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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
6 May , 2009


International Middle East Media Center

Israeli MK: “The Pope, holocaust denier, not welcome in Israel”
6 May 2009 - Member of Knesset, Michael Ben Ari, of the National Union right wing religious party, stated Tuesday that the Pope Benedict XVI, scheduled to arrive in the region next week, is not welcome in Israel as he is “a holocaust denier and a former member of the Nazi’s Youth Movement”. 

Hamas legislator: “P.A Security Forces in the West Bank act in collaboration with Israel”
5 May 2009 - Hamas legislator, Dr. Ismail Al Ashqar, stated Tuesday that the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank, loyal to Fateh movement, are collaborating with Israel by targeting resistance fighters and shutting down charitable institutions. 

OIC Aid Convoy to depart to Gaza Wednesday
5 May 2009 - Ambassador Atta al-Mannan Bakheet, Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), stated that an aid convoy, containing 40 aid trucks, would be heading to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. 

Israeli Interior Minister started process of revoking citizenship of four Arabs
5 May 2009 - Israeli Interior Minister, Eli YIshai, is acting on a decision he made to revoke the Israeli citizenship of four Arabs under the pretext that they visited “enemy states” in the 1970’s. He also claimed that the four were “directly or indirectly involved in hostile activities against Israel”. 

More demolition orders in Jerusalem, Palestinian-home owners appeal
5 May 2009 - The Israeli Jerusalem Municipality on Tuesday issued more demolition orders to Palestinian-home owners in Jerusalem's old city and around it.

Military kidnaps five civilians from different parts of West Bank
5 May 2009 - Five Palestinian civilians were kidnapped during pre-dawn Israeli military invasions which targeted several parts of the west Bank on Tuesday, Palestinian sources reported.

The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo: 30 patients went back to Gaza on Tuesday
5 May 2009 - The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo announced that 30 Palestinian patients were allowed by the Egyptian army to inter the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. 

Mashal: “Hamas declared a temporary ceasefire”
5 May 2009 - Khalil Mashal, head of the Political Bureau of the Hamas movement, stated in an interview with the New York Times that his movement decided to stop the firing of homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas in the current stage. 

Haaretz: “P.A Security forms Special Forces to uncover Hamas, Hizbollah, operatives”
5 May 2009 - Israeli Newspaper, Haaretz, claimed in its Tuesday edition that the Palestinian Authority under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas, formed undercover security forces to uncover cells for Hamas and Hizbollah operatives. 

Settlers uproot, cut, dozens of trees near Ramallah
5 May 2009 - Palestinian sources reported on Monday evening that a group of extremist settlers uprooted and cut dozens of olive and fig trees belonging to residents of Sinjil village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. 

Israeli police detained 280 Palestinian workers in 24 hours
5 May 2009 - Israeli Radio reported Monday morning that Israeli policemen detained 280 Palestinian workers in 24 hours  after claiming that they were illegally staying and working in Israel. 

Netanyahu reiterates demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish State
5 May 2009 - Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reiterated his demand that the Palestinians must first recognize Israel as a Jewish State before resuming the peace process. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Israel pushing forward on plans to exit Lebanon border village
5 May 2009 - Senior army officers from Israel, Lebanon and the UN to meet in two weeks at border crossing. 

Barak: IDF did not mean to shoot at UN facilities in Gaza
5 May 2009 - UN investigators meeting in Geneva to assess IDF conduct; Ban: UN report on Gaza war not legally binding. 

Israel to pay terror victims with money allocated to PA
5 May 2009 - Judge says evidence indicates PA responsible for attack that killed a young Israeli couple in 2001. 

PA working to root out Hamas, Hezbollah secret agents
4 May 2009 - Israeli security sources: Palestinians to be more effective in attacking Hamas infrastructure than IDF. 

Syria looks to Lebanon War for tips on arming Hezbollah
4 May 2009 - Sources: Syria intent on maintaining military strategy based on air defense and anti-tank weapons. 

Bat Ayin settlers seek new outpost in wake of terror attack
4 May 2009 - Brother of slain Bat Ayin youth said killing of his brother's assailant was act of defense, not vengeance. 

Jerusalem publishes plan to boost housing for city's Arabs
4 May 2009 - Mayor says 'master plan' to comprise 23,550 new housing units; Palestinians call outline insufficent. 

UN to press Israel to exit Lebanon border village
4 May 2009 - While in Lebanon, UN peacekeeping chief says hopeful deal can be reached soon on divided town of Ghajar. 

Ma'an News

Ill 60-year-old prisoner moved from hospital to detention; Israel renews administrative sentence 
5/5/2009 - Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli authorities transferred ailing 60-year-old detainee Ahmad Al-Qiq from the Ar-Ramlah Hospital to the Ofer Detention Center near Ramallah despite the move meaning he can no longer receive adequate care, his family said Monday. Once he arrived at Ofer Al-Qiq’s administrative detention order was renewed for another four months, meaning he will continue to be held without charge and without seeing a judge. This is the third time his administrative detention sentence has been renewed. During Al-Qiq’s last four months he was transferred between Israeli prisons between four and six times despite his delicate health condition. [end] 

Israeli plan for Jerusalem centers on destruction of Palestinian life in capital 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Mayor for the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipality hopes to make “Jerusalem the greenest city in Israel,” largely at the expenses of Palestinian residents. Jerusalem municipal Mayor Nir Barkat revealed his “master plan” for the city on Monday, which includes the ominous pledge for the “Development of eastern Jerusalem,” where most of the Palestinian population lives. Also of concern to Palestinian residents is his intention to create five new metropolitan parks, particularly given the current demolition orders on nearly 100 Palestinian homes in the Silwan neighborhood of the city to make way for the construction of green space. Equally distressing is the issue of Israeli “Conservation and preservation of historic buildings,” since this often means the judization of Islamic or ancient historic sites. 

UN inquiry faults Israel for bombing its buildings in Gaza 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel intentionally fired at UN targets causing severe damage and death, A UN report investigating the destruction of UNRWA and UN properties and equipment during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip found last week. The report, which is separate from the Human Rights Council investigation mandated by the UN Human Rights Council and is currently underway, investigated only Israel’s culpability in the destruction of UN property and resources during the war on Gaza. The UN report suggested court action against Israel for the willful destruction of UN property, but did not go as far as accusing the country of war crimes. The investigators on the first report were mandated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon himself, though he appears to have elected to not act on the findings of the team. 

Israel continues illegal sentences of Hamas PLC members; extends three terms 
5/5/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli military courts announced longer prison terms for three Hamas lawmakers and added time to the sentence of head of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Ad-Dweik Tuesday afternoon. Before a military judge the sentence of Jerusalem governorate lawmaker Muhammad Abu Teir and Hebron governorate lawmaker Nayef Arjoub sentences were increased to four years from three and half with no further charges being laid against them. Bethlehem governorate lawmaker Mahmoud Al-Khatib’s term was increased to three and a half years up from three years. Israeli military court officials also brought PLC Leader Aziz Ad-Dweik into the building to “renew” his trial and increase his sentence. He has been imprisoned since June 2006 without charge. Hamas leader Faze’a Sawafta said the detentions were illegal and aimed at restricting the chance for democracy in Palestine. 

Birzeit University union urges PA to release professor, two students 
5/5/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – The employees union at Ramallah’s Birzeit University called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday to release a professor and two students it said were arrested for political reasons. The union said in a statement that PA forces seized mathematics Lecturer Maher Nour from his home in Ramallah. The two students were not named. The union said it was an “unacceptable way of storming teachers’ dorms and searching them. ”“The university was a place for democracy and political freedom,” said the union, calling on the PA to leave the academy out of politics. The statement said that the two students had been involved in recent student council elections, which were won by Fatah. It said it had been “proud” of the elections as a symbol of democracy but that the arrests were a violation of this. 

UN seeking to bolster Palestinian unity talks 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Robert Serry urged support on Tuesday for Egypt’s efforts to bring about a Palestinian unity deal and international plans to rebuild the Gaza StripSerry met on Tuesdayin Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and Intelligence Minister Umar Sulaiman, the powerful official who oversees indirect talks between Israel and Hamas. “We urgently need Palestinian reconciliation, and recovery and reconstruction in Gaza, if the fragile calm is to be solidified,” said Serry in a statement. “Egypt’s reconciliation efforts need full support, and I urge all Palestinian factions to put national interest first and find a way forward so that the suffering of ordinary people and the many political challenges can be addressed. 

Israeli prison service ban family visits to Palestinian prisoners at Ashkelon jail for one week 
5/5/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian families are to be banned from visiting their relatives detained in Israel's Ashkelon facility as a punishment for inmates refusing to wear the new orange-issue uniform, the prison service announced Tuesday. Prisoners in the Ashkelon jail, many of who are detained without charge, declared a one-month hunger strike against the Israeli decision to issue orange prison uniforms replacing the street clothes inmates currently wear. Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Affairs said the Red Cross was informed of the ban on visits, and that in response Israel said they would reduce the initial one-month ban on visits to one week. [end] 

Smugglers kill Egyptian soldier at Israel border 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Smugglers killed an Egyptian soldier at the Israel-Egypt border on Monday, security sources said. The soldier was identified as 21-year-old Muhammad Ramadan who was shot once in the abdomen near the Wadi Al-Azariq near sign number 23 just south of the international border. Several Egyptian soldiers have been similarly slain over the past two years, and others have been kidnapped by smugglers seeking to avoid arrest. At the same time Egyptian officers have seized dozens, mostly North Africans, attempting to sneak themselves or illegal goods into Israel. [end] 

Social allowances for 24,600 Gazans paid by Italy Monday; three months late 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an - Three-month overdue social allowances for poverty-stricken Gazan families were finally be ready for pickup Monday, seeing over 24,600 families receive their quarterly government allowance. The funds, from the Government of Italy distributed by the European Union’s PEGASE program, were made available following months of physical-cash shortage in the Strip as Israeli authorities continue to refuse the regular shipment of cash into the financial system. The payment was made in coordination with the European Commission and the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Palestinian Authority (PA). According to a statement from the group a “limited amount of cash” was transferred into the Strip so the allowances could be paid. The allowances are 1,000 shekels (around 200 US dollars) and are paid four times a year to the most disadvantaged. 

Netanyahu: With the help of Obama and Abbas we can surprise the world 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is ready to resume peace talks with no preconditions, he told attendees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington via video link Monday. The statement,coming one day before Israeli President Shimon Peres is set to meet American President Barak Obama, contradicts earlier what Netanyahu had earlier described as his position on peace talks, and generally steering clear of endorsing a two-state solution in favor of a vague plan of economic development. Indeed, even though he said he was seeking peace with Palestinians, the Prime Minister made no mention of a Palestinian state during his speech. Netanyahu suggested a “triple track toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians: a political track, a security track and economic track. 

Abu Mujahid: No Egyptian proposal to resume Shalit negotiations 
5/5/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – The captors of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have not received any invitation from Egypt to resume negotiations over a proposed Israeli-Palestinian prisoner exchange, spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza Abu Mujahid said on Tuesday. “These negotiations must be kept secret,” Abu Mujahid told the press asserting that any deal would have to meet the captors demands to release at least 1,000 Palestinians from Israeli prisons, 450 of who have been specified by factions in Gaza. The rest are requested to include elderly prisoners, women and children. [end] 

All three Gaza crossing points to be open for commercial and humanitarian deliveries 
5/5/2009 - Gaza - Ma’an - All three Gaza crossing points will be open for commercial and humanitarian deliveries for second time this week, said crossings official Raed Fattouh on Tuesday. Fattouh said Kerem Shalom was expected to allow the passage of 125 trucks of humanitarian aid and goods for the commercial and agricultural sectors. He added that the Gazan side was told the Karni crossing would open for part-day to allow 45 trucks of grain and fodder through though it was not yet open early Tuesday. Nahal Oz was also expected to be open for the shipment of an unknown quantity o9f industrial diesel and cooking gas. [end] 

PA secures legal injunctions against 29 Israeli home demolition orders in East Jerusalem 
5/5/2009 - Jerusalem – Ma’an – Orders for the halt of 29 home demolitions in East Jerusalem were processed Tuesday, Presidential Advisor for Jerusalem affairs Hatem Abdel Qader confirmed. The orders on homes in the Old City, Shu’fat, Jabal Al-Muqaber At-Tur, Ras Al-Amoud and Wad Aj-Joz have all been frozen, including the order to demolish a school in Jabal Al-Mukaber. The Palestinian Authority official added that legal advisors and a team of lawyers are working to halt all home demolition orders in East Jerusalem. He appealed to any resident of the area who is served a demolition warning to bring it to the attention of the office immediately. [end] 

Bethlehem: Pope visit venue may be moved away from separation wall 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Under pressure from Israel the Catholic Church and the Palestinian Authority (PA) may back down from plans to host Pope Benedict XVI in full view of Israel’s 30-foot-high concrete separation wall in Ayda Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. Instead, a committee in the camp making preparations for the visit may be forced to hold a welcoming ceremony for the pontiff in the Ayda Boy’s School. The committee was set to meet on Tuesday evening to weigh the request to move the event. The requests likely came as a response to Israeli orders to the preparatory committee to shut down the papal visit to the camp. Two weeks ago soldiers raided the camp during a previous preparatory committee meeting and harassed members who were told the planned venue was in Israeli-controlled Area C and organizers therefore needed a permit to hold events there. 

Blair sees new US-backed peace 'framework' emerging 
5/5/2009 - Ramallah – Ma’an – International Envoy Tony Blair said on Tuesday that a new “framework” for Middle East peacemaking may emerge in the coming weeks as Israeli and Palestinian leaders visit Washington. “We’re about to get a new framework. I can only speculate right now about what that framework will be. The reason I say people should be more hopeful is that this is a framework that is being worked on at the highest level of the American administration, in the rest of the international community,” said Blair, speaking at a briefing with Palestinian journalists in Ramallah. The former UK Prime Minister said, “I think we’ll know better in a few weeks time where we’re coming out on this. But those are the three areas [the West Bank, Gaza, and the political process], I anticipate, will form the substance of what then I think will be an agreed way forward. 

Ahmadinejad to meet Hamas, Jihad leaders in Syria 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged support for Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation on a visit to Damascus on Tuesday. Ahmadinejad is planning to meet the leaders of 10 Palestinian groups including Hamas during his visit to Syria's capital, according to AP. Speaking at a joint press conference with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ahmadinejad said, "Syria and Iran have been from the very beginning united and in agreement to stand on the side of the Palestinian resistance," adding, "They will continue to do so. We see that the resistance will continue until all occupied territories are liberated. ”Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be among the Damascus-based Palestinian factions represented at a meeting later on Tuesday with Ahmadinejad. at a meeting later in the day, Khaled Abdul-Majid of the Popular Struggle Front said. 

US vice president urges Israel to freeze settlements 
5/5/2009 - Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel must commit to a two-state solution and halt settlement construction, US Vice President Joe Biden told the US’ largest pro-Israeli lobby group in Washington on Tuesday. "Israel has to work for a two state-solution -- you're not going to like my saying this -- but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement. . . and access to economic opportunity," Biden told the annual conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), according to Reuters. Biden’s comments were firmer and more concrete than remarks made by US President Barack Obama so far in his term. Biden also said the Palestinian Authority "must combat terror and incitement against Israel. " 

Hamas denies using Abbas' villa in Gaza as detention center 
5/5/2009 - Gaza – Ma’an – De facto government police denied news reports claiming government officials have converted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ villa in Gaza City into a detention center for Fatah-affiliated prisoners, spokesperson Islam Shahwan said Monday. The accusations surfaced in the Sunday edition of the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv, which named several Fatah affiliates who Hamas was detaining in civilian residential buildings. Reports then proliferated to several secondary news agencies. The news followed earlier news of a secret prison being established in the wake of Israel’s war on Gaza, which destroyed the main prison compound in Gaza. Hamas officials responded late Monday night saying the “report was false, and everybody could check. ”Shahwan noted that no civilian residential buildings were re-appropriated and certainly not as detention centers. 

PA dismisses 91 officers and sends 482 to court in anti-corruption move 
5/5/2009 - Nablus – Ma’an – “The time of corruption is over,” Palestinian Authority spokesperson Adnan Ad-Damiri said Monday as reports emerged that 91 PA police officers were dismissed and 482 others were sent to court for infractions while on duty. “No one will be above the law even if they are members of the PA,” Ad-Damiri said during a speech on the current internal division at Al-Quds Open University’s Nablus campus. He stressed the need to unite in order to establish a liberated Palestinian state, adding that Israel is the only side who benefits from internal division. [end] 

Zaki: Abbas will form new government if Cairo talks fail 
5/5/2009 - Beirut/Bethlehem – Ma’an – If Palestinian factions do not strike a unity deal this month, President Mahmoud Abbas will form a new will form a new government that will lay out a new approach to Hamas, the PLO representative in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki said on Tuesday. He made this remark in a meeting with the UN’s special representative in Lebanon, Michael Williams. The full spectrum of Palestinian factions, including main rivals Hamas and Fatah, are will in meet in Cairo on 16-19 May in what has been presented as a last-ditch attempt to restore Palestinian unity. Egypt has hosted three rounds of talks this year with no success. Abbas dissolved a Hamas-Fatah unity government in June 2007 following a Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, the winner of parliamentary elections, still holds power in Gaza. A Fatah-led caretaker cabinet governs the West Bank. 

The National

Egypt seeks new chapter in Islamic unity
5 May 2009 - Cairo's new book aims to educate the country about Shiism but analysts believe its real aim is to counter Iran's growing regional influence.

Biden calls for end to Israeli settlements
5 May 2009 - US vice president confirms commitment to creating a Palestinian state ahead of Israeli PM's visit to Washington.

Israel steps up patient interrogation
4 May 2009 - Physicians for Human Rights says Palestinians are forced to become informants to be allowed out of Israel for treatment.

Israel names Oren as US ambassador
4 May 2009 - Benjamin Netanyahu has named the US professor and historian Michael Oren as the next ambassador to Washington.

Lieberman takes first foreign trip as minister
3 May 2009 - The visit is viewed as part of the Israeli government's campaign to ease tensions with EU states.

Clashes over Egypt swine cull
3 May 2009 - Riot police clash with pig farmers trying to prevent their animals from being slaughtered as part of a mass nationwide cull.

Gaza costs Israel its reputation for press freedom
2 May 2009 - Israeli restrictions on journalists during its Gaza offensive have seen the state downgraded in a survey of press freedom.

Hizbollah and Egypt continue the war of words
2 May 2009 - Defender for group accused of planning attacks on Egypt says the country's political climate will make his job an uphill struggle.


Two die in air raid on Gaza tunnels
2 May 2009 - Israeli bombings near Rafah said to be in response to Palestinian rocket fire.

Iranian jets 'hit' Iraqi Kurd areas
2 May 2009 - If confirmed, the Sulaymaniya raid would be the first by Iran targeting the region.

Hezbollah slams Hariri death probe
1 May 2009 - Nasrallah calls investigation into Hariri's death dishonest and political.


OPT: Gaza citizens at risk from rubbish, rubble, unexploded ordnance
GAZA CITY Thursday, April 30, 2009 (IRIN) - Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the uncontrolled dumping of rubbish pose the greatest environmental and public health risks to residents of the Gaza Strip, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). A further study is planned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

MIDDLE EAST: Regional efforts to prepare for swine flu 
DUBAI Wednesday, April 29, 2009 (IRIN) - Middle East countries are taking precautionary measures against swine flu as the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the global influenza pandemic alert level to Phase 4 after the influenza A /H1N1 virus infection claimed more than 150 lives in Mexico and spread to several other countries. 

Inter Press Service

POLITICS-US: AIPAC Conference Pushes Hard Line on Iran 
WASHINGTON, May 5 (IPS) - The annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful and hawkish pro-Israel lobby, wrapped up on Tuesday with a speech from Vice President Joe Biden, capping three days that were primarily devoted to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

EGYPT: Viral Time Bomb Set to Explode 
CAIRO, May 5 (IPS) - It is a health crisis of alarming proportions. Up to nine million Egyptians have been exposed to hepatitis C, and tens of thousands will die each year unless they receive a liver transplant.

RIGHTS-IRAN: Damaging Forced Confessions 
NEW DELHI, May 4 (IPS) - Iranian political refugees living in India say there is an all too familiar ring about the supposed confessions of arrested journalist Roxana Saberi, which they expect to see footage of on television soon.

RIGHTS-IRAQ: U.N. Report Paints Grim Picture 
NEW YORK, May 4 (IPS) - Iraqi prisons are torturing detainees, locking people up for months without charges and, in most cases, allowing the perpetrators of these human rights abuses to escape justice, according to a new United Nations report.

Stop The Wall
3 May 2009 - After arrests and injuries on Workers Day, the Bethlehem branch of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and the popular committees against the Apartheid Wall in al Ma'sara and the district call on trade unions around the globe to increase solidarity and join the BDS call. [

Four al-Ma’sara popular committee members arrested
2 May 2009 - This week, anti-Wall demonstrations held to commemorate the first of May were met with violence and organizers arrested. Occupation forces attacked a May Day festival and demonstration in al-Ma’sara, injuring nine people and arresting the village popular committee. Soldiers also fired upon residents in Bi’lin and tried to break the protest in Ni’lin, where they occupied homes in the early morning. [

PCHR Latest

(04-05-2009) PCHR welcomes the Spanish National Court’s decision to continue investigating suspected Israeli war criminals

PCHR Strongly Condemns Israeli Plans to Confiscate 12,000 Donums of Palestinian Land in Order to Link the Illegal "Ma'ale Adumim" and "Qedar" Settlements

PCHR Weekly Report

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 23 - 28 April 2009
PCHR - During the reporting period, 20 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded by IOF and Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

International Solidarity Movement

Israeli forces occupy Ni'lin homes to shoot at demonstrators
International Solidarity Movement - 1 May 2009 - On Friday, 1 May 2009 at 11. 15am, an hour before the weekly Friday demonstration against the Apartheid Wall begins, Israeli forces entered the village of Ni'lin through the fields. Soldiers attempted to forcefully occupy two homes, for use as shooting posts. During their attempt, a 10 year old girl was injured by a sound grenade thrown near her leg as soldiers tried to enter her home. Another 22 individuals were injured during the demonstration; 4 were shot with rubber coated steel bullets, 4 were hit by tear-gas canisters and 12 suffered from serious tear-gas inhalation and had to be treated by medics. Israeli forces tried to enter the family home of Ahmed and Sami Amireh. Only the women and children were present in the home, when 3 soldiers entered through their front gate. "They [were] bringing water and food” said one of the women in the family. “I asked them what they wear doing in our garden and they said they wanted to stay on our roof the whole day” she explained. 

Palestinian patients 'interrogated before leaving Gaza for treatment'
International Solidarity Movement - 4 May 2009 - An Israeli medical human rights group said today that an increasing number of Palestinian patients from Gaza were being interrogated by Israeli security services before being allowed to leave the strip for treatment. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said at least 438 patients had been summoned for interrogation by the Shabak, the Israeli general security service, at the Erez crossing out of Gaza between January 2008 and March this year. It took evidence from several patients and found they were "forced to provide information as a precondition to exit Gaza for medical care". The group said the ratio of applicants being interrogated rose from 1. 45% in January last year to 17% in January this year. Their research also suggested the number of interrogations increased sharply from the beginning of this year, after Israel's three-week war in Gaza. 

Police negligent in probing fence protest casualties
International Solidarity Movement - 5 May 2009 - The death of Palestinian Bassem Ibrahim in Bil'in two-and-a-half weeks ago might have been prevented had the police carried out orders to investigate previous incidents in which protesters against the separation barrier were hurt by grenade canisters, a senior Justice Ministry official told the police on Monday. Ibrahim, 30, died when a border policeman fired a canister directly at him and hit him in the chest during a protest at Bil'in on April 17. The protest was one of the weekly protests held by villagers, Israelis and pro-Palestinian demonstrators from abroad against the route of the fence that separates the villagers from much of their agricultural land. According to a statement issued by the Justice Ministry, Yehoshua Lemberger, deputy state attorney for criminal affairs, has asked the police to review the guidelines for dispersing protesters. 

Life is blind
International Solidarity Movement - 5 May 2009 - In this series of personal testimonies, PCHR looks at the aftermath of Israel's 23 day offensive on the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing impact it is having on the civilian population. Mahmoud Mattar spent his 15th birthday in February this year, lying in the intensive care unit of Egypt's Sheikh Zayid hospital. He is one of the 1,606 children who were injured during Israel's military offensive on Gaza, some of who sustained horrific disabilities, head and spinal injuries, facial disfigurement, burns and amputation. On Wednesday 7 January 2009, Mahmoud Mattar, then 14, was struck by a rocket near his home in Sheikh Radwan, Gaza City, that left him permanently blind and with extensive injuries. It was around 09:30 in the morning and Mahmoud was at home with his mother and siblings when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at al-Taqwa mosque, 150 metres away. 

Sheikh Jarrah residents charged with refusing to leave their homes
International Solidarity Movement - 5 May 2009 - The court cases of Maher Hannoun and Afed El Fatah Gawi, charged with contempt of court for refusing to leave their homes, were yesterday postponed until the 17th May. Hannoun, 51, and El Fatah, 87, are residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem where a spate of houses are threatened with eviction in Israel's latest attempted purge of the Palestinian people. Support for the families of Sheikh Jarrah has been rife amongst international and Israeli activists. They joined friends and family of Hannoun and Gawi outside the court yesterday in a show of solidarity, waving banners and cheering as the accused walked out of court with their freedom intact, albeit temporarily. Inside the courtroom were representatives from the US and French consulate, who sympathise with the families cause and along with the Czech consulate, are pressuring Israel to stop these evictions. 

UN accuses Israel of Gaza ‘negligence or recklessness'
International Solidarity Movement - 5 May 2009 - A United Nations inquiry today accused the Israeli military of "negligence or recklessness" in its conduct of the January war in Gaza and said the organisation should press claims for reparations for deaths and damage. The first investigation into the three-week war by anyone other than human rights researchers and journalists held the Israeli government responsible in seven separate cases in which UN property was damaged and UN staff and other civilians were hurt or killed. However, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, rejected the report's call for a full and impartial investigation into the war, and refused to publish the complete 184-page report. Only Ban's own summary of the report (pdf) has been released. Israel rejected the inquiry's findings, even before the summary was released, as “tendentious” and “patently biased”. 

Mondoweiss: Code Pink activists interrupt Shimon Peres during AIPAC speech
International Solidarity Movement - Mondoweiss - Today, Shimon Peres kicked off the AIPAC conference with a special address. Phil noted some observations below. Initial buzz from the speech in and around the conference center is that Peres neglected to mention the need to establish a Palestinian state as part of the peace process. This is shaping up to be an important tension between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations. During his speech, Peres was briefly interrupted by activists from Code Pink. The photo below is of Desiree Fairooz standing on a table in front of Peres as he speaks. Below is the press release they sent out after the action: WASHINGTON — During Israeli Pres. Shimon Peres' speech today at the annual AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) policy conference at the Washington Convention Center, CODEPINK members raised banners saying "Want Peace? End the Occupation,” "What About Gaza? ,” and "No Money for War Crimes. ”. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Peres to Obama: No choice but to compare Iran to Nazis
5 May 2009 - The world has no choice but to compare the threat posed by Iran to that of Nazi Germany, President Shimon Peres told U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday, adding that Israel must support U.S. overtures to Iran. ...

Religious Zionists challenge value of visiting Nazi death camps
5 May 2009 - The mood was especially jubilant because most of the youths had a newfound appreciation for Israeli statehood. They had just arrived from Eastern Europe, where they had spent several emotional days touring death camps. ... 

UN demand for IDF compensation in Gaza could reach $11 million
5 May 2009 - A United Nations demand for financial compensation for Israeli strikes on UN facilities in Gaza could come to $11 million, a government official in Jerusalem said Tuesday in response to a UN report that criticized Israel for the attacks. The incidents occurred during Operation Cast Lead in January. ... 

French FM tells Lieberman: Settlement construction must end
5 May 2009 - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman Tuesday that restarting Middle East peace talks is urgent and that building new Israeli settlements must end. ... 

Assad: Syria-Iran ties serve stability and strength of Mideast
4 May 2009 - Syria's President Bashar Assad defended its long-standing alliance with Iran on Tuesday and said a "strategic" relationship between the two countries contributed to Middle East stability. ...

The Guardian

UN chief rejects further inquiry in Gaza
5 May 2009 - One of the more striking features of today's UN inquiry into the Gaza war is the secretary general's prompt rejection of one of its key findings. In its 11th and final recommendation, the board of inquiry...

There is hope for Barack and Bibi | Petra Marquardt-Bigman
5 May 2009 - Though there is speculation of a clash with Netanyahu, Obama's good-faith gestures could mark a turning point with Israel The meeting between Israel's new prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US president Barack Obama later this month...

UN accuses Israel of Gaza 'negligence or recklessness'
5 May 2009 - Inquiry finds Israel responsible for deaths, injuries and damage to UN buildings A United Nations inquiry today accused the Israeli military of "negligence or recklessness" in its conduct of the January war in Gaza and said...

UN report accuses Israeli military of negligence in Gaza war
5 May 2009 - Inquiry finds Israel responsible for deaths, injuries and damage to UN buildings A UN inquiry accused the Israeli military today of "negligence or recklessness" in its conduct of the war in Gaza. The summary of the...

Ha'aretz National page

Woman hospitalized in Nahariya with Swine Flu-like symptoms
4 May 2009 - A 60-year-old woman has been hospitalized under quarantine in Nahariya while she undergoes examinations for swine flu. ...

Israel begins revoking citizenship of four Arabs
4 May 2009 - Interior Minister Eli Yishai has begun the process of revoking the citizenship of four Israeli Arabs who left Israel to live in states defined by Israel as "enemies" in the 1970s, his ministry announced Tuesday. ...

Peretz: Barak forcing us to consider forming new party
4 May 2009 - Ehud Barak's predecessor at the Defense Ministry and the Labor Party chairmanship, Amir Peretz, is not ruling out forming a new faction in the wake of the serious divisions that have pitted Barak against long-time party stalwarts opposed to his policies. ...

Rowing champ seriously hurt after accident in polluted Yarkon River
4 May 2009 - Israeli rowing champion Yasmin Feingold, 20, was seriously injured early yesterday evening when her boat overturned in Tel Aviv's Yarkon River, submerging her head in its polluted water and causing her to lose consciousness. ... 

Israeli Arabs sue bus company for refusing to let them board
3 May 2009 - Four Israeli Arabs on Monday sued the Dan bus company for allegedly barring them from boarding a vehicle because of their ethnicity. ...

Relief Web

OPT: UN- Israel caused damage, deaths in six incidents in Gaza Strip
5 May 2009 - Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

OPT: Israel's cash limitations threaten Gaza banks
5 May 2009 - Source: Reuters

Palestinian unity, rebuilding of Gaza vital to maintain calm – UN envoy
5 May 2009 - Source: UN News Service

Cyprus hosts UN International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, 6-7 May
5 May 2009 - Source: UN General Assembly

Lebanon: Saudi Arabia donates US$25 million for Nahr El Bared
5 May 2009 - Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Syria: Khan Dannoun sewage project improves the lives of the camp inhabitants
5 May 2009 - Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Press conference by Security Council President on work programme for May
5 May 2009 - Source: UN Department of Public Information

Food Security in Palestine 
5 May 2009 - Source: Palestine Monitor

YNet News

French FM urges Lieberman to restart Palestinian talks
5 May 2009 - 150 people chant anti-Israel slogans outside French foreign ministry ahead of FM's arrival; 'Lieberman, get lost, no fascism here,' they say

US wants Israel in non-proliferation treaty
5 May 2009 - Assistant secretary of state neglects to mention Iran as she promotes anti-nuclear arms agreement

Peres: Israel should back Obama on Iran 
5 May 2009 - President meets with US President Obama in Washington after earlier meeting with Secretary Clinton, says Israel will be 'loyal supporter' of efforts to engage Tehran through diplomacy. Hours earlier Vice President Biden said Israel must accept the two-state solution, freeze all settlement construction 

Barkat attempts to sort out irregular construction in east Jerusalem
5 May 2009 - Jerusalem's mayor says 13,000 homes to be created for Palestinians by 2030 while skepticism abounds

Ban says Israelis also hurt in Gaza war
5 May 2009 - UN secretary-general attempts to soften inquiry board's harsh conclusions regarding Israel's conduct during operation against Hamas

Iran: The UN has run its course 
5 May 2009 - Ahmadinejad launches harshly-worded assault on United Nations during visit to Damascus, says: 'The organizations established after WWII cannot solve the world's problems.' Iranian leader also meets with Syrian counterpart Assad, Hamas politburo chief Mashaal 

MKs on planned education cut: Our future in danger
5 May 2009 - Sa'ar says cutting education his ministry's budget will 'promote illiteracy as Israel's strategic goal'; MK Ganaim: Cut will send us back to Stone Age 

Biden: Israel must accept two-state solution 
5 May 2009 - Just hours before President Peres' White House visit, US vice president uses AIPAC conference as platform to demand Israel 'work for a two-state solution… not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement' 


Soldiers abuse young Palestinians in Hebron District
29 Apr 2009 - According to testimonies given to B'Tselem, on 26 April, soldiers randomly detained six young men in Dura, took them to the Adorayim army base, and held them until daybreak, during which they beat and humiliated them and deprived them of sleep, food, dri 

Testimonies: Soldiers abuse Palestinians in the Jordan Valley
27 Apr 2009 - On 2 April, soldiers at the Almog checkpoint barred four Palestinians from crossing, despite the army’s declaration of free access to the Dead Sea. According to testimonies, the group drove to a nearby hilltop instead, where the soldiers later found them 

Daily Star

Gates promises to keep Arab allies in the loop on Iran front 
5 May 2009 - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday Arab fears of a possible "grand bargain" between Iran and the United States were unwarranted and that Washington would not abandon its long-time regional allies. Seeking to reassure Arab governments about a potential shift in the regional balance of power.

Ahmadinejad, Assad vow support for resistance 
5 May 2009 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed Zionism as "occupation" and "aggression" Tuesday as he delivered his latest diatribe against Israel on a visit to key Middle East ally Syria. "The Zionist occupiers are destructive microbes, because Zionism itself is occupation, aggression, the use of assassination and annihilation," he told.

Khamenei publicly rebukes Ahmadinejad over removal of senior official 
5 May 2009 - Iran's supreme leader publicly rebuked the president over his removal of a top official, a rare show of discontent with the hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the country's most powerful figure. The rebuke, issued in the press Monday, quickly raised questions whether the supreme leader is backing off.

Dozens of candidates sign up for Iran's presidential vote 
5 May 2009 - Dozens of hopefuls, including four women, threw their hat into the ring on Tuesday on the first day of registration for June's presidential election, expected to be a test for Iran's dominant conservatives. Fifty people have so far signed up to stand in the June 12 vote, including four women, after Iran opened up the five-day candidate registration period.

Ban accuses Israel of lying about attacks on UN schools 
5 May 2009 - The UN chief on Tuesday accused Israel of lying about attacks on United Nations schools and other facilities during the Gaza military campaign - including one reported to have killed more than 40 people - and formally demanded compensation. Ban Ki-moon said a UN investigation found conclusively that Israeli weaponry.

Biden presses Israel to halt settlement expansion 
5 May 2009 - The United States stepped up pressure on Israel's new right-leaning government on Tuesday to accept the goal of a Palestinian state and halt expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied land. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far shied away from publicly supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meshaal: Hamas wants to be part of the solution 
5 May 2009 - Hamas' top political leader, in a message to the Obama administration, said the group is determined to be part of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The group's exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal, said in an interview with The New York Times published Tuesday that Hamas has halted its rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Information Center

Error in running event chain
5 May 2009 - Error occurred while trying to run the event chain.

New York Times

Addressing U.S., Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets
4 May 2009 - Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, said the militant group was seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967. 

News Analysis: Israel Faces a Hard Sell in Bid to Shift Policy
3 May 2009 - The new government wants to reorient Israeli foreign policy away from a prospective Palestinian state and toward the rising threat from Iran. 

2 Killed as Israel Hits Egypt-Gaza Tunnels
2 May 2009 - The Palestinians who were killed were the first fatalities in the conflict with Israel since early March. 


Rorschach 'Rachel' 
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon, 5/3/2009
      An Israeli film explores the ambiguous death of Rachel Corrie, peacenik angel to some and "terrorist-loving swine" to others.
     Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Simone Bitton’s documentary "Rachel," which premiered this week at the Tribeca Film Festival, is what’s not in it. Bitton, a Moroccan-born Jewish filmmaker who spent many years in Israel and now lives in France, conducts a philosophical and cinematic inquiry into the death of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American activist who was killed under ambiguous circumstances in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip in March 2003. But the political firestorm that followed Corrie’s death, which saw her beatified as a martyr for peace by some on the left and demonized as a terrorist enabler by some on the right, is virtually absent from the film.
     We do not see the infamous photograph of the keffiyeh-clad Corrie burning an "American flag" -- not a real flag, but a crude children’s drawing of one -- at a demonstration about a month before her death. Nor do we see the torrent of exaggerated and often shocking verbal abuse to which Corrie was subjected, postmortem, on right-wing bulletin boards and Web sites. Corrie, who suffered massive internal injuries when she was either crushed by a bulldozer or buried under construction debris, was routinely dubbed "Saint Pancake" in such venues, or described as "terrorist-loving swine." (That’s without getting into the grotesque sexual fantasies and elaborate conspiracy theories.)

The Spies Who Got Away 
Justin Raimondo, 5/3/2009
      And one who didn’t
     After five years of legal maneuvering and orchestrated protests from the Lobby’s amen corner, Israel’s point men in Washington have finally succeeded in their efforts to quash the prosecution of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who had been charged with committing espionage on behalf of Israel. It is a victory that not only signals the continuation of the Lobby’s dominance in Washington, in spite of growing popular revulsion against lobbyists in general, but also gives the Israelis a blank check to spy on their American patrons to their hearts’ content.
     The hosannas being sung by the Lobby’s media echo chamber – the Washington Post, the neocon blogosphere, and the official conservative movement represented by National Review and the Weekly Standard – are all about "vindication." That is the word used by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s Israel-centric columnist, to describe the decision to drop the charges, but – as usual – his interpretation of the facts leaves much to be desired.
     The statement from the prosecutors avers that the case was dropped due to the success of the "graymail" strategy pursued by the defense. The government had to consider "the likelihood that classified information will be revealed at trial, any damage to the national security that might result from a disclosure of classified information and the likelihood the government would prevail at trial," as well as the "changed landscape" of the case, a reference to the many rulings by judge T.S. Ellis that forced prosecutors to delay going to trial for five years.

Electronic Intifada
Month in pictures: April 2009
5 May 2009 - The below photographs are a selection of images from the month of April 2009. "The month in pictures" is an ongoing feature by The Electronic Intifada. If you have images documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos A T electronicintifada D O T net. 

Israel's war on dissent
5 May 2009 - About six months after Israel's attorney general publicly announced an effort to criminalize dissent, state authorities have upped the ante in their "war" -- as the Israeli daily Haaretz called it last September -- against Israel's youth; against the broad, grassroots movement slandered by officials as "draft shirkers." Rela Mazali comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

AIPAC conference comes amid turmoil
5 May 2009 - WASHINGTON (IPS) - The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington's powerful and hawkish pro-Israel lobby, kicked off its annual policy conference this weekend during a period of unusual turbulence both for the organization and for the US-Israel relationship. AIPAC won a notable victory on Friday, when prosecutors moved to dismiss charges against two former AIPAC staffers who had been accused of committing espionage violations by passing classified information to the Israeli government and to reporters. 

Gaza laborers injured in Israel left to dry
5 May 2009 - More than 700 Palestinian workers in Gaza who suffered on-the-job accidents inside Israel used to receive monthly disability payments from Israeli employers. But in January 2009, workers stopped receiving these payments as the Israeli courts decided that Israeli insurance companies are no longer liable towards Palestinians living in what the state has declared a "hostile entity." Rami Almeghari reports for The Electronic Intifada. 

In Gaza
fallen journalists
3 May 2009 - * Fadel Shana’a , killed in April 2008 by invading Israeli tanks’ shelling (photo source unknown ) “ Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians … They shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this protocol, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians…” -Article 79 – Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Protocol 1) Fadel Shana’a is among the most prominent of Palestinian journalists and media workers recently killed by Israeli soldiers. The 23 year old was targeted by an invading Israeli tank which, after observing Shana’a filming for a number of...

Palestine Chronicle
The New Discourse on anti-Semitism 
5 May 2009 - By Shafiq Morton - Cape Town Those who criticize Israel or those who interrogate Zionism (the ism that gave birth to Israel) are often labeled “anti-Semitic” by the Zionist lobby. This lobby, a world-wide movement, is seen to be most influential in the United States where it vigorously defends the interests of Israel. To view Israel unsympathetically means vilification by this group: it avows political critique is something that threatens the existence of all Jews. Yet, ironically, some of the most ardent critics of Israel have been Jews – academics and political liberals who have not denigrated their Jewishness in any way because of their conscience. The truth is that the Jewish community (13, 3 million worldwide) is hardly a monolithic group that unquestioningly supports Israel’s policies. Studies by American academics, such as Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, have graphically – if not uncomfortably – pointed to this. In the multi-faceted Diaspora, it’s becoming evident – particularly since Gaza – that reservations have emerged about Zionist hasbara. This is the spin that suggests Israel is a country enjoying an exclusive right to be a victim, and that Israel can spurn international law because of this. Often depicted as the “Israeli David” versus the “Arab Goliath”, the scenario is met in the Arab street with the comeback that the reverse is true. Israel has the deterrent of nuclear power and the best-equipped military in the Middle East. The Palestinians don’t even have generals. The curse is that if a Jewish person...

The Silent Population
4 May 2009 - By Joharah Baker – Jerusalem If it weren't for two little boys hitching a ride with us, this article would never have been written. Thanks to the mysterious way the universe operates, I will admit I am glad for the bizarre events of yesterday so that I could be reminded of a sector of Palestinian society all too often disregarded. I am talking about the Bedouins, those silent nomads of whom I was reminded because of two tiny first graders who needed a ride home. To and from Jericho, two checkpoints meet you. One is Israeli and the other, just a few hundred meters away is manned by Palestinian police. After saluting the Palestinian guards at the checkpoint with a friendly "salaam", we instinctively slowed down as we approached the Israelis, not wanting to be accused of storming the checkpoint or trying to evade an inspection. On the side of the road, small children with oversized backpacks were walking through the dust, some so tiny it was hard to believe they were of school age. After answering the customary, "Where are you from" and "Where are you going" from the Israeli soldier, we were met with an unorthodox request. "Could you take these kids with you if you're on your way to Ramallah?" the soldier inquired from my husband in Hebrew. "They live near Nabi Musa," the soldier clarified. Before I knew it, two tiny, timid and dark-skinned boys slipped into the back seat, sitting uncomfortably upright and looking so...

Has a Stake Been Driven through Neocon Foreign Policy?
4 May 2009 - By Ivan Eland Neo-conservatives used the Republican Party as a vehicle to promote and employ their policies of muscular nation-building overseas. But like the parasite that eventually kills its host, the Republican Party’s virtual collapse, in large part because of the failed nation-building adventure in Iraq, has left neo-conservatives discredited and facing policy extinction. Unfortunately, neo-conservatism will probably live on by changing hosts. Throughout American history, the structure of the political systems has ensured that only two major parties would be viable at any one time. They haven’t always been the Democrats and Republicans. They have always been the Democrats and one other party. First, it was the Federalists, then the Whigs, and finally, from just prior to the Civil War to the present, the Republicans. The Republicans started out as a regional party of the Northeast. The only reason they ever took power away from the Democrats, the only true national party at the time of the Civil War, was because the Democratic Party split into northern and southern wings over the slavery issue. Thus, the Civil War was essentially caused by the fracture of the Democratic Party. Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election with only 39.8 percent of the national popular vote, beating two Democrats and one minor party candidate. Southern states, fearing a Republican’s potential policies on slavery, didn’t even wait until Lincoln’s inauguration before they began to secede from the union. Ironically, today, the Republican Party, which once had hopes of becoming the majority party in...

When, Where the Pope Inspires No Hope
3 May 2009 - By Nicola Nasser - Bir Zeit, West Bank Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to be the third pontiff to visit the Holy Land from 8-15 May, following in the footsteps of Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 2000, on a mission officially described as a “pilgrimage” and one of “peace and reconciliation.” However, the Pope will be stepping into “a diplomatic minefield,” where the Catholic highest spiritual authority will be unmercifully scrutinized by the protagonists of the one hundred year old Arab-Israeli conflict for the Holy Father’s every step, word and handshake, which would force him into the defensive in an impossible balancing act that will rule out any hope his presence is supposed to inspire, especially among the down-trodden Arabs of Palestine, whether those who are “Israelis” living as second class citizens since 1948 or those Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation since 1967. Even the pontiff’s own Catholic diminishing flock in the Holy Land seems in controversy over the timing and the itinerary of his pilgrimage. "We will ask him why he came, what he intends on saying … and why he isn't coming to Gaza," Father Manuel Mussalam, the pastor of the only Catholic church of about 300 believers in Gaza, out of 3000 Christians in the Israeli besieged Mediterranean strip, was quoted by AFP as asking. "We'll tell him that this is not the right moment to come and visit the holy places, while Jerusalem is occupied," Mussalam added. In November 2006,...

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