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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
26 December, 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Hamas: “Israeli Crime In Nablus, An Outcome Of Security Coordination With Zionist Entity”
IMEMC 27 Dec 2009 - Saturday December 26, 2009 - 15:05, Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, reported Saturday that the execution of three fighters in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, come as an outcome of the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and the “Zionist entity”.

PCHR Weekly report: 28 abducted, including 12 children, in 20 Israeli invasions this week
IMEMC 27 Dec 2009 - Saturday December 26, 2009 - 01:32, According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights' Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, during the week of 16- 22 Dec 2009, Israeli forces Israeli forces conducted 20 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 23 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children. Israeli naval troops have continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip.

Settler Killed In West Bank Shooting
IMEMC 27 Dec 2009 - Friday December 25, 2009 - 13:45, An Israeli settler was shot and killed on Thursday evening near the Jewish settlement of Einav, near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, Israeli sources reported.

Netanyahu Rejects Removing Roadblocks
IMEMC 27 Dec 2009 - Friday December 25, 2009 - 13:30, Israeli Army Radio reported Friday that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected in recent months several requests to remove Israeli military roadblocks spread across the occupied West Bank.

Chief Rabbinate In Israel Demands Not Displaying Christian Symbols
IMEMC 27 Dec 2009 - Friday December 25, 2009 - 13:10, As the Christian world celebrates Christmas, and as Christians in Palestine and in Israel celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, the Chief Rabbinate in Israel recommended that hotels and restaurants in the country should refrain from displaying Christian symbols.

Troops Kidnap A Palestinian Youth In Hebron
IMEMC 27 Dec 2009 - Friday December 25, 2009 - 12:10, Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Friday morning a Palestinian youth in the southern West Bank city of Hebron after claiming that he carried a sharp tool.

Ma'an News

Israeli forces kill three youths near Erez crossing
12/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli forces keeping siege to Gaza shot at a group of youths near the northern border Saturday, killing three and injuring a fourth, sources confirmed. Eyewitnesses told Ma'an that the group of four was "a few meters away from the Gaza border fence near Erez" when Israeli forces opened fire at them. One managed to escape the attack, though witnesses said it was unclear whether or not he was injured. Palestinian sources said the victims were likely scavenging for construction materials near the border, as Gazans continue to build mud-brick homes out of recycled cement from the rubble left from the last Israeli assault on Gaza. The three were identified as Mahmoud Sharatha, Hani Abu Ghazal, and Bashir Abu Dheil. All were residents of Al-Qaraya Al-Bedawiya ("the Bedouin village"), also known as Umm An-Sasser. 

Wife, brothers describe Israeli assassinations
12/26/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Family members of three slain Fatah members gave testimony of the last moments of their loved ones' lives on Saturday, hours after the men were assassinated by Israeli forces in their own homes in Nablus. Raed Sarakji, 38: Now a widow, Tahani Ja'ara is 32 years old and seven months pregnant. "We were sleeping in our bedroom, not bigger than six square meters, when Israeli soldiers began yelling 'get out, get out. ' I thought I was dreaming. When I heard the Israeli soldiers and their police dogs outside the room, that was when I realized it was real. "Tahani said her husband told soldiers he would get out of the house, so they started shooting through the door and the windows. " He fell between my hands bleeding. I started crying 'they killed him, they killed him. ' Then soldiers broke the door and got in. . . . " 

Report: Undercover unit carried out retaliatory assassinations
12/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - An Israeli intelligence official reportedly told the Tel Aviv-based daily Haaretz on Saturday that three men killed in an army raid on Nablus the same morning were responsible for killing a settler on Thursday. According to the newspaper's Hebrew-language edition, the unidentified high-ranking intelligence official said the targeted assassinations were carried out by an undercover unit, "the Duduvan," who infiltrated Nablus disguised as Palestinians. [end] 

Settlers attack Nablus greenhouse
12/26/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Israeli settlers destroyed parts of the Al-Juneidi greenhouse in the Sahel Dir Sharef area west of Nablus on Friday night, the second settler attack on Palestinians in two days. Samir Al-Juneidi, general manager of the greenhouse, told Ma'an that "dozens of the settlers of the illegal settlement of Shavi Shomeron attacked the greenhouse from the back. "He said the group destroyed dozens of roses, jars of fertilizer and seedlings, and potted plants. Al-Juneidi estimated tens of thousands of shekels in losses, and said he hoped the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture would form a committee to deal with losses sustained from settler violence. On Thursday evening, Israeli settlers rampaged following the shooting death of a Shave Shomeron settler rabbi in an attack claimed by the Imad Mugganiya Brigades, a branch of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, which is affiliated with Fatah. 

Fearing tunnel collapses, smuggling quickened
12/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Dozens of smuggling tunnels are expected to collapse any day as Egyptian workers continue to bore 25-meter plates of steel into the earth along the Gaza border, smugglers said Friday. Witnesses said four tunnels already collapsed this week at the northern end of the border near the Salah Ad-Din Gate. As a result, two Palestinians were killed and a fire erupted in one of the tunnels. Expecting more collapses, tunnel owners quickened the pace of goods deliveries while old tunnels near the Salah Addin Gates were abandoned. Even residents of the Egyptian city of Rafah have said they are worried that their homes may collapse or crack as a result of work on the underground steel wall. Egypt began construction on the 10-kilometer-long border wall in early December, saying it was an attempt to stifle the tunnel smuggling trade between their country and Gaza. 

Setters detained, Palestinians hurt in Jarrah attack
12/26/2009 - Jerusalem - Ma'an - Members of the As-Sabbagh family were attacked in their home by four Israeli settlers who broke into the building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood ofSheikh Jarrah Saturday morning, witnesses said. The settlers were attempting to take over the home and settle in it, onlookers alleged. The act prompted clashes, injuring Tamer, Dalal, Um Mohammad, and Abed Al-Sabbagh and his pregnant wife before Israeli forces arrived and detained the settlers. Residents of the neighborhood ran to help the family when they heard the noise of the initial break-in. Following the detention of the four settlers, several others came to the scene, later assaulting members of the Al-Ghawi family, injuring three. A total of ten Palestinians were injured in the clashes, and an additional two setters were detained by Israeli forces. 

Wife, brothers describe Israeli assassinations
12/26/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Family members of three slain Fatah members gave testimony of the last moments of their loved ones' lives on Saturday, hours after the men were assassinated by Israeli forces in their own homes in Nablus. Raed Sarakji, 38: Now a widow, Tahani Ja’ara is 32 years old and seven months pregnant. "We were sleeping in our bedroom, not bigger than six square meters, when Israeli soldiers began yelling 'get out, get out. ' I thought I was dreaming. When I heard the Israeli soldiers and their police dogs outside the room, that was when I realized it was real. " Tahani said her husband told soldiers he would get out of the house, so they started shooting through the door and the windows. “He fell between my hands bleeding. I started crying 'they killed him, they killed him. ' Then soldiers broke the door and got in. He was already dead, but they continued to riddle his body with bullets to make sure he was killed. " "

PRC leader’s administrative detention extended
12/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Anti-wall protest leader Jamal Juma will spend another 10 days in an Israeli prison before his second scheduled hearing in front of a military court, supporters said. On Thursday, following eight days of interrogation, Juma had his detention period extended by a judge at the Moskobiyya Detention Center in Jerusalem where the court heard the army's request to detain him for an additional 12 days. The request was granted, supporters said in a statement, on the "false premise of Jamal's arrest as a West Bank resident, insisting that he is alien to his actual Jerusalem residence, because of his work in a Ramallah (West Bank) office. That makes Jamal the subject of Israeli military law. "Juma has been prohibited from contacting his family or his lawyer, who was ordered out of the courtroom when he came before the judge, the statement said. 

20,000 attend funeral for slain Nablus Fatah men
12/26/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - At least 20,000 Palestinians came out for the afternoon funeral processions of the three Nablus men assassinated by undercover Israeli forces during the early hours of Saturday morning. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, his minister of the interior, security forces chiefs, and several other Palestinian leaders traveled to Nablus to attend the wake. The group began to gather outside the Rafediyah Hospital in the west end of Nablus' city center, where the bodies of the three men, Raed Sakarji, 38, Anan Subih, 33, and Ghassan Abu Sharkh, 40, were transferred when Israeli forces withdrew from the city. Mourners denounced "the execution" of the men in or beside their own homes as a crime, and many were calling on the Palestinian Authority to change its policy toward Israel based on the gruesome incident. 

Israel army detains 2 from Hebron-area town
12/26/2009 - Hebron - Ma'an - The Israeli army arrested two residents from Beit Ummer, north of the West Bank city of Hebron, on Saturday. Onlookers said soldiers arrested Turki Mohammad Al-A'lami, 25, and Mohammad Mahmoud Daoud Al-A'lami, 27, from their homes in the town. They were taken to an undisclosed location, witnesses added. The arrests may have been in response to a Molotov cocktail that eyewitnesses reported seeing thrown by Palestinian youths at an Israeli military checkpoint near the entrance of the town. [end] 

Al-Aqsa splinter group vows response
12/26/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - The same faction that claimed responsibility for shooting an Israeli settler on Thursday vowed on Saturday to retaliate for Israel's assassination of three Palestinians in Nablus the same morning. "The Imad Mughniya Group," proclaiming affiliation to Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, said late Saturday evening that "retribution for the Israeli massacres in Gaza and Nablus will be equal in size to the crime. " "This massacre exposes the true face of the occupation," the group said in a new statement received by Ma'an. "There is no option but resistance. "Israeli forces stormed the Old City of Nablus in the early hours of Saturday morning, raiding several homes and killing three men affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Three youths were also killed in Gaza overnight. By this killing in Nablus and Gaza, the Israeli occupation has thrown open the doors of its own inferno," an Al-Aqsa spokesman calling himself Abu Mahmoud said in a prior statement following the escalation. 

Gaza: PFLP-GC fighters report clash with Israeli army
12/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the Jihad Jibreel Brigades, said a group of fighters launched an RPG at Israel near Beit Lahiya on Saturday morning. A statement from the group said the attack occurred at 1am, with fighters clashing with Israeli troops attempting to enter the Strip through its northern border. They said no fighters were injured in the clash. An Israeli military spokeswoman said officials in the army were not aware of the incident. [end] 

Clashes reported at Ramallah checkpoint
12/26/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at the Qalandiya military checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Saturday, witnesses reported. Onlookers said the violence erupted after youths and children hurled stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired live ammunition, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The confrontation came in the wake of the deaths of three Fatah members killed by the Israeli army in Nablus earlier the same day. Officials said the episode threatened the relative peace in the West Bank. An Israeli border guard representative did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Israeli news reports said Palestinians tossed Molotov cocktails at settler cars near Ramallah and Bethlehem. No injuries were reported in those incidents, either. 

Al-Aqsa splinter group vows retaliation
12/26/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The splinter faction that claimed responsibility for shooting an Israeli settler on Thursday vowed on Saturday to retaliate for Israel's assassination of three Palestinians in Nablus the same morning. "The Imad Mughniya Group," a militant organization proclaiming affiliation to Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, told Ma'an late Saturday evening that "retribution for the Israeli massacres in Gaza and Nablus will be equal in size to the crime. ""This massacre exposes the true face of the occupation," the group said in a new statement. "There is no option but resistance. " Israeli forces stormed the Old City of Nablus in the early hours of Saturday morning, raiding several homes and killing three men affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. On Thursday, the Mughniya faction said its members killed an Israeli settler near Nablus. 

PA: Israel dragging Palestine into cycle of violence
12/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - "Israel is attempting to trick the Palestinian people into a cycle of violence in order to avoid international pressure to stop settlement expansion and restart peace talks," presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina said Saturday. The comments came following two incidents on Saturday that saw six killed in the deadliest single day of the Israeli occupation since the end of the war on Gaza, whose anniversary is tomorrow. Israeli forces killed more than 1,400 Palestinians during that three-week offensive. Abu Rdeina denounced the Israeli airstrike in Gaza and the army invasion of Nablus as criminal. "The Israeli escalation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the return to targeted assassinations and aimless killing, proves the occupation government has decided to damage the safety and stability. . . 

Hamas: Israel recognizes only murder and terrorism
12/26/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Hamas officials called the six Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli forces Saturday part of the policy of "hunting down resistance groups" and vehemently condemned the two attacks. The targeted extrajudicial executions of three Fatah-affiliated former fighters in the West Bank city of Nablus were coupled with a deadly airstrike on what Israel claimed were Palestinians attempting to infiltrate the country. The attack killed three and injured a fourth. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the assassinations a "war crime" since all three Fatah members were shot at close range in or beside their homes after they had been detained by Israeli forces. The official speculated that the Palestinian Authority was involved in supporting the assassinations, and suggested that "resistance should be enhanced, not plotted against. 

Fayyad denounces Nablus assassinations
12/26/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Salam Fayyad, caretaker prime minister of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, strongly denounced the Israeli military's assassination of three Fatah members in Nablus on Saturday. Speaking at a funeral wake for the men, who were reportedly killed at their homes in retaliation for their alleged involvement in the shooting death of an Israeli settler on Thursday, Fayyad condemned what he termed a dangerous escalation. The Israeli operation targeted "the state of security and stability which the Palestinian Authority has achieved" in the West Bank, he said. Fayyad was joined by PA Interior Minister Said Abu Ali, security forces General Commander Hazem Attallah, Preventative Security chief Ziad Ar-Rih, intelligence head Majed Faraj, and several other senior security officials who visited Nablus and extended condolences to the families of the deceased. 

PA civil defense crews rescue family of 16 from fire
12/26/2009 - Tulkarem - Ma'an - Palestinian Civil Defense crews in cooperation with the Palestinian security forces rescued a family after a fire erupted in their three-story home in the Bal'a area east of Tulkarem on Friday night. Ma'ruf Al-Barbari, head of the police department, told Ma'an that "Civil Defense crews and security forces rushed to Bal'a to extinguish the fire that spread in a home of Ashraf Abu J'iem," and that crews rescued 16 family members who had escaped to the roof of the house, Al-Barbari said several members suffered from smoke inhalation and were treated onsite by medics, while one security services member,Mohammad As-Samman, was transferred to Thabit Thabit hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation suffered during the rescue effort. Civil Defense crews contained the fire while PA security forces opened an investigation in the incident, officials said. 

Allenby: Visitors to West Bank up slightly, 11 detained
12/26/2009 - Jericho - Ma'an - Palestinian security forces said officers detained 11 Palestinian fugitives attempting to exit the West Bank via the Allenby border crossing over the past week. A statement from the forces said all the men were wanted on charges of fraud and other criminal offenses. The 11 were among a total of 14,332 travelers leaving the West Bank last week, minus 35 Palestinians who were prevented from leaving by Israeli border guards. Numbers of travelers are markedly down from previous weeks. Numbers of travelers entering the West Bank via the bridge were 6,516, slightly above the yearly average. [end] 

Police say officers seized murderer within hours
12/26/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian police detectives in Ramallah reportedly detained the man responsible for killing Issa Hamid from Silwad village, found dead on the roadside last week. Police said they caught the killer less than 24 hours after the murder. Citizens notified police about the presence of a dead body near Ain Siniya, which was later identified as Hamid. According to their report, police had a suspect within hours of identifying the body, and had a suspect in custody less than a day after Hamid was discovered. The report said the man, who was not identified, confessed to the crime. Saed Zahran, director of the Ramallah detectives office, said officers seized the weapons used in the alleged murder as well as the car used to transport the body. 

Ha'aretz Defense page

At militants' funeral, Palestinians vow revenge on Israel
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - IDF kills three Al Aqsa operatives responsible for death of West Bank settler earlier this week. 

B'Tselem: IDF may have executed unarmed Palestinian militants
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - IDF officer: Militants refused to surrender, posed a threat, and were shot to neutralize the threat. 

Hamas: Response on Shalit deal in three days
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Hamas leadership split over exiling prisoners, with Gaza leadership more willing to accept deal. 

Israeli killed in West Bank shooting attack
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Security forces alerted to the scene to investigate the incident; victim apparently resident of settlement. 

Year after Gaza war, Hamas says ready to fight Israel again
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Armed wing says ready with all manpower to 'confront Zionists', but won't say what capabilities it has. 

IDF recruits to Barak: We refuse to evacuate settlements
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Jewish law forbids destruction of Jewish construction, 12th graders tell defense minister in letter. 

For Palestinians, possession of used IDF arms is now a crime
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - IDF troops arrest West Bank man for possessing weapons for exhibition on 'means used by security forces.' 

Settlers plan to cut IDF ties in fight against freeze
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - In pamphlet, rightists say IDF soldiers should be convinced to refuse orders to enforce settlement freeze. 

Israel warns nationals of Al-Qaida abduction threat in Africa
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - In advisory, Counter Terrorism Bureau lists Ivory Coast, Togo, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and northern Nigeria. 

Israel drops two-month-old advisory against India travel
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Counter-Terrorism Bureau in mid-October warned of a concrete threat, particularly in Goa. 

IDF soldier dies in freak training accident in Golan Heights
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Pvt. Mor Cohen, 19, dies after being hit by a bullet fired by another soldier during urban combat drill. 

Islamic Movement head banned from entering Jerusalem
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - IDF orders 3-week ban 'to maintain public peace and order;' Ra'ad Salah will be able to appeal order. 

Netanyahu's brother-in-law: Free Shalit through war, not talks
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Hagai Ben Artzi argues with Noam Shalit; Ron Arad's wife: Bringing Shalit back home is Israel's 'moral duty.' 

Misc

Israeli troops kill 6 Palestinians
12/26/2009 - CNN - Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in separate incidents in the West Bank and Gaza early Saturday, acts that quickly drew Palestinian condemnation. The first incident happened in the West Bank city of Nablus, where the Israeli military killed three Palestinians it said were responsible for the death of an Israeli civilian in the West Bank this week. Israeli forces entered Nablus overnight to locate the suspects and killed them Saturday morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. Palestinian medical officials and witnesses confirmed the deaths. The strike was a joint operation by the Israeli military and Israeli security services, a spokeswoman for the Israeli military said. She said all three men were known militants associated with Fatah militant groups. Israeli forces found four guns at the place where one of the suspects was killed, the IDF said. 

Israel returns to Assassinations Policy
12/26/2009 - Middle East Post - Six Palestinians were killed in two separate incidents by the Israeli forces in Gaza and the West Bank. Three of the Palestinians were assassinated in Israel returns to Assassinations Policy 122 320x240 one of the palestinian victims Nablus at the West Bank. According to Israeli sources, Ghasan Abu Sharkh, Raed Sarkaji and Anan Suboh took part in the last attack which resulted in killing an Israeli settler in the West Bank. The Israeli troops entered Nablus while being directed by the Israeli Intelligence Service “Shabak” in order to assassinate the three Palestinians who are known as leaders of Fatah movement in the Palestinian territories. Israel considered this operation a success since it came only 48 hours after the attack on the Israeli’s car in the West Bank. The Palestinian authority considered this operation another act made by the Israeli government in order to destroy the peace. . . . 

Al Dameer Issues a Position Paper on Health and Environmental Problems in the Gaza Strip that Lead to an Increase in the Number of Babies Born with Birth Defects, Abortion, and Cancer Diseases
12/20/2009 - Al Dameer Association for Human Rights - On Sunday, 20 December 2009, Al Dameer Association for Human Rights published a position paper on “Health and Environmental Problems in the Gaza Strip that Lead to an Increase in the Number of Babies Born with Birth Defects, Abortion, and Cancer Diseases Due to the IOF Use to Radioactive and Toxic Materials during its Latest Offensive on the Strip”. The position paper presents the impact of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) use to of internationally prohibited weapons against the civilians of Gaza. As a result, the number of children born with birth defects, abortion, and cancer diseases has increased dramatically since the Israeli operation "Cast Lead" on the Gaza Strip. The disastrous consequences of the three-week conflict continue to affect the lives of the people of Gaza. The illegal use of the chemical weapons in the densely-populated areas would cause a long-lasting tragedy and plague the future generation. -- Links: Nitrate contamination of ground water and Methemoglobinemia in Gaza Strip (PDF) and The poisoned wells of Gaza. . . . 

Galloway raps Egypt for stopping Gaza aid convoy
12/25/2009 - Press TV - British Lawmaker George Galloway has criticized Egypt over denying the Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy to enter the Gaza Strip. The humanitarian convoy to the Gaza Strip has become stuck in Jordan as Egypt is reportedly denying the convoy's passage through its territory. " It's a strange Christmas for us. We are stuck in Aqaba. 500 people, 210 vehicles, hundreds of tons of aid which is desperately needed in Gaza," Galloway said in an interview with Press TV on Friday. " Our Jordanian friends are doing their best to keep us warm and to feed us," he added. The British anti-war activist also called it a very complex situation. " It's a very complex situation. We have on the Turkish level quite a diplomatic activity going on, because the Turkish prime minister personally appeared on live television in Damascus three days ago and asked the Egyptian government to facilitate this convoy;. . . . " 

UN official urges sanctions on Israel
12/25/2009 - Spero News - Just days before the first anniversary of the Israeli Cast Lead military operation which cost the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has urged the Western powers to insist that Israel immediately end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, threatening to enforce economic sanctions. Falk also urged that the Goldstone Report’s recommendations, which suggest that Israel and Hamas have perpetrated war crimes possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, be fully and swiftly implemented. Falk said that “people having common sense, anywhere in the world, should become conscious of the dramatic situation in Gaza, where the suffering of over 1. 5 million people, half of them children, has carried on without any formal objection from governments and the UN”. In the UN annual report, published last month, UN secretary general Ban. . . . 

Exclusive excerpt from Joe Sacco’s groundbreaking new book: Footnotes in Gaza
12/26/2009 - Mondoweiss - Adam Horowitz - As we approach the one year anniversary of Israel’s attack on Gaza, we are proud to be able to share with you an exclusive peek at Joe Sacco’s new book Footnotes in Gaza. Rather than focus on the current phase of the conflict, the book deals with an often forgotten, or unknown, event – the massacre of 111 Palestinians by Israeli forces in the Gaza towns of Rafah and Khan Younis in 1956. While these southern Gazan towns are currently in the news as the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina convoy try to enter Rafah from Egypt, Sacco’s book takes us back to 1948 and 1956 to show us how we arrived at the point we are today. We’ll be posting more on the book in coming weeks, including a more formal review and an interview with Sacco, but as we turn our eyes towards Gaza on this solemn anniversary, let us remember everything that came before it. (Please click on the following images to view them larger. )

How Gaza became a rich canvas for Palestinian art
12/26/2009 - The Independent - Art is flourishing in the carnage left behind by Israel's military onslaught last year. Donald Macintyre reports. - The prematurely ageing apartment block on the edge of Jabalya overlooks a forbidding stretch of wasteland. There is a lift shaft but no lift. But if this is no surprise in a Gaza starved of building materials and spare parts, the interior of the spotless and stylishly furnished fourth-floor flat, where Maha El-Daya lives and works, certainly is. The walls are covered with her own (and her artist husband's) paintings: haunting land and seascapes, a portrait of a child; the living room table on which coffee is served is covered with a dark red and black cloth she hand-stitched in the pattern of a chess board, the chairs scattered with cushions decorated with her own kaleidoscopic embroidery. Ms El-Daya's studio and home in the northern neighbourhood of al Saftawi betrays little. . . . 

Palestinian groups claim killing Israeli settler
12/26/2009 - Al Arabiyah - Armed group vows more similar operations - GAZA CITY (Agencies) - Two Palestinian militant groups on Friday claimed responsibility for the West Bank shooting of an Israeli who was killed in an attack on Thursday night, a joint statement from the groups said. Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, said their operatives had killed an Israeli settler in the West Bank. "We conducted the attack and then managed to escape. There will be other similar operations "al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades"We conducted the attack and then managed to escape. There will be other similar operations," al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement received by AFP. The Israeli military said Meir Avshalom Hai, a 40-year-old father of seven, died when his car came under fire in the occupied West Bank on Thursday night, either from a passing car or a roadside ambush, near the city of Nablus. 

Minister Ayalon: 2010 decisive year on Iran
12/26/2009 - YNetNews - Deputy foreign minister says not only Israel, but entire world to be tested next year with regards to Iranian nuclear program - Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Saturday that the year 2010 will be a decisive year with regards to Iran and its nuclear plan. Speaking at an event in Rishon Lezion, Ayalon stressed that the entire international community, and not just Israel, will be facing a test next year. "There is a broad international front against the Iranian nuclear program, and if Iran doesn't provide the international community with the right answers by the end of the year, the Security Council will likely approve sanctions against it," he said. Also during the event, Ayalon addressed the possibility that the Kadima party may join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, following a proposal made earlier this week by Netanyahu to opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni. "Anyone who accepts the current government's path and its principles is welcome to join it," he said. 

Israel summons envoys from all over the world
12/26/2009 - Press TV - Israel's ambassadors and consuls generals from all over the world have been summoned to attend a conference to be held over global challenges facing Israel. The meeting to be attended in Jerusalem Al-Quds on December 27-31 is hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the ministry reported on its website. " The idea is to facilitate direct dialogue with the country's leaders, mutual updates on major diplomatic issues, and a discussion of action plans to deal with the challenges awaiting Israel in the international arena in the coming year, including the Iranian threat," it said. This is while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called a report by the UN Human Rights Council's Gaza commission a real threat to Israel. The UN Special Rappoteur for the occupied Palestinian Territories has also urged western. . . . 

Opposition leader says Israeli PM’s offer a ploy
12/26/2009 - Al Arabiyah - Israel's Livni mulls offer to join government - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni on Friday mulled an invitation to join the government, though the premier himself was reportedly doubtful she would accept his offer. Either way, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear he intended to poach members of Livni's factious Kadima party, even if the centrist opposition leader opts not to join the government. " I would be very happy to see her join, but I have no plans to give up on the attempt to expand the coalition base," YNet News quoted him as saying. Israeli media said Netanyahu was doubtful Livni would accept the offer which would land her a post as minister without portfolio. " In closed forums he clearly hints that if that Livni turns him down, he will work to split the opposition faction," YNet said. 

Uruknet

War and siege leave Gaza children traumatized
Uruknet December 27, 2009 - The majority of children in Gaza are suffering from anxiety, depression or behavioral problems as a result of their experiences of conflict and living through a deepening humanitarian crisis, warns Save the Children. One year on from Israel's three-week military offensive in Gaza, leading psychologists working with the children's charity report that many Palestinian children in...

One Year On: Gaza Steadfast and Defiant amidst a World that has lost its Humanity
Uruknet December 27, 2009 - Today we commemorate the first anniversary of one of the most horrific Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people and against humanity in general. On this day last year, the Zionist entity with all its advanced and sophisticated weapons, paid for by the US and the EU, launched a 23-day "war" on the unarmed and besieged civilian...

Mubarak blows his big chance to behave decently
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - Gee, thanks President Mubarak... Thanks for ruining Christmas for so many. But that's par for the course in the cesspit of treachery that is the Middle East. The human tragedy of Gaza just gets worse and worse. Nobody seriously believed the Viva Palestina convoy would get through unmolested; and so it came to pass... It is...

Lest We Forget: Gaza Genocide 27.12.2008 - 18.01.2009
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - On 27.12.2008, Israel launched a premeditated wide-scale terrorist attack on the besieged, unarmed civilian population of Gaza. During this latest Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza 1419 Palestinians were killed by the IOF, including: 326 children, 111 women, 367 students, at least 15 teachers, 16 medical personnel, 21 farmers, 2 fishermen and 92 labourers. Over 5300...

USACBI Statement on 1 Year Anniversary of Operation Cast Lead' 
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - December 27, 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of 'Operation Cast Lead,' Israel's 22-day assault on the captive population of Gaza, which killed 1400 people, one third of them children, and injured more than 5300. During this war on an impoverished, mostly refugee population, Israel targeted civilians, using internationally proscribed white phosphorous bombs, deprived...

Gaza: remembering the martyred #1
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - In Ezbet Beit Hanoun, family and friends of those martyred on 4 and 5 January during the Israeli massacre of Gaza gathered to honour their martyrs, one year later. "The pain is still fresh, I still can't get over my sons' murders," said Sabbah Abd el Dayem, mother of two sons, both in their twenties, both...

One year on, Gaza under siege, Palestine under Apartheid...
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - 62 years have passed since the dispossession of the Palestinian people, and 42 years marks the unjust occupation which makes it the longest ongoing occupation known in modern history. Whether it is in Gaza where the situation is deteriorating, the West Bank where inhabitants are prohibited from visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem, or the citizens...

Why did Israel Steal Mary's Gate Before Christmas?
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - The so-called "Israel Antiquities Authority" (IAA) stole one of the Christian holy gates (Mary's Gate) from the Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which is the most sacred Christian place in the world. The Holy Church of the Sepulchre which was looted by the "IAA" is administrated by all Christian communities in Palestine together: the Catholic,...

Welcome to Gaza's Killing Fields where Palestinian Children live
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - ...Imagine the psychological and emotional terror experienced by children who grow up knowing that their parents cannot protect them from helicopter gunships, ground missiles, or snipers' bullets. These children have no escape routes, no options, because the Israeli army and invading settlers are the ones who determine which child, which family, will be shot; which houses...

The False US Friends of the "Iranian People" (An Open Letter to Charles Krauthammer)
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - ...And now a request: Go Away. Please go away now and do not return to Iran as the setting for your political assaults. For - and let this be acknowledged widely, if not by you than by others - the "Iranian people" whom you supposedly praise are merely pawn for your political games, which have little...

Gaza aid convoy awaits Egypt nod
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - An aid convoy that has travelled over 3500km to deliver vital medical and food supplies to the Gaza Strip is currently stranded because of Egypt's refusal to grant it easy passage. The Viva Palestina convoy, made up of almost 250 lorries, remained in the Jordanian port of Aqaba on Saturday, having waited over 48 hours to...

Comrade Mizher: Gaza stands resisting and steadfast one year after occupation massacres
Uruknet December 26, 2009 - A rally in Ezbet Abed Rabbo, one of the most devastated areas in last year's Zionist assault on Gaza, organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine marked the one-year anniversary of the aggression on December 25, 2009. Thousands of residents of Abed Rabbo and members and supporters of the PFLP rallied in the...

Palestine Telegraph

Resistance Fighters Clash with IOF
Gaza, December 26, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - The brigade of "Al-Shahed Jehad Jebrial" the armed wing of PFLP "the general command" declared its responsibility of targeting an Israeli force invaded at today's dawn Beyt Lahya, in north of Gaza Strip. The brigade said in a statement that some of its members lunched one RPJ towards a special Israeli force and...

Ministry of Interior to commemorate1st anniversary of Gaza war
Gaza, December 26, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - Ehab Al-Ghasian the spokesman of the Ministry of Interior in Hamas-led government confirmed that the ministry has finished the preparations of commemorating the first anniversary of Gaza War. The Israeli occupation forces murdered 1500 Palestinian 350 of them were security apparatus. The Israeli attacks first targeted the centers of the Ministry of Interior...

IOF execute 6 Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank
Palestine, December 26, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) -Israeli occupation forces executed six Palestinians at today's dawn. Three of them were executed in front of their families eyes in Nablus, in north of West Bank. Other three were killed in cold blood near Beyt Hanoun crossing. In West Bank, local and medical sources confirmed the martyrdom of Ghasan Abu Sharikh 39 (the...

IOF Execute Two Palestinians in Nablus
Nablus, December 26, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - Israeli occupation forces executed two Palestinians at today's dawn in front of their families eyes in Nablus, in north of West Bank. Local and medical sources confirmed the martyrdom of Ghasan Abu Sharikh and Read Al-Serji, while Al-Serji's wife was injured and delivered to a hospital in the city. Eyewitnesses said that nearly...

IOF Shot Dead 3 Palestinians in Gaza
Gaza Strip, December 26,2009 (Pal Telegraph)- Israeli soldiers shot dead 3 Palestinians in the north of the Gaza Strip. According to a Palestinian medical source, three Palestinians were killed in northern Gaza as they were on their way to cross over a wall to work in Israel on Saturday. The source further added that another Palestinian was also wounded in...

The National

Tehran protesters clash with police at ceremony
The National 26 Dec 2009 - Police in Tehran clash with hundreds of opposition protesters who had attempted to turn a Shiite mourning ceremony into an anti-government protest.

Police hit hardest by Israeli missiles in Gaza assault
The National 26 Dec 2009 - Although Gazan officials deny the force overlapped with the military, almost 250 were killed during the assault on the Gaza Strip last year.

Gaza: one year later, and tensions are rising again
The National 26 Dec 2009 - Belligerent talk raises fears of another round of violence, 12 months after Israel's devastating assault on the Gaza Strip.

Aljazeera

Israeli troops kill Palestinians
AlJazeera 26 Dec 2009 - Six deaths reported in two separate incidents, three in Gaza, the other in the West Bank.

Blast rocks southern Beirut
AlJazeera 26 Dec 2009 - At least one person reported killed in explosion near office of Hamas official.

Gaza aid convoy awaits Egypt nod 
AlJazeera 26 Dec 2009 - Viva Palestina remains stranded with Cairo reluctant to let it through Nuweiba port.

Police clash with Tehran protesters
AlJazeera 26 Dec 2009 - Iranian security forces "use batons and tear gas" to disperse opposition supporters.

Alternative Information Center

Separation, Inequality and Loosening Control: The State of State Education in Israel
Alternative Information Center 24 Dec 2009 - Israel never managed to develop a uniform, egalitarian public education system. In fact, the most outstanding characteristic of education in Israel today is segregation or separation - on the basis of ethnicity, degree of religiosity, and...

Palestine News Network

Six Palestinians killed in West Bank, Gaza attacks
PNN 26 Dec 2009 - Israeli troops have killed six Palestinians - three in the Gaza Strip and three in the West Bank. The Israeli military said three Palestinians suspected of trying to infiltrate from Gaza were killed in an air strike near the Erez crossing. Separately, Israeli forces said they killed three men in the West Bank city of Nablus who are suspected of shooting dead...

Three Palestinians killed in Israeli raid 
PNN 26 Dec 2009 - Nabulus, West Bank - Israeli forces stormed into the West Bank town of Nablus on Saturday, killing three Palestinians from the Western-backed president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party, a Palestinian security official said. One of the men, Anan Subuh, was a member of Fatah's armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, but had been granted amnesty by Israel. The other two men were party...

PM condemned the Israeli assassination of six Palestinian citizens in West Bank and Gaza
PNN 26 Dec 2009 - Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, strongly condemned the Israeli assassination of three Palestinian citizens in Nablus city, early this morning. The PM considered it a serious escalation, that cannot be viewed other than an attempt to target the state of security and stability the PA has been able to achieve. Fayyad stressed that this Israeli escalation is an exposed attempt to confuse...

Jerusalem Post

Hamas car explodes near Beirut
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - Hamas man was killed and three other wounded in blast; Hizbullah seals Haret Hreik area off.

'US knew of Nigerian's terror ties'
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - UK police search building where the man who tried to blow up Detroit airliner may have lived.

IDF's Kfir Brigade - Fighting Palestinians and insubordination
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - In 2009, Kfir's battalions carried out more than 50 percent of arrest operations in the West Bank.

Netanyahu: I hope Livni realizes the importance of the hour
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - As two party leaders prepare to meet for coalition talks Sunday, a majority of Kadima MKs are expected to oppose joining gov't, Channel 10 reports.

'Exodus' revisited: A sailor's tale 62 years on
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - "We grew up fast trying to get refugees out of Europe and into the land of Israel."

PA: Israel undermining peace efforts
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - Abbas spokesman calls on world to stop Israel's crimes; Fayyad: Israel trying to shirk responsibility.

Three terrorists killed in Nablus
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - Army guns down men responsible for Thursday's shooting attack; B'Tselem suspects "execution."

PA arrests, releases 150 attack suspects
Jeruslalem Post 26 Dec 2009 - At terror victim Meir Chai's funeral, son urges fellow Samaria youths not to avenge father's death.

US Consulate car nearly runs over guard
Jeruslalem Post 25 Dec 2009 - Exclusive: 'Post' obtains protocol also alleging illegal transfer of Palestinian woman in diplomatic vehicle.

Inter Press Service

IRAN: Domestic Conflict Shifts into Higher Gear 
IPS HONOLULU, U.S., Dec 16 (IPS) - Although the tumult that has gripped Iran since the contested Jun. 12 election has never abated, two recent occurrences have highlighted the further sharpening of internal conflict and the government's inability to restore stability in the face of creative ways the opposition has learned...

MIDEAST: Israel Declares War on Peace NGOs 
IPS JERUSALEM, Dec 24 (IPS) - One year after the devastating attack on Hamas in Gaza a new wave of reports castigating Israel for war crimes has emerged.

PCHR Weekly Report

(23-12-2009) Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
PCHR 

International Solidarity Movement

500 demonstrators protest house evictions and ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah
12/26/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - 25 December - Some 500 demonstrators gathered at the top of the street that Jewish settlers are taking over in Sheikh Jarakh in East Jerusalem. The demonstrators, who came part by bus from Tel Aviv, part in cars from the Bil'in and Ma'asara demonstrations and part in an organized march from West Jerusalem, sang songs and beat their drums in solidarity with the Palestinians kicked out of their homes by the settlers. The good policemen of Jerusalem, who have probably not read the editorial in this morning's Ha'aretz [link follows], decided that a demonstration with no arrests would be unworthy of its name, even though the march and demonstration were coordinated with it ahead of time. Police started arresting people who were already arrested in the past, claiming that they were in violation of their parole. To their great shame a member of the Jerusalem municipality was present with a copy of the appeals’ court ruling, canceling the activists’ ban from the area, and so most detainees were later released. -- Link: Ha'aretz: War on protest. . . . 

Gaza Freedom March: The siege has to end
12/26/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Bianca Zammit, Palestine Chronicle, 24 December - "Is this our fate? Is this what we are worth? Nothing more than pictures on the wall? "said Um Rabia referring to what has now become a custom in Palestine, covering walls in the streets, homes and shops with pictures of deceased family members. Um Rabia' children were killed by an automatic watch tower as they were walking to school. No soldiers, no officers and no government has ever been forced to take responsibility for this action and if trends are abided to then it is very hard to believe justice will be served in any near future. Unfortunately, Um Rabia' story is a very common story in Palestine. If this trend is not stopped, soon there shall be no more walls in the streets, in homes and in shops left uncovered. In October 2009 an opportunity presented itself at the door of the international community. 

Christmas in al-Ma’asara: Demonstrators march in solidarity with Abdallah Abu Rahmah
12/26/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - 25 December - Some 80 demonstrators marched in this Friday's Christmas demonstration in Ma'asara, which focused on solidarity with Bil'in's arrested popular committee member Abdallah Abu-Rahmah. Kids, adults and Santa Clauses were handed out used tear-gas and stun grenades, and hung them as decoration on the holiday tree. The tree-carrying procession reached the regular military road block, where some of the children chose to decorate even the soldiers' barbed wired fence with some grenades. Santa Clauses were waving flags, slogans where chanted, and speeches were carried in Arabic, English and Hebrew. One of the prominent speakers was Palestinians MP Dr. Mustapha Barghouti. The demonstration's jolly Christmas spirit did not catch the soldiers and border policemen, who jumped nervously at any sight of someone touching their fence. 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Comment / It is easy for Netanyahu to circumvent Obama
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - It was supposed to be a daunting year for Benjamin Netanyahu, a year of American vision and Arab hope. Washington's outstretched hand to the Islamic world, dialogue with Iran, Israel finding its hands tied, U.S. envoy George Mitchell flying around, "two states for two peoples," talks with Syria - all this crammed into a timetable that didn't leave Israel's prime minister any room to breathe. ... 

Airport security beefed up following foiled Detroit attack
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Airport security in Israel and other countries will be increased following Friday's failed attempt by a suspected Al-Qaida militant to blow up a plane in Detroit. Ben-Gurion International Airport security upped its alert level and will introduce stricter inspections of passengers traveling to the U.S., as will other airports. ... 

Comment / Gilad Shalit and the changing concept of captivity
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Captivity in the Israeli context is unfortunately not merely a legal or historical term, but a concept dependent on cultural shifts. The way it is perceived is derived from an appreciation of the contemporary system of values, beliefs and norms. ... 

Hamas official likely target of Beirut car bombing
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - A bomb exploded in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut on Saturday, targeting a car used by members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. ...

Source: U.S. knew of would-be airliner bomber's terror ties
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - An official briefed on the attack on a Detroit airliner said Saturday the U.S. has known for at least two years that the suspect in the attack could have terrorist ties. ...

Ha'aretz National page

Was Israel's Gaza offensive worth it?
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Today offers us an ironic conjuncture of commemorations: the fast of the 10th of the Hebrew month of Tevet and the first anniversary of Operation Cast Lead. On the day of the fast, which commemorates the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem, few Israelis are thinking about Gaza, under Israeli blockade for twice the time ancient Jerusalem was besieged. On the anniversary of the attack on Gaza, few people are doing any real soul-searching. ... 

Top mathematician's encounter with junior high leaves scars
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - A leading mathematician at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology got more than he bargained for after volunteering to teach a junior high school math class in the Haifa area last year. Just two months into his year-long commitment, Prof. Ron Aharoni threw up his hands and left, complaining that the students' disciplinary problems made instruction virtually impossible. ... 

Netanyahu: I hope Livni realizes time is crucial
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Ahead of his meeting Sunday with opposition leader Tzipi Livni, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is awaiting the Kadima leader's prompt reply to his offer to join the coalition. ...

Crumbling Tiberias synagogue to regain its former glory 
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - Dr. Amit Dolev and his uncle, Rafi Ninio, remember when they were kids and on Yom Kippur, hungry and thirsty, they would lay on the wide synagogue windowsill looking out at the Tiberias promenade and the Kinneret beyond. ... 

Decade in review / Prediction bloopers of the recent past
Ha'aretz 26 Dec 2009 - "We recommend a gradual accumulation of money. There are several advantages to such accumulation. First, most people find it easier to save small sums every month. Secondly, [acquiring] a big, one-time asset could attract unwanted attention. Such a move would seem unpatriotic and might annoy others. We suggest that an average family put aside a month or two's net pay, in cash. One must also take into account the possibility that the government could devalue the shekel. Therefore, it is advisable to keep some of the money in foreign currencies such as dollars, German marks and Swiss francs. The money should be hidden in several places in the apartment, or somewhere else. It is important to note that thieves and robbers know all the usual tricks better than the honest person. That is why a special effort must be made in this regard." ... 

Relief Web

Gaza-bound convoy stranded in Jordan after Egypt rejects Red Sea Port entry
Relief Web 26 Dec 2009 - Source: Xinhua

Bomb hits Hamas car in Beirut, casualties unclear
Relief Web 26 Dec 2009 - Source: Reuters - AlertNet

Israel/Gaza: One Year After Hostilities, Abuses Unpunished
Relief Web 26 Dec 2009 - Source: Human Rights Watch

OPT: Week in review - Christmas Weekend Sees Six Palestinians Dead
Relief Web 26 Dec 2009 - Source: MIFTAH

Israel kills six Palestinians in WBank, Gaza 
Relief Web 26 Dec 2009 - Source: Reuters - AlertNet

Palestinian official: Israel to demolish 900 houses in Jerusalem 
Relief Web 26 Dec 2009 - Source: Xinhua

YNet News

Dutch passenger thwarted terror attack on plane 
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Jasper Schuringa of Amsterdam says he saw smoke, climbed over seats to stop terrorist; adds there was no struggle as other passengers, crew members also rushed to stop him 

Report: Hamas man killed in Lebanon blast
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Bomb in trunk of car in Hezbollah neighborhood in south Beirut explodes. Arabic BBC says Hamas member killed, movement denies report 

PM expects 'prompt' reply from Livni
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Benjamin Netanyahu tells advisors he has 'no intention to engage in coalitional agreements of a unity government that has fully cooperating elements'; says he will not redistribute portfolios 

PA official accuses Israel of 'phony freeze'
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Advisor to Palestinian prime minister condemns IDF's activity in Nablus Saturday and says Israel to blame for political standstill 

Kadima's No. 2 tells Livni she cannot hold negotiations alone
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni meets senior party members, discusses PM's offer to join government. MK Shaul Mofaz tells Livni she cannot enter negotiations alone; must form coalitional negotiation team with Likud members 

Yesha Council praises IDF, demands roadblocks
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Settler leaders pleased with military's location, elimination of Palestinians behind murder of Shavei Shomron resident Thursday, but call for barriers to restrict Palestinian movement to prevent next killing 

Source: US knew of terror suspect
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Official briefed on attack on Detroit airliner says US has known for at least two years that suspect could have terror ties. Meanwhile, British police search suspect's apartment in London, step up security on US-bound flights at Heathrow Airport 

Iran's Neda named 'Person of the Year' by UK paper 
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - British Times names Iranian woman shot dead during protests against disputed presidential elections 'person of the year', saying Neda Agha-Soltan became 'global symbol of opposition to tyranny' 

Report: 1,200 smuggling tunnels into Gaza
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Egyptian state paper al-Ahram reports on scope of smuggling tunnel industry in Strip, says single tunnel can cost some $50,000 to dig, but can yield profit of some $180,000 per day 

IDF lauds PA security establishment for conduct after Thursday shooting
YNet News 26 Dec 2009 - Military sources note some 120 suspects have been detained by Palestinian security establishment since Thursday shooting attack. Fourth suspect turns himself in to PA prior to IDF activity Saturday 

B'tselem

Palestinians kill an Israeli civilian in the Nablus district
24 Dec 2009 - B'Tselem strongly condemnss the killing of an Israeli civlian yesterday by Palestinians in the Nablus district. Deliberate attacks against civilians are immoral and illegal. Wilful killing of civilians is defined as a "grave breach" of international huma 

Daily Star

Iran forces clash with Montazeri's mourners
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 Iranian security forces armed with batons and tear gas clashed with supporters of the late dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in two cities on Wednesday, opposition websites said. But a senior local official denied reports of clashes in Isfahan, accusing foreign media of "staging a psychological war" against the clerical establishment by publishing such reports.

Hamas leaders weigh Israeli draft on prisoner swap
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 A German mediator gave Hamas on Wednesday Israel's response to a proposed swap freeing hundreds of jailed Palestinians for a captured soldier, and the Islamist group said it would need days to review the new draft. Signaling a possible breakthrough, a Hamas official said he expected the group to send a delegation from the Gaza Strip to Damascus by Thursday to meet exiled Hamas leaders.

Visiting Turkish premier hails ties with Syria
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed Turkey's fast expanding relations with Syria as model for its ties with other Arab countries during a visit to Damascus Wednesday. "We are in the process of building with Syria a sound structure for the Middle East - we need to create a foundation for peace in the region," Erdogan said.

Gaza demonstration puts spotlight on civilian suffering
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 More than 50,000 people are expected to take to the streets of Gaza on December 31 for a mass march designed to send a message to the United States, a key supporter of Israel's army, that the situation in Gaza violates international human rights laws. The idea behind the "Gaza Freedom March" comes from CODEPINK, a women's peace group committed.

Erakat: Peace talks can restart if Israel halts settlements
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in an interview published Wednesday that he would immediately resume peace talks with Israel if it freezes all settlement construction in occupied land. "Erakat is ready to continue where he left off with [former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert]," the negotiator told the Austrian daily Kurier.

Bethlehem wall kills Christmas for Palestine
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 Christian visitors coming to Bethlehem this week to celebrate the birth of Christ will encounter a concrete wall with watchtowers, built by Israel between nearby Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity. In a message to remind the world of the Israeli barrier's existence, the Palestine Liberation Organization said the wall symbolized a "Christmas without hope" for the ancient city.

Iraq attacks target church, election candidate
Daily Star 27 Dec 2009 A pre-Christmas attack on a church killed two people in the Iraqi city of Mosul Wednesday while a Sunni Arab candidate died in a bombing in Fallujah, the first such murder ahead of March polls. They were among 11 people killed in violence across the country, despite security forces ramping up their presence ahead of Christmas and the Shiite commemoration ceremonies of Ashura.

Palestinian Information Center

Explosion in Beirut targets car said to belong to a Hamas cadre
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - An explosion on Saturday evening in southern Beirut targeted a car belonging to a Hamas cadre and at least one person was injured according to Lebanese security sources.

Fayyad warns Palestinians of retaliating to killing of three fighters in Nablus
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - Salam Fayyad on Saturday warned the Palestinian people and factions of taking any action in retaliation to the Israeli assassination of three Palestinian resistance fighters in Nablus.

Solidarity march in France on first anniversary of war on Gaza
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - A solidarity march is expected in the streets of the French capital on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the Israeli bloody war on the Gaza Strip that killed 1,400 Palestinians.

Khudari welcomes the Yaffa march in support of Gaza
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, has welcomed the march that would start on Saturday night in Yaffa in support of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Jordanian prisoner in Israeli jail suffers from deteriorating health condition
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - The daughter of Jordanian prisoner in Israeli jails Mohamed Al-Rimawi said that her father’s health is seriously deteriorating as a result of the deliberate medical neglect.

Hamas: Abbas’s militias invloved in killing the three fighters in W. Bank
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - The Movement of Hamas said Saturday that the Israeli assassination of three resistance fighters in the West Bank is a war crime committed in coordination with Mahmoud Abbas’s militias.

Israeli army murders six Palestinians in cold blood
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - In an ominous sign indicating that a fresh cycle of bloodshed may be in the offing in the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces on Saturday murdered in cold blood three Palestinians in the Nablus.

AMB: The crime will not go unpunished
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - The Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - Yasser Arafat group has mourned the death of three of its cadres in Nablus on Saturday at the hands of Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and vowed to retaliate severely.

Ghoul: Israel holding nine Gaza prisoners under the law of unlawful combatant
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - Minister of prisoners’ affairs Mohamed Al-Ghoul stated that Israel is still holding nine prisoners from Gaza without any charge or trial using the law of unlawful combatant to keep them in prison.

IOF troops kill 3 Palestinian citizens in northern Gaza
PIC 26 Dec 2009 - Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed three Palestinian citizens and wounded a fourth near the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing in northern Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Los Angeles Times

In Iran, holiday and protest set stage for high drama 
LA Times 26 Dec 2009 - Celebrations of Ashura, always a dramatic street ritual among Shiite Muslims, are expected to include an element of political theater this weekend, fueled by Iran's postelection unrest. The haze from burning esfand, a Persian weed, and the scents of thick-brewed tea and rose water fill the black funeral tents that have bloomed across Tehran. Sweeping black banners of mourning and small green lights hang outside mosques. 

Arabic-language Internet is coming of age 
LA Times 26 Dec 2009 - Yahoo's acquisition of Maktoob.com this year encourages start-ups and investors to work on online content and services for the world's 300 million Arabic speakers. When Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury started Maktoob.com as an Arabic e-mail service 10 years ago, they had a modest office in Amman, Jordan, and little support from friends and family who could not imagine anyone using the Internet in Arabic. 

Tehran protesters clash with Iranian security forces 
LA Times 25 Dec 2009 - Protesters honoring the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Iran's leading dissident cleric, are met by police in riot gear. Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Tehran on Thursday and clashed with security forces in the latest round of unrest over Iran's disputed June presidential election, according to witnesses and amateur video posted on the Internet. 

New York Times

Clash Is Reported in Iran at Protest
New York Times 26 Dec 2009 - A reformist Web site said that Iranian riot police officers had fired tear gas and warning shots and attacked a building housing a news agency. 

Iran Says It Would Swap Nuclear Material With West in Turkey
New York Times 26 Dec 2009 - Turkey’s foreign minister welcomed the Iranian announcement and said his government would do its best to help reach a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. 

Hard-Line Rise Alters View of Iran’s Nuclear Ambition
New York Times 25 Dec 2009 - Political turmoil has made it nearly impossible for anyone in Iran to support nuclear cooperation without being accused of capitulating to the West. 

Memo From Tel Aviv: Tough Military Stance Stirs Little Debate in Israel
New York Times 25 Dec 2009 - A year after the Gaza offensive, the devastating use of force is seen as an effective deterrent against Hamas and Hezbollah. 

Police Try to Quell Protesters Who Mourn Iranian Cleric
New York Times 25 Dec 2009 - In Tehran and the northwestern city of Zanjan, officers clashed with demonstrators defying a ban on memorial ceremonies for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. 

World Briefing | Middle East: West Bank: Israeli Settler Killed
New York Times 25 Dec 2009 - A little-known militant group identifying itself as a faction of Fatah claimed responsibility for shooting the man. 

Misc 2

‘Dear President Mubarak, the Gaza people need our moral support on this difficult anniversary’
Mondoweiss - 25 Dec 2009 - Ali Abunimah just posted the latest from the Gaza Freedom March on his blog and says he is "still determined" to get into Palestine. Forward! OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUBARAK FROM THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH December 26, 2009 Dear President Mubarak; We, representing 1,362 individuals from...

In Bi’lin we carried a wooden coffin called ‘International law’
Mondoweiss - 25 Dec 2009 - Pamela Olson, who is working on a book called Fast Times in Palestine, is back in Oklahoma after a year or so visiting the occupied territories. She filed a long post on her last days in the West Bank. She gave us permission to excerpt two...

Obama aide calls Israel her ‘homeland’ and a ‘healthy democracy’
Mondoweiss - 25 Dec 2009 - The neocon cabal is going crazy over comments supportive of J Street from Hannah Rosenthal, Obama’s aide in charge of fighting anti-Semitism. It’s really amazing that the neocons have been able to hurt J Street, a mainstream group if ever there was one, a group that...

‘Newsweek’ columnist endorses Goldstone Report
Mondoweiss - 25 Dec 2009 - I’m doing something good this Christmas; I’m reading the Goldstone Report. It’s amazing. I never did read it through. It’s the greatest work by a Jewish writer since Norman Mailer left town. No it’s not literary, but it’s a fervent effort to give dignity to the...

Egyptian opposition to Gaza Freedom March has ‘hardened’
Mondoweiss - 24 Dec 2009 - The Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s opposition to the Gaza Freedom March has "hardened" since it announced on December 20 that it would not allow the Code Pink-organized demonstration to enter the Strip from Rafah, on the Egyptian border. So a friend informs, and the San Francisco paper...

Separation, Inequality and Loosening Control: The State of State Education in Israel
Alternative Information Center - 24 Dec 2009 - Israel never managed to develop a uniform, egalitarian public education system. In fact, the most outstanding characteristic of education in Israel today is segregation or separation - on the basis of ethnicity, degree of religiosity, and class. This separation is not the product of a pluralistic,...


Articles

The poisoned wells of Gaza 
artemis54, Miss Devore’s Undwerwater Deli 12/26/2009
      One of many dumpsites along Wadi Gaza, Gaza’s only wetland and only open body of water. Once a stopover for migratory birds, once a contender for Ramsar designation, it is now compromised by leachate from the uncontrolled dumping of demolition waste.
     The proportion of contamination from waste, however, appears to be insignificant compared to the load imposed on the wadi by raw sewage.
     There is only one natural source of fresh water in Gaza, the coastal aquifer roughly delineated on the map to the right. The flow within the aquifer is from northeast to southwest, meaning the Gaza strip is at the extreme downstream end.
     While the new report from UNEP, Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008 – January 2009 [link follows] examines a wide range of deteriorating environmental conditions in Gaza, it is the drinking water problem that rightly gets much of the attention. Most people seem to be focussed on the fact that the aquifer faces “imminent collapse” in the ICRC’s terms. This is largely a matter of simple over-extraction along the entire field of the aquifer:
     It is estimated that the annual recharge from rainfall in the Gaza Strip to the coastal aquifer is about 45 million cubic metres. Abstraction has been well in excess of sustainable levels: indeed the most recent estimate of abstraction, dating from 2007, is about 163 million cubic metres per year (CMWU, 2008).
     So the aquifer will continue to fall. It is already inadequate....As the aquifer level falls, intrusion of seawater from the Mediterranean into its downstream region increases. But that is only the beginning of the problem. -- Links: Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008 – January 2009 and Al Dameer: Health and Environmental Problems in the Gaza Strip Lead to an Increase in Birth Defects, Abortion, and Cancer -- See also: Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008 – January 2009 and Al Dameer: Health and Environmental Problems in the Gaza Strip Lead to an Increase in Birth Defects, Abortion, and Cancer more.. e-mail

Awaiting a miracle from Washington 
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 12/24/2009
      The Palestinian Authority may be seeking renewed talks with Israel even in the absence of an Israeli freeze on settlements, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank.
     The Palestinian Authority (PA) is apparently seeking an opportunity to resume peace talks with Israel without losing face due to the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements and US failure to get the Jewish state to stop stealing Palestinian land.
     The PA is still clinging to its erstwhile position, namely that it won’t return to the negotiating table unless Israel agrees to stop all settlement expansion, including so-called natural growth, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
     The PA had hoped that the Obama administration would force Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement growth.
     However, despite more than eight visits to the region, Obama’s envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, seems to have failed to make any real dent in the Israeli stance, which vehemently rejects a comprehensive settlement freeze, especially in East Jerusalem.
     Netanyahu announced last month that a 10-month settlement freeze would be observed in the West Bank but not in East Jerusalem. Washington, while not showing any particular enthusiasm towards the Israeli announcement, called on the PA leadership to reciprocate by resuming peace talks with Israel. more.. e-mail

War on protest 
Editorial, Ha’aretz 12/26/2009
      The war the police and the Israel Defense Forces are openly waging against protests by left-wing and human rights activists has heated up in recent weeks. As a result, concern is growing over Israel’s image as a free and democratic country, one that accords equal and tolerant treatment to all its citizens and residents.
     Nonviolent protests in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah against the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by extreme right-wingers have met with a violent and disproportionate police response. The IDF has responded with insufferable harshness to protests against the separation fence in the Palestinian villages of Bil’in and Na’alin.
     In Sheikh Jarrah, police are fielding unnecessarily large forces armed with tear gas and pepper spray. Over the past two weeks, no less than 50 demonstrators have been arrested at these protests.
     In Bil’in and Na’alin, IDF soldiers are firing live rounds at unarmed protesters who do not endanger the soldiers’ lives, in violation of the military advocate general’s orders. Major arrest sweeps are also taking place in these two villages, of protest organizers and members of the popular committees. Some of those arrested have been brought before a military court, charged with incitement and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
     In terms of violence, this represents an escalation. In terms of tolerance, it represents a deterioration - of attitudes toward legitimate protest. Two Israeli lecturers, Prof. Galit Hasan-Rokem and Prof. Daphna Golan, recently described the harsh police response in Sheikh Jarrah in Haaretz. Protests were also dealt with harshly during Operation Cast Lead a year ago: About 800 Israeli citizens, most of them Arab, were arrested, and criminal proceedings were begun against 685 of them. This was an evil omen regarding the state’s attitude toward protesters. more..e-mail


Barghouthi: Anti-wall protests should be boosted
Palestine Monitor: 26 Dec 2009 - Bethlehem – Ma'an – Palestinians living in areas threatened by the Israeli separation wall should be empowered to resist the theft of their land, Palestinian National Initiative Secretary-General Mustafa Barghouthi told demonstrators on Friday. Barghouthi was speaking at a protest activity in the village of Al-Ma'sara, south of Bethlehem, in which residents decorated a Christmas tree on land slated to be seized by the Israeli military. For decorations the protesters used spent stun grenades and tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli army while dispersing previous demonstrations. Dozens of locals along with international protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers at the weekly demonstration. Barghouthi praised the residents of Ma'sara, Bil'in, Ni'lin, and other villages where demonstrations against the separation wall take place each Friday after the Muslim noon prayer. Barghouthi also visited the village of Umm Salamona where Israeli authorities are threatening to annex tracts of Palestinian-owned land to expand the...

Brutal executions carried out by Israeli Occupying Forces 
Palestine Monitor: 26 Dec 2009 - December 26th 2009 On the eve of the first commemoration of the War on Gaza during Operation ‘Cast Lead', an Israeli assault was conducted which resulted in 6 Palestinian fatalities. Three young Gazans; Mahmoud Sharatha, Hani Abu Ghazal, and Bashir Abu Dheil were identified as the victims of the attack near the northern border of Gaza. The three victims were searching for construction materials near the northern border when the Israeli Occupying Forces opened fire on them. Another three men were killed by the Israeli Occupying Forces in the early hours of this Saturday morning in Nablus. Raed Sukarji, Anan Subih, and Ghassan Abu Sharikh were the victims of the assault carried out earlier today. Raed Sukarji 38 years old was shot in the head and chest in front of his pregnant wife and two children. During the course of action, his wife was also shot in the feet. Ghassan...
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