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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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29 August 2008

Young Palestinian shot in head with rubber-coated bullet, dozens sick from wastewater and tear gas in Bil’in
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an - Mohammed Jaber Daraghameh was shot in the head with a metal bullet Friday as he participated in a protest march in the village of Bil’in and was transferred to Ash-Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah for treatment. Several others choked on tear gas after Israeli forces attacked marchers as they neared the site of the construction of the separation wall, and attempted to cross into ancestral village lands. Many members of the Central Committee of the Popular Struggle Front participated in the demonstrators in solidarity with the villagers. The demonstrators managed to reach the wall and walked along its route chanting slogans against the Israeli soldiers. Shortly after protesters reached the wall, clashes erupted between the demonstrators and Israeli soldiers and soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators.

The Israeli army forces Palestinian men to remove their clothes at a checkpoint near Jenin city
Ghassan Bannoura & IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Israeli troops forced Palestinian men to undress in public then searched them at a checkpoint the soldiers have setup Thursday evening near the West Bank town of Qabatiya near Jenin, local sources reported. According to the source, troops entered the town Thursday night, and setup the roadblock and stopped residents of Qabatiya entering or exiting the town. The checkpoint was removed on Friday morning. There are currently over 500 checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank restricting the movement of Palestinians in their country. Palestinians suffer systematic humiliation at these checkpoints almost on daily basis. Israeli officials have repeatedly declared that they will remove dozens of these roadblocks in order to ease the restrictions, however, many of these checkpoints and roadblocks remain in place.

Young man killed by Israeli landmine in southern Jenin
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 8/29/2008
Jenin -- Nizar Mahmoud Soarkeh died Friday morning. The 24 year old was killed by a landmine left undetonated by Israeli forces in southern Jenin. Area residents report hearing an explosion that rocked the early morning hours. It came from the vicinity of a former Israeli military camp that had been installed in the northern West Bank. The young man’s relatives report that he was on his way to work on his farm in the same area when the landmine exploded. His remains were transferred to Jenin’s Government Hospital, Khalil Memorial. Palestinian police immediately began conducting an investigation. They report that "the area where the explosion occurred was formerly a camp of the Israeli occupation army. " Palestinian sources said that the 24 year old was third family member killed by Israeli forces.

Medical supplies destroyed as union actions against Hamas government continue in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto health Ministry of the Gaza Strip said Friday morning that it apprehended groups of doctors and nurses attempting to destroy valuable and irreplaceable x-ray and surgical equipment. The actions are part of a surprise call for a strike from the Union of Medical Professionals after it was discovered that 40 union members were fired from their jobs in Gaza. This is one of a series of union actions protesting what they call the "violent means" of the Hamas government. For its part, the Ministry of Health for the de facto government ordered all medical professionals back to work. The ministry said it would ignore all calls for such actions, saying that they would not benefit Palestinians. The ministry added in a statement that medical workers were trying to sabotage ministry efforts to avoid the strike.

Hamas demands 1,500 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit, who turned 22 Thursday
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Gilad Shalit turned 22 on Thursday, then on Friday Hamas officials say 15,000 prisoners are the ticket for his return. Initial demands were for 450 prisoners, but recent months saw the demand rise to 1,000 and now, according to Israeli government sources who were informed by Egyptian officials, Shalit’s captors will not release him for fewer than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli press reports their government officials as blaming the truce with Hamas as having strengthened the party, saying that when Israel stopped exerting "pressure" on the Gaza Strip, their demands became stronger. , the Hizbullah swap andOfer Dekel, charged with Shalit’s portfolio, is reported to have suggested closing all Gaza crossings for fuel imports. This would come despite the approach of the holy month of Ramadan, and the truce agreement which promised to open crossings for basic supplies.

Rabbi accuses Peace Now of grave sin
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 8/29/2008
Yisrael Rozen writes article blaming left-wing organization for tale-bearing. Quoting Maimonides, he says punishment for such behavior is death; Peace Now head threatens to press charges - Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, head of the orthodox-affiliated, non-profit Zomet Institute, has expressed perhaps the most strident censure possible in Judaism for Peace Now activists, who are fighting to uproot settlers from the Migron settlement. "Such tale-bearing is known in Hebrew as ’moser’ (informer)"¦ Individuals who have sunk to this lowest level of behavior were despised and shunned (in Jewish tradition). They are considered worse thanheretics or apostates," wrote the rabbi in an article published in "Shabbat BeShabbato", a leaflet distributed in Israeli synagogues weekly. Rozen wrote that, according to halacha (Jewish law) the punishment of such tale-bearing was death.

Nil’in surrounded by Israeli troops, demonstrators pray on confiscated lands
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Ni’lin – Ma’an – Despite the presence of Israeli forces around the village, and the journalists who were barred from entering the area, the protesters from Ni’lin reached the separation wall and performed their Friday prayers on the confiscated lands. In his speech to those praying Skeikh Mohamad Ka’an praised the steadfastness of residents in confronting the Israeli attacks. He said that he wished all sides would take responsibility for the residents of Ni’lin, especially those harmed by the construction of the wall. Friday’s rally came one day after the Israeli army attack on the residents during which seven children were injured including Baha’ Abu Srur who was hit in the head by a rubber-coated steel bullet. Rezeq Khalil Nafe was also hit by a metal bullet in the chest and underwent a successful surgery in Ramallah hospital.

Nonviolent resistance continues as Israeli forces brutalize demonstrators
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/29/2008
Amin Abu Wardeh - Mohammed Jaber Daraghameh was shot in the head on Friday in western Ramallah’s Bil’in Village. He was one among of a massive group of Palestinians with foreign and Israeli supporters. Israeli forces opened fire as they reached the Wall after walking from the center of town chanting for justice. Daraghameh is in Ramallah’s Sheikh Zayed Hospital. Dozens of others suffered gas inhalation. Nonviolent demonstrators have been protesting on a weekly basis against the Wall, settlements and land confiscation for the past several years. Israeli forces often confront them with a brutal response. As the people managed to reach the Wall, carrying signs and Palestinian flags, Israeli soldiers opened fire with bullets, gas and concussion grenades today. The demonstration began after Friday prayers, this week also calling out chants against road closures, sieges on cities and killings.

Israeli soldiers harass Palestinians at flying checkpoint south of Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces set up a checkpoint at the southern entrance of Qabatiya south Jenin on Friday morning. Local sources reported to Ma’an’s Jenin correspondent that a flying checkpoint was established in the area and that the Israeli soldiers manning the post were provoking residents. He said that some were asked to remove their clothes for strip searches, and others were asked to pull down their trousers in front of women. Other cars were pulled over and women were asked to step out, at which point their belongings were searched. Eyewitnesses added that searches were being conducted unnecessarily slowly, causing a pile-up of cars waiting to pass the blockade.

Hamas: ''P.A security arrests 11 members in the West Bank''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 8/30/2008
Sources close to the Hamas movement reported on Friday that Palestinian security forces, loyal to president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fateh movement, arrested 11 members and supporters of Hamas in the West Bank. In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Sameh Abu Shamt, Marwan Esteytiyya, Afeef Hbeisha, and Bilal Esthtiyya, all from Tal village, and also arrested Qasem Omar Sa’ada from Aseera Al Shimaliyya village. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Sheikh Izzat Shalda. In Bethlehem, security forces arrested a journalist identified as Abdullah Adawi after he was ordered to head to a security center for interrogation. In Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Mohammad Yassin, and Sa’ad Hammad. In Tubas, security forces arrested Bara’ Al Einabousy and Hamdan Abu Motawe’.

Palestinian journalist recounts mistreatment while detained by the P.A
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Palestinian journalist, Awad Rajoub, 30, was recently released from a Palestinian prison where he was detained and interrogated by Palestinian security forces. He said that he was subjected to mistreatment, and was facing harsh conditions for over a month. Rajoub told reporters on Friday that he was in solitary confinement for more than fifteen days in a bad cell and that he had to use his own shoes as a pillow. He added that at one point during interrogation his head was covered with a bad-smelling sack which also barred him from seeing the interrogations and anybody around him. Rajoub also said that he could hear other prisoners being tortured and that he knows that some of them were transferred to hospital due to torture. The reporter works with the Arabic news service of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera. He was charged with "writing provocative reports that are considered as undermining national interests".

Journalist recounts nightmarish detention in PA prison
Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank, Palestinian Information Center 8/29/2008
A Palestinian journalist just released from a Hebron jail  has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) security authorities of mistreating him and incarcerating him in "difficult conditions" for over a month. Awadh Rajoub told reporters Friday that he was placed in solitary confinement for more than 15 days and that he had to sleep in a rancid cell, using his own shoes as a pillow. "At one point they covered my head with a bad-smelling sack, apparently in order to prevent me from seeing people they didn’t want me to see. "But I heard people being tortured and I know that several people were transferred to hospital or sent to their homes due to torture. "  Rajoub, who works for the Arabic service of al-Jazeera. net, was charged with writing inflammatory reports and undermining vital national interests.

Israeli forces arrest four fishermen at Beit Lahiya shore
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Four Gazan fishermen were detained and taken to an unknown location after being attacked on their boats while in Gaza waters near the northern Strip city of Beit Lahiya. Eyewitnesses reported seeing several Israeli vessels closing in on two Palestinian fishing boats, which were then attacked and arrested as the sun rose. Those detained were 55-year-old Mohammed Issa Sa’ad Allah, 18-year-old Ahmed Farid Sa’ad Allah, 60-year-old Mohamed Mohamed Sa’ad Allah and 39-year-old Jihad As-Sultan. [end]

Israeli forces storm playground and arrest youth preparing for soccer game
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Israeli army forced their way into the playing field of a Palestinian secondary school in the village of Tell in south west Nablus district on Friday afternoon. Local witnesses told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed the area where a soccer game was about to be held and arrested 19-year-old Isma’iel Ibrahim Afanah and took him to unknown destination. Afanah had been preparing to play the soccer game for his team in the village, when he was arrested. [end]

Hamas: PA secutiry detain 11 members
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority (PA) security services detained 11 members affiliated to Hamas in the West Bank on Friday. Hamas sent a statement to Ma’an saying PA security in Nablus arrested Sameh Abu Shamat, Marwan Esteteh, Afif Habashiyeh, Bilal Eshtayeh and Qasem Sa’adeh. In Hebron, it said, Izzat Shalaldah was detained and in Bethlehem journalist Abdullah Adawi was arrested. In Qalqilia Muhamad Mazen Yasin and Sa’ed Hamada were detained and from Tubas Bara’ Al-Aynabousi and Hamdan Mtawe. [end]

Teachers’ syndicate calls on Qatar, donors to send salaries directly to teachers
Palestinian Information Center 8/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian teachers’ syndicate has urged on Thursday Qatar and other donor states to transfer salaries of the Palestinian teachers directly to their accounts without passing through PA leadership in Ramallah city. According to the syndicate, the Ramallah-based PA "could no longer be trusted with the salaries of teachers, and uses those salaries for political extortion". In a statement it issued, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, the syndicate accused the "teachers’ general union" in Ramallah city of politicizing the education process, accusing it of employing the strike to paralyze the education process in the besieged Gaza Strip". The syndicate also shrugged off statements of leaders of the union expressing their keenness on preserving the education process in Palestine and of sparing it political disputes, explaining that the union rejected efforts. . .

Penalties for striking medical workers threatened by de facto ministry of health
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
no private medical company may employ a public sector worker on strike, said de facto minister of health Dr Basem Na’em on Friday. Na’em gave an emergency press conference late Friday in Gaza city, where he addressed the recent issues of striking medical workers. The medical workers union is the third union to declare a strike in the Gaza strip in response to what it calls the dangerous policies of the de facto Gaza Strip government. Earlier Friday some striking workers were found destroying valuable medical equipment. In his statement Na’em said that anyone attempting to open alternative private medical services, and profiting off the strike call would be brought to account through the courts. The medical workers were deemed emergency services and ordered back to work shortly after the initial call to strike came.

Two Shfaram men held for planning terror attacks
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to Islamic Jihad and planning attacks that included assassinating Israeli pilots, scientists and university professors. The two, both university students, are also suspected of planning a shooting attack on an army checkpoint near Ramallah. The police and the Shin Bet security service believe that plan was relatively advanced. The assassination plans, in contrast, were still in their infancy. The two suspects are Anis Sappori, 20, who studies communications at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, and Hussam Khalil, 19, who studies electrical engineering in Jordan. Three Palestinians, all members of Islamic Jihad, have also been arrested in the case. The cell was uncovered thanks to intelligence tips. As part of their efforts to get their terrorist cell up and running, Sappori and Khalil tried to contact. . .

Islamic Jihad suspects deny allegations
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 8/29/2008
Court extends remand of two Israeli Arabs suspected of planning to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists. Father of one of suspects says actions ascribed to them ’acceptable’ - The Akko Magistrate’s Court on Friday extended the remand of two Israeli Arabs suspected of planning to assassinate Israeli pilots and scientists by five days. The two Shfaram residents are 20-year-old Anis Saffouri, a communications student at Ramallah’s Birzeit University, and 19-year-old Hussam Khalil, who studies electronic engineering in Jordan. They both denied the allegations against them. On Thursday it wascleared for publication that an Islamic Jihad cell plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists and university lecturers was exposed in a joint IDF, Shin Bet and police operation. The cell was comprised of three Palestinians and two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram.

Olmert ’willing’ to release 450 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/30/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is willing to release some 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held by militants in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday. Olmert has asked the five ministers dealing with the proposed swap with the Hamas movement to draw up the list which would increase from about 80 the number of prisoners Israel is willing to release in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Haaretz newspaper said. The Israeli corporal, who turned 22 on Wednesday, was captured in a deadly cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006 and is believed to be held by Hamas. The Islamist movement routed the rival Fatah movement from the impoverished Palestinian territory in June 2007 after reports emerged in the Arab press of an impending Fatah-led takeover. Hamas soundly beat Hamas in legislative elections in early 2006.

Jerusalem official: Hamas ups ante in Shalit deal
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 8/30/2008
Hamas recently jacked up the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants Israel to release in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, from 1,000 to 1,500, a senior government source said. At a meeting with senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday, both Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin and Ofer Dekel, who was appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to oversee the negotiations, blamed the sudden increase in Hamas’ demands on Israel’s agreement to a cease-fire with the organization in the Gaza Strip. Last month’s deal with Hezbollah, in which Israel freed terrorist Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese in exchange for the bodies of two kidnapped soldiers, also hardened Hamas’ stance, defense officials said. A ministerial committee headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon is slated to discuss the Shalit deal on Sunday, and Olmert has. . .

’Gilad is still alive’
Vered Lee, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
The people who gathered yesterday at Gilad Shalit’s home in Mitzpe Hila to mark his 22nd birthday came simply to show their love and support for the kidnapped soldier’s family. "Gilad is in captivity because the bad guys got him," explains 4-year-old Segev Mashav of Kibbutz Snir, then turns to his mother: "I’m waiting for the birthday party to start. " Keren Mashav, 40, smiles forgivingly at her son and tries to explain to him "it’s not really a birthday party. "She says she understand’s the Shalits’ pain and has come with her own family to express solidarity. At 6 P. M. , the small community was already humming with people. Local teenagers manned the entrance gate, welcoming the hundreds who arrived from all over the country and distributing torches and white shirts, stickers and signs reading "Gilad is still alive.

The Key for Hamas – Israel POWs Deal Is in Cairo
Amos Harel, Haaretz, Palestine Media Center 8/28/2008
The third birthday of Gilad Shalit in Hamas captivity does not bode well. What is publicly known so far - in negotiations of this sort there is always a chance that a deal is being reached away from the media - is that there is no break in the talks with Hamas. Senior Israeli officials are of the opinion that Hamas has toughened its position, and that only energetic intervention on the part of the Egyptian mediators may change the situation for the better. The way the Israeli media tells it, Hamas is demanding the release of 450 Palestinians, many of them killers. The Arab media talks of 1,000 prisoners. The additional 550 prisoners, most of them considered "lightweight" compared with the first batch, are expected to be released at a later stage, indirectly linking their release to the deal over Shalit. It is therefore no surprise that Israel prefers to note the smaller figure. The formula of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit is a hard one to swallow.

Security and Defense: Prisoner to his policies?
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
The last time an Israeli official was invited to the Ras al-Teen presidential palace in Alexandria was in 2001. It was the beginning of the second intifada, and President Hosni Mubarak had summoned then-defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who was begged to scale down IDF operations in the territories. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak flew to Mubarak’s seaside palace, although this time it was he who was making the pleas - for Egypt to exert more pressure on Hamas to reduce its demands and renew negotiations for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit. Barak had hoped to return from Alexandria with the news of renewed negotiations as a type of conciliatory birthday present for Schalit - who turned 22 on Thursday. Instead, he walked away from his meetings with Mubarak and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman with the reinforced assessment that Hamas will not. . .

Rights org calls for an end to political arrests
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 8/29/2008
Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested on political grounds by security services of the two Palestinian governments in Gaza and Ramallah. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the two governments to stop political arrests which are prohibited under the Palestinian Basic Law and a Palestinian High Court of Justice ruling, and to release all detainees who have been arrested in this context. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at least 100 members and supporters of Hamas, including public figures, Imams of mosques, school teachers, university students, journalists and elected members of local councils, have been detained by Palestinian security services in the West Bank for various periods. The detainees include a number of journalists: Mustafa Sabri, 42, who is also a member of the municipal council of Qalqilya and who was arrested on 7 August 2008; Fareed

IOF conduct 53 incursions into West Bank towns, arrest 48 Palestinians in a week
Palestinian Information Center 8/29/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said in its weekly report that the "Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law continued in the OPT during the reporting period (21 - 27 August 2008)"The report listed numerous violations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including shooting, incursions, arrests, restrictions on movement, settlement expansion, land confiscation, building of the apartheid wall, and closure of border crossings of the Gaza Strip as well as an increase in settler attacks against Palestinian villagers. PCHR stated that these violations are encouraged by the international community turning a blind eye to them: " PCHR believes that the conspiracy of silence practiced by the international community has encouraged Israel to act as if it is above the law and encourages Israel continue to violate international human rights and humanitarian law.

Free Gaza boats return to Cyprus, with Palestinian patients on board
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/30/2008
After having broken the Israeli blockade of Gaza earlier this week, two boats filled with activists have left the Gaza Strip for Cyprus. Several Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel have joined international human rights workers on the journey. Among the Palestinians leaving are Saed Mosleh, age 10, of Beit Hanoun, Gaza. Saed lost his leg due to an Israeli tank shell and is leaving Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment. Also on board are the Darwish family, who will finally be reunited with their relatives in Cyprus. "I can’t believe we’re finally able to leave for medical treatment," said Khaled Mosleh, Saed’s father. "This is a miracle of God. "Nine international human rights workers will remain in Gaza to do longer-term monitoring and accompaniment , and one, Dr. Bill Dienst of Omak, Washington, will attempt to cross over into Israel late Friday via the Erez crossing.

Gaza blockade-busting boats planning a second voyage
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 8/30/2008
Two boatloads of international protesters who defied Israel’s blockade of Gaza sailed into Cyprus’ Larnaca port late Friday, carrying seven Gaza Palestinians who had been confined to the territory. Some 32 protesters escorted the Palestinians on the 30-hour voyage that they hailed as effectively ending Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory. "It’s opened the door to everything," said U. S. -based Free Gaza Group organizer, American Paul Larudee. He said the way is now clear to deliver humanitarian assistance and ferry people in and out. Free Gaza plans a second trip to Gaza within the next month. Protester Derek Graham, 40, an electrician from Ireland said the group wants to start a regular ferry service linking Gaza to the east Mediterranean island to keep the borders open.

Free Gaza activists praised by Gaza and Ramallah governments
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/29/2008
Gaza -- Palestinian Prime Minister in the Hamas government, Ismail Haniya, led a ceremony to thank the Free Gaza movement before returning to Cyprus yesterday. Haniya offered the 44 activists from the Middle East, Europe and the US Palestinian passports and citizenship. He referred to them all as "ambassadors to Palestine" in whatever countries they come from. Earlier in their trip Haniya took the activists to his home in western Gaza City’s Beach Refugee Camp where they were introduced to his neighbors and received medals of thanks. The Prime Minister praised the "courage" of the activists and said that "this is a milestone in breaking the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip: it turned the world’s attention to the suffering of the Palestinian people. " Attending the ceremony to honor the activists upon departure yesterday afternoon were several members of the Hamas government, including Mahmoud Az Zahhar.

Rafah border will open Saturday and Sunday; strict procedures to be in effect
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Terms have been set for Gazans wishing to cross into Egypt via the Raffa crossing, which will open on Saturday and Sunday. Gazans, as well as Egyptians stranded in the Strip, have been asked to gather at the playground in front of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where criteria for those permitted to cross will be explained in detail. The plan for the opening, as explained by Muhammad Edwan, spokesperson for the borders administration affiliated with the de facto government on Friday, was that after conditions are explained to waiting citizens; those matching the criteria will begin the crossing process. The crossing, he added, will be completed in several stages, as an effort to ensure that the crossing is not stormed as it was in January. On Thursday Gazan officials confirmed the rumor that a small number of Palestinians would be allowed through the crossing,. . .

Egyptian MP calls for breaking the siege on the 10th of Ramadan
Palestinian Information Center 8/29/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Dr. Hamdi Hassan, an Egyptian MP affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood bloc at the Egyptian Parliament called on all human rights and relief organisations as well as Egyptians of all persuasions to answer his call and head on the 10th of Ramadan to the Rafah border to break the siege which has been in place for the past year. He said Ramadan should mark the start of a popular Islamic and Arab awakening towards this issue and called upon everyone to head to the Rafah crossing carrying with them what they could by way of food, clothes and medicine. He said in his call which he made on Thursday: "I am going alone in my car which I will fill with food and medicine, anyone who wants to coordinate with me is welcome. " He called on the Egyptian people to make of the 10th of Ramadan a special day that will go down in history as the day on which the will of the Egyptian. . .

400 patients to be allowed through Rafah Saturday; restrictions apply to others stranded
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto ministry of interior said on Friday that only Gazan 400 patients will be allowed to leave on Sunday for treatment through the Rafah border crossing, as well as others, who must meet strict criteria before being allowed to cross. The ministry added that the names of the patients will be announced within hours on the ministry website (currently availible on Ma’an’s Arabic website), but assured that Egyptians stuck in Gaza with proper papers will also be allowed through. The spokesperson of the administration of crossings in the de facto ministry Mohamad Adwan said "the de facto ministry had established criteria for those seeking to leave through the Rafah crossing [to Egypt]. "The criteria will include Egyptian nationals, carriers of valid Palestinian travel documents, valid Egyptian residency cards or foreign passports.

Stolen gas canisters were Gaza-bound
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
The largest illegal fuel depot in Israel’s history was discovered yesterday when National Infrastructure Ministry inspectors raided a warehouse in Ashkelon’s southern industrial zone. The warehouse, owned by a former defense establishment employee, housed more than 1,700 containers of cooking gas, or about 100 tons of fuel. Inspectors stressed that the warehouse had none of the standard fuel safety features, and the location of such an unprotected depot within rocket range of the Gaza Strip constituted a major hazard. The ministry suspects the containers were bought from an Arab resident of northern Israel, and then resold to a Palestinian resident of Gaza. Inspectors seized an additional 200 containers from that man in a separate raid yesterday. All 1,700-plus containers are believed to be stolen, most of them directly from one of Israel’s four leading gas companies. -- See also: Former Shin Bet man suspected of selling gas tanks to Gaza and Ex-Shin Bet man suspected of selling stolen gas to Gazans

Microfinance project set to assist 25 thousand in West Bank and Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A new microfinance program is scheduled to open ten centers across the West Bank and Gaza, benefiting twenty five thousand Palestinians, 25% of whom will be women. The initiative is a partnership between the Palestinian Ministry of Women’s affairs, the Portland Trust, and the Partnership network, whose representatives met on Thursday at the Ministry headquarters in Ramallah. Kholoud Deibes, minister of Women’s Affairs, received Portland Trust director Sa’ed Al-Khatib and Afnan Mahmoud, the head of the Palestinian network for lending called, to discuss the suitable mechanisms of cooperation and coordination to lend money for women. Deibes discussed with the delegation the possibilities for encouraging small projects especially in villages in Nablus, Jenin, and Hebron and in Bethlehem.

Leftist parties meet for third time to establish ''third party'' in Palestinian politics
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian leftist parties including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Palestine People’s Party (PPP) held an expanded meeting for its leaders in Rafah district in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The main topic of the meeting was the state of division in internal Palestinian politics. The leftist parties have been working towards forming a coalition that would bring the two-party (Hamas-Fatah) system to a three-party one. The group says that the efforts to unify the leftist parties come in response to the demands of Palestinians. They warned of the division among the Palestinians and described it as a new Nakba (catastrophe, as in the one in 1948) that has divided Palestinians once again. The leftist parties have asserted the necessity of confronting the internal Palestinian. . .

Islamic Jihad leader on Egyptian dialogue: ending division top priority
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Ramadan Shalah, the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine praised Egypt’s role and efforts in launching the Palestinian internal dialogue to the state of division and to restore unity to the Palestinians. "The most important accomplishment until now is launching the dialogue itself," Shalah said in an interview with Egyptian TV that was later published by the media office of Islamic Jihad. He explained that a series of bilateral talks had started in Egypt, seeing all parties begin discussions around key issues in internal politics as well as the situation under occupation. Egyptian officials are fostering the talks, and doing an excellent job, he said. The main question surrounding the talks, said Shalah, was whether the parties were sitting down to set out a comprehensive national project to handle all of the issues and programs, or. . .

Fatah spokesperson callas Hamas Israel’s pawn
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah spokesperson called Hamas is a stone moved by Israel that blocks the initiation of national dialogue, in a Thursday radio broadcast. Ahmad Abdel Rahman Bahar, spokesperson for Fatah, told Voice of Palestine listeners that Hamas facilitates Israel’s plans for a coup in the Gaza Strip and eventual domination over the area. In his statement Bahar explained that the Hamas truce with Israel is aimed only at protecting the Gaza Strip regime, and is not designed to protect Palestinians either in Gaza or the West Bank. The statement continued by issuing several harsh accusations against Hamas, saying that they are stabbing all Palestinians in the back and breaking national unity only to please Israel.

Saudi Cabinet to Palestinians: Unify Ranks
Saudi Gazette, Palestine Media Center 8/26/2008
TAIF - The Saudi Arabian Council of Ministers on Monday appealed to different Palestinian factions to narrow down their differences and jointly face the problems confronting their nation, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said. The Council said all Palestinian groups should benefit from Egypt’s efforts and unify their ranks. The Cabinet meeting, presided over by King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was briefed on talks and consultations the Monarch made with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Cabinet underlined the results of the meeting and stressed the importance of alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people and working seriously to achieve a comprehensive Palestinian national dialogue, said Dr. Saud Bin Sa’eed Al-Mithami, Minister of State, Member of the Council of Ministers for Shoura Affairs and Acting Minister of Culture and Information.

One wounded at Bil’in nonviolent protest
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Dozens of Palestinian, international and Israeli civilians were treated for gas inhalation as the Israeli army showered them with CS gas during the weekly nonviolent anti-wall protest in the village of Bil’in, west of Ramallah. [end]

Detainees in Al Jalama Israeli prison on hunger strike
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Lawyer Bothaina Doqmaq, head of the Mandela Institute in Palestine, reported on Friday that the detainees in several sections and in solitary confinement in Al Jalama Israeli prison and interrogation center started a hunger strike on Thursday in protest to the harsh living conditions and the administration’s rejection to move them to ordinary sections although they ended their interrogation period. Doqmaq stated that the detainees held talks with the administration to remove them from their solitary confinement but to no avail. She added that the detainees are deprived from their visitation rights and cannot even meet with representatives of the Red Cross. The detainees complained of bad treatment, bad food, and the lack of medical attention and treatment especially since there are several detainees who are sick and need urgent attention.

Weekly A-Ma’sara protest against the Wall
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Around 100 internationals, Israeli peace activists and Palestinian villagers marched after the Friday prayers in Al-Ma’sara village near Bethlehem, in a nonviolent protest against the wall being built on village lands. [end]

This Week in Palestine 35 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 13 m 0s || 11. 09 MB || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for August 23rd, through August, 29th, 2008. Lead: The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is back visiting the region within the framework of US efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, while Israeli forces continue to close all the Gaza border crossings, as they have done for more than two years. These stories and more, coming up stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Rula Shahwan has the details: Nil’in The Israeli army dispersed the weekly nonviolent protest in Nil’in village, located south of the West Bank city of Ramallah today with tear gas and sound bombs, causing many civilians to suffer from gas. . .

Israeli Police and Military Vandalized 3 Radio Stations
Kawther Salam, Palestine Think Tank 8/29/0200
The military commander of the occupation in Hebron, Lt. -Col. Udi ben Moha or "Udi ben Muha" and his thugs, Lt. -Col. Aviv Feigel and Police Commander Menashe Aveshalom Peled (or "Moshe Aveshalom Peled" or "Aveshalom Peled") continue their career of systematic crimes and attacks against the Palestinian civilians and their property in the occupied city of Hebron, under the eyes of Palestinian Authority and of the molesters, drunkards from the TIPH. Lt. -Col. Udi Ben Moha and the Colonel Peled, who are both well known as religious extremists, freed the hand of the criminal Jewish settlers in Hebron and continue turning the heart of the old city of Hebron into a concentration camp sealed by metallic gates, a policy introduced by Yehuda Fuchs, the former IDF commander in Hebron, expanded their theft of Hebron area H2 under their control to Hebron area H1 under nominal the PA control, (In 1997. . .

Jews visit demolished West Bank settlements for first time since pullout
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Jews visited the destroyed West Bank settlements of Ganim and Kadim this week for the first time since the disengagement removed them from the map three years ago. The visit began when the Glick family from Otniel, another West Bank settlement, decided to take a two-day tour of outposts in the northern West Bank. The tour had originally been intended to conclude with Homesh, another settlement evacuated during the disengagement, where there has been a continual Jewish presence in recent months. But when Yehuda Glick arrived at Homesh with his wife and four children, they met up with the Goldmintzes, a family of five. The two families, along with some 10 other people, then decided to go on to Sa-Nur, the last of the four West Bank settlements evacuated during the disengagement.

Israeli settlers set fire to workshop under construction in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that Israeli settlers stormed Thursday morning the Burin town, south of Nablus, and set fire to lumber used in the construction of a workshop which led to the burning of all pieces of wood. The eyewitnesses added that the settlers cut the workshop’s water pipe before their withdrawal, but the Nablus fire department rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire. They said that those Israeli assailants might have come from the nearby settlements of Bracha or Yitzhar whose settlers are notorious for waging attacks on Arab villages. Meanwhile, an Israeli special force boarding civilian cars stormed Thursday the Faisal street, downtown Nablus, and kidnapped one of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades’ activists called Adham Labada from his workplace at a shop. Labada is one of Al-Aqsa Brigades’ activists who have been granted. . .

Palestinian and Israeli leaders to meet for talks on Sunday
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/30/2008
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday for continued ’peace talks’, according to officials. The talks come just days after a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which little progress was made toward lifting the roadblocks to peace that Israeli leaders have imposed. The timing also coincides with the release of a report by Reuters News Agency that the US government is providing tax breaks to organizations that fund illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, in direct violation of the statements made by Rice and George W. Bush. According to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the meeting will be to "review the negotiations and the final status issues". Israel agreed in 2000 to stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land, as part of the peace talks at that time.

The hour of the judge
Alexander Yakobson, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
The hour of the judge. By Alexander Yakobson. Tags. courts. Israel. A gesture to Abu Mazen? I’m not convinced," said Justice Edmond Levy to the representative of the State Prosecutor’s Office during a discussion in the High Court of Justice on a petition against the release of Palestinian prisoners. The petition was rejected in the end, but justices Levy and Ayala Procaccia greatly criticized the government’s decision. Levy said he was not convinced by the prosecutors’ declaration that the government wants, for diplomatic reasons, to make a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The justices complained that the diplomatic considerations had not been clearly presented to them and that what was said was unconvincing. According to Justice Procaccia: "There is something new in this release process.

Obama: You don’t protect Israel, deter Iran by talking tough in D.C.
Natasha Mozgovaya and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/30/2008
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama accused his presumptive Republican opponent John McCain of "follow[ing] George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy," telling the Democratic convention in Denver that rhetoric alone will not neutralize the Iranian threat to Israel. "You don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq," Obama said. "You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances. " "If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but that is not the change that America needs," Obama said. The Illinois senator also vowed on Thursday to end U. S. energy dependence on Middle East sources within 10 years if elected in November.

Lavrov: It Is Important That Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue Is Continuing
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Palestine Media Center 8/27/2008
Interview of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Published in the Pan-Arab Newspaper Al-Hayat, August 2008 Question: How do you assess progress in the Middle East negotiation process? Foreign Minister Lavrov: As is known, the Palestinian and Israeli parties in Annapolis set a task for themselves – to reach a peace agreement before the end of 2008. It was already then hard to expect that the path to achieving this goal would not be thorny or that the search for a sought-for compromise would not require considerable effort. All the more so when it is about such sensitive issues for both parties as borders, Jerusalem and refugees. Despite all the complexities, Palestinian-Israeli dialogue is continuing, which is, undoubtedly, important. It is another matter how realistic in the present conditions it is for the negotiators to get through within the time frame they set themselves.

Abbas, Gemayel cite need to improve refugees’ conditions
Daily Star correspondent, Daily Star 8/30/2008
BEIRUT: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas concluded his two-day trip to Beirut on Friday by holding talks with an array of Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab figures. Abbas met former President Amine Gemayel at the Habtoor Grand Hotel in Sin al-Fil to discuss issues related to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. "President Abbas and we agree that it is imperative to introduce drastic improvements to the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and we also agree on rejecting the settlement of Palestinians," Gemayel told reporters. Gemayel dubbed Abbas’ trip to Beirut as "historic," adding that he hoped the visit would strengthen relations between the two countries and help lead "to a comprehensive solution in Palestine and Lebanon. ""We are fighting a battle together for common peace and stability in the region," he said.

Abbas in Beirut: stands behind Lebanese policies for Palestinians, affirms right of return
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Lebanon - Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a series of meetings with Lebanese senior officials, including Lebanese President Micheal Sulieman this week. The overall message of the meetings so far has been the affirmation of the importance of Lebanese-Palestinian relations, and declarations that Palestine stands alongside Lebanon and its recent political decisions. One major point was Abbas’ statement of agreement with the Lebanese government, as it tries to impose a weapons ban on Palestinian refugees when they leave the camp areas. All Palestinians in Lebanon, he stated, are under the law and not above it. He affirmed that the Palestinian refugees should enjoy the right of return to their homeland, saying that the Palestinian Authority is "against their settlement in Lebanon. " These comments came after a meeting that was held between president Mahmoud. . .

Iran says 4,000 atomic centrifuges working
Reuters, YNetNews 8/29/2008
Figure presented by Tehran’s deputy foreign minister in line with number verified by UN atomic watchdog but lower than number cited by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ’Another 3,000 centrifuges being installed at Natanz enrichment facility,’ he says -Iran has 4,000 working nuclear centrifuges, an official said in remarks published on Friday, in line with a number verified by the UN atomic watchdog but lower than a figure cited byPresident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran says it is installing centrifuges to enrich uranium so it can make fuel for nuclear power plants. But the West accuses Tehran of seeking to master technology so it can enrich uranium to much higher levels for use in nuclear warheads. Facts & FiguresPoll: 63% of Americans support Israeli strike in Iran/ Yitzhak Benhorin Israel Project survey finds US citizens concerned. . .

’Israel won’t allow a nuclear Iran’
Jerusalem Post 8/29/2008
Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear capability and if time begins to run out, Jerusalem will not hesitate to take whatever means necessary to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear goals, the government has recently decided in a special discussion. According to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, whether the United States and Western countries succeed in thwarting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions diplomatically, through sanctions, or whether a US strike on Iran is eventually decided upon, Jerusalem has begun preparing for a separate, independent military strike. So far, Israel has not received American authorization to use US-controlled Iraqi airspace, nor has the defense establishment been successful in securing the purchase of advanced US-made warplanes which could facilitate an Israeli strike.

Israel: Assad not serious about peace
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Syria’s rush to take advantage of the conflict in Georgia and the Russia-US rift to cozy up to Moscow seems to indicate that it is not interested in serious negotiations with Israel even with US participation, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said on Thursday. Slideshow:The officials’ comments came amid speculation that Israel and Syria would not renew indirect talks in Turkey next week, as scheduled, until after French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Damascus next Wednesday and Thursday. The Israeli-Syrian track is expected to be one focus, but not the primary one, of the talks between Sarkozy and Syrian President Bashar Assad. The main agenda item is expected to be the situation in Lebanon. David Ignatius of The Washington Post wrote Wednesday that advisers to Assad, as well as top French officials, said Syria would be ready for direct peace talks with Israel if the US and France would serve as co-sponsors.

US refuses to talk with Syria
Middle East Online 8/29/2008
WASHINGTON - The United States refuses to follow France’s lead and will not talk to Syria until it decides to take a "positive role" in international affairs, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Thursday. Wood declined to comment on French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcement Wednesday that he would visit Damascus on September 3-4, after welcoming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Paris last month. The spokesman, however, restated US policy that precludes any dialogue with Syria unless it decides "to play a positive role, stay out of the internal affairs of Lebanon, stop supporting terrorists and be a productive player on the world scene. " "Today, it has not been" the case, Wood added. "Until Syria plays a positive role in the region, it is going to continue to isolate itself," he said. Washington continues to blacklist Damascus as a state sponsor of terrorism.

New Partnership Boosts Palestinian Media
Palestine Media Center 8/28/2008
Three Palestinian private sector media outlets have pooled their TV and electronic resources in one new media partnership called “United,” the Palestine News Network - PNN - reported on Thursday. Three Palestinian private sector media outlets have pooled their TV and electronic resources in one new media partnership called “United,” the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported on Thursday. The PNN, Network of United Radio Stations (NUR) and SADA TV Company signed a partnership agreement that includes a number of TV and Radio stations and news websites. ADA Company includes al-Fajr Al-Jaddeed TV – Tulkarem, Gama TV – Nablus, Baladna TV – Qalqilia, Jenin Central TV – Jenin, an-Nur TV – Jericho and Al-Ru’aa TV – Bethlehem. NUR includes, ISIS Radio – Beit Bethlehem, Manbar Al-Hurrieya Radio – Hebron, Dreams Radio – Jenin, Sama Radio – Nablus, Future Radio – Ramallah, Dream Radio

Labor backs Barak, denies attempts to replace him
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Labor’s Knesset faction yesterday stood squarely behind the party leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to quash rumors that there is a plot to replace him. Barak has slumped in the polls amid reports about his wife’s public relations firm and the NIS 40 million sale of his luxury apartment, but no one in Labor wants to oust him before elections. "I won’t lend a hand to replacing Barak under any circumstances," National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told a Labor gathering yesterday, amid reports of a rebellion against Barak in the party. Ben-Eliezer hinted that certain people in the party were spreading false rumors about a mutiny. "They’re doing to Barak what they did to me when I was chairman, but they’ll fail," he said. "The reports on attempts to oust Barak are groundless; they’re intended to harm the party and its leader.

Olmert’s 7th interrogation ends after 5 hours
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/29/2008
National Fraud Unit investigators arrive at prime minister’s official Jerusalem residence for another questioning session, this time on purchase of house on Cremieux Street, according to Olmert’s aides; PM’s wife also testifies. Court rules no escape from cancelling Talansky testimony scheduled for next week - Police investigators arrived Friday morning at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s official Jerusalem residence in order to question him for the seventh time on his alleged involvement in recent corruption affairs. Investigators of the police’s National Fraud Unit, headed by Deputy Inspector General Shlomi Ayalon, arrived at the Prime Minister’s Residence about an hour before the interrogation was scheduled to begin in order to prepare the material and recording equipment. Key WitnessAttorneys: Delay Talansky testimony / Aviad Glickman Due to US investigation, key witness not returning to Israel.

Hezbollah blamed for helicopter downing
Middle East Online 8/29/2008
BEIRUT - The finger of blame was being pointed at Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement on Friday over the downing of a military helicopter that left an army officer dead. First Lieutenant Samer Hanna, 25, was killed when his helicopter was hit by gunfire on Thursday during a training mission in a region known as a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon. "The area where this distressing incident took place is, as everybody knows, under the control of the Resistance (Hezbollah)," said former prime minister Salim Hoss, who is considered close to the Hezbollah-led opposition. "Hezbollah must explain and not justify what happened, because the death of a brilliant officer cannot be justified whatever the circumstances of the incident," Hoss said in a statement. Hezbollah itself, a powerful political movement and militia which is backed by Iran and Syria, described the incident as "regrettable and distressing.

Suspicions flare as Hizbullah hands over assailant in fatal helicopter shooting
Daily Star 8/30/2008
Hizbullah handed over to military police Friday the suspect who fired at a military helicopter a day earlier, as the Lebanese army held a funeral for the officer who was slain in the shooting. "Hizbullah has handed over the person who fired at the helicopter to the Military Investigative Magistrate in the case Jean Fahd," a judicial source told The Daily Star, adding that Fahd gave orders to the military police to interrogate him "and everyone related to the incident. "The source said that Hizbullah was "fully cooperating" with the judiciary. First Lieutenant Samer Hanna, 25, was killed when his helicopter was hit by gunfire on Thursday during a training mission in the Sejod Hills, a region known as a Hizbullah stronghold in Southern Lebanon. In a statement issued on Friday, Hizbullah described the incident as "unfortunate and distressing," adding that the group will "fully. . .

Report: Hezbollah’s new missiles have range ’Israel can’t fathom’
Yoav Stern and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/30/2008
Hezbollah is armed with advanced Iranian-supplied missiles capable of reaching targets deep inside Israel, according to a report in Friday’s edition of the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi. The report quotes senior Arab sources who claim that the Lebanon-based militia plans to use the missiles in the event Israel decides to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, or if the United States launches an offensive that has the potential to ignite a regional war. The sources added that the new missiles have a range that Israel "cannot even fathom," and that the new arms are the "surprise" that Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah alluded to in his recent statements to the public. The report says the missiles are armed with a precision-guided mechanism that increases their accuracy.

Report: Iran supplied Hizbullah with advanced missiles
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/29/2008
Al-Quds al-Arabi reports missiles can accurately hit targets in Israel, weapons to be used by Lebanese organization in event that Israel or US launch attack against Islamic republic - Iran has supplied Hizbullah with advanced missiles which can accurately hit extensive targets inside Israel, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported Friday, quoting Arab sources. According to the report, the missiles will be operational at any moment Israel "thinks of acting adventurously and attacking Iran" or when the United States launches a regional war against the Tehran government. The Arab sources said that the new missiles are capable of reaching a range "Israel cannot even imagine" and are one of the "surprises" promised by Hizbullah Secretary-General

IDF: Missile threat on bases not grave
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
The ballistic missile threat to IDF bases in the Central region and South is not as grave as once thought and the bases would not need to be evacuated in the event of a war in the North, according to a recent study conducted by the army’s Planning Division, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The study was conducted by a team of officers and included an advanced analysis of the missiles in the arsenals of Israel’s enemies, particularly Syria and Hizbullah. It was initiated following the Second Lebanon War, when 4,000 Hizbullah rockets struck northern Israel, leading the IDF to conclude that in the next war the country should expect to come under a massive missile onslaught. Syria is known to have thousands of short-range rockets - as does Hizbullah in Lebanon - and also has several hundred advanced and long-range Scud-C and Scud-D ballistic missiles.

Kafa! Film on Palestinian infighting premiers in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Quietness prevailed in the hall of "Dar An-Nadwah" a local community center and organization in the West bank city of Bethlehem. This quietness that shrouded the room was interrupted sometimes by the sounds of crying and rare laughter during the screening of the movie Kafa (Enough), in which the issue of Palestinian infighting between Hamas and Fatah was portrayed in dramatic form. The movie is a 45 minute drama that presents the political unrest in Palestine beginning in January 2006 with the second set of elections for the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC). The elections were the first that saw a rival party run against the Fatah movement, and many were surprised when the new party won the elections with a decent majority. The film catalogues some of the aftermath of that victory, which led to the severance of international aid to Palestine, and the growth of the internal disputes between Fatah and Hamas.

Critical eye on Israel’s military
Greg Norman, Al Jazeera 8/29/2008
As part of its Israel Through Its Own Eyes series Al Jazeera spoke with Nurit Kedar, a renowned Israeli documentary maker. When asked if it would be possible to make the documentary One Shot today, the film’s Israeli director is unequivocal. "Oh no," Nurit Kedar says. "There is no way today the army would ever let anybody have discussions with snipers. The guy who is now the spokesperson for the military is much more nationalistic and so one can only say good things about the army. So no way. " Many people both inside and outside Israel are surprised that the veteran filmmaker was granted the opportunity at all to speak with Israel’s combat snipers. One Shot combines interviews with the snipers and rare footage from the frontline recorded by combat soldiers on cameras given to them by Kedar and attached to their helmets and kneepads.

Region mourns loss of Israeli peace activist
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Abie Nathan died this week at the age of 81, after 42 years as an outspoken peace activist, both in Israel, Palestine and internationally. Nathan was given both a public and private funeral in Tel Aviv, at which family and supporters went to pay their respects. Israeli papers reported an unfortunately low turn out. Israeli President Shimon Peres gave one of the eulogies for Nathan, and is reported to have said that while "we didn’t always agree with Aibe, he couldn’t have been ignored. He was a real person, without an ego, who always helped others before helping himself. " Nathan was supported by peace lovers from the leftist and right wing parties within Israel, as well as many Palestinians living in Israel. The activist is best known for his efforts on the Voice of Peace radio station, which was broadcast from a ship purchased with the help of. . .

Palestinian Soccer League Re-launched
Palestine Media Center 8/28/2008
Twenty-two teams across the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank will compete in a seven-month-long tournament for the first time since the league was suspended after an uprising against Israeli occupation erupted in 2000. However teams from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip will not take part because of the siege Israel tightly impose on the coastal enclave since June 2007, which sharply restricts travel and trade between Gaza and the West Bank. The revival of soccer in the West Bank follows the election in May of Jibril Rajoub as head of the Palestinian Football Association. "This league will help to improve the level of our players and our teams," federation spokesman, Naser al-Abbasi, told Reuters on August 21. Matches will be held at 10 venues in cities across the West Bank. All teams are sponsored by leading Palestinian companies.

Voice of Peace DJ: We wanted Arab listeners to feel we were talking to them too
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
The captain was Dutch, the small crew was Filipino and the cook was Irish. The food was terrible - there were cockroaches in the cornflakes, and the cook had no idea how to make French fries. Nevertheless, former staffers of the Voice of Peace radio station remember their time aboard the ship as one of the most significant periods of their lives. Most were young Britons who had come to Tel Aviv in the hope of gaining radio experience. Abie Nathan, who owed the station, gave them that opportunity. "It was fun," said Tim Shepherd, one of the station’s presenters, as he recalled those days. "You didn’t do anything but radio. There was no mortgage, no income tax. You slept on board, and every few hours, you broadcast. Only in winter was it a bit unpleasant. "Shepherd spent a year on the ship, in 1986-87.

Poll: Two State Solution Is Best for Israelis
Palestine Media Center 8/27/2008
The vast majority of people in Israel think that the best solution to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians is to establish a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel, according to a poll by Market Watch. 74 per cent of respondents share this view, while 14 per cent think the best way to solve the problem is by creating a bi-national state including both Israelis and Palestinians. However, 62 per cent of respondents do not believe it will be possible to reach a final agreement with the Palestinians. The former British mandate of Palestine was instituted at the end of World War I, to oversee a territory in the Middle East that formerly belonged to the Ottoman Empire. After the end of World War II and the Nazi holocaust, the Zionist movement succeeded in establishing an internationally recognized homeland. In November 1947, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the formation of a Jewish state.

Sharia courts open Saturday night to observe coming of Ramadan moon
Palestine News Network 8/29/2008
PNN -- Palestinian Chief Justice Sheikh Taysir Al Tamimi announced on Friday that all Sharia courts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be open tomorrow night. The Ramadan crescent moon is expected to hang in the sky on Saturday night signaling the beginning of the holy month of fasting, charity, community, family and prayer. The Chief Justice said that he would be in direct contact with all the courts throughout Palestine to ensure that all have sighted the crescent moon as it is a legal decision to begin the month of Ramadan. The moon must be sighted and registered by certificate in an official procedure. Tamimi said that all Palestinian Sharia courts would coordinate to ensure an accurate reading.

US sent 200 foreign detainees for grilling abroad
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/30/2008
WASHINGTON: The US military secretly has sent more than 200 foreign detainees captured in Iraq and Afghanistan to be interrogated in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries over the past few years, The New York Times reported Thursday. The daily wrote that the program bears many similarities to one run by the CIA since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. That program also secretly transferred people suspected of being militants back to their home countries to be jailed and interrogated - and has sparked allegations of torture. The Times cited as its source for the story "interviews with more than a dozen current and former US military, intelligence and foreign-policy officials, some of whom would speak only on condition of anonymity. "The daily wrote that many of the detainees were held secretly for weeks at a time at a camp in Iraq, or at one run by US Special Operations forces in Afghanistan.

’Abductors want $12 million for Israeli’ Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/29/2008
The abductors of an Israeli man kidnapped in Nigeria Tuesday are demanding $12 million for his release, an Israeli embassy official told Reuters Friday. Nigerian kidnappers demand ransomThe unnamed official said there was no deadline given for the ransom payment. The Israeli businessman was snatched from the driveway of his home in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt on Tuesday night. The victim’s family has asked that his name be withheld from publication. "My biggest concern is for the man’s health," Port Harcourt police Commissioner Hassan Bala told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday afternoon. "The abducted man is diabetic and we call on the abductors to at least contact us for the sake of the man’s health. " Police were searching for an accomplice who knew the victim, Bala said. In 90 percent of these cases someone from the inside helped the abductors with information, including the schedule of the kidnap victim, he said.

Nigerian abductors demand $12 million for release of Israeli man
Roni Gal, YNetNews 8/29/2008
Gilmor Engineering, company employing Israeli businessman abducted on Tuesday, receives call from kidnappers demanding ransom; family says they have not yet been updated -The gunmen who kidnapped an Israeli businessman in Nigeria are demanding $12 million for his release, an Israeli embassy source stated Friday. According to the statement, which confirmed a report by Haaretz news, the demand was made to the man’s company, Gilmor Engineering Limited. The man’s family told Ynet that they have not received this latest update yet. The ransom was demanded during a telephone conversation between the gunmen an Gilmor’s representatives in Nigeria. The company’s CEO, Eli Golder, is currently managing the negotiations and will have to decide whether or not to pay the ransom. Most kidnapping cases in Nigeria end with the companies’ payment, despite the Nigerian government’s official condemnation of this.

Nigerian group demands $12m ransom for kidnapped Israeli
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
The Nigerian gang that kidnapped an Israeli employee of a construction company operating in Nigeria has demanded $12 million in ransom - the highest demand of this kind in the country’s history, Haaretz revealed Friday. It is likely that the high ransom bid is due to the Israeli’s position as an employee for Gilmor - a company dealing with large-scale projects and major accounts. A Nigerian source emphasized that the ransom request is now being handled by the hostage’s employer. The company’s CEO and owner, Eli Golder, on Thursday declined to go into detail, saying only that "the situation is delicate. "He called on Israeli media outlets to restrain their coverage of the case, warning that "any publication might hurt the chances of releasing the hostage. " Earlier Thursday, a spokesman for an armed group in the region claimed. . .

One Palestinian man killed by an Israeli landmine near Jenin
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/29/2008
Palestinian police sources said that one Palestinian civilian was killed on Friday at dawn when an Israeli army landmine exploded in him near the northern West Bank city of Jenin The sources reported that the Nizar Suraqa 24 was at an evacuated military site near the city. Medical sources said that Suraqa died instantly due to the explosion. His relatives said that he was on his way to his farm when he apparently stepped on a landmine. The Palestinian police stated that it initiated a probe into the incident and added that the area used to be a training ground for Israeli forces. It is worth mentioning that he is the third family member to be killed in the same circumstances. Several years ago, his brother Basil and his cousin Nidal Swarka died in similar landmine explosions.

Palestinians: Explosive device kills farmer in West Bank
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
A Palestinian police official says a West Bank farmer was killed when he triggered an explosive device while on his way to work in his fields. The official says the 24-year-old Palestinian was killed early Friday near the village of Al-Mansura, west of the town of Jenin. He says police have identified the device as an old Israeli mine. The Israeli military says it is checking the report. The Palestinian official says the Israeli army used the area in the past as a training ground. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the Palestinian police had not issued an official statement on the incident. The Israel Defense Forces retains overall control of the West Bank, but police loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have limited authority in some areas.

Israeli landmine planted in abandoned West Bank military base kills Palestinian
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Landmines planted in abandoned Israeli military base in the West Bank killed one man in Arraba south west of Jenin on Friday. The information office for the Palestinian police said 24-year-old Nizar Sawarkah was killed immediately when a landmine exploded beneath the young man. Nizar was transferred to Jenin governmental Hospital, but died of the injuries he sustained. The police report said Nizar was walking in through an abandoned Israeli military base when the incident occurred. [end]

Israel’s new ''wet jobs'' plan
Electronic Intifada 8/29/2008
RAMALLAH (IRIN) - If the Israeli Ministry of Finance manages to push through some reforms as part of the proposed 2009 budget, there may soon be almost no Palestinian workers in Israel’s construction sector. "We are supporting a plan where the idea is to increase the number of Israelis in the workforce," an official at the Ministry of Finance told IRIN on condition of anonymity. "We want to create a situation where there is no interest in hiring Palestinian workers instead of Israeli ones," he added. According to initial estimates -- based on Israeli government statistics and non-governmental organization (NGO) data -- some 15,000 Palestinian workers in the sector would be at risk of losing their jobs. Given unemployment and lower wages in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, this would be a blow to the local economy, especially in the West Bank from where most of the Palestinians come.

A biblical tragedy in Galilee
Kim Sengupta in Tiberias, Galilee, The Independent 8/29/2008
The 2,000-year-old fishing boat of Galilee in which, the story goes, Jesus may have sailed, is one of the most precious ancient treasures in Israel. The vessel, which draws thousands of tourists to a kibbutz in Ginosar, was discovered by chance in 1986 when the sea level dropped dramatically because of a severe drought. "This year it is actually worse. I have been here 54 years and I have never seen the water so low, the situation so bad," said Haim Binstock, an expert on the boat in the museum where it is kept. "I don’t think the outside world realises just how dangerous the situation is, not just for Israel but for the whole region. " The waters of the Sea of Galilee are now at their lowest on record and, officials say, are set to fall even lower. The crisis is both natural and man-made. Four successive years of droughts, with rainfall less than half the annual average, has combined. . .

Palestinian Keffiyeh outgrows Mideast conflict
Middle East Online 8/29/2008
HEBRON - Anti-war activists and fashionistas have carried the iconic Palestinian keffiyeh across the globe, but in the West Bank producers of the headscarf are struggling to compete with Chinese imports. The black-and-white checkered scarf - which became an international symbol of the Palestinian struggle when Yasser Arafat first sported it in the 1960s - has since grown into a global phenomenon more and more disconnected from the land and the struggle in which it was born. The keffiyeh has become standard garb for anti-war activists across the globe and a chic accessory for urban hipsters - a vaguely subversive, vaguely exotic all-weather neck warmer. But for Yasser al-Hirbawi, the owner of a keffiyeh factory in the southern West Bank town of Hebron, the growing demand has brought increased competition from Chinese manufacturers which are capturing local markets.

Record yeshiva enrollment to cost economy NIS 5b
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Some 63,000 young men are expected to begin studying this week in kollels - yeshivas, or Talmudic academies for married men, the Education Ministry announced yesterday. The loss to the economy from not having these men in the workforce totals an estimated NIS 5 billion. The figure represents an all-time high in kollel registration, an increase of 4,500 from last year and 67 percent from 10 years ago. The rise in matriculation comes amid a general increase in employment among ultra-Orthodox men. The rate paid by the Education Ministry for every student is roughly NIS 720 per month, or NIS 8,640 annually. In the regular ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, in which most students are at the age that most Jewish Israelis are serving in the military, some 30,000 students were enrolled last year, a figure also expected to climb this year.

Expired pickles brought into Bethlehem in animal feed truck seized
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Special police units in Bethlehem seized quantities of expired pickles being imported from Israel to be used as animal feed on Thursday. Sources told Ma’an that the seizure came after a long investigation, and added that when the goods were found and those responsible arrested, the Ministry of Health was contacted in order to continue the investigation. Investigators say that the pickles were brought into Bethlehem by a truck used to transfer animal food, and two Bethlehem men were arrested. Ministry of economy worker Muhammad Zrekat said that along with the expired pickles, 20 boxes of expired energy drinks and dates were confiscated. Zrekat appealed people to be extremely careful when buying food especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

India promises health sector aid
Ma’an News Agency 8/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The ambassador of India to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) expressed his country’s interest in working with Palestinians to improve health services in the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. B. D. Day made the comments to Palestinian Minister of Health Dr Fathi Abu Moghli during a Thursday meeting in which Moghli briefed the representative on the health situation in both the West Bank and Gaza. [end]

Olmert faces 7th grilling in corruption probe
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/30/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert and his wife Aliza were both questioned on Friday over a 2004 housing deal that is still being investigated, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The premier, who is under investigation in six separate cases, and his wife were questioned separately over their purchase of a house on Cremieux Street, Rosenfeld said. Police suspect the contractor who sold the house slashed the price by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Media reports say Olmert, who at the time was trade and industry minister, is alleged to have used his connections to secure building rights for the contractor on another project. Olmert, 62, insists he is innocent of the allegations of wrongdoing in the 13 years before he took office in 2006, when he also served as mayor of Occupied Jerusalem. But he announced on July 30 that he would step down after his centrist. . .

ISRAEL: Olmert Has a Last Go at a Legacy
Analysis by Peter Hirschberg, Inter Press Service 8/30/2008
JERUSALEM, Aug 29(IPS) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may have announced that he will resign as soon as his ruling Kadima party has chosen a new leader next month, but that doesn’t mean the prime minister has given up hope of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians or the Syrians. Details of Olmert’s peace proposal to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas were recently leaked to the press, and the prime minister’s aides are scheduled to head back to Istanbul for another round of indirect talks with Syrian officials. It’s legacy time for Ehud Olmert: he doesn’t want to be remembered as the prime minister who got run out of office because he received cash-stuffed envelopes from a U. S. Jewish businessman. He would much prefer that the history books record he was the architect of a peace deal with the Palestinians or the Syrians.

Police quiz Olmert’s wife on purchase of Jerusalem home
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was questioned under caution for two and a half hours at his Jerusalem residence on Friday, his seventh police interrogation in recent months. Police also quizzed Olmert’s wife Aliza for the first time on the purchase of a Jerusalem house. The prime minister and his wife are suspected of purchasing an apartment on Cremieux Street in Jerusalem at a discounted price and granting benefits in turn to the real estate firm which brokered the deal. Police officials declined to discuss the focus of Friday’s interrogation, but it is thought Olmert will be questioned again in connection with political appointments he made at the Small Business Authority while he was minister of industry, trade and employment. Olmert was asked about those appointments for the first time last week, after investigators wrapped up some loose ends in the Talansky and Rishon Tours cases.

Aliza Olmert questioned for first time
Ap And Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/29/2008
Police questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a seventh time on Friday in connection with one of the multiple corruption probes that have upset his tenure. Olmert undergoes seventh interrogationPolice spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Olmert was questioned for 2. 5 hours over a house he bought in Jerusalem’s upper-class Cremieux Street before becoming prime minister. He is suspected of having received the house at a discount in exchange for promoting a Jerusalem construction project while he was the city’s mayor. Police suspect irregular building permits were granted. Rosenfeld said Olmert’s wife, Aliza, was also questioned for the first time in connection with the probes against the premier. Also on Friday, Olmert’s lawyers requested to postpone the next round of questioning of New York businessman Morris Talansky, who allegedly illegally gave Olmert large sums of money,. . .

Police to quiz Olmert Friday on political appointments
Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned under caution at his Jerusalem residence on Friday, his seventh police interrogation in recent months. Investigators from the national fraud unit are expected to arrive at 10 A. M. for a session that will last around two and a half hours. Police officials declined to discuss the focus of Friday’s interrogation, but it is thought Olmert will be questioned again in connection with political appointments he made at the Small Business Authority while he was minister of industry, trade and employment. Olmert was asked about those appointments for the first time last week, after investigators wrapped up some loose ends in the Talansky and Rishon Tours cases. Sources familiar with the investigation said on Thursday that the police may still have more questions for Olmert on Friday in those other cases.

Former ambassador to US joins Yisrael Beiteinu
Yuval Karni, YNetNews 8/29/2008
Daniel Ayalon says realized right-wing party is natural his home after reading its platform. ’Lieberman is the most suitable person for prime minister,’ he adds - Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon has joined Yisrael Beiteinu and is expected to run for Knesset on behalf of the right-wing party. Ayalon decided to join the party following talks he held in recent weeks with its chairman, Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman. In the first stage, Ayalon will serve as chairman of the World Yisrael Beiteinu, a role which has not been manned since the death of former Knesset Member Yuri Stern, but Lieberman later plans to make his new acquisition part of the party’s Knesset list. The Yisrael Beiteinu chairman is interested in adding "Israeli" figures to his party’s list.

Knesset Speaker to launch new, more stringent ethics code
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik will use a new ethics code to crack down on ethical offenses and empower the Ethics Committee to impose serious fines on guilty MKs. At present MKs can be barred from parliamentary debates in extreme cases, but Itzik says the committee lacks teeth because it usually makes do with reprimands and is almost totally unable to impose fines. The Zamir Committee, which has drafted a proposal for a new Knesset ethics code, announced this week that it is boycotting House Committee meetings on the proposal. It is doing so to protest the latter’s rejection of the Zamir Committee’s recommendation to appoint an ethics adviser to the Knesset. The Zamir Committee recommended imposing fines of up to a month’s wages on offending MKs and barring them from serving in senior Knesset posts.

Forbes features Livni on list of world’s most powerful women
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is featured in Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most powerful women, placing in at No. 52. This is the second year running in which the foreign minister was ranked among the most influential women worldwide by the renowned American business magazine, after slipping a few spots from her No. 39 entry last year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped the list for the third year running, while U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice slipped to seventh from fourth last year. Merkel, who became chancellor of Germany in November 2005, was cited by the magazine in its latest edition for her efforts to streamline Europe’s biggest economy, increasing the national retirement age and putting more women in senior government posts. Sheila C.

Jerusalem Affairs: Running religiously
Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
When a secular candidate in the Jerusalem mayoral race declares that the city’s annual gay pride parade will take place "over my dead body," after five years during which the controversial event was held under a haredi mayor, you can tell that the elections are fast approaching. And so it was this week when the Israeli-Russian tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak made such an announcement during a visit to Bikur Holim Hospital, which he owns. Never mind that Mayor Uri Lupolianski, like a not insignificant percentage of the city’s largely traditional residents, was always opposed to holding a gay pride parade. Nor that it was the High Court of Justice which has repeatedly authorized such a parade, under the rights bestowed by freedom of speech, even if it is supported only by a small minority of the local population.

European campaign calls for more sea voyages to break Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 8/29/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign for lifting the siege on Gaza has deeply appreciated on Thursday efforts of the foreign supporters who boarded two boats and went to the besieged Gaza Strip, considering such attempt as the first step in breaking the wall of the unjust blockade. "The success of the two boats in breaking a circle in the chain of the oppressive [Israeli] siege spurs us into unleashing more ships to the Strip in order to save the besieged people there who have lost nearly 241 patients out of 1500 citizens whom their lives were at risk due to lack of medicine [in Gaza Strip], in addition to Israeli closure of all Gaza crossing points", asserted Dr. Arafat Madi, head of the campaign in a statement he issued in the Belgium capital Brussels, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC. He also stressed the necessity of turning such successful attempt into a first step. . .

Free Gaza ships leave to Cyprus with a promise to come back
Palestinian Information Center 8/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The two siege-breaking ships that arrived at Gaza from Cyprus last Saturday carrying international supporters and medicine for the besieged Palestinians in Gaza left Gaza on Thursday afternoon on their way back to Cyprus. SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty left Gaza at 3:40 pm leaving nine international human  rights activists in Gaza and taking with them seven Palestinians including 10-year-old Saed Mosleh, from Beit Hanoun, who lost his leg due to an Israeli tank shell. Said, who is a companied by his father, told al-Jazeera tv that he hopes that he can get a prosthesis fitted so that he can live like other children. The Ships reached international waters at 7:00 pm after being watched by a number of Israeli naval vessels according to the activists who remained in Gaza  and who held a press conference at the Ramattan news agency.

Blockade-busters sail from Gaza, with 7 Palestinians
Ofri Ilani and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Two boats run by the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza group sailed back to Cyprus from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, carrying seven Palestinians, including five children. One of them is a 10-year-old boy who lost a leg to an Israeli tank shell. The boy, accompanied by his father, hopes to be fitted with an artificial leg abroad. Initially, the group had also planned to take 12 Palestinian students who have been accepted to foreign universities but barred from leaving Gaza by Israel. However, that plan was dropped when it turned out that the students had no visas for the countries in which they sought to study. The group’s goal in organizing the voyages was to break the Israeli siege of Gaza, and a few of the activists decided to stay in Gaza to organize local support for additional such trips.

IRAQ: Kidnappings Now Become ’Unofficial’
Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service 8/30/2008
BAQUBA, Aug 29(IPS) - Residents of Baquba deny police claims that kidnappings are now a matter of the past. "There are fewer people disappearing, but it continues," a trader who asked to be referred to as Abu Ali told IPS. "All of us know that several people are still being kidnapped every week. " A local sheikh, speaking to IPS on condition of anonymity, said that many from his tribe have been kidnapped in just the last three weeks. "This sectarian security operation is targeting Sunnis," the sheikh said. "At least ten people from my tribe alone, all of them Sunnis, have been kidnapped, and we suspect it is by people with the government. " A police captain, Ali Khadem, told IPS that "no kidnapping actions were reported in the city in the last four months. "Baquba is capital of Diyala province, just north-east of Baghdad.

Georgia cuts diplomatic ties with Russia
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/29/2008
Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Moscow on Friday to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory, and its president cast the far-confrontation over his country’s fate as "a fight between the civilized and the uncivilized worlds. " Slideshow:With European Union leaders set to huddle on how to deal with an increasingly assertive Russia, Vladimir Putin angrily warned Europe not to do America’s bidding and said Moscow does not fear Western sanctions. Russia has faced isolation over its offensive in Georgia and its recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. No other country has followed suit and recognized the regions’ independence. The United States and Europe have condemned Russia’s actions but are hard pressed to find an effective response. Georgia’s diplomats in Russia will leave Moscow on Saturday, Georgian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nato Chikovani said.

Sadr loyalists vow to continue armed fight
Middle East Online 8/29/2008
BAGHDAD - Shiite loyalists of radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said Friday they wanted to keep fighting US forces even after their leader ordered a halt of armed actions by his feared Mahdi Army militia. "I will follow the orders of Moqtada al-Sadr but I prefer to fight," said Adnan Habib, a 22-year-old labourer who attended Friday prayers in Sadr City, Sadr’s bastion in eastern Baghdad. A crowd of Sadr supporters scrambled to sign a document in their own blood, pledging to follow an earlier order issued by the cleric two weeks ago that called on them to continue the resistance against US forces. Loyalists were seen cutting their thumbs with scalpels and then putting a blood print on the document distributed by the members of the Sadr movement. Habib who signed the pledge with his blood print said: "I want to sacrifice my soul, my family, for Sadr.

Ex-marine acquitted in Iraq deaths
Al Jazeera 8/29/2008
A former US marine has been acquitted of voluntary manslaughter in the killing of unarmed detainees in Iraq four years ago. The acquittal of Jose Luis Nazario Jr came after six hours of jury deliberations in the first-of-its-kind federal trial in a California court on Thursday. Nazario was charged with killing or causing others to kill four unarmed detainees in Falluja during some of the fiercest fighting of the war in Iraq in 2004 which saw house-to-house fighting. Other former marines testified during the five-day trial that they heard gunshots but did not see Nazario kill the detainees. Thursday’s verdict marks the first time a civilian jury has determined whether the actions of a former soldier in combat violated the law of war.

Cabinet appoints Kahwaji as army chief
Daily Star correspondent, Daily Star 8/30/2008
BEIRUT: General Jean Kahwaji was on Friday appointed chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces to replace Michel Sleiman, who was elected president in May, Information Minister Tareq Mitri announced. "The Council of Ministers decided to appoint General Jean Kahwaji to the post of chief of the Lebanese army," Mitri told reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace. Kahwaji, 54, joined the army in 1973. He has undergone specialized military training abroad, including in the United States and Italy, while in 2006 he went to Germany for intensive anti-terrorism training. Decorated on several occasions, he has occupied the post of commander of the second infantry division since 2002. He is married with three children. General Shawki al-Masri, the army’s chief of staff, had been acting as head of the army since Sleiman was elected president of Lebanon on May 25, ending an 18-month-old political stalemate in the country.

Hizbullah hands over chopper shooter
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/29/2008
Hizbullah handed over a suspect who allegedly fired at a Lebanese army helicopter the previous day, a judicial official said Friday, amid media reports that the fatal shooting was a mistake by the terrorist group. Hizbullah shoots down Lebanese Army helicopterMilitary court magistrate Jean Fahd refused to identify the suspect, but told The Associated Press that the man was surrendered to authorities by Hizbullah as the person who opened fire at the helicopter. A Lebanese army navigator was killed by the gunshots Thursday in the country’s south and the helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing. Fahd’s announcement came hours after a top Lebanese newspaper reported that Hizbullah had opened fire at the helicopter mistaking it for an Israeli craft. The As-Safir daily quoted unidentified "multiple sources" as saying that the gunmen mistook the helicopter for an Israeli aircraft dropping off soldiers in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah downs Lebanese chopper, thinking it Israeli
Amos Harel , and AP, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
Hezbollah downed a Lebanese Army helicopter on Thursday in what Israeli officials believe was a case of mistaken identity: The Shi’ite militiamen apparently thought they were firing at an Israeli chopper. The incident occurred as the helicopter flew over an area of southern Lebanon known to be a Hezbollah stronghold. The attack killed a navigator and forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing, Lebanese officials said. Details about the incident were sketchy, as the military quickly sealed off the area. But a Lebanese Army statement said the helicopter was on a training mission when it came under fire from armed elements and was forced down in the highlands of the Iqlim al-Tuffah province. The helicopter was apparently flying at low altitude. The statement said 1st Lt. Samer Hanna, a navigator, was killed and that the aircraft was damaged. No one else in the crew was hurt and the army was investigating, it added.

Hizbullah to cooperate with army in helicopter probe
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/29/2008
After opening fire on Lebanese Army helicopter gunmen mistook for Israeli craft, killing its navigator, Hizbullah releases statement describing incident as ’unfortunate and painful’, expressing willingness to assist official military investigation -After opening fire on an army helicopter on Thursday, Lebanese As-Safir daily reported that Hizbullah had stated it would cooperate fully with an investigation into the incident. The paper quoted anonymous sources saying that the gunmen mistook the helicopter for an Israeli aircraft dropping off soldiers in the south of the country and opened fire, killing the navigator. The paper often receives leaked information from the Shiite militant group. Hizbullah, meanwhile, described the incident in a statement Friday as "very unfortunate and painful.


A mobile circus to challenge immobility
Palestine Monitor 8/28/2008
      The beautiful story of the First Palestinian Circus School.
     The First Palestinian circus school was set up in 2006 when Shadi Zmorrod and Jessika Devlieghere -"father and mother circus"- launched that original project. Based in Ramallah, the school teaches circus arts to children from the West Bank. Bringing much more than circus knowledge to the kids, the school aims to break the barriers- both physical and social- within the Palestinian society, gather people with art, and provide a new way of expression for Palestinian kids. This summer, the Circus school was touring all across the West Bank to present a "˜mobile circus’ filled with Palestinian and Danish performers, joy, motivation and audience’s smile.
     It all started in a checkpoint, like many Palestinian stories. At one of the biggest one in the West Bank -Qalandia- were we met on a Saturday the members of the Palestinian Circus School. It is 3’0 clock in the afternoon, and the sun is burning while some 25 teenagers and circus performers are waiting and queuing behind the gates of the checkpoints to leave Ramallah for a day and attend their first performance in Jerusalem.

Abie Nathan

Lawrence Joffe, The Guardian 8/29/2008
      To rightwing fellow Israelis, Abie Nathan, who has died aged 81, was a figure of fun, or, worse, a traitor. Nathan did seem an unlikely warrior for peace in the Middle East, but he invariably had the last laugh. When, in 1968, he mooted the idea for an offshore pirate radio station that would spread regional goodwill, sceptics predicted that it would sink, metaphorically if not literally. Instead, the Voice of Peace blasted out pop, political commentaries and celebrity interviews for 21 years.
     Many also thought Nathan mad when, in 1977, he sailed through the Suez Canal distributing chocolates and toys to Arab children. By the year’s end, though, Nathan and fellow Israelis were negotiating directly with President Sadat. Their meeting presaged Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, and the 1979 bi-national peace treaty.
     Israeli security chiefs regarded Nathan as dangerously naive for talking to the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Yasser Arafat in 1989, and he spent nine months in prison in 1991 for his contact with the PLO. Yet within four years, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shaking hands with Arafat at the White House. Nathan was an entrepreneur, a man with business acumen, an ability to exploit photo opportunities - and a hatred of injustice and suffering.

Letters: Boats of hope for desperate Gaza

The Guardian 8/29/2008
      We do not idealise Palestinian society, fractured and divided as it is, though this is in good measure the result of sustained Israeli policy over many decades of occupation (Showboating over Gaza, August 28). Nor do we recall Israel extending a great hand of friendship to the Palestinians under President Arafat when that society wasn’t fractured. Rather, he was routinely labelled a "terrorist".Now, suddenly, we all have to "steer the Palestinians through the choppy waters to statehood". The fact is that about half the West Bank is under the authority of Jewish settlements and the Israeli military, and that the Israeli government shows no signs of yielding up this occupied territory to the new Palestinian state Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor purports to want.
     You do not have to be a fan of Hamas - we definitely are not - to recognise that they prosper as the result of the criminal and illegal policy of collective punishment that Israel insists on inflicting on the people of Gaza. Gaza is still occupied, still a prison, as evidenced by Israel’s land, air and sea blockade. The two boats of protesters that broke the Israeli blockade last week aimed specifically to draw attention to this. They have now set a precedent. May they be followed by hundreds of others bearing food, medicines and other desperately needed goods to the people of Gaza.
     Richard Kuper

School opens, minds close

Gershom Gorenberg, Ha’aretz 8/29/2008
      The season for buying schoolbooks has come: Math and Mishnah, history and humash with commentaries. On the first day of classes, parents will drop their kids off at religious schools on their way to the office. Someone with an eye for detail might notice that the female teachers are nearly all wearing headscarves or hats. Most mothers have their hair uncovered. If you ask a father the date, he’ll answer, "September 1." On the chalkboard, a teacher will write, "Elul 1.
     At the gates of the state religious schools, in many places in Israel, two cultures meet. One, religious and modern, turns over its sons and daughters to the other, more insular, to educate them in its stead. The parents live with their children alongside secular families in mixed neighborhoods. A quick glance at a list of the teachers’ phone numbers reveals that many live in settlements or in neighborhoods known as Haredi or Hardali - religiously ultra-Orthodox, politically ultra-nationalist.
     The geographic gap reflects a rift in attitudes toward religion and toward the wider world. It expresses itself in how each side relates to secular culture, to non-Jews, to the limits of rabbinic authority, and to the manner of thinking about politics. The parents are often unaware of the gap. Most lean rightward politically. But their views are based on pragmatic and nationalist considerations - in contrast to the messianic politics of many of the teachers. And the minority of parents who lean leftward? If they pay attention to the right-wing atmosphere in the schools, they accept it as the price of religious education.

ISRAEL: Where the Slave Trade Heads

Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 8/30/2008
      JERUSALEM, Aug 29 (IPS) - Israel continues to be a favourite destination for the trafficking of women for the sex industry, also known as the white slave trade, and for a form of modern day slavery where migrant labourers from developing countries are exploited.
     The U.S. State Department placed Israel in Tier 2 position in its 2007 Trafficking in Persons report. And an Israeli court ruled against the country's work visa policy, which forces foreign workers into indentured labour with a single employer.
     quot;Israel was only upgraded to Tier 2 last year," Romm Lewkowicz, a spokesman from Israel's Hotline for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group which defends the rights of foreign workers, told IPS.
     The U.S. State Department divides countries into three tiers. Tier 1 is for countries that have successfully implemented measures to control trafficking (most Western countries fall into this category). Tier 2 is for countries that are trying to eradicate this modern day slavery but still fail to meet the necessary standards. Tier 3 is reserved for countries that have not addressed the issue at the most basic level.

Is Israel One Disaster from Collapse?

Ghassan Michel Rubeiz – New York, Palestine Chronicle 8/28/2008
      ’Israel has recently joined this club of high-risk countries.’
     Israelis are not united in supporting their government’s policies of a four-decade festering occupation of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories. The occupation is costly, morally troubling and beyond the capacity of Israel to maintain.
     Israelis are relatively free to question the occupation; surprisingly, American politicians, especially politicians who are running for national elections, find it hard to question the occupation. If for nothing else, mere concern for Israel’s future should embolden Americans to be more discerning on issues of the Middle East. An important Carnegie study recently showed that Israel is precariously open to breakdown.
     The study implies that tight-lipped Americans need to open their minds to Israel’s vulnerability as an occupier. The heaviest cost of the 1967 occupation of Arab land is the impact on Israel’s national security. Israel received dire warning in the July-August issue of Foreign Policy magazine in the article "The Failed States Index of 2008. The Index’s latest results give the Israel/West Bank regime a rank of borderline on national security. The Index lists and discusses a long list of vulnerable countries and identifies twelve variables that undermine their national security. According to this ranking tool, the Israel/West Bank regime is among sixty fragile countries that are "just one disaster away [from] collapse."

Israel’s US Missile Shield

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly, Palestine Media Center 8/27/2008
      During his visit to the US last month, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak announced that Washington would soon link Israel to two advanced missile detection systems that would strengthen Israel’s preparedness against any Iranian threat. Following his meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Barak also announced that Israel and the US were at an advanced stage in talks on upgrading Israel’s Arrow-II ballistic shield, though they disagreed over whether it should incorporate an American interceptor missile. He told reporters that Washington would also increase Israel’s access to its Defence Support Programme (DPS) satellites that can detect missile launches, adding that the US and Israeli governments "see eye to eye on the need to keep all options on the table, though we may not agree on each and every detail. It’s important the Americans understand our position, and I think that they understand it a lot better after this visit."
     The Pentagon has also agreed to install a powerful radar system in Israel in the coming months. Israeli officials described the system as capable of tracking an object the size of a baseball from about 4,700 kilometres away; it would enable Arrow to engage an Iranian Shehab-3 ballistic missile about halfway through what would be its 11 minute flight to Israel.

Torture as Official Israeli Policy

Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 8/28/2008
      ’Israel’s military and security forces have systematically practiced torture.’
     The UN Convention against Torture defines the practice as:
     "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain and suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity...."
     Although its language in part is vague, contradictory and protects abusive practices, Section 277 of Israel’s 1977 Penal Law prohibits torture by providing criminal sanctions against its use. It specifically states in language similar to the UN Convention against Torture:
     quot;A public servant who does one of the following is liable to imprisonment for three years: (1) uses or directs the use of force or violence against a person for the purpose of extorting from him or from anyone in whom he is interested a confession of an offense or information relating to an offense; (2) threatens any person, or directs any person to be threatened, with injury to his person or property or to the person or property of anyone in whom he is interested for the purpose of extorting from him a confession of an offense or any information relating to an offense." However, Israel clearly discriminates against Palestinians, (including Israeli Arab citizens), denies them rights afforded only to Jews, and gets legal cover for it by its courts. More on that below.

The Distant Political Horizon of a Just Israeli-Palestinian Settlement

Connie Hackbarth, Alternative Information Center (AIC, Palestine Media Center 8/28/2008
      With all sides openly acknowledging, privately and even publicly, that the Annapolis process has failed in its promise to provide a viable political vision and structure for relevant negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel that would result in an agreement by the end of this year, what comes next? The Americans are preoccupied with their presidential elections, elections that regardless of the outcome will result in a new administration and unknown set of domestic and international priorities. The Israelis are also busy with elections.
     The first wave on 17 September in the Kadima Party primaries to select a new leader following the decision by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down in September in the face of extensive police investigations and possible indictments. Then, perhaps, if and when the new leader of Kadima is unable to form a government, national elections will be held in Israel in early 2009. Meanwhile, the Palestinian internal situation has been in a fractured state—between the Hamas and Fatah, Gaza and the West Bank—in large part due to US and Israeli meddling and pressure on the Palestinians to reverse their democratic choice of January 2006. Once again, the Palestinians are compelled to understand, be patient and wait due to the crises of the Israelis and Americans.