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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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16 September 2008

Israel closes Gaza crossings
Al Jazeera 9/15/2008
Israel has closed crossings into Gaza following a rocket attack on the Israeli town of Sderot by Palestinian fighters. Monday’s closures were the first during this Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. The rocket hit an open area in Sderot, starting a fire but causing no casualties. The attack, the first in nearly three weeks, violates a June ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules Gaza. No one claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. Following the incident, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, ordered that the crossings be closed indefinitely. The move effectively seals off the Gaza Strip which badly needs supplies for its 1. 5 million Palestinians. Hamas denounced the Israeli reaction as an act of "sabotage" against the truce.

Daraghmeh to PNN: 26 Tubas families receive demolition orders for Israeli military roads
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 9/15/2008
PNN -- Israeli bulldozers are razing swaths of Palestinian land in the northeastern West Bank. Head of regional affairs, Aref Daraghmeh, told PNN on Monday that the site is near Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley and is being overtaken for Israeli military training sites. "Israeli military vehicles and soldiers are flooding the area and have threatened some residents there with home and barn demolition. Also the sheep grazing lands on farms throughout the region are under threat. "Twenty days ago 26 families received demolition orders for destruction to begin on 18 September. All have appealed in the Israeli court of Beit El. Daraghmeh told PNN that the threatened lands lie within ’Area C’ of the West Bank, meaning Israeli military and civil control under Oslo. There are five Jewish settlements and Israelis army camps where they have been training with military tanks, aircraft and infantry.

’Israeli assault in Gaza may have been war crime’ - UN
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/16/2008
GENEVA: Israel’s shelling of the Gaza village of Beit Hanoun in November 2006 that killed 19 Palestinian civilians may constitute a war crime and the victims should receive compensation, a UN report said Monday. "In the absence of a well-founded explanation from Israel’s military. . . the mission must conclude there is a possibility the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime," said the report of a fact-finding mission headed by South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. The former South African archbishop and anti-apartheid activist will present his report, which also condemns Palestinian attacks on Israel, to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday. He was mandated by the council in November 2006 to investigate the incident but only managed to visit Gaza via Egypt in May this year after the Israelis refused three previous attempts to access the coastal strip via their territory.

Rights group: Probe IDF failure to protect Palestinians from settler violence
Yuval Azoulay and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
The Israel Defense Forces must investigate its soldiers’ failure to prevent a group of settlers from attacking and wounding eight Palestinians on Saturday, a human rights group demanded Monday. In a letter to Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit, Yesh Din - Volunteers for Human Rights requested a Military Police investigation into the incident, which took place outside the West Bank village of Asira al-Kabiliya. "So far, no one has been arrested in connection with the incident, which sends lawbreakers a message that Palestinian lives are not worthy of protection," attorney Michael Sfard wrote on behalf of the group. He added that Yesh Din had video footage showing that soldiers refrained from stopping the settlers. Shortly after the incident, a senior IDF officer claimed the troops had acted in accordance with regulations by barring the settlers from entering Asira al-Kabiliya.

Detention of Qalqiliya journalist by PA security called violation of judicial independence
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Journalist and civilian Mustafa Sabri has been denied release from a military prison despite a court order for his release after he was detained as a political prisoner by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in on 31 July. Sabri is a journalist for Al-Aqsa TV, and was picked up in a series of politically motivated arrests throughout the West Bank by the PA. A corresponding series of political arrests were made in Gaza by de facto government forces. The arrests came days after the 25 July car bombing in which four Hamas activists were killed and one young girl. The arrests continued throughout the summer, and by some accounts are ongoing. Political arrests have been a major issue in unity talks, with all sides calling for the release of those arrested. PCHR are calling Sabri’s detention a “violation of the powers and independence of. . .

Shahin: IOA encourages drug addiction among Arab Jerusalemites
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The national authority to combat social diseases in occupied Jerusalem has warned of the spread of drug addiction among the Palestinian Jerusalemite youth. In a statement on Sunday the authority charged the Israeli occupation authority of waging what it called an "opium war" on the Palestinian Jerusalemites in a bid to crush the Jerusalemite society, leaving the land an easy prey for occupation. Husni Shahin, the director of the authority, said that the number of drug addicts among the youth was increasing, and linked between the phenomenon and the IOA attempt to isolate and judaize the holy city. Shahin said that the IOA was encouraging drug addiction in a bid to push those young men into selling their property to buy drugs. The IOA allows the passage of narcotics across its roadblocks and gives a blind eye to the pushers who circulate them in Arab suburbs in Jerusalem, the director charged.

Olmert: If we don’t reach deal with PA soon - price will be unbearable
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Prime minister tells Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: ’Every day that goes by without our reaching a deal with the Palestinians is a day we may regret in the future’ - Speaking for what may be the last time in office at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday morning, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert focused on the importance of expediting the signing of a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority. "Every day that goes by without our reaching a deal with the Palestinians is a day we may regret in the future, and I say this as a man who once had, and fought for very different ideas," Olmert said. "If we don’t reach a deal fast we’ll be missing an opportunity, and missing that opportunity may come at an unbearable price. ""There’s no magic formula through which a deal can be agreed upon - and the price will be very heavy.

Al Mezan Center slams Israel’s ongoing assaults against Gaza fishermen, calls for ending the siege
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/16/2008
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights slammed the Israeli army’s ongoing assaults against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing and unjust Israeli siege on the coastal region in spite of Israel’s claims of being committed to ending all attacks and gradually lifting the siege. The center stated that the siege on Gaza is ongoing and the humanitarian conditions are worsening as the people are still living under harsh conditions and lacking the basic components of decent livelihood. "Despite that nearly three months have passed since the announcement of a ceasefire, which took effect on 19 June, nothing tangible has occurred. Gaza people did not notice any remarkable improvement in their life in terms of the provision of basic needs, drugs, medical supplies and fuel. The Strip is suffering from a choking crisis because of the lack of fuel and cooking gas, contradicting. . .

PLC member against siege condemns Israeli closures of Gaza commercial crossings
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/15/2008
Gaza -- All Gaza commercial crossings are closed today. Palestinian Legislative Council member and head of the People’s Committee against the Siege, Jamal Al Khudari denounced the Israeli violation of the agreement for ’calm. ’Early yesterday morning the Al Aqsa Brigades of Fateh issued a statement: ’calm’ in Gaza is taking its last breath due to continued Israeli violations. A projectile landed near Sderot which was the reasoning Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak used for Monday’s closure. Al Khudari said the Barak’s "decision to close the Gaza crossings is a serious violation of the resolution. It is more of the Israeli escalation which affects the lives and needs of the citizens, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. " For approximately two years the Israeli government has held the Gaza Strip under siege, bringing what the United Nations and other international. . .

Islamic charity funds water project in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian Islamic charity on Monday signed a contract with the Gaza Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) agreeing to fund new wells and waste water pump stations in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Relief Palestine (IRPAL) and the CMWU agreed to provide electro-mechanical equipment “in response to the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip,” the charity said in a statement Monday. The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that the Gaza sewage processing plant was originally designed to serve up to 50,000 inhabitants of northeastern Gaza. Today, the area’s population is over 200,000 residents. The IRPAL project aims to provide two water pumps, three motors and other spare parts for water wells and water pump stations. The cost of the project is valued at ILS 117,800.

Palestinian stabs soldier near Dead Sea
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/15/2008
IDF soldier stabbed at junction on Jerusalem-Dead sea road, evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital with mild to moderate injuries. Palestinian flees to nearby gas station, apprehended by police -A Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier Monday afternoon at Almog Junction, located on the Jerusalem-Dead Sea. The soldier was lightly-moderately injured, and was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem. The terrorist succeeded in stealing the soldier’s weapon, after which he fled the scene and took cover in the men’s room of a nearby gas station. A detection squadron from Ma’aleh Adumim Police Department located the terrorist’s hiding place and detained him. They also confiscated the weapon he had stolen. They began to interrogate him at the gas station. During the interrogation the terrorist, a resident of the West Bank city. . .

Brother of knifeman in earlier attack on Israeli soldier arrested near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - 13 Israeli military vehicles stormed Um Ash-Sharayet near Ramallah Monday night in search of the accomplice of a Palestinian knifeman. Israeli forces arrested Yazan At-Tarify in a men’s washroom after he stabbed an Israeli soldier at a gas station near Ma’aleh Adumim. The soldier reported that two men had attacked him, and took his weapon. According to Israeli news sources, he was lightly injured by the attack. After searching the area, Israeli forces found the knifeman, and began an extended search of the area around At-Tarify’s home in Um Ash-Sharayet. Military vehicles surrounded his building and arrested the knifeman’s brother, 23-year-old Hamid At-Tarify. It is unclear whether Hamid was the accomplice during the attack.

Israeli military court sentences senior Al-Aqsa brigades leader to 25 years
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Senior Al-Aqsa Brigades leader Mohammad Adel Zeitawi “Ash-Sheikh” from Tulkarem was sentenced by the Israeli court at Salem DCL to 25 years in Israeli prisons. Zeitawi was sentenced on Monday in the Israeli military court north west of Jenin after being detained since 16 November 2006, when he was taken from his home in a large-scale military raid that destroyed parts of his home. According to Israeli sources, Zeitawi was accused of killing eight Israelis, and following his capture Israel carried out a large campaign throughout the Tulkarem governorate targeting senior Al-Aqsa members. The Al-Aqsa brigades are the military wing of Fatah. [end]

Israeli forces detain 3 civilians in Ar-Rashaydah south east of Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces detained three civilians early Monday morning from Ar-Rashaydah village south east of Bethlehem. Head of the village council Fawwaz Rashaydah told Ma’an that large Israeli forces surrounded the village and closed all pathways around it. Forces searched houses in the village and detained three civilians; Ahmad Issa Salem Rashaydah a member of the local council, Mifleh Ibrahim Mohammad Rashaydah and Bajes Ali Mohammad Rashaydah. The military operation lasted until 10:30am. Troops guarding entrances to the village prevented school teachers from getting to work in the village until the operation was completed. [end]

Israeli forces apprehend four Palestinians near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces apprehended four Palestinians on Monday after raiding the northern West Bank town of Attil, north of Tulkarem. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed the town and searched several Palestinian homes. Soldiers then seized 30-year-old Amir Sha’ban and 27-year-old Majdi Yasin, who are affiliated with Fatah. Israeli forces also took 22-year-old Eyhab Al-Ajami, of Islamic Jihad, and 26-year-old Bashar Ratib, a Hamas affiliate. In a separate incident, several Israeli military vehicles stormed the town of Illar near Tulkarem and ransacked several homes there. No arrests were reported. [end]

Israeli forces raid Qalqilia; inspect shops
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Monday morning raided the northern and the eastern entrances of Qalqilia in the northern West Bank and deployed additional troops in several nearby neighborhoods. Palestinian security sources said that invading Israeli forces ransacked several shops selling agricultural equipment. [end]

IDF troops open fire towards Molotov cocktail wielding Palestinians Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/16/2008
IDF troops opened fire towards two Palestinians who threw Molotov cocktails near Beit El on Monday night. The Palestinians were moderately wounded and evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem. The two will be transferred to a security interrogation after receiving medical treatment. [end]

A Palestinian policeman shot dead and another wounded in Gaza city
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
A Palestinian policeman of the Hamas-led police forces was killed and another was wounded on Monday during a chase of some suspects in Gaza city. Spokesman of the Hamas-led interior ministry, Islam Shehwan, asserted that Abdelkarim Khzaiq, of his twenties, was killed and another was injured after the police chased a number of suspects ,who are involved in criminal cases. The police sources said that the police department has cordoned off the vicinity of the Gaza municipality building in Gaza city. The police affirmed it would arrest those involved very soon. [end]

Details revealed about secret Hamas election of advisory council in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two months ago Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip elected an advisory council for the movement. At the time, there was a media blackout around the dates for the election, as well as a great deal of secrecy around the names that appeared on the candidate lists. The names of the winners of this secret election were not published after they occurred, though they form the politburo of the Hamas movement. The council hold a session once every six months. According to Salah Al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas leader, these elections take place once every three years, and are aimed at bringing new figures in to lead the movement. He said it was the Hamas advisory council, elected in one of these secretive ballots, who made the crucial decision to run in the legislative elections in 2006. This advisory council comprises between 50-60 members, though Al-Bardawil said the number could rise by ten in the future.

Mhanna: ''Egypt is serious in ending divisions; Arabs intervention will add success factors''
Saed Bannoura "“ Translation, IMEMC, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
This is an interview with Rabah Mhanna, member of the political bureau of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) conducted by Ashraf Abu Al Hol and published on Monday by the Al Ahram daily in Cairo. In the interview, Mhanna says that Cairo is serious in its efforts to end the internal Palestinian tension and that Egyptian officials set a period between 45 days and two months to formulate a vision for a comprehensive Palestinian dialogue which would continue for a number of days. He also said that Egypt is supported by several Arab countries in order to ensure the success of these talks. The interview:Q: Do you believe that the talks held by Cairo with the Palestinian factions could lead to positive results regarding internal Palestinian dialogue? A: In our meetings with Egyptian officials, we felt serious efforts to ensure the success of these. . .

Speaker of Palestinian parliament calls for a serious dialogue
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Deputy-speaker of the Hamas-dominated parliament in Gaza, Ahmad Bahar, called yesterday for a genuine intra-Palestinian dialogue between the rival Hamas and Fatah parties under the umbrella of the legislative council. Bahar invited both parties to the Palestinian Legislative Council, to solve all the outstanding problems on basis of national conciliation and the higher interests of the Palestinian people. He also praised the position of the Arab transitional parliament, which will convene Monday at the Arab league premises in Cairo, to discuss the national Palestinian dialogue. The parliament speaker, who was taking part in a group breakfast in the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, in Gaza city, added that the issue of Palestinian prisoners, particularly the lawmakers , whom Israel continue to detain, is one of the most important ones.

Leftists appeal for consensus government to combat a repeat of Oslo
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 9/15/2008
Nablus -- The leftists are calling for collectivism on the internal scene. In the past it was the Government of National Unity. Now it is referred to as the National Consensus Government. Representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestinian People’s Party in Ramallah are leading the charge. By activating internal Palestinian efforts combined with the vigorous moves by Egypt in hosting the factional consultations and the support of the Arab League, the leftists say the time is ripe for the overall success of the Palestinian national dialogue. The Ramallah group said on Monday that the division can end and national unity be restored. However, the Fateh -- Hamas debate is in full swing regarding when the presidential term ends.

Bahar calls for profound; serious inter-Palestinian dialogue
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The acting PLC speaker MP Dr. Ahmad Bahar has called on Sunday for a profound and serious inter-Palestinian dialogue under the umbrella of the PA legislature based on the national interest and constants of the Palestinian people. In a speech he delivered during a solidarity rally that was held by the PLC in Gaza city in support of the kidnapped PLC members, Bahar called on Hamas and Fatah Movements to sit together on the table of negotiation, and to solve all the disputed issues based on the national interests and national constants of the Palestinian people. He also hailed the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the 1948-occupied lands, and in diaspora for their determination not to concede any of the Paletsinian legal rights, especially that right of return among other legitimate rights.

Hamas accuses P.A forces of arresting nine of its supporters
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, stated on Monday that Palestinian security forces, loyal to Fateh movement, arrested nine of its members and supporters in several areas in the West Bank. In Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Atiyya Al Rajoub, from Doura town, south of Hebron, and also arrested Amir Asafra, from Beit Kahil town. In Bethlehem, security forces arrested Husam Abu Dayya and his brother Bassam, and also arrested Hajj Hasan Awad Asakra, from Janata village near the city. In Tubas district, security forces arrested Ahmad Taher Al Masry, after breaking into his shop in Aqaba village. In Ramallah district, the forces arrested Murad Al Sanoury, one of the leaders of the Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University and another student identified as Hamdan Jamal.

Arab Palestinian Front delegation en route to Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation representing the Arab Palestinian Front (APF) is headed to Cairo to join Palestinian reconciliation talks, APF Secretary General Jamil Shahada said on Monday. Shahada told Ma’an that Egypt should pressure all sides to reach a comprehensive national agreement, which could bring an end to the state of rivalry in the Palestinian territories. Shahada also called on Egypt to make public any attempts to impede dialogue. Urging Hamas to demonstrate greater flexibility, Shahada recommended that the movement abandon impediments to unity for the sake of reaching a nationalist agreement. Hamas should be willing to return the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, he added.

PA security forces detain nine West Bank Hamas affiliates
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Hamas movement on Monday said that Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces seized nine Hamas affiliates in the West Bank the day before. Hamas issued a statement that Attiyya Rajoub and Amira Asafrah were taken near Hebron on Sunday. Two brothers, Husum and Bassam Abu Dayyah, were also nabbed in Bethlehem, while PA forces detained Hajj Awad Asakirah from a town nearby. In the northern West Bank village of Aqaba, near Tubas, Ahmad Al-Masri was seized from his shop. PA forces took a Birzeit University student, Hamdan Jamal, from Ramallah and Rushdy Al-Jayyousi from Tulkarem, as well. [end]

Mishaal: The PA chief will have no legitimacy after 9 January
Palestinian Information Center 9/14/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khalid Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, stated Saturday that after the ninth of next January, the PA chief would have no legitimacy except through election and under national reconciliation. During an evening gathering held by Hamas in Damascus and attended by many prominent Palestinian and Arab leaders, Mishaal underlined that the PA chief would not be able to give himself legitimacy if he extended his term of office or violated the law. In his speech, the Hamas leader also underscored that his Movement would never accept any peace agreement which  detracts from the inalienable Palestinian rights and constants, adding that no Arab or Muslim leader could  approve such an agreement. In light of the developments in the international arena today, Mishaal opined: "The US failed its closest friends and became preoccupied with its own election and with. . .

72nd session of Palestinian cabinet focuses on needs of Bedouins in Jordan Valley
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Jordan Valley and the Palestinian Bedouin population were among the top priorities of the 72nd session of the cabinet of the Palestinian Government held Monday. According to cabinet ministers, the designation of the Jordan Valley area as “C,” meaning entirely under Israeli control, is “purely political,” and all efforts will be exerted by the Palestinian government to ensure their wellbeing, allowing Palestinians to remain on their land. In order to address the needs of the area’s residents, said Palestinian Foreign and Information Minister and official spokesperson of the Palestinian Government Riyad Al-Maliki the government had begun initial surveys on need in the area. The government also decided to pay 23 million shekels in support for those communities including water, electricity and shelters.

Al Biereh city denounces slams an attack against its mayor
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Members of the Al Biereh City council, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, strongly denounced the attack which targeted its mayor Jamal Farah Al Taweel after unknown gunmen opened fire at his vehicle while he was heading home. The mayor survived the attack unharmed; several private and governmental institutions and public figures slammed that attack. The city council members said that the "cowardice attack is an attack against the interests of the residents, and against anybody who seeks the best interests of the city". "This attack does not serve the country, does not serve the humanity of the Palestinian people and their interests", the city council added. Members of the city council demanded the Palestinian security devices and the police to probe the attack, and to apprehend and prosecute the assailants.

Journalist Sabri goes on hunger strike; PA Mukhabarat rebuked
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
QALQILIA, (PIC)-- Well-informed Palestinian sources revealed that detained Palestinian journalist Mustafa Sabri started hunger strike in protest to his illegal detention at the PA Mukhabarat (general- intelligence) department in Qalqilia city. Family of Sabri warned that health of the journalist was deteriorating as a result of the illegal detention, holding the Mukhabarat fully responsible for his safety and health. The Palestinian center for human rights also rebuked the Mukhabarat for illegally detaining Sabri despite the ruling of the Palestinian high court to immediately release him, accusing the PA security department of "undermining the supremacy and independence of the high court). The center alos condemned the Mukahbart’s "rotating door" policy, explaining that the Mukahbarat circumvented the law by symbolically releasing Sabri and re-arresting him moments after he was released.

Ad-Dameer Association demands Abbas to release a detained Palestinian reporter
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
The Ad-Dameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association demanded the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas to issue direct orders for the release of reporter Mustafa Sabri who was detained by Palestinian security forces on July 31. Sabri remains imprisoned although the Palestinian High Court of Justice ordered his unconditional release. The Ad-Dameer added that Sabri was repeatedly detained and interrogated over the last several months by the security forces in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank,The association also said that Sabri declared a hunger strike in protest to his continued detention in spite of the decision of the high court. It stated that all sorts of political arrests, and assaults against public freedom and the freedom of press are illegal, and added that Abbas must act in order to stop these violations.

Security chaos the culprit in death of 48-year-old woman from Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The 11 September death of 48-year-old Manwa Hassan Kin’an Abed who sustained a single gunshot wound to the head as she stepped out on her balcony, is the result of recent “security chaos,” according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The report, released Monday, related the events of the evening. At approximately 20:30 Al-Aqsa Brigades activists, part of the armed wing of Fatah, announced via mosque loudspeaker at the center of the village, that all “wanted” men in the area should give themselves up and come to the city center. The men, hidden throughout the city, south of Nablus, responded to the announcement by firing bullets into the air. The Al-Aqsa men responded in kind, and volleys of bullets were launched from both parties. Manwa was transferred to a nearby clinic but died immediately.

Archbishop Tutu to UN: Israel may have committed war crime
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Monday that Israel may have committed a war crime by shelling the Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanun in 2006, but that Palestinians also were at fault for firing rockets at Israeli civilians. "Israeli and Palestinian authorities should prosecute people on both sides who attacked civilians in the town in Gaza and in neighboring Israel," Tutu said in a report to the 47-nation United Nations Human Rights Council. "In the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military - the mission must conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanun constituted a war crime," Tutu said in the report. Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, refused to discuss the war crimes allegation because Israel rejects the validity of Tutu’s report.

Israeli shelling of Beit Hanoun a possible war crime, Desmond Tutu tells UN
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 9/15/2008
Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate, said today there was a "possibility" Israel had committed a war crime when its artillery shells killed 18 Palestinians from a single family in Gaza two years ago. Tutu said the Israeli artillery shelling which hit the Athamna family house showed "a disproportionate and reckless disregard for Palestinian civilian life". The archbishop presented his comments in a final report to the UN human rights council, which had sent him to Gaza to investigate the killings in Beit Hanoun in November 2006. Israel did not grant the archbishop or his team a visa for 18 months, so they only entered Gaza in May this year on a rare crossing from Egypt. On the three-day visit, Tutu and his team visited the house, interviewed the survivors and met others in Gaza, including the senior Hamas figure and former prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. At the time Tutu said he wanted to travel to Israel to hear the Israeli account of events, but he was not permitted. -- See also: Desmond Tutu: Israeli shelling in Gaza may be war crime

Tutu says Israel may have committed war crime
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/15/2008
’Israel’s firing of artillery toward Beit Hanoun in 2006 showed ’disproportionate, reckless disregard for Palestinian civilian life,’ archbishop says in report to UN Human Rights Council. Israeli envoy: Tutu’s mission to Gaza ’regrettable’ - Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Monday that Israel may have committed a war crime by shelling Beit Hanoun in 2006, but that Palestinians also were at fault for firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Israeli and Palestinian authorities should prosecute people on both sides who attacked civilians in the town in Gaza and in neighboring Israel, Tutu said in a report to the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council. "In the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military. . . The mission must conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime," Tutu said in the report.

Barak to reconvene ’West Bank forum’ following settler rampage
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/16/2008
Saturday’s rampage through Palestinian village prompts defense minister to reconvene forum tasked with quelling rise in settler lawlessness. Security officials: Justice system also at fault -Defense Minister Ehud Barak has decided to reconvene the "West Bank Forum" to tackle the surge in Jewish lawlessness in the territories. The decision was reached in the wake of Saturday’s settler rampage through the village of Asira al-Kabiliya after a Palestinian man stabbed a 9-year-old boy at the settlement of Shalhevet, near Yitzhar. During Sunday’s cabinet meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "The phenomenon of taking the law into one’s hands and violent and brutal rioting is intolerable, and will receive an immediate response by the law enforcement authorities. "There will be no pogroms against non-Jewish residents in the State of Israel," he said.

Settlers occupying Al-Kurd family home given eviction order
International Solidarity Movement 9/15/2008
Jerusalem Region - The Al Kurd Family, residents of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood Sheikh Jarrah, have today won another trial in their struggle against settlers occupying their house. The Jerusalem District Court ordered the settlers to vacate the half of the Al Kurd family home they have occupied. This was the second judicial issued to the settlers, following a previous Israeli Supreme Court order of February 2007. The District Court also reiterated the State of Israel’s obligation to enforce the order if ignored by the settlers. The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was built by the UN and Jordanian government in 1956 to house Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. The Al-Kurd family, refugees from Jaffa and West Jerusalem, initially moved into the neighborhood hoping to return to their homes (in Israel proper) under their international Right of Return. -- See also: East Jerusalem shows solidarity with the Al-Kurd family

Jewish settlers burn Palestinian olive trees, IOF troops round up more civilians
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Settlers of the Israeli settlement of Itamar, south of Nablus city, on Sunday burnt olive groves in the village of Awarta as Israeli occupation forces continued to kidnap Palestinian citizens in the West Bank. Hebrew media reported that owners of those trees had agreed with the IOF and the so-called civil administration of the West Bank to harvest their olive trees next month but the settlers were quick to burn those trees on Sunday. Local sources reported that the Israeli settlers burnt 70 dunums planted with olive trees. Meanwhile, IOF soldiers at dawn Monday kidnapped four citizens in Attil village, north of Tulkarem after a large-scale search campaign in the village homes. Other IOF units stormed the city of Tulkarem and the village of Allar but no arrests were reported. IOF troops also raided the city of Qalqilia and searched a number of shops while in. . .

Israeli reactions to Saturday settler riots range from fulsome to foul
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli response to Saturday’s settler attack on the Palestinian village of Asira Al-Qibliya ranges from total support, calling the attacks “necessary” and even “healthy” to total condemnation where Israeli Minister of Defense said police should ensure attackers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The incident that precipitated the settler attack was the appearance of a Palestinian in the unsanctioned settlement outpost Shalhevet near the larger settlement of Yitzhar, south of Nablus. The man was seen setting fire to empty homes, when a 9-year old settler boy caught him off guard. The man stabbed the boy, who sustained mild injuries, and ran towards the nearby village of Asira Al-Qibliya. Approximately 100 settlers participated in the attack on the village that followed the incident.

Lawsuit: SWAT team leader assaulted settler during Amona evacuation
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Yesha rights group files punitive damages claim on behalf of settler claiming he was beat over the head with a club during clashes with police -The Yesha Human Rights Organization filed a claim for punitive damages with the Petah Tikva Magistrates’ Court Monday on behalf of a Jewish settler who claims to have been assaulted by a SWAT team during the violent evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona in 2006. According to the lawsuit, the officer kicked the settler in the back, ribs and stomach and beat him over the head with a club. The complainant, David Hashash, said he lost consciousness as a result of the attack and received medical treatment. The statement of claim said the Shai Police District officer, who holds the rank of chief inspector, did not prevent the officers under his command from beating the demonstrators and even assaulted them himself.

Yitzhar’s rabbi: ’The state stole Israel from the Jews’
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Rabbi David Dudkevitch, the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, was not present last Shabbat when dozens of Yitzhar residents avenged the stabbing of a boy from the settlement by going on a rampage of shooting and destruction in the neighboring village of Asira al-Kabiliya. He was there in spirit, however. Dudkevitch, who is highly respected in Yitzhar, is generally media-shy, but this time, he made an exception. "The proper and healthy thing, and this applies to the events of Shabbat as well as in general, is for the Israel Defense Forces to be involved not only in apprehending terror suspects, but also in collective punishment, up to the level of reprisals, of the environment that supports terror," Dudkevitch told Haaretz yesterday. "In the past, the State of Israel did this. But [today], just as it did in Gaza, with one hand it acts against terrorists and Katyusha launchers. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: West Bank economic improvement disputed
Wissam Nassar/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/15/2008
RAMALLAH, 15 September 2008 (IRIN) - The Palestinian economy showed some improvement in the first half of 2008, according to the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank, though economists and Palestinian observers questioned its claims. The statistics showed a slight decrease in unemployment and a rise in the number of travel permits issued to Palestinians. The Israeli military said it had opened up several "major crossing points" in the West Bank, which was "an important factor contributing to the improvement in the regional economy". The military added that it had removed approximately 100 checkpoints from January, though the UN has questioned this number, saying that some important roadblocks have been moved but the overall number remains more or less constant. Israel says it needs the checkpoints for security reasons; many were put in place following the outbreak of violence in 2000.

News in Brief - Barak applauds criminal investigation of New Profile
Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday applauded Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s decision to order a criminal investigation into an organization suspected of encouraging draft dodging. The New Profile organization gives recruits "detailed and reliable information about the procedures that enable one to obtain an exemption from military service," according to its web site. Barak met yesterday with the heads of several pre-army preparatory programs. "Army service is a pillar of Israeli society," he said. (Yuval Azoulay) A Jerusalem court yesterday sentenced a man to three years in prison and one year suspended sentence for throwing a flare onto a basketball court last year and causing physical injury to a security guard. The court also ordered the defendant, Yossi Malach, to pay NIS 150,000 in compensation to the guard, Yoav Glizentein, who lost two fingers when he picked up the flare, which exploded in his hand.

Police to probe anti-army service groups
Jerusalem Post 9/15/2008
The police will investigate the operators of Internet sites run by two anti-military conscription organizations, New Profile and Target 21, as part of the state’s program to crack down on draft evasion, the Justice Ministry announced on Monday. The order to the police was given by Shai Nitzan, Deputy State Attorney for Special Tasks, in the wake of a request by Military Advocate-General Brig. -Gen. Avihai Mandelblit to look into the matter. Nitzan ordered the police to investigate whether the administrators of the sites were guilty of violating Article 109 of the Penal Code, forbidding incitement to evasion of duty. Other possible crimes include violating the Military Adjudication Law, which prohibits anyone from helping or encouraging another to obtain an exemption from military duty by deceit, and a similar provision in the Security Service Law.

Websites on draft-dodging to be probed
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Organizations offering internet advice on how to evade army service to be investigated by attorney general on suspicion of incitement against IDF; group members say they operate legally, merely provide information -"Declaring chronic back or head aches can lower your medical profile, and marking the wrong answers on the psychometric exam certainly decreases the candidate’s value for security service, even leading to an automatic discharge from the IDF," a website encouraging draft-dodging informs its readers. The website is one of many offering tips on how to evade army service, published by organizations that allegedly encourage draft-dodging in Israel. On Monday Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered an investigation be launched against these organizations on suspicion of incitement against the army.

East Jerusalem shows solidarity with the Al-Kurd family
International Solidarity Movement 9/15/2008
Jerusalem Region - On Monday September 15th 2008 the Palestinian Jerusalem supporting group, the Muftah of Palestine and children from Shu’afaat orphanage visited the Al Kurd family to show their solidarity with the resistance Al Kurd and the 27 other families in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood are putting up against Israel’s ethnic cleansing of occupied East Jerusalem. 50 children and grown up broke the fast together on the 15th day of Ramadan. The orphanage in Shuafaat refugee camp rewarded Kamel Al Kurd with a statuette of Palestine with her name engraved for strong and continues resistance against the occupation and ethnic cleansing in occupied East Jerusalem. The approximately 50 people gathered in front of Al Kurd family home celebrated the break of the fast on the 15th day of Ramadan with a feast. Children from the orphanage in Shu’afaat enjoyed the fish and fries served. -- See also: Settlers occupying Al-Kurd family home given eviction order

Mahmoud Darwish honored in Ramadan evening
Yousef Shayeb, Palestine News Network 9/15/2008
Ramallah -- Ramadan evening in Ramallah has taken on a new light with a walk led by children carrying lanterns and candles to the resting place of the late poet Mahmoud Darwish. The tomb is laid with flowering wreathes and the Cultural Palace events continue with poetry, music, dancing, videos and a local art exhibit. The event, memorializing the loss of the great national poet, is under the organization of the Ramallah and Al Bireh governorates. Governor Dr. Said Abu Ali says that the "spiritual and social dimensions of the Ramadan tradition, within the framework of the commemorative landscape, are integral parts of the heritage of the Palestinian people and their customs. "The Ramallah -- Al Bireh Governor continued, "This event is honoring an aspect of Palestinian civilization which reflects the identity of the Palestinian people.

New siege-breaking vessel planned for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The European Campaign for Lifting Siege of the Gaza Strip and Free Gaza movement plan to send a new siege-breaking vessel to Gaza by the end of September, organizers said Monday. The head of the campaign, Dr. Arafat Abu Madi, told the press in London Monday that "the vessel is set to sail between 22 or 26 September, depending on weather. "It will depart from Cyprus, carrying specialist physicians and medication. European parliamentarians and humanitarian activists will also join the vessel to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza. Madi said that the vessel will carry those activists stranded during the first Free Gaza operation. Madi also announced that the European Campaign and Free Gaza organizations will be sending vessels to Gaza on a regular basis. Calling on Arab countries to send similar vessels, Madi said officials now had "no excuse," considering the first vessel’s successful voyage.

Gaza-Cyprus sea line planned to continue Free Gaza momentum
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A spokesperson for the Popular Committee Against the Siege announced on Monday the creation of a first-of-its-kind Palestinian sea line connecting the Gaza Strip with Cyprus. The head of the committee, Jamal Al-Khudari, said the plans are proof that the Israeli siege "has been broken. "He noted that seven Palestinians departed Gaza in August aboard the Free Gaza I and USS Liberty without exit permits from Israel or entrance visas for Cyprus. And in what was perhaps the first such act since the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s founding, the Gazan "ports authority" marked each of the seven residents’ passports with exit stamps as they boarded the two ships. Al-Khudari called their passage "a message for the Arab, Islamic and international world" that the Israeli siege had effectively ended. Another activist, Kin Okeiv, said the group is finalizing the establishment. . .

Khudari denounces repeated closure of crossings
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the anti siege committee, has denounced the Israeli occupation authority’s repeated closure of the Gaza commercial crossings for trivial reasons. Khudari in a press statement after Israeli war minister Ehud Barak’s decision to close the crossings on Monday described the decision as a "serious violation and a Zionist escalation that infringes on lives and needs of citizens" in Gaza. The MP held the IOA responsible for any repercussion as a result of the decision, and added that the crossings were already partially working contrary to conditions of the truce that was concluded three months ago. For his part, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza, cited the IOA closure as another proof of its insincerity and non-commitment to the calm conditions. He said in a press release on Monday that the crossings were semi-paralyzed and the quantity of a big number of goods was reduced.

Hamas: Resistance shattered the idea of ''greater Israel''
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has underlined that Israeli premier Ehud Olmert’s statement that the "notion of greater Israel no longer exists" pointed to the collapse of the foundations of Israel. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told PIC on Monday that the "usurping entity (Israel)" was on the retreat faced by the Palestinian people’s insistence on their lands and rights. He said that Palestinian resistance was the one that smashed the theory of greater Israel and led occupation leaders to give up their dream. Abu Zuhri stressed that Olmert’s statement that time was not in favor of Israel reflected what resistance factions had always preached mainly that occupation would end one day and that it was only a matter of time. Olmert told the Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday that the idea of greater Israel is no more and that whoever believes in it is deluding himself.

Israel Radio: Meetings with Hamas underway abroad
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israel Radio reported on Monday that a series of meetings have been held in Israel and abroad between Hamas-affiliated figures and aides of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The talks centered on determining whether or not the Hamas movement intended to "shift its attitude" toward the peace process, according to the report. Among the reported participants were de facto Palestinian Prime Minister Nasser Addin Ash-Sha’er and Ali Sartawi, former minister of justice. An unnamed Israeli academic living in the United States suggested the meetings, Israel Radio said. Israeli participants said that the Hamas-affiliated representatives were not particularly influential within the movement. Prime Minister Olmert was apparently not notified that Hamas members would be participating. Nasser Addin Ash-Sha’er, former Palestinian deputy prime minister, told Ma’an that the Israeli report was false.

Hamas says detained man who set off bomb near IDF patrol
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Al-Tawhid Brigades operative arrested for detonating explosive device near Kissufim crossing. Source: Hamas extremely interested in preserving ceasefire - Hamas’ efforts to preserve the ceasefire with Israel are continuing:Palestinian sources in Gaza told Ynet that a Hamas security force arrested last Thursday a man belonging to the newly-established Islamist organization Al-Tawhid Brigades. The arrest was made after Al-Tawhid Brigades Hamas’ security forces launched an investigation shortly after the failed attack to track the perpetrator down. The investigation led the forces to a resident of central Gaza, who is suspected of carrying out the attack. The suspect was incarcerated at the Al-Mashtal Prison, which was used by Palestinian Intelligence prior to Hamas’ violent takeover of the Strip in June 2007.

Ceasefire in Gaza reaches halfway point
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A ceasefire proclaimed by Israel and several Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip will be three months old on 19 September, halfway through the agreed upon six-month schedule. But Gazan residents see few, if any, additional benefits of the new quiet. The two largest commercial crossing points, Karni and Karem Shalom, are still closed. And the Rafah crossing is rarely opened. Without the cement, aluminum or steel needed for construction, the Gazan economy is paralyzed. The only noticeable improvement has been a month-long increase in the food supply, but even that small upgrade is due to Ramadan festivities. And the holiday products are made in Israel, anyway. On Monday, Israeli authorities closed three more crossing points; this time at Sufa, Nahal Oz and Erez, which have been opening and closing since 19 June.

After three months, Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire shortfall’s objectives
Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Various Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip have voiced skepticism over Israel’s commitment to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement, Israel and the factions reached in June19,2008. Half of the agreed period of this truce has passed, as Israel closes the commercial crossings of Gaza. Closure of crossings today is not the first, as Israel has frequently sealed them off over the past three months. The ruling Hamas party, while confirming the scarcity of essential goods and commodities such as cement, aluminum, nylon, as well as many food items, blamed today the Israeli occupation for such a situation. Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza was quoted by media outlets as saying " all realize one important fact that we agreed to the truce to give a chance for mediation efforts but the occupation has not committed to its obligations".

Fawzi Barhoum to PNN: Blackmail in the Strip
Hiba Lama, Palestine News Network 9/15/2008
PNN -- There is a lot of talk about the imminent death of the ’calm’ in the Gaza Strip between Palestinians and Israelis. Hamas leadership member Fawzi Barhoum weighed in with PNN on Monday. The Israeli government and military have not stopped violating the ’calm’ with closures and incursions, the continued siege, and the lack of adequate fuel and supplies. The Palestinian armed resistance launched a projectile at Sderot on Sunday and detonated an explosive last week near a military patrol. The Israeli military has threatened a massive attack on the Strip. "It is clear," Barhoum told PNN, "that Israel has intended from the beginning, as it does every time there is a truce, to disrupt it. Israel is not serious about respecting this agreement and is also trying to disrupt the Egyptian role. What Israel does is blackmail the Palestinian people and the Palestinian factions. "

IOA blocks travel of human rights activists out of Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has denied access via the Erez crossing for two Palestinian human rights activists in Gaza who were invited to attend a conference in Europe. The Mizan center for legal rights said in a statement on Sunday that two of its activists Esam Mahmoud and Mahmoud Abu Rahma along with Raji Al-Sourani, the director of the Palestinian center for human rights, were denied permission to travel via Erez crossing to attend a conference on international humanitarian laws in the occupied Palestinian lands at the invitation of Swedish and Belgian organizations. The center said that the decision fell in line with the IOA policy of imposing a tight siege on the Gaza Strip, noting that the permission request passes through complicated measures. In another unrelated development, the interior ministry in the PA caretaker government in Gaza Strip urged. . .

Trophy tank defense system two years behind schedule
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/16/2008
Plans to equip IDF tanks with an anti-missile defense system have been postponed by two years due to budgetary and development snags, defense officials said Monday. According to the officials, the Trophy system, developed by state-owned Rafael, would now likely be installed on Merkava Mk4 battle tanks in 2010 and not this year, as was initially announced following the Second Lebanon War. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hizbullah fired thousands of anti-tank missiles at Israeli tanks and infantry units, damaging 40 tanks and killing 30 crew members. According to a report in Defense News on Monday, tens of millions of dollars had already been invested in the Trophy program over the past eight years and it will take "double that amount" to equip hundreds of tanks in the coming years. "We hope to start installing several of the systems on tanks in the beginning. . .

Police arrest second Palestinian suspect in stabbing of IDF soldier Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/16/2008
A second Palestinian suspected of involvement in the stabbing of an IDF soldier at the Almog Junction on Monday afternoon was arrested by police. Police began searching for the second man after the initial suspect, caught by police directly after the incident, claimed to have been assisted in the act. Police caught the first suspect, armed with the soldier’s stolen weapon, in a gas station not far from the scene. The soldier was lightly to moderately wounded in the attack. [end]

Two arrested after Dead Sea stabbing Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/15/2008
Palestinian "terrorists" stabbed an IDF soldier Monday afternoon at the Almog Junction, north of the Dead Sea. The soldier was lightly to moderately wounded in the back and was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The "terrorists" also managed to wrest the soldier’s firearm away from him before fleeing the scene. A team of detectives from the Ma’aleh Adumim police station dispatched to the area, found a suspect hiding in the bathroom of a nearby gas station and overpowered him. The soldier’s weapon was found in the man’s possession. Police officers began interrogating the suspected "terrorist" on the scene, in the gas station. During the investigation, the man said he had not operated alone, sparking a search by police for another suspect, caught later Monday night. In late March, Defense Minister Ehud Barak eased restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank, removing some 50 unmanned roadblocks.

Israeli sources: a Palestinian stabs an Israeli soldier near Jericho
Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Israeli sources reported on Monday afternoon that a Palestinian resident stabbed an Israeli soldier near the West Bank of Jericho. The sources said that the assailant snatched the soldier’s rifle and then stabbed him, causing moderate injuries. The sources identified the assailant as a resident of the West Bank city of Ramallah and that he was detained while fueling his car at a gasstation, as he was apparently heading for Ramallah. [end]

Palestine Today 091508
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 20 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Monday September 15, 2008. Lede: A Palestinian police man was killed and another wounded in Gaza city. Meanwhile, Israeli sources reported that an Israeli soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian near the West Bank city of Jericho. These stories and more are coming up, Stay tuned. The Newscast Palestinian security sources confirmed the death of a policeman and also the injury of another in Gaza city. The policeman was shot dead during a crackdown on a number of criminals Monday. Meanwhile, Israeli sources said today, that an Israeli soldier was stabbed near the West Bank city of Jericho. The sources suspected that a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Ramallah, snatched the soldier’s rifle and then stabbed him.

Abbas set for what could be final meet with Olmert
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/16/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to meet Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert for a new round of US-backed peace talks, senior Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Monday. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP the two leaders would meet on Tuesday at 9:00 p. m. at the prime minister’s residence in Occupied Jerusalem. Olmert and Abbas have held regular talks, usually meeting twice a month, since the peace process was relaunched at a US-hosted conference in November with the stated goal of resolving the decades-old conflict by the end of 2008. They have made little apparent progress. The meeting comes a day before Olmert’s centrist Kadima party holds an unprecedented vote to replace him as party leader, after which he has said he would step down to battle a wave of corruption allegations.

Israel, U.S., PA discuss PA security control in W. Bank
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
The United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are discussing extending the writ of Palestinian forces in the West Bank. Since May, the PA has been enforcing law and order in and around Jenin, in what all sides view as a pilot program. The program’s objective was to tighten the PA’s grip on the West Bank while reducing friction with the Israel Defense Forces. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the U. S. special envoy for Middle East security, General James Jones, have both rejected Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s proposal to expand the program to Hebron. However, they are considering expanding it to Tul Karm. The PA would like to take over law enforcement in Hebron because it is both a major West Bank economic hub and a Hamas bastion, meaning that improving law and order there could weaken Hamas.

Jordanian King and EU’s Solana warn of prolonged Palestinian-Israeli negotiations
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/15/2008
Jordanian King, Abdullah II and European Union representative for foreign policy affairs, Javier Solana, warned yesterday of a prolonged Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, should a solution is not reached by end of this year. During a meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman with King Abdullah II, Mr. Solana, said " the Israeli settlement activities on the occupied Palestinian territories would undermine the peace process". From his part, the Jordanian Monarch emphasized on the significance of the EU’s role in the upcoming months in terms of supporting the security and stability of the Middle East as well as backing up the peace process efforts. He also stressed on the need for improving the living conditions of Palestinians who live under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority, hailing the EU’s constant support to the Palestinian people.

Jordan, Russia urge Israel to halt settlement construction
DPA, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Jordanian, Russian officials meet to discuss Israeli, Palestinian peace process. Two sides say Israel to, "˜honor its commitments by stopping all practices that can derail peace process’ - Jordan and Russia on Monday urgedIsrael to stop all practices that could, "derail" the peace process, including settlement activity in the Palestinian territories, an official statement said. The remark came during a meeting between Jordanian Foreign Minister Salah Bashir and the Russian Middle East envoy Alexander Saltanov. " The two sides called on Israel to honor its commitments by stopping all practices that could derail the peace process, including the settlement activity and other measures that change realities on the ground and affect final status issues," the statement said. Jordan and Russia also urged the Israeli government to, "take tangible steps to alleviate. . .

Abu Marzouk: Abbas’s position insinuates he relinquished RoR
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas, has rejected PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s position regarding the Palestinian refugees’ right of return. He told the PIC that Hamas, Palestinian resistance factions and the Palestinian people at large reject Abbas’s stand in which he said that only an agreed upon number of refugees would be allowed back to their original hometowns while the rest would have to choose between returning to the "Palestinian state" or remaining in diaspora in return for compensation. Abu Marzouk said that he did not know whether Abbas was speaking in the name of Fatah, PLO or his personal view. "The thing that we are sure of is that he is not speaking on behalf of the five million Palestinian refugees who insist on their right of return to their lands and property from which they were (forcibly) evacuated and not to the West Bank lands," the Hamas leader elaborated.

Olmert voices sorrow for plight of Palestinian, Jewish refugees
Shahar Ilan and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday said he was sorry for the plight of Palestinians and Jews who became refugees as a result of Israel’s establishment. "I join in expressing sorrow for what happened to the Palestinians and also for what happened to the Jews who were expelled from Arab states," the prime minister said. Olmert made the comments before a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, apparently in his last such session as prime minister. He was speaking in reference to the key Palestinian demand for a "right of return" in peace negotiations with Israel. "Under absolutely no circumstances will there be a right of return," Olmert declared, "but we are prepared to be part of an international mechanism that will work to solve the problem.

PM says Israel sorry for 1948 refugees Staff, Jerusalem Post 9/15/2008
Israel is prepared to express sorrow for the plight of Palestinians who became refugees when the country was created, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday. PM Olmert: We can’t miss this chance for peace "We will participate in expressing sorrow for what happened to them," Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, adding, "but also for what happened to us, the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were driven out of Arab countries. " Olmert’s remarks were relayed by a meeting participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed. The prime minister also warned that Israel could miss the opportunity to forge a peace deal with the Palestinians. "Every day that passes without coming to an agreement with the Palestinians is one more day that, in the future, we’ll be sorry for, and I say this as a man who once thought differently and fought [for different opinions]," he said.

Spanish FM to Haaretz: Olmert and Abbas have ’very good basis for agreement’
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is seriously considering Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal of an agreement in principle on the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos told Haaretz Monday after he met with the two leaders. "My conclusion from the talks with Olmert and Abu-Mazen [Abbas] is that the discussion and the proposals are extremely positive. I think that they are very close. I am convinced that these peace talks are going to be irreversible from what they have achieved. Whatever happens in Israeli internal politics and in the U. S. administration - both sides and the international community need to work to make them irreversible," Moratinos said. Moratinos said that in his meeting with Olmert, he received details of the main points of the Israeli prime. . .

Committee warns against ’anarchy’ in West Bank
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee discusses rising violence in West Bank. Committee Chairman MK Pines warns situation may deteriorate to ’anarchy’ - Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor) said at the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee on Monday morning that there has been, "a dramatic increase in riots in the territories against the Palestinians and IDF soldiers. " The minister said these incidents are unacceptable and if an emergency assessment is not conducted in order to prevent them, "we won’t know what to do with ourselves in a year’s time. "  Vilnai said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has asked the police to step up their activities the Judea and Samaria District, and ensure the judicial system prosecutes offenders to the full extent of the law. He also emphasized that it is essential to amplify intelligence cooperation against citizens involved in these kinds of incidents.

Al-Maliki meets new Irish ambassador to PA
Ma’an News Agency 9/15/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki on Monday met with James Karol, the new Irish ambassador to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The two spoke at Al-Maliki’s office in Ramallah, where they discussed political developments in Palestine. The two were joined by Claire Broznan, Ireland’s deputy ambassador. Al-Maliki briefed the Irish diplomats on political, economic and security concerns in the Palestinian territories. The foreign minister also explained the Palestinian president’s efforts to start final status negotiations, as well as the prime minister’s hopes of reunifying the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Al-Maliki also told Ambassador Karol that his arrival coincided with recent disappointments in the peace negotiations, for which he blamed Israel. The Palestinian foreign minister accused Israel of attempting to impede the peace. . .

Israeli Muslims set to spread environmental message to Arab world
Karin Kloosterman,, Ha’aretz 9/15/2008
. . . Israel has benefited from America’s early start and taken some issues a step further. Monumental figures in Israel’s green movement, such as Alon Tal - an American import to Israel - have brought with them education and expertise from the U. S. to start new organizations, and push the green movement to the mainstream in Israel. While "green" is now seeping into Israeli society, from groundbreaking R&D developments in clean technology to local educational programs on recycling, the Israeli Arab community lags behind. But that, thanks to a new initiative, is about to change. In a groundbreaking event last month, 50 Israeli Arab imams (Muslim clerics) gathered in Umm al-Fahm to listen, learn, and debate on the environment. Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, an organizer of the conference, is hopeful that the material and message - including a CD, posters and stickers citing references

US Congress endorses qualitative deal to supply weapons to Israel
Palestinian Information Center 9/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The US Congress has ratified the decision of the US administration of selling "qualitative" weapons to the Hebrew state, Zionist sources revealed. The deal includes sophisticated bombs, and updating the system of the anti-aircraft Patriot missiles and anti-armored vehicles rockets with total cost of 330 million dollars, the Zionist NFC news website revealed. However, military experts stressed that the deal (if carried out) would open the doors wide open before the Israeli occupation government to initiate a bigger deal that could include F-35 fighter Jets. The US Congress had endorsed an earlier deal worth  77 million dollars and comprising 1000 state-of-the-art GBU-9 bombs supplied by the Boing company. The USA is considered the main supplier of the Hebrew state in terms of military equipments, in addition to the 3 billion dollars the US government donates to Israel yearly.

Former U.S. secretaries of state say they support talks with Iran
Natasha Mozgovaya and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Five former U. S. secretaries of state on Monday stated their support for talks with Iran, with all five saying the United States should not wait to launch diplomatic engagements with the Islamic Republic. The former chief diplomats, Madeleine K. Albright; James A. Baker, III; Warren Christopher; Henry A. Kissinger; and Colin L. Powell issued their support for talks during a roundtable discussion entitled "The Next President: A World of Challenges," held at Washington D. C. ’s George Washington University. Moderator Christiane Amanpour of CNN asked the diplomats how they would respond if Iran said it is ready to make a deal with the U. S. after the upcoming elections, Kissinger said, "I’m in favor of negotiating with Iran," noting that the main concern is whether a nuclear weapon could make its way into the hands of a non-state actor.

IAEA accuses Iran or stalling nuclear probe
Reuters, YNetNews 9/15/2008
UN atomic watchdog agency says Tehran refusal to cooperate with investigation into allegations it is developing nuclear weapons has brought efforts to ’gridlock. ’ Confidential IAEA report says number of centrifuges enriching uranium has jumped by more than 2,000 - A UN inquiry into intelligence allegations of secret atom bomb research in Iran has reached a standstill because of Iranian failure to cooperate, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said on Monday. Iran said the IAEA bore the blame for lack of progress. A senior Iranian official, who asked not to be named, said it must change its approach and work in a "legal and logical" manner. A confidential IAEA report said Iran had raised the number of centrifuges enriching uranium to 3,820, compared with 3,300 in May, with over 2,000 more being installed.

Swastikas, defamatory slogans sprayed in Arab city
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Arabs protest supposed comments by acting mayor Yitzhak Wald saying after daily Ramadan fast, Muslims, "˜come home in evening to gulp like pigs’ - Tempestuous winds are blowing in Baqa-Jatt, an Israeli-Arab city in the Haifa District. Slanderous slogans were sprayed Sunday night on the municipality walls against Baqa-Jatt’s acting mayor Yitzhak Wald. Amongst other things, the perpetrators sprayed, "death to the Jews" and a swastika. Police arrested a youth and teenager from the city for presumably doing the deed. The act was apparently carried out in protest of comments made by the Interior Ministry-appointed acting mayor who allegedly said that Muslims, "eat like pigs" during the Ramadan break fast. Wald made these comments two weeks ago at a parent-student meeting in the city’s middle school.

As mob war rages, prosecutor proposes stiffer penalties for organized crime
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/15/2008
A Tel Aviv prosecutor on Monday urged the Knesset to stiffen penalties for organized crime, in the wake of a spree of gangland shootings in the middle of Israeli cities over the past week. Under current Israeli law, the maximum penalty for involvement in organized crime is nine months imprisonment. Prosecutor Rachel Siber’s statements came during an emergency meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee, which dealt with last weeks shootings in Netanya and the fatal and accidental shooting of innocent bystander Margarita Lautin in Bat Yam in July. Also during the meeting, deputy head of the police international crimes division Kobi Zariham said, "today in Israel, the access to weapons is almost unlimited. Almost anyone can get their hands on a weapon. " Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz announced that the committee will issue. . .

’Police don’t have what they need to take on mob’
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 9/16/2008
As feuding crime families push Netanya to the brink of an all-out mob war, members of Knesset are calling for changes in the law that would put more pressure on suspected criminals and free up the police to crack down on organized crime. "There is no doubt that we’re seeing a war between the organized crime families in Netanya," Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines said at the start of a Knesset Internal Affairs Committee meeting on Monday. "It is unacceptable to allow this situation to become the norm, turning the streets of our cities into Chicago," he added. Shootouts, feuding crime families and the purported intimidation of city officials in recent weeks has taken Netanya - a city already accustomed to organized crime - that much closer to the days of mobsters like Al Capone and "Bugs" Moran. Meanwhile, Knesset members and police, who spoke at length during Monday’s meeting,. . .

MK Pines: We need a few Rudy Giulianis
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Alexander Lautin, whose wife was killed when caught in crossfire between criminals, criticizes police inefficiency during Knesset debate; MK responds by calling on government to prioritize battle against surge in organized crime -The recent surge in organized crime was discussed by the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee on Monday, a debate summoned by Alexander Lautin, whose wife Margarita was killed on a Bat Yam beach in a botched underworld assassination attempt. The incident took place in July, when two assassins fired at a reputed criminal but hit 31-year old Margarita Lautin instead, who was visiting the beach with her husband and their two sons. Alexander Lautin participated in the Knesset debate, where he claimed the police’s explanation of the case had left him with a lot of unanswered questions.

Report: Richest locales receive most social services
Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
In contemporary Israel the affluent communities are allocated more money and social services workers (despite their having few needy residents), while the poor communities have less money and fewer social services workers (and many needy residents). The term "social services" no longer refers to a state social worker, but to a migrant caregiver or an organization funded by donations, which operates for profit. This is the new reality presented in the report published by the Adva Center on Sunday. The report indicates that this inequality is most pronounced in the average annual expenditures on social services. Savyon-Ganei Yehuda tops the list, followed by Herzliya, while the 25 lowest spots are held by Arab locales. This although only about 5 percent of the residents in the well-off local authorities need social services, while that figure stands at 20 percent in the poorer locales.

VIDEO - Footage shows 8th grade student abused in school for full year without intervention
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for September 15, 2008. Footage of brutal student violence in what is considered an exclusive school in the Sharon region seems to confirm several recent reports that show an alarming rise school violence in schools. The attacks on this boy, some of which were filmed on other students’ cellular phone cameras, evolved from a regular dispute between eighth grade students to daily abuse over the course of a full year. No one, including those doing the filming, interfered. Related articles:Education Min. takes broader approach in tackling school violence Study: 62 percent of high school teachers have been abused by pupilsNews / Comptroller slams failure to deal with school violence

Petah Tikva school now attended only by Ethiopians
Idan Avni, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Veteran Israelis gradually transfer children from local school following influx of students from immigrant families. ’This isn’t about discrimination, there are some really sweet children amongst them, but the teachers can’t handle the violence - enough is enough,’ says concerned mother - Externally, the Ner Etzion elementary school in Petah Tikva looks like a normal school. There is the normal hustle and bustle of children at recess and the bell calling them back to class. However, when you take a closer look, it is undeniably clear that the vast majority of the student body are from families that immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia. The school is located in the heart of the Yoseftal neighborhood, which is primarily inhabited by families of a lower socio-economic standing. About 60% of the residents are new immigrants from Ethiopia, and the rest are veteran Israelis.

Sources: PM could resign by weekend
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to resign from the Knesset if the person who replaces him as chair of Kadima manages to form an alternative cabinet, sources close to Olmert said. The sources also said that if the primary is decided on the first round, Olmert might resign no later than Sunday. Olmert pledged last week that as soon as the new Kadima chair is elected, he will submit his resignation and recommend that the new leader of his party be charged with forming the next government. If the new Kadima leader does not manage to form a new government, Olmert would remain head of a transitional government until Knesset elections, which would apparently be moved up to March 2009, and until the establishment of a new coalition. Olmert is set to cast his ballot in tomorrow’s primary at 2 P. M.

Police to question Shula Zaken over Talansky, Rishon Tours affairs
Jonathan Lis and Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Shula Zaken, the former head of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau, will be questioned by police again Wednesday in an effort to break her silence on the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs. The police are recommending that she and Olmert be charged in the corruption cases. Investigators believe Zaken was aware of Olmert’s alleged criminal acts and even assisted in their commission. In the Talansky affair, Olmert allegedly accepted illicit funds over many years from Long Island businessman and fundraiser Morris Talansky. The police are recommending that Zaken be charged as an accessory to bribery, fraud and breach of trust as well as money laundering. In the Rishon Tours case, Olmert allegedly obtained double funding for trips abroad from various organizations. The police have recommended charging Zaken as an accessory to fraud and breach of trust.

Counterterrorism unit warns Israelis: Leave Sinai immediately
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
The Prime Minister’s Office Counter Terrorism Bureau on Monday issued a warning to Israelis vacationing in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, urging them to return to Israel due to an "immediate and concrete" abduction threat. While the Counter Terrorism Bureau already issued the warning several times recently, it chose to reiterate it ahead of the Jewish High Holidays, to begin at the end of September, a time when many Israelis vacation abroad. The warning explains that the threat of Israelis being abducted and smuggled into the Gaza Strip is "grave and immediate," and consequently "urgently calls on all Israelis to leave Sinai immediately, without delay. " The bureau also warns that "the involvement of the Hezbollah in terror activity raises the alert level" in regard to the advisory currently in place against traveling to Sinai.

Treasury official: We’re already NIS 7b behind for 2009
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 9/15/2008
"The deficit will amount to at least 2% of GDP. " "It’s no secret that the 2009 budget shortfall is already NIS 4-7 billion, and that the deficit will amount to at least 2% of GDP, not 1%," a top Ministry of Finance official told "Globes" today. Israel Tax Authority data indicate that direct tax revenues (income and capital market taxes) have been shrinking since January. A few months ago, import taxes also began falling, and VAT revenues began falling in August. The official added that the budget shortfall for 2008 amounts to a few billion shekels, and will reach NIS 7 billion in 2009, depending on GDP growth. The Ministry of Finance officially predicts NIS 729 billion GDP in 2009, reflecting 3. 5% growth over 2008, a figure that already looks to be fantastical. Assuming the official 1% of GDP deficit target, next year’s budget shortfall will reach NIS 7 billion.

Israel to UNIFIL: Stop ignoring Hezbollah violations of UN resolution 1701
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Israel on Wednesday issued a request to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to address Hezbollah’s violations of UN resolution 1701 south of the Litani River in Lebanon. Foreign Ministry General Secretary Aharon Abramowitz met Monday in Jerusalem with UNIFIL commander Claudio Graziano and told him Israel expects UNIFIL to submit more extensive reports on the violations and to stop ignoring Hezbollah’s moves to repair their infrastructure in villages in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel. Graziano responded "UNIFIL does not have proof of Hezbollah operations south of the Litani, and if Israel does have such intelligence, they are welcome to send it to us. "Graziano added that UNIFIL is doing all that it can to police Hezbollah, but is constrained by their rules of engagement in the field.

Clashes erupt in Lebanon Palestinian camp
Middle East Online 9/15/2008
SIDON - Heavy clashes erupted in the Ain el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in the southern port city of Sidon on Monday after an Islamist militant was killed, a Palestinian official said. "Issam al-Beqaai was shot when a gunman stormed into his father’s clothing store and opened fire," the official said, adding that the victim’s body was riddled with bullets. "Initial reports say he was killed," the official said. Al-Beqaai was a member of the Islamist group Jund al-Sham. Armed clashes between Jund al-Sham and its rivals in the Fatah faction erupted after the incident, with fighters opening fire with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The Lebanese army immediately took up positions at the camp’s entrance, just metres (yards) away from the fighting, as dozens of panicked families fled the camp and traffic was cut off. Print

News in Brief - ’Downing Israeli aircraft over Lebanon one of Hezbollah’s top priorities’
Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Hezbollah has made downing an Israeli aircraft flying over Lebanon one of its top priorities, according to a senior Israel Defense Forces officer. Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, the head of Military Intelligence’s research division, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Shi’ite militant organization considers hitting an Israeli aircraft in Lebanese airspace advantageous because it would be considered politically acceptable by all the country’s ethnic groups. "On the one hand they are Jihadists but on the other they fear an Israeli response," Baidatz said. "Their solution is to down an aircraft over Lebanon. "(Shahar Ilan)Egypt plans to introduce a new initiative aimed at ending the rift between Fatah and Hamas, sparked by Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last year. Next week Egyptian officials plan to start talks in Cairo with Fatah representatives. . .

Arab League chief in Beirut to take part in national dialogue
Daily Star 9/16/2008
BEIRUT: Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa arrived in Beirut on Monday to take part in a national dialogue among Lebanon’s rival leaders, scheduled for Tuesday at the Presidential Palace. Moussa will be representing the Arab League in the dialogue, whose main focus will be on a defense strategy for Lebanon. After meeting President Michel Sleiman, Moussa said that launching the dialogue under the auspices of the head of state was an "encouraging move," adding that expanding the list of participants or adding topics to the dialogue’s agenda was up to the different parties participating in the talks. Sleiman invited the 14 signatories of May’s Doha Accord to take part in Tuesday’s session, thwarting the opposition’s efforts to expand the dialogue to include more participants. The Doha pact ended an 18-month-long political crisis, and led to Sleiman’s election after a six-month. . .

Lebanon set for national dialogue
Middle East Online 9/15/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanon’s rival political leaders meet on Tuesday for talks set to focus on the divisive issue of Hezbollah’s weapons as Lebanon grapples with new security concerns after another deadly bombing. President Michel Sleiman invited the 14 signatories of the May Doha Accord to take part in Tuesday’s session, thwarting the opposition’s efforts to expand the dialogue to include more participants. The Doha pact ended an 18-month-long political crisis, led to Sleiman’s election after a six-month presidential vacuum and the formation of a national unity cabinet. It also called for a national dialogue under Sleiman’s auspices. "The ’national defence strategy’ will be the title of the dialogue," said Prime Minister Fuad Siniora in comments published at the weekend, adding that participants "will decide what they want, and in light of what is discussed the dialogue agenda will be set.

Syrian Reform Party says aide to Hamas Chief shot dead in Syrian street
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal’s secretary was shot and killed in broad daylight in the city of Homs in Syria last Thursday, according to the Reform Party of Syria, a pro-democracy opposition party based in the United States. According to an article that appeared on the party’s website Monday, Meshal’s secretary Hisham al-Labadani was dragged from his car and shot to death, in what the party says some are calling a message from the regime of Syrian President Basher Assad for Hamas to halt cooperation with Iran. The article says the shooting was kept under wraps by the Assad regime for 4 days, out of fears that if it came to light it would ignite tensions with the pro-Iranian camp inside Assad’s regime. According to the Reform Party of Syria, many Mideast observers believe that Iranian influence has become so entrenched. . .

Report: Mashaal’s secretary assassinated in Syria
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Syrian opposition party claims head secretary for Hamas’ political leader was dragged from his car and shot dead four days ago; earlier Syria warned Palestinian leaders in country that Israel may be targeting them -Head secretary to Hamas’ political leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, was killed four days ago in the Syrian city of Homs, according to recent reports. Hisham el-Badni, a resident of Damascus, was reportedly dragged from his car and shot in the light of day. The incident was first made public by the Reform Party ofSyria, an opposition group whose members operate mostly outside of the country’s boundaries, usually in the United States. Neither Hamas nor officials in Syria have commented on the report. The Qatari paper Al-Arab reported on Friday that Syria had issued an official warning aimed at leaders of the Palestinian factions operating. . .

Syrian opposition group claims Mashaal’s deputy assassinated
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/15/2008
Hisham al-Labadani, bureau chief for Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, was reportedly assassinated late last week in the western Syrian city of Homs. News of the assassination was reported by the Freedom Party of Syria, an American-based Syrian opposition group. According to the report, Labadani was dragged from his car in the middle of the day and shot dead. The report said that news of the assassination was purposely kept quiet to prevent an escalation in tensions between two competing camps within the Syrian leadership - the camp that wants rapprochement with the West and the camp that supports a strengthening in Iranian-Syrian relations. Israel was not mentioned in the report, but the Mossad was behind the botched assassination attempt against Mashaal in Jordan in 1997. The assassination of Mashaal’s bureau chief came just days after Syria reportedly. . .

Olmert’s departure may threaten peace talks with Syria
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 9/15/2008
While Ehud Olmert’s days as prime minister are numbered, as the Kadima Party primary election nears, he is continuing his efforts to push indirect peace talks with Syria forward until the last possible moment. Turkey, whose mediation has made indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria possible, announced on Sunday that an additional round of talks will take place this Thursday. But the pace of negotiations is likely to slow down if Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni replaces Olmert. Olmert has announced that he will step down from his post as prime minister after his party selects a successor in the primary elections, scheduled for Wednesday. Related articles:Before even one home is removed from the Golan Sarkozy assured Assad is serious about peace negotiations with IsraelSyria details its stance on peace talks Also on Haaretz.

IDF intelligence: Syria strengthening ties with radical axis
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Head of Military Intelligence research division tells Knesset committee Damascus simultaneously boosting ties with West, radical countries. Adds: Hamas establishing bona fide country in Gaza -"Syria is moving forward along the path of peace and openness toward the West while simultaneously strengthening its ties to the radical axis," the head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday. Addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Baidatz said "the most optimistic scenario as far as the Iranians are concerned is that they will have obtained nuclear capabilities by 2010," but added that such a scenario was "not likely". According to the intelligence official,

Charity: Price of basic foodstuffs rose by 23 percent over last year alone
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
A basket of basic foodstuffs for an average family costs 23 percent more this year than it did last year, making it even harder for many Israelis to celebrate the upcoming Jewish holidays properly. That was the message delivered yesterday by Latet - Israeli Humanitarian Aid, which provides food to 120 different charities for distribution to hundreds of thousands of needy Israelis. Latet carried out year-on-year price comparisons of 21 staple foods, including sugar, flour, cooking oil, canned goods and coffee. It found that the price of flour, for example, increased by 47 percent, while rice and oil rose by 63 percent and 36 percent, respectively. A standard basket of groceries, which should last an average family two weeks, costs NIS 151 this year, up 23 percent from last year. A special holiday basket, which also includes items such as honey, wine, chocolate spread and salty snacks, costs about NIS 200 this year.

Experts: Israel heading for economic crisis in 2009
Dafna Maor and Rotem Sella, TheMarker, and Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Former Finance Ministry Director General David Brodet said on Monday that Israel’s economy will continue to weaken into 2009. "Israel hasn’t yet experienced the peak of the crisis," said Brodet. "It seems that 2009 is expected to be a cold and maybe even unpleasant year. "Brodet’s comments were echoed by Former World Bank official, MK Avishai Braverman, who said on Monday that Israel "will export less and therefore factories will start to close. Some workers will be fired, consumption will decrease,the quality of life will decrease. " The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange opened with sharp losses earlier on Monday amid the mounting financial crisis in the United States. The TA-25 and the broader TA-100 dropped some two percent as it emerged that U. S. investment bank Lehman Brothers had failed to find a rescuer and was filing for bankruptcy protection.

Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 9/15/2008
In a parallel development, Bank of America will buy Merrill Lynch. - A deepening global financial crisis has claimed a major victim on Wall Street. 158-year old investment house Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH) has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Lehman Brothers was one of the first major international investment houses to open operations in Israel. Israeli firms are exposed through direct holdings in Lehman stocks and bonds, as well as structured products that the investment house has sold to Israeli institutional investors. The total exposure of Israeli institutional investors to Lehman has been estimated at several hundreds of millions of dollars. In another major Wall Street development, Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) has sold itself to Bank of America, at a value of about $50 billion. Merrill Lynch has an office in Israel, and primarily offers private banking services.

Africa-Israel Investment House: Israeli firms will lose
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 9/15/2008
"The losses of Israeli companies will only become clear when we know how the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy will be handled. "- "Israeli financial institutions can expect to record losses as a result of the crisis at Lehman Brothers," says Africa-Israel Investments House investments manager Eldad Barak in response to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LEH). Barak added, "The direct impact of Lehman Brothers’ problems is on companies that own Lehman Brothers’ securities. These companies can be expected to record losses on their investments. We can estimate that quite a few Israeli companies hold Lehman Brothers’ securities, including banks and insurance companies. "The extent of the losses of Israeli companies will only become clear when we know how the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy will be handled.

Treasury: Israel’s exposure to Wall St tempest ''insignificant''
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 9/15/2008
"The Israeli economy’s situation, at the onset of a global financial crisis, is stable. " With the financial crisis in the US poised to enter a new phase, economy leaders in Israel are making a concerted effort to ease concerns in Israel over the crisis abroad. The Ministry of Finance is closely following the latest developments on global markets and in the US in particular. A Finance Ministry source told "Globes" "The Israeli economy’s situation, at the onset of the global financial crisis, is stable. Unemployment is now at 5. 9%, the lowest it has been for more than 20 years, and at 71. 2%, the employment rate today is one of the highest in the country’s history. The Israeli economy grew by 5. 3% in the first half of 2008, after four consecutive years of annualized growth of 5%. " The sources added, "The financial crisis will affect the Israeli economy, and we expect growth in. . .

Dollar-shekel rate plunges
Yossi Nissan, Globes Online 9/15/2008
The US dollar has weakened on world markets following Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. Foreign currency trading got off to a mixed start this morning, with the shekel-dollar rate plunging, while the shekel-euro rate rose. Trading began this morning against the backdrop of the turmoil that has now engulfed the US financial sector and the latest developments there. In two dramatic announcements this morning, Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment bank in the US, said it would file for bankruptcy protection, while "Bloomberg" reports that Merrill Lynch has agreed to be acquired by Bank of America for $50 billion, after its share price fell last week. In Israel, The Central Bureau of Statisics is due to will release the Consumer Price Index figure for August at 18:30 today. The shekel-dollar rate is currently down 1.

IEC pension actuarial deficit deepens
Lior Baron, Globes Online 9/15/2008
Board source: New details emerge each time we’re told the issue has been settled. The pension actuarial deficit atIsrael Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE:ELEC. B22 ) is deepening and could exceed NIS 4 billion because of a new dispute between the company and its provident fund. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the IEC provident fund recently demanded that the company increase its commitment by an additional NIS 1. 7 billion because of changes in the company’s actuarial assumptions. IEC was shocked at the demand, saying in response that it would reject the demand. IEC asked the provident fund managers not to make any changes without its consent until the parties discuss the matter. The sources added that IEC’s discussed the company’s pensions at its latest meeting. Several directors want clarifications from management because of the possible consequences on the company’s financial standing.

Inflation showing no signs of flagging as August CPI rises 0.8%
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
The Consumer Price Index rose an expected, but still high, 0. 8% in August, meaning that inflation has already hit 4. 4% for the first eight months of 2008 - far above the government and the Bank of Israel’s target, of 1-3% for the entire year. Over the past 12 months, inflation has been a whopping 5%, according to figures released yesterday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Due to the ongoing inflation, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer is expected to raise interest rates by 0. 25 percentage points at the end of the month, for the fifth time in a row. This would peg Israel’s key lending rate at 4. 5% for October. Prices have increased particularly rapidly since April, with inflation running at a 5% annual pace in the April-August period. Fresh vegetables showed particularly big price increases in August, of 12.

Israeli aid groups bring relief to war-torn Gori
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/15/2008
Israeli aid organizations have established several operations in the war-torn areas of Georgia seeking to aid tens of thousands of locals displaced by the fighting with Russia last month. Among the aid organizers is IsraAID, an umbrella organization of dozens of Israeli humanitarian groups. A member group, Israel Flying Aid, has opened a soup kitchen in the town of Gori that produces 3,000 cooked meals a day. Gori entered the international spotlight in mid-August as Russian tanks captured the town. It is now home to an estimated 65,000 refugees, approximately half of whom are ethnic Georgians who fled South Ossetia once the fighting began, while the rest either saw their homes destroyed in the fighting in Gori or abandoned homes in the "buffer zone" - a swath of land north of the town which Russian forces continue to occupy.

Female suicide bomber kills at least 20 Iraqis during iftar
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/16/2008
BAQUBA: A female suicide bomber blew herself up in a crowd of people during an iftar in the Iraqi province of Diyala on Monday, killing at least 20 people and wounding around 30, a top military officer said. General Abdel Karim al-Rubaie, the commander of Iraqi troops in Diyala, north of Baghdad, said the attack was in the town of Bala Druz, south of the provincial capital Baquba. He said the bomber blew herself up at around 7:30 pm when people had gathered to break the Ramadan fast at the home of a detainee who was released from a US military prison on Sunday. Baquba police Lieutenant Ali Ahmed also confirmed the attack, saying the former detainee, a police officer, had arranged a special dinner on Monday for his friends and relatives when the attack took place. Ahmed said the released detainee was killed in the blast, along with his father and another senior police officer from Bala Druz.

The Palin - Israel Question
Nadia Awad, MIFTAH 9/15/2008
Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin gave her first major US interview last Thursday, displaying her knowledge (and quite often lack thereof) of US foreign policy and international concerns. Unfortunately, except for a few choice phrases, it did not provide anything more substantial to go on when trying to understand her political logic. However, in my mind, it did raise more than a few concerns for Palestinians about how she would deal with an international crisis, and more specifically, what her stance would be vis-à-vis Israel, Palestine, and future peace talks. Her repeated emphasis that the US should not ‘second guess’ Israel’s actions in its defense suggests that together, she and John McCain may tilt US foreign policy even more in Israel’s favor than it already is. It also came to our attention via an online show called alaskapodshow.

Iran launches Air Force exercise
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 9/15/2008
Iranian news agency Fars reports Iranian anti-aircraft units engage in wide scale drill aimed as boosting force’s readiness - The Iranian Air Force launched an extensive aerial exercise aimed at boosting military readiness, the Iranian news agency Fars reported Monday. General Ahmad Mighani, of the Iranian Air Force, was quoted as saying that "if Iran is attacked, it will deliver a crushing blow to the enemy"¦we will surprise the enemy and make them regret they attacked. " Fars went on to report that the drill "now spans more than half the provinces in the country. "In a press conference held my Mighani, the general informed reporters that all of the Iranian Air Force’s antiaircraft units were taking part in the drill, and that the dozens of planes and jets taking part in the drill are "breaking in new equipment, trying out new strategies and doing what needs to be done to increase readiness.

Haim Saban to host 20 Israeli start-ups
Shmulik Shelah, Globes Online 9/15/2008
Israeli start-ups will make fast pitch presentations to Disney, Universal Studios, Facebook, MTV, and other companies. Haim Saban plans to host his third delegation of 15-20 Israeli media, communications, and Internet start-ups this year, with the goal of enabling them to present their wares to US companies and venture capital funds. This year, Saban’s media investment arm, Saban Capital Group Inc. , is apparently also seeking investment opportunities. The participating Israeli start-ups will make presentations to US media companies such as Universal Studios, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), Univision Communications Inc. (Mexico: UVN), Facebook, and MTV. The presentations will take the form of fast pitch. Six weeks ago, Saban Capital managing director Craig Cooper, who is responsible for digital media, consumer Internet, and mobile, visited Israel to seek investment opportunities.

Kadima’s new chair will have to decide: Shas or new elections
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
Whoever is elected as Kadima’s new leader will have to face two simple questions as he or she tries to form a new government: Is there a price sufficient to woo Shas that the other coalition members can live with? And if not, when should elections be held? The establishment of any government whose composition differs from the present one would be a great surprise. It is no accident that all the candidates for Kadima chair prefer to continue the present government: The two main rightist parties, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, have ruled out coalition talks. "The prime minister must be chosen by the entire nation and not in a problematic primary," said Likud faction chair MK Gideon Sa’ar. Shas, however, is expected to raise two demands that Kadima will have trouble swallowing: drastically increasing child allowances and granting Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools the same funding as state schools.

The slim time
Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
It can be said of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that she is tough, that she is gray, that she doesn’t amuse her interviewers and that she radiates management skills more than she does vision and imagination. One thing cannot be taken from her, and that is the new style she has brought to Israeli politics: a strict and uncompromising slimming diet. Very, very healthy. This diet is the antithesis of the usual Israeli politics, which is laden with deceptive symbols and images, excessive loquaciousness, false promises and commitments that are not kept for even a single moment after they have been made. Unforgettable examples have been provided by Ehud Barak’s (when he was a candidate for prime minister a decade ago) old woman in the hospital corridor and his apology to the Mizrahim (Jews originating in the Muslim countries) for Labor’s sins against them over the generations; by a few hollow. . .

Mofaz: Women as capable as men
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/16/2008
Kadima chairmanship candidate concludes campaign by announcing his support for equal opportunities, also says will establish foundation of government by Rosh Hashana -Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Monday that by the time the holidays begin at the end of September, he will have constructed a foundation for the establishment of his new government. He will present this information to the public in November - if, that is, he emerges victorious from the Kadima primaries on Wednesday. Mofaz was speaking before a group of women who attended the convention concluding his campaign for Kadima Party chairmanship. Beside him stood Ministers Ruhama Avraham Balila and Ze’ev Boim. The transportation minister said, "Our goal is to establish a government and maintain governmental stability, not to drag the country to an election.

Syrian authorities turn away delegation from Reporters Without Borders
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/16/2008
DAMASCUS: A delegation from press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was refused entry into Syria from Lebanon, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCMFE) said on Monday. The group, including RSF general secretary Robert Menard and Middle East and North Africa head Hager Simony, together with two journalists, had planned to visit the families of detained Syrian reporters, the SCMFE said. "The delegation spent about four hours at the Syrian border on Saturday awaiting approval to enter Syrian territory, but without much success," it added. "The SCMFE denounces the procedures of the passport and immigration authorities on the Syrian-Lebanese borders. "The statement said the group was told by the Information Ministry that they were refused entry because of a decision by "competent bodies," but failed to identify the specific authorities responsible.


Policies of ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem
International Solidarity Movement 9/15/2008
      Jerusalem Region - In the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, 28 Families are facing the threat of eviction from their homes. In a process of Judaisation of East Jerusalem, Israel aims to erase the presence of 28 Palestinian families by forcefully evicting them from their homes. Israeli settlers have already occupied half the house of the Al Kurd family to enforce this policy of ethnic cleansing. The 24-hour presence of international solidarity activists has been organised for the last two months in the hope of offering support for the Al Kurds family home.
     The neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah was constructed to house 28 refugee families that fled the violence of the 1948 war. This housing project was built by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Jordanian Government in 1956. With the Israeli occupation following the 1967 war, settlers started claiming ownership of the land the neighbourhood was built on.
     After long legal proceedings it was proved in 2006 the settlers did not, in fact, own the land and had produced false documents to support their claims. In 2001, however, settlers had already occupied half of the Al Kurds family home. Fearing settlers would expand into more houses in the neighbourhood, the Al Kurds family and the neighbourhood as a whole asked for help from local and international Human Rights groups.

Palestinian Refugees: Past and Present

Nadia Awad, MIFTAH 9/15/2008
      How did Palestinians become refugees?
     The majority of Palestinians became refugees during the wars of 1948 and 1967. The indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, most Palestinians were dispossessed, forced to flee or were expelled when the state of Israel was created in 1948. Jewish terrorist groups such as Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang terrorized and destroyed Palestinian villages, killing entire Palestinian families. Thirty-four massacres were documented by Zionist historian Benny Morris to have occurred within just a few months, including in Al-Abbasiyya, Beit Daras, Bir Al-Saba’, Al-Kabri, Haifa, and Qisarya. These attacks were part of Plan Dalet (also known as Plan D), which aimed to expel as much of the Palestinian population as possible. Zionist militants killed an estimated 13,000 Palestinians and forcibly evicted 737,166 Palestinians from their homes and land. Five hundred and thirty-one Palestinian villages, approximately 50% of all the Palestinian villages, were entirely depopulated and destroyed. By 1948, 85% of the Palestinians living in the areas that became the state of Israel had become refugees.

Jaffa’s ''renewal'' aims at expulsion of Palestinians

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 9/15/2008
      The ground floor of Zaki Khimayl’s home is a cafe where patrons can drink mint tea or fresh juice as they smoke on a water pipe. Located by Jaffa’s beach, a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv, the business should be thriving.
     Khimayl, however, like hundreds of other families in the Arab neighborhoods of Ajami and Jabaliya, is up to his eyes in debt and trapped in a world of bureaucratic regulations apparently designed with only one end in mind: his eviction from Jaffa.
     Sitting on the cafe’s balcony, Khimayl, 59, said he feels besieged. Bulldozers are tearing up the land by the beach for redevelopment and luxury apartments are springing up all around his dilapidated two-story home.
     He opened a briefcase, one of five he has stuffed with demands and fines from official bodies, as well as bills from four lawyers dealing with the flood of paperwork.
     "I owe 1.8 million shekels [$500,000] in water and business rates alone," he said in exasperation. "The crazy thing is the municipality recently valued the property and told me it’s worth much less than the sum I owe."

Israel’s Dark Arts of Ensnaring Collaborators

Jonathan Cook, MIFTAH 9/15/2008
      Israel’s enduring use of Palestinian collaborators to entrench the occupation and destroy Palestinian resistance was once the great unmentionable of the Middle East conflict.
     When the subject was dealt with by the international and local media, it was solely in the context of the failings of the Palestinian legal system, which allowed the summary execution of collaborators by lynch mobs and kangaroo courts.
     That is beginning to change with a trickle of reports indicating the extent of Israel’s use of collaborators and the unwholesome techniques it uses to recruit them. "Cooperation," it has become clearer, is the very backbone of Israel’s success in maintaining its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
     Collaboration comes in various guises, including land dealers, who buy Palestinian-owned land to sell it to settlers or the Israeli government; armed agents who assist Israeli soldiers in raids; and infiltrators into the national organizations and their armed wings who foil resistance operations.

Rights group: 13 Palestinian children in administrative detention

Press release, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 9/15/2008
      According to B’Tselem’s figures, on 31 August 2008, Israel was holding 13 Palestinian minors, two of them girls, in prolonged administrative detention in Israel, in breach of law. At the end of June 2008, 730 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention in Israel.
     The two girls, Salwa Salah and Sarra Sirwah, both 17 years old, were detained on 5 June 2008 in the middle of the night and are being held in Damon Prison together with adult female prisoners. The detention orders against them were issued for four months, but can be extended an indefinite number of times for up to six months each time.
     Administrative detention is carried out solely on the basis of an administrative order, without a judicial determination, without an indictment being filed, and without a trial. Given that administrative detention infringes the right to freedom and due process, and in light of the clear danger of abuse, international law imposes rigid limitations in its use.
     Over the years, Israel has detained Palestinians for long periods of time without bringing them to court or even telling them of the suspicions against them. When detainees appeal their detention, neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to see the allegedly incriminating evidence. By acting in this way, Israel shows utter disregard for defenses available to suspects in Israeli and international law, which are intended to ensure the right to liberty and due process, the right of persons to state their case, and the presumption of innocence.

Saliman, Amos or Sara

Awad Abu Freih, Ha’aretz 9/16/2008
      In 2005, the High Court of Justice ruled that the state, which operates schools in Bedouin villages in the Negev, is obligated to build safe access roads to them. Specifically, the court ordered construction of a paved road to the school in al-Fur’a. But the relevant ministries were unmoved by the ruling; access to this school is still via an unpaved road. Over 1,000 students continue to use it daily.
     The threat posed by the lack of safe, comfortable roads has been proved: In 2006, Saliman al-Atrash, 9, was killed while riding the bus to school. Two schoolbuses traveling in opposite directions on the narrow, unimproved road passed each other at close range. Atrash, who had stuck his head out the window, was killed.
     The High Court petition that the Forum for Arab Education in the Negev submitted against the Education Ministry following this incident included photos demonstrating the extent of the danger: The roads are studded with potholes and deep ruts. In the winter, they are often flooded, while in summer, the dust obscures other vehicles as well as the roads themselves.

So You Think You Can Dance?

Omar Barghouti – Jerusalem, Palestine Chronicle 9/15/2008
      African-American dancer, Abdur-Rahim Jackson (center) was forced to perform twice at Israeli airport. (Photo: NYT) Israeli security officers at Tel-Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport Tuesday forced an African-American member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater -- by far the best-known touring company in the United States -- to perform twice for them in order to prove he was a dancer before letting him enter the country with the dance company, the dancer told the Associated Press. But even after he complied, one of the officers suggested that Abdur-Rahim Jackson change his name. Jackson felt humiliated and "deeply saddened," according to an Ailey spokesperson, particularly because his Arab/Muslim sounding first name, given to him by his Muslim father, was the reason that he was the only member of his company subjected to this typical Israeli ethnic profiling.
     While still officially illegal in the U.S., ethnic profiling, described as "racist" by human rights groups, is widespread in Israel, at entrances to malls, public and private buildings, airports, etcetera. Israeli citizens and permanent residents with Arab names -- or often just Arab accents -- are commonly singled out for rough, intrusive and glaringly humiliating "security" checks. When I, an Israeli-ID holder, travel through the Tel Aviv airport, for instance, I always get stickers with the number "6" stamped on my passport, luggage and ticket. Israeli Jews, in comparison, get "1" or "2." A "6" leads to the most thorough and degrading check of luggage and person. The smaller figures, in comparison, mean you get whisked through security with just an x-ray scan of your luggage. A couple of years ago, people like me used to get a bright red sticker, while Israeli Jews got light pink or similarly "benign" colors. Some astute Israeli officials must have been alerted that color-coding passengers according to their ethnicity and/or religion was too overtly apartheid-like, so they switched to the supposedly "nuanced" number coding. No wonder Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop and anti-Apartheid leader Desmond Tutu described Israeli practices as constituting a "worse" form of apartheid -- it is far more sophisticated than the original version.

Don’t dance for apartheid

Omar Barghouti, Electronic Intifada 9/15/2008
      Israeli security officers at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport last week forced an African-American member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater -- by far the best-known touring company in the United States -- to perform twice for them in order to prove he was a dancer before letting him enter the country with the dance company, the dancer told the Associated Press. But even after he complied, one of the officers suggested that Abdur-Rahim Jackson change his name. Jackson felt humiliated and "deeply saddened," according to an Ailey spokesperson, particularly because his Arab/Muslim sounding first name, given to him by his Muslim father, was the reason that he was the only member of his company subjected to this typical Israeli ethnic profiling.
     While still officially illegal in the US, ethnic profiling, described as "racist" by human rights groups, is widespread in Israel, at entrances to malls, public and private buildings, airports, etc. Israeli citizens and permanent residents with Arab names -- or often just Arab accents -- are commonly singled out for rough, intrusive and glaringly humiliating "security" checks. When I, an Israeli-ID holder, travel through the Tel Aviv airport, for instance, I always get stickers with the number "6" stamped on my passport, luggage and ticket. Israeli Jews, in comparison, get "1" or "2." A "6" leads to the most thorough and degrading check of luggage and person. The smaller figures, in comparison, mean you get whisked through security with just an x-ray scan of your luggage. A couple of years ago, people like me used to get a bright red sticker, while Israeli Jews got light pink or similarly benign colors. Some astute Israeli officials must have been alerted that color-coding passengers according to their ethnicity and/or religion was too overtly apartheid-like, so they switched to the supposedly "nuanced" number coding. No wonder Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop and anti-Apartheid leader Desmond Tutu described Israeli practices as constituting a "worse" form of apartheid -- it is far more sophisticated than the original version.

Man of Peace Swimming against the Current

Nicola Nasser – The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 9/15/2008
      Abbas is determined to swim against the current to prove that he is the ’unrelenting Palestinian partner.’
     For the first time, since the U.S.-hosted Annapolis conference on November 27 last year re-launched the Palestinian -- Israeli negotiations, which were interrupted by the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 after the collapse of the Camp David trilateral summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas came out for the first time on record in Cairo on September 6 to "doubt" striking a peace deal with Israel "by the end of the year because very little time is left;" on September 10 he reiterated his skepticism in an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz.
     Accordingly he dispelled U.S. President George W. Bush’s pledge to reach such a deal before his term ends and at the same time practically announced that peace talks have now been frozen for at least a year by the government changes in Washington and Tel Aviv. Abbas was reportedly scheduled to hold his last meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, in Jerusalem on September 16, one day before Kadima, Olmert’s ruling party elects his successor, ahead of his scheduled meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House on September 25. It seems all the partners to the Annapolis process are trying to strike a last minute impossible deal or simply saying good by to each other.

’The Forgotten Fighter’: Nablus’s Will to Live

Frank Barat, Palestine Chronicle 9/15/2008
      Many Palestinians that I met during my travels in the West Bank told me that to know what Palestine really was about and meant, I had to go to Nablus. Most of them also told me that Nablus was their favourite city.
     After spending 5 weeks there this summer, I understand why.
     Arriving from Ramallah (on the fastest taxi/service ride I have ever experienced) the first thing you see on arriving in Nablus is its most famous checkpoint: Huwara.
     Huwara, its people and its colour. Yellow.
     Yellow like the hundreds of taxis and services parked on both sides of the checkpoint. You need them to leave the city and to get inside the city. Since the start of the second intifada, entry to Nablus by car or truck has mostly been forbidden. You cross the checkpoint on foot, on your way in and out.
     Once in a service (cheaper taxis that take people from one set stop to another, most of them old Mercedes) it takes only 5 mins to reach Nablus’ vibrant city centre.