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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
5 February, 2009

Cairo talks end without Gaza deal
Al Jazeera 2/5/2009
The latest round of talks between Egypt and Hamas has ended in Cairo without a final agreement on a truce in Gaza. Egyptian officials had expressed hopes a deal would be signed on Thursday, but Hamas negotiators returned to Gaza and Damascus overnight with a number of issues still unresolved. Despite the setback, Hamas delegates are expected to return to Egypt on Saturday and officially accept an at least 12-month truce with Israel. Mohammed Nasr, a member of the Hamas delegation that travelled to Cairo, told Al Jazeera that some of the proposals discussed were "ambiguous". "Our brothers in Egypt, they need some time to contact the other side [Israel] in order to get clarifications and answers to our questions and issues raised by the [Hamas] movement," he said. Both sides declared separate ceasefires in January after three weeks of an Israel assault in Gaza that left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead. -- See also: Egypt holds $11m top Hamas official tried to carry into Gaza

Settlers bulldoze land, erect outpost in Nablus area village
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli settlers used bulldozers to destroy farmland in the West Bank village of Yasuf late on Wednesday before deploying mobile housing “caravans” that signal the creation of a new settlement outpost. Sources in the village said that dozens of settlers arrived in the Jabal An-Naqqar area of the village. The community is already occupied on its Western side by an existing settlement called Kfar Tappuah. The head of the local village council, Abdel Rahim Saleh, discussed the issue with the mayor of the nearby town of Salfit, Munir Al-Aboushi, and other officials in the area, in order to coordinate a response to the new outpost. Saleh said he is planning to work with human rights organizations to find a way to avoid the villagers losing their land. The Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din has asked the villagers to compile their land deeds in preparation. . .

Local mayor to PNN: we were surrounded by settlers and soldiers
Palestine News Network 2/5/2009
Al Khader -- The Mayor of Bethlehem’s Al Khader Village told PNN that he and a group of local officials were harassed and prevented from remaining on Palestinian farm land today. This afternoon Mayor Ramzi Salah was with a crew from the Bethlehem Governorate’s Directorate of Agriculture. They were touring lands for a pending construction project that includes a road and agricultural improvements. Additional land belonging to Al Khader was confiscated by Israeli forces long ago for the Efrat Settlement bloc that continues to expand throughout southern Bethlehem. Salah told PNN that a group of Israeli soldiers and settlers surrounded the officials while on their walk and detained them for three hours. The Mayor said, "The Jewish settlement of Efrat is near Al Khader. It’s on Bethlehem land.

EU, UN: Israeli border closure hampering Gaza aid effort
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – High-ranking UN and EU officers will meet on Friday to reiterate calls for Israel to fully open Gaza’s border crossings to allow the passage of humanitarian aid. According to UNRWA, the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees, “Currently, the number of trucks allowed by Israel to enter Gaza daily to deliver much-needed relief supplies remains insufficient and only a limited array of items are being permitted to enter through the crossings. ”“This is hampering efforts to restore basic social services in Gaza and repair critical infrastructure,” the agency said. Filippo Grandi, UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner General and Christian Berger, the European Commission Representative in Jerusalem, are also meeting to sign a 66 million Euro donation from the EU to UNRWA. On Thursday morning, Israel opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing to allow 121 trucks through,. . .

Detection of new tunnel in Al Aqsa compound threatens Silwan mosque and environs
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 2/5/2009
PNN exclusive -- The Elad Settlement group and the Israeli Antiquities Authority are moving ahead with excavations under the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, Al Haram Ash Sharif. This is the type of digging that led a UNRWA school to partially collapse in Silwan this week and parts of 40 neighborhood houses to crumble over the past several. The threat to the character of East Jerusalem as the Israeli administration continues its stated program of ensuring a "Jewish majority. "The Silwan Mosque is south of Al Aqsa. Tunnels underneath the neighborhood are being dug throughout hundreds of meters reaching the southwestern corner of Al Aqsa. The Israelis sometimes deny the excavations while at others justify them by claiming that there may be a Jewish temple underneath the Muslim holy site. Digging a network of tunnels continues, the Al Aqsa Institution said today.

NRB: Israel’s assassination of Islamic Jihad leader in West Bank call for escalation
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – The assassination of Al-Quds Brigades leader Ala Abu Ar-Rub in his home in the West Bank Wednesday night is a “clear message to abort all efforts towards truce between the Palestinian resistance factions and Israel,” said an NRB statement Thursday. The National Resistance Brigades Armed, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said “the killing of a Jihad leader in the West Bank city of Qabatiya…[gives factions] one option which is to respond directly, holding Israel responsible for any escalation that might take place in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. ”NRB maintained its stance that resistance factions have the right to respond to any assault or violation against Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. “Israel has not stopped its assaults against the unarmed Palestinians” in Gaza, said NRB, and has not committed to its own terms.

Egypt demands international delegates, reporters and supporters to leave Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Wednesday that foreign delegates who entered the Gaza Strip recently were asked by the Egyptian authorities to leave Gaza via the Rafah border terminal before Thursday. The General Border Administration on the Palestinian side of the terminal said that Egyptian Authorities informed them that Wednesday would be the last day in which the terminal would be partially opened for international delegates, parliamentarians and international supporters. Egypt said that the terminal would be totally sealed on Thursday and will be opened only for urgent cases, but did not specify the reasons that pushed them towards this decision. Several internationals who left Gaza said that when they crossed into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah terminal, they were forced to sign papers vowing to leave Gaza before February 5th.

Rafah crossing closed after partial opening
PNN exclusive, Palestine News Network 2/5/2009
Rafah -- The Gaza Strip crossing between Rafah and Egypt’s northern Sinai is entirely closed as of this morning. Already largely shut, the border had been the route possible for the introduction of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian foreign ministry issued a statement two days ago outlining its new policy regarding humanitarian aid. With it was a new mandate that food and medicine had to pass through the Israeli crossing of Karem Abu Salem. The Israeli administration continues to force total control over the Strip. Some medical emergencies may be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip but in large part the "pre-war" conditions of siege and closure are still in effect. An Egyptian official said today that the crossing would be closed to medical aid, staff, relief delegates and media.

Settlers bulldoze Palestinian farm lands near Nablus
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
On Thursday, a group of Israeli settlers bulldozed Palestinian owned farm lands, located near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Local farmers said that Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Tafoah, near the village of Yassof, south of Nablus, arrived at midday with a bulldozer and destroyed crops and trees that belong to the farmers. The farmers said that soldiers provided protection for the settlers and villagers added that this is not the first time they have been attacked like this. Settlers have increased their attacks since the beginning of this year, witnesses report. [end]

Secret database shows Israeli government to be active partner in settlement land grab
Mondoweiss 1/30/2009
Israel’s settlement database translated to English - Ha’aretz has busted open a huge story today: "Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement." The story outlines a database created by the Israeli defense establishment to gather: credible and accessible information at the ready to contend with legal actions brought by Palestinian residents, human rights organizations and leftist movements challenging the legality of construction in the settlements and the use of private lands to establish or expand them. The article adds, "the painstakingly amassed data was labeled political dynamite." Well the dynamite has exploded. There is much that can, and will, be said about this report. The initial take home message is that whenever you read or see a story where the Israeli government is presented as a counter balance to the "radical settler movement" you now know this is false. -- See also: English translation (PDF)

Israeli army arrests brothers at Attarah checkpoint; detains parents for hour
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested two brothers north of Ramallah at the Attarah military checkpoint on Thursday. A relative of the young men said “ Israeli soldiers on stopped the car carrying the two young men and their parents heading from Ramallah to Jenin, searched the vehicle, detained the whole family for one hour and then arrested the two brothers. ”They were identified as 21-year-old Farhan As-Sa’di and Dia, 18. [end]

VIDEO - Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem tells jewish community that Israel is prepairing to strike Iran soon
D. H. Williams, Daily Newscaster (AU) 1/31/2009
Israel’s Ambassador to Australia caught on tape warning a group of Jewish Australian’s that the nation state of Israel plans to take offensive action against Iran in the next month[s]. While speaking to the Jewish community Ambassador Yuval Rotem let Israel’s plans toward Iran slip out. Referring to Iran Ambassador Rotem said, “A realignment of forces that can handle the main strategic challenge we are all going to face in the upcoming month[s]. And there is going to be one. ” Ambassador Rotem realizing he was being recored quickly asked the camera to be turned off.

Israeli forces seize boy from Bethlehem area village
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a boy from the West Bank village of Husan, near Bethlehem before dawn on Thursday. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the village at 4am and stormed Hamamrah family house and searched it. The soldiers detained 14-year-old Shaker Abd Al-Wahab Hamamrah. It is not known where Hamamrah is being held. [end]

High school student seized by Israeli forces at Tulkarem checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Tulkarm – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers seized a student from the West Bank village of Kur, near Tulkarem, while he was crossing the Jabara checkpoint on Thursday. The detainee,18-year-old Omar Ismat Jayyusi is a high school student on his way to Tulkarem when he was arrested by Israeli forces. [end]

Israel kidnaps 18-year-old boy having hearing and speech impairment
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The family of 18-year-old Palestinian young man called Yousef See’ifan, having hearing and speech problems, said that the Israeli occupation authority has been holding their son for more than 10 days without revealing his fate. The family added that their son suffers from hearing and language impairment by 70 percent and was kidnapped as he was returning to his home in the Shuyukh town coming from the nearby Ras Al-Arud area. The family stated that the boy was not aware of the existence of clashes between IOF troops and citizens because he could not hear the voices of young men who were warning him of entering the area, adding that Israeli soldiers physically assaulted him despite the fact that some citizens told them about his medical condition. The family noted that the IOA prevented the Red Cross lawyer from visiting the boy and told him that See’ifan was hospitalized after he had health problems.

Israeli Navy intercepts aid boat bound for desperate Gaza
Daily Star 2/6/2009
BEIRUT: A Lebanese aid ship bound for Gaza was fired upon and boarded by the Israeli Navy on Thursday, the trip’s organizers and journalists onboard have said. Israeli officials initially refused to verify the reports, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak then confirmed that the ship had been boarded and was being escorted to the Israeli coastal town of Ashdod. "At first the ship understood we were prohibiting it from heading to Gaza and steered toward Al-Arish [Egypt]," Barak said at a press conference, adding that "from Egyptian territorial waters it tried to slip into Gaza waters. That is when the Israeli Navy boarded it, and it is now taking it to Ashdod. " The Togolese-flagged Tali was trying to deliver about 60 tons of aid, including medical supplies, food and children’s toys, to the besieged Gaza Strip, still in the midst of a humanitarian crisis after Israel’s three week bombardment. . .

Arab nations appeal to United Nations to stop Israeli ’piracy’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Arab nations turned to the United Nations for help Thursday in persuading Israel to release a cargo ship it intercepted that had been headed for the Gaza Strip. Lebanese diplomat Caroline Ziade urgently appealed to members of the 15-nation Security Council and to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying her government calls on the international community to press Israel to immediately release the ship and let it deliver tons of medicine, food and toys. "My government condemns the Israeli actions and considers them a blatant and flagrant breach to international law and international humanitarian law," she wrote. The Israeli navy fired at and boarded the ship before towing it to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. The Israeli military said the people aboard would be questioned and handed over to immigration authorities and the 60 tons of aid supplies transferred to Gaza by land.

Army: 'No weapons found onboard the Lebanese ship'
Saed Bannoura & Agnecies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
After attacking the Lebanese ship which was carrying humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and forcing the ship to dock in Ashdod port, the Israeli authorities searched the ship and did not find any guns and combat tools onboard. Shortly after the ship entered the Gaza regional waters, the Israeli army attacked it after surrounding it with Navy gunships and military helicopters. Al Jazeera reporter said that soldier boarded the ship while pointing their automatic guns at the passengers, and violently attacked them. He added that Israeli security personnel intend to interrogate the passenger who insisted to reach Gaza in order to deliver the humanitarian supplies. After searching the ship, the army found 15 water bottles and dozens of kilograms of medical and food supplies. The ship is said to be loaded with 60 tons of humanitarian aid, including medical aid, food items, clothes and children toys.

Report: Israeli navy fires on Lebanese aid ship
Hanan Greenberg and AP, YNetNews 2/5/2009
Ship carrying activists, 60 tons supplies to Gaza attacked by Israeli gunboats, Al-Jadeed and Al-Jazeera journalists on board say; no casualties. TV station says troops boarded ship, threatened crew - Reporters on board a cargo ship carrying activists and supplies from Lebanon to Gaza said Israeli gunboats fired on the vessel. Reporters from Al-Jadeed and Al-Jazeera TVs said the Israeli navy fired three times on the ship. The shooting caused no casualties. The local Al-Jadeed station says Israeli troops then boarded the ship and threatened the crew. It said the ship was surrounded by 18 Israeli gunboats demanding the crew turn back. The Israeli army confirmed the report, adding that the boat was towed to the Ashdod port and that the crew was taken in for questioning. The journalists claimed that the Navy had contacted the ship’s captain over the radio and warned him not to continue towards Gaza.

IDF impounds Lebanese Gaza aid ship
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 2/5/2009
The navy intercepted and commandeered a Lebanese cargo ship carrying humanitarian aid after it tried breaking the Israeli sea blockade on the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The Togo-flagged Tali left Lebanon on Tuesday, carrying some 60 tons of water, food and medicine, as well as 18 people, including Syrian and Lebanese nationals. On Wednesday, the navy contacted the ship and told the captain that it would not be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip. The captain told the navy that the vessel would sail to El-Arish in Egypt. On Thursday morning, though, after the ship was already in Egyptian waters, it tried to break the blockade and sail into Gaza. The navy again contacted the ship and warned it to turn around. "They told us that they’re determined to get to Gaza and that they do not plan to stop," explained a senior naval officer involved in the operation.

Efforts to break the siege thwarted, Lebanese aid ship assaulted
PNN, Palestine News Network 2/5/2009
Gaza -- As part of the maritime campaign of nonviolent resistance the Popular Committee against the Siege in Gaza was ready to greet a Lebanese boat carrying humanitarian supplies. Instead of welcoming the ship, chairman of the committee and member of the Legislative Council, Jamal Al Khudari, called this afternoon for urgent international intervention to free the vessel and crew. An Israeli aircraft flew overhead as a warship circled the Lebanese boat as it was en route to the Gaza port. Besides opening fire on the shores of the Strip the Israelis forced the aid shipment away from Gaza and into the Israeli port of Ashdod. The passengers are now being interrogated by Israeli forces. Al Khudari said earlier that the lives of the crew were in danger after the Israelis destroyed the communication devices on board while the boat was still at sea.

Israel’s navy attacks Lebanese aid ship bound for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two Israeli warships assaulted then intercepted a Lebanese ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza late on Wednesday and redirected the vessel to Ashdod Thursday morning, according to journalists on board the vessel. Nine passengers and crew members are being held and questioned by Israeli authorities. Israeli troops attacked the Lebanese ship as it entered Gaza waters, firing on the ship and crew and blocking passage into the coastal area. The ship was reportedly directed by Israeli authorities to divert its course and land in Egypt’s Al-Arish port 40kms south of Gaza, but circled in territorial waters and made a second attempt to enter the besieged area. When the ship attempted its second entry it was boarded by Israeli naval officers who beat pointed weapons at crew members and passengers.

Senior Fatah official holds Israel responsible for safety of Lebanese ship
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Abdallah Abdallah, head of the political committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council, expressed his appreciation and support for all of those on board the Lebanese ship attacked by Israel Thursday en route to Gaza. The voyage, he said, represented the support from all of the Lebanese people for the Palestinians in Gaza. He denounced the Israeli piracy that forced the ship to the Israeli port of Ashdod and preventing it from delivering its load of aid to Gaza. He demanded the United Nations and Human Rights organizations take a serious stance against such actions. [end]

Lebanese aid boat docks in Ashdod
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 2/5/2009
Lebanese ship purportedly transporting aid to Gaza found to be carrying only 150 bottles of water, several dozen kilograms of supplies despite capacity for many thousands of kilos. Greek Archbishop Hilarion Capucci among passengers taken for questioning - After the drama at high seas, the ship that left Lebanon to deliver aid to Gaza docked at Ashdod port on Thursday afternoon. A naval officer who was took part in the operation to prevent the ship from breaking the blockade imposed on Hamas-controlled Gaza said that the ship ignored repeated warnings - which included the discharging of weapons in the air. The operation culminated with IDF troops boarding the ship and naval vessels escorting it to Ashdod. No weapons were found on board the ship in a sweep conducted by naval officers.

Israeli navy intercepts Lebanese boat on its way to Gaza
Sam Jones and agencies, The Guardian 2/5/2009
A Lebanese boat said to be carrying ­humanitarian aid but which Israel claims is carrying activists, has been intercepted by the Israeli navy on its way to the Gaza Strip. Reporters from the Arab TV stations al-Jadeed and al-Jazeera, who were on the vessel, said the Israelis fired at the ship before boarding it and beating the crew. The journalists said they were unable to show pictures of the incident as the Israeli force smashed their broadcast equipment. The Israeli military has denied firing on the ship. The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, confirmed that the ship had been stopped and said that it was being towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod. "The navy boarded the vessel, stopped it and it is now bringing it to Ashdod," Barak said. According to Reuters, a correspondent for the Doha-based al-Jazeera said the vessel was carrying humanitarian aid when it came under attack.

Israeli forces seize Gaza aid ship
Al Jazeera 2/6/2009
The Israeli navy has captured and diverted a ship from Lebanon carrying more than 60 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip. Al Jazeera’s correspondent aboard the Al-Ikhwa (The Brotherhood) ship said the navy first opened fire, then five Israeli soldiers boarded the ship, beating and threatening the passengers. "They are pointing guns against us - they are kicking us and beating us. They are threatening our lives," Al Jazeera’s Salam Khoder said. Communications with the ship broke off shortly thereafter. According to the owner of the vessel, the Israelis destroyed its communication equipment and confiscated the phones of those on board. The Israeli military told Al Jazeera it had captured the Lebanese vessel and taken it to Ashdod, where authorities were examining its cargo. The passengers and crew, meanwhile, were being questioned by police.

Free Gaza: Attack on Lebanese ship racist
Yael Levy, YNetNews 2/5/2009
While Livni claims aid ship was detained due to change in policy, activist says it was anti-Muslim act -The IDF responded aggressively to a Lebanese vessel’s attempt to reach Gaza Thursday. Navy forces seized control of the ship after firing shots into the air to warn the activists on board against attempting to break the naval blockade. A number of boats belonging to the Free Gaza movement have succeeded in reaching Gaza in recent months, without being intercepted by Israel. This time, the movement claims, the boat was detained because the activists on board were Lebanese, and therefore subject to different treatment by the IDF. The Lebanese boat is not directly related to the movement, but Huwaida Araf, a Free Gaza spokeswoman, commented on the matter. "It’s total racism," Araf told Ynet.

Nazareth mother camps out in protest of Israeli refusal to allow children to leave Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Two of the Al-Qadi children are in Gaza and Israeli authorities have refused to let them out or their mother and siblings to enter the area to visit them, reported the Israeli Hebrew daily Haaretz on Thursday. The Al-Qadi family is from Nazareth but has spend the last several days in a tent set up near the Erez crossing, the main human transfer point from Israel into Gaza. The family is protesting the Israeli decision and is demanding that the children, who have Israeli identification cards and were visiting their father when Israel began its war on Gaza, be released. Salma Al-Qadi and her young children Suleiman, Ali and Mariam are now waiting at Erez to see their family members, 18-year-old O’la 18 and 16-year-old Ameer.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 29 Jan. - 04 Feb. 2009
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 2/5/2009
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the OPT and Continue to Impose a Total Siege on the Population of the Gaza Strip *Two Palestinians were killed by IOF and two others died of previous injuries sustained in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. *One of the victims was extra-judicially executed by IOF. *A member of the Palestinian resistance was killed by IOF and a Palestinian civilian in the Gaza Strip died of injuries sustained by IOF. *Fourty four Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 22 children, a pregnant woman, and an international human rights defender, were wounded by IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. *IOF warplanes bombarded targets in the Gaza Strip. *A workshop was completely destroyed and a number of civilian houses were damaged.

Israeli forces detain five in Nablus area
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized five young Palestinians during raids in villages around the West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian local sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that Israeli forces raided Asira Al-Qibliya, south of Nablus and detained 18-year-old Mahmoud Mohammad Hassan Shihadah. In the village of Salim, east of the city, they detained Mohammad Abd An-Nayef Issa. In the village of Tell,. Local sources said Israeli troops invaded at 1am, detaining three young men: Mu’awiya Mohammad Zeidan,18, Arabi Ashraf As-Seifi,19 and Issam Issa Ramadan,18. [end]

Israeli Army kidnaps eight Palestinians from a village near Nablus
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
The Israeli military kidnapped eight Palestinian civilians during an attack that targeted the village of Taal, located near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday morning. Villagers said that at lest five Israeli armored vehicles stormed the village before troops searched and ransacked a number of homes before kidnapping eight men, and taking them to an unknown location. Among those kidnapped where Assem Ramadan, age 23, Moa’wiah Zidan, age 18, Adi Ramadan, age 19 and Ahmad Wahabi, age 19. [end]

Soldiers shoot Palestinian with grenade
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 2/5/2009
IDF patrol shoots Palestinian approaching border fence with hand grenade after firing warning shots -IDF forces prevented an attack by a Palestinian man Thursday by firing shots that apparently killed the assailant. The Palestinian approached the border fence in southern Gaza and pulled out a hand grenade, which exploded when the troops fired at him. At around 9 pm the man was spotted near the Sufa crossing, and Golani Brigade troops were alerted. They entered the Palestinian territory and called to the man to halt, but the latter pulled a grenade from his bag. The IDF stated that the soldiers first fired warning shots in the man’s direction, but he continued his approach until they were forced to shoot him. He was apparently killed by the explosion of the grenade he was holding. The IDF stated that despite the low profile character of the incident,. . .

Soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man near the Gaza-Israel border
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
Israeli military sources reported on Thursday evening that a Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near the Gaza-Israeli border. The army claimed that the man was armed and tried to throw a grenade at the soldiers. The army said that the grenade exploded in near the Palestinian man due to soldiers’ gunfire. The army also briefly invaded the area where the man came from and searched it, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. Israeli Ynet News reported that the Palestinian man was shot and killed when he approached the border. According to the Ynet, the man approached the Sufa Crossing before the soldiers opened fire at him, and that he was shot after he pulled a grenade and ignored orders to stop. Army sources reported that the army needs to remain on high alert across the borders with Gaza, and that soldiers were instructed "treat any incident in which a. . .

IDF troops kill Palestinian militant near Gaza border
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Thursday evening killed a Palestinian militant who approached the Gaza-Israel border and drew a grenade. The grenade subsequently exploded as a result of the soldiers’ gunfire, killing the militant. There were no casualties among the troops, who were from the Golani infantry brigade. The incident took place near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. The troops later searched the area from which the militant had come, Army Radio said, then returned to Israeli territory. The incident came a few hours after senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad headed to Cairo to meet with Egyptian mediators over negotiations for a truce with Hamas in Gaza. The cease-fire that ended Israel’s 22-day offensive against Hamas in the coastal territory two weeks ago has been ruptured by intermittent fighting.

B’tselem: Administrative detainees sometimes held for years
Ali Waked, YNetNews 2/5/2009
Rights organization claims number of Palestinians held without indictment has decreased, but claim 10% of them have been held for over two years -Security forces are currently holding hundreds of Palestinians in administrative detention, sometimes for years, without filing an indictment against them, a B’tselem report says. The report, published Thursday, also says the number of prisoners held in administrative detention decreased considerably in 2008, from 813 to 546. The Shin Bet refused comment on the claims. B’tselem’s report, which deals mainly with the issue of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, says the State takes advantage of its legal authority to detain prisoners without indictment. The detainees are permitted to appeal their arrest, but are prevented from seeing the evidence against them. -- See also: Israel holding 42 Palestinians in administrative detention for over two years and Prisoners from Gaza were held in appalling conditions

B’Tselem: 548 Palestinians in administrative detention, 455 dead before Gaza war
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an- Forty-two Palestinians have been in Israeli custody without charges or being seen by a judge for at least two years, announced the Israeli Human Rights group B’Tselem in their 2008 annual report. Of these men, 23 have been in administrative detention for over two and a half years, including three who have been detained between three and four and a half years, and two over four and a half consecutive years, the report revealed. The vast majority of administrative detainees (372) have been held without charge or trial for at least two consecutive periods. At the time of publication the report held the total number of Palestinians being held without charges in Israeli prison at 548. Six are under 18. This figure is down from 2007, when the organization counted 813 at the year’s end. The total number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli custody at the end of December 2008 was 7,904. [? ] -- See also: Israel holding 42 Palestinians in administrative detention for over two years and Prisoners from Gaza were held in appalling conditions

Report: Israel removing names of soldiers in Gaza war from legal documents
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Removing the names of soldiers in the Israeli army from the arrest warrants they signed during the Israeli war on Gaza is proof of the condemnable nature of their actions, said the Palestinian Prisoners’ Studies Center Thursday. Israeli forces detained dozens of Gazans during the war, 41 of which were sent to the Negev prison camp. As they were admitted to the prisons their arresting soldiers signed the Israeli prison forms releasing them from custody. The names have been since blacked out of the records in what appears to be an attempt to hide the identities of soldiers who may face prosecution. The Prisoners’ Center confirmed that reports of the ill-treatment of the Negev prisoners and stressed that the soldiers who mishandled them should be prosecuted. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that officials have begun removing the names of soldiers. . .

Poll # 167: (72.0 %) Evaluated their Economic Situation as ’Bad’
PCPO, MIFTAH 2/5/2009
Poll No. 167 Date: 04. Feb. 2009The most recent poll prepared by Dr. Nabil Kukali revealed that:(72. 0 %) evaluated their economic situation as ’bad’. (34. 1 %)believe that Hamas has won the Gaza war. (54. 4 %)hold Israel responsible for the war that recently flamed in Gaza. (43. 5 %)believe that Hamas’ power has increased after the Gaza war. (40. 6 %)are in favor of Fateh, (31. 4 %) of Hamas. (61. 2 %)oppose the deployment of multinational (UN) forces in Gaza Strip. (46. 0 %)propose for the present the formation of a national unity government. (57. 8 %)were in favor of the participation of Khaled Misha’l and some factions’ heads in the Doha’s Summit Conference. (51. 3 %)of the Palestinians are of the opinion that Hamas is navigating the country towards the wrong direction, (46 %) believe Fateh is doing that. Beit Sahour – The Information Bureau:In the most recent poll prepared by Dr.

West Bank UNRWA workers strike for higher pay
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Workers employed by the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees went on strike accross the West Bank on Thursday, demanding higher pay. Striking UNRWA workers held demonstrations in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jericho on Thursday to highlight their demands. At the UN Teachers’ College in Ramallah, union head Shaker Ar-Resheq said, “This demonstration is in protest of the rejection of our demands by the UN administration. ”Ar-Resheq said UN workers are demanding a pay increase to reflect rising prices, and two days off a week, similar to PA employees and UN workers in other countries. “The UN administration did not review the demands which we submitted before carrying out this demonstration,” adding that the crisis in Gaza had exhausted the UN budget in the Palestinian territoriesHe explained that the workers “do not want to continue with. . .

Israeli court decides to demolish Palestinian village in W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- About 25 Palestinian families would be forced to leave their homes and agricultural lands in the village of Khirbet Tana, located within the territory of the Beit Furik town, east of Nablus, after the Israeli high court rejected the objection made by human rights organizations on behalf of the families. The objection called for not demolishing the villagers’ houses and for preparing a structural blueprint for the village instead of taking such an unjust step in violation of human rights. The human rights organizations confirmed that the Israeli arbitrary policy of land planning in the occupied Palestinian lands do not allow the villagers, the natives of Khirbet Tana, to obtain building permits which forces them to choose between the unauthorized construction or to remain without housing. During the court proceedings, the representative of the IOA admitted that. . .

U.S., EU experts consider naval force to stop Gaza arms smuggling
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
The U. S. and other countries are considering using an international naval force to stem the flow of smuggled arms to Gaza, officials said Thursday at the end of two-day talks. Experts from the U. S. , Canada and eight European countries met in Copenhagen to discuss ways to stop arms smuggling to the Hamas-controlled territory. No decision was taken but an international naval force was one of the options on the table, said Michael Zilmer-Johns, a senior diplomat at the Danish Foreign Ministry. " This is one of the tools that might be considered," he told reporters after the meeting ended. "There’s a problem and there’s a need to solve it. "Israel and the European Union sent observers to the workshop, while Egypt declined an invitation. Organizers gave no reason.

Clinton praises Olmert on transfer of funds to Gaza
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 2/5/2009
PM’s office says secretary of state thanked him for decision to send $43 million to cash-strapped Gaza, said move would assuredly bolster Palestinian moderates. But ministers Barak and Livni opposed the move, saying Hamas would appropriate funds intended for PA-affiliated workers -US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke this evening with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and thanked him for his decision to transfer NIS 175 million ($43 million) in cash to the Gaza Strip. Olmert’s office said Clinton praised the decision, despite the domestic opposition he faced, and said move would strengthen Palestinian moderates. Both Defense MinisterEhud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni contested the move, announced by the prime minister on Thursday afternoon.

Clinton lauds ’courageous’ Olmert approval of NIS 175m transfer to Gaza
Barak Ravid and Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s ’courageous’ decision to allow the transfer of NIS 175 million from the West Bank to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The money is earmarked for paying the January salaries of Palestinian Authority employees in the coastal territory. Speaking by phone with Olmert, Clinton also called the move important for strengthening moderates in the PA. Olmert told her that he reached the decision despite opposition within the government in order to bolster the moderates at Hamas’ expense. Even though the money will not come from Israel, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposed the decision. They argued that the cash is likely to end up in the coffers of Hamas, against which Israel recently waged a 22-day offensive in Gaza.

Olmert allows transfer of 175 million NIS from West Bank into Gaza banks
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Cash for 70,000 PA civil servant salaries was given the okay for transfer from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip Thursday evening. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he would allow 175 million NIS to be transferred from West Bank financial institutions into Gaza banks. The Israeli press reported stiff objections to allowing the fund transfer from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Army Minister Ehud Barak, who claimed the cash would only fuel Hamas. [end]

Israeli envoy in Cairo as Hamas seeks clarification on truce plan
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/6/2009
CAIRO: A senior Israeli official was due in Cairo on Thursday, Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported, after Hamas sought clarifications over Israel’s position on a proposed truce in and around Gaza. Defense official Amos Gilad was to meet Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman "and respond to questions of Palestinian factions concerning the truce and crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip," an unidentified Egyptian official told MENA. Gilad has visited Egypt several times since Cairo started trying to broker a lasting truce in Gaza, most recently on January 22. A Hamas delegation left Cairo late Wednesday for Gaza and Damascus and was expected to return to give a "final" response to the truce plan "in the coming days," MENA said. One of Hamas’ negotiators, Salah al-Bardawil, told AFP that the Islamists want clarifications on Israel’s position, saying an agreement is being held up by the Jewish state’s failure to provide answers.

Hamas Official to ’Post’: Deal Likely this Week
Brenda Gazzar, Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff, MIFTAH 2/5/2009
A top Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post late on Monday that he believes an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is likely to be reached by Thursday. Ahmed Youssef, the Gaza-based deputy foreign minister and former political adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said he had not yet heard back from a Hamas delegation in Cairo, which was scheduled to meet Egyptian officials about a cease-fire proposal. But he said he was optimistic that a cease-fire agreement was imminent. " All I know is that there are positive signals," Youssef told the Post by telephone. "We are heading toward a right direction, toward a cease-fire. I do believe that they will find a way in the next couple of days for them to announce something. " Another senior Hamas official, Mohammed Nasr, told Al-Jazeera earlier Monday that differences in positions were holding up a deal.

Israeli reps to Cairo as Hamas prepares final stance on truce talks for Saturday
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – No final response from either Israel or Hamas came Thursday, a rumored first deadline for the Egyptian brokered talks aiming at a long-term ceasefire between the sides. Israeli sources said Thursday that Head of the Political and Security Department in the Israeli Ministry of Defense Amos Gilad, said Gilad left for Cairo following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Minster of Foreign affairs Tzipi Livni. For their part, the Hamas delegation returned to Gaza amidst rumors that no deal had been reached. Egyptian officials say the delegation will return to Cairo Saturday, when they will submit their final stance on the issue. The talks are aiming at reaching a deal to secure an 18 month truce between Israel and the Gaza factions. Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to open all Gaza border crossings and guarantee free movement for people and goods.

Nasr: Cairo talks blocked by Israeli intransigence
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohammed Nasr, political bureau member of the Hamas Movement and member of its delegation to the Cairo talks, said that the Egyptian efforts to conclude a calm agreement with the Israeli occupation authority were foiled by Israeli intransigence. Nasr said in a press statement on Wednesday evening that the IOA was trying to impose conditions, which blocked Egyptian efforts. He said that Hamas was taking into consideration her people’s national interest and was trying to alleviate their suffering as a result of the Israeli brutal war on Gaza. "Hence, we are trying to forge a calm agreement that would alleviate the suffering of our people, but this calm should succeed in lifting the siege and opening the crossings before the Palestinian people," he clarified. Nasr said that the IOA was asking Hamas to combat digging of tunnels and "smuggling" of weapons or what it called "illegitimate business".

Hamas leaders leave Cairo without approving ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas officials left Cairo on Thursday without reaching an agreement with Egyptian mediators about a ceasefire with Israel. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told Ma’an: ”What we received from the Egyptian mediator is linking the Shalit file with opening the borders and a partial lift for the blockade and this is totally rejected, where there are many points that are unclear and that should be discussed regarding the borders and who is control the borders. ”He was referring to an Israeli offer to partially open Gaza’s borders in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian fighters in 2006. Hamas has previously said it would reject any attempt to link the Shalit issue with the border issue. “We didn’t get any guarantees to what we agree on and we need many clarifications from the Israeli side,” he added.

Hamas negotiators return empty-handed from Cairo talks
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
Hamas negotiators will be returning to Gaza on Thursday with no ceasefire agreement reached, Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza said. In a statement to media outlets, spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the Israeli offer for ceasefire, which was received by Egyptian mediators, connects the case of captured soldier Gil’ad Shalit with partial reopening of the border crossings. Such an Israeli offer does not meet the minimum demands by Hamas, mainly complete reopening of all crossings. " We have not received any guarantees for perpetuating any understandings, therefore, we have submitted a number of inquiries to the Egyptian side regarding the reopening of crossings as well as a prisoner swap deal" Barhoum added. The Hamas spokesman also wondered as to what it means to reopen 70 percent of Gaza’s crossings, and what materials that Israel would disallow entry of.

Israeli officials: Hamas close to agreeing on long-term truce
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
Israeli security officials said Wednesday they believe Egypt and Hamas are progressing toward drafting terms for a long-term lull in fighting in the Gaza Strip, but that a number of unresolved issues remain between the two sides. Egypt has set Thursday as the target date for signing the agreement, but the differences in opinion mean it may take several more days or even longer before a deal is reached. Israel is not participating in the talks, but is expected to arrive at a verbal agreement with Egypt that would allow the lull to continue at a later date. Egypt is hoping the agreement includes a lull that will last a year and a half, while Israel prefers to see one lasting only a year, and in the framework of a non-binding agreement. A key issue in the negotiations is the opening of Rafah crossing, which. . .

Senior Hamas leader detained with 12 million in cash at Rafah enters Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Senior Hamas leader Ayman Taha was allowed to pass into Gaza after being detained by Egypt in possession of nine million US dollars and 2 million Euros in cash at the Rafah border crossing on Thursday. Late Thursday reports said Taha was permitted to cross back into Gaza, though there was no word on whether he was allowed to bring the cash in with him. Israeli media, quoting Egyptian security sources, reported that Taha was searched and then released but not permitted to cross the border. The rest of the Hamas delegation was allowed to enter to Gaza while Taha returned to Cairo. The Hamas leaders were returning to Gaza after unsuccessful talks in Egypt regarding a proposed truce with Israel. ***Updated 20:41 Bethlehem time

Egypt holds $11m top Hamas official tried to carry into Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Hamas official Ayman Taha deposited more than $11 million in cash in a bank in the Egyptian town of El Arish on Thursday after Egyptian authorities stopped him taking it home to Gaza, police sources said. Taha, heading to Gaza after talks in Egypt, later crossed into the Palestinian coastal strip without the money, $9 million in dollars and 2 million euros, they said. The money is in an account at the state-owned National Bank of Egypt in El Arish in northern Sinai in the name of an Egyptian government body, they said. Taha was part of a Hamas delegation which has been in Cairo this week for talks with Egyptian intelligence on a long-term truce between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza. At the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, Egyptian border authorities let through the other five members of the Hamas team but held back Taha because of the money.

Egypt: Hamas tried to smuggle millions into Gaza
News agencies, YNetNews 2/5/2009
Official says Hamas delegation to Cairo meant to discuss ceasefire terms stopped at Rafah crossing upon its return to Gaza with nine million US dollars and two million euro in cash hidden in their luggage. Meanwhile, Israel’s Amos Gilad is heading to Egypt to be briefed on the developments. - An Egyptian security official says Egypt has stopped a Hamas delegation returning to the Gaza Strip from carrying millions in dollars and euros with them in their suitcases. The official said the group initially refused to be searched by Egyptian authorities at the Rafah border crossing. When authorities finally searched the delegation’s suitcases, they found nine million in dollars and two million in Euros. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Egyptian lawyers want Israeli war criminals put on trial
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Prominent Egyptian lawyers affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood Movement called on the Egyptian general-prosecutor to file criminal lawsuits against top Israeli political and military officials for the crimes against humanity they committed in Gaza. According to the lawyers, the Israeli occupation government and its "barbaric" army had deliberately violated the Geneva Fourth Convention stipulating the protection of civilians in time of war, adding that Egypt is a signatory of that convention. To present strong evidence against the Israeli defendants, the lawyers urged the attorney-general to take the testimonies of the Palestinian victims who receive medical treatment in Egyptian hospital, in addition to testimonies of Egyptian doctors attending to other victims in Gaza hospitals. All that evidence should be gathered to serve as strong basis for the case, and to. . .

Fayyad confirms 67 million to Gaza; Union heads deny rumored delay in PA payment
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Ramallah - Ma’an - After meeting with UN Special Envoy for Palestine Robert Serry in Ramallah the Palestinian Prime Minister confirmed reports of the beginning of an urgent cash support program for Gaza in cooperation with UN agencies. On Wednesday Fayyad announced that the payment of civil servants’ salaries would be delayed for a “short time” in order to send significant aid to the Gaza Strip. He also announced Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would pay 67 million US dollars for Gaza relief and reconstruction. The PA needs more than 80 million to pay one month’s wages for 77,000 civil service workers. Earlier Thursday Head of Union of Public Service Workers Bassam Zakarneh held a meeting with the PA Ministry of Finance where he was assured that no change was made concerning the date of delivering salaries, which are expected Sunday.

Abbas Government Announces $600 Million Gaza Aid Project
Ali Sawafta, MIFTAH 2/5/2009
The government of Western-back Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Wednesday a $600 million reconstruction program for the war-battered Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who heads Abbas’s West Bank-based government, said the program would cover all Palestinian houses destroyed or damaged during Israel’s 22-day military offensive in the Hamas-ruled enclave. The United States and its allies want credit for reconstruction to accrue to Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, and not to the Iranian-backed Islamists who won a 2006 election and forcibly seized control of the Gaza Strip 18 months later. While Abbas’s government would take the lead in planning the rebuilding, it has scant presence on the ground in the Gaza Strip, meaning reconstruction work would initially have to be done by U. N. agencies and contractors, Western diplomats said.

Poll: Gaza war boosts Hamas popularity
Middle East Online 2/5/2009
JERUSALEM - Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians (mainly civilians) and left large swathes of the territory in ruins, has boosted the popularity of democratically elected Hamas, an opinion poll found on Thursday. Hamas would get 28. 6 percent of the vote compared with 27. 9 percent for the rival Fatah faction of Mahmud Abbas if elections were held today, according to the survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre. It marks the first time that an opinion poll has placed Hamas in front of Fatah, which it ousted from the Gaza Strip in June 2007, after a failed CIA-backed coup attempt to topple democratically elected Hamas. Hamas scored an upset victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, defying opinion poll predictions at the time. Hamas was elected to power in January 2006 with 44% of the vote to Fatah’s 41%, receiving 76 of 132. . .

Palestinian President: Israel must be held responsible for war crimes
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the European Parliament on Wednesday that the Israeli government committed war crimes in its three-week assault on Gaza, and must be held responsible. Abbas, who represents the Fatah party, is favored by Israeli officials to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people. His government, approved by the Israeli government, holds power over the Israeli-occupied Palestinian population in the West Bank. But the Israeli-occupied Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip remain steadfast in their support of the elected government of the Palestinian people, the Hamas party. In a statement to the European Parliament, Abbas attempted to garner support for a Palestinian unity government, which would be comprised of both his unelected appointed officials, and the elected government of the Hamas party.

Hamas rides higher in polls after Israel’s Gaza onslaught
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/6/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 1,300 people and left large swathes of the territory in ruins, has boosted the popularity of the Islamists, an opinion poll found on Thursday. Hamas would get 28. 6 percent of the vote compared with 27. 9 percent for the rival Fatah faction of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas if elections were held today, according to the survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center. It marks the first time that an opinion poll has placed Hamas in front of Fatah, which it ousted from the Gaza Strip in deadly fighting in June 2007. Hamas scored an upset victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, defying opinion poll predictions which had seriously underestimated the Islamist vote. Thursday’s poll also found that Hamas has stronger support in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, still administered by Abbas, than it does in its own Gaza bastion.

Jihad, Hamas: assassinating Abul Rub fruit of PA-Israeli security coordination
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Quds Brigades, the armed wig of Islamic Jihad Movement, on Thursday charged that the assassination of its commander in Jenin Ala Abul Rub at the hands of Israeli occupation forces was the fruit of security coordination between the PA in Ramallah and the Israeli occupation authority. The armed wing said in a statement that Abul Rub was also being chased by the PA security apparatuses in the West Bank, and added that his assassination was the fruit of this "damned security coordination". It held the PA security apparatuses responsible for Abul Rub’s assassination, adding that tens of resistance fighters in the West Bank were being persecuted by the PA security in line with that security coordination, which is rejected by all Palestinian forces. The Quds Brigades vowed strong reprisal to the murder of Abul Rub, pointing to the seriousness of concluding calm with the IOF not including the West Bank.

Islamic Jihad vows revenge for militant leader killed by Israel in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Islamic Jihad has vowed to respond swiftly to the killing of one the leaders of its’ military wing in the West Bank on Thursday. Scores of Palestinians turned out for the funeral of Ala Ad-Din Abu Ar-Roub, a leader of Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades in the town of Qabatiya, near Jenin. Other national and Islamic forces participated in the funeral march, calling for a decisive and violent response to the killing. The funeral left Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin. Abu Ar-Roub was later burried in Qabatiya. Israeli special forces killed Abu Ar-Roub, an Islamic Jihad leader in his home on Thursday morning in what they claim was an arrest raid gone awry. According to witnesses, Israeli forces surrounded his house while Ar-Roub was preparing to leave at 5:30am. Witnesses said Israeli forces stormed the house, shot Ar-Roub and then seized the body, keeping it away from his family, who attempted to resuscitate him.

Israeli commandos assassinate Islamic Jihad commander
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
JENIN, (PIC)-- Special units of the IOF troops have succeeded in assassinating commander of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, Ala Abul Rub in Kabatia town at dawn Thursday after Abbas’s security forces disappeared from the village. Local sources confirmed to the PIC that big numbers of IOF troops infiltrated into the village, south of Jenin city, and surrounded house of Abul Rub, 23, after he refused to surrender. Fierce clashes between the Palestinian fighter and the invading IOF troops took place at the house of Abul Rub that led to his martyrdom after IOF troops peppered his body with bullets, the sources added. Body of the Palestinian martyr was seized by the IOF troops that wreaked havoc in the house and humiliated family of the martyr before turning over the body to the Palestinian Red Crescent and retreated from the area amidst intensive machinegun fire.

Israeli troops assassinate a Palestinian resistance fighter near Jenin
Saed Bannoura & Ali Samoudi & PNN, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
Early Thursday morning, Israeli forces assassinated 23 year old Aladdin Issam Abu Al Rub. Al Rub was a local leader of the al-Quds brigades, the armed resistance wing of the Islamic Jihad. Before dawn, Israeli Special Forces invaded the southwestern Jenin town of Qabatiya. It was 4:30 am in the northern West Bank. Al Rub’s father Issam describes awaking to the sound of an explosion in the house. " There were a number of soldiers inside with many of them pushing into the room where Aladdin’ and two of his brothers were sleeping. " The father of the 23 year old says that Israeli soldiers fired directly into the bed without a question. The lower side of the wall in Aladdin’s bedroom that he shared with his brothers is blanketted with bullet holes. The mattress on the floor is splattered with blood. His brother Mohammad said, "what happened was horrible.

Israeli army kills Palestinian in West Bank
Middle East Online 2/5/2009
JERUSALEM - A Palestinian activist was killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank early Thursday, the Palestinian security services said. Ala Abu Al-Rub, 21, a member of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing the Al Qods Brigades, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers at his home at Qabatiya near Jenin in the north of the West Bank, they said. Tel Aviv did not confirm or deny the report. UN: Gaza war left 600,000 tonnes of rubble - The 22-day Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip which caused massive destruction of public and private buildings left an estimated 600,000 tonnes of concrete rubble, a UN agency said on Wednesday. An initial survey estimates that over 14,000 homes, 68 government buildings and 31 structures used by non governmental groups were totally or partially damaged, the UN Development Programme said in a statement.

Israeli military jeep damaged in Bil’in
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - An Israeli military force stormed the West Bank village of Bil’in Wednesday night and set up checkpoints at all transit points into the area. Forces searched areas between the village and its neighboring Kufrn’am, and were attacked by local youth who threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the invading vehicles. One militarized jeep was set ablaze and the convoy halted to assist the soldiers in the vehicle. Soldiers formed an attack point near the convoy and fired gas grenades and rubber bullets at the youth, who continued throwing stones. The forces withdrew and took the damaged jeep with them. [end]

Brothers indicted for 2000 attack on Border Guard officers
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 2/5/2009
Two residents of east Jerusalem arrested during anti-Gaza op rally confess to planting explosives which injured three officers eight years ago - Two brothers from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan were indicted for the attempted murder of security officers eight years of. According to Thursday’s indictment, filed with the Jerusalem District Court, the two are responsible for a November 2000 attack which took place near the Old City’s Lions Gate, in which three Border Guard officers were injured. The prosecution alleged that Basel Abu Tiya (32) and Yusuf Abu Tiya (30) planted explosives at the entryway to the Muslim cemetery adjacent to the Lions Gate, where they knew security forces patrolled on a regular basis. According to the case file Basel staked out the premises and studied the forces’ routine.

Palestine Today 020509
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 00s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Thursday, February 5th, 2009. The Israeli army kills a Palestinian fighter in the West Bank and attacks an aid ship near Gaza, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Early on Thursday morning Israeli forces assassinated 23 year old Aladdin Issam Abu Al Rub from Qabatiya town near the northern West Bank city of. Jenin. Al Rub was a local leader of the Al Quds brigades, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad. The military said that Aladdin was killed during an exchange of gunfire with Special Forces troops. The army added that he had a gun and an explosive belt. His brother Mohammad said, that the army stormed the house when all the family was asleep and shot Aladdin while he was still sleeping.

14,000 homes, 68 government buildings, 31 NGOs destroyed leaving 600,000 tons of rubble in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – At least 600,000 tons of rubble will need to be cleared before Gaza can be reconstructed, estimated UNDP in a report released Wednesday. The document estimated that 14,000 homes, totaling 2. 6 percent of all homes were completely destroyed and 20 percent have sustained light to heavy damage from the fighting. Also hit were 68 government buildings and 31 NGO complexes or buildings were completely or partially destroyed. The UNDP called removing the rubble “an ultimate priority,” and noted that the program is hoping for 25 million US dollars will be allocated to removing the rubble. The program estimated that the project will provide 200,000 days of work for the unemployed in Gaza. Dangerous workThe program also noted that among the debris are unexploded ordinances, and said an immediate identification and safe removal program must begin as soon as possible.

Israeli army says shelling of house where girls died was ’reasonable’
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 2/5/2009
Israel’s military last night admitted that one of its tanks killed three girls at their home in Gaza during last month’s war in a case that shocked the Israeli public, but said the shelling was "reasonable. " The Israeli military said two shells had hit the house of a Palestinian doctor, Izz el-Deen Abu el-Eish, on 16 January, killing his daughters. Moments after their death the Hebrew-speaking gynaecologist was interviewed by mobile phone live on an Israeli television channel, screaming with grief in an extraordinary scene. For most Israelis it was the first time they had seen such a striking case of civilian deaths in the war, even though hundreds of the 1,300 Palestinian dead were believed to be civilians. The Channel 10 television correspondent who interviewed el-Eish arranged for the military to rush other injured members of the family to hospital in Israel for treatment, where they remain today.

IDF admits ’mistake’ killed three daughters, niece of Palestinian doctor
Amos Harel and Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
The Israel Defense Forces acknowledged yesterday that the three daughters and a niece of Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish were killed by army fire in an incident that had targeted Hamas spotters on the upper levels of the building where the family lived. Dr. Abu al-Aish, who received a copy of the IDF report, told Haaretz last night that "I had always known the truth about what happened. " Contrary to the initial IDF response that shots had been fired from the home of the doctor, and to rumors on the Internet that an arms cache had been found there, an army investigation at division level showed otherwise. According to the army investigation, during the fighting in the town of Saja’iyeh, east of Gaza City, a Golani Brigade force came under fire from snipers and mortar firing near the Abu al-Aish home.

Youths assault Arab in Tiberias
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 2/5/2009
’They said they were going to pick a fight,’ says boy whose friends ganged up on 20yr old on boardwalk -Seven youths suspected of having attacked an Arab youth were indicted Thursday on charges of aggravated assault. Three others were released from custody. One of the boys released, a 13-year old on whom not enough evidence had been found to file charges, told Ynet he had asked his friends to stop hitting the youth. He also claimed a number of other assailants had escaped arrest. The youths were arrested last Monday on suspicion that they had ganged up on 20-year old Mohammad Mansur, of Majd al-Krum, wounding him severely. Police claimed the attack had been racially motivated. "The boys just gathered and went out in an orderly fashion to find an Arab victim," an officer familiar with the case said.

South African dockworkers refuse to offload Israeli goods
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
South African dock workers have refused to offload a ship full of products from Israel. This action follows a decision by the Congress of South African Trade Unions to engage in boycott and sanctions against what they call apartheid in Israel. It’s part of a week of protests and rallies in South Africa, which include union protests in front of the South African Zionist Federation, and dock blockades. The Congress of South African Trade Unions was a leader in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. They make a comparison between the apartheid they suffered in South Africa and the Israeli policies of discrimination and occupation of the Palestinian people. [end]

Histadrut seeks int’l help over SA ports boycott
Lior Baron, Globes Online 2/5/2009
South African port workers are refusing to unload Israeli goods in solidarity with the Palestinians. The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) intends to ask the International Transport Workers’ Federation to help bring about an end to the boycott imposed on Israeli ships by port workers in South Africa. "The union in South Africa is against anything connected to Israel, and in the past even objected to a cooperation agreement we signed with the Palestinian transport workers union," explained Transport Wokers Union chairman Avi Edri. "It’s unacceptable that trades unions should intervene in a political matter, especially when those Israeli businesses suffering from the boycott employ Palestinian workers too," he added. Randall Howard, General-Secretary of the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, announced yesterday. . .

Israeli co NICE to protect South African ports
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 2/5/2009
The largest cargo terminal operator in South Africa is expanding NICE’s IP video surveillance environment. Transaction analysis firm NICE Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: NICE; TASE: NICE) has extended its video surveillance technology deal to protect five additional South African port terminals. Transnet Port Terminals, the largest cargo terminal operator in South Africa, is expanding NICE’s IP video surveillance environment at Durban Car Terminal and Ngqura, for a total of five port terminals. Transnet Port Terminals operates 16 terminals at seven of the country’s busiest commercial ports. The NICE solution will enable Transnet Port Terminals to monitor and record images from approximately 800 IP video surveillance cameras stationed at five of their busiest port terminals.

South African deputy minister apologizes for ’anti-Semitic’ slur
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
Following increasing pressure from South Africa’s Jewish community, the country’s deputy foreign minister yesterday apologized to the republic’s president for saying last month that "Jewish money controls America. "Meanwhile, the South African dock workers union said its workers would refuse servicing an Israeli ship. "Deputy Minister [Fatima Hajaig] expressed her deep regret to President [Kgalema Motlanthe]," the government said. "She accepted that the comments were contrary to stated government policy. She subsequently apologized unreservedly and unequivocally for the comments and agreed to withdraw them unconditionally. " The cabinet also termed Hajaig’s comment, which she made on January 14 at a pro-Palestinian rally in Lenasia, "anti-Semitic. " Just hours before Hajaig’s apology to the president, South Africa’s largest trade union federation announced. . .

Shoe hits Israeli ambassador to Sweden
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
A shoe was thrown at Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Mr. Benny Dagan, when he was giving a speech at Stockholm University on Thursday. It was followed by two books and a note pad, all hitting the severely embarrassed ambassador. The two protesters, a young woman and a young man, shouted "Murderers!" and "Intifada!" while pelting Dagan with the objects. They are currently under arrest and charged with assault and public disturbance. The lecture was organized by the Foreign policy association at Stockholm University. The ambassador was supposed to talk about the upcoming elections in Israel, but turned quickly to issues of Hamas and Iran, and developed a lengthy defence for Israel ’s recent actions in the Gaza Strip. Some 20 minutes into the lecture, a woman stood up in the audience, threw a red shoe at the ambassador and shouted "Murderers!" The shoe hit Dagan in his stomach.

Shoe thrown at Israeli ambassador to Sweden
Middle East Online 2/5/2009
STOCKHOLM - A shoe was thrown at Israel’s ambassador to Sweden as he gave a speech at Stockholm University on the upcoming Israeli election, a spokeswoman for the school said Thursday. "A student organisation had invited ambassador Benny Dagan to come talk about the Israeli election. It was during this talk Wednesday that some members of the audience threw a shoe and some other items at him," spokeswoman Maria Sandqvist said. "Police were present and they detained two people," she said. Sandqvist was not able to say whether Dagan was hit by the objects, but Swedish news agency TT said one of the objects hit him. The Israeli embassy was not available for comment Thursday. Police told TT a 35-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were arrested for assault and public disorder. Earlier this week, a protester hurled a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as he gave a. . .

EUROPE: Police Cooperation With Israel Challenged
David Cronin, Inter Press Service 2/5/2009
BRUSSELS, Feb 5(IPS) - A European Union body has cast strong doubts over efforts to boost police cooperation between the 27-country bloc and Israel. In 2005, the EU’s governments decided that Europol, the Union’s police office in The Hague, could consider reaching a formal cooperation accord with Israel. More than three years later, a board of data protection officials tasked with supervising Europol’s activities has identified flaws in Israeli legislation which it views as incompatible with rules applying to Europol. In an internal paper, seen by IPS, the supervisory board says that unless improvements are introduced to Israeli law, the flaws constitute an "obstacle" to concluding an accord that would allow the exchange of police intelligence deemed valuable for investigations against terrorism and organised crime.

Maltese civil society: Suspend EU-Israel agreement
Press release, SKOP, Electronic Intifada 2/5/2009
The following statement was issued on 30 January 2009: In view of the recent three-week premeditated campaign of bombing of the population of Gaza and its infrastructure by the State of Israel which came after a crippling, illegal two-year siege, we, 14 member organizations of SKOP, the Maltese national platform of development non-governmental organizations, call for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Freezing the upgrade of its relations with the State of Israel to make it a privileged partner, as the EU has done so far, is simply not enough. If the EU is truly committed to the pursuit of a just peace it must also act in a way that clearly dissociates it from war crimes, while helping to bring the perpetrators to justice. Like Palestinian, Israeli and other international human rights activists in various parts of the world, we are convinced that the only way to stop

European socialists show support for Palestine; urge talks with Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 2/5/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – A Swedish delegation of members from the democratic socialist party was received by Senior Palestinian Negotiator Ahmad Qurei in his office in Abu- Dis on Thursday. Queri told the delegation that substituting the Palestinian Liberation Organization with a new reference body for the Palestinians is “playing on the national cause, which must not be harmed," and thanked the group for their support. Elaborating on his concern for the recent calls from Hamas members to form a new Palestinian reference body, Qurei described the PLO as a home for the Palestinians which “succeeded in turningthe Palestinian cause from a human to issue to a political one,” and highlighted the long struggle for PLO legitimacy. At the same time, the President of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament (EP), Martin Schulz told a news conference in Strasbourg that the EU must begin engaging with Hamas.

Hungary far-rightist: I rejoiced at news of IDF deaths in Gaza
Yehuda Lahav, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Hungarian far-right leader Krisztina Morvai has blasted Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip, calling it a "mass murder" and "genocide of the Palestinian people. "In an open letter to Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Morvai, who heads the rightist Movement for a Better Hungary, wrote that Israel held itself "above the law. "She expressed her belief that Israeli leaders will be imprisoned over their actions in Gaza. Morvai added that she "rejoiced" when she heard of Israeli casualties in Gaza. Addressing Israelis, the Hungarian politician lashed out, saying: "The only way to talk to people like you is by assuming the style of Hamas. I wish all of you lice-infested, dirty murderers will receive Hamas’ ’kisses. ’" Morvai is an associate professor of law in Budapest.

Agha meets Kuwaiti delegation, stresses importance of Arab support
Palestinian Information Center 2/5/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohamed Al-Agha, the PA minister of agriculture in Gaza, on Wednesday emphasized, during a meeting with a delegation from Kuwait’s international Rahma society, the importance of the Arab societies and institutions’ role in supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and in reconstructing vital sectors destroyed by Israel during its war on the Gaza Strip. Dr. Agha told the visiting delegation that the obstruction of the arrival of Arab and foreign delegations through the Gaza crossings especially the Rafah border crossing reveals beyond doubt that the main objective of the blockade is to isolate Gaza from the outside world. The minister briefed the delegation about the Israeli aggression and siege on Gaza which still continues by land, sea and air, adding that Israel deliberately targets Gaza farmers and fishermen to prevent them from working their lands or sailing their boats.

TURKEY: Long Friendship with Israel in Peril
Analysis by Hilmi Toros, Inter Press Service 2/5/2009
ISTANBUL, Feb 5(IPS) - For decades, isolated Israel could count on Turkey as its only Muslim friend, if not ally, in the tumultuous Middle East. After Israel’s assault on Gaza, that friendship is in doubt. And Turkey, a bridge between East and West, was seen as a credible broker in mediating a settlement in the region. That, too, is now in doubt. The ties between Turkey and Israel that had been simmering for a few weeks suddenly hit boiling point at the usually sedate World Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan got into a public showdown over Gaza; Erdogan stormed out of a panel discussion with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. Peres defended Israeli strikes as a response to rocket attacks by Hamas.

Elections 2009 / Livni: Every Israeli must do IDF or national service
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Kadima Chair Tzipi Livni said Thursday that all Israeli citizens should be obliged to enlist for military or national service, in an apparent reference to the exemption from service of Israeli Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox. Speaking at a conference of mayors and local authority officials, the foreign minister and prime ministerial hopeful said that "all Israeli citizens must enlist for military or national service, which would also benefit each citizen’s relations with the country. " Livni’s comments came as the status of Israeli Arabs was given prominence in the current election campaign. The hardline Yisrael Beiteinu party, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, has called into question the loyalty of minorities to the State of Israel, distributing placards with the slogan: "No citizenship without loyalty. "Speaking to Army Radio Thursday, Livni slammed the strengthening in the polls of Israel Beiteinu, saying "the trend of voting for a party whose entire slate is based on hate, points to a social problem. "

Netanyahu offers ministry to ultra-nationalist rival
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/6/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Benjamin Netanyahu, widely tipped to become Israel’s prime minister after next week’s election, said on Thursday he would offer a top ministry to ultra-nationalist hawk Avigdor Lieberman if he takes office. Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beitenu has emerged as a force in the February 10 election, tipped to become the third largest party in Parliament. "When I become prime minister, I will reach out to Yisrael Beitenu and I will propose an important ministry to Avigdor Lieberman," Netanyahu told Army Radio. "I intend to form a government by first of all reaching out to our traditional partners in the national camp, including Yisrael Beitenu," the hawkish politician said. According to the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper, Lieberman is seeking the defense portfolio but Netanyahu is unlikely to meet his demand.

Elections 2009 / Netanyahu: Lieberman campaign against Israeli Arabs is ’legitimate’
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday branded as "legitimate" rival prime ministerial candidate Avigdor Lieberman’s electoral campaign against Israeli Arabs. "This is a legitimate bill, which has already been proposed by Likud MK Yisrael Katz, but the problem with it is enforcement. It is legitimate to demand that the citizens of a state should be loyal to it," said Netanyahu in an interview with Channel 2. Netanyahu was referring to Lieberman’s vow to pass a citizenship law that will "prevent the disloyalty of some of Israel’s Arabs. "Lieberman’s hardline Yisrael Beiteinu has built its campaign ahead of next week’s general election around the slogan: "No citizenship without loyalty," which is directed at Israeli Arabs, some of whom the party accuses of constituting a fifth column.

Hardline populist Lieberman could be surprise kingmaker in Israeli election
Rory McCarthy in Nokdim, The Guardian 2/5/2009
The home town of Avigdor Lieberman, the surprise star of Israel’s election campaign, sits on a hilltop deep in the Judean desert looking out over the occupied West Bank. One of Israel’s smaller settlements-home to about 700 Israelis - Nokdim was built in 1982 near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Beyond are smaller caravan outposts of even more hardline settlers, the frontline in their increasingly successful project of territorial expansion. From here, Lieberman, 50, has engineered an extraordinary rise in Israeli politics, his hardline, populist rhetoric catching the public mood and elevating his party, Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home), to third position in opinion polls ahead of next Tuesday’s election. Lieberman - a former nightclub bouncer born in Moldova who arrived as an immigrant to Israel 31 years ago - is likely to secure a major cabinet position in what will probably be a rightwing dominated government. Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the opposition Likud, is projected to become the next prime minister.

Lieberman leaps ahead to challenge Livni
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 2/5/2009
The gap between Israel Beiteinu and Kadima is now within the range of statistical error. Next Wednesday, the day after Israel’s general election, all eyes will be on one person. Not Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, and not Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. Everyone will wait for the pronouncement of Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Israel Beiteinu, on whom he will recommend to President Shimon Peres as the person to form the next government. With the latest "Globes"-Geocartography poll predicting that his party will win 21 out the Knesset’s 120 seats, up from 17 seats in last week’s poll, Lieberman is the one who will decide who will be prime minister. He is the new kingmaker. If that title previously belonged to Shas leader Eli Yishai, it has now passed to Lieberman. It looks as though Yishai made a fatal error when he decided not to join a coalition led by Livni, the decision that led to these elections.

Candidate for Israeli Prime Minister: No return of stolen Palestinian land
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/5/2009
Benjamin Netanyahu, the leading candidate for Israeli Prime Minister, stated Wednesday that no land should be returned to the Palestinian people. Referring to commitments made by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during US-led peace negotiations, Netanyahu stated, "I will not keep Olmert’s commitments to withdraw, and I won’t evacuate settlements. "Israeli civilians have moved into settlements, or colonies, on Palestinian land in record numbers over the last fifteen years. The settlement expansion, in direct violation of the 1993 Oslo Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, has made further peace talks impossible. Palestinians have demanded the dismantling of the settlements in order to make a viable Palestinian state possible. But, Israeli immigrants have continued to move into illegal developments on stolen Palestinian land, with the full approval of the Israeli government.

Livni: Lieberman viable gov’t partner
Jerusalem Post 2/5/2009
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday said that she was not opposed to having Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party in her coalition - as long as he conforms to the government’s platform. Speaking to Army Radio, Livni nevertheless said that "voting out of fear is problematic, be it out of fear of Arabs or any other group. "Responding to a Ma’ariv report that she would demand a rotation with Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu at the helm of the government, Livni said that she "intends to win the elections. " Meanwhile, in a departure from statements made by fellow members of Israel Beiteinu in recent days, MK Yitzhak Aharonovich said Thursday morning that he would not eliminate the possibility of joining a Kadima-led government. The Israel Beiteinu MK added, however, that his party still preferred the more natural partnership with Likud.

Lieberman: Netanyahu not responsible for attacks on me from inside Likud
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
Click here for exclusive Haaretz coverage of the elections in Israel Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman yesterday said he would prefer partnership in a right-wing government that would handle internal and external terrorism in the same way. Lieberman, visiting communities along the Gaza Strip border, said he wasn’t accusing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu of orchestrating Likud attacks on him, however he blasted the party for its "vague and confused" statements about its relations with Shas. "The media, Likud, Bayit Hayehudi, National Union and even those wretches from Shas are conducting an incessant attack on us - we must be doing the right thing," he said. "My heart goes out to Netanyahu, his problem is not us but what’s happening in Likud," Lieberman said.

Elections 2009 / Barak refuses to rule out joining coalition with Lieberman
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
As the February 10 election date approaches, party leaders are ratcheting up their rhetoric. While Labor chair Ehud Barak refused to rule out joining a coalition that includes Yisrael Beiteinu, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert firmly endorsed his Kadima successor, Tzipi Livni. Olmert will vote for the Kadima party next week, he recently told ministers at a cabinet meeting, saying "this time I will vote for a party headed by a woman. "It has not been clear whom the departing leader would support, amid speculation that because of his poor relations with Livni he might vote for Likud, or even cast a blank ballot. Some said Olmert might vote for the Pensioners Party due to his close relations with Minister Rafi Eitan. Meanwhile Kadima figures said Wednesday they hoped that the gap between Kadima and Likud, which according. . .

Elections 2009 / Labor officials urge Barak to rule out partnership with Lieberman
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Senior Labor Party officials on Thursday sent a letter to party head Ehud Barak insisting that he unequivocally rule out joining a coalition that includes right-wing party Yisrael Beiteinu and its leader Avigdor Lieberman. The letter was signed by Education Minister Yuli Tamir, along with Kibbutz Movement Secretary-General Ze’ev Shor and well-known Labor activists Luba Eliav and Professor Danny Gotwin. "If you do not make a very clear and sharp statement that the Labor Party will not sit in any government with Lieberman, our ability as a party to make a moral statement and to fight for our way and our voters will be dealt a fatal blow," the letter read. These statements come after other Labor MKs, including Shelly Yachimovich and Ophir Pines-Paz and Ministers Shalom Simhon and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer,. . .

Labor MKs to Barak: We won’t join coalition with Lieberman
YNetNews 2/5/2009
’We are losing votes due to your willingness to sit with Yisrael Beiteinu in the same government,’ Minister Tamir tells Labor chief, adding that Lieberman’s anti-Arab campaign ’immoral’ -A number of senior Labor officials cast harsh criticism over party Chairman Ehud Barak’s willingness to join a collation that would include Avigdor Lieberman, head of the rightist Yisrael Beiteinu party. During a Labor faction meeting in Tel Aviv Thursday, Education Minister Yuli Tamir told Barak that Lieberman’s anti-Arab campaign was "immoral," adding that "we are losing votes due to your willingness to sit with him in the same government. "Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich has called on the party to publically declare that it will not join any coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu, and MKs Eitan Cabel, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Ophir Pines-Paz have also criticized Lieberman’s anti-Arab remarks.

Labor, Meretz fear green parties snagging their voters
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 2/5/2009
Labor and Meretz evinced concern on Thursday morning that the green parties could steal part of their voter base on Election Day and thus pass the threshold to get into the Knesset. During a panel sponsored by the Israel Union of Environmental Defense (IUED), Labor’s Ophir Paz-Pines and Meretz’s Nitzan Horowitz both attempted to disparage the Green Movement-Meimad and the Greens as "niche parties" that were too small to effect change. Even United Torah Judaism’s Moshe Gafni urged voters to return established parties to the Knesset rather than vote for a green party - perhaps concerned that his small party could also suffer from the rise of the environmental parties. Five days before the voting booths were set to open, the panel featured representatives from most of the parties across the political spectrum, from Israel Beiteinu to Hadash.

Lieberman pull not limited to the right
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
Elections are less than a week away, and many voters remain undecided. Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to be a major beneficiary of voters disaffected with their former parties, but their competitors for "swing" votes are not always what one would expect. Avivi, 30, is wavering between Yisrael Beiteinu or Meretz. "The country has to go to an extreme. The centrist parties - Labor, Kadima and Likud - have not delivered the goods," he says. " Ultimately we will return to the 1967 borders, but even that will take time - a year, two years or maybe a decade. Bibi [Netanyahu] will return the Golan and Jerusalem will be divided," he says. "Not that I support that, but that’s what will happen. "Avivi says if he votes for Lieberman, it will be largely because he believes every Israeli citizen must perform either military or national service.

Umm al-Fahm vows to block far-rightist from entering city on election day
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
The Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm on Thursday announced plans to block the entry of far-right activist Baruch Marzel to the city on election day, where he is scheduled to serve as a poll station supervisor. Click here for exclusive Haaretz coverage of the elections in Israel Umm al-Fahm, Israel’s second-largest Arab city, will send a letter to the police and the election committee in the coming days requesting the right to block Marzel from serving as a poll station supervisor in the city, saying that he would pose a threat to order and peace in the community. The Central Elections Committee this week said it did not have legal authority to prevent Marzel, head of the far-right Jewish National Front party, from serving as a poll supervisor.

Israel Flouting Own Rules on Settlements
Arab News, MIFTAH 2/5/2009
There is no such thing as a legal Israeli settlement on the West Bank. Under international law there should have been no building in any of the occupied territories. Yet Israel has carried on constructing, often strategically, chains of settlements as around occupied East Jerusalem, in defiance of UN rulings. A halt to new settlement activity and to the expansion of existing sites has been pivotal to all recent efforts to advance the peace process. Successive Israeli governments have equivocated on the issue. They have often claimed that new work is only “in-filling,” have asserted that by their rules at least, such settlement activity is legal and have denied — against all logic — that any Palestinian land has been seized. Now thanks to a government document found and leaked to a newspaper by an Israeli human rights activist, it appears that Israel has been regularly flouting even its own regulations on settlements.

Cartoon of the day
Mr. Fish, Palestine Think Tank 2/5/2009
Israeli real Estate Agent [end]

Average salary continues drop
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 2/5/2009
The average salary fell by an annualized 3. 5% in September-November. The national average gross salary fell to NIS 7,790 in November 2008 from NIS 7,812, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. The average salary fell by an annualized 3. 5% in September-November, while the number of Israeli employees rose by an annualized 1. 2% in the same period to 2. 8 million. The number of wage-earners including Palestinians and foreign workers was 2. 91 million. Although the effects of the recession are already showing up in the salary data, they are not yet seen in the Central Bureau of Statistics’ employment figures. A big wave of layoffs began in December. As nearly always, Israel Electric Corporation(IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) and Mekorot National Water Companyemployees topped the salary rankings, with an average salary of NIS 18,787 in November.

January tax receipts plummet
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 2/5/2009
The deficit will balloon as the government meets NIS 33 billion in debt payments in February and March. January 2009 tax revenues totaled NIS 14. 3 billion, down a nominal 16. 4% compared with January 2008, the Ministry of Finance announced today. The figures are consistent with both the ministry and theBank of Israel’s forecasts, which state that the economy has now entered a recession, which will reduce tax receipts and cause the budget deficit to balloon. Direct tax revenues (income and company taxes) fell 18% in real terms to NIS 7. 2 billion in January from NIS 9 billion in January last year. Indirect tax revenues (VAT and customs) fell 19% in real terms to NIS 6. 7 billion in January from NIS 7. 6 billion in the corresponding month. The government is operating with an approved budget for 2009, after the Knesset failed to pass the budget law last year.

Court orders Israel Railways employees back to work
Lior Baron and Shay Niv, Globes Online 2/5/2009
A Histadrut official told "Globes" this morning, "It is real anarchy, and if the workers’ committee wants to act like pirates, then that also has a price. "A day of what has been termed anarchy at Israel Railways continued as service to Israel’s north remains unavailable. Most of the southern lines returned to service around 11:30 in the morning. Earlier today, the regional labor court in Haifa ordered striking Israel Railways workers to return to work immediately. Employees of Israel Railways launched a strike last night, and have essentially closed down the train system in Israel, following a dispute with management. As of Thursday morning, the strike will last until further notice. Around midnight, Israel Railways workers prevented the departure of a train from Haifa to Ben Gurion Airport.

Foreign agricultural worker numbers continue to grow
Shay Niv, Globes Online 2/5/2009
House C’tee meeting minutes show Flower Growers Association secretary Avraham Daniel saying,"I tell you that everyone will hire Israelis, but they will be fictitious". The number of foreign workers in agriculture continues to grow, despite all government declarations over the years to reduce them. In 2007, the government acceded to farmers’ pleas and increased the number of work permits for foreign workers by 2,500 to over 28,000. The farmers agreed in exchange to hire an equal number Israelis by April 2008. They didn’t. Farmers are now asking to raise the quota of foreign workers to 44,000, an increase of over 15,000 workers. It also now turns out that the government and the Knesset knew in advance that the farmers would not keep their promise of hiring more Israeli workers.

Car imports halved
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 2/5/2009
Car imports fell to under 10,000 in January, and imports of commercial vehicles fell 41% compared with January last year. Fewer than 10,000 cars were imported in January 2008, 58% fewer than the 25,000 cars imported in January 2007, the Israel Tax Authority reported today. Imports of appliances fell by 15-25%, and imports of commercial vehicles fell by 41%. The Tax Authority noted that the decline in car imports began in April 2008 and increased in October, as economic activity slowed, and demand by private consumers and leasing companies plummeted. Refrigerator imports fell 16% in January compared with the corresponding month, imports of clothes dryers fell 15%, dishwashers by 26%, washing machines by 30%, TVs by 4%, and VCRs and DVDs by 22%.

Leumi: Housing, food price drops may lead to deflation
Yossi Nissan, Globes Online 2/5/2009
Housing and food were the two main items that drove the 3. 8% rise in the CPI in 2008. Bank Leumi says that falling global commodities prices in the second half of 2008 are beginning to affect inflation in many countries, Israel included, and could significantly slow the sharp rise in prices seen last year. "This is one of main reasons why inflation in 2009 will probably be significantly lower than in 2008, and could even be negative," states the bank in its weekly macroeconomic survey. Bank Leumi says that 12,800 new homes were sold in 2008, 7% fewer than in 2007. Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv had the highest sales. Housing sales fell steadily during 2008, with the decline worsening in the fourth quarter, as economic activity declined. Monthly housing inventory continued to decline in the first half of 2008, reducing the supply.

NDS sale completed
Shiri Habib-Valdhorn, Globes Online 2/5/2009
Robert Murdoch’s News Corporation took the pay-per-view middleware maker private. NDS Group plc is now a private company, after the High Court of Justice in England and Wales approved the remaining elements of the share buyout by Robert Murdoch’s News Corporation (NYSE: NWS; ASX: NCP) and two subsidiaries of funds advised by Permira Advisers LLP, effective today. NDS’s share was delisted from trading on Nasdaq yesterday. News Corp and Permira bought the public’s stake in NDS at $63 per share for a total of $3. 7 billion. With the completion of buy-out, Permira owns 51% of NDS and News Corp. owns 49%. News Corp. first invested in NDS in 1992, and owned 72% of the company prior to the buyout. NDS develops and produces encryption access middleware for television digital video recorders (DVRs), PCs, mobile phones, portable media players (PMPs), removable media, and other devices.

Warm weather and dry skies leave farmers hoping for a little relief
Zafrir Rinat and Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
February has so far been unseasonably warm, as it was last year, and the lack of significant rainfall has farmers praying for a little help from above. Several areas have seen less than half the rain they were expected to receive during the three primary winter months, of which February is the last. After receiving urgent pleas from farmers, the Chief Rabbinate recently called on the public to pray for the resumption of rain and even to attempt fasting in that effort. The warm weather is expected to continue through Thursday, with a significant drop in temperatures to arrive only this weekend. Wednesday temperatures reached 23-24 degrees Celsius along the coastal plain, and Thursday will be warmer by one or two degrees. Israel is currently being influenced by the arid regions surrounding it more than by rainfall in Europe.

A bottle of white - and blue
Ran Dagoni, Washington, Globes Online 2/5/2009
Israeli wines [some from post-1967 occupied territory - Ed. ] starred at the Mediterranean Inspiration: Wines of Israel Grand Tasting in New York City. Hundreds of Israeli wines from over 20 wineries were on display at the Mediterranean Inspiration: Wines of Israel Grand Tasting at the Prince George Ballroom in New York City, attended by vintners, retailers, journalists, and the general public. The event aimed to change Americans’ concepts about Israeli wines, which are perceived as a niche product of kosher wines for religious Jews. Participating wineries included Barkan Winery, Benyamina Wines, Carmel Winery, Dalton Winery, Galil Mountain Winery, Golan Heights Winery, Tishbi Estate Winery, and Yarden Inc. , as well as boutique wineries, such as Domaine du Castel, Elah Valley Winery, Hevron Heights, Margalit Winery, Noah Winery, Teperberg 1870 Winery , Recanati Winery, Tabor Winery, Tzora Vineyards, and Yatir Winery.

Madoff scam victims named; sons and brother on list
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
A list of clients who invested money with accused swindler Bernard Madoff was made public on Wednesday, with new names. The 162-page document filed with the U. S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan named Columbia University, legendary baseball player Sandy Koufax and Madoff’s attorney Ira Lee Sorkin as some of the clients. Among the thousands of others named were Madoff’s family members, including his sons, Mark and Andrew, and his brother, Peter. The Manhattan offices of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC were declared a crime scene after the veteran investment manager’s Dec. 11 arrest. Madoff, 70, was arrested for what authorities have described as the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. In a Ponzi scheme, early investors are paid with money from new investors.

Russia plans to start up Iran nuclear plant in 2009
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Russia plans to start up a nuclear reactor at Iran’s Bushehr plant by the end of the year, the head of Russia’s state nuclear corporation said on Thursday. The move is likely to stoke fears over Iran’s suspected intention to build atomic weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes. Israel has expressed concern about the Bushehr plant and said last year that Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2010. The plant is situated on the Gulf coast in southwest Iran. It is Iran’s first nuclear power plant. Russia agreed in 1995 to build the plant on the site of an earlier project begun in the 1970s by German firm Siemens. The Siemens project was disrupted by Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The details of the contract are state secrets in Russia but its value is said to be around $1 billion.

Top Iranian official: Iran won’t talk to ’Zionist’ Obama
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
A representative of Iran’s supreme leader said the installation of U. S. President Barack Obama did not mean Tehran’s ties with Washington would change, the Fars news agency reported Wednesday. "The Zionists brought Obama to power to help America pass through its current challenges," said the representative to the Revolutionary Guards in northwestern Zanjan province, cleric Hojjatoleslam Ali Maboudi. "Any government has ’red lines’ and our ’red lines’ are rejecting the arrogant policies of America and the Zionist regime. " Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority over policy in the Islamic Republic, has yet to comment on Obama’s presidency or his offer to extend a hand of peace if the Islamic Republic would only "unclench its fist".

Slow Resettlement for Palestinian-Iraqi Refugees
DAMASCUS - IRIN, Palestine Chronicle 2/5/2009
The start of 2009 offers little hope to the residents of Al Tanf, a refugee camp on the Syrian-Iraqi border housing over 700 Palestinians who had fled persecution in Iraq. No country has given any concrete pledge to take any of the refugees for resettlement in 2009, leaving them to battle the cold desert weather this winter with more despair than ever. The refugees say that despite visits from foreign delegations, resettlements have been few and far between since the camp opened in May 2006. Jamal, 53, said residents are giving up hope. Originally from Haifa, he moved to Baghdad following Israel’s taking over of the city. He said that he and his family fled to Syria in February 2007 after being targeted by militia groups. “We just want to be resettled,” he said. “I don’t mind where. I just want to live the rest of my days in peace.

Iraq PM’s list ahead in Shiite provinces
Middle East Online 2/5/2009
BAGHDAD - A coalition backed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was the star performer in Shiite-majority provinces in a show of confidence for the premier’s policies, election results showed on Thursday. The preliminary tally released by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission indicated the premier’s State of Law Coalition garnered the biggest vote in nine out of 10 Shiite-majority provinces, including the capital Baghdad. The results back up early estimates that Maliki’s coalition was the most successful bloc in the mainly Shiite south of the country, as electors chose national unity and security over religious affiliations. Held in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces on Saturday, the vote was widely seen as a referendum on Maliki’s performance as premier, and was praised as a vital step forward by world leaders including new US President Barack Obama.

Initial results indicate triumph for Maliki in provincial polls
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/6/2009
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki’s allies triumphed in weekend elections, preliminary results showed Thursday, delivering him a popular mandate after fiercely contested polls in the war-torn nation. Candidates backed by Maliki took the biggest vote in Baghdad and eight of the country’s nine Shiite provinces, in a huge vote of confidence for the premier, whose standing has steadily grown at home and abroad in the past year. Just over half of Iraqis voted on Saturday in the election, which was seen as a vital test of the country’s progress since a US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein from power almost six years ago. Maliki, a Shiite, did not stand in the election but threw his backing behind candidates from the country’s State of Law Coalition. The preliminary tally released by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission showed that the coalition had a resounding success in Baghdad, achieving 38 percent of the vote.

LEBANON: Funding struggle slowing cluster bomb clearance in south
Hugh Macleod/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/5/2009
BEIRUT, 5 February 2009 (IRIN) - Waning international interest and funding is harming efforts to rid southern Lebanon of its hundreds of thousands of remaining cluster bomblets, posing a continuing threat to farmers and children, according to mine clearance organisations. Israel dropped a large number of cluster bombs on southern Lebanon during the July 2006 war with the Shia guerrilla and political group Hezbollah. Each bomb can release hundreds of individual bomblets, and about a quarter failed to explode on impact, effectively becoming landmines that can kill or maim. "For almost all the organisations, it’s a continuous struggle to generate enough interest and funding to keep the teams on the ground working, which obviously has an impact on the amount of cluster bombs [bomblets] they can clear," said Tekimiti Gilbert, the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre’s (UNMACC) acting programme manager.

Noam Shalit to Hamas: Your ’resistance’ is imaginary
Yaheli Moran Zelikovitch, YNetNews 2/5/2009
Speaking at solidarity event organized by high-school students, father of captive soldier calls on Hamas leaders to ’stop holding us as hostages of the symbols of yesterday’s wars in a world that has changed beyond recognition’ -With his son nearing a thousand days in Hamas captivity, Noam Shalit continues his tireless mission to keep Gilad in the public consciousness. Speaking at an all-night solidarity event organized by students of Blich High School in Ramat Gan on Thursday, Shalit sought to not only emphasize the government’s responsibility to see Gilad released but also issued an emphatic plea to his captors. [end]

Shalit’s father: Hamas holding us hostage for ’bogus resistance’
Noa Kucharek, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, blasted Hamas on Thursday for its "bogus resistance," and for holding Palestinians hostage in Gaza. Speaking at a solidarity event organized by students of Blich High School in Ramat Gan, Shalit urged the incumbent government to act swiftly for Gilad’s release before its term in office comes to an end. Addressing Hamas, Shalit lashed out: "Stop holding us hostage for bygone symbols that, at best, belong to yesterday’s wars, to yesterday’s world, which has since changed beyond recognition. "

US Mideast Envoy Wants Regional Office
Gulf News, MIFTAH 2/5/2009
The special US envoy for Middle East peace, George Mitchell, has asked to open his own office in the region to deal with day-to-day developments between Israel, the Palestinians and neighboring states, signaling a desire for greater American hands-on involvement in negotiations. Mitchell, who just returned from the region on Monday and plans to go back this month after Israel’s Feb. 10 elections, has proposed placing a small staff in Jerusalem to monitor the situation on the ground, officials briefed on his recommendation said. Action on Mitchell’s request by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected soon, possibly this week, the officials said. Obama, Clinton and Mitchell are expected to meet at the White House on Wednesday to plot a way forward, they said. Setting up a dedicated office for special envoys in their region of responsibility is not unprecedented, but it is a clear shift from the Bush administration.

Mapping the path to peace in the Middle East
The Independent 2/5/2009
[Perhaps useful, perhaps not, but an interesting web device - Ed. ] Building on The Independent’s map of the Crisis in Gaza, which generated widespread interest and support—and as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Mitchell begin to reach out the Middle East—Independent readers and the Debategraph community have begun to focus on the options for achieving a long-term sustainable peace in the Middle East. As before the first objective will be to develop a comprehensive map of the issues and options facing the main regional actors and the international community, and the arguments for and against the different options. As the process develops, the map will begin to encompass the key diplomatic texts, analysis and initiatives from all sides; with the aim of representing the different worldviews and interests fairly and succinctly on a common map.

VIDEO - WATCH: British Mandate-era arms cache found in Hod Hasharon synagogue
Noa Kocharek and Yuval Goren, Ha’aretz 2/6/2009
Two Israeli curators on Thursday stumled upon an arms cache dating back to the British Mandate at a Synagogue in Hod Hasharon. The weapons, which included grenades and bullet casings, were apparently stored in the building by the Hagannah Jewish militia. Simcha Klein and Aviva Even-Hen, curators of the museum dedicated to the history of Hod Hasharon, found the arms while they were tidying rooms in the synagogue, which was crammed full of documents, pictures and old maps dating back to the beginning of the Zionist enterprise. "While searching the rooms, we came across one small tin box that contained grenades, and another that contained dozens of bullet casings," Klein said. "We then called the police, and sappers came and removed the weapons from the building. "

GLOBAL: Is this the end for cluster munitions?
Human Rights Watch, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/5/2009
JOHANNESBURG, 17 May 2008 (IRIN) - Banning a military weapon said to inflict a 98 percent civilian casualty rate is seen by many as an open-and-shut case, but for two weeks government representatives and interested parties will be guided by the phrase "cluster munitions that have unacceptable humanitarian consequences" in formulating a convention to curtail use of these weapons or totally getting rid of them. On 19 May, in the Irish capital of Dublin, representatives from countries around the globe will gather for the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions. Not since the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which banned the use of antipersonnel landmines and was signed by 155 states, has a protocol elicited such a groundswell of international support. [Cluster munitions] have so far been used in at least 21 countries, but rarely, if ever, for their intended purpose as weapons to be deployed. . .

AFRICA: Call to ban cluster bombs
Manoocher Deghati/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/5/2009
KAMPALA, 29 September 2008 (IRIN) - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called cluster munitions "an abomination whose manufacture and use should not be tolerated by any government", amid calls for African countries to do more to ensure the weapons are banned. "Many countries in Africa, including Uganda, have experienced wars and conflicts over the last 30 years," the UN Resident Representative in Uganda, Theophane Nikyema, said in an address to the two-day regional conference in Kampala, which began on 29 September. "As a result, too many countries have been contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Innocent civilians are killed or maimed by these weapons both at the time of use and long after the fighting has ended," he added. One such innocent civilian was Berihu Messele from Ethiopia. "An aircraft bombed our village on 5 June 1998," he told IRIN at the conference.


Articles


No place like home
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
      GAZA STRIP- Within seconds A’amer al-Dayeh lost his parents, two sisters, three sisters-in-law, three brothers and 12 of their children. The youngest, Sansabeel, was 3 months old. The oldest, Ali, was 11. It happened on January 6, when an Israeli plane bombed Dayeh’s house between 5:30 and 6 A.M. He is now living with relatives, his home destroyed. For four years he lived in the West Bank, where he studied education at An-Najah National University in Nablus, and worked in a Palestinian Authority security agency under Yasser Arafat. For a month in 2002 he was trapped with the Palestinian leader in the Muqata in Ramallah during the Israeli siege on the PA headquarters.
     On the morning of Tuesday, January 6, during the 60th hour of the Israel Defense Forces’ ground offensive, soldiers had already deployed among the houses in the southernmost section of the Zeitoun neighborhood, a few kilometers from where Dayeh lived, and from which the frightening noises of explosions and gunfire emanated for two days. Many people started to flee.
     On the narrow, densely built-up street, a rumor spread that the IDF was going to bombard the house of the Dayehs’ neighbors and that the Red Cross had informed the family. Local residents, including the Dayehs, left their homes in a panic and started heading west. But then someone called the Red Cross, which said there was no talk of any such action, "and everyone went back, including our family."

The Other Side of Gaza

Shafiq Morton - Cape Town, Palestine Chronicle 2/5/2009
      The Israelis invaded Gaza the day I went on leave. My Blackberry started buzzing with messages, and did not let up for 22 days. One of my contacts in Gaza City SMSed me on the first night of bombing: “WE R NOT ALONE. ALLAH + US. 3 YEARS SIEGE. WE STILL STRONG.”
     I have kept those messages. Some are angry, some are desperate and some are heart-rending. All in the upper-case, they tell the story of Gaza in terse electronic shorthand: “SLM. 22 MASJIED DESTROY. 2,100 HOUSES DESTROY. 4,000 BUILDING DESTROY”.
     Or, “SLM…BRKG NEWS…DIS A.M. 6 CHILDREN MARTYR” was a disturbing message that woke me from a deep sleep at 3 am one morning.
     As I was on leave, it was a strange feeling. I’d be on the beach with sand between my toes, and the Blackberry would vibrate and remind me of Gaza. I did a few radio and TV commentaries, but with the luxury of no impending deadlines, was able to spend time observing the disturbing events from a distance.
     There were several things about “Operation Cast Lead” that struck me immediately. Anger in the Arab street stood out in sharp contrast to the coyness of its leaders in capitals such as Riyadh, Cairo, Damascus and ‘Amman. Protest in the capitals of Europe also contradicted the EU’s deference towards Israel.

Finding Gaza in Tel Aviv

Mona Eltahawy, Daily Star 2/6/2009
      TEL AVIV: "Are you proud of yourself for visiting Israel? Especially now?" I am an Egyptian whose country has been at peace with Israel for almost 30 years but my decision to come to Tel Aviv a day after the ceasefire ended the war between Israel and Hamas did not go down well on Facebook, where I have almost 4,000 "friends," most of whom I’ve never met but who form an invaluable and instant polling pool to current events.
     One Egyptian accused me of being in cahoots with the "Zionists, the Jews, the unbelievers and Islam haters."
     "Don’t forget to take a few lovely flowers along with your sweet smile to Uncle [Ariel] Sharon, your godfather," he wrote to me.
     A Jordanian was a bit more measured in his criticism. "I’m one of the few people remaining in the Arab world who still believes that a fair and just peace with Israel can be achieved," he told me. "But ... it’s not right to visit the Jewish state at this time when you can smell the charred Palestinian flesh from the terrace of your hotel in Tel Aviv."
     Heavy-handed imagery aside, by coming to Tel Aviv I found Gaza itself, its heartbreak, its misery and all its complexity when I met Dr. Izzeldine Abouelaish and his family, or what is left of it.

Israel’s Home Front

Nadia Hijab, Middle East Online 2/5/2009
      As Israel heads toward its February 10 elections, we should reflect on the significance of Tzipi Livni’s inability to form a government last year.
     When she conceded defeat, setting the stage for a general election, the Kadima leader preferred to fail as a Jew than to succeed as an Israeli.
     How so? Like her predecessors, Livni considered only Israeli Jewish parties as possible coalition partners. When she refused to give in to demands that she exclude Jerusalem from peace negotiations, she couldn’t secure a majority. Had Livni brought in the three Arab parties, Kadima would, together with Labor and the pro-peace Meretz, have had a working Knesset coalition.
     Of course, I know as well as anyone that a coalition government of the Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel is further away than ever. Palestinian Knesset members came closest to an alliance with (but not part of) an Israeli Jewish government during the Oslo negotiations when the late premier Yitzhak Rabin relied on their votes to maintain his majority. Since then, relations have sharply deteriorated.

Brother of assassination victim: it was horrible

Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 2/5/2009
      PNN Jenin -- Early Thursday Israeli forces assassinated 21 year old Aladdin Issam Abu Al Rub. "There was a fleeting moment between us," his brother said. Al Rub was a local commander of Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad.
     Before dawn Israeli special forces penetrated southwestern Jenin town of Qabatiya. Late this afternoon thousands of people walked in a funeral procession.
     It was 4:30 am in the northern West Bank. Al Rub’s father Issam describes awaking to the sound of an explosion in the house. "There were a number of soldiers inside with many of them pushing into the room where Ala’ and two of his brothers were sleeping."
     The father of the 21 year old says that Israeli soldiers fired directly into the bed without a question. The family denies an allegation that the young man was carrying an explosive belt. “These false claims mislead the facts of what the occupation forces committed, the execution in cold blood someone they could have arrested,” Issam Al Rub said today.

Corrupt Egyptian system: feeds the IDF, starves Gazans, oppresses journalists

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 2/5/2009
      Once upon an alleged democracy, the Egyptian government decided a couple of days ago to try the journalist Majdi Hussein, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Labour party in a military court - even though he is a civilian - because he broke the law when he tried to "illegally enter the Gaza Strip".
     One wonders what is legal and what is not when it comes to Gaza.  It seems the law in Egypt is extremely elastic and can accommodate all manipulations and tailoring of the law to fit different sizes of growing plots. The good old Egyptian system is abiding by the law to the letter, and that’s why it wants to try a journalist in a military court for entering Gaza "˜illegally’ while the good old authority was providing the Israeli military "˜legally’ with tons of foods through the Gaza crossings while blocking any food sent to the starved to death children of Gaza who were burned to the bone by white phosphorus by that same Israeli army Egypt was feeding. -- See also: Egypt demands international delegates, reporters and supporters to leave Gaza

The limits of the Spanish 'Left' on its defence of the Palestinian people

Ángeles Diez - Translated by Manuel Talens, revised by Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 2/5/2009
      During the current Israeli aggression to Gaza both the Spanish Left and Right have built linguistic fences to position themselves around the problem. The case of the Spanish institutional Left is without any doubt paradigmatic: on one side there a party now in office – the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE – whose Minister of Foreign Affairs pretends to be a personal friend of Palestinians [1], whose Prime Minister Zapatero condemned the Israeli attacks during a PSOE meeting and whose militants (some of them) demonstrated in solidarity with Palestine. But on the other side, the government issued from this same party is among the ten main exporters of weapons to Israel, its secret services cooperates with their Israeli counterparts, it maintains preferential agreements with Tel Aviv, it supports the creation of the Sepharad-Israel House in Spain and it insists that what the party does is irrelevant to both the government’s performance and its State policies, which of course are to maintain very good diplomatic relations with “the great Israeli democracy” (so defined by the current UN President, Nicolas Sarkozy).
     If this schizophrenic performance characterizes the party in office, the case of other Spanish organizations – labour unions and other left-wing groups with institutional vocation – is no less disturbing....

Smoke, Mirrors and the Fog of Endless War

Syd Walker, Palestine Think Tank 2/5/2009
      A couple of days ago I wrote an article called Humiliating the USA an Israeli Hobby. As the title suggests, it was about the bizarre, inverted power relations between the mighty USA and the tiny State of Israel.
     The article hinged on a recent boast by Prime Minister Olmert that he ordered the US President to abstain on Resolution 1860 in the UN Security Council.
     I presume that report was accurate. The source was AFP. Major news agencies such as AFP are typically considered ’reliable’ sources. Even so, we can never assume that any source is 100% reliable. Journalists can make mistakes. Their sources can be mistaken, or lie deliberately.
     In the article, I made a brief reference to an older instance of the same type of bragging by an Israeli PM. Back in late 2001, Ariel Sharon was quoted as saying: "don’t worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America" in a conversation with then cabinet member Shimon Peres.
     I reported this outrageous Sharon quotation story for two reasons: (1) I believed it was true, and (2) it was relevant to the story as a whole.
     But is it really true? Two days ago, I thought so. Now I’m not so sure.

Let Netanyahu win

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 2/5/2009
      Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently be Israel’s next prime minister. There is, however, something encouraging about that fact. Netanyahu’s election will free Israel from the burden of deception: If he can establish a right-wing government, the veil will be lifted and the nation’s true face revealed to its citizens and the rest of the world, including Arab countries. Together with the world, we will see which direction we are facing and who we really are. The masquerade that has gone on for several years will finally come to an end.
     Netanyahu’s election is likely to bring the curtain down on the great fraud - the best show in town - the lie of "negotiations" and the injustice of the "peace process." Israel consistently claimed these acts proved the nation was focused on peace and the end of the occupation.
     For 16 years, we have been enamored with the peace process. We talk and talk, babble and prattle, and generally feel great about ourselves; meanwhile the settlements expand endlessly and Israel turns to the use of force at every possible opportunity, aside from a unilateral disengagement which did nothing to advance the cause of peace.

Nonviolence. Its histories and myths

Michael Neumann, CounterPunch, Palestine News Network 2/5/2009
      "The Palestinians will continue to choose, sometimes violence, sometimes non-violence. They will presumably base their choices, as they have always done, on their assessment of the political realities’The notion that a people can free itself literally by allowing their captors to walk all over them is historical fantasy".
     Sometime in the early 1960s, I decided I was too scared to participate in the Freedom Rides. I have neither the moral standing nor the slightest desire to disparage the courage of those who engage in non-violence. But non-violence, so often recommended to the Palestinians, has never ’worked’ in any politically relevant sense of the word, and there is no reason to suppose it ever will. It has never, largely on its own strength, achieved the political objectives of those who employed it.
     There are supposedly three major examples of successful non-violence: Gandhi's independence movement, the US civil rights movement, and the South African campaign against apartheid. None of them performed as advertised.