to harm the Mosque would be "the spark that would mobilize the Muslim Ummah across the world to confront the occupation state". According to PA Awkaf minister Dr. Taleb Abu Sha’ar, the occupied city of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque were facing the the most serious scheme to judaize them and to confiscate more Palestinian lands in the occupied city.

Teachers’ Union warns school year may be suspended
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Union enraged by government’s decision to cut funds for civilian security services in kindergartens, despite defense establishment’s recommendation. Head of Knesset’s Education Committee urges cabinet to reinstate funds - Deja vu? The Teachers’ Union will not allow the new kindergarten school year to open unless the government reinstates the budget for kindergarten security, the union’s secretary-general Yossi Wasserman informed the Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee on Wednesday. The Finance Ministry decided to omit the funds from the recently approved Arrangements Act, despite defense establishment assessments that security personnel are needed in kindergartens. Education CrisisLocal authorities declare school strike / Moran Zelikovich One week before scheduled opening of school year local authorities decide educational institutions. . .

Road 6 operator will also operate Road 431
Lior Baron, Globes Online 8/27/2008
Danya Cebus will subcontract the operation to Derech Eretz Highways. Danya Cebus(TASE: DNYA) the contracting arm of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE: AFIL; Pink Sheets: AFIVY. PK) has reached agreement in principle with Road 6 franchisee Derech Eretz Highways Ltd. , to act as a subcontractor on Road 431 providing maintenance and operations services, the company’s financial report reveals. Danya Cebus’s inclusion of the agreement in its financial report confirms the report published by "Globes" that the company was in advanced talks with Derech Eretz on the operation of lateral road 431 from Modiin to Rishon LeZion, which is due to open in early 2009. Danya Cebus, through its subsidiary, Netivei Hayovel Ltd. , received the franchise to operate Road 431 for 20-30 years.

IRAQ: Some Palestinian refugees to get special IDs
IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/27/2008
BAGHDAD, 27 August 2008 () - The Iraqi government has launched a registration process for Palestinian refugees who arrived between 1948 and 1967 - and their descendants - to help ensure they benefit from government aid programmes. Those registered will be issued with ID cards which identify them as refugees, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration said on 26 August. "We started the process three months ago and so far we have registered about 10,500 Palestinian refugees Baghdad," said Samir al-Nahi, head of the Ministry’s Humanitarian Directorate. "Our teams will soon head to the northern province of Nineva and the southern province of Basra to register other Palestinian refugees"¦ Another team will visit al-Walid camp inside Iraqi territory on the border with Syria," al-Nahi told. Al-Nahi said the aim is to update government data on the number of Palestinian refugees, and. . .

JORDAN: Iraqi students exempted from school fees
Maria Font de Matas/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/27/2008
AMMAN, 27 August 2008 (IRIN) -Jordan has waived annual fees in state-owned schools for Iraqi students to help them cope with rising living costs, a Ministry of Education official said on 26 August. The decision comes after the government cancelled school fees for Jordanians in state schools in 2008-2009, said Managing Director of General Education and Students Affairs Mohammad Ekour. "We have sent letters to all schools. . . to exempt Iraqis from paying school fees and the decision has already been implemented in all parts of the kingdom," said Ekour. He said all Iraqis, despite their immigration status, would be able to take advantage of the move. Each state school student pays 20-30 Jordanian dinars (US$28-42) per term. Textbooks cost an additional 50 dinars per student, causing financial problems for some Iraqis, who have an average of three children in school.

Rice’s Libya visit next week aims to show benefits of bending
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/28/2008
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will embark on a historic visit to Libya next week, a US official told AFP Tuesday, the first time the top US diplomat travels to the country since 1953. Washington is eager to show how a country like Libya, which has abandoned its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, can benefit from a rapprochement with Western states - a clear message to countries like Iran and North Korea, which have nuclear programs. Rice’s visit comes less than a month after a agreement with Libya to compensate US victims of Libyan attacks, and those of US reprisals, from the 1980s. The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not give a precise date for the trip, saying it would take place "next week. "No mention was made of Rice’s agenda in the Libyan capital, but it is likely she will meet with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Lebanon issues arrest warrant for Gathafi
Middle East Online 8/27/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanon has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammer Gathafi over the disappearance 30 years ago of a senior Shiite Muslim cleric after a visit to Libya, officials said on Wednesday. Gathafi was also indicted for allegedly "inciting the abduction" of Imam Mussa Sadr, the spiritual guide of Lebanon’s Shiite community, investigating magistrate Samih el-Hajj said in a charge sheet. An "arrest warrant" was issued for Gathafi and six other Libyan suspects who were also indicted for taking part in the alleged abduction. Sadr, who founded the opposition Amal movement now led by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, disappeared while in Libya with two companions Mohammed Yacoub and Abbas Badreddin in 1978. There has been no trace of the three men since. Libya maintains that the trio left for Italy on August 31, 1978 after their stay in Tripoli and that it has no idea what happened to them afterwards.

Sectarian clashes flare in Iraq
Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail, Asia Times 8/28/2008
BAQUBA - A military operation said to target al-Qaeda has ended up targeting Sunni Muslims instead, creating new sectarian tensions. A US-backed security operation launched last month has only targeted cities with majority Sunni populations such as Buhriz, Tahreer, Qatoon, Mafraq and Hay in Diyala province, north of Baghdad. The operation has drawn more than 50,000 Iraqi soldiers. The deputy governor of Diyala, Awf Rahoomi, has demanded in a public speech in Baquba that "the new security plan should also include Shi’ite cities like Hwaider, Khirnabat and Abara". These Shi’ite districts are strongholds of the Mahdi Army of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and of the Badr Organization, the militia of the ruling Shi’ite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. " The forces of the new security plan took all our weapons to the extent that we cannot fight al-Qaeda any more; we are impotent,"

Palestinian newspaper chief editor sees ''political surprise'' behind Rice’s irrational optimism
Ma’an News Agency 8/27/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The editor of a leading Palestinian newspaper believes that Condoleezza Rice is preparing a political surprise. Hafith Barghouthi, the chief editor of the daily Hayat Al-Jadidah, wrote in an editorial published on Wednesday that Rice’s seemingly unjustifiable optimism about the US-backed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks may be attributable to developments in the negotiations themselves. "It seems a political ’meal’ is being cooked on fire behind the scenes as the statement released by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and the US secretary of state shows unprecedented optimism about reaching agreement before the end of this year," the article said. Under the title "Comprehensive Peace", Barghouthi said that the number and apparent intensity of the meetings Rice held with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators may yet yield results.

Goldwasser: Push aside the primaries
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
Politicians care more about the upcoming elections than they do about freeing Gilad Schalit, said Miki Goldwasser, who traveled to the southern border on Wednesday to help the young man’s friends mark his 22nd birthday, his third in captivity. Slideshow:"Push aside the primaries," she said, and unite to free Schalit from Hamas. The event was one of Goldwasser’s first public appearances since her son Ehud’s body was returned to Israel last month, two years after he was killed by Hizbullah. Almost immediately after learning of his fate in July, she promised to fight for Gilad’s release. "I don’t know why the politicians are not doing more, maybe they are busy with other things, like the primaries," she told reporters. Looking out at the small crowd of friends who had gathered at the edge of Kibbutz Sufa close to where Schalit was captured, one day before Schalit’s. . .

Miki Goldwasser: Leaders care more about internal politics than Gilad Shalit
Jack Khoury Amos Harel and Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
The mother of an Israeli soldier abducted and killed by Hezbollah condemned the government Wednesday for being too concerned with the upcoming Kadima leadership race to worry about the fate of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza for more than two years. Miki Goldwasser, whose son Ehud and comrade Eldad Regev were killed by Hezbollah during their July 2006 abduction, was speaking at a ceremony at a Gaza-Israel border crossing to mark Shalit’s 22nd birthday - his third in captivity. She called on all mothers in Gaza with sons in Israeli jails to demand that Gaza rulers Hamas secure their release as part of a swap for Shalit. "A mother does not send her son to die, she sends herself to die for her son," said Goldwasser. "Hamas promised it would free your children.

Talansky will not return to Israel to testify
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Key witness in fraud investigation against Olmert has not purchased ticket to Israel for court hearing scheduled for next week; State Prosecutor appeals US justice dept to allow Talansky to avoid self-incrimination -The US Justice Department has yet to reply to a request by Israel’s state prosecutor’s office regarding millionaire Morris Talansky. According to a report by the prosecution on Wednesday to the Jerusalem district court, Talansky will most likely not be present at a Sunday court hearing at which he was expected. Talansky announced last week that he would not be returning to Israel to testify at the end of August in order to avoid self-incrimination. In response, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel appealed to their American counterparts to refrain from using material from Talansky’s testimony in Israel in any subsequent proceedings against him in the US.

State Comptroller blasts Olmert for additional Investment Center improprieties
Ora Koren and Revital Levy-Stein, TheMarker, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of further improprieties during the period when he served as the minister of industry, trade and labor. Lindenstrauss said that during Olmert’s tenure, over which he has already been investigated for alleged corruption, his aides at the ministry pressured its Investment Center management to advance investment plans and approve grants for entrepreneurs and industrialists in violation of labor regulations and procedures. The state comptroller referred to a report released on Wednesday that focuses on Olmert’s involvement in and approval of a tourism project called Aquaria, a planned recreation park that was to be built north of Eilat by entrepreneur Ran Peker. According to the report, Olmert and his associates pressed for funding for Aquaria, despite the fact that the project did not prove its economic feasability.

IDF announces month-long equipment recall
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Logistics Branch urges reservists in possession of military-grade weapons, equipment to return them to army, promises ’no questions asked’ policy. Recall operation to last until end of September - The IDF has called on all reservists to return any military equipment that may have been left in their possession after they ended active duty, declaring official weapons and equipment recall between mid-August and the end of September. The recall, organized by the IDF Logistics Branch, is meant to retrieve any operational equipment which may still be in civilian hands, such as weapons, ammunitions or medical supplies. Keeping military-grade equipment at home, explained the IDF, may pose a risk to both the reservists and their families. The military is also interested in making sure any such equipment doesn’t accidentally fall into the wrong hands.

Mofaz: I can make fateful decisions, Livni can’t
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
Transportation Minister and Kadima Party chairmanship candidate Shaul Mofaz asked Kadima party activists on Wednesday in Kiryat Shmona which candidate they wanted deciding matters connected to the fate of Israel. Two weeks ahead of the scheduled Kadima primary, in which the party leader will be chosen to succeed Ehud Olmert as prime minister, Mofaz said "I ask today: Who would you want making decisions regarding the significant questions that stand on the agenda of this area and other areas in Israel? And especially here in Kiryat Shmona, the city which has absorbed the most missiles. I can ? She cant," Mofaz said without mentioning Tzipi Livni’s name. Mofaz also said that the crucial question facing voters is, "Who will they vote for? a strong leader who is capable of making the right decisions and leading Israel and the region in. . .

Free Gaza activists along with students to leave Gaza tomorrow
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege stated Wednesday that the Free Gaza activists will leave the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning and will take with them students unable to travel to study abroad, deploring at the same time Israel for arresting Jeff Halper, one of the activists, who had sailed to the Strip to challenge the Israeli siege on its people. MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the committee, told a press conference, that the anti-siege activists took a distinctive tour in Gaza, where they visited hospitals and closed crossings, and looked closely at the tragedies lived by the Gaza people and the size of the destruction caused by Israel. MP Khudari also called for necessarily moving to stop Israel’s measures against Halper, saying that his arrest proves that Israel does not want peace. The activists underlined that they will leave some of them in Gaza because. . .

Israeli who sailed to Gaza released
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Prof Jeff Halper, the only Israeli on board two ships that attempted to break an Israeli naval blockade on Gaza last week, was released after being detained Tuesday by police -Professor Jeff Halper, the only Israeli citizen to participate in a sea-borne attempt to sail into Gaza on Saturday, was released on Wednesday after being detained by police on Tuesday. Minnesota-born Halper, an Anthropology lecturer from Ben Gurion University who also chairs the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, was among dozens of international activists who sailed from Cyprus over the weekend in an attempt to break an Israeli naval blockade of the coastal enclave. Halper was arrested after he passed through the Erez crossing back into Israel, since he had violated a military order prohibiting Jewish civilians from entering Gaza that was legislated pursuant to the Disengagement in 2005.

UN official: Arrival of boats to Gaza great symbolic victory
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Richard Falk, the UN rapporteur of human rights in occupied Palestine, has said that the two boats that arrived in Gaza a few days ago carrying international sympathizers constituted an important symbolic victory. He said in press statements on Tuesday that the peaceful initiative of the "Free Gaza" movement drew the world’s attention to the fact that one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza were reeling under such collective punishment for more than a year. Falk charged that the siege was a form of collective punishment, which constituted a violation of article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention. Siege, sea closure, constant flying of Israeli planes bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s declared withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 it was still occupying Gaza and it was still responsible for protecting human rights of civilians in the Strip.

IDF temporarily bans 3 rightists from West Bank
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Central Command issues restraining orders against three right-wing activists after intelligence indicates they intend on hindering upcoming Palestinian olive harvest - IDF Central Command chief, Major-General Gadi Shamni, issued three restraining orders against settlers residing in the West Bank settlements of Yitzhar and Adi-Ad, banning them from the area pending the conclusion of the upcoming Palestinian olive harvest. Early Wednesday morning, the men - all known right-wing activists - were presented with the warrants, banning them from the West Bank from several months. According to defense establishment sources, the warrants were issued at this time despite the harvest being scheduled for October, since the army had accurate intelligence suggesting the men intend to hinder both the harvest and the preparations for it.

RIGHTS: Accused Terrorist Sues Norway
Tarjei Kidd Olsen, Inter Press Service 8/27/2008
OSLO, Aug 27(IPS) - The co-founder of a suspected al-Qaeda linked militant group in Iraq who lived a double life as a refugee in Norway’s capital Oslo is suing Norway for violating his rights. The bizarre saga began when Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, better known as Mullah Krekar, fled an onslaught by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991. Krekar, who had been a member of a Kurdish Islamist militant group battling both the Iraqi regime and the largest Kurdish resistance organisation Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), arrived in Norway, where he was granted refugee status. So far so good, but Krekar did not rest on his laurels, according to the U. S. , and officials in Kurdish Iraq. Instead, they say, he returned to Iraq on several occasions during the 1990s to help support Islamic militant organisations.

Digital Bible: Dead Sea Scrolls to be made available online
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Israeli and American scientists are bringing the oldest known version of the Hebrew Bible into the 21th century. They’re digitally reproducing the Dead Sea Scrolls online. The ancient manuscripts containing almost the entire Hebrew Bible date back over 2,000 years. They are widely considered to be one of the most important archaeological finds ever. They were discovered accidentally by a Bedouin shepherd looking for a stray sheep in 1947. The Antiquities Authority said Wednesday that reproducing the thousands of scroll fragments will take about five years. Special imaging cameras are being used to record the priceless manuscripts without damaging them. The IAA says its goal is to image the thousands of Scroll fragments in the State Collections in color and infra red using sophisticated digital cameras and placing them in an Internet data bank.

Fragile Dead Sea Scrolls to be put on web
Middle East Online 8/27/2008
JERUSALEM - Israeli scientists on Wednesday unveiled a programme to put thousands of fragile fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls online, using infrared imaging to reveal previously illegible portions of the biblical documents. In order to protect the millennia-old documents only a few of the parchment fragments, which contain the oldest Hebrew record of the Old Testament discovered to date, have ever been put on public display. "The project will involve the documentation of all of the thousands of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments belonging to about 900 manuscripts, and placing them in an Internet databank that will be available to the public," the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said. By using infrared and colour imaging scientists believe "scores of scroll fragments that were blackened or ostensibly erased over the years and which were not visible to the naked eye until now" will be able to be read, it added.

PA Police: West Bank man kept his mentally disabled kids in dungeon for 20 years
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/27/2008
A Palestinian couple locked their disabled son and daughter away for decades out of fear they would ruin the marriage prospects of a healthy child if discovered, police said Wednesday. The case highlights the shame felt by families who have children with disabilities in Palestinian society - made worse because of poor services and the practice of marriages between first cousins. "This is sad, shameful and awful," rights activist Imad Abumohr said. Few people in the rural town of Beit Awwa knew of Basam Musalmeh, 38, and his sister Nawal, 42. They were kept since childhood in two concrete rooms that stank of sweat and urine adjoining the family’s house. Police found them Tuesday night while searching for Hamas loyalists and criminals, said an official who asked not to be identified because the Palestinian Authority publicly denies it cracks down on the militant group.

Descendants of Marranos arrive in Israel
Ynetnews, YNetNews 8/27/2008
Delegation of 16 Europeans, whose ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during inquisition over 500 years ago, seek to renew their ties with Jewish people, state - A delegation of 16 Bnai Anousim from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France arrived in Israel over the weekend. Bnai Anousim (referred to as "Marranos" by historians) is the name for Mediterranean European Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism on pain of death during the Spanish Inquisition. In the late 14th and 15th century, at the time of mass expulsions of Jews from Spain and Portugal, the Bnai Anousim remained behind, where they continued to preserve their Jewish identity and to practice the Jewish faith covertly. As a result, this unique phenomenon is still evident even today, even though the Inquisition invested enormous efforts over the centuries to eradicate it.

McCartney ’can’t wait to get out there and rock’
David Brinn, Jerusalem Post 8/27/2008
While tickets for the the Paul McCartney ’Friendship First’ concert at Hayarkon Park were being snapped up, the producers of the show had their official unveiling on Wednesday. Dudu and Boaz Zarzevski, who have produced many shows in Israel, including Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Ian Brown, as well as the current Eilat Jazz Festival, have received financial backing from Dedi Nitznani and Yakir Sha’ashua, a businessman in the field of security, real estate and aviation. Sha’ashua specializes in private jet and helicopter services for VIPs, and this is his first venture into the entertainment field. He reportedly entered into the picture when original investors, Partner, backed out. "This is a longtime dream come true for hundreds of thousands fans. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime show," Dudi Zarzevsky told reporters Wednesday.

From papyrus to cyberspace: Israel to make Dead Sea Scrolls available online
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 8/27/2008
The project to digitise the Dead Sea Scrolls could take five years and will cost millions of dollars. - Scientists and scholarshave begun a programme to take the first high-resolution, digital photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls so they can be made available to the public on the internet. The Israel Antiquities Authority this week ends a pilot project that prepares the way for a much larger operation to photograph the 15-20,000 fragments that make up the 900 scrolls which were discovered 60 years ago by shepherds in caves close to the Dead Sea. The scrolls were first photographed in the 1950s, after their discovery, and have since then been kept in specially monitored conditions in a vault. Only four specially-trained curators are allowed to handle them.


The last of the dreamers of peace
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
      It was a Saturday afternoon in the late 1980s. We entered The Voice of Peace’s rickety Subaru truck and drove to Gaza to Mahmoud Zahar’s house. Afternoon coffee with the Hamasnik, just imagine. Imagine that once it was possible to visit Zahar on a Saturday afternoon. Just think  there once was a man here who dreamed of peace.
     Picture a pilot who never drove a car. All those things sound like hallucinations now, even more than they used to.
     Abie Nathan was perhaps the only Israeli who felt guilty about 1948. As a volunteer pilot from overseas he had bombed Palestinian villages and then wanted to make up for it. He didn’t shoot and whine about it but actually tried to make amends.
     Today that sounds like science fiction. Israeli? Very doubtful. He lived among us for decades, but Abie dreamed in English and thought in Hindi. He helped Palestinian children, but also hastened to every disaster area in the world. In that, too, he was perhaps the last Israeli who saw compassion and aid as global notions. Our Mother Teresa.

Israel pushes ahead with settlement expansion

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 8/27/2008
      JERUSALEM, 27 August (IPS) - Israel has published tenders for the construction of 1,761 illegal housing units for Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem alone, according to the Israeli rights group Peace Now.
     The expansion plans come despite promises by the Israeli government at last year’s peace summit at Annapolis, Maryland to freeze all settlement growth.
     "Once again this government has shown that its words and commitments are meaningless, and they have no intention of keeping to their word," says Peace Now.
     United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed repeatedly that settlement construction or expansion in the West Bank is contrary to international law and Israel’s commitments under the "road map" peace process.
     The road map was a series of peace-building measures proposed by US President George W. Bush in 2002 and subsequently developed by the diplomatic Quartet of the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the United States.
     Ban Ki-moon further urged Israel to freeze all settlement activity and to dismantle outposts erected since March of 2001.

Rights Advocates Defy Israeli Blockade of Gaza

Isabel Kershner, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
      Two boats carrying more than 40 international human rights advocates landed in Gaza on Saturday, challenging an Israeli blockade of the Hamas-run territory.
     About 2,000 residents came out to greet them at the small seaport near Gaza City. Many were singing, while others swam or set out in fishing vessels to meet the boats.
     Israel had told the activists to keep their boats away but ultimately decided to allow them to land, apparently to prevent a potentially more damaging public relations drama.
     Arye Mekel, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the decision was made “to avoid the provocation they had planned at high sea,” and because the Israeli authorities knew exactly who was on board and what cargo they were carrying.
     The human rights advocates, ranging in age from 22 to 81 and coming from about a dozen countries, set sail from Cyprus on Friday morning to make a symbolic stand against what they called Israel’s “illegal” and “immoral” siege of Gaza. They were carrying 200 hearing aids for children in Gaza and thousands of balloons.

Sailing into Gaza

Huwaida Arraf, International Solidarity Movement 8/27/2008
      August 25, 2008
     On Saturday, after 32 hours on the high seas, I sailed into the port of Gaza City with 45 other citizens from around the world in defiance of Israel’s blockade. We traveled from Cyprus with humanitarian provisions for Palestinians living under siege. My family in Michigan was worried sick.
     They are not naïve. They knew that Israel could have attacked us "” as Israeli forces did in 2003, killing nonviolent American witnessand Brit Tom Hurndall as well as thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilians over the years.
     My family members, though, remember that 60 years ago part of our own family was uprooted and driven from their homes in Palestine by Israeli forces. This loss no doubt fueled my decision to risk my safety and freedom to advance the human rights of innocent men, women and children in Gaza.

Palestinian herders double suffer

Middle East Online 8/27/2008
      ISFEY FOQA - Hard-hit by a severe three-year drought and tough restrictions on movement imposed by Israel, Palestinian shepherds are facing what some elders call their worst crisis in living memory.
     "All we have left is hope," says Musa Abdullah Awad, a wizened 49-year-old herder as he looks down at the remaining water in his cistern, which he says is barely enough to keep his goats alive a little longer.
     As far as the eye can see there is nothing but dust, rocks and grinding poverty.
     With more than 100 goats, Awad is better off than many of his neighbours whose homes dot the Hebron Hills on the southern edge of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, one of the most drought-stricken areas in the region.
     "These are people who are used to a tough life but they are now on the edge," says Helge Kvam of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been providing emergency relief to the herders.

Break the Siege by Sea boats plan to return quickly

PNN, Palestine News Network 8/27/2008
      Gaza City - The Free Gaza Movement’s Greta Berlin confirmed via press release Wednesday that "several Palestinian students" will be leaving Gaza with the activists on Thursday. It was earlier believed that just two Fulbright Scholars would be going out with the boats, but now the number of students has increased.
     The Israeli government refused to issue exit permits to several Fulbright students, as well as hundreds of other students who have been accepted to study abroad, regardless of the fact that the denial of the right to education contravenes international norms. The US government in turn took exception to at least two of the Fulbright Scholars, revoking their entry visas.
     On the boats heading for Cyprus, the group will also be joined by a Gaza professor who teaches in Europe and a young woman wishing to be reunited with her husband. Both are among the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip who cannot get out via land or air due to decades of occupation and over a year of siege.

The ‘One-State Solution’ is Full of Dangers

The National - Editorial, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
      Every so often comes a remorseful Israeli leftist academic, a well-meaning Western peace activist, or a frustrated Palestinian official like Ahmed Qurie, the head of the Palestinian peace delegation, who pronounces the death of the two-state formula and advocates a one-state solution on the whole land of historic Palestine as a way to end the 60-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     The appeal of this solution is indisputable. Imagine two people divided by decades of rancour and blood agreeing to share the same land, the same resources, the same future. Imagine reciprocal recognition of all suffering and dispossession. Imagine a new citizenship that would weave together all the complexities of Israeli and Palestinian identities. Imagine the power of this model for the Middle East and the world.
     The problem with this dream? It is just that, a dream. Worse, pursuing this fantasy could deal a deadly blow to the national aspirations of the Palestinians and postpone indefinitely any peace agreement.

More than ’Unhelpful,’ Settlements are Detrimental

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 8/27/2008
      In what will probably be her last trip to the region in her capacity as US Secretary of State this week, Condoleezza Rice called Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem, "unhelpful." As if this weren’t bad enough, Rice continued to make excuses for Israel, saying she still has faith in their intentions. "I don’t believe that it is Israel’s policy to increase activity in the settlements, rather it is to decrease activity."
     Does anyone really listen to Condi anymore? If we are to measure just how much the parties, Palestinians in particular, should put their eggs into her basket based on statements like these, the answer is definitely no.
     The biased and at best, lukewarm official US position on illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem is nothing new. No one was shocked out of their seats by Rice’s obvious failure to acknowledge the detrimental impact of these all-Jewish colonies in the heart of Palestinian land. Consecutive American administrations have all but given their seal of approval to the major settlement blocs in the West Bank and especially those encircling east Jerusalem, with US President George W. Bush stating in his 2004 letter to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." In basic English this means, the settlements Israel regards as strategic and imperative to Israel’s security and national identity are there to stay.

The zoo on the road to Nablus

Amelia Thomas, Electronic Intifada 8/27/2008
      Dr. Sami greeted the journalist at the ticket office.
     "Welcome," he said. "Please come this way."
     He began a tour of the zoo, first heading north up the zoo’s main avenue, past the dry fountain, the restaurant, and a dusty playground. At the top, he introduced Ruti, his prize giraffe. An impassive silver-haired keeper trailed casually a few footsteps behind. Along the back wall ranged the herbivores: Fufu, a sleek, bearded ibex, another of Sami’s favorites. Four piebald ponies. An irritable camel. A collection of sheep.
     "The people want to see something in every cage," Sami explained, "so I filled them with whatever I could find."
     Halfway along, the path cut left across the playground to a narrow central boulevard that bisected the zoo. A row of cramped, bare quarters contained the smaller animals. A porcupine. A gaggle of fat geese. Five tawny owls. Pigeons. A plump, solitary badger taking a dust bath in the sunshine.