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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
23 January, 2008

Doctors: Many Palestinians in Gaza hospitals in danger of dying from their wounds
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
A large number of Palestinians listed in serious condition in Gaza hospitals are in danger of dying from their wounds, a group of 12 Arab-Israeli doctors said Friday. The doctors were sent by the organization "Doctors for Human Rights", and are to return to Israel on Sunday. Dr. Agbariah, the manager of a hospital in the Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, said Friday that "each hospital is full of wounded. There are wounded in serious condition and the treatment they are given is very basic because of the lack of medical supplies. " Dr. Agbariah added that the hospitals are not set up "to receive so many patients at the same time," adding that the high concentration will lead to deaths. The doctor added that the situation is worsened by the lack of reliable electricity and the high level of poverty in the strip, with trash and the carcasses of dead animals strewn about in many areas, posing a contamination risk. -- See also: PHR-Israel: "œLarge number of wounded Palestinians in danger of dying"

IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip Makes it Like Earthquake Zone and Claims Civilian and Property
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/22/2009
Entire Families Pass Away - Children and Women Constitute More Than 43% of the Total Number of Victims = Entire Features of Many Areas Disappear - Infrastructures Services completely Collapse - Hundreds of Families Become Homeless While Dozens of Others Are Still Displaced - The offensive launched by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Gaza Strip, between 27 December and 18 January 2009, has caused total destruction in many parts of the Gaza Strip, making these parts look like earthquake zones. In its offensive on Gaza, IOF employed its full-fledged arsenal and used its air, ground and sea forces. Some areas were almost completely razed, while many houses and civilian establishments became hills of dust. IOF offensive claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent unarmed civilians, including a large number of children and women. -- See also: PCHR Press Releases on Gaza

UN fears ’systematic war crimes’ by Israel
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
GENEVA - A UN human rights expert on Thursday said Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip during its recent offensive there raised "the spectre of systematic war crimes" and needed to be investigated. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, said he had little doubt about the "unavoidably inhuman character of a large scale military operation of the sort that Israel has initiated. . . against an essentially defenceless population. " Falk told journalists that Israeli military operations in the densely populated territory among a population weakened by an 18 month blockade "raises the spectre of systematic war crimes. " "Unlawful targets have been selected" during the fighting, he said. "The evidence of breaking of fundamental rules of international humanitarian law is so compelling," he added, backing calls for an independent, international investigation.

Israeli forces arrest seven children in West Bank
Report, Addameer and DCI-Palestine, Electronic Intifada 1/23/2009
Seven children from Toura al-Gharbeiah village (near the West Bank city of Jenin) were arrested on Tuesday by the Israeli authorities; they are currently detained in Salim detention and interrogation center, in the northern West Bank. Two of the children are only 12 years old; two are 13; another two are aged 15; and the seventh is 17. A Defense for Children International (DCI)-Palestine lawyer yesterday visited the children. According to information collected by the lawyer, between midnight and 4:00am on Tuesday 20 January, the Israeli intelligence, police and army entered Toura al-Gharbeiah village and arrested the seven children from their respective homes. The children were then assembled in a public building in the village, and interrogated there. They were alleged to have thrown stones at the Wall and were intimidated into confessing. The eldest, Murad (17), was accused of possessing weapons, but he denied the allegation. Murad told the DCI-Palestine lawyer what happened on Tuesday morning.

Palestinians taken from Gaza being held as 'illegal combatants'
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Gaza -- Head of Prisoners Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, Abdel Nasser Ferwana, reported Friday night that detainees from Gaza are being held in horrific conditions at Al Naqab. Forty-one Palestinians are being held in the Israeli desert prison in isolation. They are not allowed contact with anyone and are being held by the Israeli military as "illegal combatants. " There are approximately 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons, but they are not held under this Israeli law. Ferwana asked that the Israeli prisons department allow detainee representatives to visit them and provide for some of their basic needs, but the administration of Al Naqab rejected the request. The Palestinian Authority official said he was informed that "these Gazans are under the direct control of the army under the law if illegal combatants.

Hamas heads to Cairo for indirect talks; Israel says no chance on crossing openings
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation of senior Hamas leaders left the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon for Cairo where they will resume indirect negotiations with Israel over a ceasefire and a potential prisoner exchange. The delegation follows close on the heels of an Israeli delegation, which appears to have ruled out the total opening of Gaza crossings – one of the conditions for a long term ceasefire – “as long as Hamas is ruling Gaza or might benefit from easing the restrictions. ”The statement was made by senior advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister, who added that “Israel will allow the maximum amount of food, medications and fuel supplies to Gaza to assist in overcoming the consequences of the Israeli assault,” but noted that construction materials “would have to wait. ”Hamas says it will use the negotiations to press for an end to the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.

VIDEOS - News special: Gaza in Ruins
Al Jazeera 1/23/2009
The Gaza Strip is a land in ruins, devastated by 22 days of Israeli assault and an ongoing siege. In this Al Jazeera news special from Gaza, correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin examines the human, physical and political cost of the war. Part 1: Part one looks at how ordinary people are trying to rebuild their lives. It is almost a week since the end of this latest war, yet the death toll is still rising. Each day more bodies are found under the rubble. For the survivors, at least 100,000 now find themselves homeless. Part 2: In part two, we examine damage to the infrastructure. At least 21,000 commercial, public and private buildings have been damaged or levelled - almost 1,000 for every day of the war. The cost of rebuilding is likely to run into billions of dollars, according to the UN. Part 3: Part three explores the politics at play.

Children of Gaza: stories of those who died and the trauma for those who survived
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 1/23/2009
Rory McCarthy reports from Gaza City on the individual stories of some victims and the physical and psychological toll on an estimated 350,000 youngsters - Amira Qirm lay on a hospital bed todaywith her right leg in plaster, and held together by a line of steel pins dug deep into her skin. For several days after her operation Amira, 15, was unable to speak, and even now talks only in a low whisper. In her past are bitter memories: watching her father die in the street outside their home, then hearing another shell land and kill her brother Ala’a, 14, and her sister Ismat, 16, and then the three days that she spent alone, injured and semi-conscious, trying to stay alive in a neighbour’s abandoned house before she could be rescued last Sunday. Ahead of her, she has a long recovery. First there is an imminent flight to France for the best possible medical treatment, many more operations and then months of rehabilitation and psychiatric care.

UN: Israel hit future Palestinian state infrastructure
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
GENEVA - Israel destroyed the infrastructure of a future Palestinian state during its recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, the head of the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday. "There has been so much destruction here, not just to housing. . . but to the infrastructure of the future state," UNRWA operations chief John Ging said in a conference call with journalists in Geneva. Ging said there was a need to establish accountability "for why the Israeli air force hit infrastructure of the state of Palestine rather than the infrastructure of terror, whatever that may be. " A large proportion of the destruction in Gaza involved industrial facilities and ministries belonging to the Palestinian Authority, according to Ging. A "credible and independent investigation" on the violence would also help to defuse tensions and re-establish faith in the rule of law, he underlined.

Homelessness prolongs the suffering
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Gaza - Ashraf Khalil Najjar’s father died on the ruins of his house. The 75 year old is one of the 1,330 Palestinians killed in 23 days in the Gaza Strip. His three-story, six apartment family home was in Khaza’a Village, east of Khan Younis. This southeastern Strip town is now piles of rubble after the bombardment. Thirty year old Ashraf told Sharq Al Awsat today that it was 7:30 in the morning when his 75 year old father Khalil and the elderly man’s grandchildren were killed. Fifteen year old Alaa, 10 year old Rami and 11 year old Ayman were among the 35 residents of the building. "Suddenly and without any warning the reconnaissance drone fired two missiles at the area around the house. The explosion shook the house and my brothers and I ran to see what happened to everyone else. Our father was killed in his chair, his brains spilling from his head. "

Physicians for Human Rights reps enter Gaza
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Aid workers say ’we are here to help the locals and relieve the humanitarian crisis,’ claim ’many families were simply wiped out during IDF offensive’ - Twelve representatives of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel organization entered Gaza Friday morning through the Erez crossing to provide medical assistance to locals who were injured during the IDF’s three-week offensive. This was the first time members of the group, including Jewish and Arab doctors, were allowed into the Hamas-controlled territory since the offensive was launched. "We are here to help the residents of Gaza and relieve the humanitarian crisis," said Cassandra Nelson, an aid worker with The Mercy Corps. "We want to bring in experts to rebuild the demolished homes and have psychologists treat the children who suffered from shock during the war. . . "

PHR-Israel: 'Large number of wounded Palestinians in danger of dying'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/24/2009
Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, reported on Friday that hundreds of Palestinians who were injured during the Israeli offensive in Gaza are in danger of dying as Gaza hospitals are overloaded with wounded Palestinians and lack basic supplies. The statement came after 12-Arab Physicians from Israel managed enter the Gaza Strip to treat wounded Palestinians. The doctors are slated to return to Israel by Sunday, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. Haaretz added, that Dr. Aghbariah, an Arab physician from Um Al Fahim Arab town, stated on Friday that hospitals in Gaza are overloaded with patients and wounded residents, and added that patients who suffered serious injuries are being treated with basic methods as the hospitals lack medical supplies and equipment. He added that the hospitals are not equipment to receive this large number of patients, and that this large number will lead to deaths among the patients and the wounded.

VIDEO - War on Gaza - the aftermath
The Guardian 1/23/2009
Residents of Jabalya refugee camp, north of Gaza City, pick up the pieces of their lives from the rubble of Israeli bombing. [end]

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 15- 21 January 2009
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/21/2009
The Outcome of the IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip: Enire Families Have Passed Away; Children and Women Constitute More Than 43% of the Total Number of Victims; Entire Features of Many Areas Have Disppeared; and the Civilian Infrastructure Services Have Completely Collapsed -- IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip * 1,285 Palestinians have been killed. *The victims include 895 civilians and 167 civil police officers. *The civilian victims include 280 children and 111 women. *4,336 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 1,133 children and 735 women, have been wounded. *Dr. Nizar Rayan and Mr. Sa’id Siam, senior leader of Hamas, were extra-judicially executed together with a number of members of their families by IOF. *The IOF artillery shelled houses and members of entire families were killed or wounded.

Charges filed by international attorneys against 15 Israeli officials
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Bethlehem -- Palestinian and international efforts continue to institute legal proceedings for the prosecution of Israeli officials in the commission of war crimes. Although Israeli forces are involved in thousands of cases, local experts such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believe that the recent major attacks on the Gaza Strip will successfully prosecuted. "They were well-documented, televised and the world was paying attention," a member of the Gaza City team commented. After the very public detection of large-scale atrocities which included the use of white phosphorus bombs in enclosed civilian areas and the liquidation of children there is little defense. Fifteen specific names are now pending for prosecution in The Hague’s war crimes tribunal. Those listed for prosecution include Israeli political and military officials, namely Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak.

PLC acting speaker urges ICC to prosecute Israeli leaders
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Ahmad Bahar, demanded that Israeli leaders be tried for war crimes on Thursday. Bahar said in a letter to the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo,“The intentional court is called upon to carry out legal procedures by apprehending and detaining Israeli leaders and those responsible for the vicious war perpetrated against civilian Palestinians in Gaza. ”He added: “The Israeli occupation used all kinds of weaponryincluding the internationally-banned weapons, among them phosphorus, against the Palestinians and shelling residential areaskilling 1,340 civilians the majority of whom were children, women, the elderly, medics, journalists, UN workers and other innocents. ”He also noted that Israel disregarded a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Israel destroyed 41 mosques in Gaza, says ministry
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel destroyed 41 Mosques during its 23-day assault on the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs in the de facto government reported on Friday. The ministry reports that the 16 Mosques were destroyed in Gaza City, and 19 in the area north of Gaza City. Some of the Mosques were shelled while they were full of worshipers at prayer. The ministry added that five cemeteries were shelled, in some cases corpses were exhumed by the explosions. “The shelling and demolition of mosques is completely banned and not accepted in any religion,” the ministry said in a statement, saying that Israel’s actions revealed its “true, criminal face. ”The ministry also denied Israel’s claims that Palestinian fighters used mosques to store weapons. “We wonder why Israel says resistance factions hide arms in mosques and the troops are shelling the schools. . .

Israel ’obliged’ to protect civilians in Gaza
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
PACIFICA – Israel is obliged under international law, as an occupying power, to protect the Palestinians population in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, an expert told Democracy Now! Thursday. "The Israelis have a very particular obligation in Gaza and the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem as the occupying power. Under the Geneva Conventions, as the occupying power, Israel has the obligation to protect the civilian population. And that has a whole range of specific obligations, starting with no collective punishment, no use of prohibited weapons," said Phyllis Bennis, the fellow at Institute for Policy Studies specializing in the Middle East and United Nations issues. But according to Bennis, Israel had failed to meet its obligations. "The whole range of attacks that we have seen during this period of the three-week war in Gaza constituted a whole host of violations. . . "

Israel forms war crime defence team
Al Jazeera 1/24/2009
Daniel Friedman, the Israeli justice minister, has been appointed to lead a defence team should war crimes charges be brought following the 22-day war on Gaza. Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, confirmed to Al Jazeera on Friday that Friedman would lead an inter-ministerial team to co-ordinate a legal defence for civilians and the military. Israel has been criticised by many human rights organisations for using excessive force, including flame-generating chemical munitions, in densely populated areas during its aerial, naval and ground assault on the coastal strip, which began on December 27. The Israeli army has already banned the publication of the identity of military leaders who fought Hamas in Gaza. Ali Kashan, the Palestinian justice minister, met Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, in The Hague on Thursday to discuss "allegations of crimes", a special adviser to the prosecutor said. -- See also: PM establishes team to tackle lawsuits over Gaza op

Government to provide full legal backing for IDF soldiers
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Defense minister to submit draft resolution to cabinet stating Israel stands behind its soldiers and commanders and will defend them should they face legal suits related to actions in Gaza operation - Defense Minister Ehud Barak will submit a draft resolution to the cabinet on Sunday that is meant to provide IDF soldiers and commanders with moral and legal backing in wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The cabinet is expected to endorse the resolution during its Sunday meeting. "The government once again reiterates its commitment to stand by the IDF soldiers and commanders and provide them with protection in the international arena in matters concerning actions taken while serving as the State’s emissaries," the resolution states. "The IDF’s soldiers and commanders operated according to moral standards and with full faith that their cause was just.

Justice minister to fight Israel war crime charges
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
TEL AVIV - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has put the justice minister in charge of defending Israel against charges of war crimes during its 22-day Gaza assault, a government source said Friday. Daniel Friedman will lead an inter-ministerial team to coordinate a legal defence for civilians and the military, the source said. Israel’s military censor has already banned the publication of the identity of the unit leaders who fought the Gaza Strip for fear they may face war crimes charges. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded Tuesday that those responsible for bombing UN buildings in the Palestinian territory should be made accountable and accused Israel of using excessive force. Amnesty International said it was "undeniable" that Israel had used white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas, contrary to international law, charging that this amounted to a war crime.

UN investigator: Evidence shows Israel committed war crimes
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – There is evidence that Israel committed war crimes during its three-week onslaught in the Gaza Strip, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk said on Thursday. Falk said that the psychological trauma of the civilian population that endured the Israeli assault means that all of Gaza’s 1. 5 million residents could be considered casualties. Israelis who are “treated for shock” following Palestinian attacks are counted as injured. Falk, speaking to Reuters on the phone from his home in California, said called for an independent investigation into whether Israel’s actions amounted to war crimes. "I believe that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion," he told a Geneva news conference. Falk said Israel had made no effort to allow civilians to escape the fighting.

Israeli justice minister appointed to prepare war crimes legal defense
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed a high-ranking committee to handle potential war crimes charges against the Israeli government over its three-week assault on the Gaza Strip. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann was appointed to head the inter-ministerial committee which is charged with preparing for a possible defense against legal action, the Israeli news agency Ynet reported. The team is expected to consult experts on international law during its work. Friedmann’s appointment follows Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s statement earlier in the week that Israel is "preparing for a wave of international lawsuits over the operation in Gaza. Israel is fearing prosecution on a number of count, including failing to differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Amnesty International: Israel must disclose weapons it used in Gaza attacks
22 January 2009, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
AI - Amnesty International today called on the Israeli authorities to disclose the weapons and munitions their forces used during the three week military campaign in Gaza which began on 27 December. "We now know that white phosphorous munitions were used in built-up civilian areas, although the Israeli authorities previously denied this," said Donatella Rovera, who is heading an Amnesty International investigation team in Gaza. "Now we have irrefutable evidence of the use of this weapon, but the doctors who treated the first casualties did not know what had caused their injuries. "Other victims of the conflict have wounds which doctors say they are finding hard to treat because of uncertainty about the nature of the munitions which caused them. "Doctors tell us they are encountering new and unexplained patterns of injury among some of the Palestinians injured in Israeli military attacks," said Donatella Rovera. -- See also: AI: Conflict in Gaza and southern Israel

IFJ arrives in Gaza for fact-finding mission on Israeli violations of the rights of Journalists
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A delegation from the International Federation of Journalists arrived in Gaza Thursday evening, entering through the Erez crossing in the northern Strip. The goal of the visit, said the IFJ, is to support local Gazan journalists and probe the complaints of dozens of local and international media workers regarding the abuses of rights during the Israeli war on Gaza. Secretary General of the Federation and head of the delegation Eden White praised “the courage of the local journalists” in a statement, and demanded that the UN Secretary General enforce the international law which protects journalists during times of conflict. “There were some serious violations during this war,” he said. The IFJ is taking part in a mission to investigate Israeli war crimes and violations of international laws and conventions.

Palestinian in US mourns two brothers in Gaza
Democracy Now, Middle East Online 1/23/2009
Palestinian US Middlebury College graduate loses two brothers in Israeli shooting in Gaza, while his father watched son bleed to death after Israeli troops blocked ambulances. PACIFICA – A Palestinian from Khan Yunis living in the United States tells his heart-wrenching tale after losing two of his brothers on the same day in an Israeli attack in Gaza. PACIFICA – A Palestinian from Khan Yunis living in the United States tells his heart-wrenching tale after losing two of his brothers on the same day in an Israeli attack in Gaza. Amer Shurrab had recently graduated from Middlebury College, but last Friday, his father and two brothers were fleeing their village when their vehicle came under Israeli fire. Twenty-eight-year-old Kassab died in a hail of bullets trying to flee the vehicle. Eighteen-year-old Ibrahim survived the initial attack, but Israeli troops refused to allow an

Nine government medical workers were killed in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Maan – Israel killed nine Military Medical Services workers, including three doctors, during its assault on Gaza, the Ministry of the Interior in the Hamas-run government said on Friday. The spokesman of the Military Medical Services, Ahmed al-Kahlout said that attacks on medical workers are a violation of international law,In a statement the Military Medical Services identified the victims: Dr. Ehab Omar Al-Madhoon (General Doctor), Dr. Ehab Jaser Al-Sha’er (Dermatologist), Dr Issa Abdurrahman Saleh (Dentist), Yaser Kamal Shbare (Nurse), Ahmed Subhi Al-Khateeb (Physiotherapy), Saeed Mahmud Al-Omari (Security Services), Mahmud Abu Haseera (Volunteer Nurse), Ra’fat Abd Al-‘Al (Volunteer Medic), Anas Fadel Na’eem (Volunteer Medic).

IDF soldier suspected of seriously wounding Palestinian at West Bank checkpoint
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
An Israel Defense Forces soldier is suspected of seriously wounding a Palestinian man at the West Bank checkpoint of Hawara, after he allegedly struck him in the head with the butt of his rifle. The IDF has pledged to open an investigation, adding that they suspect the soldier felt threatened. The incident occurred on Tuesday at the checkpoint outside Nablus, after the victim, Mahmoud Awad’s brother was involved in a scuffle with other Palestinian youths at the checkpoint. Mahmoud reportedly saw his brother then being taken for questioning, and requested to speak to him. A witness said at this point a soldier approached Mahmoud, and without saying a word, struck him in the head with his rifle, at which point he lost consciousness. A Palestinian taxi driver evacuated Mahmoud to a local hospital. His brother, who was still handcuffed, managed to jump in the car and evade arrest, saying his handcuffs were later taken off at the hospital.

Two homes occupied during Jayyous protest
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 1/23/2009
The weekly Friday demonstration against the Apartheid Wall in Jayyous was once again met with intense repression from Occupation forces. For several hours, soldiers occupied the rooftops of two houses in the village and fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live bullets at the protesters below. At least four people, including one pregnant woman, suffered injuries from tear gas inhalation. In the morning, several hours before the demonstration began, several jeeps full of Occupation forces had already entered Jayyous to try and intimidate villagers and prevent the protest from occurring. The local commander called the mayor of the village to warn him that if the villagers marched to the south gate of the Wall they would be fired upon with live bullets. In spite of the intimidation, the demonstration began as usual after the midday prayer, as some 250 villagers and international solidarity activists gathered in the centre of Jayyous.

Israeli troops attack Nil’in weekly protest against the wall
Salah Al Khawajjah, International Middle East Media Center News 1/23/2009
Scores of Palestinians from the village of Nil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, On Friday, conducted a protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village’s land by the Israeli settlement and annexation project. The people held Friday prayers near the village lands, then preceded to march to the land being confiscated by Israel. Demonstrators carried banners calling for national unity and demanded an end to the Israeli occupation. As soon as locals and their international supporters arrived to the village where Israel is building the wall, soldiers showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, dozens suffered from gas inhalation. Among those injured today was Arol Bruksa, who was vesting the village and took part in the weekly activity. Bruksa holds a Professor’s degree in law, and is a former director of the Israeli human right group B’Tselem.

Resistance in East Jerusalem: solidarity tent bolsters actions
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
PNN -- On Friday the nonviolent Palestinian resistance crowded in and around the solidarity tent in Sheikh Jarrah. The East Jerusalem neighborhood is one of several under threat by the Israeli administration’s Judaization of the city. Israeli forces have destroyed the tent five times. The resistance continues to rebuild. It has become symbolic of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation throughout East Jerusalem. First placed nearby the Kurd home, the family pitched a tent to live in when they were evicted from their home for the sake of Jewish settlers. An Israeli court allowed for their return and eventual eviction a second time. When dragged from their home at dawn hundreds of neighbors were involved. There were more than 50 combined arrests and injuries. The patriarch of the family was quickly hospitalized where he died of heart failure.

Three injured during the Bil’in Weekly Demonstration
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/23/2009
Residents of Bil’in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, gathered after Friday prayers in an act of solidarity with the people of Gaza, insisting that the village is still resisting the wall and settlement building. They were joined by international activists and the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall, who are all in opposition to Israel’s war on Gaza. The demonstrators carried all Palestinian party flags as a symbol for national unity to stand against the Israeli occupation. Protesters put on masks of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas and the deposed PM, and walked toward the wall holding hands as a hopeful symbol that the Palestinian internal conflict will end, and they will unite against the Israeli occupation once again. The protestors marched toward the wall, which is built on Bil’in’s land.

Seven children seized, jailed by Israeli military near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Seven children have been seized from their homes in the village of Toura Al-Gharbiyah, near Jenin, the organization Defense for Children International (DCI) reports. The children are currently detained in Salim detention center in the north of the West Bank. Two of the children are only 12 years old; two are 13; another two are aged 15; and the seventh is 17. A DCI lawyer who visited the children said that after the children were pulled from their homes at 4am on Tuesday, Israeli intelligence, police and army held the children in a public building in the village, and interrogated them. They were alleged to have thrown stones at the Israeli separation wall and were intimidated into confessing, according to DCI. The eldest, Murad, 17, was accused of possessing weapons, but he denied the allegation.

Demonstrator hospitalized after Israeli forces fire on Bil’in demonstrators
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinians joined a peaceful march for Palestinian unity and against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday. Three people were injured. One person, Khames Fathi Aburahma, was hospitalized after being shot in the head. Aburahma was shot with a new type of Israeli ammunition that sprays small metal pellets. He was treated at Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah. In a show of unity the protesters carried the flags of all the Palestinian factions. Protesters also wore masks of rival Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh. The demonstrators marched towards the Israeli separation wall, which bars the villagers from accessing much of their land.

Al Ma’ssara village protest the Israeli wall near Bethlehem
IMEMC News & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/23/2009
On Friday, scores of villagers from al-Ma’ssara, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, suported by international peace activists, protested the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village’s lands. The demonstrators called for Palestinian national unity, and demanded Israel to stop building the illegal wall on the villagers’ lands. The protest started at the local school and demonstrators marched to the location of the construction of the wall, where Israeli troops had formed a blockade, which stopped protestors from making it to the wall. Speeches were delivered by local organizers. The protest dispersed without any clashes with the Israeli military, which doesn’t happen very often lately.

Palestinian man stoned by Israeli soldiers in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – A 61-year-old Palestinian man was treated for wounds on Thursday after Israeli soldiers reportedly threw stones at him in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron. Hospital officials said Zuheir Abed –Al-Mu’ti Abu Menshar arrived in the emergency room bleeding from his face. His condition was described as moderate, and he was discharged. Witnesses said that heated argument broke out between Palestinian residents and the Israeli soldiers in the area following the incident. The soldiers denied the stoning, while the Israeli police say they are investigating the incident. [end]

Clashes after 2,500 Palestinians protest in Hebron for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Six Palestinians were arrested and dozens choked on tear gas when Israeli forces cracked down on a massive Hamas-led demonstration in Hebron in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Some 2,500 protesters turned out for the demonstration, which began after Friday prayers, leaving the Wasayah mosque in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood. The identities of the six arrestees were not determined. Last Friday, Israeli forces shot dead a teenage protester in Hebron at another demonstration in solidarity with Gaza. [end]

Israeli troops overrun village near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Ramallah - Ma’an - Israeli troops overran a village near the northern West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday at dawn, witnesses said. Ma’an’s correspondent also reported that more than 30 Israeli military vehicles overran Ni’lin village from ever entrance, although residents were not sure why. Ni’lin is home to some of the more vocal protests against Israel’s separation barrier, where residents demonstrate after Friday prayers on a weekly basis. [end]

Israel restricts Palestinians’ access to Al-Aqsa Mosque
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Jerusalem - Ma’an – Israel again imposed restrictions on access to the iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday, allowing only men over 40 and women of all ages to worship. Women of all ages are allowed. Israeli authorities say that they are studying the issue, considering lifting the restrictions on access to the Mosque, in Jerusalem’s Old City. [end]

Teenager detained as Israeli forces raid Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces invaded the West Bank city of Nablus and seized a teenager from his home. Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided houses on Jerusalem Road, south of Nablus, arresting 18-year-old Tarek Diab Al-Hourani. The Israeli forces later withdrew. No clashes were reported. [end]

This Week in Palestine -Week 04 2009
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/23/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 10 m 0s || 9. 15 MB ||This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for January 11th 2009 through to January 23ed 2009. As the Israeli military violates the announced cease fire in Gaza medics and rescue workers continue to find dead bodies among the rubble while Israeli troops kidnaps 46 Palestinians from the West Bank. These stories and more, coming up, Stay tuned. Nonviolent Activities - Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank with. Ramallah The residents of Bil’in village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah gathered after the Friday prayer in an act of solidarity with the people of Gaza, and to express resistance to the Wall and settlement building.

Saudi envoy to U.S.: Obama mustn’t repeat Bush’s ’sickening legacy’ in Mideast
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
President Barack Obama’s administration will have to "drastically revise" American policies relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if Washington seeks to maintain its leadership role in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U. S. said on Friday. In an article on the Financial Times website, Prince Turki al-Faisal said former President George W. Bush had left a "sickening legacy" in the Middle East. "If the U. S. wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact - especially its ’special relationship’ with Saudi Arabia - it will have to drastically revise its policies vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine," Turki said. Obama on Friday asked Saudi King Abdullah for support in halting weapons smuggling into Gaza and underscored the importance of US-Saudi ties in a phone call to the Arab ruler, the White House said.

Saudi prince says US ties at risk over Mideast
Reuters, YNetNews 1/23/2009
’Unless Obama administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk,’ Prince Turki al-Faisal says, adding that Ahmadinejad urged Saudis to lead ’jihad’ against Israel -A member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family warned US President Barack Obama on Friday the Middle East peace process and US-Saudi ties were at risk unless Washington changed tack on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel had come close to "killing the prospect of peace" with its offensive in Gaza, Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote in an article published on the Financial Times’ website. [end]

Two Gazans die in Egyptian hospitals; two bodies found in rubble
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Two Palestinians died in Egyptian hospitals on Friday of wounds resulting from Israel’s three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, a senior Palestinian medical official said. Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry also said that two more corpses had been recovered from the rubble of buildings that were destroyed by Israel’s bombing. Medical workers found the bodies in the Al-Muntada area west of Gaza City and brought them to Ash-Shifa Hospital. The bodies have not yet been identified. [end]

UN: Israel cooperating in efforts to improve Gaza humanitarian situation
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
A United Nations official said on Friday Israel was cooperating in efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza but that far more had to be done to help the Palestinian territory recover after Israel’s offensive. John Holmes, the UN’s Humanitarian Affairs chief, said Israel was allowing in more food and medicine into Gaza than it did before December 27, when it launched the offensive against Hamas with the stated goal of stopping cross-border rocket attacks. "I’ve detected a spirit of good will on the Israeli side to help do that," Holmes said, referring to efforts by aid organizations to transfer medical, food and other urgent supplies to Gaza through border crossings controlled by Israel. He said construction materials were urgently needed to rebuild thousands of homes and government buildings. . .

Cabinet approves measures to prevent Gaza arms smuggling
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Olmert, Livni, Barak approve security arrangements with Egypt aimed at thwarting flow of arms into Hamas-controlled territory; possible measures include setting up roadblocks deep in Sinai; prevent smuggling boats from docking at Port Said -The limited cabinet, consisting of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni approved Thursday night the security arrangements with Egypt aimed at preventing the smuggling of arms into Gaza. The technical details of these arrangements were agreed upon during recent discussions between Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, and officials in Cairo, including Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. Livni and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently signed a "memorandum of understanding" intended to assure that Hamas gunmen will not be able to rearm following the ceasefire in Gaza.

UN humanitarian efforts in Gaza aim to be 'non-political' in face of Israeli security concerns
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The UN office for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief aims to bring emergency and primary aid to Gaza quickly and efficiently in as “non-political” a way as possible, said the organization’s Under-Secretary General John Holmes on Friday. Nonetheless, the UN’s top humanitarian official said, UN agencies are finding it difficult to resume operation in the wake of the three-week war in Gaza due to Israel’s tight restrictions on movement in and out of Gaza. During a press conference in Jerusalem following a visit to Gaza Holmes explained that OCHA (the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) hopes to speed up the aid process by distinguishing the “rapid response” of providing food and shelter from more long term reconstruction efforts which he sees as “more political. ”By keeping UN-OCHA and UNRWA operations strictly within the humanitarian. . .

All efforts regarding Gaza controlled by Israeli administration
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Bethlehem - Reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is overwhelming, particularly as the Israeli closure of the crossings continues. With materials such as cement and glass banned for two years, there is little to be done with the funds raised. The Israeli administration, which as occupier already controls imports and exports, says that it must approve all new building efforts organized by the United Nations. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that the Israelis expect to control UN efforts, including what is repaired and who does the work. Many international parties are attempting to donate through the UN, according to the appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He told a press conference in Ramallah that the donor conference scheduled for Cairo in mid-February will bring in the necessary funds from players such as the Norwegians.

UN official: War boosted extremists in Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Head of UNRWA aid organization in Gaza calls for independent inquiry of IDF operation, urges US administration to embark on ’new track’ in region - Israel’s invasion of Gaza has strengthened the hand of extremists and only a credible independent investigation into alleged wrongdoing can quieten growing Palestinian anger, a UN aid official said on Friday. John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, called for new US Middle East envoy George Mitchell to talk to ordinary people in Gaza as part of a "new track" in diplomacy. US President Barack Obama named Mitchell, a former US Senator who helped settle the conflict in Northern Ireland, on Thursday to try to jump-start Arab-Israeli peace talks. "My first request to the US administration is talk to the ordinary people in Gaza.

US, UN call on Israel to open Gaza borders
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
JERUSALEM - The Palestinians of Gaza urgently need hundreds of millions of dollars for food and repairs, the UN said on Friday, as the US president added his voice to a clamour for Israel to fully open the enclave to aid. The UN humanitarian chief said the Israeli offensive against Gaza had caused more destruction than expected and called the death toll "shocking". "A very significant appeal for resources of hundreds of millions of dollars," was required at the start of February for just the next six to nine months, John Holmes told a press conference. "The level of destruction, which I expected to be high. . . was even worse than what I expected," he said after touring Gaza. He noted that the Palestinian health ministry listed more than 1,300 dead and 5,000 wounded during Israel’s 22-day Operation Cast Lead.

UN humanitarian chief visits Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The United Nations’ top humanitarian official visited Gaza on Thursday as a part of a team appointed by the UN secretary-general to assess the situation in the war-ravaged territory. John Holmes, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs is also due to make a one-day visit to Egypt for meetings with UN officials, the Red Cross and representatives from other humanitarian agencies. He will also meet Palestinian and Israeli officials. On Thursday Holmes called the number of casualties from Israel’s three-week war "extremely shocking. " Holmes is expected to give a news conference in Jerusalem on Friday to address his findings regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Sarkozy: France sending frigate to stem arms to Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/23/2009
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is ordering that a frigate be immediately deployed off Gaza to survey the area and fight arms smuggling. A statement Friday by Sarkozy’s office said he had asked that the helicopter-carrier be immediately deployed in international waters off Gaza "in full cooperation with Egypt and Israel. " The move is aimed at consolidating the fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Sarkozy traveled twice to the region to help put together a cease-fire, in an initiative with Egypt. He also ordered French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to "coordinate closely" with the United States and Europe and propose other ways to fight arms smuggling.

Jaffa residents bemoan relatives killed in Gaza
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Operation Cast Lead emphasizes Arab residents of central city’s conflict between Israeli citizenship and pain over losing loved ones in Gaza. ’Expression of solidarity should not be reason to attack us,’ says principal of school erecting mourners tent for victims -Almost one week after Operation Cast Lead came to an end, Israelis and Gazans are beginning to go back to their daily routines, but in Jaffa, despite the distance from the war front, many Arab residents are conflicted on how to recover from the damage caused by the operation. On the one hand, Jaffa residents are afraid to protest against the war for fear of being perceived as identifying with the enemy, but on the other hand, many continue to mourn the loss of their own relatives in Gaza. "Anyone who hasn’t experienced the loss and death, cannot understand us," Jaffa café owner Zaki Abu Issa told Ynet.

Nonviolent resistance in southern Bethlehem calls for national unity to combat occupation
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Bethlehem -- Demonstrations in the West Bank today confirmed the desire of the people for national reconciliation. The call has not wavered in the two years since the Fateh and Hamas parties split over elections results. In southern Bethlehem’s Al Masara and Umm Salamuna villages, Palestinians protested the Israeli takeover of their land. All violations of international law are exacerbated, demonstrators said on Friday, due to the internal split. "It is only through reconciliation that we can truly fight this," organizer Mohammad Briggia said today. "Divided we are an easier target. "As media spokesperson for the Popular Committee against the Wall in the Southern Villages, Briggia paid tribute to the "Palestinian resistance and the masses of our people in the Gaza Strip who fought the Israeli war machine and called for the realization of national unity, a split that works only in the interest of Israel. "

Hamas to pay Gaza victims, families of ’martyrs’
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
GAZA CITY - The Palestinian democratically elected government of Hamas said Thursday it would pay 1,000 euros each to the families of the dead and 4,000 euros for each home destroyed in Israel’s assault on Gaza. The compensation awards would include 500 euros for each person wounded and 2,000 euros for families whose houses were damaged, spokesman Taher Al-Nunu said. Israel’s war on Gaza killed 1,330 people, at least half of them are confirmed to be civilians, and wounded 5,450 others, medics said on Thursday in a final toll of the offensive. Among the dead were 437 children, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists. The wounded include 1,890 children and 200 people in serious condition, he said. Six hundred injured people have been transferred outside Gaza for treatment. Reports suggest that the majority of the Palestinian men killed were civilians.

Nativity Church deportees demand permission for families to leave Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Nine of the homes of the 26 Nativity Church deportees were destroyed during Israel’s war on Gaza. The group appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday, asking he work on having the men returned home. The 26 “Nativity Church Deportees” were exiled to Gaza and abroad in April 2002 after the Israeli military surrounded the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, seeking several “wanted” Palestinians who took refuge in the building. The siege lasted over one month. Arduous negotiations between Israelis, Palestinians and members of the Greek Orthodox Church saw 26 Palestinians in the church exiled to the Gaza Strip and 13 sent abroad. The deportees are asking permission for their families, if not themselves, to return to the West Bank. The wives and children of the deportees joined them in Gaza one year after the siege on the church.

Calls for national unity come from behind the masks of Abbas and Haniya in Bil’in
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Bil’in -- Between neighboring Bil’in and Na’lin villages, the weekly nonviolent resistance in western Ramallah is more of a daily affair. As is customary on Fridays hundreds of Palestinians stood on their lands in confrontation to the Israeli occupation which confiscates them. Thirty military vehicles stormed Na’lin while soldiers in Bil’in fired from the gate area of the Wall. Today a group from the Israeli Anarchists against the Wall joined the Bil’in demonstration along with international activists in support of the Palestinian struggle for justice. Alongside the black flags in mourning of Gaza victims were those of Venezuela and Bolivia in appreciation of the support offered by the two when they expelled the Israeli ambassadors from their countries. The call for national unity resounded here today under the omnipresent Palestinian flag.

Qurei urges reconciliation among Palestinians, while lashing out at Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Senior Fatah leader Ahmad Qurei called on Friday for national reconciliation among Palestinians in the wake of the Israeli war on Gaza, but once again blamed Hamas for causing the current split in Palestinian politics. "The scale of the sacrifices and the martyrs whom they overcome 1,340 martyrs and over 5,500 people injured, the destruction of the infrastructure of the institutions built and constructed by the Palestinian Authority, ministries and security headquarters and homes, require all of us, … to increase our level of national responsibility and the denial of the self and group interests for the benefit of the homeland Palestine,” he saidQurei also accused Hamas of “systematic and intensive” attacks on Fatah members and institutions in Gaza, pushing Palestinians toward a civil war. . . "

Southern Command chief: Battle for Israel’s security not over
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/23/2009
’In Gaza op we showed we won’t allow anyone to dispute our presence in this land,’ Maj. -Gen. Galant tells soldiers who took part in offensive -"After years of continuous terror and attacks against the residents of the south, a new reality has emerged in the region," Southern Command Chief Maj. -Gen. Yoav Galant said Thursday. Speaking to soldiers who were under his command during the recent offensive in Gaza, Galant said "the enemy was dealt a severe blow, and we made a statement that we will not allow anyone to dispute our presence in this land. "IDF soldiers operated in Gaza out of faith in the righteousness of their path and displayed a fighting spirit and determination," he said, adding "the battle for Israel’s security is not over. " Many IDF soldiers who participated in Operation Cast Lead are scheduled to go on leave over the weekend, some of them for the first time in two months.

National Resistance Brigades: 13 fighters killed during Israeli onslaught
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Thirteen fighters from the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the National Resistance Brigades, were killed in the three week Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, the Brigades announced shortly after the war closed. A statement from the Brigades noted that two of the dead were field commanders for the militant faction, and that several others were seriously wounded during Israeli airstrikes. The strikes targeted the homes and cars of the brigadesmen, the statement said. Cataloging their military operations, the brigades announced that there were 17 joint attacks, which included projectile launches, sniper-fire at Israeli soldiers, detonating explosive devices near Israeli tanks and direct clashes with troops. The military force launched 88 projectiles, and their Artillery Unit shelled Israeli units in Gaza with 60 heavy mortar shells.

Brigade commander: Hamas will draw lessons, grow stronger
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/23/2009
’We were simply ready and came in with strong and determined soldiers,’ commander of Armored Corps 401st Brigade says regarding Gaza offensive, ’I suggest that even now we do not dismiss Hamas; it will draw lessons from the conflict and will be stronger in the next round of fighting’ - "Our achievements in Gaza have restored the Israeli people’s faith in the army," the commander of the 401st Brigade of the Armor Corps told Ynet Thursday. Colonel Yigal Slovik could not provide a clear answer as to whether Operation Cast Lead finally brought security to the residents of south Israel, but he did say that his brigade was prepared to reenter Gaza immediately if needed. The 401st Brigade rolled into Gaza through the Netzarin corridor and didn’t stop until it reached the coast, effectively dissecting the Hamas-controlled territory into a northern and southern bloc.

National Resistance Brigades 'Israeli violations of ceasefire are provocative'
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel’s continued truce violations are provocative and should be halted immediately, said a statement from the National Resistance Brigades (NRB), the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Friday. Israel’s violations include the serious injury of two fishermen Thursday, repeated invasions from the border areas and artillery fire resulting in the death of three civilians since the Israeli ceasefire was called. “These violations” said the NRB, “are provocative to the Palestinian resistance and if continued will force a response to the Israeli occupation. ” The statement added that Israel is looking for a justification for re-launching its attacks on Gaza. NRB spokesman Abu Salim, demanded that international parties enforce the Israeli ceasefire and ensure calm prevails in the region.

Israel approves additional Egyptian forces on Gaza border
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel has given a green light to an Egyptian requent to deploy up to 1,500 new security personnel along its border with Gaza, Israeli media reported on Friday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni approved the new security arrangements during a meeting on Friday. Meanwhile, the head of the political-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, discussed the details of the deployment with Egyptian intelligence chief Umar Suleiman in Cairo on Thursday night. The additional forces are charged with shutting down smuggling routes into the Gaza Strip. Palestinians in Gaza operate an elaborate network of smuggling tunnels in order to import basic goods made scarce by years of Egyptian-Israeli blockade. Israel alleges that the tunnels are also used to ship weapons.

Series of talks on Gaza long-term reconstruction to be held in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – In addition to brokering long-term ceasefire talks in Cairo, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Friday it will host dozens of international parties in a series of meetings designed to address long-term reconstruction projects for Gaza. The announcement came as Amos Gilad, head of the political and security departments in the Israeli ministry of Defense, was in Egypt holding talks about Gaza aid, ahead of talks with Hamas officials on Sunday. [end]

Israel likely to allow deployment of more Egyptian forces along Gaza borders
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/23/2009
Israeli political sources stated Friday that Israel will most likely agree to an Egyptian request to increase the number of Egyptian forces deployed along the Gaza-Egypt border, in the area known as the Philadiplhi Route. Egypt had requested to increase the number of its soldiers to add up to the already existing forces deployed along the border. The Egyptian request, according to Israel "comes in an effort to boost the security along the border and bar arms smuggling into Gaza". Amos Gilad, head of the Security Department at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, discussed this issue during a Thursday meeting with Egypt’s Security Chief, Omar Suleiman. There are 750 Egyptian soldiers deployed along the border, Egypt previously requested Israel to allow the deployment of additional 750 soldiers. Israel did not approve the addition, but now Egypt is demanding Israel to allow it to deploy nearly 2250 soldiers.

Oxford University students stage sit-in in solidarity with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Oxford University students occupied part of a Library on Thursday, urging their institution to take a stand against Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip. Up to 90 protesters stormed the Clarendon Building, close to the Bodleian Library, at noon local time. The demonstration was called off seven hours later. Protest organizers said they had reached an agreement with the university administration. The students demanded that the Master of Balliol College cancel a lecture series inaugurated by Israeli PresidentShimon Peres. The group also called for Oxford to divest from BAE Systems, an arms company who supply the Israeli military. "The fact that Oxford University invests in BAE Systems means that it is directly profiting from the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” a spokesperson for the demonstrators said.

Broadcasters refuse to air Gaza charity appeal
Jenny Percival, The Guardian 1/22/2009
The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 13 aid charities, launched its appealtoday saying the devastation in Gaza was "so huge that British aid agencies were compelled to act". But the BBC made a rare breach of an agreement dating back to 1963 when it announced it would not give free airtime to the appeal. Other broadcasters then followed suit. Previously, broadcasters have agreed on the video and script to be used with the DEC, with each station choosing a presenter to front the appeal, shown after primetime news bulletins. The BBC said it was not the first time broadcasters had refused to show a DEC appeal. The corporation said it had been concerned about the difficulties of getting aid through to victims in a volatile situation.

From London to Gaza: aid to Palestinians on valentine
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
LONDON - The Anglo Arab Organisation (AAO), a non governmental organisation set to build economic and cultural bridges between the people of the Arab World and the West, urged helping the Palestinian population in Gaza by supporting an aid convoy from London to Gaza to help ease the humanitarian crisis there. The convoy, led by George Galloway MP, will leave London on 14 February, travelling through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt then via Rafah into Gaza to bring material aid. The convoy - dubbed Viva Palestina - is supported by Stop the War Coalition, AAO, Interpal, BMI, Scottish and North West Region of the Fire Brigades Union, Ummah Welfare Trust, Friends of Al Aqsa and others. Israel’s war on Gaza killed 1,330 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and wounded 5,450 others. Among the dead were 437 children, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists.

In praise of… the Disasters Emergency Committee
Editorial, The Guardian 1/23/2009
Broadcasters are wrong to boycott the Gaza appeal. "No politics. No boundaries. Send us money now. We’ll rush your aid to the people of Vietnam," the Disasters Emergency Committee appealed in 1967, courtesy of a broadcast carried by the BBC, presented by Peter Snow. It did not judge the rights and wrongs of the conflict, or promise that aid would only reach those to the north or south of the border that then divided the country. It simply made the point that desperate people needed help. What was true of Vietnam then is true of Gaza today, which makes it all the more unfortunate that for the first time in 43 years a DEC appeal has been launched without the support of Britain’s major broadcasters. The BBC’s lame excuse yesterday – that it wants to "avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story" – could of course have applied to Vietnam 30 years ago, or any number of appeals since then.

Hamas parliamentary bloc proposes neutral Palestinian Arab committee for Gaza reconstruction
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ parliamentary bloc proposed the formation of a neutral Palestinian Arab committee to handle reconstruction and aid money for the Gaza Strip. The Committee, proposed Thursday during a meeting of Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative, would have to be transparent, credible and able to move quickly in its work, said PLC members. In its statement the bloc said the reconstruction and humanitarian aid for Gaza must be “distanced from the political arguments. ” It also asked that those involved in the international efforts to end the Israeli assault continue with their work aiming at turning the halt into a long term ceasefire and open crossings. The Arab Initiative that stopped the attacks, said the statement, was received positively by Hamas members in Gaza. The bloc praised efforts from the Arab and Muslim worlds to support the steadfastness of the. . .

U.S.: Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service 1/24/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (IPS) - In his first major diplomatic moves since his inauguration, U. S. President Barack Obama Thursday named two accomplished negotiators, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and Amb. Richard Holbrooke, as special envoys to deal with the Israel-Arab conflict and "the deteriorating situation" in Afghanistan and Pakistan, respectively. At a mid-afternoon briefing hosted by his just-confirmed Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Obama, who was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, said the two appointments underscored his commitment to "actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as Israel and its Arab neighbours" and to urgently address what he called "the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism", in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama adds diplomatic dynamite
Jim Lobe, Asia Times 1/24/2009
WASHINGTON - In his first major diplomatic moves since his inauguration, United States President Barack Obama on Thursday named two accomplished negotiators, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell and ambassador Richard Holbrooke, as special envoys to deal with the Israel-Arab conflict and "the deteriorating situation" in Afghanistan and Pakistan, respectively. At a mid-afternoon briefing hosted by his just-confirmed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama, who was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, said the two appointments underscored his commitment to "actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors" and to urgently address what he called "the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism", in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

US Secretary of State Clinton calls Middle East leaders
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Signaling the Obama administration’s intention to act decisively to achieve peace in the Middle East, the new US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton called Palestinian Israeli and Jordanian leaders on Thursday. In conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Clinton addressed the situation in Gaza and "the security of the state of Israel," according to officials. Clinton also spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II to discuss the future of the peace process. The former senator from New York also called Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, assuring him that Washington intends to move swiftly to push forward the peace negotiations in the Middle East. The Secretary of State also spoke with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in which they agreed on the need. . .

Hamas says Obama represents no change to Bush
Reuters, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Islamist group’s rep in Lebanon Osama Hamdan says new US president’s declaration that Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel will hinder Mideast envoy George Mitchell’s efforts to jump start Arab-Israeli peace talks -The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said on Thursday that US President Barack Obama does not represent a change from former President George W. Bush and is repeating his same failed policies in the Middle East. "Obama insists that no change will happen. He is trying to move along the same path that previous US presidents have followed," Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera television. "It seems that Obama is trying to repeat the same mistakes that George Bush made without taking into consideration Bush’s experience that resulted in the explosion of the region instead of reaching stability and peace in it. . . "

Islamic Jihad: Obama will cover up Israel’s crimes
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Islamic Jihad movement said on Friday that US President Barak Obama’s speech the previous day was “not surprising. ”In a statement the movement said: “We are aware that the new American presidency is with Zionism and will never be separated from it because they are working for the same goal. America is always the lawyer for Israel and defends their presence in the Palestinian territory and covers their crimes against Palestinians. ”The movement pointed to Obama’s reference to Israel’s “right to defend itself” and said that proposed peace negotiations are merely a cover for more crimes against Palestinians. Islamic Jihad urged Arabs and Muslims to reconsider their views towards the US.

Obama lays out vision for Middle East peace
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to aggressively pursue Middle East peace as for the first time since taking office he laid out his vision for ending the age-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a sign of his determination to act quickly, Obama and new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named veteran negotiator George Mitchell as a high-profile special envoy to the region. Mitchell, who helped forge a peace deal in Northern Ireland, will travel to the Middle East "as soon as possible" armed with a commitment to seeking to secure two states living side by side in peace, the new president said. "It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Obama added on his first visit to the State Department since his inauguration on Tuesday.

Carter Center: Israel could have avoided Gaza war
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
PACIFICA – Israel could have extended the ceasefire with Hamas if it had wanted to before launching its 22-day offensive on Gaza that killed 1,300 Palestinians, mainly civilians, said the senior adviser on conflict resolution at the Carter Center. "Both sides violated the key elements of the ceasefire," noted Robert Pastor, professor of international relations at American University, during an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! on Thursday. "With regard to the question of whether Israel had an alternative than to invade in Gaza, I think the answer is obvious, that it did, that an effective ceasefire, full compliance with the agreement, would have stopped the rockets without the terrible loss of life that occurred," added Pastor, who served as national security adviser on Latin America and the Caribbean under President Carter from 1977-81.

Obama to ’aggressively’ seek ME peace
Hilary Leila Krieger, Jpost Correspondent In Washington, Jerusalem Post 1/22/2009
Calling for border crossings into Gaza to be opened with "appropriate monitoring" to alleviate the humanitarian problems following Operation Cast Lead, US President Barack Obama declared on Thursday his intention to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians. To that end, he announced during his first visit to the State Department that new envoy George Mitchell would soon be dispatched to the region to help ensure the cease-fire holds and to move forward on working with Israelis and Palestinians. "Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats," Obama said. "No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves.

Gaza War Lends Urgency to Obama’s Mideast Agenda
Analysis by Helena Cobban, Inter Press Service 1/24/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 23(IPS) - On Thursday, his second full day in office, Pres. Barack Obama took some bold steps that could have wide and positive repercussions in the Middle East. He signed executive orders forbidding torture by any U. S. government agent and mandating the speedy closure of the much-reviled U. S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And he traveled to the State Department to announce - alongside newly confirmed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - the appointments of former Sen. George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East peace, and of former ambassador Richard Holbrooke as special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan. The fact that the new president went to visit the State Department so early in his term sent a powerful signal that he would be placing a new emphasis on diplomacy rather than focusing heavily on military instruments of power, as his predecessor had done.

U.S. Jews blast plan for ’anti-Israel’ UN official to attend Holocaust prayer service
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will take part Saturday in a prayer service at a Manhattan synagogue to mark "World Holocaust Day". Local Jewish leaders criticized the fact that President of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann plans to take part in the service. Brockmann has been criticized heavily for a number of anti-Israel statements he has made in the past, including calling Israel an Apartheid state, and saying that Israel is ’crucifying the Palestinians’, a statement that was widely taken to be anti-Semitic and not just anti-Israel. Brockmann also accused Israel of committing ’Genocide’ during the recent IDF operations in Gaza. The UN has so far not responded to calls for Brockmann not to attend, saying only that Ban was expected to be present at the prayer service.

Demonstrators urge Olmert to ’finish the job, bring Shalit home’
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Dozens gather in outside PM’s Jerusalem residence, demand he live up to promise to bring about kidnapped soldier’s release before his term ends -Some 50 people gathered outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s official residence in Jerusalem Friday and demanded that he live up to his promise to bring kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit home before the conclusion of his term. Israel’s general elections are scheduled for February 10. "Olmert, finish the job and bring Shalit back," the protestors chanted. Shalit was captured by Palestinian terrorists during a cross-border raid on an IDF base near Gaza on June 25, 2006. Guy Eliasif, of the Headquarters for the Release of Gilad Shalit told Ynet "it is time for (Olmert) to make a brave decision and bring an end to this affair. "Another demonstrator said "especially now, after we’ve pulled. . .

Families of terror victims against release of killers
Daniel Edelson, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Following cries from terror victim widows willing to have their loved ones’ killers released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, Terror Victims Association head Zeev Rapp, who also lost daughter to terror furiously opposes notion - Chairman of the Terror Victims Association Zeev Rapp was enraged by reports that widows of terror victims were willing have the killers of their loved ones go free in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. "I’m in contact with many families and this support could spark a horrible uprising. Dozens of families will rebel against it," Rapp told Ynet on Wednesday. "Anyone who supports this move, doesn’t understand the grief they are causing us. The memories of our loved ones call out from beneath the earth for revenge. Our hearts and souls are bleeding; enough with these bleeding hearts’ ideas.

Paratrooper commander: IDF reached its goals in Gaza operation
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
The commander of the Israel Defense Forces Paratroopers’ Brigade, Colonel Hertzi Halevy, said Friday that the IDF achieved its goals during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel Radio. During an interview with Israel Radio, Halevy said that no one expected to rid the Strip entirely of rocket launchers or smuggling tunnels, but that the operation will teach Hamas that "a second round won’t be such a good idea. "Halevy added that during the fighting his troops came across a large number of explosive devices, booby-trapped houses, and attempted kidnappings of IDF troops. When asked about the high number of civilian casualties in the Strip, Halevy told Israel Radio that his soldiers gave a huge effort to ensure that civilians were not harmed.

Dutch minister: Arabs need to learn more about Holocaust, Jews need to study Palestinian ’Nakba’
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
In a call to include Muslims in Holland’s Auschwitz memorial event, the Dutch integration minister on Thursday said that Arabs needed to learn about the Holocaust and that Jews need "better understand" the Naqba. The Moroccan-Dutch community said its members will attend the memorial. Minister Eberhard van der Laan from the Dutch Labor party is quoted as telling local media that "just as Arabs should acknowledge the Holocaust, so must Jews understand what the Nakba means for Palestinians," adding: "There is suffering on both sides. " He also said that the "problems in Gaza served to agitate hatred between Jews and Arabs," and that this problem "must not be allowed to be imported. " On Friday, the coordinating body for Moroccan and Muslim associations in the Netherlands announced it will be sending members to participate for the first time in Sunday’s remembrance event for Holocaust victims at Amsterdam’s Auschwitz memorial site.

Study: 20 years of conflict has cost Middle East $12 trillion
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/24/2009
Twenty years of conflict has cost the Middle East $12 trillion, a study showed on Friday. Unless the region’s conflicts are resolved, the costs will continue to mount, said the study by India’s Strategic Foresight Group, backed by governments or other agencies in Norway, Qatar, Switzerland and Turkey. "The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace," said Sundeep Waslekar, the group’s president and one of the report’s authors. The figures are all the more striking as global recession and slowdown forces governments to scramble for billions of dollars to shore up banks and economies. The study looks at the costs of the failure to conclude peace after the 1991 Madrid conference - an attempt by the international community to start Israeli-Arab peace talks in the wake of the Gulf War - negating many of the region’s advantages in location, resources and education.

Study: Conflict has cost Middle East $12 trillion
Reuters, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Study conducted by Indian strategic research company and backed by number of countries, agencies finds that region’s residents could have been twice as rich had peace taken off after 1991 Madrid talks - Twenty years of conflict has cost the Middle East $12 trillion, a study showed on Friday. Unless the region’s conflicts are resolved, the costs will continue to mount, said the study by India’s Strategic Foresight Group, backed by governments or other agencies in Norway, Qatar, Switzerland and Turkey. "The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace," said Sundeep Waslekar, the group’s president and one of the report’s authors. The figures are all the more striking as global recession and slowdown forces governments to scramble for billions of dollars to shore up banks and economies.

Israel’s right-wing Likud party leads in polls
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s right-wing Likud party is holding its lead in the polls as a 10 February parliamentary election approaches. A Maariv/Teleseker poll released on Friday shows Likud winning 28 seats in the Knesset, beating the center-right Kadima party’s 24. Labor received 16 and the religious Shas faction nine. Labor’s Ehud Barak, the defense minister, and Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister appeared to receive an electoral boost in the polls during the three-week war on the Gaza Strip that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians. However, Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who pressed for a large-scale invasion of Gaza early on, seems to have bounced back. The Likud party’s platform flatly rejects the creation of any Palestinian state. It also says that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law, are “the realization of Zionist values.

Rightwing opposition set to win Israel elections
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
TEL AVIV - Rightwing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to profit from Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip, stretching his lead in the polls for the February 10 elections. The Likud party chairman totally opposes an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 and is campaigning on a platform of security for Israelis. Traditional rightwing leitmotifs such as Greater Israel or the spread of illegal Israeli settlements are kept well in the background. The 22-day Operation Cast Lead against Gaza may have been considered a military success for Israel but the ruling Kadima party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has not reaped the benefits. The opposition, which opposed Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and the dismantling of illegal settlements, cheered the December 27 launch of the assault saying, "we told you so".

Arab MK barred from entering Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/23/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli government barred a member of its own parliament from entering Gaza on Friday. Talib As-Sana, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset told Ma’an that he had been denied permission to enter Gaza, where he intended to survey the damage from the three-week Israeli onslaught. “This shows that Israel wants to cover things and prevent me from being a witness for their crimes, adding that the Israeli authorities do not want to reveal the demolition of houses, schools and institutions,” said As-Sana. As-Sana said that he has asked Egypt for permission to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, but he is waiting for a reply. [end]

One on One with Avigdor Lieberman: ’Without Iran, there is no Hizbullah and no Hamas’
Ruthie Blum Leibowitz, Jerusalem Post 1/22/2009
Like an expected incident that nevertheless takes one aback when it actually materializes, the Color Red alert comes as a surprise. Avigdor Lieberman grins, his deep blue eyes sparkling mischievously. "I arranged this for illustrative purposes," he says in Russian to the group of VIPs he has escorted to the South, to see for themselves what Operation Cast Lead is all about. Among them are the ambassadors to Israel from Belarus, Moldova and Uzbekistan, a Ukrainian diplomat and the Russian and Kazakhstani embassy secretaries. Some laugh nervously; others have not heard his quip, as they are trying to position themselves safely in the stairwell where they have huddled, waiting for the coast to be clear, or for the rocket to fall, whichever comes first.

Barak goes after Livni, Netanyahu
Abe Selig And Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 1/23/2009
Using the expression "Back to Work" - which in Hebrew draws on the party’s name, "Avoda" - the Labor Party on Thursday night officially relaunched its election campaign. National Infrastructures Minister Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog and MK Ophir Paz-Pines set the stage for the crowd favorite, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who many within Labor feel has emerged stronger from Operation Cast Lead. The small auditorium at Beit Berl College near Kfar Saba came alive as Barak took the stage. This was the defense minister’s first stump speech since the war, and an opportunity to reply publicly to criticism recently leveled against him by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert attacked Barak in an interview published Thursday in Ma’ariv, noting that Barak’s poll numbers were less than the 19 seats won by his predecessor, former Labor leader Amir Peretz.

Royal Court acts fast with Gaza crisis play
Mark Brown, arts correspondent, The Guardian 1/24/2009
By any theatrical standards the latest play by Caryl Churchill has been remarkably speedy, going from pen to performance on a London stage in under a month. The reason for the speed is Gaza. Churchill was so appalled by events there that she felt compelled to write, and the Royal Court theatre in London felt a duty to quickly produce her play, titled Seven Jewish Children - A Play for Gaza. Churchill, one of the titans of British theatre, said: "Israel has done lots of terrible things in the past, but what happened in Gaza seemed particularly extreme. " The play will be performed for free with a collection afterwards for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. After the London run Churchill will publish it online and allow anyone, anywhere to download it. "Anyone can perform it without acquiring the rights, as long as they do a collection for people in Gaza at the end of it. "

Greek call: Artist’s rally for culture
Artist’s Rally for Culture, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
Athens, Greece - Open to International Artists - ARTIST’S RALLY FOR CULTURE - Dear colleagues, The secretariar of the Artist’s Rally for Culture calls upon all artistic unions and foundations, as well as individual artists, to pronounce the 29th of January 2009 as a Day of Solidarity action to the Palestinian People. All artists are asked to get their talent down to the streets! The idea is that on the 29th of January all kinds of artistic activities will take place in the streets of the world, in order to demonstrate our solidarity to the Palestinian struggle for freedom. We suggest that the attached declaration be adopted as a basis for our common action. Signatures of both the presenting artists and the audience will be gathered under the declaration that will afterwards be given to the United States and Israeli embassies, the Palestinian diplomatic mission. . .

VIDEO - Journey Home
Al Jazeera 1/23/2009
The troubled past of Israel’s birth as a nation and the devastating consequences it has had in the region frequently make headlines around the world and fill our screens with images of political turmoil. But the reality of what six decades of displacement has meant for the day to day lives of those who have lived there rarely makes the news. Al Jazeera’s news editor, Awad Joumaa went on a journey spanning two continents and three countries to bring that reality to life. In his moving and deeply personal film Journey Home, Awad took his father from Denmark back to the place he was born, but has never known. [end]

Cartoon: Quest begins for peace between Israel and the Palestinians
Steve Bell, The Guardian 1/23/2009


Waltz with Bashir’ won’t be screened in Lebanon
Middle East Online 1/23/2009
BEIRUT - Oscar-nominated film "Waltz with Bashir," about the Sabra and Shatila massacres, cannot be shown in Lebanon because of the country’s boycott of Israeli products, the information minister said on Thursday. Ari Folman’s animated picture has already won the Golden Globe for best foreign film and was on Thursday nominated for the Oscar for best foreign language film. Asked whether "Waltz with Bashir" would be screened in Lebanon, Tarek Mitri told reporters: "According to existing law it is illegal to import the film or to project (it). " The minister, who opposes censorship and has in the past proposed a law to abolish it," said the ban on the film is "absurd because you can download it and see it on You Tube. " "We need to abolish that law so that we can see films like this and any other films and then, if you abolish the censorship law we have, then whoever is harmed can take the matter to court. . . "

Reform movement challenges legality of kosher flights
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 1/23/2009
Movement’s legal branch asks transportation minister, El Al CEO to clarify plans to launch special flights for haredi public that would include separation between men and women - The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), which represents the Reform stream of Judaism in the country, has asked the Transportation Ministry and El Al Airlines to look into the legality of the airline’s intention to launch exclusive flights for the haredi public. According to the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), IMPJ’s legal branch, the move represents "an illegitimate policy that violates Israeli law. "In a letter to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and El Al CEO Haim Romano, IRAC Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski wrote that "flights that institute separation between men and women should not be approved offhandedly.

Constant displacement for Palestinian-Iraqi refugees
IRIN, Electronic Intifada 1/23/2009
DAMASCUS (IRIN) - The start of 2009 offers little hope to the residents of al-Tanf, a refugee camp on the Syrian-Iraqi border housing more than 700 Palestinians who had fled persecution in Iraq. No country has given any concrete pledge to take any of the refugees for resettlement in 2009, leaving them to battle the cold desert weather this winter with more despair than ever. The refugees say that despite visits from foreign delegations, resettlements have been few and far between since the camp opened in May 2006. Jamal, 53, said residents are giving up hope. Originally from Haifa, he moved to Baghdad with the establishment of the State of Israel, during which 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homeland. He said that he and his family fled to Syria in February 2007 after being targeted by militia groups. "We just want to be resettled," he said. "I don’t mind where. I just want to live the rest of my days in peace. "

US Marine commandant wants his troops out of Iraq
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/23/2009
Iraq is stable enough to allow the roughly 22,000 US Marines there to withdraw, the service’s top general said Friday. "The time is right for Marines in general terms to leave Iraq," said Marine Corps Commandant James Conway. That war has become largely a nation-building mission rather than the pitched fighting in which the Marine Corps excels, Conway said. Conway said he wants to see up to 20,000 Marines deployed instead to the building fight in Afghanistan, especially in the south where insurgents and the Taliban and al-Qaida benefit from both a nearby safe haven and booming trade in narcotics. "When you’ve got those two elements you’ve got the potential for a long-term insurgency," he said. "That’s where the Marines ought to be. That’s what we offer the nation," he said. The Marine Corps cannot fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, because it does not. . .


Articles


Another War, Another Defeat
The American Conservative, 1/26/2009
      Sharon adviser: “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”
     Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.
     The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
     But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

Child casualties of Israel’s war on Gaza
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 1/23/2009
      Stories of 10 of the 280 or more children who died during the three-week military operation.
     Abdul Rahim Abu Halima, 14, was killed when his home was hit by an Israeli white phosphorus artillery shell in Atatra, in north-eastern Gaza, on 4 January. He died along with two of his brothers, Zayed, eight, and Hamza, six, his sister Shahed, who was 15-months-old, and their father, Saad Allah, 45, who was sheltering them in his arms in the hallway when the shell struck. The inside walls of the house are still blackened and pieces of shrapnel and shell casing are spread across the hallway beneath a gaping hole in the roof. "He was a very active boy, a little bit nervous sometimes, but he was good at football," said his brother Mahmoud, 20. "He played with the neighbours and was in a team at school. We shared a room together and he was always trying to get me out of there. I loved him so very much. He was a wonderful boy."
     Mohammad Abu Halima, 16, a cousin of Abdul Rahim, was shot dead by Israeli troops as he tried to take his injured relatives from the burning house in Atatra to hospital on 4 January. He was in the house next door when the shell struck and ran to try to help another cousin, Matar, loading up the injured on the back of a tractor. Both boys were killed. "He was still at school," said his father, Hikmat, 42. "He wanted to go abroad after school to study at university. He was a quiet boy, very obedient and did whatever I asked him." Many of the houses in Atatra were left burnt out or destroyed. "They came in here as if they were fighting a country like America," said Mohammad’s aunt, Suhaida. 40. "But we’re not fighters, just civilians. We’re only Gaza."

Growing concern over Israel’s weapons use
Donald Macintyre in Atatra, northern Gaza Strip, The Independent 1/23/2009
      Whether from delayed shock or not, Mahmoud abu Kalima was almost dispassionate as he pointed to the hole in the roof made by the artillery shelling which killed his father and burned to death his baby sister and three of his younger brothers. He had been next door and had come running when he heard the first explosion. "I started to go upstairs shouting ’mama, mama’,".he said. "But she was already coming down. She was burning. All her clothes were on fire. I put my jacket on her. She told me: ’go and get your father, he is hurt."
     The sight that greeted Mahmoud, 20, is one which will presumably haunt him for the rest of his life. The rest of his family had been eating lunch in one of the rooms but when they first heard shooting had moved - fatally - into the hallway for safety. The corpse of his 45 year old tenant farmer father Sadallah, directly hit from a shell - one of three all the family say arrived in quick succession - was, Mahmoud said, “stuck together” with the bodies his three still smouldering sons, Abed, 14, Zaid,10 and Hamza,8 seemingly having hugged them to him in his last seconds. His 15 month old sister Shahed was lying separately after, in the words of her severely burned mother Sabah, also 45, she “melted away” as the missiles struck while she was being breast-fed.
     If the investigation which the Israeli military announced this week into the use of white phosphorous is serious, it will have to examine the events at the Abu Kalima house here in this semi-rural suburb of of Beit Lahiya, among many other locations. It’s unlikely to dwell for long on the fact that the war saw the first use of artillery in Gaza since late 2006.

So far Obama’s missed the point on Gaza
Robert Fisk, The Independent, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
      It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn’t the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to "slaughtered innocents", but these were not quite the "slaughtered innocents" the Arabs had in mind.
     There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.
     But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word "Gaza" – indeed, the word "Israel" as well – was the dark shadow over Obama's inaugural address. Didn't he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama's young speech-writer not realise that talking about black rights – why a black man's father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago – would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people? It wasn't a question of the elephant in the china shop. It was the sheer amount of corpses heaped up on the floor of the china shop.

Prosecute Israeli War Criminals
Justin Theriault, International Middle East Media Center News 1/23/2009
      The war crimes that Israel has committed throughout its three-week, all out military air, ground and sea assault on the Gaza Strip must be prosecuted; citizens of all nations must demand justice for Palestinians. The Israeli offensive has momentarily come to a halt, but Israel’s illegal occupation and blockade of Gaza continues, with no sign of it being lifted any time in the near future, especially considering Hamas has retained control over Gaza.
     The momentum of support that has been garnered among people in all parts of the world that have come together in solidarity with the Palestinians – the citizens of the world that support and respect human rights – must not come to a stop at this crucial point in time. Now is the time to come together to change the course of history by effectively prosecuting the Israeli leadership responsible for the war crimes carried out by all elements of the Israeli “Defense” Forces, or at the very least, making an official charge in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.
     Iran’s Press TV reported that UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, has stated that Israel’s actions against the civilians of Gaza are reminiscent of "the worst kind of international memories of the Warsaw Ghetto." Falk also stated, "there could have been temporary provision at least made for children, disabled, sick civilians to leave, even if where they left to was southern Israel."

Ritual Murder in Gaza
Paul J. Balles, Middle East Online 1/23/2009
      Many people around the world, especially Arabs, have been looking to the Obama administration, hoping that his call for change will extend to fairness for Palestinians. They might as well hope for rain in the middle of the Arabian Desert in July.
     The United Nations says some 50,800 Palestinians are now homeless and 400,000 are without running water.
     Israel, in a disgustingly conciliatory mood, says it will allow 143 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid into Gaza, plus 60,000 litres of fuel.
     Disgustingly conciliatory because they kept aid from getting to the needy long before the latest conflict and all during it. Instead of starving Gaza into submission, Israel decided to slaughter as many as their US-supplied sophisticated armaments could manage.
     The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports 1,314 Palestinians were killed during the conflict, including more than 400 children. More than 5,000 people were injured, nearly 2,000 of them children.
     All of 13 Israelis were killed in what Israel consistently calls self-defence. Nine of those were military, four of whom were killed by friendly fire. When Israel called a ceasefire on Saturday [17 January], it brazenly announced it had met its war aims.
     Hamas declared a "great victory" over Israel when it announced its own truce. Was that Israel’s aim? Or did it include the disappearance of entire neighbourhoods as reported by BBC’s Christian Fraser?

The self-defence defence
Rachel Shabi, The Guardian 1/23/2009
      Wartime in Israel is effectively a totalitarian blackout: objectors are denounced as traitors and suppressed or sidelined, while the media almost entirely ignores the consequences of Israeli military actions. This is partly down to self-censorship and partly down to the codes of a military censor.
     But now that Israelis can ask themselves all those difficult questions that were zealously avoided during the past three weeks, will they?
     From the initial reactions this week, it doesn’t look like it. In the past few days, radio commentators have been debating the wisdom of a military ban on soldiers discussing battleground details. Their concern is: if soldiers don’t speak up about the Hamas horrors they faced in Gaza, how will the world remain convinced that the Israeli assault was necessary?
     This has been a central theme of the war in Gaza: not that hundreds of innocent people were killed, not that over 5,000 were horribly injured and not the sky-high human and monetary cost of wrecking homes or razing infrastructure. Even as Palestinian bodies are still being pulled out from the rubble in Gaza, one prominent facet of Israel’s internal discussion is how to keep the Western world resolute in the belief that it was all justified – and just.

Why I’m boycotting Israeli produce
Joanna Blythman, The Guardian 1/23/2009
      If you’re not in the habit of checking the country of origin on fruit and vegetables to minimise food miles, you may not have noticed just how much Israeli produce is in our shops and supermarkets. At the moment, there are piles of new potatoes (though it’s hard to see why anyone with a scrap of environmental awareness would buy these when our indigenous main crop spuds are still firm and abundant), and that’s just for starters.
     If you go out today and buy avocadoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, Medjoul dates, sharon fruit (persimmons), chillies, oranges, pomegranates, grapefruit or fresh herbs, it’s extremely likely that they will be Israeli. Most of this produce carries country of origin labelling or is branded as Carmel, Bio-Top or Jaffa. In the herb category, there’s room - intentional or otherwise - for confusion. Increasingly your dill, tarragon or basil may be labelled as ’West Bank’. This is not a Palestinian alternative to the Israeli option; it comes from Israeli settlements in Palestine’s occupied territories.
     Israel’s agricultural exporting company, Carmel Agrexco, is one of the biggest suppliers of fresh produce to the UK. As the company puts it...

A decisive loss for Israel
Mousa Abu Marzook, Electronic Intifada 1/23/2009
      Israel’s objectives from the war on Gaza were set long before its launch: to remove the Hamas movement and government, achieve the reinstallation of the Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in Gaza, and end the armed resistance. Two other objectives were not announced. First, restore the Israeli public’s wavering confidence in its armed forces after its defeat by Hizballah in 2006. Second, boost the coalition government in the coming elections.
     Accordingly, we declare that Israel lost, and lost decisively. What did it achieve? The killing of large numbers of civilians, children and women, and the destruction of homes, ministry buildings and other infrastructure with the most advanced United States weapons and other internationally banned chemical and phosphorous elements. Almost 2,000 children were killed and injured in desperate pursuit of political goals. Many international organizations called these attacks war crimes, yet barely a word of denunciation was uttered by any western leader. What message does the European Union mean to send Palestinians by its shameful silence on these crimes, when it speaks incessantly on human rights?

’I Will Never Walk Again’
Ola Attallah, Palestine Chronicle 1/23/2009
      Guns might have gone silent, bodies buried, rubbles lifted, but Israel’s 22-day onslaught is leaving many Gazans with life-long scars, both physical and psychological.
     "I will never walk again," Ruba Hamid, 8, said from her bed in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
     Her tears rolled down her cheeks as she watched on TV the many young children whose legs have been blown out in Israeli bombing.
     "I will never play again," Ruba said before she stopped talking abruptly as her voice chocked with deep emotion.
     Ruba’s legs were amputated after being shattered by Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip.
     According to medics, thousands of Gazans, many of them children, had their bodies shredded and their limbs amputated due to the severe damage caused by Israeli shells and shrapnel.
     "Most of the cases coming here were suffering from amputated limbs, four of them in some cases," doctor Mo’aweya Hasanein, chief of ambulance and emergency in Gaza, told IOL.
     He estimates around 14 percent of the 5000 people injured in Gaza have become disabled for life.
     "And the numbers keep rising, every day some one is losing an eye, an arm or a leg."

With staggering irony, Israel is staking a claim on Gaza’s reconstruction
Dr. Saeb Shaath, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
      Welcome to the Jungle
     What does Israel want more than Palestinians Blood?
     After all the killing and destruction of its genocidal war on Gaza, blood-drenched Israel still wants to control the air that Gazans breathe; to control what they eat and drink; to control what materials they may use to rebuild with their flattened suburbs.
     With staggering irony, Israel is staking a claim on Gaza’s reconstruction, aiming to dictate where, when, and how it will be done -- and by whom!
     Speaking to Reuters news agency, Western diplomats have said that: ’Israel has asked the United Nations, and other aid groups, to provide a detailed list of goods, equipment and personnel that they want to bring into the Gaza Strip ’ to meet immediate needs for rebuilding’. Israel, meanwhile, has told the aid groups that it ’would consider expanding the list of materials authorized to enter the Gaza Strip’. Under current restrictions, Israel does not allow the transport of cement and steel into Gaza - in case the Palestinians use it to build ‘bunkers’.
     Hello people of the world - what is going on here?

Gaza’s Pastor Speak Out
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
      If the world grants the Palestinian people their human rights there will surely be peace in the Middle East, says Pastor Manuel Musallam.
     From the Church of God in Gaza:
     Peace and blessings upon you, as we pray to God to lift man’s anger and shower Gaza with his mercy and kindness.
     Gaza was suffering prior to the war, it suffered during the war and it will continue to suffer after the war.
     Hundreds of people have been killed and many more injured in the Israeli invasion. Our people have endured the bombing of their homes, their crops have been destroyed, they have lost everything and many are now homeless. We have endured phosphorus bombs which have caused horrific burns, mainly to civilians. Like the early Christians our people are living through a time of great persecution, a persecution which we must record for future generations as a statement of their faith, hope and love.
     Many families fled to United Nations (UNRWA) schools where they thought they would be safe. But with 50-60 people to a room, no electricity, water, bedding or food and nowhere to wash, living conditions are terrible.
     Emergency aid has not yet arrived at the Church and because they are too frightened to venture onto the streets our people cannot reach the warehouses which hold Red Cross and UNRWA relief supplies. We trust in God but appeal to the whole world and in particular the Church to help Gaza. Your prayers and your kindness will be our salvation.

Ignoring the roots of conflict
Dalila Mahdawi, Electronic Intifada 1/22/2009
      My uncle, aunt and cousins in Gaza have not showered for more than two weeks now. I make a point of this because Samuel Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as "Joe the Plumber" who was propelled into the limelight for questioning then US President-elect Barack Obama, has become a so-called "war correspondent" in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Talking to The Guardian from his new beat, he spoke with sympathy about how difficult life must be for Sderot’s residents. "The people of Sderot can’t do normal things day to day, like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in. I’m sure they’re taking quick showers. I know I would."
     I wonder what Wurzelbacher would make, then, of the "day to day" lives of the people in Gaza, whose water tanks have run dry, who have no electricity, and where many are struggling to pay for flour, the price of which has jumped to around 160 shekels (around $40) a sack due to the recent onslaught. I wonder, too, what Wurzelbacher would think of my uncle’s recent argument with his wife about the family’s sleeping arrangements. When Israel began its latest military campaign on 27 December, my aunt had wanted everyone to sleep in one room so they could all die together if the house was struck. However, my uncle meanwhile thought they should spread out to increase the chance of someone surviving.

Gaza, Greece and the Meaning of Solidarity
Noah Cohen, Palestine Think Tank 1/22/2009
      As news came out recently that the United States would be sending a new shipment of bombs to "Israel" from the Greek port of Astakos at some point between the middle and end of January, Palestinians sent out an urgent call to organizers in Greece to stop the shipment. Within a day, several organizations and individuals in Greece responded to the call. Perhaps most significant in the current context was that of the Greek Anti-authoritarian Movement, centrally involved in weeks of rebellion against the repressive forces of their own government:
     "The Anti-authoritarian Movement calls for a Pan-hellenic gathering on Thursday, Jan. 15th at Astakos at 1:00 p.m. to block the departure of boats with American weapons which are destined for Israel.
     DON’T LET THE CARGO OF AMERICAN WEAPONS LEAVE THE PORT
     SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
     RESISTANCE TO GLOBALIZED STATE TERRORISM…"
     As pressure began from below, even members of the parliamentary left began to raise questions. On January 12th, the "US" announced that it had canceled the shipment of arms through Astakos because of "concerns" expressed by the Greek government.

Breaking Gaza’s Will: Israel’s Enduring Fantasy
Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 1/22/2009
      My three-year-old son Sammy walked into my room uninvited as I sorted through another batch of fresh photos from Gaza.
     I was looking for a specific image, one that would humanise Palestinians as living, breathing human beings, neither masked nor mutilated. But to no avail.
     All the photos I received spoke of the reality that is Gaza today - homes, schools and civilian infrastructure bombed beyond description. All the faces were either of dead or dying people.
     I paused as I reached a horrifying photo in the slideshow of a young boy and his sister huddled on a single hospital trolley waiting to be identified and buried. Their faces were darkened as if they were charcoal and their lifeless eyes were still widened with the horror that they experienced as they were burned slowly by a white phosphorus shell.
     It was just then that Sammy walked into my room snooping around for a missing toy. "What is this, daddy?" he inquired.

Israel’s Message
Ilan Pappe, Palestine News Network 1/23/2009
      In 2004, the Israeli army began building a dummy Arab city in the Negev desert. It’s the size of a real city, with streets (all of them given names), mosques, public buildings and cars. Built at a cost of $45 million, this phantom city became a dummy Gaza in the winter of 2006, after Hizbullah fought Israel to a draw in the north, so that the IDF could prepare to fight a ‘better war’ against Hamas in the south.
     When the Israeli Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz visited the site after the Lebanon war, he told the press that soldiers ‘were preparing for the scenario that will unfold in the dense neighbourhood of Gaza City’. A week into the bombardment of Gaza, Ehud Barak attended a rehearsal for the ground war. Foreign television crews filmed him as he watched ground troops conquer the dummy city, storming the empty houses and no doubt killing the ‘terrorists’ hiding in them.
     ‘Gaza is the problem,’ Levy Eshkol, then prime minister of Israel, said in June 1967. ‘I was there in 1956 and saw venomous snakes walking in the street. We should settle some of them in the Sinai, and hopefully the others will immigrate.’ Eshkol was discussing the fate of the newly occupied territories: he and his cabinet wanted the Gaza Strip, but not the people living in it.
     Israelis often refer to Gaza as ‘Me’arat Nachashim’, a snake pit. Before the first intifada, when the Strip provided Tel Aviv with people to wash their dishes and clean their streets, Gazans were depicted more humanely. The ‘honeymoon’ ended during their first intifada, after a series of incidents in which a few of these employees stabbed their employers. The religious fervour that was said to have inspired these isolated attacks generated a wave of Islamophobic feeling in Israel, which led to the first enclosure of Gaza and the construction of an electric fence around it. Even after the 1993 Oslo Accords, Gaza remained sealed off from Israel, and was used merely as a pool of cheap labour; throughout the 1990s, ‘peace’ for Gaza meant its gradual transformation into a ghetto.