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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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28 November, 200

One dead, several injured by Israeli shells east of Khan Younis; seven projectiles launched by brigades in response
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Al-Qassam Brigades launched five homemade projectiles at Israeli targets, and the Al-Mujahidin Brigades another two following the death of one activist by Israeli shells north east of Khan Younis Friday afternoon. One man was reported dead and several others injured after Israeli warplanes launched three rounds of shells at An-Nasser Brigades activists, from the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), in the town of Al-Qarara. Director of Ambulances and Emergency at the Ministry of Health Dr Mu’awiya Hassanein said three men were transported to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. He also confirmed three loud explosions were heard in the region, and said ambulances were unable to reach the remote area where the shells hit immediately. Hassanein indicated medical staff had heard reports of one man killed and several others injured.

Eight IDF soldiers wounded in mortar barrage on western Negev
Amos Harel and Yanir Yagna, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/29/2008
Eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded Friday evening, two seriously, after mortars fired by Gaza Strip militants hit a military base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the western Negev. The soldiers were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva and to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the small Popular Resistance Committees, an ally of the Islamic Hamas militant group that rules Gaza. The military base is located near a fuel terminal that supplies much-needed gasoline and cooking fuel to impoverished Gaza. According to the Israeli military, Palestinian militants fired a total of 11 mortars at southern Israel from Gaza on Friday. Three of them landed at the base, the military said. The mortar barrage came after earlier on Friday an IDF patrolclashed with Palestinian. . .

International, local and Israeli activists tear-gassed in Bil’in demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers fired teargas, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs at a group of Bil’in residents, Israeli and international activists on Friday as the group marched to the site of the separation wall in an anti-occupation protest. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and banners calling for the guarantee of Palestinian’s right to Jerusalem, the right of return, Palestinian controlled borders, access to water, the release of all Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons and the removal of the separation wall and Israeli settlements from the West Bank and Gaza. Joining the group this week were students from An Najah University and a large contingent of international activists. The international activists carried banners showing their solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian right to resist the occupation and live in peace on their land.

Lebanon offers formal recognition to state of Palestine
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/29/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon has decided for the first time to establish diplomatic relations with the state of Palestine, and has approved the opening of an embassy in Beirut. "The cabinet has approved the establishment of diplomatic relations with the state of Palestine," Information Minister Tarek Mitri said following a Cabinet meeting late on Thursday. A Palestinian embassy would replace an office in Beirut representing the Palestine Liberation Organization, but Mitri said no date had yet been fixed to implement the move. The PLO, which is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and groups the main Palestinian political movements, is recognized by most countries as representing the Palestinian people. Abbas’ predecessor the late Yasser Arafat symbolically proclaimed the state of Palestine in 1988 but the Palestinians have yet to win formal independence.

Female ex-prisoner says Palestinian female captives denied medical treatment
Palestinian Information Center 11/28/2008
RAMALLAH, [PIC]-- Palestinian ex-prisoner Kholod Al-Masri, who was released from Israeli jails on Thursday, affirmed that Palestinian female captives in Israeli jails were living in harsh prison conditions and deliberately denied proper medical treatment. Masri, who is a councilor in Nablus municipal council, was speaking to the Palestinian center for defending the prisoners shortly after she was released. "We call on the international community to immediately mobilize to rescue Palestinian female captives in occupation jails as they indeed live in a very miserable condition amidst deliberate medical neglect on the part of the Israeli jailors", she said. She explained that sick Palestinian female captives suffer a lot before they could be allowed to check up; and in spite of that hardship, the jail doctor refuses to render proper medical services to them, and gives them Akamol tranquilizer only regardless of the sickness.

PLC member: Gaza power plant to shut down as fuel runs out
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s power plant will shut down again Friday night after the area exhausts the limited fuel transferred in on Wednesday. The blackout prediction was announced by the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege on Gaza, Jamal Al-Khudari, at a press conference in Gaza City. "The occupation wants to mislead the world into believing the Gaza siege has ended," he said. Al-Khudari also stressed that the brief opening of Gaza’s borders and "the token supplies" allowed in did not amount to an end to the blockade, but rather allowed Israel to continue its actions while the world was appeased. He described Gazan life as "paralyzed" and called on the international community and the Arab and Islamic world to put pressure on Israel to open Gaza’s borders and stop the siege against its people.

Israel releases confiscated fishing boats after rights groups launch Supreme Court case
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Three confiscated Gazan fishing vessels were returned Friday following the launch of legal action against Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli Naval Commander Eli Maron by a Palestinian activist group. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR),The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Palestinian rights group Al-Mazan, filed the case on Thursday. The case demanded the return of the boats, which were confiscated on 18 November after 15 Palestinians and three international activists were detained by the Israeli navy while fishing in Gazan coastal waters. "While the return of 1/4 of Gaza’s trawling fleet after they were stolen by the Israeli navy is a relief to Gaza’s fishermen, the fact that it only took the threat of court action in their own legal system for the boats return demonstrates how baseless Israel’s claim of not occupying Gaza. . .

Failure of power networks in Gaza due to Israeli refusal to allow in spare parts
Palestinian Information Center 11/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Gaza power station announced Thursday that some of the electricity networks in the Strip broke down because Israel refuses to allow spare parts into the Strip in order to carry out maintenance work. In a press release received by the PIC, Jamal Al-Dardsawi, the public relation officer of Gaza power station, said that the needed replacement parts have been held at Israeli ports and inside the warehouses of the energy authority in the West Bank for more than a year. He pointed out that the power station’s warehouses in Gaza are currently empty of any reserve of spare parts or new equipment. Dardsawi explained that some distribution transformers broke down due to overload, appealing to the concerned international organizations to pressure Israel to release the spare parts from its ports.

Egyptian sources: Rafah crossing to open Saturday for three days
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Rafah crossing into and out of the Gaza Strip will open for three days starting on Saturday to allow Palestinian pilgrims to travel for Hajj, according to Egyptian sources. But the de facto Interior Ministry still maintains that the crossing is closed, insisting that it has not received information on its opening and that the Ramallah-based caretaker government’s directing of residents to go to Rafah is misleading. The Awqaf Ministry released a list of names permitted to leave for Hajj beginning on Saturday, and numbering 3,200. Previously, the ministry had organized a sit-in at the crossing to protest its closure. [end]

Controlling Rafah: Gaza and West Bank governments vie for authority over Hajj pilgrims’ exit
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – De facto Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh pleaded with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Egyptian authorities on Friday asking them to open the Rafah crossing before Eid Al-Adha. According to an announcement by the caretaker government in Ramallah on Thursday, however, it has arranged crossing dates for Gazans making the Hajj pilgrimage via Rafah. On Friday the caretaker government revised the dates that Rafah would be open, but thanked Egypt for opening its border facilities and facilitating the exit of thousands of Hajj pilgrims. The de facto government interior ministry issued a statement later on Friday saying they had no knowledge of arrangements with Egypt for pilgrims leaving Gaza for Saudi Arabia. Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs for the Ramallah-based caretaker government Sheikh Jamal Bawatneh confirmed the crossing would be open Saturday through Tuesday.

Daylong clashes in Jayyous, youth destroy parts of the Wall
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 11/28/2008
The village of Jayyous mobilized this Friday for the weekly demonstration against the re-routing of the Wall through village land. Youth engaged with Occupation forces at the Wall and inside the village, and confrontations continued into the late afternoon. The village remains occupied following the burning of the outer fence this evening. The demonstration began in the city center, following the Friday prayers. Upwards of 300 people gathered together in the village center and marched toward the gate. The demonstrators called for the destruction of the Wall, the continuation of resistance to the Occupation, and the right to return to their lands. However, the demonstration was stopped on the road on the outskirts of the village. Fearing a repeat of last Friday, when residents tore apart the gate, Occupation forces deployed on the road, and soldiers physically prevented the march from reaching the Wall.

Anti-Wall protest in Bil’in commemorates Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/28/2008
Under the slogan, "Towards a Palestine free from settlements, the wall, apartheid roads, checkpoints and roadblocks, and for one united Palestine with no islands and cantons", the residents of Bili’n gathered in a protest after the Friday prayer joined by international and Israeli activists. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and banners calling for resilience and persistence to continue to demand Palestinian rights like Jerusalem, right of return, borders, access to water, the release of all detainees and removing the wall and settlements. A group from Al Mobadara students from Al Najah National University participated with the people in Bil’in to give their support. The international activists carried banners showing their solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian right to resist the occupation and live in peace on their land.

5 youths arrested near Hebron house
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/28/2008
Four boys arrested for cutting Kiryat Arba fence, girl detained for throwing stones -Several youths were arrested early Friday morning near the disputed house in Hebron, after police caught them destroying property and throwing stones. Police reported that, about an hour and a half after midnight, forces caught four boys, aged 14 to 16, cutting the fence around the settlement of Kiryat Arba, which is adjacent to the disputed house. They denied the charges. According to police, the four are residents of Jerusalem and not Hebron, and as such, police intend to release them and ban them from the area. At around the same time, police forces detained a 17-year-old girl who was throwing stones at an Arab neighborhood in Hebron. The girl, also not a resident of the city, was questioned but did not cooperate with police.

Four Palestinians injured at Ni’lin anti-wall demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Four Palestinians were reportedly shot by Israeli forces at an anti-wall march in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, near Ramallah, on Friday. After Friday prayers, demonstrators gathered near lands threatened with confiscation, shouting slogans and demanding help for 120 families whose lands are to be confiscated. As protesters neared the construction site, Israeli forces opened fire "from close range" with tear-gas canisters "fired directly at protesters," as well as rubber-coated bullets, according to a statement received by Ma’an. Four injured Palestinians were taken to a hospital in Ramallah, the statement added. [end]

Soldiers delay Palestinian faction leader at Jerusalem checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces held up a high-level Palestinian political official at a West Bank checkpoint on Thursday evening, according to a statement from the Palestine People’s Party (PPP). Soldiers reportedly detained PPP Secretary-general Bassam As-Salhi at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem "for several hours" on Thursday, the statement said. The PPP claimed that Israeli soldiers originally stopped As-Salhi as he was passing through the checkpoint. As-Salhi told Ma’an that forces had held him in order to issue a scheduled December court summons in Jerusalem. [end]

Two Palestinians injured by Israeli soldiers during Jayous anti-wall demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Qalqiliya – Ma’an – Two Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets shot by Israeli soldiers as they participated in the peaceful demonstration against the wall in the village of Jayous west of Qalqiliya on Friday. Those injured were identified as Muhamad Abdel Walid Salim and Muhamad Abdel Rahman Salim. Villagers demonstrated with activists and toured the streets of the village calling for the end of settlement construction. When the group reached what has been designated a military area Israeli troops prevented their progress and clashes ignited.

Qatari relief vessel to sail to Gaza soon; Libyan vessel to arrive Gaza Monday
Palestinian Information Center 11/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The chairman of the Popular Committee against the Siege on Gaza MP Jamal Al-Khudari has declared the start of the "vessel peaceful uprising" to break the unjust siege on Gaza, adding that a Qatari vessel would sail within few days from Cyprus to Gaza. The Qatari vessel, according to Khudari, was the second Arab vessel to be dispatched to the besieged Gaza Strip after Libya dispatched the Marwa vessel carrying relief items worth of 15 million dollars. It is scheduled to arrive Monday the shores of Gaza. The Palestinian official announced the good news as he inaugurated an exhibition of pictures reflecting the adverse results of the Israeli economic blockade on the 1. 5 million Palestinian people living there. More than 260 Palestinian patients have died so far after the Israeli occupation government decided to seal off all crossing points of the coastal Strip.

Bahrain demands end of Gaza siege, shoulders cost of treating its patients
Palestinian Information Center 11/27/2008
MANAMA, (PIC)-- Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Khalifa has asserted that King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad Al-Khalifa had given instructions to treat all Gaza patients at the kingdom’s expense. He pointed out that the monarch ordered the formation of a team at the foreign ministry to follow up the issue of helping patients to travel to hospitals and receive suitable treatment. The Bahraini chief diplomat had held a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Ghait in Cairo and discussed working jointly to alleviate the suffering of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip through allowing transfer of patents to hospitals and extending material assistance to them. In Gaza, medical sources reported that the number of siege victims among patients in the Strip had risen to 261 after a 34-yerar-old mother of five children died on Wednesday.

Jordan: Israeli Blockade against Gaza Strip Must Be Stopped
Jordan Foreign Ministry, Palestine Media Center 11/27/2008
Foreign Minister Salaheddin Al Bashir underlined on Tuesday the importance of the international community movement to end the crisis of Palestinians in Gaza. "The Israeli blockade against Gaza Strip must be stopped, crossing points mush be opened and aid must be allowed to Gazans," said Al Bashir. The minister made his remarks during two separate meetings with EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Mark Otte and United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Robert Serry. He reiterated the importance of the UN and EU roles in pushing forward the efforts designed to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict according to the two-state solution. He also urged the two bodies to help creating the suitable atmosphere to reach the agreement.

Gov’t anti siege committee asks for expediting Arab relief convoys
Palestinian Information Center 11/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government’s anti siege committee has asked the Arab foreign ministers to expedite implementing their decision and send immediate relief convoys via Rafah crossing to the beleaguered Gaza Strip. The committee said in a press release on Thursday that the Palestinian people were in dire need of such assistance in the light of the tightened Israeli closure of all crossings. The delay in sending aid would mean the fall of more victims and the deterioration of the humanitarian and health disaster in the Strip, it added. Alaa Al-Batta, the committee’s spokesman, appreciated the Arab FM decision to send foodstuff and medicine to Gaza, hoping that it would materialize soon, especially when citizens were impatiently waiting for that assistance. He said that sending the aid would help alleviate the citizens’ suffering and enhance their steadfastness in face. . .

Imprisoned PLC speaker undergoes surgery following Israeli delay
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The imprisoned speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) underwent surgery on Friday despite Israeli delays and "medical negligence," according to the de facto speaker in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Aziz Duweik has been imprisoned for the past 28 months in an Israeli jail even though he has been "long suffering due to medical negligence by the Israeli prison authorities," the de facto PLC office in Gaza said on Friday. According to a statement sent to Ma’an, Duweik underwent surgery inside the Ramla detention facility to remove kidney stones on Friday. Ahmad Bahar, the deputy PLC speaker in Gaza, denounced the continued imprisonment of Duweik and the "harsh treatment by Israeli soldiers there," holding them "fully responsible if something happens to him. "

Five hostages killed as Indian commandos storm Jewish center
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/29/2008
MUMBAI: Indian commandos stormed a Mumbai Jewish center Friday in a raid that saw five hostages die as special forces battled to end an audacious Islamist militant attack blamed on Pakistan that killed at least 130 people. As the operation at the center reached its bloody conclusion, military units were still trying to subdue at least one militant holding out in one of two luxury hotels where gunmen had held terrified guests for close to 48 hours. Troops fired grenades through windows of the city’s landmark Taj Mahal hotel, targeting a room where one or more militants were fighting to the death. The attack was followed by heavy and extended exchanges of gunfire. Officials said the other five-star hotel stormed by Pakistan-based militants on Wednesday evening - the Oberoi-Trident - had been brought under the control of the armed forces.

Siege ends at Mumbai Jewish centre
Al Jazeera 11/29/2008
Indian commandos have ended the siege of a Jewish centre in Mumbai, storming the building and recovering the bodies of five hostages, while fighting continued at a luxury hotel elsewhere in the city. The siege at the Nariman House ended on Friday, the private NDTV news channel said, two days after attackers carried out a series of co-ordinated attacks across India’s financial capital. Al Jazeera’s Matt McClure, reporting from outside the Nariman House in south Mumbai, said several gunmen have been killed in the assault by the security forces. "Now we are told they [security forces] are slowly moving room-to-room there to make sure there are no booby traps," he said. Raging battle The bodies of five hostages were recovered from the building, an Israeli emergency medical crew that entered the building after the raid, said.

VIDEO - Rabbi among hostages killed at Mumbai Jewish centre
Randeep Ramesh, Vikram Dodd and Daniel Pepper in Mumbai, Owen, The Guardian 11/28/2008
A rabbi and his wife were among five hostages found dead inside the remains of the Mumbai Jewish centre held by Islamist militants. A final assault by Indian commandos on Nariman House today culminated with soldiers blowing a hole in the outer wall. Two militants were reported killed in the siege. As many as 150 people are feared dead across Mumbai after three days of violence; up to 22 of them may be foreigners. The Taj Mahal hotel is now the only remaining holdout of the Islamist fighters who are thought to be using hostages as human shields. According to Indian TV reports, up to six terrorists remain inside the luxury hotel. The bodies of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka were found after Indian commandos seized Nariman House from the militants today. Their deaths were confirmed by Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad Lubavitch, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group that ran the centre.

Livni: Western world under attack
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 11/28/2008
Foreign minister tells press conference no details on Chabad attack in Mumbai can be divulged until Indian commando completes operation within; Israeli security personnel, medical teams standing by as battle resumes on third floor -Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni convened a press conference Friday in which she stated that Foreign Ministry personnel were awaiting the end of the Indian commando operation in the Mumbai Chabad house. "It appears the incident is over," she said. "The senior security officer and his people asked permission to enter the premises but then more shooting and explosions broke out. " Livni said Indian security forces were still in the building, moving from floor to floor of the building in an attempt to clear it of terrorist presence. She added that ZAKA and medical teams were standing by.

Timeline: Mumbai assault
Al Jazeera 11/28/2008
Indian security forces have raided two hotels in Mumbai, the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace, which were taken over by men who launched co-ordinated attacks in the city on Wednesday that have killed at least 120 people. Security forces were still trying to secure a Jewish centre in Mumbai on Friday, where several Israelis are believed to be trapped or held hostage. Following are the key events in the crisis (all times are in Mumbai local time): Wednesday 26, 2008: Shooting starts at Chhatrapati Shivaji rail station, one of the world’s busiest, handling thousands of passengers each day. Within the hour other attacks occur at four other locations: the Nariman House, home of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch; Leopold’s restaurant, a landmark popular. . .

Report: Eight soldiers injured in Nahal Uz projectile attack
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Israeli news agencies were reporting late Friday night that at least eight Israeli soldiers were injured in projectile attacks on a Nahal Uz military base near the Gaza Strip. Earlier reports indicated that up to ten soldiers had been wounded in the separate projectile attacks. "A barrage of mortar shells" rained down on the Israeli town of Nahal Uz, where two slammed into a nearby military base, injuring the soldiers, according to Israeli news agency Yedioth Ahronot. The agency also reported that the injured soldiers were taken for medical treatment, where doctors said their injuries ranged from light to critical. The two projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip hit an officers’ quarters building and a soldiers’ barracks, the agency claimed. Others landed nearby, although no injuries were reported by Friday night other than the reported eight soldiers taken for medical treatment.

Israeli tanks enter Gaza
Middle East Online 11/28/2008
GAZA CITY - Israeli troops backed by tanks mounted an incursion into the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, shelling Palestinian areas, witnesses said. The Israeli army confirmed it conducted an operation along the border, saying troops shot and apparently killed a Palestinian, while witnesses spoke of two dead. "A unit conducting a routine patrol along the border fence" spotted armed men who were setting explosives by the fence, a military spokeswoman claimed. One resistance fighter "was apparently killed" in an exchange of fire near the city of Khan Yunis, she said. A small resistance group, the Popular Resistance Committees, said one of its fighters escaped an Israeli strike during the incursion. "The three wounded were evacuated," said Muawiya Hassanein, who heads the emergency services in Gaza. A truce went into force on June 19 between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. . .

IDF clashes with gunmen in Gaza
Ali Waked, YNetNews 11/28/2008
Paratrooper unit spots cell approaching border fence near Khan Younis in attempt to plant explosive device. Gaza sources say four injured in clash with soldiers - Four Palestinians were injured Friday in an IDF attack east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources had initially reported that at least one Palestinian gunman had been killed, but later revealed that he had returned to his home unharmed. According to the report, the gunman had lain on the ground while the soldiers fired at the cell, and when the operation was over he returned to Gaza. The incident began when a paratrooper unit spotted a group of Palestinians attempting to place an explosive device near the border fence in the area. As the soldiers began approaching the place, the gunmen opened fire at them, and the force responded with gunshots.

7 soldiers hurt in mortar shell attack Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 11/28/2008
Seven IDF soldiers were wounded after Palestinian terrorists fired mortar shells at an IDF base in Nahal Oz on Friday evening. The soldiers were taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, and an additional soldier was treated for shock Israel Radio reported. The Popular Resistance Committees - an alliance of various Palestinian armed factions - claimed responsibility for the attack. One soldier was suffering shrapnel wounds to the head and was in critical condition. The other six were lightly wounded. Two female soldiers were among the seven wounded. One shell landed inside the base, while two others landed in open fields. RELATEDKassam hits house in Eshkol regionTwo additional shells landed in the area of a nearby kibbutz, but no additional casualties or damage were reported.

8 soldiers wounded in mortar attack
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 11/28/2008
Palestinians fire barrage of mortar shells on IDF base near Nahal Oz in what Hamas claims is response to earlier clash between troops, gunmen. Two shells land within base, hitting officers’ and soldiers’ quarters -Eight IDF soldiers were injured Friday when a barrage of mortar shells was fired from Gaza towards an army base near the southern town of Nahal Oz. Two of the soldiers were seriously wounded, and one of them suffered a head injury. The other six were lightly to moderately injured. All eight were evacuated to hospitals in Ashkelon and Beersheba. Two of the mortars landed inside the base. One fell on the officers’ quarters and another fell on the female soldiers’ quarters. According to international reports, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for the attack.

PPP denounces Israeli attacks on Khan Younis villages
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Khan Younis – Ma’an – The People’s Party of Palestine (PPP) denounced the ongoing Israeli attacks on the residents of the Gaza Strip near the city of Khan Younis after Israeli warplanes shelled the area. The party said in a statement that Israeli attacks are proof that the country has violated the truce. The statement went on to say the shell attacks on the villages of Abasan Al-Kabiraand Al-Qarara east of Khan Younis that resulted in the destruction of homes and fields must be seriously opposed by international organizations. [end]

Gaza mortars wound Israeli soldiers
Al Jazeera 11/29/2008
At least six Israeli soldiers have been wounded when mortars fired by Palestinian fighters from Gaza landed in a military base in southern Israel. Israel’s rescue service said one of the soldiers was critically injured, and the others were slightly or moderately hurt. According to the Israeli military, armed Palestinians fired a total of 11 mortars at southern Israel on Friday. Three of them landed at the base in the western Negev desert. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any Palestinian group. Earlier in the day, Palestinian gunmen clashed with Israeli troops elsewhere along the volatile Gaza-Israel border. Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction said two of its fighters were wounded in an Israeli air strike.

IDF soldiers clash with Gaza militants, injuring two
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 11/29/2008
Israel Defense Forces soldiers clashed with Palestinian militants in the southeastern Gaza Strip near the border with Israel Friday, injuring at least two, witnesses said. An IDF spokeswoman said Israeli soldiers were on a routine patrol along the border fence, northeast of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, when they identified a number of Palestinian militants who tried to place explosives near the fence. The spokeswoman said the militants opened fire at the Israeli patrol, which returned fire and claimed to have hit one of them. She said the militants also fired at least three mortar shells at the Israeli force during the confrontation. The latest clash comes after the sides made attempts over the past week to restore a fragile informal truce between Hamas and Israel, which has been thrown into doubt since a November. . .

Israeli troops wound three during Gaza incursion
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/29/2008
GAZA CITY: Three Palestinians were wounded when Israeli troops backed by tanks invaded the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, medics and witnesses said. "The three wounded were evacuated," said Muawiya Hassanein, who heads the emergency services in Gaza. He said no one was killed in the operation. Witnesses earlier spoke of two deaths while the Israeli Army said one Palestinian appeared to have been killed. The Israeli Army confirmed it conducted an operation along the border and said there had been an exchange of fire with militants near the city of Khan Yunis. "A unit conducting a routine patrol along the border fence" spotted armed men who were setting explosives by the fence, a military spokeswoman said. A small resistance group, the Popular Resistance Committees, said one of its fighters escaped an Israeli strike during the invasion.

Israeli occupation alleges Palestinian resistance possesses long-range missiles
Palestinian Information Center 11/28/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Hebrew sources alleged Thursday that, according to Israeli security departments, the Palestinian resistance factions possess "advanced weapons" that could hit the city of Bir Al-Sabei (Bir Sheba). The Hebrew Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted the security sources as also alleging that the Lebanese Hizbullah party was the sources of those weapons, and that those weapons could threaten tens of thousands of Israeli settlers dwelling in the area. Palestinian sources described the Israeli allegations as an attempt by the Israeli occupation to magnify weapons possessed by the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip with the aim to justify the unjust economic siege, and to justify any military step the IOF troops could take against the tiny Strip in the future. Moreover, the Hebrew sources claimed that Hamas Movement possesses big stock of 122 mm Grad missiles. . .

Saudis to lobby Obama on Arab strategy for peace process
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Arab League countries will appeal to the new United States presidential administration to utilize an Arab strategy as a guiding document for the Israel-Palestine peace process, according to statements by Egypt’s foreign minister on Friday. Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit said on Friday that Saudi Arabia will transfer a document on the initiative to President-elect Barack Obama sometime in the near future. Saudi Arabia is the rolling president of the Arab Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The initiative must be signed by the secretary general of the Arab League first, however, which Foreign Minister Al-Gheit said had not yet been done. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership welcomed the decision by the Arab League-affiliated body, which first asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to hold off on negotiations with Israel pending approval of the document.

Security and Defense: The operation’s a success, but will the patient survive?
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 11/27/2008
Slowly, and without a great deal of fanfare, the West Bank is once again being filled with Palestinian security forces. This isn’t the result of a peace deal, like the 1993 Oslo Accords, which paved the way for the deployment of PA forces in Ramallah, Jericho and the Gaza Strip. This time, it is being done within the framework of a new program - the "bottom-up paradigm" - which defense officials said this week they hoped would be effective in curbing Hamas expansion in the West Bank. Since the beginning of the year, newly trained and beefed-up Palestinian forces have deployed in a number of cities - Jenin, Nablus, Hebron - and soon they will be in Bethlehem, as well. The plan was the brainchild of Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, who, together with strategic advisers in his Ramallah office, saw a need to deploy strong forces on the ground, to enforce law and order.

Oxford Research Group (ORG): Why the Arab Peace Initiative Now?
Oxford Research Group - ORG, Palestine Media Center 11/27/2008
The Arab Peace Initiative (API), proposed in March 2002 by all 22 members of the Arab League, offered a definitive end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, full recognition for the State of Israel, and the establishment of normal relations and mutual guarantees of future security. In exchange, the API asked for full Israeli withdrawal from lands occupied in June 1967, including Syrian and Lebanese territories, a just settlement to the Palestinian refugee problem ’to be agreed upon’ in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. The meeting recognised the API as a remarkable and historic document, effectively reversing the three ’noes’ of the 1967 Khartoum Arab Summit (no peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel).

Israeli forces remove roadblock for ''security reasons'' near Qalqiliya
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – A roadblock preventing vehicles from travelling from the village of Kfil Haris to Haris, both south east of Qalqiliya, was removed by the Israeli army on Friday for “security purposes. ”The block, initially a large mound of earth and rocks piled in the center of the roadway and later replaced with an iron barred structure at the main gate to Kifl Haris, prevented the use of the 5 kilometer road to the nearby Haris. The closed road runs near the illegal Israeli settlement Ariel. The roadblock was put in place shortly after the outbreak of the second Intifadah, and travel on the road has been restricted by Israeli forces which protect a “buffer zone” near the settlement and the settler bypass road, which also runs on the lands of Kifl Haris. With the removal of the block, according to the office of the Qalqiliya municipality, all roads in the district are now open and Palestinians can expect free travel.

Hamas: no plans for reviving prisoner swap talks despite Israeli report file opened
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – There has been no change in the now stalemate prisoner-swap talks between Israel and the factions responsible for the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, said Hamas leader Ayman Taha on Friday. Taha explained the freeze by saying Israel presented an inflexible position and was unwilling to work to complete an exchange deal. He also said Hamas would be open to Egyptian intervention to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners. Israeli radio reported that Hamas had agreed to restart talks with Israel on the release of Shalit, and said a Hamas delegation was preparing to travel to Cairo in order to address the issue. The Israeli report came early on Friday, after which Taha confirmed talks were frozen and no plans to move them forward were in place.

European Police delegation visits Jenin as part of support mission
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Jenin - Ma’an – A delegation of European Police visited the Jenin district police headquarters on Friday as part of a three year EU program aimed at providing enhanced support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in establishing sustainable and effective policing arrangements. In 2005 the EU pledged to support the creation of a Palestinian police force by providing up to 50 experts for constant consultation and dialogue over issues arising with the construction of the new forces. The mission was termed Eupol Copps. The experts provided resources on managing, financing and structuring police forces. According to the Jenin police public relations department the EU officers were welcomed to the station in order to follow up on the delivery of several pieces of police equipment. The delegation was recently in Bethlehem running a training exercise on the use of motorcycles in policing urban areas.

This week in Palestine Week 48
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 11/28/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 10 m 30s || 9. 61 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for November 22 through 28, 2008. The Arab foreign ministers meet in Cairo over Palestine issue, meanwhile the Gaza Strip plunges into darkness as the siege remains in place, and the West Bank witnesses more settler attacks,, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. NonViolent Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank where a nine-year old Palestinian boy and a Japanese activist were injured in the protest. More details with IMEMC’s Dina Awwad. Al-Ma’asara 9-year-old, Hareth Bregieyh from Al-Ma’asara, South of Bethlehem, has been injured after he was brutally beaten by Israeli soldiers this Friday afternoon, during a nonviolent protest.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 20 - 26 Nov. 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 11/27/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and a Serious Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip Due to the Closure of Its Border Crossings *7 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the West Bank. *IOF conducted 32 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. *IOF arrested 9 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. *IOF transformed 4 houses in Hebron into military sites. *IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. *The Gaza Strip is suffering from a serious humanitarian crisis due to the closure of border crossings. *IOF troops positioned at military checkpoints in the West Bank arrested a Palestinian civilian.

Gazan bakers cope under siege
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 11/28/2008
Israel’s 17-month siege, tightened over the past three weeks, has forced Palestinians to find other ways to meet their basic needs. Because Israel has closed border crossings into Gaza, the 1. 5 million residents lack many essential supplies including food, medicines, fuel, cooking gas, and now, electricity. Even Gaza’s bakeries, which supply bread to hundreds of thousands of people in the besieged coastal territory, have been forced to shut down due to lack of gas and prolonged blackouts. Mustafa al-Banna, 70 years old of Deir al-Balah, owns al-Banna Bakery, the largest bakery in central Gaza Strip. He explained that "We have been staying idle for the past three days as we are unable to bring cooking gas from nearby stations. Before this closure, we used to make 12,000 pieces of bread per hour, but in the past two weeks, our production capacity has become much less than half.

PLO to file complaint with UN Security Council over Gaza siege
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Beirut – Ma’an – A committee head within the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) met with senior Lebanese officials in Beirut on Friday. Qais Abu Lelia is the head of the PLC’s Social Affairs Committee and a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)’s politburo. After meeting with Lebanese officials, Abu Leila spoke to reporters at a news conference in Beirut, where he expressed gratitude for Lebanon’s position on Palestine, particularly regarding the siege on the Gaza Strip and recent fuel embargo, both of which "put the lives of patients at risk and increase the suffering of residents. " Abu Leila also affirmed that the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would appeal to the United Nations (UN) Security Council over the Israeli siege and other "attacks on the Palestinians.

Hamas: Arab decision to extend Abbas’s term in office deepens Palestinian rift
Palestinian Information Center 11/28/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has strongly condemned the Arab foreign ministers’ decision to extend the term of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in office, warning that the decision doesn’t pour in the Palestinian national interest. According to sources in Hamas, the extension of Abbas’s term without due constitutional process or national harmony was a grave breach to the PA basic law, and would harm the Palestinian reconciliation efforts. Responsible source in Hamas affirmed, in a statement issued by the Movement and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, Hamas’s keenness on avoiding political void in the Palestinian arena, however, he added, extending Abbas’s term in office without following constitutional procedures would be a grave violation of the PA basic law. "The matter should have been left for the Palestinians to discuss on the table of the national. . .

Human rights group accuses Abbas’s forces for contempt of a high court decision
Palestinian Information Center 11/28/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) has deprecated Friday the PA security forces in the West Bank for circumventing decisions of the Palestinian High Court banning prosecuting civilians before military courts. In a statement it issued over the matter, ICHR asserted that the ill practices of the PA security forces under PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank were clear violation of article 106 of the PA basic law stipulating "Judicial rulings should be implemented, and refusing to implement them is a crime punishable with detention, or dismissal from job if the accused was a public servant". The organization also underlined that most of those detained by Abbas’s security forces and prosecuted before military courts were civilians, urging the PA security apparatuses in the West Bank to swiftly implement orders of the High Court without hesitation.

Foreign press unhappy with Israel journalist ban
Middle East Online 11/28/2008
The Israeli government has offered no plausible explanation for its unprecedented ban on international journalists entering the Gaza Strip, representatives of the foreign media said at a news conference Thursday. With the ban entering its fourth week, appeals to the Israeli government from foreign governments, the United Nations and the leaders of major news organizations have gone unanswered, the journalists said. Earlier this week, the Foreign Press Association, which represents international media operating in Israel and the Palestinian territories, asked Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the travel ban. The court gave the government 15 days to respond. "We believe the current denial of access amounts to a serious violation of freedom of the press, and runs counter to Israel’s own claims that it is a democracy that respects media liberties," said the association’s chairman,. . .

US: Alleged Syrian reactor had no peaceful uses
Deutsche Presse Agentur, YNetNews 11/28/2008
American ambassador at IAEA says all data indicate that alleged Syrian reactor bombed by Israel in 2007 was not configured for energy production, ill-suited for research purposes - The United States’ ambassador at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday in Vienna that the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor that Israel bombed in 2007 seems not to have been intended for peaceful purposes. The suspect al-Kibar site in Syria’s eastern desert was not configured for energy production, was located in a remote area and was ill-suited for research purposes, Ambassador Gregory Schulte told the 35 countries represented on the IAEA’s governing board. Last week, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei issued a first report on Syria, in which he did not draw conclusions but noted that the features of the building were similar to what may be found at a reactor.

US claims Syria ’sanitized’ nuclear sites
Middle East Online 11/28/2008
VIENNA - The United States expressed concern here Friday that Syria had cleaned up sites that a UN watchdog had asked to see as part of its probe into alleged illicit nuclear work by Damascus. At a closed-door briefing by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors last week, "we saw dramatic evidence that Syria took immediate steps to sanitize the three sites after the IAEA requested access," US envoy Gregory Schulte told the agency’s 35-member board of governors on Friday. "Given the gravity of the situation, we join other board members in strongly supporting the IAEA’s continued investigation and encouraging Syria’s authorities to grant all access requested to facilities, individuals, and information," said Schulte. "We hope that Syria’s leadership does not persist in these tactics," Schulte said. Syria was the main topic of debate on the second and last day of the IAEA’s end-of-year meeting here.

IAEA board debates findings at alleged Syrian nuclear site
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/29/2008
VIENNA: The UN atomic watchdog wrapped up its two-day end-of-year meeting with member states urging Syria to cooperate fully in a probe into alleged illicit nuclear work. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-member board of governors debated recent findings that a suspect site in the remote Syrian desert appeared to share some of the characteristics of a nuclear reactor, as the US claimed. While traces of uranium had been found there, the IAEA insisted that it was still too early and there was not enough evidence to draw any conclusions. During the debate, which took up most of the morning session, IAEA member states - diplomats who attended the closed-door session named them as Iran, Venezuela and a host of non-aligned countries - expressed support for Syria. Iran is similarly under investigation by the IAEA and its contested nuclear drive had been the main topic of the board’s deliberations on Thursday afternoon.

Merck chair: Our top three products have Israeli roots
Gali Weinreb, Globes Online 11/27/2008
The German company is involved with Israeli academic institutions and start-ups. "Our three lead products have Israeli roots," declared Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley, chairman of German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA (XETRA: MRK), at the annual Chief Scientist R&D conference. Kley continued, "Rebif, our main product, originated in the Weizmann Institute. It was developed by a company jointly owned by the Institute and Serono, which was later acquired by us. Gonal-F. It enabled us to take the lead in the infertility market and is based on research conducted at Tel Hashomer. Erbitux, which is owned and marketed by ImClone, also owes part of its technology to the scientists at the Weizmann Institute. We are the international company that has paid the most royalties to Israeli scientists. " Merck continues to operate Interpharm, the company it jointly owns with the Weizmann Institute,. . .

Aid groups face Iraqi Christian influx to Lebanon
Middle East Online 11/28/2008
BEIRUT - Aid groups are scrambling to deal with an influx of Iraqi Christians who have been pouring into Lebanon to escape a wave of killings back home. "The number of Christian Iraqis who are coming to us for help has dramatically increased in the last few months," said Isabelle Saade Feghali of the aid organisation Caritas. "Every week since June we have had about five families on average arriving here and seeking help," she said. "The problem is huge and the aid is never enough. " "I have been helping at least 20 new families a week since the start of October," said Rania Chehab as she distributed blankets, medicine and other aid this week at a Lebanese Chaldean church on the outskirts of Beirut. The church is one of six venues throughout the country where Caritas has set up a centre to help the refugees.

Anti-piracy efforts involving foreign navies rattle Arab countries
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 11/29/2008
CAIRO: Representatives from states bordering the Red Sea met in Cairo last week to forge a common policy against the threat of maritime piracy. But some local commentators say recent deployments of foreign naval forces to the area to combat Somali corsairs could constitute an even greater threat. "The stepped-up presence of foreign navies, supposedly here to protect international shipping lanes from piracy, could pose a danger to Arab national security," Gamal Mazloum, retired Egyptian brigadier-general and military expert, told IPS. In recent months, incidents of maritime piracy have suddenly proliferated, particularly in and around the Gulf of Aden off the coast of war-torn Somalia. This year alone, more than 80 ships have been attacked by pirates in the area, according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau.

US Jewish group urges Obama to move embassy to Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - A group of American Orthodox Jews demanded on Friday that President-elect Barack Obama move the United States (US) Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP). At the site of a piece of land proposed by the US Congress for the future US Embassy to Jerusalem in 1995, dozens of members of the US Jewish Orthodox Union sang the American national anthem and held banners, one of which read "President Obama: The US embassy (sic) belongs in Israel’s capital. " The international community does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as it illegally occupies East Jerusalem, which is to be the future capital of the State of Palestine. No country’s embassy is located in what Israel claims is its capital; rather, most were built in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.

Clinton signs for Obama’s dream team
Leonard Doyle in Washington, The Independent 11/22/2008
Hillary Clinton has finally agreed to become President-elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State and spearhead efforts to restore America’s credibility in the world. Once confirmed, Mrs Clinton will be the highest-ranking cabinet official in the next administration and she is expected to become a powerful diplomatic force, dealing with some of the international community’s most intractable problems, including terrorism and climate change. News of her readiness to accept the job came as the Obama transition team said that the new Treasury Secretary will be Timothy Geithner, a decision that sent stocks soaring. He is highly respected and will replace Hank Paulson. This transition is the most sensitive because of the magnitude of the credit crisis, and markets have become increasingly concerned that there is a power vacuum at the heart of economic policy, just when new. . .

US Presidential candidate preventing from speaking at human rights conference
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 11/29/2008
U. S. Officials blocked former Green party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney from traveling to Syria for a conference on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this week. McKinney was scheduled to give a speech at the conference, with the subject ’Human rights and the denial of the right of return for Palestinians’. The conference was held on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Damascus, Syria. 5,000 participants, mainly from the Arab world, converged on Damascus to affirm the rights outlined in the Declaration. But the U. S. Government prevented 2008 Green presidential candidate and former six-term Congress member Cynthia McKinney from attending. Officials detained the former Congressmember at the Atlanta airport as she was about to fly to the conference. In a statement to the media, McKinney stated, "I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. . . "

Jerusalem Grand Mufti: Eid Al-Adha to commence 8 December
Ma’an News Agency 11/28/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem announced that the annual Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Adha is set to begin on 8 December, according to a statement received by Ma’an. [end]

From Fast Death to Slow Death: Palestinian Refugees from Iraq Trapped(Summary Report of an International NGO Delegation)
Human Rights First, Refugees International, Palestine Media Center 11/27/2008
Having fled killings, kidnappings, torture, and death threats, about 3,000 Palestinian refugees from Iraq are currently stranded in three camps along the border between Syria and Iraq. Denied asylum and refugee rights, they are extremely vulnerable in poorly situated camps. The Syrian government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are both open to third country resettlement on humanitarian grounds and on the basis of individual choice. Therefore, the challenge now lies with both traditional and emerging resettlement countries, in collaboration with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to accept these Palestinian refugees from Iraq for resettlement, allowing the inhospitable camps to be closed. The Palestinian community in Iraq dates from 1948, when a group of 5,000 people accompanied an Iraqi army unit operating in Palestine back to Baghdad after they were forced

Suicide bomber kills 12 in Shiite mosque south of Baghdad
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 11/29/2008
HILLA, Iraq: A suicide bomber shattered Friday prayers in a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad, killing nine people the day after Iraq’s Parliament approved a landmark pact allowing US troops to remain until 2011. The attack came as the hard-line Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr declared three days of mourning to protest at Parliament’s approval on Thursday of the accord, which will govern the presence of some 150,000 US troops. The blast ripped through the main mosque in the town of Musaib after the attacker, strapped with explosives, darted past guards and into the crowd of about 300 worshippers inside, police Lieutenant Kadhim al-Shammari said. One of those killed was an old woman begging for alms at the entrance to the mosque, he added. Another 15 people were wounded in the attack, which destroyed the building’s windows and doors and filled it with smoke.

EU states may host most vulnerable Iraq refugees
Middle East Online 11/28/2008
BRUSSELS - European Union nations agreed Thursday to try and accept 10,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from war-torn Iraq, with Germany ready to take a quarter of them. "The objective could be to take in up to around 10,000 refugees," many of them living in precarious conditions in neighbouring Syria and Jordan, EU interior ministers said in conclusions from a meeting in Brussels. They would include "refugees in a particularly vulnerable situation such as those with particular medical needs, trauma or torture victims, members of religious minorities or women on their own with family responsibilities. " "This has to be done on a voluntary basis and in light of the reception capacities of member states," the ministers said. Six EU countries, mainly Sweden and the Netherlands but not Germany, currently accept Iraqi refugees.


Israel’s Settlement on Capital Hill
Robert Weitzel, Palestine Chronicle 11/28/2008
      ’Israel’s hilltop settlement in our nation’s capital (must be) dismantled.’
     "With [traditional Israeli defense strategists] it’s all about tanks and land and controlling territories... and this hilltop and that hilltop. All these things are worthless." - Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
     Soon after the sand settled following the Six Day War in 1967, Jewish settlements began dotting the hills in the occupied territories. These settlements are typically located on the high ground to better control the surrounding landscape. Today there are 127 Jewish settlements with a population exceeding 468,000 in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and in the suburbs of East Jerusalem—the last of nearly 8,000 settlers were removed from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
     According to a recent Amnesty International report, "In the first six months of 2008 Israel has expanded settlements in the West Bank/East Jerusalem at a faster rate than in the previous seven years."

What if?

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/27/2008
      Is the region ready for Israel to accept the Arab peace initiative? No, says What would happen if Israel accepted the Arab peace initiative? Some would respond that the question is hypothetical, if not totally absurd, so why bother? I disagree. The question merits immediate attention. Israel is going through a difficult time and will have to make some tough choices. It is likely that the current controversy over available options, especially that raging within the Israeli military establishment, may result in a fundamental policy shift and the acceptance of the Saudi peace initiative, adopted as the Arab peace initiative, in the Beirut summit of 2002.
     There is much evidence pointing in this direction, not least the remarks made by Ehud Olmert in an extended interview with the Israeli journalists Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer. The interview was published in Yediot Aharonot on the eve of the Jewish new year and excerpts appeared, translated into English, in the latest edition of The New York Review of Books (Volume 55, Number 19, 4 December 2008). For the first time an Israeli prime minister dared to ask his fellow citizens, openly and in Hebrew, in a message directed more to local than for foreign consumption, to let go of their dreams of a "greater Israel" with Jerusalem as its eternal capital. It was now time to seriously contemplate the setting of final, internationally recognised borders for the state of Israel so that the international community could deal with it as an ordinary state. Olmert also seems to have realised that Israel must accept the pre-June 1967 borders as the final boundaries or, in the event that it annexes portions of Palestinian land upon which major Israeli settlements have been constructed, it must give the Palestinians an amount of territory elsewhere.

Not even Palestine

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/27/2008
      Once again, the Arab collective order is in disarray, even on fundamental Arab issues, reports The extraordinary Arab foreign ministers meeting that was scheduled for yesterday evening at the headquarters of the Arab League did not appear set to achieve its objective of agreeing an Arab plan of action for Palestinian reconciliation and underlining Arab support for the Palestinian team negotiating with Israel the basis of a peace settlement. Even less, the meeting appeared incapable of reaching a consensual stand in solidarity with Palestinians starving in darkness in Gaza as Israel continues to impose a punitive siege on the Strip.
     Prior to their arrival to the meeting, Arab delegations had already been arguing via the pan-Arab organisation, leaving its secretary-general overwhelmed with the task of reconciling the conflicting views of disagreeing Arab capitals, especially influential ones -- Cairo and Riyadh, on the one hand, and Damascus and Doha on the other.
     A crucial point of disagreement is how to handle the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Egypt, that failed to convene a Palestinian reconciliation meeting 10 November due to what it qualifies as Hamas’s cold feet, wants the Arab League and Arab capitals to exercise pressure on Hamas to prompt its participation in reconciliation dialogue. For this to happen, Cairo particularly wants Damascus and Doha to "use their influence" with Hamas, whose key leaders are hosted by Syria and financed by Qatar, so it would agree to a reconciliation format it thus far rejects. Hamas sees Egypt as biased towards rival President Mahmoud Abbas, who insists that Hamas should agree to an indefinite end to all military resistance to the Israeli occupation. Saudi Arabia, among others, supports Cairo and Abbas, Arab diplomats argue.

Too hot to handle

Amira Howeidy, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/27/2008
      Boycotting a UN anti-racism conference and trying to bypass Arab media through an Arabic YouTube channel, Tel Aviv appears on the defensive.
     It has been 31 years since Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat broke ranks with Arab states in their boycott of Israel, travelling to Jerusalem on a "peace" mission that others saw as "normalisation". Since then most Arab states came to recognise Israel officially or unofficially. Gone are the days when the Arabs boycotted international events because of Israel’s participation or representation.
     Hosting Israeli pundits and spokespeople on Arab television is also no longer taboo. The top news channel Al-Jazeera regularly gives airtime to Israelis. So much has changed since Sadat’s 1977 "historic" visit that Israel’s recent defensive posture has gone unnoticed by the Arab media. On 19 November, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced that her country will boycott the UN "Durban II" conference slated for next April in Geneva for fear it would be too critical of Israel.
     Now it is Israel, not the Arabs, that is boycotting conferences it cannot face. In October 2006, Livni boycotted a UN-sponsored democracy conference in Doha because a delegation from Hamas was participating. And in February 2005, Israel boycotted the oral hearings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of Israel’s annexation wall built on occupied Palestinian land. Today, Israel is pulling out of international efforts to eradicate racism, discrimination and intolerance.

Gazan bakers cope under siege

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 11/27/2008
      Israel’s 17-month siege, tightened over the past three weeks, has forced Palestinians to find other ways to meet their basic needs. Because Israel has closed border crossings into Gaza, the 1.5 million residents lack many essential supplies including food, medicines, fuel, cooking gas, and now, electricity.Even Gaza’s bakeries, which supply bread to hundreds of thousands of people in the besieged coastal territory, have been forced to shut down due to lack of gas and prolonged blackouts.
     Mustafa al-Banna, 70 years old of Deir al-Balah, owns al-Banna Bakery, the largest bakery in central Gaza Strip. He explained that "We have been staying idle for the past three days as we are unable to bring cooking gas from nearby stations. Before this closure, we used to make 12,000 pieces of bread per hour, but in the past two weeks, our production capacity has become much less than half."
     The closure of bakeries impacts all sectors of society, as they also provide bread to hospitals, local community organizations, and schools. Mahdi Temraz, 32 years old, provides bread for 4,000 schoolchildren at two schools along Salah al-Din road, Gaza’s main thoroughfare. He complained of his inability to provide breads for the children stating that "For the third day consecutively now I come to this bakery and ask about bread, but there is none. Really I can not handle this situation as the children should have their morning meal, as designated by UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestine refugees]."

Death of Annapolis Defines Bush Failure

Iqbal Jassat – South Africa, Palestine Chronicle 11/27/2008
      ’Annapolis didn’t survive its first year.’
     The imminent departure of America’s leader from the White House, signals the end of eight disastrous years under the Bush administration. As biographers and others prepare to document a comprehensive list of the failures of George W Bush, they certainly will not be able to ignore his Middle East policies.
     In fact, it is safe to assume that alongside his illegitimate wars of aggression resulting in the invasions of two sovereign states, Iraq and Afghanistan, his much vaunted desire to establish a subservient Palestinian "state" -- albeit ala Bantustan -- in the service of a nuclear power Israel, lies in tatters.
     Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has as much as shrugged her shoulders in frustration, following years of to and fro between Washington and Tel Aviv. In seeking to follow her boss’s blinkered views on Palestine, which amazingly included ignoring the results of a free and fair election (endorsed as such by former US President Jimmy Carter), Rice adamantly refused to recognize the legitimacy of a Hamas victory. Instead in traditional colonial style, Rice has been courting Mahmoud Abbas, the failed leader of defeated Fatah, to collaborate with Israel in order to be installed as a stooge in a so-called "independent" Palestinian state.

License to Kill

Uri Blau, Palestine Media Center 11/27/2008
      The announcement made by the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesman on June 20, 2007 was standard: "Two armed terrorists belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization were killed last night during the course of a joint activity of the IDF and a special force of the Border Police in Kafr Dan, northwest of Jenin. The two terrorists, Ziad Subahi Mahmad Malaisha and Ibrahim Ahmed Abd al-Latif Abed, opened fire at the force during its activity. In response the force fired at them, killing the terrorists. On their bodies two M-16 rifles, a pistol and ammunition were found. It was also discovered that the terrorists were involved in planning suicide attacks against the Israeli home front, including the attempt in Rishon Letzion last February."
     The laconic announcement ignores one important detail: Malaisha was a target for assassination. His fate had been decided several months earlier, in the office of then head of Central Command, Yair Naveh. As far as the public was concerned, on the other hand, the last declared assassination carried out by the IDF in the West Bank took place in August 2006; at the end of that year the High Court of Justice set strict criteria regarding the policy of assassinations in the territories.

Clinging to hope

Sameh Habib, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/27/2008
      Following Israeli raids that killed around 15 Palestinians within one week, many rockets were fired into Israel in a reprisal against Israeli provocations. As usual Israel blamed Palestinians despite it being the one who initiated the violence. The Israeli assault was an obvious breach of an agreed calm held with Palestinian fighting groups five months ago. It has provoked some Palestinians to fire some light rockets into Israel. Afterwards, Israel started a new phase of collective punishment.
     With the latest Israeli manoeuvres to tighten the siege imposed on Gaza, more life necessities vanished. The key power plant shut down eight days ago and more than 75 per cent of the Gaza Strip faces severe power cuts and some other areas are completely plunged into darkness.
     The remaining power shares provided by Israel and Egypt are not enough to cover the whole coastal strip. Pumped fresh water is not reaching all cities, farms and central water wells. Sewage and treatment water machines are halted. Additionally around 40 million tonnes of sewage water leaked into the Mediterranean contaminating it and damaging fish resources.

Absent good intentions

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 11/27/2008
      The sheer level of bitterness between the conflicting parties may forestall all attempts at Palestinian reconciliation dialogue.
     With only a candle providing dim light, he searched for the new mobile of an Egyptian official. He eventually found and dialled the number. The official’s wife told him that her husband had gone to bed and to call back in the morning. This is how Ghazi Hamad, charged with maintaining contacts between the Haniyeh government in Gaza and the Egyptian government, has been spending nights in his office. He is trying to put together a formula that would enable Hamas and Fatah to agree to resume dialogue between them.
     In addition to contacting Egyptian officials, Hamad has also been calling top officials in Damascus, Sanaa, Doha and other Arab capitals. What gives him some heart is the assurances that he has received from several officials that the Arab League will not take sides in the internal Palestinian factional dispute and will refrain from apportioning blame in the event that dialogue collapses again -- contrary to the wish of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gaza: Salvation in a News Broadcast

Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 11/27/2008
      ’Gazans are still flipping through the channels..’
     When Gaza’s electricity is in working order, most Palestinians in the impoverished and overcrowded Strip huddle around their television screens. It’s neither "American Idol" nor "Dancing with the Stars" that brings them together. It’s the news.
     Gazans’ relationship to news media is both complex and unique. Like most Palestinians everywhere, they intently watch and listen to news broadcasts the world over, with the hope that salvation will arrive in the form of a news bulletin. Evidently, salvation is yet to be aired.
     That infatuation is hardly coincidental, however, as their purpose of reading, listening and watching is unmistakable. Palestinians deeply care about what the rest of the world is saying about their plight and struggle. Most importantly, they wonder if anyone out there cares.
     During the first Intifada’s long and harsh Israeli military curfews in Gaza, my family would gather around a small radio, always nervous that the batteries would die, leaving us with a total news blackout; a horrible scenario by Gaza’s standards.

Adalah files an objection against the new ''Israeli Master Plan for Jerusalem''

Adalah, International Middle East Media Center News 11/27/2008
      Adalah and Civic Coalition: New Master Plan for Jerusalem District will Place Palestinians in the City in a Stranglehold, Further Entrench the Settlements and Alter the City’s Demographic Composition.
     On 24 November 2008, Adalah filed an objection to the National Council for Planning and Building (NCPB) to the Jerusalem Regional Master Plan, which was submitted two months ago. The objection was filed in cooperation with the Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ) on behalf of 73 objectors (56 Palestinians from East Jerusalem and 17 local organizations). The objection was written by ’s Urban Planner, Hana Hamdan andAttorney Suhad Bishara.
     Today, 27 November 2008,held a press conference to mark the submission of the objection, which was attended by tens of local and international journalists, as well as representatives from a number of foreign embassies and consulates and international organizations.
     The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, and the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, Mr. Adnan al-Husseini, opened the press conference and emphasized the grave dangers facing the Palestinian community in East Jerusalem and the importance of the legal and professional work on land and planning issues in the city.

‘Our Family Has Died’

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Palestine Media Center 11/27/2008
      The apartment in the town of Dura, south of Hebron, is spacious, but Osama Rasras lives there alone. His home is as elegant as it is empty. In the room he shared with his wife, the bed is made and covered with a blue bedspread on which a few books are lying. The children’s room is empty, too; only a plastic model tractor evokes its former occupants. The kitchen is spotless and shining, as are the other rooms: All are immaculately clean, all are deserted. Osama has learned to cook, clean and launder by himself.
     A photograph of his son, Ahmed, hangs on the wall, and Rasras’ mobile phone displays a photo of both Ahmed and his sister, Dalal. Looking at their images makes Osama sad. Not so long ago - though it seems like an eternity - he and his wife, Soniya, lived here contentedly with their two children. Now Soniya and the little ones are in Rafah, in the northern Gaza Strip, and Osama is in Dura, in the southern West Bank. They are only an hour and a half apart by car, but neither can cross the hills of darkness on the way. They have been living separately for a year now.