InI Logo
InI Needs Your Support!
Subscribe to InI’s Mailing List/Newsletter

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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  

30 August 2008

Hundreds cross from Gaza into Egypt
Al Jazeera 8/30/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians are reported to have crossed into Egypt after Cairo opened the border with the Gaza Strip for two days. The opening on Saturday comes ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but only people with pressing humanitarian needs and foreign residency permits are being allowed to cross. Egyptian security said the Rafah crossing would stay open for two days. Al Jazeera’s Ashraf Amritti, reporting from Gaza, said at least 1,000 people had crossed the border into Egypt so far, most of them residents of Egypt who have been stranded in the Hamas-controlled territory since January. About 500 people had also crossed from Egypt to Gaza, according to Egyptian and Palestinian officials, he said. ’Alleviating suffering’Egypt closed the Rafah crossing more than a year. . .

Family of Israeli landmine victim questioned for hours; home raided by Israeli soldiers
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces questioned the family of Nizar Sawarkah, who was killed yesterday in Arrabah near Jenin after he stumbled on an unreported landmine in an abandoned Israeli military facility. Palestinian security sources stated that several Israel military vehicles raided the Sawarkah’s home town overnight and ransacked the deceased’s home. The Sawarkah family was forced into the street while the house was searched, then questioned for three hours in their home. No arrests were reported. Nineteen-year-old Nizar Sawarkah died instantly when he walked over a landmine in an abandoned Israeli military training facility as he walked towards his family fields for a day of farming.

Gaza medical workers go on strike
Al Jazeera 8/30/2008
Thousands of doctors in the Gaza Strip have gone on strike in protest at what they say was the politically motivated firing of at least 50 doctors and administrators by the Hamas-run health ministry. Government employees, medical workers and teachers affiliated with Fatah are also participating in the strike, which began on Saturday. "Today we have begun a total strike in the government-run health sector in the Gaza Strip and there is good participation, with 70 per cent taking part," an official in the health workers’ union was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. A pro-Fatah workers union said the strike could continue until Tuesday. Hamas downplayed the strike, saying the number participating was "very limited" but has threatened strip doctors of their private practices if they did not show up at public hospitals.

Mandela appeals for ending tragedy of Palestinian hunger strikers in Jalama jail
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Mandela institute for human rights and political prisoners appealed to international humanitarian institutions especially the Red Cross to end the tragedy of Palestinian detainees in the investigation cellars of the Israeli Jalama prison, who went on a hunger strike in protest at the unjust incarceration conditions. Lawyer Buthaina Duqmaq, the head of the Mandela institute, stated that the Jalama prisoners decided to go on the hunger strike after all efforts made to stop their detention in isolation cells and to convince the prison administration to transfer them to central prisons failed. Lawyer Buthaina said that the IOA extended the detention of prisoners several times despite the fact it ended investigating them two months ago, and the prison administration refused to transfer them and end their isolation tragedy.

Israel Hails Egypt’s ’Effective’ Crackdown on Gaza Tunnels
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak during talks with President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday voiced rare praise for Egypt’s efforts to stem weapons smuggling into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Barak hailed Egyptian efforts along the porous border which "have visibly been effective," said a statement from the Israeli Defense Ministry after the talks at one of Mubarak’s palaces in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. But Barak also said that "more effort should be put in order to further reduce" weapons smuggling into Gaza which has been effectively sealed off by Israel since Hamas took control of the territory in June 2007. Israel has in the past repeatedly accused Egypt of not doing enough to combat the tunnels used to smuggle food, fuel, weapons and cigarettes into the impoverished territory. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit, who attended the talks, said Mubarak had asked

Hamas to Israel: We won’t compromise, we want 1,000 prisoners for Shalit
Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
A spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said that the Islamic group would not settle for a list of 450 Palestinian prisoners Israel will offer to release in exchange for captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, but will rather demand the release of more than 1,000 prisoners, according to a report published Saturday in the London-based Arabic language daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Shalit has been held captive in the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, since his abduction by militants in June 2006. The spokesman, Abu Obeida, made his remarks ahead of a planned meeting of an Israeli ministerial panel, headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, set to compose a list of prisoners, including those considered as having "blood on their hands", on Sunday.

Israeli forces invade Jenin and Nablus
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/30/2008
Israeli forces invaded on Saturday morning the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus and nearby refugee camps, local sources reported. A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded Nablus at dawn; troops deployed in several streets and fired rounds of live ammunition. Moreover troops invaded Al Ein refugee camp in the city and launched a search campaign in the area, no arrests were reported. In Jenin, soldiers broke into the house of Nizar Suraqa, 24, who died on Friday at an evacuated military site near the city due to a landmine explosion. Troops seized his family members for interrogation for couple of hours after forcing them out of their home. Eyewitnesses reported that troops also invaded the nearby Arafeh and Qabatia villages and fired rounds of live ammunition and CS gas canisters among houses as troops spread throughout several neighborhoods.

Hamas government releases 120 Palestinians for Ramadan
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
Gaza -- In honor of the beginning of Ramadan the Hamas government released 120 Palestinians detained in the Gaza Central Prison. The Prime Minister of the Strip’s Hamas government, Ismail Haniya, asked that the police release the men as the holy month is slated to begin tomorrow, dependent on the moon. He excluded those considered to pose criminal and security risks. During a press conference, Islam Shahwan, the spokesman of the Palestinian police, said that those released were nearing completion of their sentences. He held a press conference at the Saraya Prison in Gaza City. "The police were ready to release the inmates who had gone through psycho-social rehabilitation with religious and professional guidance. " Shawan said that the goal is "awakening the conscience in the offender and his future. "He elaborated by saying, "We are trying to change the behavior of the. . .

Olmert pressing Abbas to accept framework deal
Aluf Benn Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are scheduled to meet today in Jerusalem, in what will most likely be their final meeting before the Kadima primary on September 17. Olmert will seek to convince the Palestinian leader to accept an agreement of principles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that will represent a framework for a two-state solution. As far as Olmert is concerned, the talks with Abbas have entered the "final straight" and there are about two weeks left to reach an agreement before the prime minister steps down. However, veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said yesterday that he does not expect the two sides to conclude a joint document during September. Erekat made the comments yesterday following various reports that the Bush administration would like to present a joint document of understandings between Israel and the PA before the UN General Assembly in September.

Dr. Erekat: Final Status issues are not for marketing, they are about humans who need their rights
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
Ramallah -- Head of Negotiations Affairs in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Sa’eb Erekat said Saturday it is highly unlikely that there will be any agreement between Palestinians and Israelis during September as some rumors have suggested. "The gap between Palestinian and Israeli positions on Final Status issues such as Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements, water and security is wide. . . . . . I doubt there will be any kind of written document or agreement. This is not an issue to be used for marketing. This is a human issue and we must ensure that our rights are protected in any agreement reached. "Dr. Erekat was referring to Israeli reports that a written document would be ready before the United Nations General Assembly session scheduled for New York in late September. A meeting is expected to take place on its sidelines between the Quartet.

Abbas to Hold Further Talks with Israel’s Olmert
Reuters, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet again with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. The next round of talks in Jerusalem will come days after a visit by U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that made little progress toward a goal of a limited peace accord before President George W. Bush leaves office in January. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat toldon Friday Abbas and Olmert would meet to "review the negotiations and the final status issues". The leaders would also discuss a Western-backed peace "road map" that demands Israel halt settlement building in occupied territory and that Palestinians rein in militants, Erekat said. An Israeli official confirmed the talks would take place, saying they would be held in Jerusalem. The leaders last met on Aug. 6. Israel freed 198 Palestinian prisoners from its jails on Monday, in a gesture that sought to boost the Western-backed Abbas, who faces challenges from the Islamist Hamas group that seized control of Gaza last year.

Former advisor to Arafat: ''time for a third intifadah''
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An advisor to the late Palestinian President Yaser Arafat has urged Palestinian youth to begin a third intifadah and popular strike to force the international community to re-evaluate their position on Israel and strengthen the Palestinian negotiating position. Former presidential advisor Basam Abu Sharif sent a statement to Ma’an on Saturday which addressed the Palestinian position in negotiations with Israel, and the role of the United States in this year’s talks. Abu Sharif urged the youth of all of the Palestinian factions to carry out peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins until the end of Ramdan with the aim of igniting a popular intifada (uprising) and a comprehensive strike demanding "freedom and independence in peaceful ways. " If Palestinians resist peacefully en masse, he said "the entire world will become convinced of the necessity to bring justice to the Palestinians. "

Hamas fires Fatah-affiliated schoolteachers in Gaza
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
The conflict between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has reached the schools, where Hamas has removed from their positions teachers and principals who are affiliated with Fatah. The dismissals occurred a week ago, on the eve of the new school year. In response, the Fatah teachers’ union went on strike and refused to teach in the schools. Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip since June 2007, appears to have prepared for such an eventuality, and replaced the Fatah teachers with some 2,000 new staff, most of whom completed their teachers’ training in recent months. For their part, the striking teachers found themselves in a difficult spot: They have been warned by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that if they broke the strike they would no longer receive salaries. Meanwhile, Hamas security forces raided the offices of the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian. . .

False statement: PA ministry of health denies ordering striking workers to jobs
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Ramallah – Ma’an – The Ministry of Health for the Palestinian Authority (PA) stated Saturday that earlier statements urging striking Gazan medical workers back to their jobs was a forged statement. The ministry sent a correction to Ma’an declaring that the agency’s earlier report quoting the PA Ministry of Health as calling for an end to the strike, was not in fact issued by their offices. The second statement accused "some Palestinian figures" of spreading false rumours. Last week the Union of medical workers based in the West Bank called for a general strike of workers in the Gaza Strip in protest of the "violent actions" of Hamas. The Hamas-run de facto government of the Strip ordered workers back to their jobs, saying that they were essential services and could not strike. Saturday morning Ma’an received a letterhead statement via e-mail, from. . .

Opposition factions call for sparing service sectors political wrangling
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian opposition factions called Saturday for sparing the health and education sectors the political wrangling between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, describing the PA illegitimate government’s strike calls as subversive and politicized. In a press conference, the opposition factions said that these politicized strikes come in the context of obstructing the dialog efforts made by Egypt to heal the internal rift. The factions expressed support for the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya, and urged it to protect the citizens from the attempts to manipulate civil services. In a press release received by the PIC, the health ministry in Gaza warned Saturday all municipal and private health institutions in the Strip of recruiting or hiring any striking individuals who refrained from reporting to their duties in the governmental health sectors.

Hamas: PA strike calls are politicized par excellence
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Jamal Abu Hashim, a prominent Hamas leader, stated that the strike calls, which are sponsored by the PA in Ramallah, are politicized par excellence and have nothing to do with unions or professions, describing them as destructive and artificial.   In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Abu Hashim explained that the transfers of teachers and managers were supervised by educationalists with the aim of improving the educational process, pointing out that such transfers take place every year. "If there were objections to some transfers, they could have filed complaints with the education ministry in protest at such steps," the Hamas leader added. He said that these politicized strikes are aimed to obstruct the Palestinian tendencies towards the national dialog and to stir up chaos in the Gaza Strip after it has witnessed a state of security and stability.

Doctors’ union: Gaza strike still on
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Doctors’ Union issued a statement Saturday afternoon assuring Palestinians that the medical workers’ strike in the Gaza Strip is still on. The false call to end the strike issued Saturday morningby forged Ministry of Health documents, said the Union statement, was simply "one person’s opinion on the subject," and not an official directive. The union added that whoever does not commit to the strike will be punished. The statement added that the strike will bring back people’s rights in all governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas accuses PA security forces of arrested nine members and supporters
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 8/31/2008
Media sources loyal to Hamas movement in the West Bank accused Palestinian security forces loyal to Fateh movement of arresting nine members and supporters of Hamas in several areas in the West Bank. In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, P. A security forces arrested Firas Al Zobeidi, and Mohammad Al Shanar. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Sheikh Zakariyya Nassar, the Imam of Kharsa village mosque, Walid Alqam, the Muezzin of the mosque, and also arrested Salim Al Shahateet from Doura village, south of Hebron. In Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Abdul-Latif Abu Khmeish, who was recently released from an Israeli detention facility after spending six years in prison, and also arrested in Tulkarem Mohammad Al Daddou, and two brothers identified as Eyad and Nihad Al Dewani.

PA raids near Hebron uncover more weapons, forged documents
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Several weapons stashes, forged documents and incriminating photographs were seized in Hebron Saturday afternoon as local police and security conducted a widespread campaign. Earlier in the day fifty fugitives were seized in Surif north of Hebron, and several imprisonment orders were issued by Palestinian Authority (PA) security and police. The Palestinian police information office said in a statement that the security campaign in Surifand Dura included raids against drug and weapon dealers. Several homes were inspected after orders were given from the local police chief. The information office said that quantities of Marijuana were seized in one home, its owner arrested and taken in for questioning. Knives and other small weapons were uncovered, in Surif; in Dura six grenades, two- home made weapons, two gas bombs and small tear gas explosives were uncovered as well photographs documenting other illegal materials.

Fayyad: transitional government must be formed to oversee elections
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minster of the caretaker government Salam Fayyad affirmed the need for a transitional government to replace the caretaker government in order to restore national unity. The statement came on Saturday during the swearing in ceremony of thirty new assistants to the Attorney General in the West Bank City of Ramallah. As Fayyad spoke to the group he explained that a national transitional coalition government made up of independent and qualified figures must be assembled. This body, he continued, would be charged with managing the country in preparation for general legislative and presidential elections. Fayyad called the transitional government a necessity if Palestinians wanted to end the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Fayyad’s audiences, participants in a program called Siyada (Sovereignty), are charged with the heavy task of empowering the Palestinian judicial system.

West Bank and Gaza in different time zones
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza ended daylight savings time at midnight on Friday, and the West Bank will change its clocks back one hour on Monday 1 September. Even though only three days separate the time change in the two territories, (On Saturday it will be three o’clock in the West Bank and two o’clock in Gaza) the difference is disturbing Palestinian citizens. Palestinians hope that this holy month Ramadan will put an end to the internal division. They want all citizens and politicians in both parts of the country to use one telescope to see the crescent moon that will announce the start of the month of fasting. The decisions on when to end daylight savings time came from the de facto government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority caretaker government for the West Bank respectively. One university student in Gaza noted that, in terms of time, Gaza and the West Bank are. . .

Hamas: The PA seeks to please US through escalating political arrests
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that the escalation of political arrests against Hamas cadres and supporters in the West Bank in the wake of the visit of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice bears out the swift compliance of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his security apparatuses with the American dictates. In a press release received by the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that the eradication campaign waged against Hamas in the West Bank comes in the framework of a scheme jointly prepared by the PA, Israel and the US and aims at achieving the aspirations of the Israeli occupation and the American administration at the expense of the hopes and sacrifices of the Palestinian people. Barhoum also underlined that the magnitude of the political arrest at this particular time reflects that Abbas is not concerned at all with the dialog efforts made by Egypt and rides. . .

Freed former PLC member Husam Khader sees release as a first step; wants national dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Despite all of its criticism, the good will gesture from Israel of releasing 198 Palestinian prisoners is an accomplishment and a victory for the Palestinians, says released prisoner Husam Khader. A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the Fatah bloc, Khader gave an interview with the Gazan radio station Sout Ash-Sh’ab (People’s Voice) on Friday following his release from Israeli prison. Khader is from Balata camp near Nablus in the West Bank, and is widely respected for his work on the rights of refugees both in Palestinian territories and in the Diaspora. During the interview Khader called the release of the prisoners a move paves the way for the release of all of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention facilities. Asked about the experience of his five year imprisonment Khader said that it did not change anything about his views.

Fatah hosts welcome celebration for released prisoners in Balata camp
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
welcomed in Balata Nablus – Ma’an – A welcome home celebration was prepared for the released prisoners from the Balata refugee camp on Saturday, organized by the area’s Fatah leaders. Top on the list of those celebrated was Hussam Khader, a member of the Palestine Legislative Council who was arrested in 2003. Khader is known as a defender of the rights of refugees whether inside Palestine or in the Diaspora. For his strong political drive and work on the issue of refugees, Khader is respected and appreciated by all of the Palestinian political parties. Residents of the refugee camp took part in the ceremony, which honoured the released prisoners and their families. Friends and family of the freed detainees came from around Nablus to join in the celebration. The secretary of Fatah Hussam Abu Al-Adas delivered a speech in front of hundreds and praised the steadfastness of Palestinians and the detainees’ stamina.

Salah: We have backup copies of the documents seized by Israel
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
UM AL-FAHAM, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands, stated that the Movement has backup copies of the documents and maps seized by the IOF troops during their raid on the Aqsa foundation headquarters in Um Al-Faham town. In a press statement, Sheikh Salah underlined that the confiscated documents are rare and priceless, pointing out that these documents are related to occupied Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque as well as to a field survey of all Islamic and Christian holy shrines conducted by the Aqsa foundation. The Palestinian leader added that the closure of the foundation is one of the Israeli war scenes against the holy mosque and city and an attempt to undermine the role of the foundation in defense of the holy places. He expressed his belief that the closure of the foundation has something to do with the press conference which. . .

WCDA: broadcast Al-Aqsa prayers to Muslim world this Ramadan
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The World Committee for the Defense of the Al-Aqsa mosque (WCDA) appealed to Arab and Islamic satellite channels to transmit the night prayers (around 8:30pm) and the Friday sermon from the Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. The committee said in a statement "the city of Jerusalem is exposed to Israeli violations," which plan on "hiding the Palestinian character of Jerusalem. " The committee said it would help coordinate all efforts to serve the holy city, saying that they would highlight the issues in Jerusalem and in Palestine as a whole. [end]

Palestinians forced to strip at military checkpoint in Jenin
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
Jenin -- Israeli soldiers forced Palestinians to remove their clothing for invasive searches before passing a military checkpoint in southern Jenin’s Qabatiya yesterday. This is not an isolated incident. Eyewitnesses report that Israeli forces have done the same thing around Jenin in the past. "Soldiers used several methods to provoke, insult and humiliate citizens," a witness said. Residents said that yesterday at Qabatiya the military closed the checkpoint for a period of time and detained dozens of vehicles while searching people and checking the identities amid insults and abusive words. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers forced several citizens to strip at gunpoint. Young people were particularly targeted even after their identity cards had been scrutinized. During the past few days Israeli forces have intensified their practices at the barriers around Jenin which is undergoing a campaign of daily raids and searches.

Pregnant woman tear-gassed in Ni’lin as Israeli army injures many
International Solidarity Movement 8/29/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - On Thursday 28th of August, at around 11am Israeli soldiers invaded the town of Ni’lin, occupying the clinic and shooting tear gas at children who were walking home from school. This invoked a reaction from some Palestinian youth from within the town who began to throw rocks back at the soldiers. Soon after, the soldiers fired a tear gas canister breaking a window of a house and gassing a mother and her baby inside the room severely. After this, the Israeli soldiers began to push further into the town coming close to its main square, shooting tear gas into the main square and to the houses beyond it. The soldiers then began to fire rubber-coated steel bullets at the Palestinians hitting one man aged 38, in the chest, who was working near the clinic. The man was hospitalised by his injuries. The demonstration, scheduled for 2pm was delayed slightly by the situation within the town, but began at 2:45pm.

Reports from the Ground: Weekly Non-violent struggles in Bi’lin, Ni’lin and A-Masara
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 8/30/2008
30 August 2008 Bi’lin: Young Palestinian shot in the head, and dozens sick from tear gas and wastewaterRamallah 30-08-08 - The weekly non-violent protest in Bi’lin against the construction of the Wall on the village’s land started after the Friday prayers. Hundreds of demonstrators consisting of villagers, international and Israeli peace activists, was attacked by the Israeli occupation forces as the group neared the construction site of the Wall and attempted to cross into their ancestral village lands. The Israeli army fired rubber-coated metal bullets at the crowd, hitting Mohammed Jaber Daraghamed in the head. Daraghamed was transferred to Ash-Sheik Zayed Hospital in Ramallah to receive medical treatment. The army also attacked the civilian protestors with batons, concussion grenades and tear gas. Ten protestors suffered badly from tear gas inhalation.

Palestinian citizen injured in the head at the hands of IOF troops in Na’lin
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Friday fired bullets and teargas at Palestinian citizens and foreign sympathizers who were marching in a peaceful demonstration against the construction of the separation wall on the lands of Na’lin village west of Ramallah. Local sources said that large numbers of army troops were deployed in the area and blocked media from reaching it. The citizens cut the barbed wire installed by those soldiers to prevent them from reaching their lands, but they were met with the IOF firing of bullets and teargas that injured Mohammed Siyaj, 23, in his head while many others were treated for suffocation as a result of inhaling the teargas. The man was carried to hospital where his injury was described as moderate. Meanwhile, big numbers of IOF soldiers raided three villages in Jenin district before dawn Saturday amidst indiscriminate shooting of live bullets and sonic bombs.

Amos Gilad named temporary coordinator of government activities in territories
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
An irreconcilable difference between IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak led to the surprise appointment over the weekend of Maj. -Gen. (res. ) Amos Gilad as the temporary coordinator of government activities in the territories. The current coordinator, Maj. -Gen. Yosef Mishlav, will step down from the post next week after four years in the job and over 35 years in the IDF. Barak had wanted to appoint one of two people to the job - his military attaché Brig. -Gen. Eitan Dangot or his bureau chief Brig. -Gen. (res. ) Mike Herzog, brother of Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog. Ashkenazi, defense officials said Friday, had made it clear to Barak in recent weeks that he was against appointing either of these officers. As a result, Barak decided to put Gilad in the post for the next three months until he can find a permanent appointment.

Radwan to PNN: suffering of hundreds of families lessened as Rafah crossing operates
exclusive / PNN, Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
Ali Samoudi -- Spokesperson for the General Administration of Crossings in Gaza, Mohammad Radwan, confirmed with PNN Saturday that "since early morning traffic is coming and going easily from Gaza to Egypt, with buses ready to come in. "Radwan said that the Hamas Interior Ministry is facilitating the movement of traffic and that he is pleased with the progress. "If they continue this work until the end of the day we can expect the passage of a high number of citizens which will end much of the tragedy faced by hundreds of families in Egypt and Palestine who have been stranded for eight months. "Prime Minister in the Gaza government, Ismail Haniya thanked the Egyptians for opening the crossing for this two-day period slated for today and tomorrow and said that he hopes it will remain open longer.

Egyptians stranded in Gaza for 6 months bid farewell as Rafah crossing opens
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip opened on Saturday ending a six month long crisis for Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip since Egypt sealed the border with Gaza in February. Since 8:00am Saturday morning, 6 buses carrying about 300 Egyptian citizens and residency permissions waited to cross the border at Rafah. The crossing will be open until 8pm and will open again on Sunday from 8am to 8pm. According to the de facto government ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, 400 patients from the Gaza Strip who have transfer permissions will leave through Rafah crossing for treatment abroad on Sunday. The crossing will let Egyptians and the 400 Palestinians seeking treatment into Egypt, and will also allow Palestinians stranded in Egypt to cross into Gaza. The first bus from Egypt into Gaza is expected around noon on Saturday.

URGENT! Protest against Israeli Security Services’ Refusal to allow critically ill patients to exit Gaza for Treatment
PHR – Israel, Palestine Think Tank 8/30/2008
Health Professional Action - Patients from Gaza are still denied access to medical treatment in Israel - The Israeli authorities are still denying scores of critically ill patients the authorization they need to leave Gaza for medical treatment that is unavailable in Gaza. Hospitals in Gaza continue to lack vital medical equipment and trained personnel to carry out advanced medical treatment, including many surgical operations and the provision of chemotherapy for cancer patients. Even those patients who are given permission to leave Gaza for treatment are often suffering as a result of delays in receiving exit permits, which contribute to a decline in patient’s health and emotional well-being. Interrogation by the General Security Service: Over the past year, the denial of permits to seriously ill patients has primarily been based on undisclosed security reasons. -- See also: Full report: Holding Health to Ransom: GSS Interrogation and Extortion of Palestinian Patients at Erez Crossing

Egypt opens the Rafah crossing for two days
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/30/2008
The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was opened on Saturday morning temporarily ending a six month blockade for Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip since Egypt sealed the border with Gaza in February, media outlets reported on Saturday. Starting at 8:00am on Saturday morning, 6 buses carrying about 300 Egyptian citizens and residency holders waited to cross the border at Rafah. The crossing will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 8pm. 400 patients from the Gaza Strip who have transfer permissions will to Egyptian hospitals will leave through Rafah crossing for treatment abroad on Sunday, medical sources in Gaza reported. The crossing will allow Egyptians stranded in Gaza and the 400 Palestinians seeking treatment into Egypt, and will also allow Palestinians stranded in Egypt to return to Gaza.

Khudari: Partial opening of Rafah crossing important step towards full opening
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular anti siege committee, on Saturday said that the partial opening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was an important step towards fully opening it. The MP in a press statement said that the opening of this "important artery" for the people of the Strip would greatly ease their pains and the negative effects of the Israeli occupation authority’s tight siege imposed on the Strip. Opening Rafah terminal permanently would open the way wide open before patients, students and the stranded citizens who are living very difficult conditions, he elaborated. He advocated periodical opening of the crossing in a prelude to opening it permanently, and stressed that it should be converted into a commercial crossing as well to get rid of the IOF blockade and to serve as an outlet for Gaza to the Arab and Islamic world.

400 medical cases to leave Gaza on Sunday for outside treatment
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
Gaza -- The Hamas government’s Ministry of the Interior in Gaza said on Saturday that 400 Palestinians seeking medical treatment will be allowed to pass through the Gaza -- Egypt border tomorrow. Mohammad Radwan, speaking for the Department of Crossings, said that today, Saturday, and tomorrow, Sunday, the Rafah Crossing would be open in both directions. He reported that the Hamas government’s Ministry of Interior issued the criteria and conditions for travel on Saturday. "Anyone with Egyptian nationality, whether proven by cards or passports, Palestinian passport holders with valid Egyptian visas, and third country passport holders, except holders of the two-year Jordanian passports, can travel on Saturday. " And today the criteria for travel on Sunday will be set. The medical patients who will be leaving on Sunday are gathering at Abu Yousef Najar Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip.

Rafah Crossing reopened temporarily: Hundreds of Palestinians and Egyptians allowed to leave Gaza
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 8/30/2008
The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip - the only territory border crossing that bypasses Israel- reopened this Saturday morning, breaking a six month long closure for Palestinians and Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip since Egypt sealed the border with Gaza last February. This action led to a flow of some 400 Palestinian patients leaving Gaza for medical treatment in Egypt, along with 300 Egyptian citizens returning to their homeland. Today, some 700 people, both from Gaza and Egypt, will be allowed to leave the Strip through the Rafah border crossing. Amongst those 700 people are 400 patients from Gaza who will be allowed to leave on Sunday for medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals. Along with the Palestinian patients, 300 Egyptian citizens will also be allowed to leave the Strip and return to their homeland after having been stuck in Gaza since last February, when Egypt closed the Rafah crossing.

Egypt: ''Deploying Arab forces in Gaza could end violence''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 8/31/2008
The Egyptian Middle East News Agency reported on Saturday that the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu Al Gheit, said that he believes that deploying Arab forces in the Gaza Strip could help in ending the violence in the coastal region, and added that this idea should be seriously considered. Abu Al Gheit stated in an interview with the October Egyptian magazine that the existence of Arab forces may help in ending internal clashes, may help in baring Palestinian-Israeli clashes, and may allow the Palestinians to rebuild the Gaza Strip. Abu Al Gheit s said that this idea is not an initiative but should be seriously considered in the Arab League. Regarding Palestinian national dialogue, Abu Al Gheit stated that this issue cannot be discussed before the Palestinians manage to regain their national unity. It is worth mentioning that representatives of several Palestinian factions. . .

Egypt: Arab force for Gaza may help stop violence
Reuters, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Egyptian foreign minister says ’presence of Arab forces on ground can help in preventing the fighting’ - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday an Arab force for the Gaza Strip could help stop violence there, and the idea should be taken seriously, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported. But Aboul Gheit, whose country is sponsoring unity talks between rival Palestinian groups, stopped short of directly calling for such a force in the Hamas-controlled territory. " The presence of Arab forces on the ground can help in preventing the fighting and stopping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Aboul Gheit told Egypt’s October magazine, according to excerpts that ran on MENA ahead of the magazine piece, due out on Sunday. "The matter has not been studied yet, but it is an attractive idea that deserves to be taken seriously when we consider. . .

Egyptian officials: Israeli flexibility on prisoner swap will pressure Hamas
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Hamas spokesman says list of prisoners it demands Israel release as part of deal for Shalit final, but Egyptian, Palestinian officials say should Israel agree to free more prisoners ’with blood on their hands’ Hamas may consider shortening list -A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said Saturday that the list of Palestinian prisoners the Islamist group demandsIsrael release in exchange for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was final, adding that it included over 1,000 prisoners. "We’ve decided not to discuss the Shalit issue and do not intend to consider any list formulated by the occupation regime (Israel)," Abu Obeida was quoted as saying by the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, "Israel must comply with the list we relayed to it. " Abu Obeida is not associated with any Hamas officials involved. . .

Hamas: list of 1000 names for release not negotiable if Israel wants Shalit
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Hamas told a Dutch newspaper that they would not give up on the list of prisoners they want free in exchange with captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The statement came from Abu Ubaydah, spokesperson for the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. He said that the list of prisoners delivered to Israel includes all of the imprisoned Palestinian leaders and women prisoners. The comments were published the morning of the scheduled Israeli Knesset security cabinet meeting set to discuss the names on the list that Israel would be willing to free in order to move forward with a prisoners swap with Hamas. The Israeli daily newspaper Maariv quoted Abu Ubaydah as saying that Hamas has submitted to the Israelis a list of 1000 Palestinian prisoners Hamas wants free. He asserted that Hamas would not negotiate on the list, nor would they agree on an alternate list.

Israeli government to discuss expanding the list of Palestinians for release
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli Radio reported that a Knesset committee will meet about a possible expansion of the list of Palestinian prisoners to be released in a swap deal with Hamas. The Israeli government has so far approved the release of eighty Palestinian prisoners out a list of 400 initially given to Israel. The list was intended as the ransom for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. In later months Hamas upped their demands to 1,000 prisoners, and then 1,500 after Israel said they would not release prisoners with "blood on their hands. " [end]

Hamas piping in fuel from Egypt
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Arab sources report that Hamas recently laid a pipeline for supplying the blockaded Gaza Strip with fuel from Egypt. In a move that indicates that Hamas is trying to place the smuggling operation between Egyptian and Palestinian Rafah on an official footing, the pipeline was laid in one of several tunnels dug specifically for this purpose. At a conference last week in Rafah to discuss the tunnels phenomenon, Hamas government officials made it clear that they mean to prevent any new tunnels from operating, and to increase oversight of some 200 tunnels already in use. Hamas wants to thwart use of the tunnels for drug smuggling, and the exploitation of child labor in digging the tunnels. The conference was organized by a Gazan human rights group under the banner: "The tunnels - advantages and disadvantages.

If Russia shows interest in the conflict
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
The spark was in Georgia, which made an unwise decision that set off a chain reaction. The response by America and other NATO members was diplomatic but employed the language of war. Russia, Britain said, may take over Ukraine, Moldova and the Crimean peninsula; France proposed imposing sanctions; and nine NATO warships began exercises in the Black Sea, offGeorgia’s shores. Russia not only ignored the West’s demands and warnings, it added threats of its own and warned of a conflagration in the Black Sea. On Wednesday, Russia poked Washington in the eye one more time and caused a stir in Israel. The charge d’affaires at the Russian embassy in Damascus announced that Moscow would beef up its naval forces in the Mediterranean and that warships would visit the Syrian port of Tartus more frequently.

Former Assad aide: Eli Cohen’s burial site unknown
Ynet, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Syrian leader’s ex-bureau chief tells al-Arabiya that executed Israeli spy was buried three times - Nobody in Syria knows where Israeli spy Eli Cohen is buried today, the former bureau chief of late Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad told the al-Arabiya network. Monjer Motsley, who met Cohen before he was executed, said Friday that Syria buried Cohen three times, in three different locations. "The grave was changed after a day or two," he said. "We were scared that Israel will send forces that would take away the body. " "It is difficult to find Cohen’s bones," the former Syrian official said. "Assad promised to return Cohen’s bones, but when he asked about it security officials told him: ’Sir, we don’t know where the grave is,’ so he couldn’t promise. " Eli Cohen operated in Syria on behalf of the Mossad before being captured and executed.

Syrian dissident convicted of lying about Hariri
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/30/2008
A self-exiled former vice president of Syria has been found guilty by a military court of lying to UN officials investigating the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister, a lawyer said Saturday. Former Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who left the country in 2005, has accused Syria’s president of having threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri before he was assassinated in a February 2005 bombing. Syria’s government has denied having any role in the killing, which is being investigated by a UN commission. From his home in France, Khaddam has also called for the Syrian government’s overthrow. The lawyer who brought the case against Khaddam said the First Military Criminal Court convicted him in absentia on Aug. 17 of giving false testimony against the Syrian government to UN officials investigating Hariri’s killing.

Analyze This: Ninja turtle mogul Saban rallies around Obama
Calev Ben-david, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
At least he can rest easy that he now has the single most important American-Jewish Democrat of this ilk firmly in his quarter: Haim Saban - Barack Obama went to Denver last week to reassure mainstream America voters that, despite his "funny-sounding name," he’s a regular guy just like them. A small but key component of that group is those Jewish Democrats with particular reason to need that reassurance. Despite their party ties and approval of Obama’s liberal domestic policies, they remain nervous over Obama’s links to radical African-American circles where sympathy for the Palestinians shades into deep enmity toward Israel; concerned he won’t take a tough line against Iran; and disappointed in the simple fact that his name, even if it were just plain Joe Smith, is still not Hillary Clinton. How many of these voters Obama managed to nail down by his performance at the Democratic convention and his selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, remains to be seen.

Congressman: Choosing Palin an insult to Jews
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Democratic Congressman Wexler blasts McCain’s decision to choose Palin as running mate, slams her support for ’Nazi sympathizer’ Buchanan; However, Jewish sources endorse move, praise Alaska governor as friend of Jewish community - WASHINGTON - Is Sarah Palin pro-Israel or anti-Israel? Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler lashed out at John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin, saying the choice was a an insult to Jewish Americans because of her support for Pat Buchanan. However, Jewish sources familiar with Palin dismissed the attack, saying Palin maintains strong ties with the Jewish community. "John McCain’s decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for President in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans, "Wexler’s announcement said. "Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel, even. . .

’Iran plotting Gaza cease-fire demise’
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Iran is mobilizing Islamic Jihad in Gaza in an effort to sabotage the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi claimed in a report on Friday. Hours after the report appeared, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades in Gaza, Abu Anas, warned on Saturday evening that the truce’s end was nearing. Commenting on the report, senior security analyst Yaakov Amidror told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas would not hesitate to use force to shut down Islamic Jihad to defend the cease-fire. "Islamic Jihad lives off of Iran. It is more similar to Hizbullah than to Hamas in this respect. Hamas cooperates with Iran, but Islamic Jihad is dependent on it. If Islamic Jihad attempts to undermine the cease-fire, Hamas will explain to them - in terms they understand - that it will have to pay for such a move," Amidror said.

Military wing of Islamic Jihad celebrates graduation of trained fighters
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, are preparing for a major imminent confrontation with Israel, and graduated third class of fighters on Friday. The military group organized a celebration for the graduating battalion of fighters, named after the founder of the group Mahmoud Al-Khawaja. The celebration was held in Gaza City and several leaders of the Al-Quds Brigades as well as other factions attended the celebration. Trainees practiced military shows and actions shouting "death for America and Israel" as part of the celebration. Members of the new class also practiced fighting skills such as climbing walls using ropes, maneuvering under low-hung bribed wires, jumping over fire, blowing up an imaginary Israeli settlement and kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Senior Islamic Jihad leader Abu Anas delivered a speech at the graduation ceremony,. . .

Hamas: PA security seized 9 loyalists
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority (PA) security services arrested 9 Hamas affiliates in the West Bank on Friday, Hamas said in a statement issued Saturday. According to the statement, Firas Zubaidy and Muhammad Shunnar were seized in Nablus district in the northern West Bank; Zakariyya Nassar, Walid Alqam and Salim Shahatit were seized in Dura in Hebron district in the south. The statement added that Abdul-Latif Abu Khameish, Muhammad Ad-Dado and two brothers Ziyad and Nihad Diwani were detained in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. [end]

Israeli minister denies sleaze
Matthew Bell, The Independent 8/31/2008
Poll ratings for Israel’s Labour Party are in freefall following a sleaze scandal involving cash-for-access. Nili Priel, the wife of Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister, is alleged to have offered to set up meetings between decision-makers and foreign investors in exchange for cash. The claim was made by the TV news station Channel 10, which showed a document issued by Mrs Priel’s consultancy company, promoting her networking skills. It said: "There are 800-900 senior decision-makers in Israel. Mrs Priel knows most of them personally. "The business was shut down immediately after the broadcast, but not before her husband suffered a significant slide in his ratings. According to one poll, if elections were held now, Labour would win only 12 seats in the Knesset. It currently has 20. Mr Barak has denied the allegations , and claimed his wife’s decision to close her company was "to preventattempts, no matter how groundless, to delegitimise me.

Jerusalem council member: Seculars only have child and dog
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Mayoral race heating up as council meeting on haredi kindergarten generates catcalls, comparison to Nazis - The question whether or not one child and a dog are worth more than 10 children ignited a heated argument in a Jerusalem council meeting Thursday evening. The topics thrown around during the argument included army service and Nazi Germany, and it all began because of a kindergarten. Jerusalem city council meetings are known for their temper, but with the mayoral elections coming up, it seems like the boiling point is getting closer by the day. In recent years, some secular residents of Jerusalem have been arriving at the meetings in a bid to have their complaints heard. On Thursday, the secular residents of the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood came to protest the plan to place several caravans which would be used as a kindergarten for ultra-Orthodox children.

Free Gaza boats arrive safely in Cyprus with 7 Palestinians freed from blockade
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – the Free Gaza ships arrived safely in Cyprus at 8pm local time, carrying seven Palestinians who would have been otherwise unable to leave the area, and most of the international activists who sailed the ships to Gaza. In a statement sent to Ma’an the group said that the crossing to Cyprus was safe and uneventful, though earlier reports said that Israeli ships shadowed the boats until they reached international waters. In the words of the mission’s organizer Paul Larudee, “this endeavour has been a huge success, far more significant and wide-reaching than anyone ever dreamt it could be. It has had obvious beneficial effects on the Palestinian people, but also on Israel. In fairness, credit must go where credit is due - despite threats or obstacles, a responsible decision was made by Israeli authorities not to interfere with our mission and this is a model for the future.

Free Gaza member from Khan Younis: for the first time I went to Gaza without being humiliated
Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
PNN - Jamal Khudari, leader of the People’s Committee against the Siege, confirmed to PNN that the Free Gaza boats had reached Cyprus. He also said that they would return with a new delegation of activists within a month. The boats reached Larnaca Harbor last night. The Free Gaza movement released a press statement in which two of its members were quoted, including Khan Younis native Mushir Al Farra. The return trip was desribed as "calm and uneventful. "Free Gaza writes, "In the words of Palestinian voyager, Musheir El-Farra, originally born and raised in Khan Younis in Gaza but currently living in Sheffield, UK:’For the first time in my life, I went to Gaza without being humiliated, without having to ask Israel for permission. We did it. We finally did it. And now others must join us and do it as well. ’"The Free Gaza Press statement also quoted an American-born organizer.

Gaza activists say will run Israel blockade again
Reuters, YNetNews 8/30/2008
’Free-Gaza’ activists plan return to Strip within a month. ’This might be the beginning of a simple delivery service, if we can set up the mechanisms here in Cyprus,’ member says -Foreign activists who Israeli blockade of the enclave said on Friday they planned to do it again within a month. Most of the "Free Gaza" activists returned to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus late on Friday, a week after they set sail. They were the first foreigners to go to Gaza by sea since Israel tightened travel restrictions after the militant Hamas movement took control more than a year ago. "We have roughly 10 of our volunteers in Gaza, and we have to get them," said Paul Larudee, a member of the US-based group, which included members from 17 countries. "We need to get the passengers together, hopefully within a month.

Palestinians remain persecuted minority in post-Saddam Iraq
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Omar Ahmed rarely emerges from his rundown Baghdad housing project. When he does, he leaves behind the Iraqi-issued ID card that marks him as a Palestinian and switches to the Iraqi dialect of Arabic at police checkpoints. The 23-year-old keeps a low profile because of repeated attacks and harassment of Palestinians, still resented by many Iraqis for what was perceived as their privileged status under Saddam Hussein. Ahmed’s father was gunned down in a Baghdad street in 2005, one of an estimated 300 Palestinians killed in sectarian attacks since the fall of Saddam in 2003. In recent months, street violence has dropped sharply across the country. But the Palestinians, who number about 11,000 and mostly live in Baghdad, remain one of the most vulnerable groups, said Daniel Endres, the envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq.

Hezbollah surrenders gunman who mistook Lebanese chopper for that of IDF
Amos Harel and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Hezbollah on Friday handed over a man suspected of firing on a Lebanese army helicopter a day earlier that killed a navigator, the militant group said. 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. Hezbollah described Thursday’s shooting as "very unfortunate and painful," but some media reports claimed the Shiite militant group had mistakenly opened fire on the helicopter. Details about the incident were sketchy, as the military quickly sealed off the area.

’Revenge for Mughniyeh is legitimate’
Jerusalem Post 8/30/2008
Revenge for the death of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh is a legitimate right of the guerilla group, and will come as a "surprise to the Israelis" when it happens, Hizbullah deputy secretary-general Sheikh Na’im Kassem warned on Friday. Slideshow:"Revenge is the legitimate right," Kassem told the Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Manar television station during an interview. "Why is Israel allowed to murder and to assassinate and the world looks away? " "For everything there is a time, God willing," he continued. "We won’t get into details, but the Israelis will be surprised. " During the interview, Kassem was also presented with questions on other issues, including whether Hizbullah’s cross-border attack in July 2006 provided Israel an excuse to open the situation into a full-blown war. "We kidnapped the two soldiers in order to release prisoners, and not to provoke a war," Kassem responded.

Top Iran general says attack on Tehran would ignite ’world war’
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
A senior Iranian military commander has warned that a "world war" would erupt in the event the United States or Israel launch an offensive against his country, AFP quoted the state news agency IRNA as reporting on Saturday. "Any aggression against Iran will start a world war," deputy chief of staff for defence publicity, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, said in a statement carried by IRNA. The general also lashed out at "the unrestrained greed of the U. S. leadership and global Zionism," accusing Jerusalem and Washington of "gradually leading the world to the edge of a precipice. " "It is evident that if such a challenge occurs, the fake and artificial regimes will be eliminated before anything," AFP reported Jazayeri as saying, without naming any countries. The Islamic Republic is facing growing Western pressure to cease its nuclear energy program, which it insists is for peaceful purposes.

Iran warns any attack would start ’world war’
Middle East Online 8/30/2008
TEHRAN - A senior Iranian military commander has warned that any US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic would start a world war, the state news agency IRNA reported on Saturday. "Any aggression against Iran will start a world war," deputy chief of staff for defence publicity, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, said in a statement carried by the agency. Iran is under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, a process which lies at the core of fears about Iran’s nuclear programme as it can make nuclear fuel as well as the fissile core of an atom bomb. "The unrestrained greed of the US leadership and global Zionism. . . is gradually leading the world to the edge of a precipice," Jazayeri said, citing the unrest in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Georgia. "It is evident that if such a challenge occurs, the fake and artificial regimes will be eliminated before anything," he said, without naming any countries.

Top Iranian general: Any attack against us will lead to world war
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 8/30/2008
’Unbridled greediness of American, Zionist leadership pushing world to edge of the cliff,’ says Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy head of Iran’s Armed Forces Headquarters, ’should such a conflict erupt, the phony and artificial regimes will be annihilated’ -Any attack on Iran will lead to a world war, the Mehr news agency quoted a top Iranian general as saying Saturday. "The unbridled greediness of the American and Zionist leadership is pushing the world to the edge of the cliff," Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said in relation to the crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Georgia, "should such a (conflict) erupt, the phony and artificial regimes will be annihilated. " Brigadier General Jazayeri, the deputy head of Iran’s Armed Forces Headquarters, did not specifically mention Israel, but the Jewish state is often referred to by Iranian officials as a "phony regime".

’Attack on Iran would cause WWIII’
Jerusalem Post 8/30/2008
Should Israel or the United States attack Iran, it would be the start of another World War, Iranian Deputy chief of staff General Masoud Jazayeri warned on Saturday. Slideshow:"Any aggression against Iran will start a world war," the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted the top Iranian official as saying. "The unrestrained greed of the US leadership and global Zionism. . . is leading the world to the brink of a precipice. " "It is evident that if such a challenge occurs, the fake and artificial regimes will be eliminated before anything," he said. The news agency also quoted Jordan’s King Abdullah II as saying that if an attack was launched against Iran, it would fail to achieve its objectives. RELATEDIranian deputy FM: New strides in enrichmentIsrael reaches strategic decision not to let Iran go nuclear. . .

ADL slams Shell, Austrian energy giant for taking part in Iran conference
Benjamin Weinthal, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Two oil conglomerates participating in an energy conference in Iran are guilty of "hindering efforts to isolate" the Islamic Republic, the Anti-Defamation League charged on Friday. Officials from Austrian energy giant OMV and the multinational Shell corporation are scheduled to attend a conference in Tehran sponsored by Iran’s state-run energy firm. The meet is set to take place in early October. "These two companies are co-sponsoring a conference by the state-owned energy company of the leading state-sponsor of terrorism and human rights violator," the ADL said. "By promoting one of Iran’s strategic industries, natural gas, OMV and Shell are hindering the effort of responsible states and corporations to isolate Iran. "OMV, Austria’s state-owned energy and gas company, negotiated a 22 billion euro agreement to develop Iranian gas and oil fields.

RIGHTS: Treaty Languishes on State Terror
Haider Rizvi, Inter Press Service 8/30/2008
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 30(IPS) - They have vanished, but are not forgotten. Whether they have been killed or are being kept in secret, dark, and unknown prisons, their relatives, family members and human rights activists want to know. In marking the 25th International Day of the Disappeared on Aug. 30, rights activists in a number of countries across the world are holding rallies and sit-ins to press their governments for immediate ratification of the U. N. Convention against Enforced Disappearance. The 2006 treaty was adopted by the U. N. General Assembly in December 2006. It has been signed by 73 nations, but not ratified. So far, only four countries -- Albania, Argentina, Mexico and Honduras -- have ratified it. "Enforced disappearance", according to the treaty, is the "arrest, detention, abduction by agents of the state or by persons, groups or persons acting with the authorisation,. . .

The price of (Italian) occupation
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Italy agrees to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for 30-year occupation - Italy agreed to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for its 30-year occupation of the country during the 20th century, the Libyan foreign minister told reporters Saturday. Abdel-Rahman Shalgam said that visiting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is set to sign a memorandum pledging a $5 billion compensation package involving construction projects, student grants, and pensions for Libyan soldiers who served with the Italians during the Second World War. " It is a material and emotional recognition of the mistakes that our country has done to yours during the colonial era," Berlusconi told reporters at the airport on his arrival. "This agreement opens the path to further cooperation. " In return, Italy wants Libya to crack down on illegal migrants turning up on Italian shores. . .

User-generated anti-Israel markings on Google Earth to have to go through new filter
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
A new super-layer of geographic information in the popular Google Earth program now requires corroboration before user-generated content can be added to the default map display. The move means that anti-Israel markings placed by a Jenin resident are no longer visible to users when they first open the program. Google was criticized in recent months for a series of orange markings overlaying the satellite map of Israel that were labeled "Nakba - The Palestinian Catastrophe. "These were placed by Jenin resident Thameen Darby, and clicking on them led to the anti-Israel Web site Palestine Remembered. Google may also be facing a libel suit in the US by the city of Kiryat Yam, which the map incorrectly claimed was built on the remains of the Arab village of Ghawarina. While Google has defended its willingness to accept user-generated content placed over the satellite. . .

Palestinian Minister of Tourism visits 5,500 year old olive tree near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian minister of tourism and antiquities Khuloud D’eibis visited the 5,500 year old olive tree in the village of Al-Walaja near Bethlehem in the southern West Bank. The tree, dated to 3,500 BC by Japanese experts, is 20 meters in diameter, and is believed by locals to have been the tree of it Ahmad Al-Badawi, who legend holds was an ancient holy man. If the dating for the tree is accurate, it was planted in the Neolithic period, when Homo sapiens began to farm land and settle into towns and villages. The tree may have been among the first cultivated by modern human beings. The villagers call it The Al-Badawi Tree. The tree is located in the southern mounts of Jerusalem, which have been threatened to be confiscated by the Israeli military for the construction of settlements. During the construction of the Israeli separation wall, dozens of ancient. . .

Book Review: Creature discomforts
Dimi Reider, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
The Zoo on the Road to Nablus: A Story of Survival from the West Bank, By Amelia Thomas, Perseus Publishing, 304 pages; $24. 95 - In the city of Kalkilya, 4. 8 horizontal kilometers of farmland and nine vertical meters of concrete from the nearest Israeli town, stands a little zoo, an abnormal normality in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a kind of a traveling circus stuck under siege, with a collection of characters as moody and as idiosyncratic as residents of a neglected nursing home. Among the dusty alleys and rusty cages marches this account’s protagonist, a very real Dr. Sami Khader, a zoologist by necessity, slaughterhouse vet by trade and taxidermist by hobby and obsession. In the microcosm of The Zoo on the Road to Nablus: A Story of Survival, Sami functions as a kind of a local deity, with life, death and afterlife at its command, shuffling. . .

Peres: Woe to us had Nathan listened to consensus
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Hundreds of people paid their last respects to Abie Nathan Friday morning, at a funeral service held at Tel Aviv’s Tzavta Theater. A video projected on the stage backdrop showed photos of Nathan and news reports on his humanitarian and peace efforts. The soundtrack included songs such as "We Shall Overcome" and John Lennon’s "Imagine. "Among the friends, politicians and performing artists who came to say goodbye were MKs Haim Oron and Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), Dov Khenin (Hadash); Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and former mayor Shlomo Lahat; Yossi Sarid, Uri Avnery, Gila Almagor, Yaakov Agmon, Hanna Meron and David Broza. Henry Elkeslassy, a friend of Nathan’s and chairman of the Humanitarian Fund of the Kibbutz Movement, read from a book by President Shimon Peres (paraphrased here): "We are accustomed to think that history is made by armies and governments, but sometimes individuals. . .

Dollar continues rising, reaches NIS 3.592
Yael Pollak, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
The dollar is once again gaining strength, and rose another 0. 3% against the shekel on Friday to a representative rate of NIS 3. 592. Over last week, the dollar was up by over 2%. Bank Hapoalim analysts said the dollar rose last week despite the announcement of higher interest rates for September by the Bank of Israel, partly because the central bank continued to buy large amounts of foreign currency. Hapoalim says the interest rate rise was expected, and therefore already priced into the dollar rate. Hapoalim emphasized that changes in the dollar-shekel exchange rate would continue to be influenced by events in financial markets around the world. Bank Leumi economists wrote that they expected the dollar to continue to strengthen.

Egypt opens sealed Gaza crossing as goodwill gesture before Ramadan
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Palestinian officials say Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing hundreds of people to enter and leave the coastal territory. Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing for two days beginning Saturday. Thousands of Egyptian citizens had been stuck in Gaza with the border sealed. Egypt closed the crossing last year after militant Muslim group Hamas seized power of the territory. Palestinian officials say they believe Egypt is opening the crossing as a goodwill gesture before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan which begins next week. Officials will allow hundreds of Palestinians needing medical treatment to enter Egypt. Palestinians with foreign residency permits can also leave Gaza, while Palestinians who had been stuck in Egypt will be able to return home.

Egypt opens sealed Gaza crossing
News agencies, YNetNews 8/30/2008
Rafah crossing to remain open for two days, allowing thousands of Egyptian citizens stuck in Gaza to return home. Palestinians: Reopening crossing goodwill gesture ahead of Ramadan -Palestinian officials said Egypt has opened its sealed border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing hundreds of people to enter and leave the coastal territory. Egypt opened the Rafah crossing on Saturday for two days, allowing thousands of Egyptian citizens stuck in Gaza to return home. They are also allowing hundreds of Palestinians needing medical treatment to enter Egypt. Palestinians with foreign residency permits will also leave Gaza. Palestinians stuck in Egypt will be able to return to Gaza. Egyptian sources said some 100 people have crossed into Egypt and 200 Palestinians have returned home to Gaza, while Palestinian officials said more than 500 Egyptians and Gazans. . .

Rafah crossing opened before stranded passengers
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authority on Saturday opened the Rafah border terminal with the Gaza Strip for two days to allow stranded Egyptians back to their lands along with Palestinians carrying Egyptian residence permits and holders of foreign passports. Mohammed Odwan, the spokesman of the Palestinian crossings department, told PIC in a telephone contact that the crossing was open on Saturday morning and that two Palestinian buses had already crossed into the Egyptian gate. He said that 30 buses are expected to leave the Strip to Egypt on Saturday carrying more than 1,500 stranded citizens, noting that passengers head to Khan Younis gathering point before they are taken in buses to the crossing to avoid any problem. The PA interior ministry in Gaza is organizing the departure in order to facilitate their travel without problems, he said, noting that field contacts are ongoing. . .

Egypt opens Gaza border for two days
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/30/2008
Egypt opened its sealed border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, allowing hundreds of people to enter and leave the coastal territory in a goodwill gesture before a holy Muslim month, officials said. Slideshow:Palestinians who live abroad and Egyptians stuck in Gaza because of the sealed border, gathered at dawn in a nearby sporting center, where Hamas police shipped them to the Gaza-Egypt crossing in buses. The Rafah crossing was sealed after Hamas seized power of the Gaza Strip in June last year, effectively penning in 1. 5 million Gaza residents into the tiny coastal territory. Egyptian officials have infrequently opened the crossing since. Israel has also sealed its crossings with Gaza, only allowing in humanitarian aid and a trickle of commercial goods. Hamas’ interior ministry, eager to demonstrate its ability to control security on the Gaza side of. . .

Gazans accepted to international universities to register at Khan Younis for travel Sunday
Ma’an News Agency 8/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Gazan students who have been accepted to overseas universities or given scholarships have been instructed to go to the Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hall in the city of Khan Younis on Saturday evening so they can be registered to leave to Egypt via the Rafah crossing and then travel on to their universities. Dr Mohammad Abu Shuqeir, the secretary of the de facto ministry of Education, announced Saturday that the Rafah crossing would open to let the approximately 150 students accepted at international universities through the crossing on Sunday. The de facto Ministry of Education said that 35 busses were allowed to pass through to Egypt on Saturday, and there was not enough time to send through the students and the ill awaiting treatment. General Manager of the media office of the de facto ministry of the interior Ihab Al-Ghusein said that on Sunday the 400 patients. . .

Hundreds leave Gaza as Egypt opens border
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 8/30/2008
By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, allowing hundreds of people to leave the Hamas-controlled territory, Palestinian officials said. Egyptian security and border sources said the Rafah crossing would stay open for two days to allow Gazans with foreign residence permits and humanitarian cases to cross into Egypt. Egypt closed Rafah after the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip more than a year ago, and hundreds of Egyptian citizens have been stuck in the coastal enclave. With the reopening, some 500 people have crossed into Egypt and 700 have returned home to Gaza, the Egyptian sources said. Palestinian officials said more than 1,000 Egyptians and Gazans with foreign residency permits had crossed into Egypt.

Israel’s Political Limbo is Just as Thorny for Rice
Barak Ravid, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have arrived in Israel with the intention of advancing talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but her meetings have also dealt with trying to understand Israel’s political limbo. An Israeli government source said a key issue Rice’s aides discussed with their Israeli counterparts was what happens the day after the Kadima party primary. U. S. officials were trying hard to understand the constitutional ramifications of the Kadima race. They discussed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s role in an interim government and whether he could carry out significant political decisions. Rice’s aides concluded that it is highly likely that Israel will not have a stable new government before the end of 2008, around the time the Bush administration comes to a close. Rice held two one-on-one meetings with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is running in the Kadima election.

Candidates who know how to be led
Uzi Benziman, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Shaul Mofaz was photographed barefoot at home. As far as we can tell from the photograph, he’s not foot model material, but his public relations advisers instructed him to peel off his serious, humorless persona - and the transportation minister obliged. The reporter and the photographer were invited into his home, and Mofaz took off his shoes in order to look like an average guy. On the other hand, Tzipi Livni went for a photo shoot on the beach, clad in high-top sneakers and sporty clothing. This is how she is connecting with the people. Emerging from his hiding place is her husband, Naftali Shpitzer, who describes how his wife knows how to let her hair down at parties, dancing on tables and playing the drums - boy, look how she bangs on those drums. Even Orit, Mofaz’s wife, has been introduced to the public, wrapping her head in a large. . .

PM’s wife questioned on Cremieux house
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
Police questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s wife for two hours Friday regarding the investigation into the house Olmert bought on Jerusalem’s Cremieux Street. But the police stressed that Aliza Olmert was not being questioned under warning. Friday was the seventh time police investigators questioned the prime minister at his official residence in Jerusalem, and for the first time participating in the probe was the lead officer in the Cremieux Street case, Commander Nahum Levy. Olmert was asked to describe how he purchased a home in Jerusalem’s German Colony at an unusually low price. The prime minister is suspected of having taken advantage of his connections during his tenure as Jerusalem mayor to secure benefits for Alumot, a developer, which allegedly repaid him with a substantial discount on the home.


Palestinian Laws Get Overhaul with Little Oversight
Mohammed Assadi and Adam Entous, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
      President Mahmoud Abbas and his government are rewriting economic, social and security laws for the Palestinian territories with little public oversight, Palestinian and Western officials say.
     Reuters has obtained hundreds of Abbas decrees and a five-year legislative plan that could transform the Palestinian political and economic systems from top to bottom, yet which few of the four million residents of the territories have heard of.
     Many of the proposed changes have long been sought by liberal reformers and could help promote foreign investment, but some constitutional experts and legislators contend that Abbas’s approach to legislating by decree lacks transparency and is part of an erosion of democratic institutions.
     Some say Palestinian democracy, once held up as a model for other Arabs, has been suspended -- both in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Abbas is based at Ramallah, and in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas Islamists seized full control a year ago.

The Israeli ambassador is wrong

Mandy Turner, The Guardian 8/29/2008
      The Israeli ambassador’s article yesterday was astonishing in its disregard for the facts. To argue that Israel is not to blame for the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is an incredible attempt to rewrite history. Israel largely controls the purse strings of the Palestinian Authority, it controls goods and services into and out of the occupied Palestinian territories, and it controls all borders. This was enshrined in the Paris Protocols and the Oslo Accords. The PA was supposed to be the first step towards an independent state. The cruel truth is that it is more akin to a ship in a stormy sea with no engine or navigation tools.
     These facts go a long way in explaining why the Palestinian economy has collapsed resulting in widespread poverty, unemployment and social deprivation. The Palestinian Authority is a terminally ill patient kept alive only through the life support machine of international aid, which can be turned off at any point. The sanctions after Hamas was elected in January 2004 merely accelerated these problems. -- See also: Israeli ambassador''s article

Why do we keep letting the politicians get away with lies?

Robert Fisk, The Independent 8/30/2008
      How on earth do they get away with it? Let’s start with war between Hizbollah and Israel -- past and future war, that is.
     Back in 2006, Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers from their side of the Lebanese frontier and dragged them, mortally wounded, into Lebanon. The Israelis immediately launched a massive air bombardment against all of Lebanon, publicly declaring Beirut’s democratically-elected and US-backed -- but extremely weak -- government must be held to account for what Hizbollah does. Taking the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese, almost all civilians, Israel unleashed its air power against the entire infrastructure of the rebuilt Lebanon, smashing highways, viaducts, electric grids, factories, lighthouses, totally erasing dozens of villages and half-destroying hundreds more before bathing the south of the country in three million cluster bomblets.
     After firing thousands of old but nonetheless lethal rockets into Israel – where the total death toll was less than 200, more than half of them soldiers – Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s leader, told a lie: if he had known what Israel would do in revenge for the capture of two soldiers, he announced, he would never have agreed to Hizbollah’s operation.
     But now here comes Israel’s environment minister, Gideon Ezra, with an equally huge whopper as he warns of an even bigger, more terrible war should Hizbollah attack Israel again. "During the (2006) war, we considered the possibility of attacking Lebanon’s infrastructure but we never (sic) resorted to this option, because we thought at the time that not all the Lebanese were responsible for the Hizbollah attacks... At that time, we had Hizbollah in our sights and not the Lebanese state. But the Hizbollah do not live on the moon, and some (sic) infrastructure was hit." This was a brazen lie. Yet the Americans, who arm Israel, said nothing. The European Union said nothing. No journalistic column pointed out this absolute dishonesty.

Bedouin Nomads Under Threat in Holy Land

Carolynne Wheeler, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
      Thanks to drought and increasing Israeli security restrictions on where they can wander, their nomadic lifestyle, which predates the birth of Christ, is likely to die out within a generation.
     Lack of rainfall over the past three years, thought by some to be due to climate change, is gradually rendering many already sparse grazing lands unusable for their flocks of goats and sheep. At the same time, the steady growth of Jewish towns and settlements in the Israeli Negev desert and the West Bank has left the 280,000 Bedouin of the region with ever fewer options for moving to better pastures, their traditional way of surviving when times are hard.
     "This is the worst dry year for the Bedouin," declared Suleiman al-Hathalin, standing among the ramshackle collection of tin shacks and tents that mark his family’s land at Khirbet Umm al-Khair, an unrecognised Bedouin village in the West Bank hills south of Hebron. "My father and my uncle had the chance to live a true Bedouin life. But I am being deprived of this and now so are my children. The life of the Bedouin, the freedom of movement – it’s finished."

A Summer Camp for Political Dissenters in Israel

Danna Harman, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
      Weeks before her scheduled conscription into the Israeli army, at a time when most other 18-year-olds were gearing up for mandatory service, Saar Vardi was in the forest – talking about pacifism.
     One of a small group of Israeli conscientious objectors, Ms. Vardi spent her last days of summer at a unique camp – counseling others who might follow in her activist footsteps.
     "A lot of us don’t get why we should give up years, not to mention maybe our lives, for what seems like someone else’s wars," explained Vardi, a facilitator at Alternative Camp, a program for 15- to 19-year-olds outside Neve Shalom, a cooperative Israeli-Arab village. "Here, we talk about options."
     On Monday, instead of reporting for duty, Vardi exercised her option to refuse service and, as expected, was promptly marched into jail.
     While the camp is not billed as a conscientious objectors’ gathering, the theme hung over the forest as thick as the smoke from the environmentally friendly cookers. Most of the 30-odd counselors were draft dodgers, deserters, or declared conscientious objectors who hoped to foster a greater understanding of their desire not to fight. -- See also: The Ordeal of Sahar Vardi, Refusenik

The Ordeal of Sahar Vardi, Refusenik

Neve Gordon, Counterpunch, Palestine Monitor 8/30/2008
      Eighteen-year-old Sahar Vardi is currently in an Israeli military prison. She is being punished for the crime of refusing to be conscripted into the Israeli military.
     A few weeks before her imprisonment she wrote Israel’s Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, explaining her decision to become a conscientious objector. "I have been to the occupied Palestinian territories many times, and even though I realize that the soldier at the checkpoint is not responsible for Israel’s oppressive policies, that soldier is still responsible for his conduct"¦" She summed up her letter to Barak with the following words: "The bloody cycle in which I live—made up of assassinations, terrorist attacks, bombings, and shootings—has resulted in an increasing number of victims on both sides. It is a vicious circle that is sustained by the choice of both sides to engage in violence. -- See also: A Summer Camp for Political Dissenters in Israel

How Arab normalization is undermining the boycott movement

Wassim Al-Adel, Electronic Intifada 8/29/2008
      While boycott and divestment campaigns in the West become more sophisticated and widespread, the Arab world’s longstanding boycott of Israel is being undermined by Arab governments, companies and businessmen. This attempt at no-concession normalization with Israel must be countered by all those working for justice in Palestine. The recent Adalah-NY campaign against Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev sheds light on the burgeoning relationship between Arab governments and businesses, and Israel.
     Earlier this year, the New York-based coalition Adalah-NY successfully spearheaded a campaign to prevent Leviev from opening a branch of his diamond chain in Dubai. Leviev is the chairman of Africa Israel Investments, which is constructing illegal Jewish-only settlements in the area of the West Bank village of Jayyous through its subsidiary, Danya Cebus. A mixture of media exposure and public outcry forced the Emirati authorities to deny that the jeweler had been granted any permission. This was a victory for those who wish to see an end to the Israeli occupation.

Sectarianism and the nation

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/28/2008
      It is important to draw a distinction between following a particular school of Islamic theology and adhering to its rites and the tendency to turn that creed into a distinct and exclusivist culture and identity with prohibitions, attitudes and barriers that keep its adherents from assimilating into wider society and embracing a more overarching culture and identity. This distinction between religious commitment and sectarianism is not arbitrary. It is fundamental to our ability to understand and appreciate the threat of sectarianism to national unity. One adds to the nation’s moral and cultural assets, the other diminishes them. The different schools of Islamic jurisprudence and their philosophical production greatly stimulated and enriched Islamic thought. Conversely, the exploitation of these theological outlooks and disciplines for political ends was disastrous. The internecine conflict it precipitated led to the downfall of the caliphate, the decline of the Arabs’ civilisational role and the fragmentation of the Islamic empire.
     In their transformation from a means for understanding the fundamentals of faith and morals to a politicised cultural identity, the different schools of Islamic thought became wedges that drove Muslims apart. When affiliates of the sects closed ranks against one another and claimed superior rights the collective spirit and force of the Islamic nation crumbled.
     In the modern era the Arab peoples fought for national liberation and independence. Their motto was national unity, a banner beneath which most liberation movements succeeded.

The other face of western democracy

Khalid Amayreh, Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
      It is really difficult to blame millions of young men and women throughout the Third World, especially in the Muslim world, for their mounting disenchantment with western democracy.
     A few years ago, many people in this part of the world were made to believe that the "American way" would empower the masses and help build a society based on liberty and justice which would also eventually produce economic prosperity.
     However,  these people soon discovered that they had been duped and deceived as they saw how democracy looked like "in action" in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and, of course, in Palestine.
     The often pornographic dichotomy between the ritualistic pronouncements by western leaders on democracy and human rights, on the one hand, and their scandalous actions, behaviors, and policies, on the other, served only to deepen people’s disillusionment with a "democracy" that preaches one thing and does the opposite.

Tenth Grader Zeinab M’ali imagines Ramallah without the ravages of war

Zeinab Mohammed Abdel Salam M''ali, Palestine News Network 8/30/2008
      From Common Dreams and the Imagine Palestine 2018 essay contest: " A cry of the past... and shock of present"
     AL BIREH, Ramallah -- Here are my eyes wandering in a country with wonderful clean streets, where there are no signs of burned tires or broken stones! The sky is pure without the impact of smoke bombs or rocket shells. No barriers, separation walls, or checkpo ints. Markets, roads, parks, schools, workplaces are filled up with people. I no longer see the fear reflected on the faces of people or the anxiety in their eyes...
     I shut my eyes, time carries me to a past that I do not want to recall: the sound of shelling and screams. Suffering from poor economic conditions; the political situation is worse still—the scenes of murder, mayhem, destruction, the stinking smell of bombs and blood, and the taste of oppression, bitterness, and anguish.
     I quickly open my eyes to push back the past, which is it still pursuing me. I am tired of hearing cannons and screams. I want to feel something new and beautiful other than pain and suffering. I do not want such alien smells to enter my body. I no longer want to taste oppression, bitterness, and anguish.