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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
25 January, 2008

Unexploded Bombs Hold More Deaths
Erin Cunningham, Inter Press Service 1/25/2009
GAZA CITY, Jan 24(IPS) - At first the 44 children that live in the Zani family home in Beit Hanoun were wary of the unexploded F-16 rocket whose tail has protruded menacingly from their garden since it landed in the first week of the Israeli assault on Gaza. Now, they have grown used it - playing excitedly near it and even building fires next to it, a relative says. "What else are we supposed to do? " asks Mohamed Zani, father of 18 of the children living at the Zani home. "This is our situation, and we have to live with it. " Zani says he has been calling Gaza’s civil defence force, which was targeted in the invasion and is now located at a makeshift headquarters in the Al-Shifa hospital, to remove the missile. But the Gaza administration simply does not have the funds, equipment or know-how to discharge the weapons. "I don’t know who else to call," Zani said. "It seems that nobody is able to help us. "

The Israeli army opens fire at resident homes in southern Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/24/2009
The Israeli army opened fire at resident homes and farm lands located at Al Faraheen village located in the southern part of the Gaza strip on Saturday. The residents said that Israeli tanks stationed at the borders opened fire at their homes and farms; damage was reported but no injuries. The Israeli Army embarked on its military offensive on Saturday, December 27th, 2008. For 22 days, homes, schools, mosques, UN centers, and media agencies were attacked by Israeli air, sea, and ground forces. Israel announced the unilateral ceasefire on Sunday 17th of Jan. 2009. Today’s incident is not the first time Israel’s violate its cease fire, On Thursday, Israeli Navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen just off the shore of Gaza City, injuring seven civilians. On day before, on Wednesday, the boats fired shells at the coast line, causing damage but no injuries.

Israel proposes 18 month truce with Hamas; Hamas counters with one year offer
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has proposed an 18-month truce with Hamas in indirect negotiations taking place in Egypt. Hamas heard of the offer during a meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Umar Suleiman, who is brokering the talks with Israel and the other factions. "Hamas listened to the Israeli proposal presented by [Defense Ministry official] Amos Gilad, and with it a proposal for a ceasefire for a year and a half, but Hamas presented a counterproposal of one year only," Hamas leader Ayman Taha told reporters in Cairo. A Hamas official with knowledge of the talks told Ma’an that Hamas would condition its acceptance of a truce on guarantees from Egypt and Israel that they would end the siege of the Gaza Strip, opening the borders.

Long term soil devastation in Gaza due to use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/24/2009
Gaza -- Losses are huge in the Gaza Strip with many of the devastated population still in tears, some little kids afraid to return to school today. The environmental effects will continue to be uncovered for years on lands that become less fertile with each invasion and home demolition. The Agriculture Minister in the Gaza Strip noted today that the Israeli military continues to target farmers on their lands near the boundary lines. Many people are unable to reach the fields. He added on Saturday that in the Mediterranean just off the Gaza coast Israeli naval ships continue to open fire on fishermen, preventing them from working. Financially speaking it is clear that reconstruction costs in the Strip are around two billion. The Ministry of Agriculture says that another 170 million USD is needed for that sector alone. Agriculture Minister Mohammad Al Agha told a press conference in Gaza City today that nearly a thousand water wells were destroyed. . .

U.S. sends naval force to intercept Hamas weapons
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
An American naval task force has been ordered to locate and intercept Iranian ships carrying weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the British newspaper The Times reported yesterday. American diplomats told the paper that the naval force, which was originally stationed in the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy, has orders to stop any suspect Iranian ship en route to the Red Sea. Last week, the American television network CBS reported that an American naval ship has already stopped one Iranian vessel that was carrying weapons to Gaza. The American sailors boarded the vessel in the Gulf of Aden and discovered several containers marked "hazardous material. "They then contacted the Egyptian authorities and asked them to demand that the Iranian ship anchor at an Egyptian port for a comprehensive inspection as a condition for being granted passage through the Suez Canal.

Fear and trauma in Gaza’s schools
Alex Dziadosz in Gaza, Al Jazeera 1/25/2009
As students filed into the courtyard of Asma elementary school in Gaza City for the first time since the Israeli offensive began, they were greeted by a bleak reminder of the violence that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands injured. A hole punched by an Israeli rocket scarred the courtyard latrine and blood soiled the wall beside it. Asma is one of over 600 schools in Gaza - most of which reopened on January 24 - that is today facing a large number of post-war operational challenges. Educators across the Gaza Strip are now considering whether to reschedule exams which were abandoned when Israel began bombing the territory on December 27. Teachers are also faced with the task of teaching in rooms which had served as shelters for dozens of refugees. On their first day back to class, most children meandered in the courtyard, eating bread and cheese provided by the school and playing with their friends.

UN assessments call for urgent repair equipment for water lines
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Four water wells in Beit Hanoun, Gaza and Jabalia were totally destroyed during the Israeli war on Gaza, and due to limited building supplies available in Gaza, have not yet been repaired. According to the de facto government Ministry of Health one fifth of the population of the Gaza strip has no direct access to drinking water and currently depends on water purchased from private suppliers. Beyond the well damage, the UN office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) there is also damage to several water carriers in Nusairat, Gaza City and Khan Yuonis. This means that while water is available, families must travel, often long distances, to collect water supplies. The waste water networks in Gaza, Beit Hanoun, Jabalia and Beit Lahia have also sustained serious damage.

Palestinian child in coma after IOF sniper shot him
Palestinian Information Center 1/24/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian child was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper east of Gaza city and he is currently in deep coma and in a very critical condition, medical sources reported. They told the PIC that the child Mahmoud Hasanein was admitted to Shifa hospital on Thursday in a very serious condition and was in the intensive care unit. Israeli gunboats on that same day fired at Palestinian homes near the Gaza coasts wounding a number of them. Meanwhile, Muawiya Hasanein, the director of ambulance and emergency in the health ministry, said that two Palestinian citizens succumbed to their wounds sustained during the Israeli occupation forces’ three weeks war on the Gaza Strip. He said that the two were being treated in Egyptian hospitals. Hasanein also said that ambulance teams recovered two bodies under the rubble west of Gaza city but they were not yet identified.

Palestinian infant dies after inhaling white phosphorous emissions
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian female infant called Nansi Sa’eed was proclaimed dead on Sunday after the deterioration of her health as a result of inhaling toxic gas emitted from white phosphorous fired by Israel during its recent war on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources added that the six-month-old baby died of severe complications in her lungs and respiratory problems. Meanwhile, a number of nuclear energy experts visited the Egyptian town of Rafah and the border areas with Gaza to examine and measure the rate of radiation after Israel reportedly used depleted uranium during its shelling of the areas near Egypt. The experts fear that if the soil was contaminated by radiation resulting from phosphorous bombs and depleted uranium, the people there would be vulnerable to cancer and other deadly diseases.

Israel sends 41 Gazan ‘illegal combatants’ to desert prison camp
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Forty-one Palestinians seized by Israel during its invasion of the Gaza Strip have arrived at the Negev prison camp in southern Israel, a prisoners’ affairs expert reported on Friday. Researcher Abed An-Naser Farawnah said he has learned that the Gazan detainees have been remanded to Section Nine of the desert camp, far away from the other prisoners, and are being denied contact with other inmates. The Gazans have been designated ‘illegal combatants,’ he said. Farawnah noted that the prisoners already in the Negev Prison asked the prison authorities to meet the new arrivals. The existing prisoners were told that the Gazans are under the direct control of Shin Bet, the Israeli security service. The others in the camp are dealt with under a law dealing with “legitimate fighters. The prison administration said the prisoners arrived in two groups.

Aid agencies: Continued Gaza blockade will cause crisis to double
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A coalition of international aid agencies urged the Israeli government on Saturday to open the Gaza Strip’s border to allow vital goods into the territory. After 19 months of blockade and 23 days war, Gazans continue to suffer a lack of food, water, healthcare, fuel and shelter. “We can’t wait any more,” said Muhammad Ali, an official with Oxfam International, demanding that “all the crossings work at their full capacity. ” He said slightest delays of humanitarian access will cause the crisis to double, causing more misery the people of Gaza. The agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) held a news conference on Saturday at the intensive care unit of Gaza’s Ash-Shifa Hospital to point up an ongoing humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel’s blockade.

Week after war’s end, Gaza residents salvage what they can
Catrin Ormestad, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
In the streets of Gaza City, vendors are peddling the last of the Egyptian goods, which were smuggled into Gaza before the war. But in Rafah, repair work is already underway at the bombed tunnels. Some of the diesel pipelines are still operating. Hamas’ security forces are back on the street corners, casually flaunting their Kalashnikovs, and the refugees have left the shelters and returned home, or - if their houses were destroyed - to stay with relatives. One week after the war ended, Gaza is struggling to return to some kind of normality. Most shops are open, and the children were set to return to school. Teams from UNRWA, the Red Crescent, Oxfam and other aid organizations are touring the worst-affected areas to assess both the damage and what is needed. But the healing and the reconstruction have merely begun.

Hamas agrees to allow Fatah forces to patrol Rafah crossing
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/25/2009
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday that Hamas has suggested representatives of the Palestinian Authority be stationed at the Rafah crossing, but that they be residents of Gaza, not the West Bank. Also on Saturday, Hamas officials laid out some of their conditions for a continuation of the Gaza truce and for the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. A Hamas delegation comprising representatives from Gaza and Damascus traveled to Cairo is to meet with Egyptian officials on Sunday. One Hamas official reiterated the group’s demand that Shalit be freed as part of a larger prisoner exchange, and that his release not be tied to the issue of opening Gaza’s border crossings. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told Asharq Al-Awsat that his group wants European Union and Turkish troops to patrol Gaza’s border crossings with Israel.

Hamas in PLC requests neutral committee to oversee reconstruction
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/24/2009
Gaza - The Hamas parliamentary bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council suggested on Saturday to form a Palestinian - Arab committee to work for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The two billion dollar project is not only being held up by the Israeli administration which continues to ban imports of raw materials and demands control of United Nations efforts. The internal Palestinian divide is adding fuel to the fire. In a statement issued to the press today the Hamas bloc of the PLC called for a "neutral, transparent and credible" commission to "work for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. " The party asked for Arab, Islamic and international political efforts to continue, meaning those "which have played an important role to stop the Israeli operation. "Earlier this week Hamas said it hoped to work with the Palestinian Authority on the project that the party "cannot do alone.

Israeli doctors: Hundreds of wounded Palestinians in danger of dying due to Israeli closure
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
Some of the injured have unprecedented symptoms that docors say are indications that Israeli forces used internationally-banned weapons in Gaza. - A group of Israeli doctors with Physicians for Human Rights released a report Saturday with their observations from a delegation to the Gaza Strip. They say that due to the overcrowded conditions, lack of medical supplies, and intermittent electricity resulting from Israeli bombardment, hundreds of Palestinians are in danger of dying. Over 1300 Palestinians were killed in the three-week long Israeli offensive which ended last week. At least 4,400 were wounded, many of them critically, and the wounded are now facing dire conditions in the Gazan hospitals where many of them remain. According to one member of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation, "Each hospital is full of wounded. . . "

Islamic University in Gaza estimates damage to campus at 15 million US dollars
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Islamic University in Gaza City estimated damage to its buildings and facilities at 15 million US dollars. The damage, caused by several airstrikes during Israel’s operation Cast Lead, saw several buildings destroyed and others severely damaged. The University’s board of trustees met with the president of the university Dr Kamalein Sha’ath Sunday and announced that the university will launch a fundraising campaign in order to pay for repairs. Chair of the board of trustees, Jamal Al-Khudari announced a second fundraising campaign aimed at collecting 10 million US dollars to cover tuition for students who lost homes and family members during the war on Gaza.

Minister: War caused 170 million in damage to Gaza farms
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel’s three week war caused 170 million US dollars in damage to the agriculture sector in Gaza, the Agriculture Minister in the de facto government reported on Saturday. Agriculture Minister Muhammad Al-Agha said losses could be as high as 200 million from an “agricultural holocaust” committed by Israel during the war. Al-Agha explained that losses in the livestock sector alone amount to 110 million dollars. He said 1,000 irrigation wells were destroyed along with, vast areas of vegetable and fruits farms, egg incubators and green houses. He pointed out that each animal farm cost more than three million dollars, highlighting that his ministry received financial support from several Arab and European countries. However, Al-Agha asserts that the ministry needs special European and international teams to investigate the possible use of depleted uranium, phosphorus, and other substances. . .

Agha: $100m agriculture sector losses
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the agriculture minister in the Palestinian government in Gaza, has said that preliminary reports estimate agriculture losses in Gaza due to the Israeli occupation forces’ three weeks war at 100 million dollars. Agha told a press conference on Saturday that the government decided to compensate all those who suffered losses, noting that his ministry started to prepare lists of farmers whose families were killed, homes destroyed and trees uprooted. He said that an urgent financial assistance has already been disbursed to those families at an amount of 5000 dollars for each family with priority given to families without shelter. The IOF advance into the Strip was made through four or five axes all encountering agricultural fields in their ways, which destroyed tens of thousand of trees and most of the animal breeding farms along with hundreds of water wells and infrastructure, the minister elaborated.

Children return to school despite Gaza devastation
Palestine News Network 1/24/2009
Kristen Ess - Two hundred thousand students returned to school in the Gaza Strip Saturday. All United Nations schools that are cable of running after more than three weeks of bombing are open, says Adnan Abu Hasna. "We are still functioning, we didn’t stop and have even increased some of our services," the Relief and Works Agency spokesperson said over the phone from Gaza City. "That doesn’t mean that we’re getting enough supplies, it’s just that we are still working around the clock. "Abu Hasna’s colleague shouted today of the great need for all basic necessities in the Strip while tens of children are reported as having stayed home from school out of their own fear or that of their parents. Israeli forces destroyed 24 schools in the northern Gaza Strip, 10 of which have been repaired. Out of 384 government schools, 35 were destroyed, the Ministry of Education reported in a statement.

Gaza toll rises to 1,337 after death of infant girl, arrival of corpses from Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – An infant girl died in a Gaza hospital on Sunday after breathing in the chemical white phosphorus from Israeli shells in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources said. Medics identified the girl as six-month-old Nancy Wakid, the last casualty of Israel’s three week offensive on the Gaza Strip. The director of ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian Health Ministry, Muawiya Hassanein overall toll from the war is now 1,337, after the death of the infant girl and the arrival of the bodies of two Palestinians from hospitals in Egypt. The Israeli military has admitted that it used the chemical white phosphorus in its campaign in Gaza, and says that it is investigating whether it was used “improperly. ” The chemical ignites whenever it is in contact with oxygen, and causes severe burns on the body.

92 Mosques destroyed by occupation, 41 completely
Palestinian Information Center 1/24/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Minister of Awqaf (Endowments) in the PA legitimate government in Gaza said that the Israeli occupation completely destroyed 41 mosques, and partially destroyed 51 others in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Taleb Abu Shaer said during a press conference in Gaza city that 19 mosques were destroyed in the northern Gaza Strip, 16 mosques in Gaza city, two mosques in the central Gaza Strip, two mosques in Khan Younis, and two in the Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. He also said that 51 other mosques were partially destroyed with varying degrees, some of them cannot be used pointing out that the barbarian occupation was not content with bombing mosques, they deliberately bombed some mosques during prayer times while they were full of worshipers. He also said that the destruction of mosques unveils the ugly face of the Israeli occupation and points to its war Islam symbolised. . .

Urgent action needed to protect journalists
Palestine News Network 1/25/2009
Gaza - During three weeks in the Gaza Strip Israeli forces killed four journalists and directly targeted media offices and cars. This is in addition to preventing the entrance of international media. The International Federation of Journalists and the Federation of Arab Journalists and a number of journalists’ leaders are calling for urgent action to protect the Palestinians press from internal parties and the Israelis. The IFJ and FAJ have concluded a two-day emergency mission to Gaza with a call for urgent action to improve the safety of journalists and media in the region. "The Israeli army has left the scene after three weeks of turmoil and tragedy in which media have been in the firing line," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "But the threats and intimidation of media continue. We need to take urgent action to protect Palestinian journalists.

Journalists’ federation says Hamas intimidating reporters; de facto government denies charges
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government’s information office on Sunday expressed astonishment about declarations made by Secretary General of the international federation of journalists Aiden White after he visited the Gaza Strip. The statement says White accused the de facto government of suppressing freedom of press, which officials say is “completely null and false. ”White’s report on his return from the area says that “In Gaza we found evidence of intimidation by Hamas. This is completely unacceptable. We understand that humanitarian help to media including safety vests for journalists in danger have been seized and confiscated. This is intolerable. ”The report went on to suggest that “All sides must take their hands off the media and allow journalists to work freely without any form of intimidation.

Haneyya gov’t denies IFJ accusations
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian government in Gaza headed by Ismail Haneyya on Sunday belied accusations voiced by the secretary general of the international federation of journalists, Aiden White. The government issued a statement saying that White’s accusations that the government was intimidating journalists were absolutely baseless and his comparison between the Israeli atrocities and the government’s acts was completely unacceptable. It underlined that the government never interfered in the work of journalists and they can freely move in any place in Gaza and can easily refute White’s remarks that the government was suppressing the freedom of journalists. [end]

Gaza journalists demand legal action after deadly Israeli attacks on media
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel violated international law by attacking journalists during its assault on Gaza, the Palestinian Journalists’ Bloc said on Saturday. In a statement the Bloc said that journalists rights are guaranteed under international conventions, and called for Israeli leaders to be charged with war crimes. The statement named journalists it said had been “deliberately” killed during the 23-day campaign: Omar As-Silawi, Basel Faraj, Ihab Al-Waheidi, Al’a Murtaja and JalalNashwan. During the war, Israel bombarded two clearly-marked buildings used by international and local television networks and news agencies, as well as journalists’ homes. In another incident, Israeli shells struck a building containing the offices of the Reuters news agency and a number of Arab television networks. The group also renewed its demand that the rival Palestinian governments. . .

Court to state: Let foreign media into Gaza when borders open
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
The Supreme Court on Sunday ordered the government to allow free access to Gaza for foreign correspondents, rejecting a ban imposed even before the recent Israeli offensive there. The ruling came in response to an appeal by the Foreign Press Association, representing reporters based in Israel and the Palestinian areas, to overturn the ban. The court ruling said the government must allow access to reporters whenever the borders are otherwise open. The court said it assumed the crossings would be closed only in dire circumstances of concrete danger. The FPA welcomed the ruling. "We believe this decision upholds Israel’s own stated commitment to freedom of the press," the FPA said in a statement. Gilead Sher, attorney for the organization, said the ruling reinforces the protection of freedom. . .

Israeli forces raid resorts and restaurants in Ramallah area
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces stormed homes, restaurants, and resorts in several neighborhoods in Ramallah and Al-Bireh Sunday, with no arrests reported. According to security sources five Israeli military vehicles raided the Zein restaurant in the Resorts area, Sath Marhaba, Seriet Ramallah, and Ramallah park. Witnesses said soldiers stopped a number of citizens in the streets near Sath Marhaba and the Seriet Ramallah, checked their identity cards, and reversed traffic in the area. There were no arrests reported. [end]

Israeli army seizes four Palestinian at Za’tara military checkpoint near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli army arrested four young men at the Za’tara military checkpoint south of Nablus Sunday. Local witnesses told Ma’an that the soldiers stopped a Palestinian car and thoroughly searched it. The men traveling in the car were then arrested and taken to an unknown location. Their identities have not yet been revealed. [end]

Israeli forces storm Qabatiya, seizing five Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized five Palestinians during an overnight raid in the West Bank town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin on Saturday. Witnesses said Israeli troops stormed houses during the early morning hours, firing stun grenades and ordering sleeping families into the street. More than a dozen military vehicles were deployed during the raids. Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli troops arrested, Muhannad Fathi Hanaisha, Muhammad Khozimieh, Muhammad Ahmed Abu Zaid, Usama Mahmoud Abu Zaid, Ahmad Mo’men Abu Zeid. Qabatiya residents also said that they heard the sound of explosions near the house of Ahmed Mo’men Abu Zeid. [end]

West Bank settlers seize farmland south of Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli settlers flanked by soldiers seized new land south of the West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday, Palestinian security sources said. Security officials in Hebron said that the settlers, from the nearby settlement Karmel, near the Palestinian town of Yata, erected a metal fence on land near the settlement and prevented local Palestinian resident from approaching the fence. The settlers appeared to be preparing to occupy the land. The confiscated farmland belongs to families from Yatta, including Abu Hamid, Qraeich, and Abu Fanar. The Palestinians who own the land are urging international intervention to save their land, as they say farming is their only source of income. Sources in Yatta say that there has been new construction in the Karmel settlement, and that new settlers have arrived to live in the community.

Two Palestinians arrested after car slams into settler bus stop near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers arrested two young Palestinian men on Sunday after their car crashed into a bus stop near the Israeli military checkpoint Huwwara, outside of the city of Nablus. Witnesses said that Mufleh A’qel, 17, and Tamer Najeh Zakareiyah, 20, both from the village of Huwwara. Their car slammed into the bus stop which is used by Israeli settlers and soldiers. No one was injured. A large number of Israeli police officers and soldiers converged on the scene, shutting down the Huwwara and Za’atara checkpoints, stranding thousands of Palestinians. [end]

Israeli soldiers seize young vegetable seller from West Bank market
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers seized a young vegetable seller from a market in the West Bank village of Beita, south of the city of Nablus on Sunday. Witnesses told Ma’an that soldiers invaded the market and arrested 18-year-old Abed Zeidan Shaker Abu Ar-Radeh, accusing him of throwing stones at an Israeli settler’s car. The soldiers said that a settler car had been damaged on the settler bypass road near the village. [end]

Israeli forces clash with Palestinian youths near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces invaded the West Bank town of Ya’bad southwest of the city of Jenin on Sunday evening, provoking clashes with stone-throwing Palestinian youths. Ten Israeli soldiers backed by a military jeep invaded the town from its southern entrance. Palestinian youths threw stones and empty bottles at the soldiers, who responded by firing live rounds into the air. No one was injured or arrested. The Israeli troops withdrew after one hour. Israeli forces have invaded the southern part of town the last three nights. [end]

Arrests in West Bank
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/25/2009
Ramallah -- On Sunday Israeli forces invaded Ramallah City in the central West Bank and stormed several homes and a restaurant. Residents report being frightened by the intimidating move that resulted in no arrests or physical injuries. Nearby Al Bireh was also raided today by Israeli forces who currently hold 11,000 Palestinians in prison. Movement was severely restricted on Sunday at the more than 600 Israeli military barriers in the West Bank as Palestinians attempted to hold nonviolent demonstrations after morning church services in Ramallah, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem. Further south in the West Bank city of Hebron Israeli forces launched an arrest campaign taking nine people from their homes for interrogation. The Israeli military said that the Palestinians were on its "wanted" list. The Hamas party in the West Bank said today that the Palestinian Authority. . .

Overcome with grief, UNRWA school teacher is absent
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – When the schools opened in the Gaza Strip Saturday, MrAl-Batran was not in his classroom. He has not been home in days, and relatives say he has not seen his one-year-old son since the massacre. Forty-year-old Issa Al-Batran may never go back home. His surviving mother and son have begged him to come back with them, but he prefers to wander the streets with his memories of Gaza before the onslaught. He was a teacher at the UN school in the Al-Bureij refugee camp; he was a father of six, a husband and a homeowner. His wife Manal, three daughters and two sons were killed in the room next to Issa. The family was living in the salon, but he had excused himself to pray in the silence of the adjacent room for a few moments. His infant son, Abd Al-Hadi, crawled after him, which is the only reason he is still alive.

Swiss first European delegation to visit Gaza after war; condemn destruction
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Swiss parliamentarians visited Gaza on Saturday and expressed their shock over the scenes of destruction throughout the Strip. The Parliamentarians are visiting Gaza after being invited by the Palestinian Legislative Council. The Swiss were also the only European country to support the draft UN resolution from the Human Rights Council that condemned Israel’s “grave human rights violations in the Palestinian territories. " The delegation reinforced their earlier stance during their visit, saying what they saw was evidence of war crimes. On the assassination of de facto Minister of the Interior Sa’id Siyam, the delegation noted the illegality of assassination for political purposes under international law. They further condemned the assaults on the members of PLC, including the continued detention of PLC speaker Aziz Dweik.

Swiss delegation: Israel committed war crimes in every sense of the word
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Swiss delegation including lawmakers said during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Saturday that Israel committed war crimes in every sense of the word, stressing that it would report on and expose the atrocities that happened in Gaza. In a meeting with Palestinian lawmakers Ismail Al-Ashqar and Salem Salama, the visiting delegation strongly condemned the assassination of interior minister Sa’eed Siyam as a heinous crime and conveyed the Swiss and European parliaments’ solidarity with the PLC and their rejection of all Israeli violations against Palestinian lawmakers. For his part, MP Ashqar expressed the PLC’s shock and dismay at the official European position in support of the Israeli criminal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza, which claimed the lives of more than 1,300 citizens and led to the injury of thousands, noting that this position gave Israel the pretext to persist in its war on Gaza.

Palestinian National Archives seeks NGO cooperation in documenting rights violations
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian National Archives is requesting that all organizations involved in cataloguing the human rights violations of Israel during the Gaza war coordinate with the institution in order to ensure complete and accurate information is gathered. It further urged organizations working in Gaza to thoroughly document their activities and the conditions of the people they work with, even if their primary purpose is not documentation. The media department at the archives said any and all audio-visual documentation will facilitate the work of Arab and Palestinian human rights organizations that are currently collecting testimonials and will compile them by age categories. Files documenting internationally prohibited actions like:-the intentional killing of civilians-destruction ofeducational and medical facilities, houses of worship , residential. . .

Israeli administration will not accept international war crimes tribunals
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/25/2009
Bethlehem - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that the soldiers who participated in the latest attacks on the Gaza Strip will receive full legal protection within Israeli boundaries and abroad. Fifteen Israeli officials, including Olmert and others making military decisions, have cases pending in the International Criminal Court. The names of Israeli soldiers who operated warplanes, tanks, and ship, those fired missiles and bombs into Gaza are prohibited from being published. The Israeli military prosecutor also told them not to leave Israeli boundaries without first notifying him for fear they will be prosecuted abroad. The Israeli administration said on Sunday that all of them would be protected regardless. During an Israeli Council of Ministers meeting today, Olmert noted the assignment of Israeli Minister of Justice Daniel Friedman to provide legal defense.

Report: The IOF troops executed many detained civilians during its war on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/24/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian center for the defense of prisoners on Saturday revealed that the IOF troops kidnapped during their aggression on the Gaza Strip about 300 Palestinian civilians, some of them were executed by gunfire or tank shells. In a statement received by the PIC, the center explained that the IOF troops, during the war on Gaza, used a number of Palestinian citizens as human shields to protect themselves from Palestinian gunfire in blatant violation of all international norms and conventions. Different Palestinian eyewitnesses told the center that the IOF troops executed prisoners individually and collectively. The eyewitnesses reported that the IOF troops executed children and women individually when asking them to come out one by one from their homes, adding that in some cases, the IOF troops put a number of Palestinian citizens in one house and then shelled or opened fire extensively on that house.

17 universities occupied across England
Stop The Wall 1/25/2009
In response to the destruction of Gaza, students across England have mobilized themselves, occupying university buildings in solidarity with Palestine. Among students’ demands are assistance to Palestinian students, official condemnation of recent attacks and various forms of BDS. Students have been incredibly successful in raising awareness, and a few have led to university administrations heeding some of their demands. The protests began on 13 January, when a group of students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) occupied the Brunei gallery on campus in solidarity with Gaza, as well as in protest of the space being used to show a Ministry of Defense exhibit. Similar occupations occurred soon after, first in the London School of Economics (LSE) and Kings College London.

Egypt evacuates Rafah area, fearing IAF strike on Gaza
Avi Issacharoff and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Egyptian authorities have evacuated the Rafah border crossing into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, acting on reports of a possible Israeli air strike on the Palestinian side of the crossing, Egyptian security sources said on Sunday. Security sources and witnesses speaking on condition of anonymity said authorities had carried out a sudden and rapid evacuation of the crossing area, removing staff and ambulances from the vicinity of the gates that control access to the crossing. But an Israeli military spokesman said there was no military activity in the area, and the border appeared quiet several hours after the evacuation. Flights by Israel Air Force F-16s over Gaza earlier Sunday sparked fears in the coastal territory that a new Israeli military offensive was underway. A number of banks, government offices and schools in Gaza were closed as the warplanes flew through the Hamas-ruled Strip’s skies. Shops were also closed in the center of Gaza City, and Gaza residents left the streets for the safety of their homes.

Egypt evacuates Rafah border fearing Israeli airstrike
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Egypt suddenly and rapidly evacuated its personnel from the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Sunday fearing a possible Israeli airstrike on thePalestinian side of the crossing, Egyptian security sources said. The sources told Reuters that they staff and ambulances from the vicinity of the gates that control access to the crossing. Flights by Israeli F-16s over Gaza earlier Sunday also sparked rumors that Israel was again going on the attack. [end]

EU presses Egypt to take action against Gaza arms smuggling
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
European Union foreign ministers pressed Egypt on Sunday to do more to prevent weapons from being smuggled to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip - a problem undermining efforts to cement a durable truce in the Middle East. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers sought support from their Jordanian and Turkish counterparts in talks meant to help create a lasting cease-fire following Israel’s 22-day offensive. The Israeli assault meant to crush Hamas rocket squads ended January 17 with an estimated 1,300 Palestinians dead. The critical question facing the EU is whether Hamas will go along with any peace initiative - and what incentives might be offered to Egypt to deter arms smuggling along its porous Gaza border. Advertisement"We know the cease-fire is very fragile," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

Egypt ’Not Bound’ by Anti-Smuggling Pact
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 1/25/2009
CAIRO, Jan 24(IPS) - The U. S. and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding last week ostensibly aimed at combating arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Egypt, however, which shares a 14-kilometre border with the embattled territory, rejected the accord as an infringement on its national sovereignty. "Egypt was not even a signatory to this document," Tarek Fahmi, political science professor at Cairo University and head of the Israel desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies, told IPS. "Egypt is not obliged to follow security procedures arranged behind its back. " The memorandum of understanding (MoU) outlines general procedures aimed at stopping weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip. The strip, governed by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas since 2007, was recently the target of a devastating, three-week-long Israeli military campaign that ended Jan.

Fatah: Cairo talks must be comprehensive; Rafah agreement of 2005 still stands
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Fatah prefers talks on ceasefire and unity as a package, rather than as separate issues, said senior Fatah official Ibrahim Abu An-Naja Sunday. He also announced that the party’s delegation from Gaza will be joined by head of the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Azam Al-Ahmad of the West Bank. Abu An-Naja told Ma’an that “what is needed from the Egyptian leadership is to discuss the controversial issues as one package starting from comprehensive national dialogue, forming a national unity government who will form committees that will reconstruct Gaza, stabilize the truce, lift the siege and opening the crossings. ”He said the formation of the committees should be a top priority and be done in consultation with the donor countries. He noted, however, that the Rafah crossing is under the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access and that. . .

EU holds talks with Egypt, Palestinians on Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/25/2009
European Union foreign ministers pressed Egypt on Sunday to do more to prevent weapons from being smuggled to Hamas in the Gaza Strip - a problem undermining efforts to cement a durable truce in the Mideast. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers sought support from their Jordanian and Turkish counterparts in talks meant to help create a lasting cease-fire following Israel’s 22-day offensive. The critical question facing the EU is whether Hamas will go along with any peace initiative - and what incentives might be offered to Egypt to deter arms smuggling along its porous Gaza border. "We know the cease-fire is very fragile," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said. "Action is required to prevent the illegal trafficking of arms into Gaza. It’s required to address the terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the opening of [border] crossings.

Hamas vows to continue importing weapons into Gaza, West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas vowed on Sunday to resume imports of weapons into both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, boasting that it has already done so since a ceasefire was announced one week ago. A Hamas representative in Lebanon, Usama Hamadan, speaking at a cultural festival in Beirut, said, “We were able to bring weapons into Gaza during the peak of the war, under shelling. It’s our right to have weapons. We will continue bringing weapons into Gaza and the West Bank. No one should think that will surrender. ”“I assure you that since the first day of ceasefire, the resistance began restoring what they lost and upgrading what they have,” he said, dismissing proposals from the European Union to curb smuggling into Gaza, including a French plan to deploy its Navy near Gaza.

Renewed Rafah Breach?
Philip Rizk- Cairo, Palestine Chronicle 1/24/2009
’Tunnels that used to transport food, clothing, and diesel are now mostly at a standstill. ’In the past weeks the families living in Egyptian Rafah have faced similar fears as their neighbors and relatives on the other side of the border. Although they have been out of the direct line of fire many families fled the border areas due to the ongoing bombing and occasional shrapnel that landed near them. Abu Yusef said that a week ago six bombs had fallen on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border and that the military had covered up the incident. The day before another three unexploded bombs had landed in Dihneyya, a neighborhood in Rafah, "the army came, dug them into a hole and blew them up," Abu Yusef said. As none of the injured military personnel are from the area few details are known about the incident. One resident of Egyptian Rafah explained that the inhabitants of Northern Sinai were considered the "the Jews of Sinai," were not called into army service and thus had no information about military affairs.

The Gaza aftermath
Ayman El-Amir, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/22/2009
The Arabs are trapped between the anvil of Israeli belligerency and the hammer of US indifference to their concerns. The 22-day long devastating Israeli war on Gaza and its Palestinian population has ended in a stalemate. Israel has not achieved its declared goal of silencing Palestinian rockets, has left the resistance more resilient and the Gaza people more defiant, has undermined the Arab moderates, and has set back the peace process. With one-third of its armed forces thrown into battle, Israel has lost its second regional war in 30 months, after the 2006 debacle in Lebanon. The implications of the limits of Israeli military power, the credibility of Palestinian resistance and the price they are willing to pay, and the worthiness of Israeli peaceful pretences could not be lost on regional powers. The power paradigm in the Middle East is slowly changing to the advantage of hardliners.

Same tactics apply
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/22/2009
Egypt is not set to shift its policies with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli file - When representatives of the Palestinian factions and Israel arrive in Egypt today for separate talks with Egyptian officials they will pick up where they left off about a week ago -- on the eve of the unilateral Israeli ceasefire. Leaders of the Palestinian factions will be asked to "comply" with political and security demands that entail sharing responsibility for security in Gaza between Hamas and political foe Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel will be asked to change its demands for security surveillance of the border between Egypt and Gaza, and over the mode of operation of the Rafah crossing linking Egypt and Gaza, to a formula that Cairo finds unencroaching on its sovereign rights and that Hamas accepts.

Hamas to pay victims of Gaza war
Al Jazeera 1/25/2009
Hamas is set to hand out money to Gazans afflicted by Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip. The territory’s government was due to start giving out the money, expected to total about $45m, on Sunday - a day after a Hamas committee was established to oversee relief efforts. Ahmed al-Kurd, the Hamas-appointed minister of social affairs, also heads the National High Committee for Relief which will distribute the money to those who lost family members or their homes. "It will be the only body to oversee and supervise the rescue. We will be in contact with all other bodies, whether local, national or international, to organise the relief," al-Kurd said. Re-building Gaza Al-Kurd did not say how Hamas had raised the funds for the Strip, which has been under a strict blockade since the group took control of Gaza in June 2007.

Egypt allows Palestinians to leave Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Egypt allowed dozens of Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing on Friday, an Egyptian border official said. According to the official, 116 Palestinians who work and study in Egypt were allowed to cross, along with 23 who are citizens of other countries. He also said that 93 Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side were allowed to return to the Gaza Strip. Egyptian authorities also allowed about a dozen wounded Palestinians through Rafah for treatment in Egyptian hospitals. They arrived in Egypt at 3pm on Friday, the official said. He added that 44 wounded Palestinians and 38 companions arrived in Egypt on Thursday. In addition 26 doctors from the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were allowed to assist in the treatment of the injured Palestinians.

Patriarch of Jerusalem calls for fundraising for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Sunday was declared a fundraising day for Gaza by his eminence patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, the holy land and Jordan. The patriarch sent messages to all archbishops and pastors of Orthodox churches in the holy land, Jordan and around the globe asking for support and prayer for the people of Gaza. “With broken hearts we follow events and catastrophes our people in the Gaza Strip are facing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims who fall everyday and the large numbers of our brothers who were deprived of their basic rights of living in dignity,” the message read. Fundraising is a Christian human duty, he said, and thanked the Orthodox Church in Greece for sending 50 tons of aid to the Gaza Strip in coordination with the patriarchate in Jerusalem. Spokesperson of the Orthodox Church, Father Issa Muslih said the patriarch set-up a mechanism for fundraising in churches during Sunday mass.

Sunday collection goes to churches in Gaza Strip
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 1/25/2009
Jerusalem -- In East Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos III called Sunday the "day of collections. "The Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Holy Land said that specific monies would be gathered today for the Orthodox churches affected in the Gaza Strip from over three weeks of attacks and the preceding siege. This came in a letter addressed to the heads of monasteries and churches, sponsors, agents and the people of the Orthodox parish in the Holy Land, Jordan and the entire world. His message began by saying, "Our hearts follow the sad events and tragedies befalling our people who live in the Gaza Strip. Our minds and prayers are with the innocent victims who live this daily tragedy and the high numbers of our brothers who are robbed of their rights to live with the most basic humanitarian assurances. "

Ex-prisoner dies after undergoing surgery in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A 47-year-old former Palestinian prisoner, Ahmad Shabat, from the town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, died on Sunday evening after undergoing surgery in Ash-Shifa Hospital. According to one of his relatives, Shabat was unable to leave his house for a week during the Israeli war on Gaza, and was unable to receive treatment for a kidney condition. Shabat’s relative also said that he had” inhaled gas fired by the Israeli army. ”He was hospitalized at Ash-Shifa after the Israeli army withdrew from Gaza last week. Shabat, a member of the Fatah movement, was jailed by Israel from 1975 to 1983. [end]

Palestinian charity distributes milk in Gaza from Al-Maktoum Foundation
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – House of Charity from Palestine to Palestine, a local Gaza charity group, distributed hundreds of milk cans in several Gaza Strip neighborhoods on Saturday. The aid was provided by the Muhammad Ibn Rashid Al-Maktoum Foundation in the United Arab Emirates. Charity workers explained that homes faced severe shortages of essential and nutritious goods , and that the canned milk would help sustain families until commercial shops are able to open on a regular basis. [end]

Hamas delegation in Cairo for renewed talks
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
The Hamas delegation for renewed Egyptian-mediated talks with Israel is in Cairo Sunday , where it is expected to discuss a possible prisoner swap deal as well as ways to enhance a one-week ceasefire since Israel withdrawn forces from Gaza on January18. Salah Albardaweel, a Hams MP, Jamal Abu Hashem , Ayman Taha from Gaza and Emad Alaalmi from Damascus are members of the delegation. The Hamas members are expected to discus arrangements for reopening the crossings ,especially the Rafah crossing terminal, reaching a prosners swap deal as well as ensuring a longer ceasefire. Other Gaza-based factions’ delegations are set to join the talks early this week. Israeli official Amos Gil’ad , who has been holding talks with Egyptian mediators, was quoted as saying that the latest Israeli army attacks on Gaza have paved the way for possible agreement.

Radwan: Lifting the siege and opening crossings are condition for a new calm
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has renewed its insistence that any calm agreement to be reached with the Israeli occupation authority should include the condition of lifting the siege and opening all crossings. Dr. Ismail Radwan, one of the Hamas’s political leaders in Gaza, said in a press release that the ovement’s talks in Cairo aim at stabilizing the ceasefire between the Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian resistance. He added that the talks would also focus on opening crossings and completely lifting the siege in addition to reconstructing the Gaza Strip and concluding a limited period of calm. "We will not accept any calm that does not include lifting the siege, halting aggression and reconstructing Gaza," he elaborated. Radwan added that the Palestinian people are entitled to resist occupation as long as it remained on Palestinian lands.

Masri: Hamas rejects any permanent truce with Israel, suggests one-year calm
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Mushir Al-Masri, a senior Hamas leader, stated that his Movement rejects any permanent truce with Israel and instead suggests a one-year calm to be evaluated at the end of each year, highlighting that the truce issue is totally separate from the file of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. MP Masri told the Quds Press that a permanent truce collides with the people’s right to resistance as long as their land is occupied, noting that the calm must be temporary and lead to the opening of crossings especially the Rafah border crossing.   The lawmaker said that Hamas tabled the issue of international supervision of the crossings despite its rejection of the presence of any international troops in Gaza, noting that these supervisory troops must be European and Turkish in order to ensure that the crossing would not be at the mercy of Israel or any particular party.

Hamas offers a one-year truce with Israel
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
The ruling Hamas party in Gaza offered on Sunday a one-year-long truce or Tahdiya with Israel, as talks over ceasefire and reopening Gaza crossings are underway between Hamas officials and Egyptian mediators in Cairo. A Hamas official, speaking in a condition of anonymity, told Maan News Agency that his party’s delegation to Cairo will focus talks on reopening commercial crossings, truce with Israel and other outstanding issues such as the national unity talks with Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The official said that the party agrees that the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority ,the UNRWA and other international organizations, are welcomed to start a reconstruction process in Gaza in the wake of a three-week Israeli attacks on the coastal region. " Some Arab and European countries do not want to deliver funds to Hamas for the reconstruction process and they. . .

Israeli transportation minister warns Hamas leaders
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
Israeli transportation minister, Shaol Mofaz, warned on Sunday the Hamas leaders in Gaza, including prime minister, Ismail Haniya, that they wont move freely unless the captured Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit is released by Hamas. Mofaza was speaking to the Israeli radio this morning, commenting on latest reports about renewed talks over a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel. " Ismail Haniya and his colleagues wont see the light unless Shalit sees the light", Mofaz was quoted as saying. He believed that the Hamas party in Gaza has committed a mistake this time by misjudging Israel’s response. Answering a question about the upcoming visit of the newly-appointed U. S peace envoy, Gorge Mitchel, Mofaz asserted Israel’s commitment to what he called national and security interests of Israel. However, he hinted at the possibility that a two-state solution will eventually emerge.

Mofaz threatens more assassinations if Shalit not freed soon; Al-Masri counters with specter of more captures
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The release of Gilad Shalit is close at hand, according to Israeli sources, after a shift in positions during the war on Gaza. Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz spoke with Israeli Radio Sunday, and assured listeners that the government intends to exhaust all the new possibilities for the release of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which were made available during Operation Cast Lead. “Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will not see the light of day,” until Shalit does, said Mofaz, noting that the same threat applied to all senior leaders in the area. This threat comes despite a unilaterally declared ceasefire which took effect one week ago. Mofaz cited the assassinations of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin and spokesperson Abdel Aziz Rantisi in 2004, as proof Israel could carry out the assassinations.

Haneyya gov’t forms committee to file war crime charges against Israel
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya formed an official committee to document the Israeli atrocities committed in the Gaza Strip in order to prosecute Israel’s leaders as war criminals in regional and international courts.    Minister of justice Mohamed Al-Ghoul called on all international and local institutions working in the field of law or human rights to coordinate with this official committee, stressing the need to pool and intensify all efforts to confront the Israeli occupation and its Nazi leaders in order to achieve the desired objectives. In another context, minister of social affairs Ahmed Kurd announced on Saturday the formation of the higher national committee for relief in order to coordinate and supervise urgent relief operations for the citizens affected by the Israeli war on Gaza.

Nassif: Resistance emerged stronger after Gaza war
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Resistance has emerged stronger after the Israeli war on Gaza after it practically put to test its potentials and proved its competence especially with the backing of the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic masses, Ra’fat Nassif, a Hamas political leader in the West Bank stressed. He said in a press statement on Saturday that even the freedom loving peoples in the world have backed the Palestinian resistance in a way that elevated its morale and boosted its steadfastness in face of the horrendous Israeli aggression. Nassif opined that Israeli premier Ehud Olmert declared his defeat in the speech in which he declared unilateral ceasefire. The Hamas leader said that the defeat was an inevitable result of the resistance’s resoluteness and Hamas’s handling of the Egyptian and other initiatives tabled with it.

Hamas says Shalit won’t see light unless Palestinian prisoners are released
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
The Gaza-based Hamas member of parliament, Mosheer Almasri, stated on Sunday that the captured Israeli soldier, Gil’ad Shalit, won’t see the light unless Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli jails. Almasri’s statement came in response to a similar remark by Israeli transportation minister, Shaol Mofaza, in which Mofaz warned Hamas leaders that they won’t see the light as long as Shalit remains in captivity. " Any attempt on the lives of our leaders is a loss as our leaders are those who race for heaven as martyrs of freedom and Jihad (holy war)", Almasri was quoted as saying. In the meantime, Almasri asserted that the renewed truce talks underway in Cairo aim at enhancing the recent ceasefire as well as reopening all border crossings including the Rafah terminal crossing, co-administered by Egypt.

Hamdan says from Beirut that armed resistance will continue to operate in Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/25/2009
Gaza - Agence France Press reported from Lebanon today the local Hamas representative Osama Hamdan as saying the party would "bring weapons to the West Bank and Gaza. " During a rally held at Beirut’s UNESCO headquarters told a crowd that the armed resistance, namely Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades, would find a way to import weapons no matter the conditions. Hundreds of people had gathered today to memorialize the deaths of armed resistance members in southern Lebanon. The Hamas representative in Beirut said they "did not fail to bring weapons to the Gaza Strip at the height of the war and under the brunt of bombardment. " A Hamas delegation is currently in Cairo discussing terms of a ceasefire with the Israelis, who it says has not honored its most basic commitment: that is to withdraw entirely from the Strip.

Hamad: Israeli administration refuses to honor ceasefire terms
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/24/2009
Gaza -- Fathi Hamad said last night that reasonable terms of a ceasefire include withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. "In the absence of the Israeli acceptance of the conditions presented by the Palestinian factions it can only mean the continuation of resistance. "Among the dozens of members of the Hamas leadership speaking to the press, Hamad said from the wreckage of northern Gaza City, "The conditions to stabilize the ceasefire are not being met. " He continued, "The Israeli aggression must stop and that includes to open the crossings including Rafah, a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the approval of entry of raw materials, funds and technical personnel for the reconstruction process. "The same demands have been put forth by the United Nations and numerous human rights organizations gravely concerned over the affects of the continued closure of the crossings and ban on imports.

Assad applauds Mashaal on Gaza ’victory’ Staff, Jerusalem Post 1/24/2009
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday congratulated Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on his organization’s "victory" in the Gaza Strip, Syrian news agency SANA reported. At a meeting in Damascus with Mashaal and a Hamas delegation, Assad said that Israel had failed to achieve its objectives in Operation Cast Lead, "despite using its most lethal weaponry. " This, he said, was "proof of the Palestinian people’s dedication to their rights over the land and their deep belief in the ultimate victory over the occupation and aggression. " The Hamas delegation reportedly expressed its gratitude to Assad for Syria’s support. Delegation members added that in the coming days they intended to visit a number of Arab nations who supported the Palestinians during the fighting in Gaza.

Hamas offers 18-month cease-fire, urges PA to sever talks with Israel
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Talks between senior Hamas members and Egyptian officials in Cairo on a new cease-fire arrangement for the Gaza Strip continued late last night amid new warnings by a top Hamas official that arms smuggling would continue. The Hamas delegation met with the heads of Egyptian intelligence who transmitted to them Israel’s positions. There appears to be disagreement at this point over the length of the truce: Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Ayman Taha, said Hamas would agree to a cease-fire of no more than between one year and 18 months, while the Egyptians are demanding a truce of a number of years’ duration. Another Hamas spokesman, Ismail Radwan, said a long-term cease-fire "kills" the right to resistance by the Palestinians. Hamas and Israeli officials have also indicated that much of the discussion has centered on control of the border crossings in and out of Gaza.

Israel refuses to release Gaza man who served six-year sentence
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel refused to release a Palestinian political prisoner from Gaza on Saturday although he completed his six-year prison sentence. Muhammad Abu Aun, from Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip, was instead remanded to Israel’s Negev Prison camp under a 2007 law that allows detainees to be held without trial as “illegal combatants. ” The law was passed in September 2007, when Israel also pronounced Gaza an “enemy entity. ”According to Muhammad Hassan, the lawyer defending Abu Aun, the head of the Israeli military’s Southern Command ordered him to be detained for another six months. [end]

Mufti condemns Israeli Court decision allowing sewage pipe to run under Muslim cemetery
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Muhammad Hussein slammed the Israeli High Court decision to allow Israel’s national water company Mekorot to install sewage networks inside the Ramla cemetery. Ramla is an ancient originally Palestinian town in Israel, and home to a large Islamic cemetery. The mufti said disturbing the graves by running pipe and tunnels beneath the dead was sacrilegious. Religions and international laws prohibit the disturbance of the dead, he said, and reminded the world that this would not be the first time Israel desecrated Muslim and Palestinian holy places. He noted plans to build an Israeli museum near the largest, oldest and most sacred cemetery in Jerusalem, the Ma’manallah cemetery. Beyond their attacks on religious sites, he said, Israel has targeted our trees, homes and persons.

Blair: Palestinian unity will be part of the Gaza reconstruction
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Repairing the relationship between Hamas and Fatah will be an intimate part of the Gaza reconstruction plan, said envoy of the international Quartet of peace process in the Middle East Tony Blair on Sunday. Blair made the comment following a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. He is in the area meeting with Fayyad around issues in Gaza, getting aid to the Strip and a long-term reconstruction plan. "Any new government must be built on the basis of understanding and real national unity,” said Blair, who indicated that unity was the first step to “the establishment of a Palestinian state. "Without unity, he noted, the process of state-hood would collapse. “We are all in the region will work to find the solution," he continued pointing out that the appointment of the US presidential envoy for peace in the Middle East, George Mitchell will be supportive to the process.

Fatah faithful rally to support Abbas, with harsh rhetoric for Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – The Fatah movement staged a rally in the West Bank city of Jenin on Sunday in support of President Mahmoud Abbas and in denunciation of the “killings and tortures by Hamas against Fatah members in Gaza. ”The rally was attended by Rafiq Al-Huseini, head of President’s Office in addition to other senior Fatah leaders from as far away as Gaza. The demonstrators chanted slogans in support of Abbas and carried Palestinian flags, pictures of president Abbas and of the late Palestinian leader Yasser ArafatSpeaking to the rally, Rafiq Al-Huseini called for national unity among Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip inside Israeli and in the Diaspora. He also called for new to parliamentary and presidential elections. He denounced “what Hamas is doing including shooting at Fatah members in Gaza preventing them from acting in resistance [to Israeli occupation] and sending them to jail.

Hamas: Abbas’s security apparatuses’ shameful acts exceeded all limits
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement in the West Bank strongly denounced the transgressions of ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security apparatuses in Al-Khalil, saying that their outrageous acts exceeded all limits and their complicity with the Israeli occupation would remain an unforgivable blot. In a statement received by the PIC, Hamas said that Abbas’s security apparatuses had waged, since the start of the Israeli aggression, a frenzied campaign of arrests in the ranks of its cadres in Al-Khalil against the backdrop of events organized by the Movement in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. Hamas added that 50 of its supporters had been kidnapped since the aggression including former deportees to Marj Al-Zouhour, prisoners released from Israeli jails, mosque imams, teachers and students. Hamas highlighted that since Israel waged its aggression on Gaza, these security apparatuses had. . .

Shallah: The PLO lost its role in defending the Palestinian people
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ramadhan Abdullah Shallah, the secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad Movement, affirmed Saturday that the Palestinian resistance wouldn’t surrender at all cost, adding that the PLO has lost its mandate in defending the Palestinian people. "The era of defeats has gone forever, and the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people have emerged victorious out of the war on Gaza after they foiled all the Israeli goals of the war", said Shallah in an interview with the Lebanese Al-Manar satellite TV channel. He also stressed that Palestinian unity and steadfastness played an essential role in this victory, adding that  "all the Palestinian people were absolutely ready to engage the Zionist enemy in another war". "They (Israelis) said they want to change the political system in Gaza, and to topple the rule of Hamas; but in fact, the war would strengthen Gaza,. . .

Four Islamic Jihad activists declare hunger strike in PA prison
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Four Islamic Jihad activists imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) declared a hunger strike on Friday protesting what they said were the “dire conditions” in prison, Islamic Jihad said on Saturday. In a statement the Islamic movement identified the men as Abd-ar-Rahman As-Sa’di who has been in prison for three months; Zakariyya Sarhan and his brother Jalil, who have been detained for seven months; and Alaa Abu Ar-Rub who has been jailed for four months after he was severely wounded by the Israeli army. Islamic Jihad said the PA in Ramallah is liable for the safety of the four along with other political prisoners. The movement called on all Palestinian factions to take a united stand for the release of political prisoners.

Palestine Bar Association condemns attack on Ramallah lawyer; closes courts in protest
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – An unknown gunman attacked Ramallah lawyer Ahmed Awadallah in front of his house in the Al-Teereh neighborhood of Ramallah on Saturday. Awadallah sustained serious injuries in his left foot, and was taken to Ramallah’s government hospital where doctors performed a series of operations on the foot. Medical sources described his condition as good, noting that he is now recovering at home. Attorney Ribhi Katamesh said that the Bar Association filed papers demanding the police fully investigate the attack on Sunday. Police have opened an investigation, promising to arrest the offender and to bring him to justice. The Bar Association condemned the attack and announced the suspension of work in all Ramallah courts.

Fateh - Hamas split leads to explosion
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/24/2009
Nablus -- Dr. Abdel Satter Qassem’s car blew up last night. He had just returned to his northern West Bank home from a seminar on the Al Quds satellite channel which drew sharp criticism from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The professor of political science at Nablus’ An Najah University said that the blast not only destroyed his car but damaged the entrance of his home. He was sitting at his computer, the academic told neighbors, when he heard the explosion which was thought to be detonated with a homemade bomb. Qassem reported a telephone threat a week ago in which an unidentified man said this would happen. The official word from the Nablus governorate was a condemnation of the incident "aimed to disrupt the security and calm in the province. "In a statement issued this morning district officials continued with the condemnation by saying that the bombing. . .

West Bank PLC members, national figures denounce attack on An-Najah professor
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Members of the of the Palestinian Legislative Council including its Deputy Speaker,national and civil society figures joined together to condemn the assault on An-Najah professor Abdul-Sattar Qasim in Nablus. Dr Abdul-Sattar Qasim, a leading academic at An-Najah National University, told Ma’an that attackers hurled a Molotov cocktail at his Mitsubishi while it was parked in front of his home in the Al-Jadida neighborhood of Nablus. The signatories of statement denounced “in the harshest possible words” the attack, and demanded that the “perpetrators be brought to justice. ”The statement concluded saying all parties should work together to ensure that such attacks are halted immediately.

Hebron military court sentences collaborator to death by firing squad
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – A Palestinian court in Hebron sentenced to death by firing squad a convicted collaborator who assisted Israeli intelligence assassinate a Palestinian activist and arrest several others. The man convicted, MRJ, is from the Al-‘Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron. He was an officer in the Palestinian Presidential Security Service before he was arrested in Bethlehem on collaboration charges. During the trial, the prosecution highlighted MRJ’s work at a carwash in Etzion from 1997 that was owned by an Israeli intelligence officer. He alleged that the owner introduced MRJ to a woman, and then secretly filmed MRJ having sex with her. The tape, said the prosecutor, was then used to blackmail MRJ, who began reporting the names of stone-throwers to his boss. MRJ was later employed by the Presidential Security Services, and he began reporting detailed information about Palestinian resistance fighters.

Hamas interior ministry denies appointing a new minister
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
The Palestinian interior ministry of Hamas in Gaza denied on Sunday appointing a new minister following the Israeli warplanes assassination of minister Said Siyam in recent bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Ehab Alghosain, spokesperson of the interior minister told media outlets in Gaza that Khalil Alhaiya, a Hamas leader, was not appointed in succession of late Siyam. Alghosain’s remarks came in response to a news report by the Iranian News Agency (Fares), quoting well-informed Hamas sources that Alhaiya will be appointed in the upcoming days. Alhaiya is now heading the Hamas parliamentary bloc in the Hamas-dominated parliament in Gaza. Few days before Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire for its attacks on the Gaza Strip, which lasted 22 days, the Israeli warplanes stroke the house of Siyam’s brother, killing the Hamas minister, his brother, family members and other aids for Siyam in Gaza city.

Replacement for assassinated Interior Minister
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/24/2009
Gaza - Informed sources in Hamas said Saturday that Khalil Al Hayya will be appointed Interior Minister to replace Said Siyam who Israeli forces assassinated last week. A source told Al Aqsa that the official announcement of the decision will be issued within the next few days. Al Hayya is the Chairman of the Hamas parliamentary bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Born in 1960 he is one of the most prominent leaders of the movement in addition to being a member of the Committee on Interior Security in the PLC. Siyam’s replacement has survived several Israeli assassination attempts himself. Al Hayya is a father whose eldest, Hamza Al Hayya, was commander of the artillery unit for the Al Qassam Brigades in eastern Gaza City. Siyam was targeted in Gaza City in an attack that killed several members of his family and staff during the three week Israeli operation.

Jordan’s King Abdullah fires intel chief over Hamas support
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
King Abdullah of Jordan fired the head of the country’s intelligence service, Mohammed Dahabi, early in January. The dismissal had not been understood; however, analysts and experts following developments in the Hashemite Kingdom, now suggest that the move stemmed from Dahabi’s overly close ties with the Damascus-based Hamas leadership. Dahabi was replaced by his deputy, General Mohammed Raqqad, who is considered to be a professional intelligence officer without political predispositions. Hassan Barari, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, published a paper late last week in which he outlines his assessment of the reasons for the dismissal. Barari notes that Dahabi was the spirit behind a thawing of relations with the Hamas leadership.

PFLP leaders travel to Cairo for talks on ceasefire, Palestinian reconciliation
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Leaders of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) the Gaza Strip for Cairo on Sunday where they will participate in talks with Egyptian officials regarding Palestinian reconciliation and the ceasefire with Israel. Senior PFLP leader Jamil Muzhir told Ma’an that the delegation includes Jamil Majdalawi, Rabah Muhanna and Kayid Al-Ghoul from the Gaza Strip, and they will be joined by Mahir At-Tahir, Abu Ali Hasan and Abu Ahmad Fuad. The delegation was supposed to be led by Deputy Secretary-General Abdoul Rahim Mallouh who has not yet received permit from Israel to leave to Cairo. Hamas leaders met with Egyptian officials on Sunday as a part of an effort to consolidate a shaky ceasefire in between Palestinian factions and Israel. Muzhir explained that the delegation would focus more on the Palestinian internal political split,. . .

Sources: Hamas’s talks in Egypt decisive
Palestinian Information Center 1/25/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Well-informed sources in the Egyptian capital Cairo asserted Sunday that talks between Hamas’s delegation, and the Egyptian authorities would be "decisive and pivotal". According to the sources, the talks of Hamas’s delegation with Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman would tackle all unresolved files, warning that if those issues are not resolved amicably; the political rift between Hamas and Cairo could widen. Egypt took a negative stand against Hamas after the Movement succeeded in routing elements of the mutiny trend within Fatah faction of the disgraced Fatah leader Mohammed Dahalan. Hamas and Egypt became at odds since then, but bilateral ties worsened further after Hamas Movement implicitly accused Cairo of encouraging the Israeli aggression on Gaza that lasted for 23 days and reaped the lives of more than 1330 Palestinian citizens; more than one-half of them were children and women.

Egypt demanding years-long truce in Gaza
Avi Issacharoff and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Talks between senior Hamas members and Egyptian officials in Cairo on a new cease-fire arrangement for the Gaza Strip continued late Sunday night amid an apparent disagreement over the length of the truce. The Egyptians are demanding a truce of a number of years’ duration, while Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Ayman Taha, said the group would agree to a cease-fire of no more than between one year and 18 months. Another Hamas spokesman, Ismail Radwan, said a long-term cease-fire "kills" the right to resistance by the Palestinians. Hamas and Israeli officials have also indicated that much of the discussion has centered on control of the border crossings in and out of Gaza. Hamas wants the blockade on Gaza lifted. Israel wants assurances that weapons smuggling into the Gaza strip will stop.

Barak: Gaza op caused huge backlog in Egypt of arms meant for Hamas
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday said a large quantity of arms had piled up in Egypt en route to Gaza during Israel’s recent offensive in the coastal strip. Barak made the comments while updating the government on efforts to halt the smuggling of weapons to Gaza, one of Israel’s aims in the 22-day campaign against Hamas. He said that that Israel has informed Egypt of the build-up of weapons in its territory. Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official said on Sunday that security measures aimed at stopping Palestinian groups from rearming would not stop the flow of weapons into Gaza. "We will continue to get weapons into Gaza and the [West] Bank. Let nobody think we will surrender to measures," said Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan during a speech in Beirut.

Mitchell expected in Middle East Wednesday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
The newly-appointed US Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is slated to arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, in an attempt to boost the efforts of the new U. S administration in achieving a settlement of the Middle East conflict, the Arabs48 news website reported. In addition to visiting Israel, Mitchell will also be visiting the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt and most likely several other countries. The aim of his trip is "to activate the Middle East peace process and boost the fragile ceasefire in Gaza". An official US statement said that Mitchell will also be attempting to "resolve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip" Mitchell, 75, is the son of an Irish immigrant to the US and a Lebanese mother. He became known in the Middle East after a report he prepared when Bill Clinton was the US president.

Chomsky sees no Mideast ‘change’ under Obama
Middle East Online 1/24/2009
PACIFICA – Noam Chomsky, the renowned professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over half-a-century, and author of over a hundred books, including Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, said he expected little change in the US position towards the Palestine/Israel question. Below is a summery of his views as told to Democracy Now! on Friday: It’s approximately the Bush position. [Obama] began by saying that Israel, like any democracy, has a right to defend itself. That’s true, but there’s a gap in the reasoning. It has a right to defend itself. It doesn’t follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. So we might agree, say, that, you know, the British army in the United States in the colonies in 1776 had a right to defend itself from the terror of George Washington’s armies, which was quite real, but it didn’t follow. . . -- See also: Democracy Now!

VIDEO - The War On Palestine (Gaza)
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 1/25/2009
Song by The Dark Bob: [end]

U.S. Engagement May Not Bring Change
Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler, Inter Press Service 1/26/2009
JERUSALEM, Jan 25(IPS) - The new U. S. President was as good as his word. Within 48 hours of taking the helm, Barack Obama declared it "will be the policy of my Administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as Israel and its Arab neighbours. "With the follow-up announcement that his special envoy, former senator George Mitchell, would be travelling right away to the region, the sabbatical truce gave Israelis a chance to digest the implications of this immediate U. S. re-engagement. Sunday morning’s headlines sounded an alarm: the largest circulation paper, Yediot Achronot, put it bluntly, ’The Pressure Begins’, while the other major Tel Aviv tabloid, Ma’ariv, pronounced, ’Mitchell Arriving to Exert Pressure’. Mitchell, who led a fact-finding mission early during the Palestinian Intifadah uprising, arrives Wednesday for. . .

IDF rabbi told troops fighting in Gaza: We must not cede a single inch of Israel
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
During the fighting in the Gaza Strip, the religious media - and on two occasions, the Israel Defense Forces weekly journal Bamahane - were full of praise for the army rabbinate. The substantial role of religious officers and soldiers in the front-line units of the IDF was, for the first time, supported also by the significant presence of rabbis there. The chief army rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Rontzki, joined the troops in the field on a number of occasions, as did rabbis under his command. Officers and soldiers reported that they felt "spiritually elevated" and "morally empowered" by conversations with rabbis who gave them encouragement before the confrontation with the Palestinians. But what exactly was the content of these conversations and of the plethora of written material disseminated by the IDF rabbinate during the war? A reservist battalion. . .

Israel to shield Gaza war soldiers
Al Jazeera 1/25/2009
Israel will give legal protection to soldiers who fought in the three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, has said. " The commanders and soldiers sent to Gaza need to know that they are completely safe from different tribunals and Israel will help and protect them," he said on Sunday. Olmert said he had appointed Daniel Friedman, the justice minister, to chair an inter-ministerial committee "to co-ordinate Israel’s efforts to offer legal defence for anyone who took part in the operation. "He will formulate questions and answers relating to the army’s operations, which self-righteous people. . . might use to sueofficers and soldiers," he said. Israel’s military censor has already banned the publication of the identity of the unit leaders who fought Hamas in the Gaza Strip for fear they may face war crimes charges. Amnesty International has said it is "undeniable" that Israel used white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas. . .

Cabinet okays legal aid for troops facing war crimes charges
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Israel will provide legal aid to Israel Defense Forces officers and soldiers who took part in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza if they are accused of war crimes, the cabinet announced yesterday. The decision conforms to one passed in 2005, when the cabinet said Israel would help to pay the legal expenses of officers indicted abroad. "The commanders and soldiers who were sent to Gaza need to know that they are safe from various tribunals," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet. "The terror organizations and Hamas were wrong when they thought that Israel would not respond to the shooting [of rockets]. Now they are trying to settle accounts with Israel, and one of the main arenas for doing so is the international legal arena, by means of moral acrobatics typical of these groups," Olmert added.

Jewish Agency: Anti-Semitic acts in Jan. 2009 triple last year’s records
Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
A total of 250 anti-Semitic acts around the world were recorded in January 2009, according to a Jewish Agency report released on Sunday. This marks a dramatic leap from the 80 cases recorded during the same time last year. According to the Agency, Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip most likely prompted the increased animosity. The operation was launched with Israel’s aim to halt Hamas militants’ rocket firing into southern Israel. During the operation some 1,300 Palestinians were killed, spurring a spate of protests and demonstrations around the world which in some cases turned violent. Earlier this month in Toulouse, France, assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue, causing damage but no injuries. That same day in southern Sweden, a Jewish congregation was attacked when someone broke a window and threw a burning object inside.

Munich rallies in solidarity with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – More than two thousand people rallied on Saturday in Munich, Germany for the fourth consecutive week protesting the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip. Protestors raised pictures of the destruction left by Israeli warplanes and military tanks in Gaza as well as signs calling for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestine. Flags of Palestine, Iraq, Turkey and Venezuela were raised during the demonstration alongside signs demanding punishment of those who committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Large numbers of German police officers accompanied the rally in order to avoid clashes, after last week’s events ended in street violence when synagogue patrons raised Israeli flags when marchers passed the building.

Arab leaders criticize Canada’s support of Israel
Middle East Online 1/24/2009
OTTAWA - Arab ambassadors have complained to Canada’s top diplomat about his "unbalanced" Mideast policies, which they said Friday favor Israel and disregard the plight of Palestinians. "We’ve encouraged Canada to take a more balanced position, which takes into account the realities on the ground and does not side with one party," said Amin Abou-Hassira, the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Ottawa. Canada’s position now is "unbalanced," he said. The 15 envoys, including Abou-Hassira, met with Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon earlier this week to ask him why his official statements "do not reflect reality and place blame for the war in Gaza entirely on Hamas’s rocket-firing into Israel," he said. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, since its election in 2006, has been unabashedly pro-Israel.

Families of Beit Dajan announce boycott of Israeli products
Ma’an News Agency 1/24/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli goods are being boycotted by one hundred families affiliated with the Palestine People’s Party (PPP) in Biet Dajan, in the northern West Bank. The group organized in response to the Israeli war against Gaza, and decided to replace all Israeli goods with local Palestinian products where at all possible. The final decision came at a senior party leadership meeting this week. The leadership has also begun a campaign demanding the Palestinian National leadership, NGOs ad civil society institutions get on board with the boycott. The campaign hopes to begin with an economic boycott and move on from there. [end]

Program launched to bring all Jewish teachers to Israel
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
A joint project of the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency will seek, over the next 10 years, to bring all Jewish teachers and educators from around the world for two week visits to Israel. The government approved, yesterday, a pilot version of the program - Netivei Masa - which will be tried out during 2009 with the participation of approximately 135 Jewish teachers from abroad The program is the initiative of cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel, whom Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed yesterday to coordinate the activities of various organizations responsible for ties between Israel and the Jewish diaspora. One of the central decisions behind this new initiative is to shift the emphasis in the relations between Israel and world Jewry from fund raising and other types of support for the country, to Israel assuming a greater responsibility in matters of Jewish and Zionist education.

MPs and religious leaders press BBC to screen Gaza aid appeal
Sadie Gray, The Independent 1/26/2009
Fifty-one MPs will today urge the BBC to back down over its refusal to screen an emergency appeal for humanitarian aid to Gaza. Richard Burden, the Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, will table an Early Day Motion stating that the House of Commons is "astonished" by the broadcaster’s decision not to show the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee because it would "threaten the impartiality of its news reporting". Yesterday, members of the Stop the War protest group occupied the BBC’s Glasgow offices, saying they would stay in the building until the corporation agreed to air the DEC’s fundraising advert for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The occupation followed criticism from MPs and religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who said: "My feeling is that the BBC should broadcast an appeal,".

Archbishop joins criticism of BBC refusal to screen Gaza appeal
Caroline Davies, Vanessa Thorpe and Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian 1/25/2009
Corporation receives 11,000 complaints and 50 MPs plan to back motion calling on BBC to change its mind over aid film - The Archbishop of Canterbury today added to criticism of the BBC over its refusal to broadcast a charity appeal for aid to Gaza. He spoke as it emerged the BBC had received some 11,000 complaints and more than 50 MPs planned to back a parliamentary motion urging the corporation to reverse its decision not to broadcast tomorrow’s appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The early day motion to be tabled tomorrow by Labour’s Richard Burden has received the support of 51 MPs from across the Commons; ministers and some senior BBC staff have also called for the BBC to change its mind. The corporation today admitted it had received "approximately" 1,000 telephone complaints about the decision and a further 10,000 by email.

BBC ’open to Gaza appeal rethink’
Al Jazeera 1/25/2009
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has said it is open to reconsidering its earlier decision not to telecast a charity appeal for funds for Palestinians in Gaza. The chief operating officer of the BBC, under fire for its refusal to air the appeal, said a reversal of the decision was possible if another request to air the appeal was made. "We never say never and clearly, if the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) came to us with another request when things have calmed down and we didn’t have the same worries about the controversial nature of this, we would look at it again in that light," Caroline Thompson told Al Jazeera on Sunday. The DEC is made up of charities including the British Red Cross and Oxfam and its request for telecasting an appeal for funds was turned down by the BBC. In explaining its decision, the BBC said the telecast might compromise its impartiality. [sic]

Arab Parties Back in Contest
Daan Bauwens, Inter Press Service 1/25/2009
JERUSALEM, Jan 24(IPS) - A sharp polarisation between Israeli Arab parties and the rest is expected to mark the upcoming elections Feb. 10. The Arab parties are contesting after the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the Knesset Election Committee’s decision to ban the United Arab List Ta’al and Balad parties. Human rights associations accuse both Jewish and Arab parties of populism. Last week Monday the Central Election Committee, consisting of representatives of all Israeli parties, voted overwhelmingly for the exclusion of Arab lists from the elections. According to the Committee, the Arab parties were not eligible to contest because they did not recognise Israel as the Jewish homeland. Arab politicians filed an appeal against the ban, and the decision was overruled earlier this week by the Supreme Court in a unanimous vote.

Over 770,000 children in poverty
Shay Niv, Globes Online 1/25/2009
The overall proportion of poor people fell, but the number of working poor increased. The 2008 Poverty Report by the National Insurance Institute, which covers the second half of 2007 and the first half of 2008, reports that two contradictory trends are continuing. On the positive side, the proportion of poor in Israel fell to 31. 8% in mid-2009 from 32. 3% a year earlier. On the negative side, deep poverty worsened by 2% compared with the previous year. In other words, the gap between Israel’s rich and poor widened further, and although the Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, was unchanged, the National Insurance Institute’s disposable income index rose by 0. 7%. The Poverty Report states that Israel had 418,000 poor families in mid-2008, with a total of. 1. 63 million poor people, including 777,400 children.

Number of laid-off Israelis set new high last month
Vered Lee and Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
The number of laid-off Israelis reached 17,500 in December - a new high for the country, according to a report released by the Israeli Employment Service yesterday. High-tech workers, especially software engineers, were hardest hit, with 690 fired in November and December, compared to 100 in parallel periods. There has also been a significant rise in the number of people from the center of the country who were fired from their jobs - 7,900, nearly double the 4,000 in the north. There were 205,800 unemployed people in the country in December, an increase from the approximately 200,000 jobless the month before. There were 8. 3 percent more college-educated job seekers in December than there had been in November, and 4. 8 percent more people without a college degree who were looking for work.

Israeli border guards detain 334 Palestinians in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/25/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Israeli forces seized 334 Palestinians in Israel who were working without permits over the weekend. Most were later released into the West Bank, the source reported, though 17 “wanted” individuals were retained. Alongside the Palestinians the army also arrested 16 Israelis for transporting the Palestinians into Israel and employing them. They seized 7 stolen cars as well. [end]

Survey shows Israel’s poor grew even poorer in 2007-2008
Vered Lee, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
The poor in Israel became poorer in the second half of 2007 and the first half of 2008, although the overall percentage of Israelis living below the poverty line remained largely stable, according to the semi-annual poverty report published by the National Insurance Institute. The report states that 418,000 families were living below the poverty line, representing 1. 63 million people, 777,400 of them children. The percentage of unemployed poor families rose in relation to the previous report for 2007, from 69 percent to 71. 4 percent. However, the percentage of working poor also rose: Families with two or more breadwinners living below the poverty line increased from 21. 3 percent to 23. 6 percent. (These families also became poorer by a rate of 7 to 10 percent. ) The report shows that the overall percentage of Arab citizens living below the poverty line declined from 51. 4 percent in the second half of 2007 to 50. 1 percent in the first half of 2008.

Sharp descent into recession
Avi Temkin, Globes Online 1/25/2009
The Bank of Israel’s new forecast is as official as it can get that the Israeli economy is in recession. It is not every day that growth forecasts for the Israeli, or any other, economy are slashed by so much as the Bank of Israelslashed its forecast today. From a GDP growth rate of 1. 5%, it now predicts negative growth of 0. 2% because of cumulative domestic and international negative developments during the fourth quarter of 2008. At least one thing is now known. This is as official as it can get that the Israeli economy is in recession. This is not news to the business sector, but at least from now on it will be possible to talk about recession in the present tense, rather than as a future event. Far more important than the official recognition of a recession are three basic questions that will greatly affect the welfare of the country’s people: how long will the recession. . .

Bank of Israel forecasts negative growth for economy
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/25/2009
The Bank of Israel slashed its previous prediction of 1. 5% growth in 2009. The Bank of Israel now forecasts negative growth of -0. 2% in 2009. Today’s revision is the third time in the past two months that the Bank of Israel has pushed down its growth forecast. Last month it predicted growth of 1. 5% in 2009, while in November it predicted that growth would be between 1. 5-2. 7%. This latest negative growth forecast may also affect Israel’s interest rate. The Bank of Israel’s monetary committee began its monthly interest rate discussion today ahead of tomorrow’s interest rate decision for February by Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. The announcement about negative growth indicates that there is a reasonable possibility that rather than the expected cut of 50 basis points tomorrow, the cut will now be a more significant 75. . .

Employment Service reports record layoffs
Shay Niv, Globes Online 1/25/2009
A senior Employment Service official said that Dec 2008 was the worst month he can recall. The Israel National Employment Service reported that 17,500 employees were fired in December 2008 compared with 10,400 in the corresponding month of 2007. The Employment Service said that this is a record number of layoffs in one month. Employment Service director of Research and Economics David Tzarfati said, "There has never been anything like this before. In recent years the average monthly number of layoffs has been 10,000, so this time we are talking about an increase of 80%. " The number of jobseekers rose by 3% to 205,800 in December 2008 compared with the previous month. Further analysis of the figures shows that employees with degrees have been hit hardest by the layoffs with an 8. 3% increase in December 2008 compared with the previous month.

Microsoft Israel plans layoffs
Shmulik Shelah, Globes Online 1/25/2009
Microsoft will fire 50 employees at its Israel R&D center but is hiring staff for new projects. Sources inform "Globes" that software giant Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq MSFT), which last Thursday announced that it would fire 5,000 employees worldwide, will lay off about 50 employees at its Israel R&D center in Herzliya. Microsoft Israel employs 650 people at its R&D centers in Herzliya and Haifa. The layoffs come after three years of the intensive expansion of Microsoft activities in Israel during which five companies were acquired -Whale Communications, Gteko, Secure Dimensions, Kidaro and Yadata - and Microsoft Israel hired 300 new employees and broadened its areas of activity. "Globes" has learned that most of the layoffs will be focused on employees who formerly worked for Gteko, which was acquired by Microsoft in October 2006 for about $120 million.

Poll: More Israelis prefer Netanyahu as PM to any other candidate
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Israelis prefer Benjamin Netanyahu to be the next Prime Minister of Israel over any other candidate, with the Likud chairman being picked by 29 percent of those surveyed. Sixteen percent of those polled said they preferred Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the Kadima party, and only 9 percent saying they would support Defense Minister and Labor party chair Ehud Barak. Netanyahu is also the preferred choice among those polled to serve as Finance Minister and as Foreign Minister as well. Barak was picked as the best candidate to serve as Defense Minister, followed by former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) and Shaul Mofaz of Kadima. The poll also states that the gap between the Likud and Kadima stands at 8 mandates, with the Likud expected to bring in 30 and Kadima 22.

Netanyahu tells Blair: As PM, I will not build settlements
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
A Likud-led government would not build new settlements in the West Bank but would allow for natural growth, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told Quartet envoy Tony Blair yesterday, in an apparent attempt to calm the international community before this week’s arrival of George Mitchell, the newly appointed U. S. envoy to the Middle East. "I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank," Netanyahu told Blair in a meeting yesterday. "But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements. " Netanyahu also said he plans to work to advance negotiations with the Palestinians quickly and to focus on economic development. "Every moment of stagnation isn’t good, and I plan to deal with the Palestinian issue very intensively," he said.

Pope’s Israel visit still on despite anger over readmission of Holocaust-denying bishop
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Pope Benedict is still due to visit Israel in May, an Israeli official said yesterday, despite angering Jews worldwide by re-admitting a bishop who has denied the full extent of the Nazi genocide of six million Jews. Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum and memorial decried as "scandalous" Benedict’s decision to lift excommunications on British-born Bishop Richard Williamson, who has said there were no gas chambers and only 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps in World War Two. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said, however, that the pontiff’s planned visit to Israel in May was not in doubt. "We believe that the question of excommunicating or not excommunicating a member of the Roman Catholic church is an internal matter for the church," said Yad Vashem’s Robert Rozet.

Jewish Agency official slams bishop rehabilitation
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/25/2009
A senior official in Israel’s Jewish Agency on Sunday slammed a decision by Pope Benedict XVI to rehabilitate a British bishop who denied the existence of the Holocaust. "I think it’s a scandal," said Amos Hermon, head of the Task Force Against Anti-Semitism at the Jewish Agency. "It is something we cannot understand. " The pope’s decision to rescind the excommunication of four bishops came just days after one of them, Richard Williamson, told Swedish TV that evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews being deliberately gassed. " Hermon told a news conference that Richardson’s rehabilitation insulted Israel and more than 200,000 Holocaust survivors who live in Israel. "For us, it’s (the Holocuast is) events" and commemorations, he said. "For them, it’s their whole life. "

Despite U.S. offer of partial immunity, Talansky not coming back to testify here
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
United States authorities said yesterday they were prepared to offer partial immunity to American businessman Morris Talansky, the key witness in a corruption probe currently underway against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. According to the offer, any prospective testimony given by Talansky in an Israeli courtroom will not be used as direct evidence against him in the United States. The testimony may be used in other instances, for example, as a lead to assist the Department of Justice in its investigation, to cross-examine Talansky should he be brought before an American court and as rebuttal to any assertions made by Talansky or his attorneys. The U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) decided last year to open a probe into Talansky’s conduct, a move which came as no surprise to Israel’s police investigators.

Knesset c’tee proposes tougher wiretap legislation
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
The Knesset’s committee of inquiry on wiretaps has recommended new legislation mandating stricter conditions for issuing orders for wiretaps, and tighter supervision of such operations. Among other steps, the parliamentary committee recommends reducing the number of judges authorized to issue a wiretap order, to prevent the police from choosing which judge to approach with a request. The committee concluded its deliberations yesterday and will be submitting its recommendations to the Knesset today. The committee was established in late 2006 at the initiative of the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), following what was deemed to be the possibly illicit wiretapping of then-vice premier Haim Ramon, in connection with allegations that he forcibly kissed a female soldier.

Haaretz probe: Unknown overseas sources paid Lieberman NIS 2.5m
Jonathan Lis Uri Blau Gidi Weitz and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman earned more than NIS 2. 5 million as a salaried employee of his daughter’s company from 2004-2006, Haaretz has learned. During this time, he was neither a Knesset member nor a minister. Yesterday, police detained seven Lieberman associates, including his daughter Michal and his attorney, Yoav Many, for questioning. They are suspected of conspiring to funnel money from an as yet unknown source or sources to Lieberman. Police suspect Lieberman of money laundering, fraud and breach of trust. Sources in the national fraud squad said yesterday that the evidence gathered against Lieberman in recent months was far more serious and substantial than anything that has been previously published. Yesterday’s police action was made possible by a court decision last year to allow investigators to examine thousands of documents that Lieberman had deposited with Many.

The Lieberman case / More political than criminal?
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Eight years ago, when his twin careers as a politician and police suspect were both just beginning, Avigdor Lieberman quoted a conversation he had with Aryeh Deri of Shas, then a veteran of both arenas. "He told me that the number of [Knesset] seats rises with the number of [police] cases," the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman recalled. On the eve of the 2009 elections, Lieberman is proof that his colleague was right. Yisrael Beiteinu often claims that the opposite is true: The police cases multiply as his political star rises. But yesterday’s detention of Lieberman’s daughter for questioning seems likely to give the party at least another seat. Indeed, if you like conspiracy theories, you would have to suspect the police of working for Lieberman’s campaign. Just look at the Russian-language Internet sites, where Lieberman has once again become the persecuted. . .

Lieberman: I’m used to police probes before election time
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday evening addressed for the first time a police investigation opened this week against him, his daughter, and several of his associates, saying that such investigations are "a tradition for me before elections. "Speaking at an Yisrael Beitenu rally in Natzrat-Illit, Lieberman mentioned how two weeks before the1999 elections he was accused of insulting a municipal employee, and that with elections approaching in February he felt that "there was only one thing missing ? a police probe still hasn’t been launched. " Lieberman also claimed that he is still painted as an outsider in Israeli politics, saying "a section of the Israeli establishment thinks of me as Yvette [Avigdor’s Russian birth name], a terrible, criminal threat to Israel, while [Israeli Arab MKs] Tibi and Zahalkha are righteous men.

MK Lieberman’s daughter, attorney held in money laundering probe
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
The National Unit for Fraud Investigation on Sunday detained seven people for questioning as part of an investigation into MK Avigdor Lieberman, including Lieberman’s daughter Michal and his attorney Yoav Meni. The police found a series of documents which they say will advance the investigation after conducting searches of the homes of the detained. The investigation into Lieberman opened two-and-a-half years ago following an expose in Haaretz’s Friday supplement in which it was reported that the firebrand Yisrael Beitenu chairman was suspected of money laundering, falsifying of corporation documents and other offences. The police are expected to request an extension Sunday of the remand of some of the seven people. Yisrael Beiteinu remains strong in the polls just two-and-a-half weeks out from the general elections.

Election 2009 / TV ads to focus on Netanyahu, Livni
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
Kadima will be launching its televised campaign ads Tuesday night negatively portraying Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu as repeatedly failing a lie-detector test. The "polygraph series," includes a number of past media reports that present Netanyahu as unreliable. Among them: Netanyahu saying he never voted for disengagement, while he is on record as having voted for it three times; Netanyahu saying that he was asked to become the finance minister of Italy; Netanyahu becoming confused and telling the Knesset that slain tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi was a member of his cabinet when this was not the case. The ad shows a polygraph needle moving and shaking and eventually producing a sketch of the Likud chairman himself. Sources in Kadima say the "polygraph series," a segment of which will be presented each day, is the high point in their campaign. . .

Chavez ’providing aid to Hamas and Hezbollah’, says new book
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
A new book published in the United States alleges that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an active and open supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, providing the Lebanese Shi’ite militia with training for its fighters. In "The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America," authors Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan write that through his support of terror organizations and by providing safe refuge for terrorists, Chavez constitutes a real, concrete threat to the United States. Venezeula earlier this month cut ties with Israel to protest its military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The move came shortly days after Chavez called the attacks on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory a "holocaust. " Last August the Los Angeles Times reported that Western governments fear that Hezbollah is establishing a growing number of operational cells in the South American country. -- See also: About Michael Rowan and Douglas Schoen and Hillary's slimy pollsters

Israel’s Gaza op draws large U.S. audience to Al-Jazeera TV
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
American viewership of Al-Jazeera English rose dramatically during the Israel-Hamas war, partly because the channel had what CNN and other international networks didn’t have: reporters inside Gaza. But the viewers weren’t watching it on television, where the Arab network’s English-language station has almost no U. S. presence. Instead, the station streamed video of Israel’s offensive against Hamas on the Internet and took advantage of emerging online media such as the microblogging Web site Twitter to provide real-time updates. During the 22-day conflict that ended last weekend, the station and its Arabic language sister, as they often do, aired far more graphic pictures than U. S. networks of dead and injured Palestinian children and women. The images, viewed widely across the Mideast, generated enormous sympathy for Gazans in the Muslim world.

U.S. to offer witness in Olmert probe partial immunity over testimony given in Israel
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 1/26/2009
United States authorities said Sunday they were prepared to offer partial immunity to American businessman Morris Talansky, the key witness in a corruption probe currently underway against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. According to the offer, any prospective testimony given by Talansky in an Israeli courtroom will not be used as direct evidence against him. The testimony may be used in other instances, for example, as a lead to assist the Department of Justice in its investigation, to cross-examine Talansky should he be brought before an American court, and as rebuttal to any assertions made by Talansky or his attorneys. The U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) decided last year to open a probe into Talansky’s conduct, a move which came as no surprise to Israel’s police investigators.

University of Utah adds Ex Libris software
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/25/2009
University of Utah university librarian Joyce Ogburn said, “Primo will lay the foundations for future collaboration with other academic libraries in the region. ” The University of Utah, together with the College of Eastern Utah, has chosen Ex Libris Group solutions to replace their legacy software system. The University of Utah selected the Primo discovery and delivery solution and the Aleph integrated library system. This brings the international Primo community to over 150 institutions in 22 countries. As a member of the Association of Research Libraries, one of the University’s most important criteria in the selection process was the ability to accommodate and make available a complex range of content from existing and future repositories. Together these solutions encompass both sides of library activitythe management of collections. . .

Water problems ‘resurface’ in Jordan
Middle East Online 1/24/2009
AMMAN - Jordan’s plight with drought has been highlighted this year with almost no rain falling on the kingdom, prompting officials to call on citizens to pray for rain on Friday 26 December. Fear is growing that if no rain falls in the coming few days, the agriculture season for vegetables, wheat and barley would be wasted. In the Jordan valley, one of the kingdom’s main vegetables suppliers, rain has been scarce and farmers fear for the viability of their crops. Farmers from Deir Ala, in the northern Jordan Valley, told IRIN the government stopped pumping water to their farms to preserve the water for drinking purposes amid declining levels of rain. "What can I do with my plants? "asked Mohammad Barawi, a farmer. Also in the southern city of Kerak prospects for this year’s wheat and barley produce are bleak as farmers worry that without water seeds might rot underground.


An assault on the peace process
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 1/26/2009
      Israeli forces used aerial bombing, tank shelling and armoured bulldozers to eliminate the productive capacity of some of Gaza’s most important manufacturing plants during their 22 days of military action in the Gaza Strip. The attacks – like those which destroyed at least 4,000 homes, left some residential areas resembling an earthquake zone and more than 50,000 people in temporary shelters at their peak – destroyed or severely damaged 219 factories, Palestinian industrialists say.
     Leaders of Gaza’s business community – who have long stayed aloof from the different Palestinian political factions – say that much of the 3 per cent of industry still operating after the 18-month shutdown caused by Israel’s economic siege has now been destroyed.
     Chris Gunness, chief spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said that widespread destruction of "civilian economic infrastructure" was a strike "at the heart of the peace process" because "economic stability is an essential component of a durable peace."
     While the main impact of the destruction is likely to be on the already politically fraught prospects of medium to long-term reconstruction in Gaza, it it is unlikely to make efforts to help its many stricken and displaced residents any easier. It is those humanitarian relief efforts for which the main British aid agencies are appealing for help in the advertisement so far barred by the BBC. Meanwhile, the UNRWA is separately pressing donors for $345m for immediate repairs to homes still standing and to its own damaged premises.

Israel’s Lies
Henry Siegman, London Review of Books 1/24/2009
      Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.
     I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.
     Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division....

’The Incendiary IDF’
Kenneth Roth, Palestine Chronicle 1/24/2009
      ’Part of the problem was the IDF’s expansive definition of a military target.’
     Throughout the recent war in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) insisted that it took extraordinary care to spare civilians. But it then prevented journalists and human rights monitors from entering Gaza during the conflict to independently verify this claim.
     Now that Human Rights Watch and other observers have been let in, it has become clear that hundreds of Palestinian civilians were not the only casualties of the fighting. So was the credibility of the IDF.
     Part of the problem was the IDF’s expansive definition of a military target. It attacked a range of civilian facilities, from government offices to police stations, on the theory that they all provided at least indirect support to Hamas militants. But by that theory, Hamas would have been entitled to target virtually any government building in Israel on the ground that its office workers indirectly supported the IDF. That would make a mockery of the distinction between civilians and combatants that lies at the heart of the laws of war, which require direct support to military activity before civilians become legitimate military targets. Behind the unsupportable legal claim seemed to lie a determination to make Gazans suffer for the presence of Hamas--a prohibited purpose for using military force.

Eyewitness in Gaza: Yesterday and Tomorrow
Ewa Jasiewicz – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 1/24/2009
      We’re like trees, we have our roots and they allow us to grow, little by little, we grow up and then they cut us down. But, whatever they throw at us, whatever they do to us, we are still here and we will still be here – Om Bassim, Jabaliya Camp, January 2009.
     ’Our Home’
     At the beginning of this war, when the bombs first started falling intensively, I remember lying on a mattress, late at night, I don’t remember where, maybe in Beit Hanoun hospital, maybe in Beit Lahiya. As I slipped into sleep, I could hear explosions, thuds, one after the other, some near, some distant, some to our east, to our west, again and again. In my semi-consciousness I felt they were all going off in my house, in my home, that the bombs were exploding in different rooms, upstairs, downstairs, next door, under me, over me. I didn’t feel fear, I felt a closeness, a holding together. Maybe it was a consequence of Gaza being an incarcerated space, a walled camp, so small and close-knit, a prison, but also, a house, a home, with families in every part, every corner, every room, a community of relatives from north to south, every explosion and massacre felt acutely, felt intimately as if it had happened to ones own family, in the home, this home.

Gaza Needs Many Years to Heal
Dr. Mona El-Farra, Palestine Chronicle 1/24/2009
      ’I want to thank you all for your solidarity as well as for your practical support.’
     I am still in Cairo. With a sad heart I am watching home from a distance. The hardest days were when I went to the Rafah Crossing point. I was only one kilometer away from Gaza, but could not enter. I was told that as a Palestinian with dual nationality, I can get in but not out.
     While at the border I was greatly touched by the expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people. I met doctors from Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and many other countries who came to help the people of Gaza in defiance of Israel’s savage attacks on children, women, and men. We must all work on continuing and expanding these solidarity efforts on different levels. We cannot let Israel get away with its crimes against humanity in Gaza.
     I want to thank you all for your solidarity as well as for your practical support. Whether you donated one pound or thousands of pounds, your support and your continuous protests let the people of Gaza feel that they are not alone and will never be forgotten.

’Crime of crimes’
Amira Howeidy, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/22/2009
      Former judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Fouad Riad, tells Amira Howeidy that Israel is guilty of genocide in its 22-day war on Gaza
     Never before in the 60-year-old history of Israel has it been the subject of such intense and vigorous condemnation for what it has been doing since coming into existence: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. While most critics point an accusing finger at its "war crimes" alone, some, like ex-judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Fouad Riad, have the courage to brush diplomatic language aside and call things by their name.
     "What Israel did in Gaza is genocide," Riad tells Al-Ahram Weekly. It "deliberately killed Palestinian children" with the aim of exterminating the population, he says.
     Riad served on the ICTY in The Hague for seven years. In February 2001, Riad and others judged that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre committed in the former Yugoslavia was "genocide". Nothing in the language of international law matches the magnitude of genocide, which is considered the "crime of crimes". It is the most extreme consequence of racial discrimination and ethnic hatred.
     The 1948 Genocide Convention defines genocide as any of a number of acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The horrors of Israel’s peace
Samera Esmeir, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/22/2009
      By war and by peace, Israel aims to destroy the Palestinians, physically and psychologically.
     Three weeks after the war on Gaza, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire but refused to terminate its so-called defensive operations. In response, Hamas declared a ceasefire for one week, until the withdrawal of Israeli troops has been completed. For many in the West, the ceasefire might seem like an occasion to celebrate, for the cessation of military hostilities on both sides will perhaps renew the peace process. But there are reasons to be critical of this ceasefire, since it continues the situation in which Israel acts unilaterally. What we are actually witnessing is a new phase of the catastrophe in Gaza. While the characteristics of this phase are not yet known, Israel’s violence has become ever more evident. And perhaps this is why Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not mention the word "peace" once in the speech he gave to announce the ceasefire. The "peace process" might soon be revealed as the other side of the coin to war -- its continuation by other means -- that simultaneously feeds it.
     There are at least two lessons to be gleaned from the war on Gaza. The first is to consider how both war-making and unilateral ceasefires constitute strategies for the extension of Israel’s power over the Palestinian population in Gaza, as well as for the transformation of that population. Israel unilaterally demands peaceful co- existence with the Palestinians who must resign themselves to imprisonment, or otherwise threatens them with -- and practices -- the destruction of their lives. The Palestinians have two "choices" in the Israeli script: obedience or annihilation....

Vista of endless ruin
Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/22/2009
      With Israel’s guns temporarily silent, Gazans are seeing the full scale of destruction and death Israel visited upon them.
     Gently, two rescue workers pick up the debris, revealing a human body. They ask a third worker to come help them lift the body, now decomposed and liable to come apart. They walk a few steps before the corpse disintegrates. Each worker is now holding a piece of a cadaver. Other workers are still sifting through the rubble of the Al-Samouni family home, southwest of the neighbourhood of Zeitoun in Gaza. The house was shelled on the third day of Israel’s ground offensive, with more than 100 people inside. Dozens were killed or wounded.
     Workers salvaged 15 bodies within five hours. Other bodies had been found immediately after the bombing, but the full search had to wait until the Israelis pulled out. According to Palestinian medical sources, nearly 100 were killed in the Al-Samouni house and nearby buildings.
     At one site after another, civil defence and rescue teams are helped by hundreds of volunteers. Often they extract bodies that have decomposed after days under the rubble -- bodies that have to be handled carefully and with bare hands. Walking from one site to the other, you cannot help but feel the tragedy unfolding as survivors return to their homes, looking beneath the rubble for family and friends. Some pause and look upwards to heaven, tears streaming down their cheeks. Others cry out, unable to contain their grief.

Interview with Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the ISM
Interviewed by Kourosh Ziabari, Palestine Think Tank 1/24/2009
      Adam Shapiro, the symbol of a courageous, pure peace advocate, has long been under fire for his unconditional and categorical criticism of Israeli occupying state.
     Born in 1972, the perseverant and steadfast anti-Zionist campaigner and co-founder of International Solidarity Movement vigorously makes efforts to broadcast the voice of subjugated and downtrodden nation of Palestine.
     Following his meeting with Yasser Arafat in his Mukataa (government center) in Ramallah while it was besieged during the March 2002 Israeli military operation in the West Bank and Gaza, Adam Shapiro attained an international popularity and was put under the spotlight of Zionist media thereafter.
     Despite enduring a stack of insults and invectives from the side of Zionist campaign in the past years, Adam Shapiro neither has relinquished nor alleviated his stance so far; rather intensified his anti-Zionist statements in the particular situations such as the horrendous 22 days of Israeli incursion into Gaza.
     This interview has been done in the midst of Israeli genocide in Gaza as it’s apparent in some points of the conversation; nevertheless, it contains some informative and revealing information which are prone to be read and reflected thoughtfully.

Obama’s Inauspicious Beginning
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 1/25/2009
      With George Bush now dumped into the dustbin of history, millions of people around the world are hoping that the new American president Barak H. Obama will make a genuine departure from the conspicuously criminal policies that characterized his predecessor’s gloomy era.
     Undoubtedly, Bush excelled in the perpetration of evil. He murdered, killed, deceived and lied, thinking he was doing a great service to America and the world.
     His era was drenched with blood, mostly the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, killed unjustly under the misleading rubric of "the war on terror."
     In Palestine, and only three weeks before his unmissed departure, Bush gave the Zio-Nazi state of Israel carte blanche to commit a real genocide in Gaza in which thousands of helpless civilians were brutally massacred and maimed while thousands of homes and other buildings were utterly destroyed.
     And instead of urging Israel to stop the pornographic bloodletting against the captive and virtually defenseless people of Gaza, Bush behaved gleefully and gloatingly, invoking the mendacious mantra that "Israel has the right to defend itself".

Details on the Arrest of Khalid Amayreh
Sherine Bahaa, Palestine Think Tank 1/25/2009
      KHALED AMAYREH, the Al-Ahram Weekly correspondent in the West Bank was arrested Sunday evening by the Preventive Security Forces (PSF) in Hebron. He was released after two days. Amayreh, 52, lives in Dura, 12 miles southwest of Hebron and has worked as the Weekly correspondent since 1997, as well as for a number of other media outlets.
     He has a BA in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois. For a long time, he suffered, as do all Palestinians in the occupied territories, being confined by the occupation to his home village.
     Not long ago, he was prohibited by Israeli forces from leaving Hebron at an Israeli checkpoint, detained and released only after being threatened for his courageous articles documenting Israeli crimes in the Weekly.
     Surprisingly though, this time, Amayreh was not arrested by the Israelis, he was detained by the PSF; the PA police apparatus. This was the fourth time that Amayreh was arrested by the PSF. But this time why was he arrested? He was not in a demonstration, nor was he smuggling weapons to his fellow Palestinians being killed by Israelis on a daily basis.

On The Wrong Side Of History
Uri Avnery, International Middle East Media Center News 1/25/2009
      OF ALL the beautiful phrases in Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, these are the words that stuck in my mind: "You are on the wrong side of history."
     He was talking about the tyrannical regimes of the world. But we, too, should ponder these words
     In the last few days I have heard a lot of declarations from Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert. And every time, these eight words came back to haunt me: "You are on the wrong side of history!"
     Obama was speaking as a man of the 21st century. Our leaders speak the language of the 19th century. They resemble the dinosaurs which once terrorized their neighborhood and were quite unaware of the fact that their time had already passed.
     During the rousing celebrations, again and again the multicolored patchwork of the new president’s family was mentioned.
     All the preceding 43 presidents were white Protestants, except John Kennedy, who was a white Catholic. 38 of them were the descendants of immigrants from the British isles. Of the other five, three were of Dutch ancestry (Theodor and Franklin D. Roosevelt , as well as Martin van Buren) and two of German descent (Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower).