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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
13 February, 2009

Israel kills 14-year-old Palestinian boy
Middle East Online 2/13/2009
HEBRON, West Bank - A 14-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, medics and witnesses said. Ezzedine Al-Jamal died after being shot in the chest by soldiers who opened fire on young Palestinians hurling rocks towards them in an Israeli-controlled area of Hebron, the sources said. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed troops had shot a Palestinian. "We can confirm that during a riot near the Jewish community in Hebron a dozen Palestinians hurled rocks at an IDF (army) patrol. The soldiers identified the leader of the rioters, opened fire and identified hitting him," the spokesman said. He said incidents in which Palestinians hurl rocks at Israeli army patrols are becoming increasingly frequent in Hebron. The Palestinian territories of the West Bank, along with Gaza and east Jerusalem, have been under brutal and illegal Israeli occupation since 1967.

One dead, two injured in Israeli airstrike on southern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian was killed and two others were injured on Friday afternoon as Israeli warplanes targeted a motorcycle in the southern Gaza Strip. The strikes occurred in the town of Abasan Al-Kabira, which is east of Khan Younis. According to the de facto government Health Ministry’s director of Ambulance and Emergency Services, Muawiyah Hussanein, three Palestinians were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. One was pronounced dead on arrival while two others were injured, one seriously and another moderately. The military group affiliated with the National Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, announced that the first Israeli airstrike on Abasan targeted a group of militants affiliated to the group, injuring two of them seriously. Later on, Israeli warplanes carried out several raids targeting the border area between Egypt and southern Gaza in Rafah, injuring several others.

Hamas ’close to truce’ with Israel
Al Jazeera 2/13/2009
Officials from the Palestinian group Hamas have said that an 18-month ceasefire with Israel will be announced within three days. The officials, speaking in Egypt on Thursday, said the agreement would ensure the end of violence in Gaza and the opening of the territory’s border crossings. Moussa Abu Marzouq, the Hamas deputy political leader, told Al Jazeera that "in two, three days, Inshallah [God willing], we are going to announce the calm situation". Mahmoud al-Zahar, another senior Hamas official, said the parties were now just waiting for "the technical points - the communication between the Egyptian side with the Israelis in order to address the time. . . at what time and what date the ceasefire [will] start". Al Jazeera’s Amr El-Kahky, reporting from Cairo, said the apparent breakthrough came after senior Hamas officials met Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief, on Thursday.

Journalists capturing nonviolent Palestinian resistance targets of Israels
Ramallah, Palestine News Network 2/13/2009
PNN exclusive -- Western Ramallah began the weekly nonviolent demonstration in honor and memorial of Mohammad Qasim and Arafat Khawaja who were killed by Israeli forces during previous protests against occupation. The small town of Na’lin has made a name for itself. . . . . . through sheer fortitude in the face of aggressive policy much like that of nearby Bil’in, where Israeli forces injured dozens of people during today’s demonstration. Friday’s demonstration, which began in the morning, also marked solidarity for Gaza, still under siege and in chaos and mourning after the major attacks. For afternoon prayers residents and their supports chose lands slated for confiscation for the Israeli Wall. Armored military vehicles and jeeps were dispersed throughout the town, blocking entrances and harassing residents. In spite of the aggression, Palestinians prayed and delivered speeches on their lands.

Hamas and Fatah sit for pre-unity talks in Cairo, announce progress
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Gaza /Bethlehem – Ma’an Report – Meeting face to face for the first time in a year Fatah-Hamas meetings in Cairo covered obstacles and future paths for successful national dialogue. The Thursday night meeting saw members of the Fatah and Hamas delegations in Cairo set the stage for the scheduled 22 February talks between party leaders. Following the meeting Fatah spokesman Kamal Abu Shawish announced that among the topics covered were the human rights violations against Fatah members in Gaza during the Israeli assault on the area, and political arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank. Abu Shawish said he thinks these preparatory meetings “play a positive role in setting the stage for national dialogue, in an unsteady time in terms of security, politics, economics and civil unrest. ”Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum echoed the Fatah sentiments, saying the meetings were. . .

Dozens suffered teargas inhalation during the Bil’in Weekly Protest
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
The residents of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, gathered again after the Friday prayer in a protest joined by international and Israeli activists and groups. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling to stop crimes against civilians, break the siege on Gaza and stop settlement building. The protest left from the center of the village, calling for national unity and resisting the occupation, and headed towards the apartheid wall which is built on Bil’in’s land. An Israeli army unit was situated behind the wall and prevented the crowd from going through the gate, the army fired tear gas canisters to disturb the crowd, causing dozens to suffer gas inhalation. The popular Committee against the wall is still encouraging people to continue resisting the wall and the occupation despite the results of the recent Israeli elections, because all. . .

Teargas, rubber-coated bullets fired during weekly Bil’in protest
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Residents of the Ramallah-area village of Bil’in gathered again on Friday after prayers in a protest joined by international and Israeli activists and groups. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling to stop “crimes against civilians,” to break the siege on Gaza and stop settlement building. The protest left from the center of the village, calling for national unity and resisting the occupation, and headed towards the what protesters called the Apartheid Wall, which is being built on Bil’in’s land. An Israeli army unit was situated behind the wall and prevented the crowd from going through the gate, while the army fired teargas canisters to disperse the crowd, causing dozens to suffer gas inhalation. Others were shot with rubber-coated bullets. The Popular Committee Against the Wall encouraged more people to “continue resisting. . .

Death toll of Israeli war on Gaza continues to mount; 1,374th Gazan dies in Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The death toll of the Gaza war reached 1,374 Friday as Egyptian medical sources announced the death of a Gazan woman injured during Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip. Director of ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian health ministry Muawiya Hassanain identified the victim as 24-year-old Nay Fayiz Hasan. She had been transferred to the Egyptian hospital mid-way through the war. [end]

IAF bombs Gaza Strip target, killing militant
Anshel Pfeffer, News Agencies and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
An Israeli warplane bombed a target in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis Friday, killing one militant and critically wounding another. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the strike hit two Islamic Jihad militants who were planning a terrorist attack within Israel. The strike was the result of a joint operation of the IDF and the Shin Bet Security Services, the IDF spokesman said. Israeli aircraft later carried out six strikes on smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, an Israeli army spokesman said. There were no reports of casualties, Hamas security officials and local residents said. Earlier Friday, two Qassam rockets and a mortar shell fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip exploded in the western Negev, causing no casualties or damages.

Palestinians: 1 dead in IAF strike
Ali Waked, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Palestinian sources report one dead, three injured near Khan Younis; IDF says strike targeted global Jihad "terrorists" planning to carry out attack in Israel -The Air Force (IAF) bombed east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Palestinian sources reported one dead and three injured in the strike. According to Hamas and medical officials in the Strip, two gunmen belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees were critically wounded while riding a motorcycle near the town. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office confirmed the reports and stated that in a joint operation by the army and the Shin Bet, the Air Force bombed two "terrorists" belonging to the global Jihad’s wing in Gaza and identified a direct hit. The two terrorists, 28-year old Sleiman Abu-Sharitah and 27-year old Ali Kadera, were planning to carry out an attack in Israel, the statement said.

14-year-old Palestinian killed by Israel Border Police in Hebron
Anshel Pfeffer and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The Israel Border Police on Friday killed a 14-year-old Palestinian in Hebron during a clash between the Israeli forces and stone-throwing Palestinian youths. The IDF said dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks at a military guard tower next to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank city and a soldier shot the ringleader. On Thursday night, an Israel Defense Forces unit operating in the West Bank town of Qabatiyeh, near Jenin, found a five kilogram explosive device and a smaller pipe bomb. Border Police sappers safely detonated the explosives. Two Palestinians were arrested in Nablus for their alleged involvement in the incident, Army Radio reported. [end]

Fourteen-year-old boy shot dead by Israeli troops in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Hebron - Ma’an - Israeli soldiers shot and killed a child in Hebron near the Ibrahimi Mosque Friday afternoon. Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces near the Abu Al-Rish checkpoint that prevents many Palestinians from entering the Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs). Israeli soldiers opened fire at the group and killed 14-year-old Izz Al-Din Al-Jamal. Palestinian medical sources said the child died at the scene and arrived dead at Al-Muhtaseb Hospital. He had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. The child’s family condemned Israeli troops for killing their son, saying Izz Ad-Din had left the house to buy some dried goods at the corner store not far from the mosque.

Palestinians: IDF killed youth in Hebron
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 2/13/2009
IDF says troops at West Bank checkpoint shot at lower body of rioter who was throwing stones -A 14-year old Palestinian was killed Friday afternoon in Hebron in what was apparently a clash between stone-throwers and IDF soldiers. The IDF stated that dozens of Palestinians arrived at a checkpoint near the Jewish settlement in the city and began to throw massive amounts of stones at the forces stationed there. The statement said IDF troops responded by firing at the lower body of a major rioter, who was apparently inciting the rest of the Palestinians to violence. Later the Civil Administration reported that the boy who had been injured from the fire had died. The IDF is still investigating the report. Palestinian sources said the youth’s name was Izz a-Din Jamal, and that his body was found lying near the Cave of the Patriarchs with a gun wound in the chest.

Palestinian child killed by IOF in the west bank, two fighters wounded in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 2/13/2009
RAMALLAH, KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- IOF troops killed a Palestinian child on Friday in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil, and wounded two resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip according to Palestinian medical sources. Eyewitnesses said that IOF troops clashed with Palestinian youth near the Abu al-Rish roadblock, in Tariq Bin Ziad road near the Ibrahimi Mosque, where youth threw some stones at IOF and the IOF troops fired live ammunition at the youth killing 14-year-old Izziddin al-Jamal. Palestinian medical sources said that al-Jamal was taken to Muhammad al-Muhtasib hospital in al-Khalil with serious chest wounds were he died. The family of al-Jamal accused the IOF of killing their son in cold blood, saying that their son went out of the house to buy some stuff for his family from the shops and some youth threw stones at the IOF troops who responded by firing live ammunition killing their son.

PPP: Skin diseases spreading in Ramon detention facility
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
"The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported Thursday that a skin disease is spreading among the Palestinian detainees in Ramon Israeli detention facility, as nearly 50 detainees are suffering from allergies that are causing the skin to peal off. The PPS said that the disease was first found three months ago, but it was minor and was accompanied with small pimples that would burst and leave a small mark. But later on, the disease started spreading and started to affect different parts of the body, and one detainee also had the disease under his nails causing him to lose three of them. In a letter sent to the prison’s physician, the detainees said that the disease is rapidly spreading among them, but the administration failed to conduct the needed arrangements for treatment. Later on, the detainees held a protest and the administration allowed some of the detainees to be. . .

Hamas murder campaign in Gaza exposed
Rory McCarthy, Bethlehem, The Guardian 2/13/2009
Islamist regime has killed dozens and tortured others as ’collaborators’ with Israel in war’s aftermath, Amnesty and Guardian sources say - New evidence has emerged revealing the extent of the crackdown by Hamas during and after Israel’s war in Gaza last month. Amnesty International said Hamas forces and militias were involved in a "campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of ’collaborating’ with Israel, as well as opponents and critics". It said at least two dozen men had been shot by Hamas since the end of December and "scores of others" shot in the legs, kneecapped or beaten. Amnesty gave detailed accounts of some of the cases and said there was "incontrovertible evidence" that Hamas security forces and militia were "responsible for grave human rights abuses". -- See also: VIDEO - Living in the rubble: a Gaza family left homeless by the war

Palestinian Authority calls on Criminal Court to investigate Israeli war crimes in Gaza since 2002
PNN, Palestine News Network 2/13/2009
The Hague -- The Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs in the Palestinian National Authority was in The Hague on Friday. The PA has added its voice to hundreds of serious calls for a war crimes tribunal against the Israeli administration for violations in the Gaza Strip. The International Criminal Court is being asked again to open an investigation into war crimes committed by Israeli forces against Palestinians since 2002. Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Khashan told reporters in The Hague, "We have come here today to submit documents showing that as a State of Palestine (. . . ) able to resort to the court with a request to open an investigation into the crimes committed by the Israeli army. "He added, "We will further document war crimes and crimes against humanity not only in Gaza during the recent Israeli attacks, but also those that took place from 2002 through today. "

ICC pressed to probe Israeli ’war crimes’
Middle East Online 2/13/2009
THE HAGUE - Two Palestinian ministers Friday pressed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to launch a probe into Israeli war crimes they say have been committed against Palestinians since 2002. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riad al-Malki and his justice counterpart Ali Kashan told reporters they had submitted documents to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that prove Palestine is a legal state with the right to request such a probe. "Today we came to deliver a set of documents that shows that Palestine as a state. . . has the ability to present a case to the court and to ask for an investigation into crimes committed by the Israeli army," Kashan said on the steps outside the ICC in The Hague after a four-hour meeting. "We will deliver more information about war crimes and crimes against humanity -- not only in Gaza during the last Israeli attack, but also from 2002 until this moment," he added.

Palestinian ministers want Israel probed
AFP, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Ministers say Palestine is legal state, can therefore ask for probe on ’war crimes’ since 2002 -Two Palestinian ministers Friday pressed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to launch a probe into Israeli war crimes they claim have been committed against Palestinians since 2002. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riad al-Malki and his justice counterpart Ali Kashan told reporters they had submitted documents to ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that prove Palestine is a legal state with the right to request such a probe. "Today we came to deliver a set of documents that shows that Palestine as a state. . . has the ability to present a case to the court and to ask for an investigation into crimes committed by the Israeli army," Kashan said on the steps outside the ICC in The Hague after a four-hour meeting.

Palestinians urge war crimes case against Israel
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 2/13/2009
The Palestinian foreign and justice ministers are pressing prosecutors of the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes during the recent Gaza conflict. Justice Minister Ali Khashan said Friday that crimes against Palestinians should not go unpunished. Whether a case can proceed hinges on the validity of the Palestinian Authority’s declaration recognizing the court’s jurisdiction, since it does not represent a state. Israel does not accept the court’s authority. [end]

Scores join a nonviolent protest near Bethlehem
Anne Paq, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
On Friday more than one hundred Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators gathered at Al Ma’sara, a village near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Demonstrators display Palestinian flags from different political parties, and a banner calling for the release of Marwan Barghouthi. The large number of people was a response to an increase in threats from the Israeli military. Last week one of the main organizers of the protest was detained in an attempt to crush the demonstration which has been continued for the last two years. The demonstrators marched towards the barbed wire which was blocking the main road going to the village, shouting slogans and playing music in front of the Israeli soldiers. The demonstrators managed to remove the barbe wire, which was considered as a big symbolic success. One of the organizers stated that he hoped they will also manage to remove the barrier from inside the soldiers’ minds.

15 injured among them journalists during Nil’in weekly protest
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
On Friday midday Scores of villagers from Nil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, held their weekly protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village’s land by the Israeli settlement and annexation project. The activities started by a fotboal trounement between 19 teem from village in the West Bank. the tournament was detected to Mahmoud Qassm and Arafat Al Khawaja, the two boys who have been killed by the army during Nil’in protests two months ago. At noon the people held Friday prayers near the village lands, and then proceeded to march to the land being confiscated by Israel. Demonstrators carried banners calling for national unity and demanded an end to the Israeli occupation. As soon as locals and their international supporters arrived to the village where Israel is building the wall, soldiers showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.

No rest for the nonviolent resistance movement: S Bethlehem, Amherst, Tulkarem
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 2/13/2009
This week’s demonstration went on in southern Bethlehem’s Umm Salamua despite the presence of hundreds of settlers on nearby Artas Village’s Mount Abu Zrour. Israeli violations are omnipresent in the West Bank and therefore difficult to cover, but the southern Bethlehem villages like all of those under threat, including Umm Salamuna and Al Masra, cannot miss a beat. If they do even more land may be lost. The Wall is being built on confiscated lands blocking access from one Palestinian town to another, while Efrat Settlement is doing the same thing. Further north in the West Bank’s governorate of Tulkarem local organizers told PNN that they were adding a new product boycott component to the ongoing "Boycott Israel" campaign, illustrating once again that resistance comes in myriad forms requring only that it challenges the tenets of occupation from surface to core.

This Week in Palestine -Week 07 2009
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 13 m 0s || 11. 9 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. imemc. org, for February 7th through February 13th 2009. Hamas negotiators in Cairo stated that there is a possibility of reaching a ceasefire deal with Israel later this month. Meanwhile, four Palestinians die due to Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned. Nonviolent Activities Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura: The residents of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, again gathered after the Friday prayer in a protest joined by international and Israeli activists and solidarity groups. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling on the Israeli authorities to stop crimes. . .

PCHR Weekly Report: 4 Palestinians killed, 5 injured by Israeli forces
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, over the week of 05 - 11 Feb. 2009, Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinians, and another 5 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. One of the victims was extra-judicially executed by Israeli forces. Intensive air strikes also continued on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, forcing local people to evacuate their homes. Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Over the last week, Israeli forces conducted 32 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and one into the Gaza Strip. During those incursions, Israeli forces abducted 30 Palestinian civilians, including 10 children. On 5 February, Israeli forces extra-judicially executed a member of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad) in Qabatya village, southeast of Jenin.

3 Qassams hit western Negev
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Rocket fire from Gaza continues, despite reports on close truce agreement: Qassam lands in Eshkol Regional Council at around 6:30 am Friday; an hour later, two additional rockets land near Sderot. No injuries or damage reported - A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip on Friday morning landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel at around 6:30 am. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Almost an hour later, two additional rockets landed near Sderot. There were no injuries in this incident as well. The rockets were fired as Hamas reported of progress made in the Egyptian-mediate talks ahead of a lull agreement between the Palestinian organization and Israel. Deputy Hamas politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk said Thursday evening that such an understanding would be reached within two days.

Three homemade projectiles fired from Gaza hit western Negev
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – A homemade projectile fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel on Friday morning. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the attack,according to Israeli news reports. About one hour later, two other projectiles hit Sderot in the western Negev, again without causing injuries or damage, according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Meanwhile, Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said Egypt will announce a truce between Palestinians and Israelis within the next two days, according to a statement. After making several contacts with other Palestinian factions and the Israeli side, Abu Marzouk confirmed to the Middle East News Agency on Thursday evening. "We have accepted the truce with the Israeli side for a year and. . .

Hizbullah in Palestine claims attacks on Sderot and Negev
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hizbullah Brigades in Palestine claimed responsibility for attacking Sderot and the western Negev with two projectiles at dawn on Friday, according to a statement. The two projectiles were launched toward Sderot and the western Negev at around 5:30am on Friday, the group said, insisting that more attacks on Israeli forces were still to come. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the attacks, according to Israeli news reports. Regardless, a Palestinian was killed and two others were injured on Friday afternoon as Israeli warplanes targeted a motorcycle in the southern Gaza Strip. The strikes occurred in the town of Abasan Al-Kabira, which is east of Khan Younis. According to the de facto government Health Ministry’s director of Ambulance and Emergency Services, Muawiyah Hussanein, three Palestinians were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

Israeli troops discover explosive device south of Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers discovered an improvised explosive device and other bomb parts in a village near Jenin on Friday morning, according to Israeli sources. The device reportedly weighs some five kilograms, separately from a detonator found nearby. Soldiers reported that the device was detonated away from the village of Qabatia, south of Jenin, where it was discovered on Friday. One source reported that the situation “is under control. ”Soldiers also detained a number of residents in southeast Nablus. They were reportedly on a “wanted” list and were taken to nearby investigation centers for interrogation. [end]

Israel allows Arab citizens into Nablus without permits
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – An official Palestinian Authority spokesperson in Nablus told Ma’an on Friday morning that Palestinian citizens of Israel will be permitted to enter the city in private vehicles on Saturday. In a departure from past experience, Israel will allow the Palestinian citizens to visit family without first seeking permission, the spokesperson added in a telephone interview. Those interested in entering Nablus will not be required to receive special permission for transport between two checkpoints, Beit Ibba and Beit Furik, the spokesperson added. According to Israel Radio on Friday morning, the decision was made for the first time in five years, and it follows a previous decision three months earlier to permit Palestinians west of the Green Line to visit Jenin, as well.

One dead in Israeli strike on Gaza as Hamas says truce ready
Mai Yaghi, Daily Star 2/14/2009
Agence France Presse - GAZA CITY: Israel on Friday launched an air strike that killed an alleged militant on Friday, hours after a rocket attack and the announcement by the Hamas movement that it had accepted an Egyptian-brokered truce deal. "We have agreed to the truce with the Israeli side for a year and a half [in return] for the opening of all six passages between the Gaza Strip and Israel," deputy Hamas leader Mussa Abu Marzuk told the MENA new agency. Egypt will announce the agreement after contacting Israel and the Palestinian factions, he said after talks with Cairo mediators. Israel has yet to comment. Israel imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza after Hamas won democratic elections deemed free and fair by international observers in 2006. In 2007, the Islamists took power by force in what many have termed a pre-empting of an impeding offensive by the Fatah. . .

Hamas: Factions to sign 18-month truce within 48 hours
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Cairo - Ma’an - Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said Egypt will announce a truce between Palestinians and Israelis within the next two days, according to a statement. After making several contacts with other Palestinian factions and the Israeli side, Abu Marzouk confirmed to the Middle East News Agency on Thursday evening a deal is in the works. "We have accepted the truce with the Israeli side for a year and a half, in which the six crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel will be opened, while Israel has to stop any military aggression," he said. He added that there remain a number of obstacles to overcome, particularly a detainee swap, explaining that the truce has been isolated from the case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. "We want the release of our detainees in exchange for Shalit," Abu Marzouk noted, saying Hamas has already submitted a list of names of Palestinian prisoners.

PRC spokesperson: No real progress on Shalit case
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – “Real” indirect negotiations on the case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have not started yet, said spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees, Abu Mujahid on Friday. Abu Mujahid was commenting on the recent report from the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper claiming that a Shalit deal would come before Wednesday along with a ceasefire agreement. Yes we are close to a ceasefire deal, Abu Mujahid told Ma’an, but until that deal is set we cannot move on to the separate case of Shalit and the prisoner swap. Shalit’s captors are adamant in their demands, he noted, and explained that no progress can be made unless Israelaccepts to release 1,400 Palestinian detainees including long-term prisoners, and those Israeli describes as having “their hands dripping with blood. ” Included in the demands is the release of 450 Palestinian faction leaders includingMarwan Barghouthi and Ahmad Sa’adat.

Mashaal: Ceasefire may suffer delay
AFP, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Exiled Hamas leader says complication may keep Egypt from announcing Gaza truce deal on Sunday -The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, toldon Friday that there was a hitch in Egyptian mediators’ plans to announce a truce with Israel in and around the territory this weekend. "The Egyptians had told us that the announcement of this truce would be made on Sunday but there has been a complication and we don’t know if that date will be kept to," Meshaal told without specifying the nature of the problem. The Damascus-based Hamas leader, who had just arrived in the Qatari capital after a mini-tour of regional states deemed sympathetic to his organization, said that the Egyptian mediators were discussing the problem but that he did not believe that the original timetable would be adhered to.

Abu Marzouq: Egypt will announce the Tahde’a within 48 hours
Palestinian Information Center 2/13/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouq, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, announced in Cairo that Egypt will announce an 18-month Tahde’a (truce) in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the Palestinian resistance faction on the one hand and the Zionist entity on the other. He told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that Hamas has agreed to an 18-month Tahde’a with the Zionist side and that Egypt will announce it after contacting other resistance groups and the Zionist side. He pointed out that the issue of the captured soldier Gilad Shalit is outside this agreement, adding that Hamas aims to free Palestinian captives in exchange for Shalit and that if the Zionist side agreed to the terms of the prisoner exchange then it will take place.

Hamas said ready to sign deal on Shalit release
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Hamas is prepared to sign a deal next week for the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit as part of a long-term truce agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported on Friday. According to the report, Hamas will cement the truce within the next few days and finalize the deal to free Shalit by Wednesday. Palestinian sources told Al-Hayat that Shalit, who was captured by Hamas-allied militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel, would be freed in exchange for 1,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel. According to the report, the deal would include the release of women and children, as well as a number of Palestinian lawmakers and ministers. Egypt has been trying to broker a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, which is holding Shalit.

Hamas official: Egypt to declare Israeli-Palestinian truce within two days
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouq, vice-president of the political bureau of Hamas, stated on Thursday at night that in the coming two days Egypt would declare truce between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, the Maan News Agency reported. Abu Marzouq added that Hamas agreed to an 18-month truce which will lead to opening the six terminals between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and halting all forms of military activities. He said that this anticipated deal was formulated after talks with all Palestinian factions and Egyptian-mediated talks with Israel. In an interview with the Middle East news agency, Abu Marzouq said that Hamas accepted an 18-month truce with Israel after most of the obstacles were resolved. The Hamas official added that one of the obstacles was the prisoner-swap deal, and explained that the issue of Gilad Shalit is not part of the truce deal.

Hamas official: Cease-fire announcement in three days
Yair Ettinger, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Israel and Hamas will announce a cease-fire in three days, a senior Hamas official said in Cairo yesterday. "Most of the obstacles that prevented us from reaching an agreement were resolved, and the announcement of a deal is expected within three days," said Taher al-Nono, a member of Hamas’ negotiating team in Egypt. Israeli sources involved in the negotiations told Haaretz that the final announcement would also reference kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been in Hamas custody for more than two years. Israel also wants guarantees that Hamas will be blocked from smuggling weapons into Gaza. The Egyptian negotiators were expected to release an announcement yesterday, too, but they did not do so. It remained unclear whether the Egyptian announcement would include a reference to Shalit, or a more general call to broaden indirect talks between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas agrees new truce deal with Israel
Middle East Online 2/13/2009
CAIRO - The democratically elected movement of Hamas has accepted an Egyptian-brokered 18-month truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip which Egypt will announce in 48 hours, state news agency MENA quoted a senior Hamas official as saying on Thursday. Mussa Abu Marzuk, the movement’s deputy leader, said after meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman that Hamas had accepted the truce in return for the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. "We have agreed to the truce with the Israeli side for one year and a half (in return) for the opening of all six passages between the Gaza Strip and Israel," MENA quoted him as saying. Egypt will announce the agreement after contacting Israel and Palestinian factions, he said. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev did not wish to comment. Abu Marzuk, who headed a senior Hamas delegation in Cairo, said difficulties that. . .

Hamas: Truce won’t include Schalit
Brenda Gazzar And Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 2/12/2009
Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Thursday that his organization supports an 18-month truce with Israel, though it would not be linked to a prisoner exchange deal to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Reuters quoted Abu Marzouk as saying that the Egypt-mediated truce would be announced in the coming two or three days. "It will be in a short period, God willing"¦ within two days," he said. Abu Marzouk, in Cairo for truce talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, told Al-Jazeera that Hamas was waiting for Israel to approve the details of the emerging agreement. Taher Nunu, another member of the Hamas delegation in Egypt, also said the cease-fire would be officially announced within three days. "Most of the obstacles preventing us from consolidating an agreement have already been solved," Nunu said, adding. . .

Bereaved father: Don’t release murderers
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Yossi Tzur, whose son died in Haifa attack, urges Olmert not to swap terrorists in Shalit deal -"The State of Israel betrayed my son for the first time when it allowed a suicide bomber to come to Haifa from Hebron, and now it is betraying him for a second time," a bereaved father wrote to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Friday. Yossi Tzur, who lost his son in a suicide attack on a Haifa bus six years ago, wrote a letter to Olmert after hearing reports that a prisoner swap deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit may necessitate the release of the men responsible for the attack. The prisoners, Mouaz Abu-Sharkh and Majdi Amru, were dealt 17 life sentences for sending Mahmoud Amdan Salim Kwasme to carry out the attack on March 5, 2003. Seventeen people were murdered, including Asaf Tzur, who was 16 years old.

’Pragmatism will prevail’
The Guardian 2/13/2009
Arab voices: "The ascent of the Israeli right does not worry us. In whatever form, the government, once in power, will ultimately end up with responsibility, pragmatism prevailing. "- Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas / "Any future Israeli government that does not honour Israel’s past agreements with the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation], that does not totally freeze all settlement activity, that does not deal seriously with the Arab peace initiative, and that does not believe in a two-state solution based on 1967 borders, cannot be a partner for peace with the Palestinians. "- Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat / "The election results show the Zionists are leaning towards more extremism, crime and terrorism against the Palestinian people and they do not know the language of peace. That requires our people and our factions of resistance to unite and to. . . "

Israeli forces ransack home of PA official near Qalqiliya
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Qalqiliya – Ma’an – Israeli forces ransacked the home of a senior Palestinian Authority official in the central West Bank town of Jayyous on Thursday, according to medics. The official, Interior Ministry Director for Qalqiliya Bahjat Al-Jayyousi, also sustained minor injuries when soldiers assaulted him and his family. Al-Jayyousi remained hospitalized on Friday with moderate wounds and bruises, medical sources told Ma’an. [end]

PA health minister says NYT report ’missed the point’; jilted patients say same of health system
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The New York Times article on the PA’s policy toward paying Israeli hospitals to treat Palestinians is “inaccurate and misleading,” the health minister for the caretaker government in Ramallah said Thursday. The Ministry of Health said the Times got the story wrong, although 57 children, cancer patients at Israel’s Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, have been told to seek treatment elsewhere. In the 10 February Times article, "Palestinians Stop Paying Israeli Hospitals for Gaza and West Bank Patients," journalist Ethan Bonner detailed a supposed decision by the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to stop “paying for their treatment, partly in anger over the war in Gaza. ”The PA “does not directly pay Israeli hospitals for their services to our patients,” Minister Fathi Abu Moghli explained in a statement to the Times, explaining that when patients are referred to Israeli hospitals for treatment their fees are “paid through direct tax deductions from taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the PA.

PLO to Israel: Negotiations must include Arab Initiative terms
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – The secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said on Thursday that negotiations will end if Israel fails to abide by international agreements to resolve the decades-old occupation. PLO Secretary-General Yaser Abed Rabu said Israel must comply with the Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative, which grants Israel full relations with all Arab League countries in exchange for a full withdrawal of forces to Israel’s borders. “Our options are clear toward the coming Israeli government,” Rabu said, noting that the PLO will “not deal with any new Israeli government if it does not despond to the Arab Peace Initiative and halt settlement expansion. ”At a news conference in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, Rabu added that the PLO will “not repeat this deceptive game; we are done with it.

PA minister: Civil service salaries delayed because donor money late
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian Authority delayed payment of civil servants’ salaries because money from donor countries are late, said minister of agriculture for the caretaker government Mahmoud Al-Habbash on Friday. Rumors surfaced that civil servants salaries might be delayed due to the PA’s 67 million US dollar commitment to Gaza Aid on 5 February. Union officials were told that salaries would be paid by 8 February. On the 7th an announcement saying salaries would not be paid until mid-month was made public. Al-Habbash said the PA has been suffering from a budget deficit for the last 20 months and can’t afford to pay salaries from their own budget. “We hope money will be received within a few days,” he said. Commenting on the expected strikes by unions and employees, he said, “The government and the people are in the same bunker, and we expect employees to understand the dire conditions we are living in and work with us.

’I was accused of being everything from Israeli spy to Hamas militant’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The rules were simple: Don’t touch the blindfold. The handcuffs stay on. Speak only when spoken to - and then only in a low voice. Newly released German-Egyptian activist Philip Rizk said Thursday that he was interrogated by Egypt’s State Security for four days, accused of being everything from an Israeli spy to a gunrunner for the militant group Hamas. Rizk was held in solitary confinement for four days while friends, family and German diplomats inquired about his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention. Then he was abruptly dropped off at his apartment before dawn Wednesday. His detention reflects Egypt’s increasing sensitivity over any criticism of its policies on Gaza and Hamas. Hundreds of members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed, along with a half dozen young vocal bloggers like Rizk who put their criticism online.

Gaza government welcomes unity talks, calls for releasing political prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 2/13/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA government in Gaza under the premiership of Ismail Haneyya welcomed the efforts to end the state of Palestinian discord and called on Ramallah to release political prisoners to create the right atmosphere. The government called, during its meeting in Gaza on Thursday, for ending all practices that mar the atmosphere for dialogue, including the cutting of salaries of public employees, the dismissal of employees and arrests based on political considerations. The government also stressed that any Tahde’a reached with the Zionist occupation should serve the Palestinian people’s interests by lifting the siege and opening all crossings and expediting the reconstruction program of Gaza. On the Israeli elections the government said that to the Palestinian people all Israeli parties are the same, they all stand against Palestinian rights and they all commit massacres and practice terror against the Palestinian people.

Hamas and Fatah agree to stop media campaigns in a meeting in Cairo
Palestinian Information Center 2/13/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- A Hamas delegation lead by Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouq met Thursday evening with a Fatah delegation lead by Ahmad Qurai and mutually agreed to stop media campaigns against one another. Both parties stressed in the joint statement after the meeting that both parties are serious about ending the state of division and to furnish the right atmosphere for inter-Palestinian dialogue. Both parties also agreed to approve mechanisms for ending political arrests and closure of civil institutions to provide the right atmosphere for successful talks to be held in Cairo on 22nd February. The joint statement also said that the meetings and the talks to follow aim to satisfy popular demands for unity to face aggression of the occupier and the realize the inalienable Palestinian rights. The statement also said that the issue of the Egyptian sponsored truce was also discussed in the meeting.

The official PA press agency WAFA ignores the Hamas-Fatah joint statement
Palestinian Information Center 2/13/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The official PA press agency (WAFA) has chosen not to publish the Fatah-Hamas joint statement and instead is publishing fabricated items inciting against Hamas. According to PIC correspondent WAFA continued to highlight fabricated stories about Hamas’s "atrocities" in Gaza, instead of publishing the joint statement made after a meeting between Hamas and Fatah delegates in Cairo and which specifically calls for an end to media campaigns to clear the atmosphere for unity talks. Mahmoud Abbas, the former PA president, has given responsibility of WAFA and all other official PA media to Yaser Abed Rabbuh, the PLO secretary who is also well known for his inclination to the Zio-American agenda and opposition to Palestinian reconciliation. WAFA has highlighted statements made by Abed Rabbuh in which he talks about financial difficulties the PA in Ramallah is going through,. . .

Al Ghoul: Must internal divisions, restore unity to counter the upcoming Israeli government
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
Kayid Al Ghoul, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) stated Thursday that Israeli politics never change, and that "in Israel, only faces come and go" while the Palestinians have no option but to restore internal unity and end internal divisions. The statements of Al Ghoul came as he was commenting on the results of the Israeli elections in which extreme right wing parties obtained higher percentages. He said that the outcome of the Israeli elections reflects the Israeli attitude towards continuing settlement construction and expansion in the occupied West Bank, and also reflects Israel’s intentions to continue its policies of war and aggression against the Palestinians. The PFLP political leader said that these results prove that racism and denying the Palestinian legitimate rights are strengthening in the Israeli society,. . .

Hamas providing emergency relief to Gazans
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/13/2009
GAZA CITY, 13 February 2009 (IRIN) - The Hamas government in Gaza has said it is trying to help thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes and/or loved ones in the 22-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January. According to deputy minister of social affairs, Sobhi Redwan, Hamas has so far spent an estimated US$50 million on emergency relief assistance, but more aid is needed. Scores of men have been queueing up outside the deputy minister’s office to try to persuade officials they need emergency food assistance and have not received any aid from the UN or other agencies. " We are supplying all people in Gaza who are in need. It is the government’s duty to provide relief during and after the war," Redwan told IRIN on 11 February. The government has formed a "national high committee for relief" comprised of representatives from all Gaza factions except Fatah.

15 Palestinians escape from PA prison
Ali Waked, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Ynet learned that men were imprisoned in Jericho as part of amnesty agreement between Israel, PA -Altogether 15 prisoners escaped Friday afternoon from a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho. Ynet has learned that most of the prisoners belonged to al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, and were being held there as part of Israel’s amnesty agreement with the PA. Twelve of the prisoners were wanted men from different parts of the West Bank who had been imprisoned in order to maintain an amnesty agreement between Israel and the PA, which grants pardon to members of terror groups who sign contracts committing them to good behavior. PA officials stated that the prisoners had dug a tunnel dozens of meters long underneath their cells in order to escape. The escape follows complaints by prisoners held at the Jericho prison, who claimed they were being excluded from the amnesty agreement.

13 prisoners escape from PA’s prison in Jericho
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Thirteen Palestinian prisoners afternoon escaped from a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho Friday afternoon, Palestinian security source told Ma’an. According to the security source, nine of the detainees who escaped are officers in the PA’s security services accused of petty crimes. Four others are “wanted by Israeli intelligence. ”“Those who escaped are now fugitives,” source said. Palestinian security is currently on a wide-scale manhunt in an attempt to re-arrest the men, Majid Faraj, head of the Palestinian military intelligence service in the West Bank. [end]

Irish civil society and trade unions support BDS
Stop The Wall 2/13/2009
Irish civil society and trade unions have voiced thier support of BDS following the assault on the Gaza Strip. A number of groups and individuals from Irish civil society have again called for BDS, while the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is set to launch a boycott of Israeli goods. A full-page advertisement was published in The Irish Times on 31 January 2009 explaining the situation in Palestine and calling for BDS. The signatories of the letter, who represented various groups in Irish civil society, demanded that the Irish government cease its purchases of Israeli military products, call for an arms embargo, and veto the proposed upgrades in EU – Israel relations. The Irish people were called on to boycott Israeli goods and services. The ICTU has also announced its intention of launching a boycott of Israeli goods. This development came after senior members who visited Palestine on a fact-finding mission were shocked by the situation on the ground.

3,000 inmates could not vote for lack of IDs
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Some 3,000 prisoners could not exercise their right to vote in the general election, Haaretz has learned. This is one-quarter of all eligible prisoners. The Israel Prison Service stated these inmates could not vote because they did not have valid identity cards. Asked why the prison administration could not use its own detailed inmate records, Prison Service legal adviser Haim Shmeulevitz stated that this would be illegal. In the previous general election, more than 70 percent of eligible prisoners turned out to vote - more than the national average. On Tuesday, prisoner turnout did not reach 60 percent. Shmeulevitz said prisoners are reluctant to order new identity cards because the government charges a NIS 105 fee. "Many prisoners decided against paying this fee," he said.

’Ethiopian tenants? Out of the question’
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Real estate agent trying to find apartment in Ashkelon for new immigrants shocked to discover building has policy of not selling flats to Ethiopians, ’because it drops the apartments’ value. ’ Deputy mayor: Unfortunately, I’ve encountered this problem many times - Ugly racism in Ashkelon: R. , a real estate agent from Ashkelon, arrived at a building in one of the southern city’s neighborhoods recently with a couple of new immigrants, and was shocked to discover that the place has a policy of not selling apartments to Ethiopians. A thorough investigation revealed that this policy is shared by all of the building’s tenants, and perhaps the residents of additional buildings in the area as well - most of them of Russian descent. In a conversation the real estate agent had with A. , the owner of one of the building’s apartments, A. asked about the potential buyers. When he heard that they were Ethiopian immigrants, he replied, "Out of the question… This is unacceptable in my apartment. "

PSC press release on divestment in companies profiting from the occupation
Press Release - Palestine Solidarity Campaign, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
Over this past weekend, 7th and 8th of February, the Church of England clarified their position on their investments in companies profiting from the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and now wish to make clear that late last year they removed over £2. 2 million in Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are been used to destroy the homes of Palestinians by the Israeli government. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) welcomes this decision. Betty Hunter General Secretary of PSC said:"This is a clear message from the Church of England that they will not have their money tied up in companies that are directly or indirectly engaged in the suppression of the rights of Palestinians. The Church’s removal of £2. 2 million is a significant blow to those who say that ethical and morally responsible investments can’t be used as a peaceful weapon against the Israeli Government. -- See also: Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Who Profits from the Israeli Occupation?

Irish trade unionists, U. Manchester students decide to boycott Israel
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Irish trade unionists said this week that they plan to launch a boycott of Israeli goods this year. On Wednesday, the University of Manchester’s student union adopted a resolution supporting a boycott of Israel. In moving ahead with plans to boycott Israel, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) says it is relying on "evidence" left in the aftermath of December’s Israeli invasion of Gaza. The union is also said to be drawing from a "fact-finding mission" to Gaza by a dozen of its senior members more than a year ago. Leaders within the ICTU are to hold a conference this year to act as "a springboard" for their campaign. " The trip was over a year ago but its campaign will move up a gear this year with a major conference to highlight the Palestinian-Israeli situation, while research on a boycott of Israeli goods to press for a settlement will also be finalized," a statement by the organization read.

Hampshire College cuts ties with fund invested in Israel
Peter Schworm, Boston Globe 2/12/2009
Student activists at Hampshire College are hailing a divestment decision by the board of trustees that they say makes the college the first in the country to break financial ties with companies specifically because they do business with Israel. But the college strenuously denies the move was politically motivated. The campus group at the Amherst school, Students for Justice in Palestine, said it had pressured the board to divest from six companies because of human rights concerns in the Palestinian territories. The group said it urged trustees to sell off holdings in a mutual fund run by State Street Global Advisors that invests in companies that "provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza." But in a statement released today, university officials said the decision to divest from the fund was made "without reference to any country or political movement."

Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation
Students for Justice in Palestine - Hampshire College, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U. S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s "institutional statement" calling for the divestment. The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel. Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire’s Board of Trustees confirm. . . -- See also: Students For Justice In Palestine - Hampshire College

First US campus divests!
Stop The Wall 2/13/2009
Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has become the first of any college or university in the US to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in supporting the ongoing occupation of Palestine. This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. More than 800 students, professors and alumni have signed SJP’s "institutional statement" calling for the divestment. The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 February 2009 by the Board. SJP has stated that Hampshire has distanced itself from war crimes and occupation by following through with the divestment measures.

US college cuts ties with Israeli occupation-affiliated businesses
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts has become the first of any college or university in the US to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s "institutional statement" calling for the divestment. The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies,” SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel,” according to a statement.

Israel permits 250 tons of aid and goods into Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel permitted some 250 tons of goods and aid [5. 33 ounces of relief per Gaza resident - Ed. ] into the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to an Egyptian official. The aid was transferred on the Oja Land Road through central Sinai on Thursday. About 130 tons of dried foodstuffs and 60 tons of plastic tents were donated by Switzerland, including about 42 tons of blankets and 18 tons of clothing, as well. The corpse of a woman being unsuccessfully treated for injuries in Cairo was allowed back in to the Gaza Strip through Rafah, as well. According to the official Egyptian source, the woman was identified as 55-year-old Sadiqa Abdullah Abden Wahab. [end]

News in Brief - Israel: Two-thirds of Palestinians killed in Gaza were members of ’terror organizations’
Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Israel says that about two-thirds of the Palestinians who were killed in the Gaza fighting were members of terror organizations who took part in the fighting, Channel 2 News reported yesterday. These include the Hamas police cadets who were killed in an Israeli air strike at the beginning of the operation. Channel 2 cited a report issued by Military Intelligence and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, listing 1,134 Palestinian fatalities, 673 of which belonged to Hamas and other groups. Only 288 were innocent civilians, the report says. The Palestinians reported 1,330 fatalities but did not submit their names. (Amos Harel) Two Israeli Druze were recently convicted of giving Syria military information. Military censors lifted a gag order on the story yesterday. The two Druze were in communication with two Syrian army officers, providing them with information during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Israel allows export of 25,000 carnations from Gaza to Europe
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Israel on Thursday allowed Palestinian flower growers to export 25,000 blooms from the Gaza Strip to Europe ahead of Valentine’s Day. The amount of carnations allowed out of the Gaza Strip was only a fraction of what farmers produce. Many farmers say they have no choice but to feed the crop to sheep. Israel tightened its blockade of Gaza after Hamas Islamists wrested control of the territory from President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah faction in 2007. Israel allows in aid, but exports are banned with few exceptions. Defense official Peter Lerner said Israel allowed Thursday’s exports at the request of the Netherlands. From Israel, they will be shipped to Europe for the holiday on Feb. 14. It is unclear if Israel will allow future exports. Through Egyptian mediation, Israel and Hamas are negotiating a longer-term truce following a 22-day war that left large parts of Gaza in ruins.

Israel allows Valentine carnations out of Gaza
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 2/13/2009
Israel has made a pre-Valentine’s Day gesture by allowing 25,000 carnations to cross the border in the first exports permitted from blockaded Gaza in a year. But the shipment through the Kerem Shalom crossing was condemned as a "propaganda" move by Gaza growers used to exporting 37 to 40 million carnations a year and are unlikely to reach Europe in time to be sold in shops tomorrow. Major Peter Lerner, of the military’s civil co-ordination office, said Israel had agreed to relax the blockade for the carnations at the request of the Dutch government, which has long promoted production of carnations grown in the southern Gaza Strip. But Abdul Karim Ashour of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees in Gaza said that about 70 per cent of Gaza’s carnation crop had already been lost because of the inability to export and because the blockade had prevented growers from importing seeds and pesticides early enough.

U.K. anti-Semitism on the rise after Israel’s Gaza operation
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The number of anti-Semitic attacks on British Jews rose sharply after the start of the conflict in Gaza, a Jewish charity said Friday. The London-based Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism and works to safeguard the Jewish community in Britain, said 250 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the four weeks after Dec. 27, when Israel launched attacks on Gaza to stop Hamas rocket attacks. That compares to 40 incidents from the same period the year before. Dave Rich, a spokesman for the trust, said Jews in Britain are unfairly seen as local representatives of Israel - a view that fuels some of the anti-Semitic attacks. "This is racism," he said. "And like all forms of racism, it is unacceptable. "The trust said crimes included assaults, damage to Jewish property, threats, hate mail, verbal abuse and anti-Semitic graffiti.

Israel’s political future in hands of man who shuns international law
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 2/14/2009
RAMALLAH: "The peace process is based on three false basic assumptions," said Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Israel’s extreme right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which will dictate the formation and political course of the next Israeli government. "These include the assertion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause of instability in the Middle East, that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict. "Lieberman’s politics and ideology fly in the face of international law, various UN Security Council resolutions, the basis of all Israeli peace agreements with the Palestinians, moderate Israelis, and the US government. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu emerged from Tuesday’s elections the big winner although it came in third behind the center-left Kadima. . .

In Gaza, Palestinians react to Israeli elections
Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 2/13/2009
As Israelis voted on Tuesday for a new government, Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip continue to rebuild from the three-week long attack on their territory which killed at least 1,350 people, including more than 400 children, and injured more than 5,500. While many commentators say that the results of the Israeli elections matter to the prospects for peace, Palestinians voiced less optimistic views in bomb-ravaged Gaza. In the relatively calm streets of Gaza City, Nabil Hejazi, 42, hoped the election might make a positive difference, yet he seemed pessimistic toward any improvement of life conditions across Gaza. "I pray to God that these elections turn out to be good, but the Israeli actions and policies toward us are the same, whichever party wins. They only plan for the sake of their own interests". The war on Gaza was initiated by three key Israeli leaders; the outgoing

Turkey: Israel, Syria were close to peace before Gaza assault
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – A Turkish official said on Friday that Israel and Syria were close to announcing face-to-face negotiations for a peace agreement before Israel launched its three-week assault on Gaza in late December. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had spoken with Syrian President Bashar Assad when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Ankara one week earlier, an Israeli newspaper reported on Friday. The two leaders had drafted a joint statement, according to the Turkish official. But just days after the preparations had been made, Israel launched its Operation: Cast Lead into the Gaza Strip, leaving Erdegan feeling “betrayed,” Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported. "Nobody imagined that Olmert would go behind Erdogan’s back like that and not even hint that he intended to start fighting in Gaza," the Turkish official reportedly told Ha’aretz.

Week before Gaza op, Israel and Syria were ready for direct talks
Zvi Barel, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Israel and Syria were about to announce that they would speak directly a week before the fighting in Gaza broke out, a Turkish official said. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had spoken with Syrian President Bashar Assad during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s visit to Ankara, and had mediated in crafting a joint statement. But a few days later, while still awaiting Olmert’s approval for the statement, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and Erdogan felt betrayed. "Nobody imagined that Olmert would go behind Erdogan’s back like that and not even hint that he intended to start fighting in Gaza," the Turkish official said. Erdogan had invited Olmert to his official residence after he met Turkey’s president. He suggested calling Assad and drafting a joint announcement about a direct discussion between the Israeli and Syrian delegations.

News Coverage Throws Up Arab Rifts
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 2/13/2009
CAIRO, Feb 13(IPS) - Coverage of Israel’s recent war on the Gaza Strip by regional news stations has reflected longstanding political divisions within the Arab world. Qatar-based Al- Jazeera’s reporting drew a particularly angry response from Egypt. "Coverage of the Gaza conflict by certain Arab language news channels aggravated the rift between the Arab ’moderate’ and ’rejectionist’ camps," Mohamed Mansour, professor of mass media at Cairo University told IPS. From Dec. 27 to Jan. 17, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery in a three-week campaign that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians. The assault came in ostensible retaliation for rockets fired at Israel by Gaza- based Palestinian resistance factions, chief among them Hamas. Over the course of the assault, Arabic-language television channels covered events closely.

Egypt’s Star Rising in Regional Politics
Analysis by Helena Cobban, Inter Press Service 2/13/2009
CAIRO, Feb 13(IPS) - Back in mid-December, many Middle Easterners were daring to hope that, with the imminent end of George Bush’s presidency, their own deeply U. S. -influenced region might see a new day of peacemaking and inclusiveness in place of the recent years of war, confrontation, discrimination and distrust. Since then, two major developments have occurred that have almost overshadowed the excitement of Barack Obama’s inauguration as U. S. president: Israel’s 23-day war on Gaza and the ascendancy of rightwing parties in Israel’s Feb. 10 election. Participants in the ever-shifting system of Middle East politics - and it does act as a system, however complex - are still figuring out, and adjusting to, the political fallout from the Gaza war. Now, they’re starting to do that for the Israeli elections, too, and some main trends already seem clear.

Netanyahu, Livni and Barak seen coming together for new coalition
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/14/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel on Friday braced for weeks of political uncertainty and a paralyzed peace process after final results confirmed Kadima narrowly won the election but indicated Likud was better placed to form a government. The center-right Kadima party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won 28 of the 120 parliamentary seats, just one more than Likud, the right-wing party led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Livni’s narrow edge in Tuesday’s vote does not guarantee her a shot at becoming prime minister. Most pundits predict Netanyahu will be the one tapped to form a government. Under Israeli law, the person most likely to secure majority support in Parliament - and not automatically the winner of the vote - gets the first crack at the top job. The task is complicated by the fact parties need only two percent of the vote to get a seat in the Knesset.

Kadima rules out joining extreme rightwing coalition
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 2/13/2009
[Includes audio] As Israeli leaders tried to break out of their political deadlock yesterday, a senior figure in Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party said they would not join an extreme rightwing government led by their rival Binyamin Netanyahu. Kadima won Tuesday’s elections by a single seat but is struggling to form a majority coalition that would see Livni become only the second female prime minister in Israel’s history. Most analysts expect Netanyahu, leader of the second-placed Likud, to eventually emerge as the country’s next leader, although there are still days of tough negotiations ahead. "We won the battle, but lost the war," one Kadima minister was reported as saying. Netanyahu is thought to want to form a broad coalition that includes Kadima, rather than rely on rightwing parties who would oppose any peace moves with the Palestinians, bringing confrontation with Washington.

Rabbi Aviner: Halacha bans Arabs from Knesset
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Prominent Zionist rabbi says Jewish state should be led by Jews, but claims that since Arabs lack any real influence on Israeli reality, ’things are not so bad’ - A prominent Zionist rabbi ruled this week that according to the Halacha, a non-Jew cannot serve as a Knesset member in the State of Israel, even if the public agrees to it. "This is irrelevant," said Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, "This is a Jewish state and Jews are the ones leading the Jewish state. " Aviner was asked on his weblog whether the election of non-Jews to parliament does not undermine the government’s authority, and "is it even allowed for non-Jews to be part of the Jewish state’s leadership? " The rabbi replied that this was indeed against a halachic ruling issued by Maimonides, and that although later there were those who sought to allow it "if the nation agrees to it," Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook ruled this out as an "irrelevant" consideration.

Kadima: Livni not ruling out leading the opposition
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Party officials who spoke to chairwoman say she won’t rush to join Netanyahu-led coalition featuring Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu; associate says Livni to make ’dramatic announcement’ on Sunday -A growing number of Kadima party officials are calling on Chairwoman Tzipi Livni to consider sitting in the opposition, this after Tuesday’sgeneral elections secured a clear majority for the right-wing parties in the 18th Knesset. Livni, for her part, said during her meetings with Kadima activists Thursday that the party "has gained the public’s trust and should form the next coalition in order to promote its agenda". Kadima officials who spoke to Livni said the chairwoman hinted she would not rush to join a government led by Likud leader met Thursday morning with representatives of the National Union and asked them to recommend that Peres task him with forming. . .

Kadima party could lead opposition
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 2/13/2009
Israeli sources reported Thursday that several officials of the Kadima party are calling on the party head, Tzipi Livni, to consider being the leader of the opposition in Israel instead of being in the leader of a coalition government that contains a vast majority for right wing parties. But Livni said on a meeting with Kadima supporters Thursday that the party was elected by the Israeli public and should be the one that form a coalition that promotes its agenda. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Livni stated that it forming a real national unity government would not be possible with a 65 member coalition headed by Netanyahu. The Netanyahu coalition would most likely include Shas ultra orthodox party which even opposes the peace process and the National Union extremist party with one of its Knesset members a former member of the outlawed Kach terrorist group.

Kadima official says party may join coalition led by Likud
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Click here for exclusive Haaretz coverage of the elections in IsraelKadima will head for the opposition benches if Benjamin Netanyahu forms the government, Tzipi Livni said Thursday, adding that her party has no intention of accepting a right-wing, ultra-Orthodox government. However, a senior Kadima official said the party probably would join Netanyahu’s government eventually, and would demand the foreign and defense portfolios for Livni and Shaul Mofaz, or the foreign and education portfolios for Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. In consultations over the last two days, Livni said it would not be possible to set up a real unity government after Netanyahu formed a 65-member coalition. This coalition probably would include the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, which objects to advancing the peace process,. . .

Likud ready to meet Lieberman’s central demands
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 2/13/2009
The Likud is confident it can meet the two demands on which Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman has conditioned recommending that President Shimon Peres designate Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to be the next prime minister, Likud officials said Thursday. The Jerusalem Post reported exclusively Thursday that Lieberman was ready to endorse Netanyahu rather than Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, provided that Netanyahu pledged to push through his demands for civil unions and an eased conversion process, but that if those two demands were not met, he would back Livni. Lieberman is also seeking to be appointed defense minister or finance minister, wants Daniel Friedmann to stay in the justice portfolio, strongly advocates electoral reform and wants the next coalition committed to toppling Hamas in Gaza.

Shas says would support including Kadima in Likud-led coalition
Yair Ettinger and Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Click here for exclusive Haaretz coverage of the elections in IsraelShas announced Thursday that it would support bringing Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party into a Likud-led coalition. "I think it would be very difficult to manage a narrow coalition," Shas chairman Eli Yishai told a closed meeting of his Knesset faction, according to people who attended. "The government would find it much easier to function if Kadima were part of it. " One Shas official even said after the meeting that "we don’t want an extreme right-wing government, since aside from the ideological issue, it would not even be able to survive until the Knesset’s summer term. "Yishai also told reporters before the meeting that he favored a broad coalition, though he did not mention Kadima explicitly.

Analysis: Why Tzipi keeps running
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 2/12/2009
In what could very well turn out to be Israel’s version of the famous 1948 "Dewey defeats Truman" Chicago Tribune headline, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni addressed her supporters early Wednesday morning in Tel Aviv and claimed premature victory. "The people of Israel have chosen Kadima, and we will complete this task by forming a unity government headed by us," she said in a speech to supporters. After flashing a two-handed "V" for victory sign, Livni declared, "Today, the people chose Kadima. All that is left to do is respect the desire of the citizens of Israel and join a coalition government led by us. " Or not. Now that all the votes have been counted and the dust has cleared, it seems almost impossible for Livni to put together a coalition government. She simply does not have the numbers. Nevertheless, she continues to fight on against very bad odds, leading to a simple question, "Why? "

AUDIO - Israel coalition: ’At least another week before a prime minister emerges’
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 2/13/2009
Rory McCarthy reports on the coalition talks after the Israeli election. [end]

Final election results: Kadima 28, Likud 27, Yisrael Beiteinu 15
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The final tally of Knesset seats remained unchanged after soldiers’ absentee ballots were counted. Kadima remained the largest party, with 28 seats, while Likud followed closely with 27. Next in line is Yisrael Beiteinu, with 15 seats; Labor, 13; Shas, 11; United Torah Judaism, 5; National Union, 4; United Arab List-Ta’al, 4; Hadash, 4; Meretz, 3; Balad, 3; and Habayit Hayehudi, 3. These are the final results; the soldiers’ votes not garner Likud or Yisrael Beiteinu an additional seat, despite expectations. Each seat represents about 28,000 votes. Parties need at least 2 percent of the vote to make it into the Knesset. The party closest to the cutoff was the Green Movement-Meimad, but it was a full 40,000 votes away.

ANALYSIS / Which ministerial portfolios are available to Lieberman?
Ze'ev Segal, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
On January 28, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced that "serious suspicions" against MK Avigdor Lieberman were under investigation, including suspicions of bribery, money laundering and falsifying corporate documents. This announcement has a legal bearing on which ministerial portfolios Lieberman may hold. According to the Basic Law on Government, a person is barred from serving as a minister only if he has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, sentenced to jail time and been out of jail for less than seven years. The High Court of Justice, however, has ruled that even someone who has been charged with a serious offense but not yet convicted is barred from serving in the cabinet. The attorney general subsequently went one step further, ruling that even an ongoing criminal investigation that has not yet led to an indictment could disqualify a person from certain ministries.

Habayit Hayehudi wants broad government
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Religious party’s top three members meet with Likud Chairman Netanyahu, tell him they will recommend President Peres appoint him to form new coalition. ’We said we would like Kadima to be part of the government as well,’ says MK Orlev - After meeting with Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union members, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu met Friday with representatives of the religious Habayit Hayehudi party which gained three mandates in Tuesday’s elections. Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Prof. Daniel Hershkovitz and his two comrades who will sit with him in Israel’s 18th Knesset, Zvulon Orlev and Uri Orbach, were expected to take part in the meeting. MK Orlev told Ynet after the meeting, "Netanyahu made it clear to us that we would be part of any government he forms. "We told him we would like Kadima to also be part of the next government, headed by Netanyahu, out of our concern

Police investigation may bar Lieberman from treasury post
Uri Blau and Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
It may not be possible to appoint Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman as finance minister - a possibility that had been discussed during the coalition talks of the past two days - because the Tax Authority, which is part of the Finance Ministry, was involved in the criminal investigation against Lieberman. The ongoing investigation already prevents him from heading either the public security or the justice ministry, since they oversee the police and the prosecution, respectively, and it would be improper for a minister under investigation to oversee the organizations responsible for deciding his case. The Finance Ministry, in contrast, would not normally be a problem, and sources involved in the coalition talks said that Lieberman did demand this portfolio, along with the Housing Ministry, in his talks with Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu considering forcing ministers to vacate Knesset seats
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is considering passing a law requiring ministers to give up their Knesset seats, Haaretz has learned. A source close to Netanyahu said that the Likud leader views this as a move that could possibly enlarge the number of Knesset members in a coalition headed by him. The source added that the move may help streamline parliamentary activity in the Knesset and its committees. According to some of Netanyahu’s potential partners in the coalition - if President Shimon Peres decides to task him with its formation - he has told them over the past week that a final coalition agreement may include a clause that binds their parties to voting in favor of the bill, known locally as "the Norwegian law. "The law will require all ministers to vacate their Knesset seats in favor of other members of their parties.

Solana: Unity gov’t preferable for peace
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 2/13/2009
EU chief’s remarks coincide with Kadima’s deliberation on whether to join Likud-run coalition -European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says a national unity government of the Kadima and Likud political parties would benefit Middle East peace talks, but that a government led by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu "would be more difficult. " Solana’s remarks Friday followed a meeting between Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima), during which Itzik recommended to Livni that the party refrain from joining any coalition run by Netanyahu. Kadima is scheduled to hold a debate over the matter on Sunday, but Livni has already hinted that the party may take up a spot in the opposition. Opinions on whether Kadima should join a Likud-run government are divided amongst its members.

Many Arab members of Kadima, Labor did not vote for their own parties
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The number of Arab voters who chose Kadima and Labor is much smaller than the number of Arab voters who registered with these parties and voted in their primaries, the final vote count for the 18th general elections reveals. "The gap is the result of vote contractors," one Kadima activist told Haaretz. "These people use the primaries to curry favors within the party by getting all their friends to join on paper. "The activist, a legal practitioner, added: "This is a corrupt and contemptuous system. People join one party, and then join another party just to vote in the primaries, and they make this into a business. The two activists who spoke to Haaretz said the fictitious member phenomenon is not unique to the Arab sector, but is much easier to detect there, because the vast majority of Arabs vote for Arab parties.

Politics: Risky business
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 2/12/2009
It’s now three days after the election with the strangest ending in the country’s history, and perhaps one of the oddest-ever culminations to a political race anywhere in the world. Just hours after the political satire show Eretz Nehederet broadcast Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni delivering simultaneous victory speeches side by side, Netanyahu and Livni both announced victory before adoring crowds, albeit 45 minutes apart, and a few kilometers away from each other. The politicians and strategists have spent the last two days recovering from lost sleep, thanking their campaign teams and trying to create facts on the ground before negotiations on forming a new government officially begin. Only this weekend will they really begin looking backward and determining what went wrong - and right - during the 15-week campaign. The strategists here, pessimists that they are, call this process a "post mortem. "

Olmert demands probe after double-billing leaks to Haaretz
Ofra Edelman and Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is demanding a probe into media leaks about his police investigation, after an article in last week’s Haaretz Magazine gave details about various flights for which he allegedly double-billed. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has tentatively decided to indict Olmert in the double-billing case, pending the outcome of a hearing in April. Olmert is suspected of charging several different nonprofit organizations for the same flights abroad and using the surplus to finance personal flights for himself and his family. The Haaretz article revealed details from a chart kept by Olmert’s travel planner, Rachel Risby-Raz, in which she recorded exactly how much was received from each organization for each flight in 2003-05, along with the profit accrued. In a letter to Mazuz this past Wednesday, Olmert’s attorney, Eli Zohar, demanded an investigation into who leaked this information to Haaretz.

US Congress hears urgent appeal for aid to Gaza
Daily Star 2/14/2009
WASHINGTON: While urgent humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is immediately required, the long-term consequences of the recent Gaza war depend on advancements in the peace process and a settlement freeze, Ziad J. Asali, president of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) told a congressional hearing on Thursday. Asali spoke at a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, on the aftermath of the Gaza war, along with fellow panelists David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. The hearing was attended by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Howard Berman, a California democrat. The 22-day Israeli onslaught killed over 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians and including over 400 children.

Sources: Clinton likely to make first official Israel visit in March
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The new U. S. administration will begin engaging its Israeli counterpart in the next few weeks. U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to arrive in Israel on March 3. National Security Adviser General James Jones will arrive in Israel on February 24. Meanwhile the European Union has decided to freeze a planned upgrade in its relationship with Israel until a new government is established and resumes the peace process with the Palestinians. The EU is also demanding that the new government freezes settlement construction. Clinton is expected to be in Cairo on March 2 to attend an international conference on rehabilitating the Gaza Strip convened by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Both an Israeli government source and Western diplomats said Thursday that Clinton is likely to use the occasion to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

And Chabad’s winner is... National Union
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Unlike most Israelis, Jews in Brooklyn, New York, had been spared weeks of exposure to posters of Israeli parties and politicians. That is, until Sunday, when a small group of former Israelis put up dozens of election flyers for the Zionist, far-right National Union party all over the Chabad bastion of Crown Heights. The people who put up the posters told Yudi Zeitlin, who writes from New York for Chabad’s Internet site, that they sought to transmit "unity in the position of the Chabad community. " Chabad, which is one of Judaism’s largest ultra-Orthodox movements, had vehemently opposed Zionism until Israel’s establishment. It has since gradually warmed up to Zionism, but some currents within Chabad remain anti-Zionist. Prominent Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo is a leader in Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (Our Land of Israel), one of four factions that make up National Union.

Key US lawmaker to visit Damascus
Middle East Online 2/13/2009
WASHINGTON - Democratic Senator John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations committee, will visit Damascus next week as part of a five-stop trip to the Middle East, a spokesman said Thursday. In Damascus, Kerry was to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and other officials, said committee communications director Frederick Jones. The trip came as the Obama administration worked to convince the Arab world that it will ramp up US involvement in the Middle East peace process and sought to pile pressure on Syria ally Iran -- while opening new channels of communications. The new president, who took office just three weeks ago, said at his first press conference this week that he envisioned a day when the United States and Iran "can start sitting across the table face to face, with diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in a new direction.

Conservative rabbis call for official dissolution of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate
Shlomo Shamir New York and Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
A body of Conservative rabbis passed a resolution yesterday calling upon the government of Israel to "privatize the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and dissolve it as a governmental organization. "The motion was approved at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement, known in Israel as the Masorti movement, which this week convened in Jerusalem. More than 300 rabbis participated in the four-day convention, most of them from the United States. In the first initiative of its kind by a respected American rabbinic institution representing the second-largest stream in American Jewry, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is described as "a structure that is outmoded and unnecessary" and one that "misrepresents the nature of Judaism to the world at large, even to Jews. " The resolution further asserts that "for many, Israel’s chief rabbinate fails to represent the majority of Israel’s Jewish population.

Putting immigration on the map, kind of
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, which convened in Jerusalem this week, launched a new campaign to boost aliyah - immigration to Israel. Under the slogan "A Call to Action - Putting Aliyah on the map," the new campaign aims to double the numbers of North American Conservative immigrants, which have been slightly rising recently but still well below their Orthodox compatriots. About 200 mostly American rabbis crowded into a conference hall Wednesday night to discuss the philosophy behind and some details of the new initiative. After Eli Cohen, director-general of the Jewish Agency’s aliyah and absorption department, kicked off the evening by stating that Conservative immigrants are needed to "guarantee that Israel remains a Jewish, open, democratic and pluralistic society," Rabbi David Golinkin took the stage.

Oldest living Palestinian still walks to the mosque for dawn prayers
Palestine News Network 2/13/2009
PNN -- Here is the story of 122 year old Mohammad Ahmed Drede. His identity card registers his date of birth as 1887. Now, as a Palestinian, he has certainly survived more occupations that anyone should ever have to face, and remarkably he retains his memory. There is no record of the day or month of his birth, but it would seem that after, say, 100 years every day is a celebration. The Drede family says they look forward to putting their grandfather’s name in the Guinness Book of World Records. Northern Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp attempted to enter Guinness by constructing the world’s largest Right of Return key in honor of 60 years of Al Nakba in May 2008. To the east in the West Bank, the trolley resembling an enclosed ski lift that travels from the lowest and oldest city on earth, Jericho, found a place in the Book of World Records for its local mountain climb.

Holding on to the old professions
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 2/13/2009
PNN exclusive -- The old shops in the city of Nablus keep Hussein Abu Shres and his colleagues in business, despite the fear of extinction. But the same modernization that has swept through other Arab countries is rendering some of their legacy obsolete. Abu Shres is a tinsmith with a shop along one of the narrow and winding streets of Nablus’ Balata Refugee Camp. For 40 years people have come to him not only from the camp but from the entire Nablus district, but his prosperity of the past is nearing an end he told PNN. Pushed from their home in 1947 Abu Shres moved with his family to a refugee camp in Jordan until being transferred back to Palestine, but this time to the northern West Bank. The year was 1968 and unable to return to his trade as a goldsmith Abu Shres opened his own shop. It has been 38 years and although paralyzed the man works from his seat. . .

Palestine Securities Exchange signs online trading agreement
Ma’an News Agency 2/13/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two Palestinian stock corporations signed a deal to provide online trading services for their clients through an e-trading system set up with a regional website via the internet. Palestinian traders will be able to access www. alwatanieh. ps to enable investors to buy and sell company stocks listen on the Palestine Securities Exchange (PSE), thanks to the new initiative provided by Al-Wataniyeh Securities Company, according to a news release. PSE CEO Ahmad Aweidha confirmed the importance of expanding the scope of electronic trading in a statement to Ma’an, clarifying that online trading in Palestine accounts for 18. 91 percent of all trading in the country. Aweidah explained that the PSE will devote efforts to benefit from technological development in international securities exchanges and stock markets, in addition to providing the latest electronic services. . .

UNIIIC investigators visit Syria - reports
Daily Star 2/14/2009
BEIRUT: A delegation from the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) probing the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri traveled to Syria on Friday, local news reports said. According to the National News Agency, the delegation entered Syria through the Masnaa border crossing in a four-car convoy early Friday morning. The visit came a day ahead of the fourth anniversary of Hariri’s murder, which will be marked in Beirut with a rally. Hariri was assassinated along with 22 others in a massive car bomb in Beirut on 14 February, 2005. Syria has largely been blamed for his killing and a number of political assassinations that followed. IIIC spokesperson Radia Ashoury told The Daily Star she "would not comment" on the validity of Friday’s media reports, but added, "I will just say that this [visit] has to with the operational aspects of our work. "

Israel warns Hezbollah: Attempts to attack IAF jets will draw sharp response
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Israel warned Hezbollah this week that it will respond harshly to any attempt to down an Israel Air Force jet over Lebanon or to avenge last year’s assassination of the organization’s operations officer, Imad Mughniyeh. Israeli planes routinely fly over southern Lebanon [in breach of UNSC Resolution 1701] in an effort to collect intelligence about Hezbollah activities, and Israel currently enjoys unchallenged superiority in the air. Any attempt by Hezbollah to deploy anti-aircraft capabilities would alter the balance of power to Israel’s detriment. Hezbollah blames Israel for Mughniyeh’s death last February 12, though Israel has never admitted responsibility. The defense establishment was therefore on high alert yesterday as Hezbollah marked the one-year anniversary of the assassination. Israel’s message was transmitted via Michael Williams, the United Nations envoy to Lebanon, who visited Jerusalem earlier this week to meet with Israeli officials. -- See also: UNIFIL chief accuses Israel of violating Resolution 1701

4 youths detained near IDF officer’s home
Avi Cohen, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Two teen daughters of well-known Jewish figure in Hebron arrested along with two other girls outside Tel Aviv house of Brigadier General Noam Tibon, commander of Judea and Samaria Brigade, on suspicion of spray-painting graffiti against him. Father: We won’t let him be until he leaves office - Four female youths aged 15 to 17 were arrested Thursday night on suspicion of spray-painting graffiti against Judea and Samaria Brigade Commander Brigadier General Noam Tibon on a street adjacent to his Tel Aviv home. Two of the suspects are the daughters of a well-known figure from the Jewish settlement in Hebron. One of them is even suspected of violating a restraining order issued against her following a similar incident which took place in the area in the past. The teenage girls will all be brought before a judge for a remand hearing at the Tel Aviv Juvenile Court.

Bottom Shekel / Cleaning up the Israel Securities Authority
Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
The number of ideas tossed about in recent months to clean up and stabilize the capital market is a true embarrassment of riches. But possibly the most significant drive of all is the brainchild of the Israel Securities Authority, led by Zohar Goshen: to clean up the authority itself. Literally, that is. The Securities Authority recently published a tender for the "provision of cleaning and [pest] extermination services at the offices of the Israel Securities Authority in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. " Naturally, the government body followed all the rules and regulations diligently in its tender. But there were a few things it might as well have written beyond specifying the type of soap, amount of paper towels and quality of toilet paper. The Securities Authority could have demanded the winning contractor clean up the mountain of trash squatting in its offices from the boom in public offerings.

Leviev stuck on Jerusalem plans
Ranit Nahum-Halevy, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Real estate company Africa Israel has faced a lot of troubles recently, and one of the biggest is in Jerusalem. Lev Leviev’s firm is now building six projects in the capital, in which it has invested over NIS 500 million, but has not managed to finish or sell them. The new mayor Nir Barkat and city administration have been creating problems for Africa Israel. City hall is not willing to rubber-stamp every building plan presented, and has been demanding that developers moderate their plans. In recent years Africa Israel has bought land in Jerusalem, putting its faith in what was a rapidly expanding real estate market with prices climbing. It also put its faith in the previous, ultra-Orthodox mayor, Uri Lupolianski. The former mayor had appointed Leviev to head his economic team for developing the capital.

Israel, Iran liable to clash in 2009 over nukes, U.S. intel chief said
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Israel and Iran are liable to enter into a confrontation or a crisis sometime this year due to Tehran’s progress in its nuclear weapons program and Jerusalem’s determination to thwart it, the head of U. S. intelligence told lawmakers on Thursday. In a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the potential threats as foreseen by the 16 intelligence arms of the United States, Dennis Blair said that Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shi’ite group which is backed by Iran, has beefed up its weapons arsenal in preparation for another round of fighting with Israel. Blair said Hezbollah presents a formidable threat to U. S. interests, particularly if the organization feels Washington directly threatens Iran or acts against the group’s targets, infrastructure, and leadership. According to the intelligence assessment, Fatah has been weakened and is likely to enter Palestinian Authority elections mired in disunity and factionalism.

Report: Cyprus to unload suspect cargo on Iran ship
Reuters, YNetNews 2/13/2009
Ship detained for violating United Nations sanctions on Iran since January 29, after US military authorities said it was carrying arms. Government sources decline to comment on reports that cargo would be taken off vessel Friday morning - Cyprus will offload a cargo of weapons from a ship detained for violating United Nations sanctions on Iran, the island’s state broadcaster said on Thursday. Government sources declined to comment on reports by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation that the cargo from the Monchegorsk would be taken off the vessel on Friday morning. The ship has been detained off Cyprus, its flag-state, since January 29 after it was boarded by US naval personnel in the Red Sea. US military authorities said the ship was traveling to Syria from Iran and had been carrying arms. Cypriot and United Nations Security Council sources have said the ship appears to be carrying material from Iran prohibited under UN resolutions. Iran has denied the ship was carrying weapons.

Cyprus unloads weapons arsenal from Iran ship allegedly running arms to Hamas
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/13/2009
Cypriot authorities have started unloading an Iranian ship detained off its coast for allegedly attempting to smuggle weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Cyprus has accused Iran of breaching a United Nations ban on its arms exports. A government statement said Friday the cargo, which it did not identify, would be stored on the island. State CyBC radio said containers are being transported to a naval base under police and military guard. The Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk has anchored off the port of Limassol since it arrived January 29 under suspicion from U. S. officials of ferrying weapons from Iran to Hamas fighters in Gaza. The U. S. military said it found artillery shells and other arms aboard the ship after stopping it last month in the Red Sea.


Articles


New weapons used against demonstrations
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 2/13/2009
      "...the bullet had entered the bone and left 20 pieces of shrapnel in the bone and muscle...." "...I had been wounded with a live bullet in my right leg, and that the bullet exited from the other side, leaving shrapnel of varying sizes." "...they told me that the bullet had broken in the bone, and left 10 pieces of shrapnel of various sizes.”
     Recently, Occupation forces have been using live bullets against youth at weekly demonstrations. A large number of people have suffered leg wounds from a particular type of bullet fired by snipers often using silenced weapons.
     Ahad Khawajeh, the representative of the Popular Committee in the village of Ni’lin, explained that soldiers have repeatedly promised the demonstrators that they would use live bullets against them in order to inflict permanent injuries on younger activists. In the past month, snipers have been stationed on hills or among trees and have fired upon youth with live ammunition. A type of bullet is employed which explodes inside the body, leaving behind shrapnel that is incredibly difficult to remove.
     Occupation forces fired these bullets for the first time in Jayyous, where they used silenced rifles. Prior to the start of the demonstration, soldiers had hidden themselves amongst the trees. Demonstrators arrived at the gate without confronting the army when five young men were hit with live fire. The group whom we spoke to had been present at the demonstration and reported not hearing any noise or seeing any flash before the targeted youth fell.

Israelis, in Crisis, Vote for a Government of War

Nicola Nasser, Middle East Online 2/13/2009
      Dust of Tuesday’s voting battle settled down and the battle of forming the next Israeli government has just begun. With Benjamin Netanyahu poised for premiership and Avigdor Lieberman, leader of a “racist and fascist” party (as condemned by Talia Sasson of the Merez party) very well positioned to be the king or queen maker of the next ruling coalition, the Palestinian people and the whole region will have to brace as from next March for an Israeli government of war.
     First on the agenda of the new government will be the approval of 2.4 billion shekels ordered on Monday by the outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to re-equip the army after the war on Gaza as well as an extra military funding of one billion shekels.
     Ironically the Israelis went to early elections as a way out of a government crisis, but the narrowly – won victory of Kadima and the inconclusive results of Tuesday’s elections have put Israel in disarray and plunged it into a political limbo, with both Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Netanyahu of Likud claiming victory while a kingmaker role is awarded to Avigdor Lieberman and his anti-Arab platform. The tie set the stage for weeks of agonizing coalition negotiations. But what is more important, in view of historic experience, is that whenever Israel was in an internal crisis it used to resort to war as a way to unify its ranks, at least for a while. The present crisis is no exception and it doesn’t bode well for the Palestinians and the region

Rahm the Mechanic Goes to Washington: the Jim Zogby Dilemma

Hesham Tillawi, Palestine Think Tank 2/13/2009
      Every day, I am assaulted by something in the topsy-turvey world of US politics that amazes me and makes me say to myself, ’Well I guess I have seen it all now’, only for it to be outdone and replaced the very next day by something even more outrageous.
     Politics can do that to people. Power and the opportunity to play on the ’big field’ is like a drug that makes people do crazy things, things that defy reason, logic, and sometimes decency.
     Take for example the most recent article by Arab American Institute James Zogby in his defense of President Elect Barak Obama’s decision to appoint Rahm Emmanuel as White House Chief of Staff. In his piece entitled "Rahm Emanuel and Arab Perceptions" he writes "The emails and calls to my office were both troubled and troubling because much of the reaction was based on misinformation". The "misinformation" in this case dealt with Rahm Emanuel, the "brilliant strategist" as Jim puts it and his many "proven" political skills which led to him being "tapped" by Obama. No more no less. That is, as Jim calls it, "First, the facts." I just wonder if Rahm’s ’proven politics’ is also what dragged Obama to AIPAC’s conference this past summer to deliver that infamous shameful speech, as well as the meeting afterwards with the board of AIPAC where he was accompanied by Rahm Emanuel.

The Holocaust Is Over

Middle East Online 2/13/2009
      [The following is a transcript of an interview with former Avraham Burg by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez from Democracy Now!]
     A former Israeli politician has emerged as one of his government’s biggest critics. Avraham Burg is a former speaker of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. He’s former chair of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization. His new book, though, is called The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from its Ashes.
     AMY GOODMAN: You’re headed back to Israel today, but we’d like to talk about another journey: how you went from where you were, as head of the Israeli parliament in the Labor Party, to where you are today. Talk about your trajectory.
     AVRAHAM BURG: It’s not easy, but at the time, I felt that political walls are closing on me. I had a feeling that Israel became a very, very efficient kingdom, but no prophecy. Deeds are being done. Decisions are being executed. But the ocean liner got no captain, no vision, no direction. Where is it going.
     So I started digging into it and looking into it. And the way I know—the way I think for myself is by writing. So I wrote the first book, which was God Is Back. It’s about the religious dimension of world conflicts and the Israeli conflictual reality. And then when I finished the book, I read it, and I realized that I didn’t write about the other items which supports our identity, and this is the only presence of the trauma in our life, which is the Holocaust, which prevents us to trust anybody—to trust ourselves, to trust our neighbors, to trust the world—and therefore creates this kind of a reality. And the minute I realized that this is my inner truth, just published it. -- See also: Former Speaker of the Israeli Parliament Avraham Burg: “The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from its Ashes” and Israeli Professor Neve Gordon and Palestinian Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti on the Israeli Elections

Selective reporting from Lebanon

Nate George, Electronic Intifada 2/13/2009
      Bias and selective reporting in favor of Israel is nothing new. We have come to expect sins of omission and commission from the media, and recent weeks proved to be no exception.
     On 19 December, 18 Israeli soldiers crossed into Lebanese territory and abducted two middle-aged men harvesting olives near the village of Blida. They were taken into Israel where they were interrogated, beaten and tortured. The men were repeatedly bitten by dogs and questioned about a possible connection to Hizballah. They were released the next day around 3am. While the event was widely reported in the Lebanese media, it did not register a blip in mainstream Western outlets. The only significant Western report on this incident appeared on the Agence France-Presse news service and did not attract significant attention.
     In striking contrast, on 25 December, The New York Times was one of the first news outlets to publish a report on the Lebanese army’s discovery, in the Lebanese town of Naqura, of eight Katyusha rockets "aimed at Israel" (so they were pointed south?). The Lebanese army then dismantled the rockets. Any threat posed by them was neutralized. Notwithstanding the fact that eight Cold War-era rockets do not pose much of a threat to the fourth largest military power in the world, The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune saw fit to publish the story, along with The International Herald Tribune and a number of Australian newspapers. None of these sources mentioned the kidnapping that occurred the previous week.

If Israel’s weapons came through a tunnel

Kathy Kelly writing from Chicago, Electronic Intifada 2/12/2009
      Since I returned from Gaza people have asked me, how do the people of Gaza manage? How do they keep going after being traumatized by bombing and punished by a comprehensive state of siege? I wonder myself. I know that whether the loss of life is on the Gaza or the Israeli side of the border, bereaved survivors feel the same pain and misery. On both sides of the border, I think children pull people through horrendous and horrifying nightmares. Adults squelch their panic, cry in private and strive to regain semblances of normal life, wanting to carry their children through a precarious ordeal.
     And the children want to help their parents. In Rafah, the morning of 18 January, when it appeared there would be at least a lull in the bombing, I watched children heap pieces of wood on plastic tarps and then haul their piles toward their homes. The little ones seemed proud to be helping their parents recover from the bombing. I’d seen just this happy resilience among Iraqi children, after the 2003 "Shock and Awe" bombing, as they found bricks for their parents to use for a makeshift shelter in a bombed military base.

Canada becomes Israel

Yves Engler, Electronic Intifada 2/12/2009
      Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper’s government publicly supported Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza and voted alone at the UN Human Rights Committee in defense of Israel’s actions three weeks ago. Now Canada has taken over Israeli diplomacy. Literally.
     In solidarity with Gaza, Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador at the start of the bombardment and then broke off all diplomatic relations two weeks later. Israel need not worry since Ottawa plans to help out. On 29 January, The Jerusalem Post reported that "Israel’s interests in Caracas will now be represented by the Canadian Embassy." This means Canada is officially Israel, at least in Venezuela.
     Prior to the recent bombing in Gaza, the Harper government made it abundantly clear that it would support Israel no matter what that country did. It publicly endorsed Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon, voted against a host of UN resolutions supporting Palestinian rights and in January 2008 refused to criticize illegal Israeli settlement construction at Har Homa near Jerusalem (even Washington publicly criticized these settlements). Canada was also the first country (after Israel) to cut off financial aid to the elected Hamas government and Ottawa has provided millions of dollars as well as personnel to create a US-trained Palestinian police force to act as a counterweight to the Hamas government and to oversee Israel’s occupation.

Crossing the Line: US role in the war on Gaza

Podcast, Crossing the Line, Electronic Intifada 2/13/2009
      This week on Crossing The Line: As US President Barack Obama stood before a crowd of two million and gave his inaugural address, he pledged to work with those in the Arab and Muslim world towards peace. But absent in the address was any condemnation of Israeli atrocities committed against the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Host Naji Ali speaks with The Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah about the Obama administration, the recent massacre in Gaza and the prospects of peace in the region.
     Also this week, Ali speaks with Gaza-based journalist Rami Almeghari about the current situation on the ground in Gaza in the aftermath of the 22 days of Israeli attacks.
     And as always, Crossing the Line begins with "This week in Palestine," a service provided by The International Middle East Media Center Listen Now [MP3 - 22 MB] Crossing the Line is a weekly podcast dedicated to giving voice to the voiceless in occupied Palestine. Through investigative news, arts, eyewitness accounts, and music, Crossing the Line does its best to present the lives of people on the ground.

Gaza: Death’s Laboratory

Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus 2/11/2009
      Dr. Mads Gilbert: "..,there is a strong suspicion…that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons."
     Erik Fosse, a Norwegian cardiologist, worked in Gaza hospitals during the recent war."It was as if they had stepped on a mine," he says of certain Palestinian patients he treated. "But there was no shrapnel in the wound. Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before."
     Dr. Fosse was describing the effects of a U.S. "focused lethality" weapon that minimizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims. But where did the Israelis get this weapon? And was their widespread use in the attack on Gaza a field test for a new generation of explosives? DIMEd to Death
     The specific weapon is called a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME). In 2000, the U.S. Air Force teamed up with the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The weapon wraps high explosives with a tungsten alloy and other metals like cobalt, nickel, or iron in a carbon fiber/epoxy container. When the bomb explodes the container evaporates, and the tungsten turns into micro-shrapnel that is extremely lethal within a 13-foot radius. Tungsten is inert, so it doesn’t react chemically with the explosive. While a non-inert metal like aluminum would increase the blast, tungsten actually contains the explosion to a limited area.