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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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6 October, 2008

Egypt blocks Gaza aid convoy
Al Jazeera 10/6/2008
Egyptian police have blocked an opposition convoy carrying medical supplies to the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip. Abdel Fatah Rizq, who helped co-ordinate the convoy, said police had arrested 50 activists on Monday when they tried to gather at the Journalists’ Syndicate in downtown Cairo. The convoy was preparing for a 300km journey across the Sinai desert to reach the Palestinian border. Conflicting reports from a security official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said that at least 20 protesters were arrested after they surrounded campaigners where the convoy was due to depart. "Activists from all over the provinces were planning on joining the convoy on its way through the Sinai to Rafah crossing,’’ Abdel Rizq said. Police said three members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main opposition group, were arrested at the Suez Canal on Sunday night while trying to reach the border.

Torture Victim Seeks Prosecution Of Former Head Of Israeli General Security Services
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 10/6/2008
PRESS RELEASE - Amsterdam, 6 October 2008 - Court Order sought for investigation of torture by Ami Ayalon The Dutch prosecution authorities failed to arrest Ami Ayalon, currently Minister without Portfolio in the Israeli Government, while he was visiting the Netherlands from 16 to 20 May 2008. An application for his arrest was submitted to the Dutch authorities by Khalid AI­Shami, who alleged that he was a victim of torture in 1999/2000, when Ami Ayalon was the Director of Shin Bet (the Israeli General Security Services - GSS), which investigates individuals suspected of committing crimes against Israel’s security. Ami Ayalon was the director of the GSS from 18 February 1996 to 14 May 2000. Mr AI-Shami’s evidence file was collected by his lawyers in Gaza City, the Palestinian. . .

Yemen says Israel-linked ’terrorist’ cell dismantled
AFP, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Yemini president alleges terror cell ’operating under slogan of Islam’ had connections to Israeli intelligence, refuses to provide any details - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced on Monday the dismantling of a "terrorist cell" which he said was linked to Israeli intelligence services. "A terrorist cell was arrested five days ago and will be referred to the judicial authorities for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," Saleh was quoted as saying by the official Saba news agency. He said the group operated under the "slogan of Islam. " The Yemeni president made the statement during a meeting with politicians, security and military officials, and tribal leaders at Al-Mukalla University in the eastern province of Hadramawt. Saleh did not say how many people were arrested nor give details on their alleged links to Israeli intelligence.

State sued over failure to evacuate illegal outpost
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Yesh Din human rights group takes on case of Palestinians claiming to be rightful owners of land on which West Bank outpost of Migron was built; says Israel failed to uphold law by essentially allowing settlers’ actions - Human rights group Yesh Din has filed a NIS 1. 5 million (approx. $430,000) lawsuit with the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on behalf of several Palestinian land owners, who claim their property was confiscated for the sake of erecting the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron, located near the West Bank settlement of Ofra. Monday’s brief said that the State has prevented the land owners from having any access to their land for several years. Yesh Din further claims that by not preventing the settlers from building of the outpost, or evacuating its residents, the State was in fact, aiding the settlers.

VIDEO - ISM Rafah: Israeli navy fire shells at Gazan fishermen
International Solidarity Movement 10/6/2008
Gaza Region - Video - On Sunday October 5th, two international human rights observers accompanied a Gazan fishing boat offshore of Jabalya. Soon an Israeli gunboat approached. The internationals, after a request from the Palestinian captain, made clear that there was an international presence on board. For a while the Israeli gunboat seemed to leave but then, suddenly, from a large distance began to fire shells very close to two Gazan fishing boats, including the one accompanied by the internationals. The Palestinian fishing boats were about 4 nautical miles from the coast. Although the 2 fishing boats had already changed their course the Israeli gunboat intercepted them and started to fire machine gun shots in front of their bows (something which also constitutes a breach of the ceasefire agreement). This Israeli gunboat didn’t stop harassing the fishing boats till the moment. . .

Report: Israeli attacks on Palestinian athletes violate Olympic Charter
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
A new report by the Palestinian Sports Foundation ’Atlas’ contends that the Israeli government is in violation of the International Olympic Charter, due to the Israeli military’s ongoing targeting of Palestinian athletes. The report documents the killing of 375 athletes, including high school, college and professional athletes, since the beginning of the current open conflict in 2000. In addition, the sports foundation estimates that around 2000 Palestinian athletes have been injured by Israeli forces in the same time frame. Atlas Foundation specifically named footballer Hamdi Shubeir and body-builder Abdul-Raoof Al-Ijlah (head of the Palestinian body builders’ association), who were both killed in May of this year while practicing their respective sports. Also, Palestinian athletes have had their facilities damaged and destroyed, have been prevented from traveling to meets, and unable to practice due to Israeli closures and checkpoints.

PLC: President Abbas’s term in office ends by January 8, 2009
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), decided on Monday that president Abbas’ term in office ends officially on January08, 2009, therefore Abbas becomes an illegal president of the Palestinian Authority. Farraj Alghoul, a Hamas MP, said during the PLC’s reading of a Hamas parliamentary bloc’s report that the post of president Abbas will become vacant after January08, 2009, making clear that the PLC’s head or deputy-head will take the post for sixty days until general elections are held. Alghoul, who chairs the PLC’s legal committee, asserted that the Palestinian constitution does not state that both presidential and parliamentary elections be held in the same time, and that if this takes place, the Palestinian basic law is violated. " if the president of the elections committee doesn’t call for elections three months before the end of Abbas’s term in office,. . .

Bardaweil to PNN: extension of presidential term must pass through Legislative Council
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 10/6/2008
PNN -- The Legislative Council in Gaza met Monday regarding the legal dimensions of extending the term of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Gaza’s PLC discussed the legality and risks, and the possibility of removing the extension and concluded that to extend the presidential term for even one day is illegal. Salah Al Bardaweil, spokesman for Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, told the PNN earlier that this was the issue of focus for today’s meeting. The Legal Committee took the lead in discussing the legal dimensions of an extension. Many in the West Bank accept that extending the presidential term in order to hold simultaneous legislative elections is against the law, but at the same time say that the refusal to allow for the extension is a political rather than legal issue. In the Basic Law the presidential term is stated as four years while no mention is made of simultaneous elections.

Cairo blocks aid convoy to Gaza, rounds up 30
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 10/7/2008
CAIRO: Egyptian police blocked an opposition convoy carrying medical supplies to the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip and arrested at least 30 activists on Monday, security officials said. Police surrounded campaigners outside the Journalists Syndicate offices in Cairo, where the convoy was due to leave from, and detained 25 opposition members, a security official said. They also arrested five opposition members, including the head of the suspended Labor Party, Magdi Hussein, who had traveled on their own to Rafah, another official said. The campaigners - including judges, independent MPs, members of the main opposition Muslim Brotherhood and other parties - want to protest the continued closure of the Rafah crossing by the Israeli and Egyptian governments. The Muslim Brotherhood - officially banned in Egypt but partly tolerated - has ideological ties with Hamas and has voiced support for Gaza’s rulers in the past.

A trip through Gaza tunnels; how they work, how much they cost, what they bring in
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Every time a Gazan enters one of the tunnels snaking beneath the no-man’s-land of the Gaza-Egypt border, he knows that his fate will be one of the following:Death by suffocation, whether by sand, gas fumes or water;Death under a collapsing or demolished passage;Deathor injury by electrocution from faulty or wet wiring;Exit to the far side of the tunnel. The current death toll of Gazans in the tunnels is nearing 50, meaning the chances that any one of the hundreds of Gazans will perish in the grave-like passages seem increasingly likely. The tunnel story began when Palestinian resistance fighters needed arms in the struggle against Israel, and dug the first tunnels to secure weapons. The trade soon expanded to include drugs and then a “precious items” black market trade.

Palestinians ready for olive harvest despite settler threat
Palestine News Network 10/6/2008
PNN -- As is the case each olive harvest as of late, the Israeli military issues claims that it will protect Palestinians from Israeli settlers. The army gives a specific time that farmers can harvest while being under its protection, which the Palestinians say is inadequate. Today a fire raged out of control in the northern Tulkarem villages destorying dozens of dunams of olive trees and leaving a girl wounded. Practically speaking, farmers complain that the time during which they are expected to be protected is too short and is randomly assigned. "Each field is different. The date the harvest begins varies. Only the farmers know when their fields are ready by looking at them. The occupation army assigns random dates during which we are supposed to harvest whether the crop is ready or not. And they only give 10 days or two weeks.

End of Eid celebration held for children of detainees, 1000s attend in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Thousands of children in Nablus, mostly the sons and daughters of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, shared in the "Eid cheer" festival where Palestinian performer Rony Rock, presented his singing, dancing and comedic talents for the crowd. The festival was held at the close of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, during which friends and family travel the country to reconnect with loved ones and share meals together. The primary target audience for the show was the children of Palestinians who are currently detained in Israeli prisons, since they were deprived of the company of their own loved ones over the special holiday. Head of the Prisoners portfolio in Nablus Raed Amer, who joined with the children, said that the activities were meant to help eliminate their suffering and bring joy to the children of detainees, who surely felt their parents’ loss as the rest of Palestine celebrated.

Rights group urges investigation into death of Gazan teen shot by masked men
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is calling for an investigation into the shooting death by masked gunmen of a 19-year-old Palestinian in the city of Khan Yunis last Thursday. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, “at approximately 22:00 on Thursday, 2 October, a row erupted between members of the al-Masri clan and supporters of Hamas who were traveling in a bus that stopped in the Jourat al-Lout area of Khan Yunis due to a technical failure. ”“The row escalated," PCHR said, "with the two sides hurling stones at each other. In the meantime, masked gunmen who wore bandanas on which the words ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades’ [the armed winf of Hamas] were written, fired at members of the al-Masri clan. Nineteen year old Mohammed Farhan al-Masri, was wounded. He died en route to hospital.

Human rights organization calls for deeper investigation of Khan Younis killing
PCHR, Palestine News Network 10/6/2008
Gaza City - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls upon the office of the Attorney-General in Gaza to investigate the killing of Mohammed al-Masri by masked gunmen on Thursday, 2 October 2008, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 22:00 on Thursday, 2 October, a row erupted between members of the al-Masri clan and supporters of Hamas. . . . . . who were traveling in a bus that stopped in the Jourat al-Lout area of Khan Yunis due to a technical failure. The row escalated, with the two sides hurling stones at each other. In the meantime, masked gunmen who wore bandanas on which the words ’Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades’ were written, fired at members of the al-Masri clan. Nineteen year old Mohammed Farhan al-Masri, was wounded. He died en route to hospital.

Israeli court delays sentencing of Palestinian journalist held for four months
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The Israeli military court at Ofer ordered a delay in the sentencing of journalist Mohammad Al-Qiq until 29 October 2008. This is the seventh time the court has delays Al-Qiq’s sentencing after detaining him four months ago at the “Container” Checkpoint on the road between the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah. It is noted that Israeli forces also detained Al-Qiq’s father and brother without charging them with any crime. [end]

PCHR Calls for Investigation into the Killing of Mohammed al-Masri in Khan Yunis
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 10/5/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the office of the Attorney-General in Gaza to investigate the killing of Mohammed al-Masri by masked gunmen on Thursday, 2 October 2008, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 22:00 on Thursday, 2 October, a row erupted between members of the al-Masri clan and supporters of Hamas who were traveling in a bus that stopped in the Jourat al-Lout area of Khan Yunis due to a technical failure. The row escalated, with the two sides hurling stones at each other. In the meantime, masked gunmen who wore bandanas on which the words ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades’ were written, fired at members of the al-Masri clan. Nineteen year old Mohammed Farhan al-Masri, was wounded.

Report: 15,000 settlers moved into the West Bank in 2008
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Some 15,000 Israelis moved into illegal settlements in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008, despite a pledge by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to halt settlement construction nearly one year ago, the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported on Monday. In an article titled “The silent settling” Ma’ariv reports that Olmert’s pledge has made little difference in reigning in the growth of the settlements. According to the Hebrew language newspaper, settlers were able to circumvent restrictions, such as taxes on construction, imposed by Olmert’s government. Olmert pledged to freeze settlement activity when he formally reentered negotiations with Palestinian leaders aimed at reaching a two-state resolution to the conflict. Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas launched negotiations at a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in the US, in November 2007, seeking to reach a final agreement by the end of 2008.

Activists hit territories’ PR campaign
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
A new public relations campaign that invites the public to explore Judea and Samaria got off to a rocky start this week when vandals scrawled left-wing graffiti across large billboards it had placed in communities such as Sderot, Ramat Hasharon and Bnei Brak. In one instance, the words "Murderers" and "Avengers of Sternhell" were scrawled next to a smiling face of a biblical looking child holding a sheep and in another vandals had written "End the Occupation. " The campaign’s director, Yakir Segev, called on the public to refrain from resorting to vandalism and to maintain a level of civil discourse even if they disagreed with the campaign. "Apparently the campaign has upset the extremists," said Segev. He added that he intended to file a police complaint. As a secular Israeli who lives in Jerusalem and who has no intention of moving to Judea and Samaria, Segev, 31, is not a typical representative of the settler movement.

Five Palestinian farmers, supported by an Israeli group, sue Israel for not evacuating an illegal outpost
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
Israeli sources reported on Monday that five Palestinian farmers, supported by the Yesh Din Israeli human rights group, filed a lawsuit against Israel for not evacuating an illegal settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank. The outpost, Migron, was illegally installed by the settlers on lands privately owned by Palestinian villagers. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the plaintiffs are demanding Israel NIS 1. 5 million for damage caused to the livelihood of the villagers due to the illegal outpost which was supposed to be evacuated one year ago in accordance to a commitment by the Israeli government. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Yesh Din to the Magistrate Court in Jerusalem on Monday. Dror Etkes of Yesh Din said that the Palestinians decided to launch legal proceedings against Israel after waiting years for the government to evacuate the outpost but the government never did so.

Israeli Navy Vessels Attack Gazan Fishing Boats
The International Solidarity Movement, Palestine Chronicle 10/6/2008
’The Israeli navy have imposed severe restrictions on fishing Gazan waters. ’Israeli navy vessels today attacked a group of Gazan fishing boats using live ammunition, shells and a high-powered water cannon. The boats were only 4 miles away from the Gazan shore, well within both shot at and shelled a group of Gazan fishermen who were only 4 nautical miles from the coast of the Gaza Strip. A high-powered water cannon was also used, causing significant damage to the boats. Accompanying the boats were international solidarity activists who have been regularly accompanying fishermen from Gaza for the last month. No one was injured by the attack, though shells fired by the Israeli navy landed very close to the boats. The Israeli navy have imposed severe restrictions on fishing Gazan waters, regularly attacking any boats attempting to fish over 3 nautical miles. With international accompaniment, fishermen have been regularly attempting to fish outside the Israeli imposed limits.

Month of action as PSC UK re-launches boycott campaign
Stop The Wall 10/6/2008
The British-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) used the month of September as their Boycott Israeli Goods (BIG) Month of Action, as PSC supporters from over twenty towns created eye-catching and impact-achieving demonstrations. In order to support the demonstrations, the PSC also held meetings and film-screenings as a means of spreading their message about the BDS campaign. The highlight of the month came on 28 September, when activists occupied and shut down the UK freight warehouse and HQ of Carmel-Agrexco. Agrexco is one of the largest settlement agro-businesses and a key exporter of settlement produce to Europe. Both gates to the Carmel-Agrexco depot in Hayes, Middlesex were blocked for twelve hours, as four protestors locked themselves inside a cage blocking one gate while another was D-locked to the other gate.

MIDEAST: Where Water Leaves a Bitter Taste
Ramesh Jaura, Inter Press Service 10/7/2008
BARCELONA, Oct 6(IPS) - Palestinian villagers drink unsafe agricultural water rather than trusting water provided by an Israeli company, says Buthaina Mizyed, who has worked in Arraneh village near the conflict-laden West Bank city of Jenin. The reason the Palestinians avoid the water from a station in the nearby village of Al-Jalameh is that it smells of chlorine. So deep is the mistrust of Israelis that they fear it might have been contaminated, and would damage their children’s health. "We assured them that water from the Al-Jalameh station is being constantly tested and that its quality is definitely better than that of the water from the agricultural wells," says Mizyed. "But they would not believe us. They said the water could be contaminated in the time gaps between one quality test and another. They would ask us to guarantee water provided by the Israeli company was safe.

West Bank dumping stirs protest
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
A controversial project to turn a West Bank quarry into a dumping site has been resurrected in a slightly different format in recent months, prompting concern among local residents and environmental organizations about possible contamination of water supplies. The Baron Industrial Park Company would like to turn the Abu Shusheh quarry just outside Deir Sharaf, near Nablus, into a building-waste dump site for both area residents and perhaps Israeli waste shipped over the Green Line as well. The company is a joint endeavor of the Kedumim and Karnei Shomron town councils and the Samaria Regional Council. Residents held a demonstration at the site on August 26 in protest, concerned the project could pollute their water sources. However, the project could also pose more than a local threat if not done properly, as the mountain aquifer runs below the quarry and could be contaminated as well.

PLO: 5526 Palestinians killed, including 1010 children since September 2000
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
Eight Years in Numbers - At least 5526 Palestinians were killed, including 1010 children and 340 women during the second Intifada, the National and International Relations Department at the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said in a report published Monday. The report was published on the eighth anniversary of the intifada which started following the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit with 2000 soldiers and police to the Aqsa Mosque yard, known as the temple mount in September 2000. The report also said that 664 of the killed Palestinians were school students and 11 were journalists. 33 thousand others were wounded 3600 is suffering serous permanent disabilities and 7500 with minor disabilities. The report also mentions that 247 Palestinian patients died in the Gaza Strip due to lack of medical care and for not being able to travel outside the Gaza Strip due to the imposed siege.

Israeli forces seize Islamic Jihad leader following firefight in Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Qabatiya – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized on Monday morning a leader in Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, in the northern West Bank town of Qabatiya, following a firefight with local gunmen. The Al-Quds Brigades said in a statement, “An undercover Israeli force ambushed Naji Nazzal near his home in the Nazzal neighborhood at 4:15 in the morning. They fired at the man outside his home, but he managed to get inside. ”According to the group the Israeli forces then surrounded Nazzal’s house with seven military vehicles, which arrived to back up the undercover force. Gunmen affiliated to the military group arrived and fought with Israeli soldiers “who fired shells at the fighters before they broke into the house and completed their mission. ”Qabatiya, a stronghold of Islamic Jihad, recently came under the charge of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces.

Israeli military invades Qabatiya, capture a resistance fighter
IMEMC News & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
Israeli military forces capture on Monday morning a leader of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement in the Palestinian town of Qabatiya, local sources reported. Al-Quds Brigades said in a press release, "An undercover Israeli force ambushed Naji Nazzal near his home in the Nazzal neighborhood at 4:15 in the morning. They fired at the man outside his home, but he managed to get inside. "  According to eyewitnesses an armed clash erupted between Nazzal and the invading forces resulting in capturing him after they surrounded his house with seven military vehicles. The witnesses said that other members of Al-Quds Brigades arrived at the scene and clashed with the Israeli soldiers who fired a number of shells at them. Troops then broke into Nazzal’s home ransacked it and took him to undisclosed destination.

Muslims banned from Ibrahimi mosque during Jewish holidays
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Hebron – Ma’an - Palestinians were barred for entering the Ibrahimi mosque, or Tomb of the Patriarchs, as the Israeli army shut down the building for all but Israeli Jewish visitors in preparation for the Yom Kippur feasts, which begin on Wednesday. Head of the council that runs the mosque, which is divided in two for Hebron’s Palestinian and Israeli settler populations, said that Israeli forces banned Muslims from access to the area. He said that the mosque side of the building would be closed until Thursday, following the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur. It appears the order to have the mosque closed was issued by the Israeli Shimghar committee established by the Israeli government after the 1994 incident when an American-Israeli settler opened fire on the mixed congregation in the then undivided building.

Palestine Today 100608
IMEMC News - Audio Deot, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
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 October 6, 2008 The Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza decided on Monday that the term of office of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, will end officially in January 08, 2009. Meanwhile, Israeli troops invade Qabatiya and capture a Palestinian fighter. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. In the ongoing controversy over the post of the Palestinian President, the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza decided today that the term in office of Palestinian president will officially end January 08, 2009. Faraj el-Ghoul, a Hamas lawmaker and head of the PLC’s legal committee, stated that President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, will no longer be dealt with as a President. . .

VIDEO - Televised Hamas course teaches militants how to fight the IDF
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for October 6, 2008. Despite a formal ceasefire between Israel and Gaza military groups, both sides continue to prepare for a standoff. For Hamas, military training is supplemented by a televised course, which offers fighters detailed classes in the theory and application of war and weaponry. T he classes prepare fighters for a number of eventualities, including a ground and air invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israel Defense Forces. Related articles: Hamas TV puppet ’kills’ Bush as revenge for U. S. , Israeli actionsHamas TV claims ’Satanic Jews’ planned, perpetrated Holocaust VIDEO: Hamas TV shows how to abduct an Israeli soldierAlso on Haaretz. com TV: Art takes to the streets of the White CityRamallah real estate boom sends prices skyrocketing Security. . .

PLO: Israel killed 5,526 Palestinians in 8 years
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces have killed 5,526 Palestinians over the past eight years including 1,010 children under 18 and 340 women and girls, says a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) International and National Relations Department report released recently. The report was released in commemoration of the eighth anniversary of Al-Aqsa Intifada, the second uprising of Palestinians in the occupied terrirories. According to the report, 664 of the victims were school students and 11 were journalists. Furthermore, 33,000 Palestinians were injured and 15,000 suffered from the inhalation of tear gas. More than 7,500 citizens were disabled including 3,600 who were “permanently handicapped. ”The report also highlighted that 247 Gazans died as they were denied travel outside the Gaza Strip for medical treatment.

Israeli military court convenes on Karen A case, deliberations delayed until October 28
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 10/7/2008
The Israeli Military Court in Ofer Israeli prison held on Monday a session on the case of Lieutenant Fuad Al Shobaky,the financial advisor of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) accused by Israel of being responsible for the Karen A ship which was captured by Israel in 2002 carrying on board weapons and ammunition. Al Shobaky was held in Jericho Palestinian prison and was kidnapped along with Ahmad Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and several other political detainees after the Israeli army surrounded the prison in 2004 and broke into it. The prison was guarded by European guards appointed by the EU as part of an agreement reached with the late president, Yasser Arafat; the guards left the prison compound shortly before the army attacked it. During the court session, Shobaky presented an extended initial testimony in which he denied the Israeli allegations.

Israeli high court orders release of local Islamic Jihad leader from Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the release of an Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Sharif Tahayna after 4 years in custody, lawyer Jamil Al-Khatib toldthe organization Muhjat Al-Quds (Heart of Jerusalem). Sheikh Tahayna is from Jenin in the northern West Bank. He was arrested on 29 January 2004 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. When the sentence was completed on 6 June 2006, Tahayna was transferred to administrative detention for six more months. This detention was renewed five consecutive times. A month ago there was a hearing in court which decided to release him on bail of 25,000 Israeli shekels (7,000 US dollars). Israeli prosecutors appealed to the High Court of Justice, but the appeal was rejected on Monday.

’Israel has agreed to allow PA troops into Hebron’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 10/7/2008
Senior Palestinian defense official tells Ynet Israel has authorized request by Palestinian Authority to deploy security forces in Hebron in effort to block Hamas’ growing influence over the city. Hamas, meanwhile, passed legislation calling for elections to replace Abbas - Israel is backing a bid by the Palestinian Authority to reassert control over Hebron, a senior Palestinian defense official told Ynet on Monday evening. According to the official Israel has authorized the request made by the PA to deploy security forces in the West Bank city as part of the effort to push back Hamas, which is poised to seize control there. At present time Israel has yet to confirm such an agreement. According to the source the deployment will be carried out as soon as next week, around October 15th. The Palestinian force will be comprised of more than 1,000 armed men.

Livni: ''We will continue the Annapolis process''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
Israeli Foreign Minister, in charge of forming the new Israeli government, Tzipi Livni, stated on Sunday that peace talks with the Palestinians should resume as planned in the Annapolis summit and added that "so far nothing has been agree upon until an agreement on everything is reached". Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyadh Al Maliky, who participated in the conference, accused Israel of violating the Annapolis agreement and that the Palestinian Authority (P. A) is under pressure from the Arab League to resume the peace process. During the opening ceremonies of the Foreign Minister’s conference on policy and strategy in Jerusalem, Livni said that the peace process should be resumed and called on Al Maliky not to allow "homemade shells and political developments to affect the peace process". Both Palestinian and Israeli officials expressed doubts that a peace deal could be achieved by the end of this year.

Al Khodary warns of Israeli settlement expansion during peace talks
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
Palestinian Legislator, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, Jamal Al Khodary, warned on Monday of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank during peace talk adding that Israel wants to create forced facts on the ground. Commenting on a report by the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, in which the paper revealed that Israel is constructing new settlement units in the West Bank, Al Khodary said that settlement construction is part of the Israeli policy in dealing with Palestinian issues and is part of the Israeli siege against the Palestinian people. He said that Israel is ongoing with its illegal settlement activities in order to annex more lands from the Palestinians. Al Khodary added that these activities come alongside with increasing number of roadblocks and the ongoing closure of Jerusalem. "Israel is playing a smart game by conducting extended peace talks with. . .

Al Khudari: Israel calculating in drawing out negotiations
PNN, Palestine News Network 10/6/2008
Gaza -- As members of the leadership continue to negotiate with the Israelis, many raise concern that the current period will result in the same disappointed efforts and back-tracking as previous negotiations. Negotiators such as former Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and President Mahmoud Abbas have issued numerous statements and assurances that no Palestinian rights will be signed away, including Jerusalem and the Right of Return. But what concerns many are the simultaneous happenings on the ground. Palestinian Legislative Council member Jamal Al Khudari issued a warning on Monday that Israeli forces are using the technique of foot-dragging during the negotiating process to buy time for further colonization efforts in the West Bank. During the current negotiation period, which is considered by parties such as the United States to have begun at the Annapolis Conference in November. . .

Livni urges action on peace talks
Al Jazeera 10/6/2008
Israel’s prime minister-designate has called for increased efforts towards reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Making her first foreign policy speech since being voted as leader of the ruling Kadima party, Tzipi Livni said that Israel must continue talks with the Palestinians because "doing nothing has its own price". "An understanding of what is under way in the region shows that time is not working in the favour" of Israel and moderate political groups in the region, she said in Jerusalem on Sunday. Talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which resumed in November at an international conference in the US city of Annapolis, have made little progress in recent months. While Israel is in negotiations with Palestinian Fatah, which holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the group’s main rival Hamas is in de facto control of Gaza.

Palestinian caretaker cabinet condemns settlement expansion, settler attacks
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian caretaker cabinet condemned on Monday the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as violent attacks on Palestinians by settlers. The cabinet condemned Israel’s insistence on settlement expansion despite international calls to halt expansion of existing settlements to so called settlement outposts. Furthermore, the cabinet condemned Israeli settlers who prevented Palestinian farmers them from accessing their fields to harvest olives. Settlers also set fire to trees belonging to Palestinian farmers under the eyes of Israeli soldiers. The cabinet also applauded foreign solidarity activists who aid Palestinian farmers. In their weekly meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the cabinet also allocated funds for a conference celebrating Jerusalem as the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009.

Olmert: Livni not obligated by my stance
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Talking to reporters before leaving for Moscow, prime minister clarifies that his views expressed in Yedioth Ahronoth interview, that Israel should quit most occupied land, are his private views and do not compel new Kadima chairwoman - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert clarified Monday that the views he expressed in a Rosh Hashana interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, that Israel should quit most occupied land, are his private views and do not compel his future replacement, Foreign Minister and newKadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni. Talking to reporters before leaving on an official visit to Moscow, the prime minister said, "The views I expressed in the interview about a territory exchange are my views. I am the only person committed to them. This is my opinion.

Livni: I look forward to a Palestinian state absorbing all refugees
Palestinian Information Center 10/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israel foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the likely candidate for the post of prime ministr, stated that Palestinian state must guarantee to absorb all Palestinian refugees in diaspora, stressing that the PA in this state must protect the security of Israel and eliminate the Palestinian resistance.     The Israeli Arabic radio quoted Livni as saying that the solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees is represented in the Palestinian state which would absorb them. The Israeli minister also pledged to continue the negotiations with the PA which started since the Annapolis conference expressing Israel’s desire to normalize relations with Arab countries. [end]

Ex-generals cry foul over pro-Obama video
Matt Zalen And Shani Rosenfelder, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
A Jewish American group and an Israeli film company blamed each other on Monday regarding claims they had misled a number of retired IDF generals and top Mossad officials who were filmed in a video endorsing Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Jewish Council for Education & Research (JCER), a non-profit organization that supports Obama’s presidential run, distributed the clip online on Sunday. Former head of the Mossad Ephraim Halevy and former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj. -Gen. Uzi Dayan accused the group of taking their words out of context, saying that when filmed they had been told that the issue at hand was the challenges facing the next man in the White House, and not that the film was aimed at endorsing Obama for president. "It’s not only misleading, it was an interview about what the next president was going to have to deal with," Dayan told. . .

Israeli generals duped into supporting Obama
The Associated Press, YNetNews 10/6/2008
’Pure and simple deceit,’ says enraged Uzi Dayan of American Jewish group that told him and other top Israeli figures they were being interviewed for documentary on Mideast challenges and found themselves touted as Obama supporters - Three well-known Israeli security figures said Monday they were duped into participating in an ad supporting US presidential candidate Barack Obama. Uzi Dayan, a retired army general, and Efraim Halevy, a former Mossad chief, were included along with six other high-ranking retired members of Israel’s security establishment in a pro-Obama film. A third official, former Mossad agent Yossi Alpher, also said he was misled. The three said they were unaware they were being interviewed for a political campaign and were under the impression they were commenting on the regional strategic affairs that will face the next US president.

Israeli bankers to attend IMF gathering in force
Eran Peer, Globes Online 10/6/2008
Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer will be among the main speakers at the Annual Meeting. Israel’s top bankers will meet in Washington in mid-October. The heads of Israel’s big banks will attend the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Bank of Israel will also send a large delegation headed by Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, formerly the deputy managing director of the IMF. The IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings will take place from October 11 to October 13, and Fischer will be one of the speakers at the Per Jacobsson Foundation Forum on October 12. The main seminar will also be held on October 12, and will discuss the global financial crisis. The moderator of the session will be "Financial Times" associate editor Martin Wolf, with the participation of Citigroup chief economist Lewis Alexander, US Federal Reserve first. . .

Average wage falls
Shay Niv, Globes Online 10/6/2008
The average gross monthly salary was NIS 8,237 in July. The average gross monthly salary was NIS 8,237 in July 2008 compared with NIS 8,448 in June, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports today. The average salary in July was still higher than the monthly average of NIS 8,120 during the first half of 2008. Israel Electric Corporation andMekorot National Water Company employees again topped the salary tables, with an average gross salary of NIS 20,928 in July, NIS 1,355 more than in June. Finance, banking, and insurance industry employees were in second place, with an average salary of NIS 15,834 in July, well below their average salary of NIS 17,203 in June and NIS 22,373 in May. The drop was apparently due to a lot of vacations and a lack of overtime. The average salary of public administration employees was NIS 12,785 in July, and the average salary in industry. . .

Finance C’tee demands crisis plan
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 10/6/2008
Committee chairman Avishai Braverman reiterated his demand for fiscal expansion. Increasingly worried about a severe recession, the Knesset Finance Committee today demanded that Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On and Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer formulate a comprehensive plan to deal with the widening global financial crisis. Finance Committee chairman MK Avishai Braverman (Labor) reiterated his demand to raise the increase in government spending target. "What was is no longer relevant. We must consider different things and a different budget," he said. There is no consensus within the Finance Committee, however. MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) disagrees with Braverman, and rejects calls to amend the budget framework, calling them "destructive". He said that the Finance Committee should not rubber stamp measures or policies unilaterally decided by the Ministry of Finance, and called for thorough discussions on any measure proposed.

Fischer threatens resignation
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 10/6/2008
The Bank of Israel Governor told aides: I’ll quit if the budget framework is breached. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer recently hinted that he would quit if the government decides to breach the budget framework. The Labor Party has demanded that the increase in government spending be raised to 2. 5% of GDP, from 1. 7%, as a condition for joining a government headed by Kadima chairwoman and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that, a few days ago, Fischer told an associate that he would find it difficult to stay in his job if Livni capitulated to Labor Party chairman and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak’s demand. Fischer declined to attend yesterday’s meeting between Livni, Barak, and top economists, which discussed expanding the budget. Fischer said that there was nothing to talk about.

PM: No gov’t intervention in crisis Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert landed in Moscow Monday afternoon and had a message of reassurance for the Israeli public in the wake of the global economic crisis. "The government is constantly involved in efficiently monitoring and assessing the situation in a serious and responsible manner," he told reporters upon disembarking from his plane in Moscow. "We have great faith in the stability that has been reflected in the banking system, which I think should please the Israeli public," he added, stressing, "We will continue to follow developments. " Olmert’s comments came after sharp falls in the opening of trading on Wall Street, resulting from growing financial fears, sent Tel Aviv stocks back into red territory. RELATEDOlmert: My views don’t represent Livni’sTASE down after Wall Street plunge. . .

Barak seen backtracking on budget expansion
Globes Online 10/6/2008
Livni aide: Barak wants bailouts for tycoons who took insane risks. The Labor Party will not insist on a budget expansion as a condition for joining a government headed by Kadima chairwoman and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, said sources close to Labor chairman and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak today. Hitherto, the Labor Party demanded that the increase in government spending be raised to 2. 5% of GDP from 1. 7% as a condition in the coalition negotiations. However, after a meeting between Livni and Barak last night to which seven top economists were invited, the Labor Party decided to reconsider the demand and delay its implementation. Labor Party sources said that the economists explained that a budget blowout was secondary compared with the likely effects of the global financial crisis on Israel.

60% of factories checked last year violated air-pollution standards
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 10/5/2008
Thirty out of 50 factories failed surprise air pollution inspections carried out by the Environmental Protection Ministry last year. The ministry on Sunday released its report on the 377 inspections it conducted of 50 factories and 87 other installations in 2007; several of the facilities were visited more than once. The ministry carried out 34 more inspections in 2007 than in 2006 and said it planned to do even more next year. The polluting factories were fairly evenly distributed around the country. The ministry said most of the factories either fixed or agreed to fix their emissions problems after being confronted with the results of the spot examinations. When the Clean Air Act goes into effect at the beginning of 2011, it will drastically improve the ministry’s ability to prevent violations and enforce emissions standards, Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra said in the report.

Yemen nabs ’Israel-linked’ terror cell Staff, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday announced the capture of an Islamist "terrorist cell" he said was linked to Israel. "A terrorist cell was arrested five days ago and will be referred to the judicial authorities for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," Saleh was quoted as saying by Yemen’s official Saba news agency. The group was acting under "the slogan of Islam," he added. Saleh made the statement in a meeting with tribal leaders, politicians and defense officials at Al-Mukalla University in the eastern province of Hadramawt. Saleh would not say how many were detained or expound on the cell’s alleged links to the intelligence services of the Jewish State. "Details of the trial will be announced later," he told the gathered personages. "You will hear about what goes on in the proceedings," the Yemeni president said, urging. . .

Livni expected to meet leaders of religious parties in bid to form ruling coalition
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 10/7/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni pressed ahead with efforts to secure a ruling coalition on Monday, a day after delivering her first foreign-policy speech since being named to form a new government. Elected on September 17 to replace Premier Ehud Olmert at the head of the Kadima party, Livni needs to put together a governing coalition if she is to also take over as premier while averting a snap election. She planned to meet on Monday with leaders of two religious parties - the Shas, which has 12 mandates in the 120-seat Parliament, and the United Torah Judaism, which has six MPs - media reported. She held talks Sunday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who leads the Labor party, the main ally in the governing coalition, with 19 seats in the Knesset. Kadima has 29 mandates. Livni, 50, was formally asked by President Shimon Peres on September 22 to form a. . .

Barak edges closer to Livni coalition
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Hinting again Labor may be willing to compromise, join Kadima government, defense minister says dealing with current economic crisis more important than party’s budget demands. Meanwhile Shas adamant won’t sit on gov’t willing to negotiate over Jerusalem - "The magnitude and intensity of the current economic crisis and our handling of it must be our top priority," Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak said on Monday afternoon in his meeting with Histadrut Labor Federation chairman, Ofer Eini, and president of the Manufacturers Association, Shraga Brosh. Barak hinted once more, as his aides confirmed on Sunday evening to Ynet, that he is willing to postpone talks on expanding the state budget’s limits to deal with the potential fallout of the international financial crisis - one of Labor’s central conditions to joining the coalition.

Deri withdraws from Jerusalem mayoral race
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Former Shas chairman says he will not appeal decision to keep him from running to High Court. ’Although I am deeply disappointed by the court’s decision, I respect it and call on my supports to do the same,’ he says - Former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri withdrew his candidacy from the capital’s mayoral race on Monday afternoon following the Jerusalem District Court’s refusal to overturn the moral turpitude clause from Deri’s 1999 conviction. Deri confirmed he would not appeal the decision to the High Court of Justice. In a written statement to the media, Deri wrote: "After having consulted with the great scholars of our time, with jurists, and with my friends and family, I have concluded that the ruling of the district court spells the end of the possibility of my running for city mayor in the upcoming elections in Jerusalem.

VIDEO / Gaydamak submits candidacy for Jerusalem mayor, as trial opens against him in Paris
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
Russian-Israeli tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak on Monday submitted his official candidacy for the Jerusalem mayoral race, just as a trial against him opened in Paris on charges of illegal arms trafficking, fraud, money laundering, fraudulent receipt and tax evasion. The other secular contender in the mayoral race, Nir Barkat, will submit his candidacy on Tuesday. Dan Biron, a veteran television director with Channel 1, also announced Monday that he is running for mayor on the Green Leaf Party (Ale Yarok) ticket. Biron officially presented the list to the elections commission yesterday, making him the first candidate to do so. The rest are expected to so Tuesday, and it seems mayor Uri Lupolianski is still leaning against running for a second term and honoring the rotation agreement he signed with Agudat Yisrael’s Meir Porush five years ago.

Barak: Economic crisis is top priority
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak hinted on Monday that he would give up his demand to expand the budget framework due to the current international economic crisis. In a meeting with Histadrut Labor Federation Chief Ofer Eini, Industrialists Association Chairman Shraga Brosh and other business leaders, Barak said that all of Labor’s demands in the ongoing coalition talks are still on the table but resolving the economic crisis must be the top priority. "I think that right now the most urgent thing is to deal with the economic crisis," Barak told reporters at the meeting. "The strength and intensity of the crisis obligates us to deal with it first. " Barak’s concession to Kadima on the matter is expected to expedite a deal between Kadima and Labor, because the economic issue was said to be the biggest stumbling block.

Egyptian security forces block solidarity caravan, arrest activists at Rafah
Palestinian Information Center 10/6/2008
AL-AREESH, (PIC)-- The Egyptian security forces stationed at the Rafah crossing point have arrested a number of Egyptian activists and party leaders after they attempted to break the economic siege on Gaza Strip Monday, local press sources confirmed. According to the sources, the secretary-general of the "suspended" Egyptian Labor Party Majdi Hussein and 17 othersypathysers with the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip were rounded up and taken by the Egyptian security elements to an undisclosed place. Hussein and his comrades attacked the Egyptian authorities for "betraying" the 1. 5 million Palestinians who were locked up in the tiny Strip, and urged the Egyptian government to immediately open the vital crossing point, the sources added. Hussein, the sources pointed out, had secretly drove to Rafah , and surprised the Egyptian security guards when he arrived to the Salah Al-Dien Gate that separates the tiny Strip from Egypt.

Egypt police stops aid convoy to Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Dozens of activists, mostly from Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood, were arrested Monday after attempting to send a supply convoy to the blockaded Gaza Strip, the organization and security officials said. Abdel-Fatah Rizq, who was coordinating the convoy for Egypt’s biggest opposition group, said police arrested at least 50 activists when they tried to gather at the Journalists’ Syndicate in downtown Cairo before making the 200 mile (300 kilometer) journey across the Sinai desert to the border. "Activists from all over the provinces were planning on joining the convoy on its way through the Sinai to Rafah crossing," he said. The Brotherhood Web site said some activists, including parliament members, slipped through security to reach Rafah on the border. Police said three members of the Brotherhood were arrested at the Suez Canal Sunday night while trying to reach the border.

70 more Hajj piglrims return to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Some 70 Palestinian Hajj pilgrims returned to the Gaza Strip on Monday after the Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing on Monday. The director of public relations at the crossing point, Usama Tabash told Ma’an that busses carried the pilgrims into the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians were among 1,200 from Gaza who were granted special permits to make the once-in-a-lifetime Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. A first group of 70 pilgrims reentered Gaza on Sunday. Palestinian interior ministry spokesman Ehab Al-Ghussein said that the Egyptians told the Palestinians that they will open the crossing only for 70 pilgrims on Monday, 140 on Tuesday and 100 on Wednesday. There is still no word as to whether students and other ordinary Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip will be able to leave through the Rafah border.

Egyptian delegation to be received by Popular Commmittee Against Seige in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Marking a first in Gazan history, a delegation of Egyptians will travel through the Rafah crossing on Monday after accepting an invitation from the Popular Committee Against the Siege to observe the negative effects it is having on Gazan society. Head of the Committee Jamal Al-Khudari announced on Monday that his group is preparing to receive the delegation, which is expected in the afternoon. “The convoy will be received in a formal and popular reception when it reaches the border,” Al-Khudari said in a statement, “there will be scouts playing music and holding the Egyptian and Palestinian flags. ”Al-Khudari called on Arab and Islamic countries to take their cues from Egypt and help Gazans resist the siege that has been pressed upon them.

Communications minister in Gaza congratulates Egypt on 35th anniversary of October War
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Communications Minister in the de facto government in Gaza, Yousif Al-Mansi, sent a letter to Egyptian Communications Minister Tareq Kamel in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the “victory” in the 1973 October war with Israel. Al-Mansi thanked the Egyptian people and leadership for helping the Palestinian cause. While it ended in a military stalemate, the 1973 Yom Kippur War forced Israel to the negotiating table, allowing Egypt to regain the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel occupied in the 1967 June war.

UAE Red Crescent puts food on the table for Eid in Gaza
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 10/5/2008
The Eid festival, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is traditionally a time of celebration. However, the 1. 5 million residents of the Gaza Strip can be forgiven for feeling that there was little to celebrate at Eid this year. The reunion of families and the sharing of food, essential parts of the Eid celebration, have been rendered almost impossible by the Israeli blockade. Food prices in Gaza have risen this year by 32%, according to a recent survey undertaken by UNRWA, WFO and FAO. As a result of these price increases, Palestinians in the besieged territory are now forced to spend around 67% overall – 73% amongst the poorest sector – of their income on food. In a response to this crisis and in an effort to alleviate the distress of some of Gaza’s poorest residents, the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent (UAERC) made a generous contribution to food aid for refugees in Gaza during Ramadan.

Mahmoud Darwish named ''best poet of 2008'' in poll
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was elected on Friday as the best Arab poet for 2008 in poetry written in classical Arabic by a panel of 243 Arab poets, scholars and journalists. The Arabic Poetry News website also reported that Darwish won 60 votes out of 243 Arab poets, scholars and journalists who responded to the poll. Darwish, the Palestinian national poet, died in August and was given the equivalent of a state funeral in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Syrian poet Adonis won second place with 21 votes. The third place was taken by an emerging Palestinian poet, Tamim Al-Barghouthi who got 13 votes. Syrian poet Shawqi Baghdadi came fourth with 11 votes. Thirteen of the respondents abstained from answering the question about who was the best poet writing in classical Arabic.

Rahat decries Palestinian influx
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
The Bedouin living in the Negev town of Rahat are worried by the influx of 4,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who are living there illegally, Rahat’s mayor said this week. "The residents are worried," Talal al-Karnawi said. "One of the illegal residents could plan a terror attack, and from here he could reach any place in the country. " Over the last few years, the Bedouin town has become home to thousands of illegal residents from Gaza, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus. Many have taken the jobs of Bedouin residents and taken over commerce in the city. But the greatest concern of the residents and mayor is that an illegal resident will turn out to be a terrorist whose actions tarnish Rahat and Bedouin in Israel. "There are quite a few resident complaints about illegal residents involved in crime and theft," said al-Karnawi.

Jewish ’modesty patrols’ sow fear in Israel
Associated Press, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Zealots accused of beating Jerusalem woman for allegedly consorting with men, torching store selling MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography. ’It’s very similar to what you hear about in countries like Iran,’ says novelist Naomi Ragen -In Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste. They hurl stones at women for such "sins" as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the internet. In recent weeks, self-styled "modesty patrols" have beenaccused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men. They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography.

Hezbollah source: ’Big surprise’ awaits Israel if it attacks Lebanon
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
A senior Hezbollah-linked journalist reiterated Monday the Lebanese militia’s threat that a "big surprise" awaits Israel should it decide to engage in another conflict with the group. Ibrahim al-Amin, the editor of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, made the comments in a piece published under the headline of "Israel is threatening to destroy Lebanon. What will happen to it during wartime? " Al-Amin, who usually uses reliable sources from within Hezbollah, warned that Israel needs to seriously consider the ramifications of a future attack on Lebanon. He was responding to recent comments by senior Israel Defense Forces officers that Israel will use"disproportionate power" in its next conflict with Hezbollah as it did in 2006 Second Lebanon War. "What do they imagine Hezbollah’s reaction will be? They actually say it has 40,000 missiles.

UNIFIL hosts Lebanese, Israeli officers for talks in Naqoura
Daily Star 10/7/2008
BEIRUT: A tri-partite meeting was held between Lebanese Armed Forces officials, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) officers and Israeli military representatives at the border crossing of Ras al-Naqquoura on Monday. "They discussed the implementation of Resolution 1701 and violations of the Blue Line with a view to preventing incidents. They also discussed the marking of the Blue Line and the issue of the village of Ghajar," said UNIFIL spokesperson Yasmina Bouziane. Israel still has troops stationed in the northern half of the village of Ghajar, which straddles the border. Under Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 conflict, Israel should have withdrawn its troops immediately after the fighting. But the UN says the Israeli military frequently operates in the Lebanese part of the village.

Lebanese union to sue Israel for ’claiming ownership’ of falafel
DPA, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
A new war between Israel and Lebanon has erupted, but this time the war is not geopolitical, but rather an issue of cuisine-who has sovereignty over traditional Arab dishes and sandwiches. The president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association Fadi Abboud, said he is preparing to file an international lawsuit against Israel for allegedly "taking the identity of some Lebanese foods" and thus violating a food copyright. "In a way the Jewish state is trying to claim ownership of traditional Lebanese delicacies like falafel, tabouleh and hummus" Abboud said. According to Abboud, the Lebanese are losing "tens of millions of dollars annually" because Israel is selling and marketing traditional Lebanese dishes. "The Israelis are marketing our main food dishes as if they were Israeli dishes," he charged.

Israeli security officials: Time running out on deal for Shalit release
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
Security officials have warned that the time for making a deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is running out. The officials told Haaretz that the more time that passes, the more things can go wrong and the greater the danger that an opportunity will be missed to bring Shalit home. Talks are to open Tuesday in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah, mediated by the Egyptians, with an Egyptian-proposed package deal on the agenda that would include the release of Shalit. In discussions in Israel regarding prisoners who could be released in exchange for Shalit, the names of terrorists were mentioned who committed major attacks in the early 1990s. The officials said they believed Hamas would raise the price it would demand for Shalit as time goes by. A security official also said: "Many possibilities must be taken into account, not all of them under our control.

Palestinian source: Shalit case - part of internal PA conflict
Ali Waked, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Man involved in negotiations between rival Palestinian factions says matter of kidnapped IDF soldier will remain unresolved pending end of internal strife between Hamas, Fatah -Gilad Shalit has become a factor in the internal Palestinian conflict, a Palestinian source told Ynet Monday. According to the source, who is familiar with the negotiations between Hamas and Fatah, the matter of thekidnapped IDF soldier is no longer an separate issue between Hamas and Israel, with any progress made on it depending on the release of Palestinian prisoners. "If actual progress in the talks isn’t made, and Hamas is not given more control over PA matters, in addition to the earlier demands made, there can be no real progress in Shalit’s case," he noted. The source further said that the negotiations for Shalit’s release are not likely to resume prior to the Palestinian conflict being resolved.

Mashaal: Shalit talks deadlocked because Israel unreliable
Ynet, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Hamas politburo chief tell French daily he doubts new Israeli government will lead to change Jewish state’s stance in regards to his organization’s demands. Talks aimed at securing kidnapped soldier’s release stalemated due to Israel’s unreliability, he says -Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal estimated Monday that the governmental changes inIsrael would not end the stalemate in the negotiations aimed at securing the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mashaal blamed Israel for the standstill in the talks. Shalit has been held captive in Gaza for more than two years, and the talks for his release have been mediated by Israel in the past few months, without any results. According to Mashaal, the reason for the negotiations’ failure is Israel’s conduct.

’Stop putting Gazans before Gilad’
Yael Levy, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Two days before Yom Kippur, hundreds gather in Tel Aviv to ask forgiveness of captive soldier. Keynote speaker Shlomo Goldwasser: ’For 824 days now Gilad Shalit has been denied the most basic of human rights while here talk centers daily on the human rights of the Gazans’ - Hundreds assembled in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Monday evening to ask forgiveness of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit ahead of Yom Kippur. His father, Noam Shalit, was also in attendance. Keynote speaker Shlomo Goldwasser, whose son Ehud was killed in the raid that sparked the Second Lebanon War, slammed the government’s failure to bring Shalit home. "Stop putting Gazans before Gilad," said Goldwasser. "Look at what’s happening here. Frustrated citizens can’t believe their own eyes when they see the flippant ease with which the matter of this captive soldier is pushed down to fourth or fifth place on the government’s agenda.

Metzger issues prayer for Schalit return
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Israeli Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger has issued a prayer for the safe return of captive soldier Gilad Schalit which he plans to distribute on Tuesday, to be read in synagogues throughout Israel on Yom Kippur and weekly on Shabbat after the Torah reading. Metzger himself read the prayer out loud for the first time at a special rally at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Monday night that drew 10,000 protesters who called for the return of Schalit, who has been in Hamas captivity since June 2006. Calling on God to strengthen Schalit and to speedily re-unite him with his family, Metzger said that he had raised the issue of the young man’s fate with religious leaders around the world, including Muslim figures, and asked them to do what they can to secure the soldier’s release. "If there is a possibility to return him a day or even an hour earlier and that opportunity is not seized, then this is a crime," Metzger said.

Hamas denies it suspended West Bank leaders over meetings with Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Gaza-based Hamas leader denied on Monday that his movement had suspended some of its own members in the West Bank after they met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the rival Fatah faction. Hamas leader Ismail Radwan denied reports appearing in online news sites that there is a growing split between Hamas officials in Gaza and their counterparts in the West Bank over the meetings, which reportedly took place in the West Bank city of Ramallah. In an exclusive interview with Ma’an, Radwan said, ”There is no suspension of any of Hamas members in either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. ”He asserted that his movement is “united” and said that “rumours” of the suspensions had been circulated to harm Hamas’ reputation. Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, and later took control of the Gaza Strip during fighting with Fatah, causing Abbas to fire the Hamas-led cabinet.

Khreishah: Hamas kidnapped PLC name, illegal elections the ransom
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The meetings of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the Gaza Strip held by the Hamas bloc (‘change and reform parties) are “illegal,” and are only concerned with Hamas, said Ibrahim Khreishah Secretary General of PLC. Khreishah told Ma’an that any decisions enacted by the body have no legal basis and are void. The PLC has been disabled since the Hamas-takeover in the Gaza Strip in 2007, affirmed Khreishah. He added that he believed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should remain in the post of Prime Minister until the end of the four year term of the PLC, which will end in January 2010, according to Palestinian election law. Moreover, according to Khreishah, Abbas’ original May 2001 election was in fact a continuation of the term of the late President Yasser Arafat, who was elected according to the 1995 Elections law, which does not put limits on the term of the President.

Hamas funds being transferred to Israeli Arabs, documents reveal
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 10/6/2008
Arab Israeli non-profit groups have approached Islamic charity organizations in the West Bank over the past year with requests to receive money for various projects, according to documents seized over the past year in Israel Defense Forces raids on West Bank associations identified with Hamas, and now being analyzed. Israeli security officials had previously noted the transfer of money from Israel to the West Bank. The change in direction appears to be connected to harsher rules governing the transfer of monetary assistance into Israel, as compared with the transfer of funds to the West Bank. Since the beginning of the calendar year, the IDF has increased its surveillance of Hamas-affiliated civil groups in the West Bank, particularly in Hebron, Qalqilyah, Ramallah and Nablus. Following an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the PA too is now raiding and closing Hamas-affiliated offices.

Mashaal: Hamas sets no conditions for internal reconciliation
Palestinian Information Center 10/6/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas political bureau, stated Monday that his Movement does not set any condition for inter-Palestinian reconciliation, stressing the need for respecting the Palestinian constitution and the results of legislative elections in order to restore unity. In an interview with the French Le Figaro, Mashaal also underlined the need for rebuilding the security apparatuses according to professional and national bases, the need for respecting previous agreements and declaring the willingness to rebuild PLO gaining unanimity. The Hamas leader criticized the ongoing negotiations between the PA in Ramallah and the Israel which take place as the Israeli occupation continues to expand settlements and the apartheid wall and besiege the Gaza Strip. The Hamas leader expressed his belief that the current PA-Israeli negotiations cannot be serious because. . .

Muzaini: Hamas is ready to restore unity away from the US dictates
Palestinian Information Center 10/6/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Osama Al-Muzaini, a prominent Hamas leader, stated Monday that his Movement is absolutely ready to discuss everything that would restore the national unity and lead to a central unity government away from the American dictates and without ignoring the results of legislative elections.  During a press interview with the Palestine newspaper, Dr. Muzaini underlined that his Movement could not accept the division of national issues, saying it is unreasonable that the security apparatuses in Gaza are changed while the West Bank apparatuses remain unchanged.   The Hamas leader added that his Movement also would not agree to a technocrat government bypassing the PLC elections results and would not accept the termination of the PLC mandate before it officially expires. The Hamas leader stressed that the mandate of the PLC should continue naturally for four years and. . .

Sha’ath to PNN: comments regarding presidential term provocative
Bethlehem, Palestine News Network 10/6/2008
PNN -- Nabil Sha’ath joined in the day’s denials of an agreement on an Egyptian paper or initiative for internal Palestinian reconciliation. A Saudi Arabian newspaper published its details earlier Monday with three points marked as having been refused by Hamas. The Hamas party denied that it had been presented an Egyptian proposal and denied the report that it did not accept three points. Fateh’s Sha’ath told PNN that he "could not imagine that an agreement would be negotiated in the press. "The Palestinian Authority official said that comments about the presidential term are aimed to provoke. There has been a great deal of discussion regarding Abbas’ presidential term which is slated to end in January 2009. Abbas’ Fateh party is looking to hold early legislative elections at the same time which would take power from Hamas, or to extend the presidential term to coincide. . .

Barhoum to PNN: no agreement on internal dialogue
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 10/6/2008
PNN -- Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum denied reports that it accepted an Egyptian initiative. Speaking to PNN Monday, Barhoum said that the Hamas delegation will arrive in Cairo tomorrow for its turn at the factional meetings where it is expected they will be presented a paper and will put forth the party’s views. It has been said that Hamas already agreed to the Egyptian initiative, with others reporting that exception has been taken on three points. Barhoum refuted the claim that anything has been agreed upon. Egyptian moderators are working with Palestinian parties to broker an internal reconciliation that is hoped to take place at the comprehensive national dialogue slated for 4 November, however this date is not agreed upon by all pertinent parties. Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. . .

Hamas: Extending Abbas’ term ''even one more day'' is unconstitutional
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas-affiliated legal officials reasserted on Monday that it is “unconstitutional” for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to extend his term for “even one more day” beyond 8 January 2009. The head of the legal committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Faraj Al-Ghoul presented a report to a session of the PLC held by Hamas lawmakers in Gaza on Monday. Al-Ghoul said that when Abbas’ term ends on the 8th, the position of president will become vacant. According to the Palestinian Basic Law, this will make PLC Speaker Aziz Ad-Dweik acting president for a period of sixty days, until Presidential elections can be held. Since Dweik is jailed in Israel, his deputy, Ahmad Bahar, could also fulfill this function. In his report to the PLC Al-Ghoul said that if elections are not carried out, it would be legal to extend the sixty-day interim period.

PLC member urges factions to work for success at Cairo unity talks
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Husam At-Tawil on Monday called on all Palestinian factions participating in Egyptian-sponsored political talks to “exert every effort to reach reconciliation. ”At-Tawil, an independent member of the council from Gaza, said that the internal talks, which are scheduled to begin in November, a “golden opportunity. ” The price of the failure of the talks, At-Tawil said, is further rivalry, violence, and the further destruction of the Palestinian cause. Rival factions Hamas and Fatah, the former in control of Gaza and the latter the West Bank, have been bitter rivals for years. The rivalry turned into civil war in June 2007 when Hamas took full control of Gaza. Some of the expected outcomes of the Cairo dialogue are, according to At-Tawil, a national coalition government, and enhancement of Palestinian unity.

PLC holds session to discuss legal dimensions of end of Abba’s tenure
Palestinian Information Center 10/6/2008
GAZA, (PLC)-- The PLC held Monday a session to discuss the legal dimensions of specifying term of office of current PA chief Mahmoud Abbas. MP Faraj Al-Ghoul, the head of the PLC legal committee, had said that the committee would table during the session a report on the legal dimensions of specifying the duration of the PA chief’s mandate. Fierce controversy has erupted recently on the expiration of Abbas’s term of office, where the Fatah faction insists on extending his mandate while Hamas and the PLC consider this extension illegal because the PA chief was only elected for four years and according to that he will not be the head of Palestinian authority in January 2009. PLC members approved the report of the legal committee and unanimously voted in favour of its recommendations that the term of office of the President should not be extended beyond 8 January 2009.

PA: Travel permits to Jordan will be sold in Jericho only
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – West Bank Palestinians hoping to travel to Jordan and beyond will have to obtain official permission in the city of Jericho, instead of being able to apply in any West Bank city, the Palestinian Authority announced on Monday. Fadwa Ash-Sha’ir, the director of public affairs in the Palestinian caretaker government, said that the change in the rules is meant to crack down on the sale of permits on the black market. “Let permission permits stop being sold in black market, and let black market people do with the forms they have whatever they like,” Ash-Sha’ir said. Ash-Sha’ir said the change is permanent. Jericho is the city located nearest the Allenby Bridge, the only border crossing through which residents of the occupied territories can cross into Jordan.

Teachers strike in Jerusalem until PA abides by appointment regulations
Ma’an News Agency 10/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Secretary General of the Teachers Union Jamil Shihadah announced the beginning of a strike for new teachers in the Jerusalem area. The strike will include those appointed over the last two years, and will begin Monday. The strike is scheduled to last a week, and is said to come as a protest against the government for disregarding the regulations for appointing teachers. Shihadah said the strike was aimed at alerting the government of their actions, adding that if this issue is not worked out within the period of the strike, the union will escalate strike actions. [end]

Ex-Mossad chief Halevy seen as key Livni adviser
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
With last week’s resignation of Foreign Ministry director-general Aaron Abramovich, a trusted adviser to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speculation is rife about who will replace him in her inner circle, and possibly be a key player in the Prime Minister’s Office if Livni succeeds in setting up a government. Among the names mentioned are people to whom Livni has turned in the past, and continues to turn to, for security and diplomatic advice, such as former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy and former deputy chief of General staff, Maj. -Gen. (res) Moshe Kaplinsky. Livni is known to have consulted both men in the past, and - at least as far as Halevy is concerned - has also done so since she won the Kadima primary last month. Halevy, also a former chairman of the national security council, now heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at the Hebrew University.

US warns Syria against interfering in Lebanon
Reuters, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Washington says ’concerned’ over Syrian military buildup, warns Damascus must not use recent attack as pretext to reinvade Lebanon - The United States voiced concern over Syria’s military build-up at its northern border and said the recent massive bomb attack in Damascus must not be used as a pretext to get its forces back into Lebanon. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the United States and others had made very clear to Syria that any intervention by Damascus into Lebanon was unacceptable. "The recent terrorist attacks that took place in Tripoli (Lebanon) and Damascus should not serve as a pretext for, you know, further Syrian military engagement or, should not be used to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs," Wood told reporters. Syria tightly controlled politics and security in Lebanon until the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Lebanon, US set up joint military commission
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
The United States and Lebanon on Monday set up a joint military commission to bolster military cooperation - a move that follows the first visit by the newly elected Lebanese president to Washington. The development comes against the backdrop of a Syrian troop buildup along Lebanon’s northern border and follows bombings blamed on Islamic terrorists in the two neighboring Mideast countries. The United States is a backer of Lebanon’s army and has pledged more help since President Michel Suleiman’s September meeting with US President George W. Bush. At the time, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was quoted as saying the Lebanese army was given nearly $400 million in military assistance. A further $60 million worth of aid, including helicopters, ammunition and Humvees, is awaiting Congress’ approval.

Is Damascus planning a return to Lebanon?
Michael Bluhm, Daily Star 10/7/2008
Analysis - BEIRUT: While Lebanon probably need not fear an impending incursion by the almost 10,000 Syrian troops on Lebanon’s northern border, the recent Syrian deployment has nothing to do with the stated aim of deterring smuggling and instead puts the international community on notice that Syria considers restive North Lebanon a threat to Syrian security, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Monday. While the troop movement about two weeks ago could represent the first step toward renewing the presence of Syrian soldiers on Lebanese territory, Damascus’ immediate priority was to protect itself from the unceasing unrest in North Lebanon, said Oussama Safa, executive director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. "The nature of the deployment is not offensive," he said. "The way they are deployed does not indicate an invasion is imminent.

Syria marks 35th anniversary of Yom Kippur War with call for peace
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
Syrian military leaders marked the 35th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War Monday by saying that Syria was interested in peace, not war, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported. "In their speeches, military leaders spoke about the just and comprehensive peace that Syria hopes for," SANA said. Both Syria and Egypt consider the Yom Kippur War a victory over Israel, even though it ended with Israel still holding the land they ostensibly went to war to regain. In Syria, the day was marked by President Bashar Assad’s visit to the tomb of the unknown soldier and a 21-gun salute in each district. An editorial published by Syrian newspaper Tishreen stated that the indirect peace talks with Israel constitute part of Syria’s strategy to recover its lost land.

PM Olmert unlikely to persuade Russia not to arm Iran and Syria
and Agencies, By Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
MOSCOW - Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will seek today to persuade Russian President Dmitry Medvedev not to sell weapons to Iran and Syria, but with little chance of success, diplomatic sources said. Jerusalem is particularly concerned that sales of Russia’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile system could threaten Israel’s air superiority over both states. And if Iran received these missiles, it would be able to protect its nuclear sites more effectively, making an aerial strike on these sites more difficult. However, Russia’s arms export monopoly denied that it plans to deliver the S-300 missiles to either Iran or Syria, the Interfax news agency reported yesterday. "We have no information of this kind," a spokesman for Rosoboronexport said when asked about potential sales of the sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons to Tehran or Damascus.

NATO chief: Given Iran nukes, we can’t ask Israel to disarm
Reuters, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Monday he was not certain the world can stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Scheffer told a conference in southeast France that given Iran’s nuclear activities, said he would never expect Israel to abandon its own, "supposed nuclear arsenal". Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons, but has never formally said so. "As we all know, Israel never admits to what it has, but I do not see very many arguments for the Jewish state to abandon its potential," he said. Scheffer said that NATO did not have a direct role to play in the issue, but said he was worried that the United Nations had failed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. "It is a major challenge to prevent Iran from continuing to strive to get the bomb," Scheffer told a World. . .

’I’m not positive Iran can be stopped’
Yaakov Katz And Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
In what is seen as a rare statement of support for Israel, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Monday that there was no reason for Israel to surrender its alleged nuclear capabilities in the face of Iran’s continued race towards nuclear power. Speaking at a conference in France, Scheffer said he did not believe the international community would be able to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. "I am not positive about the world being able to stop Iran from fulfilling its ambitions," he was quoted as saying. "It is a major challenge to prevent Iran from continuing to strive to get the bomb," Scheffer said, adding that his concern was "that the Security Council, as we speak, is rather incapable of coming to further conclusions on further sanctions. " RELATEDAnalysis: How to stop Iran Video:Six-day. . .

’Russia committed to preventing Iran from attaining nuclear arms’ Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 10/6/2008
Russia is committed to stopping Iranian nuclearization for military purposes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Moscow on Monday night. Olmert asked Lavrov to ratchet up his country’s "involvement in the international efforts to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons," an official from Olmert’s office said. Lavrov also told Olmert that Russia would continue to act to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and that Moscow was committed to steering clear of having contacts with Hamas so long as the group failed to abide by the Quartet conditions. During his meeting with Lavrov, Olmert also urged Russia to support Israeli-Syrian peace talks and "prevent weapons from Syria from reaching extremist elements in Lebanon, such as Hizbullah," an official from Olmert’s office said.

Russian FM: Committed to preventing military nuclearization in Iran
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 10/6/2008
Prime Minister Olmert meets with Russian minister shortly after landing in Moscow. Israel maintains Kremlin sees eye-to-eye with Jerusalem on concerns regarding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions - MOSCOW -Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday evening that "Russia is committed to preventing the nuclearization of Iran for military purposes. "Olmert, who landed in Moscow in the late afternoon, is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday. Concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program topped the agenda at the meeting, with Olmert telling Lavrov it is "crucial that Russia take part in the international effort to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear power and putting an end to Iran’s enrichment operations. " The two discussed the cooperation between Jerusalem and Moscow and agreed it would continue.

Foreign Min. compiles report on likelihood of West holding talks with Iran
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
It emerged on Monday that the Foreign Ministry has compiled a report on the likelihood of Western countries launching negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Those negotiations, which the report predicts would be led by Europe and the United States, would limit Iranian uranium enrichment to the low levels needed for nuclear energy. Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert flew to Russia on Monday for talks likely to focus on Iran. Olmert will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday, and will press him on supposed Russian arms sales to Iran and efforts by Moscow to prevent UN approval of a new round of sanctions on Tehran. But the report compiled by the Foreign Ministry suggests Israel believes it will have a hard time rallying international support for a tougher stance.

IRAQ: Over 400 confirmed cholera cases so far
IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 10/7/2008
BAGHDAD, 6 October 2008 () - The number of confirmed cholera cases has risen to 418 in central and southern Iraq, with six dead since an outbreak began on 20 August, a government spokesman said on 5 October. "We’ve registered 418 cholera cases in 10 provinces so far: Babil 222 cases, Baghdad 71, Basra 44, Karbala 34, Qadissiyah 30, Anbar seven, Najaf five, Maysan three, and Diyala and Kut one case each," said Ihsan Jaafar, director-general of the public health directorate and spokesman for the ministry’s cholera control unit. Jaafar toldthat one new cholera-related death - a child under five in Qadissiyah Province - had been added to the already registered five fatalities: a 10-year-old girl and a 61-year-old man in Babil Province; a three-year-old boy in Maysan; and an adult and child in Baghdad. He said that of the newly registered cases 228 were males and 190 females; in 159. . .

IRAQ: U.S. Urged to Share More of Refugee Burden
Zainab Mineeia, Inter Press Service 10/7/2008
WASHINGTON, Oct 6(IPS) - Despite a marked increase in the number of Iraqi refugees admitted into the United States, experts on Iraq and human rights and refugee organisations are calling on Washington to open the door wider amid fears that returning home remains dangerous for many displaced Iraqis. The U. S. government has met its target of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees for the 2008 fiscal year, which ended on Sep. 30, and promises to admit more than 17,000 for the next year, in addition to 5,000 under a special visa programme. Approximately 1. 5 million Iraqi refuges live in Syria, Jordan and other neighbouring countries. Ninety thousand of them are seeking resettlement in the U. S. , according to U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Groups that advocate on behalf of refugees have praised the increased numbers of Iraqi refugees being resettled in the U.

Egyptian FM: Time to boost ties with Iraq
Middle East Online 10/6/2008
BAGHDAD - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit made a surprise visit to Iraq on Sunday, the first such trip since 1990, saying it is the right time to expand relations between the two nations. "We feel it is the proper time to come to Iraq and launch deeper Iraq-Egypt relations," Abul Gheit told reporters after talks with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said his government is pressing ahead with reconstruction and with establishment of peace and stability and he urged Egypt to help, his office said in a statement. "After improving security and the successes achieved by our armed forces in the face of terrorists and outlaws, we have to go towards construction," Maliki was quoted as saying. Maliki called on Egyptian companies "to participate in construction projects and help the reconstruction processes with their expertise and experience in various sectors," the statement said.

Washington and Beirut set up joint military panel
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 10/7/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon and the United States set up a joint commission on Monday charged with organizing their bilateral military relationship. The commission was set up after a meeting on Monday between Defense Minister Elias Murr and US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mary Beth Long, who arrived in Beirut late on Sunday. In a related development, a joint statement by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the US Embassy said that Beirut and Washington had signed three military contracts worth $63 million in US grants to the LAF. The grants are aimed at providing the LAF with secure communications, ammunition and infantry weapons. Also on Monday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Hale continued his visits to Lebanese politicians as he met with former President Amin Gemayel at the Phalange Party headquarters in Beirut.

Most factories exceed pollution limits
Dalia Tal, Globes Online 10/6/2008
Polluters include Taro, Kitan, Haifa Chemicals, and Zoglowek. More than 60% of large factories in Israel tested by the Ministry of Environmental Protection over the past year exceeded the pollution level permitted in their business licenses or ordinances. The ministry conducted 377 tests at 50 factories and 87 facilities, including the taking of air samples and analyzing them. 30 factories exceeded their permitted emissions levels, in some cases by thousands of percent, jeopardizing the environment. Some of the emissions are suspected carcinogens and others harm the lungs. The worst offender is RonoPolydan Packaging Ltd. , a color printing plant at the Barkan industrial zone near Ariel. Ministry of Environmental Protection inspectors found that the factory emission level of ethyl acetate, a toxin, exceeded permitted levels by 3,713%, and its emissions of suspected carcinogenic organic particulates exceeded permitted levels by 5,067%.

Investment houses in merger talks
Tamar Koblenz and Eran Peer, Globes Online 10/6/2008
Markstone managing director Ron Lubash: The era of consolidation of investment houses has begun. The first serious signs of consolidation among Israeli investment houses are appearing. Prisma Investment House Ltd. and Altshuler Shaham Ltd. are in advanced merger talks. No agreement has been reached yet, but the parties have agreed on a structure for a deal. Altshuler Shaham is owned by co-CEO Gilad Altshuler and active director Kalman Shaham. Ran Shaham is the other co-CEO. Prisma Investment House Ltd. is controlled byMarkstone Capital Partners Group LLC. Markstone managing director Ron Lubash told aides this morning, "The era of consolidation of investment houses has begun, and the global markets situation will dictate a fast timetable. " Prisma CEO Yuval Gavish told "Globes", "Altshuler Shaham is an investment house with a proven professional. . .

Two Hamas legislators call for prosecuting Abbas after his term ends
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
Hama legislators of the Change and Reform Bloc, Dr. Salim Salama, called for detaining president Mahmoud Abbas after his term in office ends on January 8, 2009. Legislator Ismail Al Ashqar of Hamas said that after January 9, Abbas will be regarded as an ordinary citizen and should be "prosecuted for his coup against the Palestinian legitimacy", the Palestine News (psnews. ps) reported. Legislator Salama said during a parallel PLC session in Gaza and in Ramallah that the basic Palestinian law does not allow renewing Abbas’ term in office. Meanwhile, Al Ashqar stated that starting on January 9, Abbas should be considered ordinary resident and should be prosecuted in a court of law for what he described as the "coup against legitimacy and attacks against the residents", the psnews added. Al Ashqar accused Abbas of cutting the salaries of government employees and of collaborating with the occupation through "fruitless negotiations with Israel".

Hamas dominated PLC votes on the illegality of extending Abbas’ term beyond January 8
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 10/6/2008
The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), dominated by Hamas movement, held on Monday a session to discuss the legal dimensions of specifying term of office of the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. The PLC decided that Abbas’ term should not be extended beyond January 8 of 2009. Legislators of Abbas’ Fateh movement said that Abbas has the right to extend his mandate in office while Hamas considered this issue as illegal since the president was elected for four years. The Hamas legislators said that after January 8 Abbas will no longer be regarded as the Palestinian president. The unanimously vote came to approve a report of the Legal Committee of the PLC which recommended that Abbas’ term should not be extended beyond January 8. Legislator Mohammad Al Ghoul, head of the PLC’s legal committee said that Abbas’ term ends on January 8 of 2008 and called on Abbas to call for new presidential elections before this date.

With Deri out, Porush courts Haredi elite
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
MK Meir Porush can expect to sweat it out until the last minute, without knowing the conditions under which he will become the agreed-on ultra-Orthodox candidate for Jerusalem mayor. And "the last minute" is no turn of phrase; the ultra-Orthodox don’t ask by what day they need to submit the names of candidates - they ask by what time. And the time when the current chapter in ultra-Orthodox politics ends is 9 P. M. tonight, when the names of mayoral candidates must be submitted. Until then, Porush will continue running around trying to close deals with the people supposed to be his ultra-Orthodox partners: Shas, Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael. But by yesterday afternoon, Porush was already able to breathe a sigh of relief when former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri was removed from the running. This puts Porush closer than ever to being the only candidate running against secular businessman. . .

Crisis pushes Barak, Livni together
Mazal Mualem and Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
Stock markets tumbled worldwide, pulling down Tel Aviv stocks too as fears of a global financial crisis escalated after a pan-European bailout plan never even left the starting gate. The fallout of the mounting market panic was palpable in Israeli politics too, helping Labor Party chair and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to draw closer to forming a government with Foreign Minister and prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni. Barak stated yesterday that during a financial crisis, the most urgent priority is to deal with the situation. In this way Barak was seen as lowering Labor’s demands for increased social spending in next year’s budget. However, at the end of a meeting he held with Histadrut labor federation chair Ofer Eini and the president of the Manufacturers Association, Shraga Brosh, in his Tel Aviv Defense Ministry office, Barak said he still thinks the budget can be. . .

Jerusalem property tax debts delay transfer of Sergei complex to Russians
Jonathan Lis and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to inform Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday that he is returning the Sergei complex in the center of Jerusalem to Russia. However, the cabinet’s attempts to prepare the groundwork for the transfer have run into serious problems due to millions of shekels in unpaid property taxes. On Monday the government asked the city to transfer the title in the Land Registry to the state, but the municipality’s examination revealed that the present owner, the "Palestine Russia Company," owes NIS 2. 9 million in debts to the city, and by law, no transfer can be made until the debts are paid off. [end]


Breaking the silence challenges the Israeli army
Cherrie Heywood, Electronic Intifada 10/6/2008
      RAMALLAH, West Bank (IPS) - An Israeli police commander has called them "provocateurs," "militants," and "lawbreakers." Earlier in the year the Israeli army decided that their presence in the city of Hebron, 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem in the Palestinian West Bank, constituted a security threat and banned them from the city, stating that any member of the organization caught there would be expelled forthwith.
     They’ve been spat at, stoned and assaulted, but these former members of the army, many of whom served in Hebron, are determined to expose what is being done in their name and in the name of Israel’s security.
     Breaking the Silence (BTS) was co-founded in 2004 by Yehuda Shaul, 26, an Israeli soldier who served for nearly three years in the volatile city of Hebron.
     The organization’s main aim is to break the silence and taboo surrounding the behavior of Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian territories in an endeavor to enlighten ordinary Israelis on what happens behind the scenes as their sons and daughters, husbands and wives serve the Jewish state.

We Should All Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

Joharah Baker - West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 10/6/2008
      ’For three full days, the Israeli army closed off all checkpoints..’
     Every year I wonder why the Palestinians don’t include Jewish holidays on their national calendar. At least those Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem should be afforded a few days off whenever the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine are on vacation.
     This may sound strange, of course, coming from a Palestinian Muslim who would like nothing better than to be completely independent of anything Israeli. However, my argument is based on practical premises and not religious or ideological ones.
     Take for example the most recent Jewish holiday, which was Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. For three full days, the Israeli army closed off all checkpoints into Israel to Palestinians, including those around Jerusalem. This means that even Palestinians with permits to enter Israel were not allowed entry during this period. Permits, let me clarify, are issued by the Israeli security establishment itself. For further clarification, these permits are only issued to select Palestinians after a scrutinizing vetting process to ensure that none of these individuals are even a slight security threat to the mighty state of Israel. So, if we are to follow this logic, then the Palestinians who have permits to enter Israel would be no more threatening during New Years than they would be at any other time. Hence, the only other explanation is that Israel simply prefers to have the country as purely Jewish as possible during their holidays, keeping out any pesky Palestinians.

Palestinian workers exploited at West Bank settlement factories

Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 10/6/2008
      In August, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, the international watchdog organization, asked three Israeli companies to respond to a report by an Israeli non-governmental organization that protested the treatment of Palestinian workers at West Bank settlement industrial parks. Kav LaOved, which is concerned with the rights of migrant and Palestinian workers employed in Israel and Israel’s illegal settlements, reported on the rising number of claims by Palestinian workers employed in West Bank settlements following an October 2007 Israeli high court ruling that the country’s labor laws applied in the settlements.
     Amongst the companies whose labor practices were criticized in the Kav LaOved report was Royalnight, a textile manufacturer owned by Royalife. In 2003, Royalife established a factory in the Barkan Industrial Park located near the Ariel settlement in the northern West Bank. Royalnight’s sheet sets, bed skirts, quilted blankets, and decorated pillows are exported to and marketed in the United States and Europe.According to Kav LaOved’s report, Palestinian workers who come from all over the West Bank have to work under poor health and safety conditions at Royalnight’s textile plant. To evade liability, work permits are issued under the name of a different employer, and workers employed through a Palestinian contractor are paid less.

Hebron Nominated to UNESCO World Heritage List

Hiyam Noir, Palestine Chronicle 10/5/2008
      The City of Hebron ( Khalil) in the Palestinian West Bank, is nominated to a place in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites by a group of European organizations and institutions, who met in a conference in Venice last week under the slogan, "Let us make peace in the Middle East. Let us rebuild the hope."
     In year 2001 the ancient walled port-city of the Old City of Akka in the Western Galilee received the status of a place on the World Heritage List, under the criteria of sites with outstanding universal value, meeting at least one out of ten selection in the UNESCO’s criteria and operational guidelines.
     The conference is a preparation to meet a call from UNESCO, to place the City of Hebron and its ancient history sites on the World Heritage Site list, which means Hebron would be a protected area, also eligible for rebuilding funds. The conference in Venice, was attended by delegates from all European nations, working towards a "diplomacy of the cities" in "building hope and support peace in the Middle East. "

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in danger of collapse

Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 10/7/2008
      The historic Deir al-Sultan monastery on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem, is in danger of collapse. Its two chapels and the tiny rooms where its monks live could crumble, injuring the many tourists who visit the site, as well as the monks who live there, and even the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself. An engineer who examined the structures recently said the complex was a "danger to human life." As long ago as 2004, before the situation worsened to its present emergency state, the Interior Ministry said it would pay for renovations. However, because of a long-standing dispute between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, whose clergy live at the site, and the Coptic Church, which claims ownership of it, the parties have not managed to reach an agreement that would allow renovations to proceed. The Interior Ministry has made clear to various church officials over the years that it would pay for the work only if the various ownership issues were resolved among the denominations.
     The head of the Ethiopian Church in Jerusalem, Archbishop Matthias, sent a letter about 10 days ago to Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and to the minister in charge of Jerusalem affairs, Rafi Eitan, in which he warned of the sorry state of the complex as well as of his unwillingness to come to an agreement with the Copts. With regard to the Interior Ministry’s demand that the two denominations come to terms, the archbishop said: "This condition is completely unacceptable to us, since we do not recognize any right of the Coptic church in the area in question. Moreover, it is inconceivable that the implementation of emergency repairs at the holy site would be conditioned on the consent of the Coptic church. Indeed, there is disagreement between us and the Coptic church regarding the rights at the site in question, but that is precisely the reason we are turning to the Israeli authorities, as a neutral factor, to carry out the necessary repairs.

Livni: The Making of an Israeli ’Dove’

Gabriel Ash, MIFTAH 10/6/2008
      With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert forced to concentrate on his corruption charges, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, won the ruling party Kadima’s primaries and is hoping to form a new government. Livni, like Olmert, is a scion of the right-wing Revisionist movement, the Likud party’s ideological antecedent (the name refers to their demand to revise the terms of the British Mandate so that what is now Jordan would be included in the future Jewish state). Her father, Eitan Livni, was operations officer of the revisionist terrorist group Etzel. Last spring, Livni expressed her honest arrogance by demanding that Palestinians erase the word "Nakba" (the Arabic term for the Palestinians’ forced dispossession of their homeland) from their lexicon if there was to be any chance of a "Palestinian state" and "peace" -- hardly the statements of a "dove."
     Yet, both inside Israel and in the world media, that is precisely the reputation Livni has cultivated. This perception of Livni rests primarily on her supposed "journey" from the far right to supporting a Palestinian state. Livni’s political career started in the Likud. However, she followed her mentors, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Olmert, into Kadima in 2005 after Likud became identified too strongly with the settler movement which was blocking Sharon’s planned disengagement from Gaza. Olmert has since explicitly and somewhat testily lectured his constituents that the dream of the "entire land of Israel" was dead: a Palestinian state established on some area of the West Bank and Gaza, including some part of East Jerusalem, is the only basis on which Israel can seek to negotiate with its neighbors. Livni is closely associated with the same "dovish" views.

The Palestinian Left and Right of Return

Haidar Eid – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 10/6/2008
      ’A Palestinian state without the right of return is slavery, not liberation.’
     The status of the left and its’ role in the liberation of Palestine continues to be the focus of analysis and discussion. Some argue that the Palestinian left is dead and that it has subsumed its’ historic role to that of the right wing within Fateh for too long to be considered an independent force anymore. Others argue that the lefts’ participation in the PLO is necessary because the PLO is a Palestinian national achievement that was created to embody the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. This view sees the PLO as a coalition of most Palestinian political organizations who subscribe to the Palestinian National Charter and the Interim Program. A key demand in the Interim Program is the right of Palestinians refugees to return to the villages and towns from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948 - a right also guaranteed by UN resolution 194.
     With the rise of the two-state solution as a possible resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and more especially following the signing of the Oslo Accords, the official leadership of the PLO began to use the right of return as a bargaining chip in its’ endless rounds of negotiations with the Israelis. However, in spite of this, they have never clearly and directly indicated a willingness to abandon this right in its’ entirety. It was only in the semi-official Geneva Document-- rejected outright by almost all political parties and civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, 1948 Palestine, and the Diaspora-- that an attempt was made to force Palestinians to give up this right in exchange for a truncated ’state.’

Playing Palestinians off Against Each Other

Ghassan Khatib - West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 10/6/2008
      Hamas vs. Fatah: Israel is playing Palestinians off against each other.
     In spite of their recent fierce confrontations and the continuing hostile rhetoric, there are apparently three levels of direct and indirect dealings between Israel and Hamas of Gaza. A ceasefire was reached and is still maintained, negotiations are taking place through third parties on a likely prisoners’ exchange and the two sides are exchanging views over the possible opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
     The most striking aspect of Hamas-Israel relations has been the success and duration of the ceasefire. It is worth noting, that since the resumption of violent confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians in 2000, this has been the most successful ceasefire to date. Based on that, the Israeli security establishment has already drawn its conclusions about the strength of Hamas and its willingness and ability to abide by its commitments.
     Palestinian fears of a possible development in the Hamas-Israel relationship are deeply rooted in the Islamic Resistance Movement’s history. The late president Yasser Arafat repeated more than once in closed circles that during peace negotiations, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had expressed regret for the earlier Israeli involvement in supporting and encouraging the creation of Hamas. Israel did this during the first intifada in order to counterbalance the growing strength and influence of the PLO.

Palestine in verse: ''Flawed Landscape'' and ''Poets for Palestine'' reviewed

Atef Alshaer, Electronic Intifada 10/6/2008
      It is inspirational to find Palestine richly meditated in poetry. Two new poetry collections provide a robust testament to that and to the eternal durability of poetry as a synthetic medium of expression and a concise reservoir of evocative communication, harboring meaning, signification, resonance and music. One collection is by the Palestinian-American poet Sharif S. Elmusa, Flawed Landscape, and the other is made of selected works by various poets edited by Remi Kanazi, Poets for Palestine. When poetry is concerned with such a historically and culturally grounded issue as Palestine, one expects unusual richness, for the context of that issue entails a range of elements that provides the poet with substantial materials for substantial meditation. Indeed, this is what one encounters in these two collections: richness of vision and an engaging style.
     One theme that recurs in both collections is the question of identity. Many of the poets featured in these collections are Palestinians who have by birth or forced exile lived amongst other cultures, mainly western. As a result of this, their sense of their identity runs deep into the lines of their poetry. But it is the obfuscated unsettled identity, Palestine, the site of struggle that is rendered with yearning and tenderness in the poems: "I’m a Palestinian-American/ standing proudly with one foot on democracy/ and the other seeking autonomy" (p.15) writes Remi Kanazi.

UN report castigates Israeli abuse of journalists

Thalif Deen, Electronic Intifada 10/6/2008
      UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - A new United Nations report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories blasts the Israeli government for its heavy-handed treatment of journalists reporting on the military occupation.
     The 20-page report, which will go before the 63rd sessions of the General Assembly currently underway, singles out the mistreatment of award-winning Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer who was stripped, interrogated, kicked and beaten up when he returned from Europe to his home town in the occupied territory of Gaza last June.
     A stringer for Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, Omer, 24, was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism for "displaying courage and ability in covering war zones."
     The UN report, by Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, says that Omer was convinced the brutal assault on his person was carried out by personnel from Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency.