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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
28 December, 2009

News

International Middle East Media Center

Viva Palestina convoy re-routed through Syria
IMEMC 28 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 29, 2009 - 00:34, A humanitarian aid convoy on its way to the Gaza Strip has been re-routed through Syria after it was turned away at the Gulf of Aqaba.

Israel To Build 700 Homes For Jewish Settlers
IMEMC 28 Dec 2009 - Tuesday December 29, 2009 - 00:21, The Israeli settler-led government, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party, decided to construct additional 700 homes for Jewish settlers in illegal settlements it considers part of the “Greater Jerusalem” area.

New Settlement constructions bids in Jerusalem
IMEMC 28 Dec 2009 - Monday December 28, 2009 - 14:23, The Israeli Housing Ministry released hundreds of new bids to construct homes in Settlements around East Jerusalem.

Israeli tanks invade areas in northern and southern Gaza Strip
IMEMC 28 Dec 2009 - Monday December 28, 2009 - 13:59, In two separate attacks, Israeli tanks invaded on Monday areas close to the northern and southern Gaza Israeli borders.

The Israeli military kidnaps nine Palestinian civilians from the West Bank
IMEMC 28 Dec 2009 - Monday December 28, 2009 - 13:46, Israeli troops kidnapped on Monday nine Palestinian civilians during pre dawn military invasions targeting a number of West Bank communities.

Abbas: “We Will Prosecute Those War Criminals”
IMEMC 28 Dec 2009 - Monday December 28, 2009 - 13:02, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the Palestinian Authority will act on prosecuting all Israeli war criminals who killed women, elderly and children during the aggression on Gaza one year ago.

Ma'an News

Settler stoning causes bus to overturn, hurting 5
12/28/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - Five people were injured on Monday evening when a bus skidded out of control and overturned after it was pelted with stones thrown by Israeli settlers near the West Bank city of Nablus. The incident occurred on the road near the settlement of Yitzhar. Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) medics said the five were taken to the Women's Union Hospital in Nablus for treatment of slight and moderate injuries. Bus driver Methkal Khaled from Tulkarem, Rifat Arafeh from Jerusalem, Salam Rabaya from Jenin, and Bilal Farraj were injured, the medics said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that four Palestinians were injured in what the military termed a car accident. She said complaint was filed at the Nablus District Coordination Office (DCO) that the crash had been caused by stone throwing. "After an initial search by IDF soldiers in the area no signs of rock-hurling were found," she said. 

’I will pay the price for this testimony when I return’
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - An estimated 300 Palestinians were killed in the first 48 hours of Israel's winter assault on the Gaza Strip, which entered its second day one year ago today. With an increased focus on Rafah, Israeli warplanes bombarded around 100 more targets on 28 December 2008, leaving about 70 more Palestinians dead, and raising the child death toll to 22 and the civilian toll to 60, including nine women. Israeli jets struck Islamic University in Gaza City, the offices of de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and the Saraya prison, ironically killing four members of Hamas' domestic rival Fatah, as well as three mosques and 11 homes and apartments. Fires engulfed Rafah after Israeli missiles hit underground fuel pipelines in some 40 sorties on the Strip's tunnel network. Fleeing the flames, terrified residents of Gaza's south attempted by the hundreds to escape to Egypt, but were prevented from leaving by Egyptian security forces. 

Gaza’s children living with trauma
12/28/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - A year after Israel's assault on Gaza, children still recall moments of fear, scenes of blood, and the sound of shelling. Nearly half of the Gaza Strip's population is under 18. The vast majority of Gaza's children (98% according to one study) have experienced trauma or witnessed violence. Fourteen-year-old Amira Al-Qarm's father and two brothers were killed in front of her eyes when an Israeli rocket struck her family's home in Gaza's Tel Al-Hawwa neighborhood. Although she was also injured by shrapnel, she managed to crawl to shelter in another home where she lay bleeding for four days. Amira recalled the first moments of the war: "In the first strike, the building of the preventive security which was near our home in Tel Al-Hawa was shelled, and I went to search for my brothers who were at school the moment the shelling happened. 

PA wants Journalists Syndicate chief arrested
12/28/2009 - Nablus - Ma'an - The Palestinian Authority's Attorney General Muhammad Al-Mughanni said on Monday he issued arrest warrant for the head of Palestinian Journalists Syndicate Na'im Tubasi after he refused to appear for questioning. "Nobody is above the law, and we are trying to apply law nothing more. We took into account that Tubasi is a legal person as he is heading the syndicate of journalists, but he refuses to appear for questioning," Al-Mughanni told Ma'an. Tubasi was supposed to be questioned by the attorney general in relation to three separate lawsuits. In the first suit, filed by the Journalists Syndicate, Tubasi is accused of embezzlement. Al-Mughanni said an investigation into the issue was postponed until the union could vote on the issue. In the second suit, a Ramallah resident accused Tubasi of refusing to pay for a tract of land that the syndicate purchased. 

Hamas buries two killed in Beirut bombing
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The Hamas movement laid to rest on Monday two men killed in an explosion in Beirut on Saturday. The two were buried in Al-Burj Ash-Shamali Refugee Camp in Beirut. According to Lebanese sources, forensic experts determined that the blast was caused by a 15 kilogram charge of TNT that was placed underground in the city's Haret Hreik district. Also on Monday, the leader of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, became the first to point the finger at Israel for the apparent assassination. In his weekly column in the Al-Anbaa newspaper that the incident was a "sabotage act that only confirms the [depth] of Israel's aggressions against Lebanon, either through recurrent violations of Lebanon's airspace, land and sea or through security incidents. " At a news conference on Sunday afternoon, Hamas' top official in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan. . . 

Report: US guarantees to relaunch talks
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - The United States is drafting two "letters of guarantee" for Palestinians and Israelis to serve as the basis for relaunching peace talks, Arab and Western diplomats in Cairo told Agence France-Presse. "US special envoy George Mitchell will present two draft letters of guarantee, one for Israel and one to the Palestinian Authority during his next visit to the region," the Paris-based news agency quoted an Arab diplomat as saying. "The United States are hoping that the two letters will serve as a basis for the relaunch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations but we don't know if they will satisfy the Palestinians who want a complete freeze of settlement activity before talks resume," the diplomat added. According to a Western diplomat, the US has been engaged in talks with the Palestinian and Egyptian sides over the letters, AFP reported. 

Pro-Gaza protesters ’besieged’ in Cairo
12/29/2009 - London - Ma'an - Surrounded by police, an international group of human rights advocates staged a demonstration at a UN installation in Cairo on Monday after the Egyptian government denied their request to enter Gaza. Former EU parliament vice president Luisa Morgantini, Filipino Senator and president of the Transnational Institute Walden Bello and others held a news conference outside the UN building in Cairo in hopes to negotiate their entry in Gaza via the Rafah crossing. Another member of the Gaza Freedom March group, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstien, 85, declared a hunger strike in protest of Egypt's decision. More than 600 others joined the demonstration at the UN building, one of the event's organizers told Ma'an in a telephone interview. "We have a lot of police surrounding us - we are besieged," Ziyaad Lunat said, speaking from outside the UN compound on Cairo's Mourad Street. 

Palestinian detained after knife found at checkpoint
12/29/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israeli border police detained a Palestinian after discovering a 7 cm (about 2. 7 inch) knife in their car at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem on Monday. The arrest reportedly took place at the "Container" checkpoint northeast of Bethlehem, on the road to Ramallah. The knife was confiscated. Israeli soldiers detained nine Palestinians during raids in the West Bank overnight, the military said earlier on Monday. [end] 

Two Gaza crossings open, others closed
12/28/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli authorities decided to open the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings into Gaza on Monday while keeping the Nahal Oz crossing closed. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said 77 truckloads of commercial products and humanitarian aid would be allowed into Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing in addition to limited quantities of cooking gas and industrial diesel badly needed to run the Strip's only power plant. He added that 70 truckloads of wheat and animal feed through Karni crossing confirming that the Nahal Oz crossing will remain closed. Gaza has no crossing point with Egypt equipped for importing goods. Greater quantities of goods are transferred through smuggling tunnels dug under the Egypt-Gaza border. 

Nine detained in Israeli night raids
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli forces detained nine "wanted" Palestinians during overnight operations in the West Bank, the military said. A military official said two people were arrested in Qalandiya south of Ramallah, one in Biddu also south of Ramallah, two in Surif near Hebron, and four in Beit Awwa southwest of Hebron. [end] 

Lawyer says sick client sentenced 10 years
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - An Israeli court issued a 10-year sentence for a prisoner from Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, who suffers from a rare skin disease, according to his attorney. In a statement, 24-year-old Abdul-Hadi Muhammad Taqatqa's lawyer said Israel's prison service has failed to offer treatment for the disorder, which causes burn-like marks. Taqatqa was first detained three years ago, the attorney added. [end] 

In photos: Gaza marks war anniversary
12/28/2009 - Hamas-affiliated security officers march during a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of Israel`s Gaza assault. Israel launched the three-week offensive on 27 December last year, purportedly to end projectile fire on Israeli border towns. About 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the offensive, including hundreds of civilians. A Palestinian family is seen outside their tent in Jabaliya`s Ezbet Abed Rabbo district in northern Gaza, an area heavily hit during the winter assault. On Sunday, the Strip marked one year since the start of the deadliest offensive waged by Israel since 1967 on the isolated enclave, swathes of which still remain in ruins. Hamas supporters burn posters depicting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, , chief of staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a demonstration marking the war anniversary in the northern Gaza refugee camp of Jabaliya. 

Al-Aqsa Brigades claim Gaza shelling
12/28/2009 - Gaza - Ma'an - The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, said on Monday that they fired a homemade projectile overnight at an Israeli installation near the Kissufim crossing in the central Gaza Strip. The group said in a statement that this was in retaliation for the Israeli operation in the West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday when three Al-Aqsa-affiliated men were killed. An Israeli military spokesperson said officials were not aware of any such event. "From an initial check the IDF is not aware of any shelling or any rocket falls in the Kissufim area," a military representative said over the phone. Israeli special forces killed the three Nablus men alleging that they were linked to the fatal shooting of a settler on Thursday night. Also on Saturday, Israeli force shot death three Palestinians who Israel claimed tried to enter Israel. Palestinian officials said the three were collecting scrap metal near the border. 

Abbas to talk peace with Saudi king on Tuesday
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - President Mahmoud Abbas is to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss with King Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Aziz means of reviving the moribund peace process. The two leaders will also address Hamas-Fatah reconciliation and the possibility of ending the Palestinian political crisis that has persisted since Hamas' June 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority (PA) Waqf and Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash told the Saudi newspaper Okath that Abbas' visit to kingdom would last one day. "The visit is of special importance as it coincides with a critical stage of the Palestinian cause because of Israel's recklessness toward international resolutions," Al-Habbash was quoted as saying. Al-Habbash added that the visit would also be an opportunity to update the Saudi leadership on the situation in Palestine. 

UK to send £50 million to PA, UNRWA
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Britain marked the first anniversary of Israel's war no Gaza on Sunday by announcing a 50 million pound aid package for Palestinians. According to the UK's Independent newspaper, most of the funding will go the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, while 7 million pounds has been earmarked for Gaza. Five million will pay for teachers at schools run by the UN relief agency UNRWA. Douglas Alexander, the UK's International Development Secretary, was quoted saying "Better education in Gaza, free from extremist influences, is key to building the region's future. " The Independent also notes that UNRWA's operations director in Gaza, John Ging, who welcomed the British donation, said ending the Israeli blockade of Gaza would help combat extremism. International donors pledged nearly four billion US dollars to rebuild Gaza from the war at a conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh in March. 

White House criticizes new Israeli settlement plan
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - The White House is opposed to Israel's plan to build nearly 700 new settlement units in and around occupied East Jerusalem, its press secretary, Robert Gibbs, announced late Monday. "The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community," he said in a statement. "Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible," Gibbs added. Israel announced its intention to build hundreds of new houses in settlements in East Jerusalem earlier Monday. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, government spokesman Mark Regev said. . . 

Report: Israel ready to respond to UN on Gaza findings
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - An Israeli news outlet reported on Monday that the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs completed its response to a UN report alleging war crimes in Gaza. Israel refused to cooperate with South African Jurist Richard Goldstone's UN Fact Finding Mission into last winter's Gaza war. In November the UN General Assembly asked Israel and Palestinian authorities to carry out their own investigations of the allegations in Goldstone's 575-page report on the Gaza war. The website of Israel's Reshet Bet radio station reported that Israel will soon deliver its response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after Israel's political and military leaders debate whether to make public their findings. The news site also said that Israel's response was the result of months of deliberations involving the Prime Minister's Office, the Justice Ministry, the National Security Council, and the Foreign Ministry. 

Swap deal: Identity of German middleman revealed
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - A German newspaper revealed last week the identity of the German intermediary who is brokering the secret prisoner swap negotiations between Hamas and Israel. The German newspaper Tagesspiegel revealed that the mediator is Gerhard Conrad, a renowned expert on the Arab world in the German intelligence service BND. Since early summer, the paper reported, Conrad has been shuttling between Jerusalem, Gaza, and Cairo, in an effort to arrange an exchange of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian fighters who tunneled into Israel in June 2006. Little is known about Conrad, except that he was reported to be the brokered the successful 2008 prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbullah. Israel released five live prisoners and around 200 bodies in return for the remains of two soldiers captured at the onset of the 2006 war with the Lebanese group. 

Jerusalem sheikh urges higher social expenditures
12/28/2009 - Jerusalem - Ma'an - Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Committee in Jerusalem, called on Monday for the allocation of 500 million US dollars to support health, education, and housing projects in the city. Speaking at the Arab Parliament Union in Cairo, Sabri suggested establishing a housing fund for newlyweds in Jerusalem. In an interview with Ma'an, Ekrima said the meeting tackled a number of issues, including violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, over which he urged the international community to do a better job protecting holy sites from Israeli extremists. [end] 

US criticizes new settlement plan
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - The White House is opposed to Israel's plan to build just under 700 new settlement units in and around occupied East Jerusalem, its press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said in the following statement:"The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community. "Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible. "The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on. . . 

Peres meets with Christian leaders in Jerusalem
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli President Shimon Peres hosted Christian leaders at a traditional ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday, his office said in a statement. Representatives of the Greek, Latin, Armenian, and other communities were in attendance, the statement said. "It is Israel's responsibility to make sure every believer can pray to his or her Lord without interruption. Israel is deeply committed to protecting the holy sites for every religion. We will not tolerate any offense toward any church, mosque, or synagogue," Peres was quoted as saying. [end] 

PA police crush 72 stolen cars in Ramallah
12/28/2009 - Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian Authority police in Ramallah said on Monday they confiscated and destroyed 72 stolen cars. The police said the cars were crushed into "iron cubes" which will be sold in an auction. The proceeds will be transferred to the ministry of finance. A statement said that other confiscated cars are awaiting a judge's order to be destroyed. Separately police said they arrested 10 people in Ramallah on charges of robbery and drug trafficking. Eight of the suspects were charged in connection with the sale of hashish. Another two were arrested for stealing 60,000 Israeli shekels worth of goods from a warehouse and cars. The arrests of the two accused thieves came after a Ramallah resident complained that his car was stolen and the robbers demanded money in return for the vehicle. 

PSE drops: Al-Quds Index down 0.42% on Monday
12/28/2009 - Bethlehem - Ma'an - Stocks fell on the Palestine Securities Exchange in the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday. At the close of trading, the Al-Quds Index stood at 482. 38, decreasing 2. 03 points (0. 42%). Trading volume was 582,251 shares traded for a total value of 906,996. 16 US dollars, in 292 trades. The shares of 24 companies were traded. The shares of 11 firms rose, while nine fell. The top five gainers were NIC by 4. 87%, QUDS by 4. 39%, PRICO by 4. 17%, AIG by 3. 90%, and MIC by 3. 51%. The top five losers were PEC by 2. 88%, ISBK by 2. 82%, AMB by 2. 78%, AIB by 2. 54%, and AHC by 2. 44%. [end] 

Ha'aretz Defense page

Barak: New Iran nuclear facility resistant to regular bombs
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Defense Minister calls 2010 'year of threats, opportunities', encouraged by Abbas interest in renewing peace talks. 

U.S.: Israel plan to build in East Jerusalem harms peace process
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Israel to build 700 new homes in East Jerusalem; state also may seize private Palestinian land in West Bank. 

More than 140 job-seekers apply to help IDF enforce settlement freeze
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Applicants must have completed full military service, have a drivers license, good speaking skills and know how to interpret a map. 

Israel preparing to hand northern Ghajar over to UN
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - IDF plan to pull out from divided Lebanon border down angers residents, who want to return to Syria control. 

Israeli hurt in second West Bank road attack this week
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Woman suffers burns after firebomb hits bus; IDF soldier hurt in clashes with Palestinians in Hebron. 

Bedouin mayor urges IDF to limit arms issue, after soldier kills comrade
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - IDF soldier shot in chest by comrade in Be'er Sheva mall as shoppers looked on; second soldier arrested. 

Hamas arrives in Egypt for Shalit talks, as Israel warns deal 'not close'
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - PM says Israel still 'not close' to closing deal with Hamas for release of abducted IDF soldier. 

Hamas marks year since war, but Gazans stay home
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - After days of heavy advertising, only a trickle of Hamas loyalists turn up to a commemoration in Gaza City. 

Israel's military avatar: Robots on the battlefield
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - With self-detonating grenades, thinking bullets and robot warriors, humans on the frontline could soon be a thing of the past. 

Despite U.S. rap, Netanyahu says IDF will keep 'aggressively' defending Israelis
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Police: IDF snatched gun used to kill Israeli; U.S.: Explain killing of militants following attack. 

At militants' funeral, Palestinians vow revenge on Israel
Ha'aretz 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 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 28 Dec 2009 - Counter-Terrorism Bureau in mid-October warned of a concrete threat, particularly in Goa. 

Uruknet

An International Crime Called Gaza
Uruknet A fully pre-meditated international crime of genocide has been taking place during the last 62 years in the heart of the Arab World. The victims are the Palestinian people especially those in the Gaza Strip. The assassin is the worst ever terrorist group deceptively called the Israeli Defense Forces under the leadership of the theocratically most racist "god's chosen" deceitfully...

Video: Fears remain after Gaza war
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - One year after the start of Israel's war on Gaza, Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros revisits a family she met during the assault. Rima Abid, the mother, says that even though the bombings have stopped, reminders of the war are still present in the family's daily life. Her children are afraid to sleep alone, fearing there might...

Viva Palestina: A Report from Aqaba
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Just as the world was shocked and outraged one year ago with Israel barbarically dropping bombs on civilians in the Gaza Strip including banned white phosphorous, it is just as appalled now with a new crime being perpetrated against the Gazans once again. A convoy called Viva Palestina had started traveling from London, England on December...

EGYPT: Are there hidden motives behind blocking of Gaza aid convoy?
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - The stranding of the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy in the Jordanian port of Aqaba since Thursday has prompted speculation over why the group is being prevented entry into the besieged Gaza Strip through Egyptian territories via the Nuweiba port. Led by British lawmaker George Galloway, the convoy, whose volunteers have topped 500 carrying medical supplies, food...

Gaza massacre reflections
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - The anniversary of the first day of Israel's massacre of Gaza last winter passed yesterday. Palestinians still locked in Gaza couldn't avoid thinking about that hell, recalling to others where they were when the first strikes hit...what they did, what they thought, what they saw and smelled and heard. At 11 am yesterday I'm in a...

Video: A Day in the Life of a Palestinian Child in Gaza
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Imagine never knowing one day of peace in your life, nor ever having hope..or dreams for your future. Imagine being in a constant state of terror and hunger. Welcome to the Gaza of the 21st century! Most of us just want a dry roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and health and safety for...

Video: Witness - Gaza Fixer 2
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Raed Atharmneh has been the right-hand man for journalists covering Gaza for many years, providing essential knowledge, contacts and logistical backup for a number of reporters. In 2006 he became part of the news story himself, when 18 members of his family were killed by an Israeli bomb. In Gaza Fixer 2, filmmakers George Azar and...

Iran holds bodies of slain protesters
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Iranian authorities said Monday that they were holding the bodies of five slain anti-government protesters, including the nephew of the opposition leader, in what appeared to be an attempt to prevent activists from using their funerals as a platform for more demonstrations. Pro-reform Web sites and activists said the government also detained at least eight prominent...

Iran seizes opposition figures
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Security forces in Iran have arrested a number of prominent critics of the government in the wake of opposition protests that left as many as eight people dead in Tehran, the capital. Ebrahim Yazdi, who served as foreign minister in the early months of Iran's 1979 revolution, and Emadeddin Baghi, a human rights campaigner and journalist,...

A cold, lonely place called dishonour
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - On December 27 2008 Israel launched a murderous air assault against 1.5 million men, women and children in the most overcrowded piece of land on Earth - the Gaza Strip. Starved, besieged, yet unbowed, they could do nothing except endure as the bombs and missiles rained down, targeting hospitals, schools, civic buildings, homes, police stations and...

Abortions, Cancer, Diseases and ... in Gaza
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Al - Dameer Human Rights Organization issued 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. On Sunday, 20 December 2009, Al Dameer Association for Human Rights published a position paper on "Health and Environmental...

Gaza aid convoy to change course
Uruknet December 28, 2009 - Organisers of Viva Palestina aid convoy, which is trying to reach the Gaza Strip, have now agreed to go via Syria en route to Egypt. The agreement came after a Turkish mediator reached a deal with the Egyptian consul in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba. The convoy will now head to the Syrian port of...

Palestine Telegraph

Israel to Build New Settlements in East Jerusalem
Jerusalem, December 28, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- Israeli TV channel said that Israel invited tenders for the building of some hundreds of settlement units in East Jerusalem. These offers include the building of 692 new housing units, especially in settlements of Neve Ya'akov, Pisgat Zeev and Har Homa-- which are among ten Jewish settlements built in East Jerusalem which Israel usurped...

Exclusive:Turkey intermediates to allow Viva Palestina in
Egypt, December 28, 2009 (Pal Telegraph) - Viva Palestina Convoy has been waiting the Egyptian agreement on the Turkish proposal before moving toward Syria then to Al-Arish, in Egypt. The Convoy spokesman Zahair Al-Bairawi confirmed in a phone call with The Palestine Telegraph that they will not agree on or move from Al-Aqaba before getting an official approval allowing them...

PA Condemns New Israeli Settlement Expansion
West Bank, December 28, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- The Palestinian Authority has condemned Israel's move to build hundreds more housing units for settlers in the occupied East Jerusalem Al-Quds. "The Palestinian Authority strongly condemns the new decision to build in East Jerusalem and wonders whether there is a freeze of settlement activity or an intensification of it," AFP quoted chief Palestinian...

One Year on, Gaza still in Rubble
Gaza City, December 28, 2008 (Pal Telegraph)- Like thousands of his fellow Gazans, Kamal Awaja is still living with his family in a tent on the rubble of their home which was razed to the ground during Israel's deadly onslaught a year ago. "You don't have anything if you don't have a house," Awaja told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Sunday,...

Abu Rdeina: Israeli Bids on Palestinian Land Illegal
Ramallah, December 28, 2009, (Pal Telegraph) - Palestinian Presidency Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdeina, said, today, that "any new Israeli bids on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 are illegal and illegitimate." In response to Israel's invitation to contractors to bid on the construction of 198 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, 377 in Neve Ya'akov and 117 in Har Homa, Abu Rdeina...

The National

Locked in a man-made disaster
The National 28 Dec 2009 - At least 80 per cent of Gaza is still dependent on food aid. While aid workers struggle to keep people alive, they are thwarted by an economic blockade and political reluctance.

Israel: time is ripe for peace talks
The National 28 Dec 2009 - Israeli leader to discuss with Hosni Mubarak how Egypt can help with negotiations on Palestinian state.

Egyptian policy leads to the brothers becoming the enemy' 
The National 28 Dec 2009 - Egypt defends its policies surrounding the devastating Gaza campaign as it pushes ahead with the construction of a steel wall between itself and its impoverished neighbour.

Aljazeera

Gaza aid convoy to change course
AlJazeera 28 Dec 2009 - Viva Palestina to re-route via Syria to enter Gaza through the Mediterranean.

Israel plans settlement expansion 
AlJazeera 28 Dec 2009 - Palestinians condemn move to build 700 new apartments in east Jerusalem settlements.

Kadima rejects Netanyahu offer
AlJazeera 28 Dec 2009 - Israel's main opposition party turns down PM's offer to join ruling coalition.

Iran seizes opposition figures
AlJazeera 28 Dec 2009 - Outspoken critics of the government arrested after a day of violent clashes in Tehran.

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

Israel announces new Jewish homes in Jerusalem area
PNN 28 Dec 2009 - JERUSALEM - Israel announced plans on Monday to build nearly 700 new homes for Jews in areas of the occupied West Bank it considers part of Jerusalem, a city it has excluded from a limited moratorium on settlement construction. A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the plan, saying new building on territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East...

Ban Ki-Moon: Gaza reconstruction not being addressed 
PNN 28 Dec 2009 - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said more must be done to repair damage done in the Gaza Strip by Israeli military action one year ago. Mr Ban said Gazans were being denied basic human rights and urged Israel to end its unacceptable and counterproductive blockade . He said Israeli well-being depended on conditions improving in the enclave. Rallies are being held across...

Police hit hardest by Israeli missiles in Gaza assault
PNN 28 Dec 2009 - GAZA CITY // There is a framed picture on a shelf in the office of the spokesman of Gaza’s police force. It is a blurred, low-resolution TV footage still. It shows the yard outside the window of the spokesman’s office minutes after missiles struck the Arafat Police Headquarters in central Gaza City in the first salvo of Israel’s Gaza offensive, at around 11.30am...

Jerusalem Post

Hamas: Schalit talks to continue
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - Delegation headed by Gaza-based leader Mahmoud Zahar headed to Syria to discuss Israeli proposal.

Gov't likely to review Cast Lead probe
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - Israel weighing establishment of judicial investigative panel to review army investigation.

White House slams east Jerusalem plans
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - US calls capital "permanent status issue" after 700 apartments approved in Pisgat Ze'ev, Har Homa.

Mitchell drawing up 'terms of reference' for relaunch of talks
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - Netanyahu emphasizes to nation's envoys importance in his mind of Palestinian demilitarization and acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.

Washington, not J'lem, needs to issue clarifications
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - The US-trained PA security forces have either refused or been unable to uproot terror.

Livni prevents Kadima break-up
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - In Kadima faction meeting, opposition leader succeeds in uniting party, rejects, Netanyahu's offer.

Settlers, public security minister meet to ease tensions over freeze
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - Settler leaders say police officers acted violently when dealing with peaceful protests due to a lack of senior officers on the ground.

Conservative Judaism conference to tackle intermarriage,'homo-lesbian' ordinations
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - Burning issues threatening to split movement to be raised this week at Jerusalem's Van Leer Institute.

Qom may be tough nut for IAF to crack
Jeruslalem Post 28 Dec 2009 - While Israel might not be able to destroy Iran's nuclear facility with an ordinary bomb, it does have additional options.

Inter Press Service

POLITICS: U.S. Intelligence Found Iran Nuke Document Was Forged 
IPS WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (IPS) - U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a "neutron initiator" for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence...

Q&A: ''U.S. 'Grand Bargain' Can Save Israel From Itself'' 
IPS JERUSALEM, Dec 28 (IPS) - Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along the two-state parameters seems less likely with Israel torn between accepting a Palestinian state and the settler ideology which calls for Israel’s exclusive rule over the whole of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

PCHR Weekly Report

(16- 22 Dec. 2009)
PCHR During the reporting period, Israeli occupation forces used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders, to protest the construction of the Annexation Wall in the West Bank.  

International Solidarity Movement

Palestinian bus destroyed by settlers throwing stones, five injured
12/29/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Settlers launched an attack on a Palestinian bus near Zatara checkpoint today, injuring five and damaging the vehicle beyond repair. Hale Yusef Abu Jabar left the northern West Bank city of Jenin at 3pm this afternoon, his fully-packed service-taxi carrying seven passengers bound for Ramallah. As they approached Zatara checkpoint south of Nablus, the settlement of Yitzhar to their west, waiting settlers descended from the adjacent hill and hurled stones at the vehicle. Abu Jabar swerved the car, attempting to dodge the rocks as they punctured the windows and hit his terrified passengers, causing the car to topple. The attack occurred in clear sight of soldiers manning Zatara checkpoint, who continued to watch from their vantage point as settlers fled the scene, returning to the settlement. Red Crescent medics arrived shortly thereafter, transporting victims to Al-Ittihad Hospital in Nablus. 

Israeli military constructs new roadblock in West Bank village, crippling farmers’ economy
12/28/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - The Israeli army erected a giant earth mound across a crucial agricultural road in the northern West Bank village of Madama this week. The road block severely limits hundreds of farmers' access to their lands, making transport by vehicle all but impossible. The intentional crippling of the village's chief economy comes as settler violence continues unabated in the region. Four Israeli military jeeps and one Caterpillar bulldozer entered the village on Wednesday night to construct the road block. The targeted dirt road cuts directly underneath the speedy settler road leading west from Yitzhar settlement, where a tunnel was constructed to allow the road's continuation to farmers' land. The bulldozer quickly moved massive mounds of earth across the road underneath the bridge, entirely blocking it and removing the possibility of access to cars and tractors by village farmers. 

Demonstrators to protest closure of Beituniya military checkpoint in solidarity with families of Palestinian political prisoners and in support of lawyers’ strike
12/29/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and the Palestinian Society Prisoners' Club called for a demonstration on Tuesday, 29 December 2009, to protest the closure of the Beituniya checkpoint, the only access route for many families and lawyers of prisoners held at Ofer military prison. All visitors must now go through the Qalandiya checkpoint, which however requires a permit to enter Israel. These permits are frequently denied to family members of political prisoners as well as their lawyers. Jad Qudamani, director of the legal department of the Palestinian Society Prisoners' Club, said: "Our lawyers, for many of whom the Beituniya checkpoint provides the only access route to their clients, were informed by Israeli military about its closure for "˜security reasons' this Sunday. To protest this unlawful act, the lawyers and families of Palestinians held at Ofer. . . . 

Israeli occupation authorities deny Gaza Christians permission to travel to Bethlehem at Christmas
12/29/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 27 December - Israeli occupation forces prevented young Christians from the Gaza Strip from travelling to the West Bank to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. This restrictions were imposed in the context of Israel's illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has now been in place for 928 consecutive days. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this form of collective punishment, and calls upon the international community to exert pressure on Israeli occupation authorities to cancel their decision and immediately allow all Christians to move freely, to grant access to the Church of the Nativity and Church of the Resurrection, and to respect the right to freedom of religion. According to Palestinian sources, Israeli occupation authorities prevented Christians from the Gaza Strip aged 16-35 from traveling from the Gaza Strip to the. . . . 

Gaza massacre reflections
12/29/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Eva Bartlett, In Gaza, 28 December - The anniversary of the first day of Israel's massacre of Gaza last winter passed yesterday. Palestinians still locked in Gaza couldn't avoid thinking about that hell, recalling to others where they were when the first strikes hit"¦what they did, what they thought, what they saw and smelled and heard. At 11 am yesterday I'm in a meeting, but all of us are aware of the significance of the hour, particularly as the minutes pass towards 11:25, when the slaughter began. Later, I visit a family in the north, their mother killed, shot at close range by an Israeli soldier as she carried a white cloth, trying to lead the family out of their home. Not an isolated story. How are they? Grim, alive without joy, no expectations except that things will get worse. Mahmoud is a young engineer but is jobless. They are not refugess and so don't receive UN hand-outs. A charitable association gives them flour, oil, sugar and tea every 40 days. Meat, fish? Impossible. 

War on Gaza: Operation Cast Lead One year later
12/28/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Jeremy R. Hammond, Palestine Chronicle, 27 December - One year ago today, Israel launched ‘Operation Cast Lead', a murderous full-scale military assault on the small, densely populated, and defenseless Gaza Strip. The operation resulted in the massacre of over 1,300 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, including hundreds of children. This includes only those killed directly by military attacks. The actual casualty figure from Israel's policies towards Gaza, including the number of deaths attributable to its ongoing siege of the territory, is unknown. The official pretext for the operation given by Israel and parroted unquestioningly in the Western media is that Israel had to respond with force as an act of self-defense against to an onslaught of rocket attacks against southern Israel from Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza. 

1 Year after Gaza Massacre: Over 500 Academics and Cultural Workers Call for Boycott
12/28/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Dissident Voice, 27 December - 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 them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities. It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities. 

Demonstration demanding the release of Palestinian political prisoners to be held in Nablus on Tuesday, 29 December
12/28/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - A demonstration will be held in Nablus on Tuesday 29 December 2009 to demand the release of all Palestinian prisoners. Almost 8,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons. Among them are grassroots activists Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman from the Stop the Wall Campaign, Adeeb Abu Rahmah and Abdallah Abu Rahmah from the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements and Wa'el Al Faqeeh from the Tanweer Cultural Centre in Nablus, imprisoned during a recent wave of arrests conducted by the Israeli military targeting the non-violent popular resistance leaders. Demonstrators will gather outside of the Red Crescent Building at 11am and demand the release of Wa'el al Faqeeh, renowned throughout the Nablus region for his tireless campaigning and non-violent action against the Israeli occupation. 

Gaza Freedom March: 85 year old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein begins hunger strike to open Gaza border
12/28/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - Gaza Freedom March - Hedy Epstein, the 85 year old Holocaust survivor and peace activist, announced that she will begin a hunger strike today as a response to the Egyptian government's refusal to allow the Gaza Freedom March participants into Gaza. Ms. Epstein was part of a delegation with participants from 43 countries that were to join Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza towards the Erez border with Israel calling for the end of the illegal siege. Egypt is preventing the marchers from leaving Cairo, forcing them to search for alternative ways to make their voices heard. Ms. Epstein will remain outside the UN building at the World Trade Center (Cairo) – 1191 Cornish al-Nil, throughout today, accompanied by other hunger strikers. “It is important to let the besieged Gazan people know they are not alone. 

Brutality of settlers’ ‘price tag’ campaign erupts from notorious Yitzhar settlement
12/28/2009 - International Solidarity Movement - 24 December - Settler violence has erupted this week around Nablus, as outrage over the death of an Israeli settler triggers extremists' "price-tag" campaign, its senseless violence directed once again at the hands of Yitzhar settlers on altogether unrelated, and repeated, Palestinian targets. Ghalib Najar's house sits on the southern tip of the beautiful, but long-suffering village of Burin. The family built their home in 1965, long before the arrival of settlers, their network of Apartheid roads or the Oslo zoning plans. Even when, in the early 1980s, the red-roofed houses of the (now infamous) settlements Yitzhar and Bracha began to dot the hillsides enveloping Burin, the Najar family still never expected what was to come. In the years since, the family has come under repeated attack from their militant neighbours, their only crime to own land in the shadow of the mountain where Yitzhar. . . . 

Ha'aretz Diplomacy page

Berlusconi's Israel trip still on track, despite attack
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be coming to Israel and the Knesset on a state visit in about one month, despite an attack a few weeks ago that put him in the hospital with facial injuries. Not only did Berlusconi insist on going through with his trip to Israel, he will be bringing with him eight sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, to be put on display in the Knesset. ... 

Gaza aid convoy led by George Galloway declares hunger strike 
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - More than 400 members of an international aid convoy to Gaza declared a hunger strike on Sunday to protest Egypt's refusal to allow them entry into the Hamas-ruled territory via the Red Sea. ...

Shin Bet chief: Shalit deal won't topple Abbas
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Closing the Shalit deal will be a great achievement for Hamas but it will not bring down Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin said Monday. ... 

Obama condemns Iran 'brutality' against protestors
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Iran on Monday for the Islamic Republic's recent "iron fist of brutality" against protestors, after a spike in anti-government demonstrations. ...

Al-Qaida wing claims attempted attack on U.S. airliner
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - A wing of Al-Qaida claimed responsibility on Monday for a failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound passenger plane and President Barack Obama vowed to bring "every element" of U.S. power against those who threaten Americans' safety. ...

Ha'aretz National page

Experts call for changing swine flu vaccine in Israel to quell fears
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Following the death of another pregnant woman from H1N1 influenza (swine flu) Monday, the national task force on epidemiology recommended that all Israelis be offered the option of receiving the vaccine without an adjuvant, an additive that bolsters the immune system's response. ... 

COMMENT / Settlement freeze is like racial segregation in U.S.
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Once upon a time there was a black woman; her name was Rosa Parks. There were racially discriminating laws in the United States, but she continued to sit on the bus even when she was told to vacate her seat for a white person. She was arrested, which set off a process whose end saw the abolishment of racial segregation on American buses. How is it possible that one little black woman, a dressmaker by profession, could change history simply because she remained sitting? Her protest was stronger than any demonstration, op-ed piece or Knesset vote. She opted for the natural choice; that is why she was triumphant. ... 

Why Netanyahu really wants Livni in his cabinet
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is resurrecting the ghosts of Menachem Begin and Levi Eshkol, who created a unity government on the eve of the Six-Day War. ... 

Senior Likudniks denounce Netanyahu bid to split Kadima 
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Senior Likud figures reportedly criticized on Monday Netanyahu's move to split Kadima, calling it a dangerous assault on the basic values of democracy. ... 

Netanyahu, Livni trade barbs over Kadima coalition offer
Ha'aretz 28 Dec 2009 - Opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traded barbs on Monday evening after Livni's Kadima party voted to reject an offer by the premier to join the coalition. ...

Relief Web

Presidency Statement on settlement expansion in East Jerusalem
Relief Web 28 Dec 2009 - Source: European Union

Israel to build 692 homes in East Jerusalem 
Relief Web 28 Dec 2009 - Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur

Gaza-bound convoy accepts Egypt's offer, heads to Mediterranean port 
Relief Web 28 Dec 2009 - Source: Xinhua

UK backs fight against extremism with new support for Gaza
Relief Web 28 Dec 2009 - Source: Department for International Development

On anniversary of military campaign on Gaza independent expert urges end to blockade
Relief Web 28 Dec 2009 - Source: UN Radio

Feature: Few houses rebuilt in Gaza one year after restoration
Relief Web 28 Dec 2009 - Source: Xinhua

YNet News

PM will ask Mubarak to urge Abbas to resume dialogue 
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Netanyahu heads to Egypt for talks with Egyptian president, which will also focus on Shalit deal, bolstering moderate elements in face of Iranian threat. Officials say Israel-PA talks may resume soon 

Hamas source: Booby-trapped donations box caused Beirut blast
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Source says attack on Islamist group's headquarters in southern Lebanon aimed at Osama Hamdan 

PA fears Hezbollah infiltrating Fatah
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Palestinian Authority discovers proof Hezbollah behind shooting attack that killed Meir Hai 

Hebrew U bans 'cursed Zionist war' conference
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Jerusalem institution forbids Hadash branch from holding conference marking year since Gaza offensive launched, saying it constitutes 'incitement against Israel' 

White House, EU say oppose new Jerusalem-area construction 
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - After Israel announces decision to build some 700 housing units in east Jerusalem, US says capital's status 'must be resolved by parties through negotiations.' Sweden: Settlements on occupied land illegal under international law 

'Minibus overturned after settlers threw rocks'
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Seven Palestinians lightly injured as vehicle travelling near Yitzhar settlement crashes into ditch; passenger blames Jews for accident 

Holocaust survivor stages hunger strike for Gaza
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - American activist Hedy Epstein, other grandmothers wearing 'The Audacity of War Crimes' T-shirts protest Cairo's refusal to allow them to march to Strip in memory of Operation Cast Lead victims 

Report: US rejects Airbus jet sale to Syria
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Commerce Department's decision part of embargo imposed by Washington due to Damascus' support of terror; Syria says will purchase Russian-made passenger jets instead 

Sources: Hamas likely to reject Israeli offer on Shalit 
YNet News 28 Dec 2009 - Palestinians familiar with swap talks say Islamist group to tell German mediator it does not accept demand to deport some freed prisoners, adding that timing also not ideal for Islamist group 

B'tselem

A year since Operation Cast Lead: Still no accountability
26 Dec 2009 - One year ago today, Operation Cast Lead began. 762 Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities were killed, and vast damage was caused to houses, factories, and infrastructure in Gaza. Israel has not yet instituted an independent apparatus to i 

Daily Star

Iran arrests 10 leading opposition figures after protests
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 Iran arrested at least 10 leading opposition figures on Monday, a day after eight people were killed in anti-government protests that erupted during a Shiite Muslim religious festival, an opposition website said. The Norooz opposition website said three opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi advisers were detained, along with seven pro-reform politicians.

Israel to build 700 apartments in occupied East Jerusalem
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 Israel said Monday that it will build nearly 700 new apartments in occupied East Jerusalem, drawing criticism from both the Palestinians and the US, which denounced the plan as an obstacle to peacemaking. The announcement came a day after six Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in separate incidents in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel declares war on international peace NGOs
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 One year after the devastating attack on Hamas in Gaza a new wave of reports castigating Israel for war crimes has emerged. Now, Israel is fighting back with a report on the reports, picking on international NGOs such as Amnesty, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Trocaire, Finn Church Aid, Diakonia and Cordaid.

Israel's Barak says Iran can build atom bomb by 2011
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 Iran will possess the technology to build a nuclear bomb by early 2010 and be able to produce one the following year, Israeli media quoted Israel's defense minister as saying Monday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered his assessment before the Israeli parliament's defense and foreign affairs committee. It broadly matches assessments from other nations including the US.

Egypt moves to clamp down on rampant illegal organ trade
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 Soheila, an Egyptian village housewife, traded her kidney for $2,185 to pay off debt - the best option the desperate mother of three could find to keep food on the family table. The 32-year-old from the fertile Nile Delta region is one of many people caught up in a thriving trade for illegal organs in Egypt, where there is no legal path to transplants.

Nine bombs defused as Iraqis mark climax of Ashura
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 Iraqi security forces said Sunday they defused nine bombs as millions completed the annual Ashura rituals in Shiite shrine cities, free of the massive attacks that have marred recent years. But violence again hit the ceremonies elsewhere in Iraq, with five dead in the bombing of a procession near the northern oil city of Kirkuk among a total of 32 faithful killed since Tuesday.

US official admits security failed in air scare
Daily Star 28 Dec 2009 The Obama administration admitted on Monday that air travel security failed when a Nigerian man with suspected ties to Islamic militants allegedly was able to smuggle deadly explosives onto a US-bound flight in an attempt to blow it up. Asked on NBC's "Today Show" on Monday if the security system "failed miserably," US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano replied: "It did."

Palestinian Information Center

The PA stands accused
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - It is widely assumed that the PA security apparatus played a certain role in the hideous murder by the criminal Israeli occupation army of three Fatah operatives in Nablus a few days ago.

Israel carries out limited incursions into northern and southern Gaza areas
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers advanced Monday morning amid intensive gunfire near the agricultural school, east of Beit Hanoun, shortly after a similar incursion into the east of Khan Younis.

Prisoner Abu Al-Heija slams Abbas’s militias for kidnapping his wife and son
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails Jamal Abu Al-Heija strongly denounced Mahmoud Abbas’s militias for summoning his wife for interrogation and kidnapping his son Abdelsalam.

Khafsh: The next stage will be full of assassinations rather than arrests
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Fouad Al-Khafsh, the director of Al-Ahrar center, said that the recent assassination of three ex-detainees in Nablus indicates that Israel will adopt the policy of elimination rather than detention.

IOF troops round up six Palestinians in Al-Khalil
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up six Palestinian citizens in Al-Khalil district at dawn Monday mostly affiliated with the Hamas Movement, locals reported.

Netanyahu informs US of intent to build 692 housing units in O. Jerusalem
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - The ministry of housing in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has called for tenders to construct 692 housing units in three neighborhoods in occupied Jerusalem, Hebrew press reported on Monday.

Abu Zhuri: Arab silence will not force Hamas to give up its positions
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated that the Arab silence towards the suffering of the besieged Palestinian people in post-war Gaza would not force his Movement to renounce its political positions.

PMRS: The conditions of the disabled in Gaza are worsening
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - The Palestinian medical relief society (PMRS) has said that the conditions of the disabled in the Gaza Strip had deteriorated during and after the Israeli war on the Strip.

Haneyya urges Ki-moon to do justice to citizens and war victims in besieged Gaza
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Premier Ismail Haneyya urged US secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to do justice to the Palestinian people and war victims in the besieged Gaza Strip and revive Goldstone’s report on Israeli war crimes.

Hamdan: Investigations still underway in the explosion
PIC 28 Dec 2009 - Osama Hamdan, one of Hamas's senior leaders, refused to accuse anyone of being behind the blast in southern Beirut on Sunday that targeted Hamas cadres and led to the death of two of them.

Los Angeles Times

Iran protests turn violent as demonstrators confront police 
LA Times 28 Dec 2009 - The nephew of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi is among nine people reported slain as protesters in Tehran turn a Shiite holiday into a day of raucous demonstrations. The months-long confrontation between Iran's budding opposition movement and a hard-line government determined to stamp it out escalated sharply over the weekend, as parts of the capital became engulfed in fiery political protest and demonstrations broke out across the country on the occasion of an important Shiite religious holiday. 

Iran sanctions: U.S. and allies may narrow their approach 
LA Times 29 Dec 2009 - Tehran's growing crackdown on protesters has officials worried about hurting ordinary Iraqis -- and about public perception. With Iran's crackdown on protesters intensifying, the Obama administration and allied governments are rethinking their approach to planned sanctions in hopes of focusing the punishments more tightly on the Iranian leadership, U.S. officials say. 

White House decries Israel's plan to build homes in East Jerusalem 
LA Times 29 Dec 2009 - The Israeli government says the 700 houses for Jewish families in the Palestinian-dominated area are not subject to its recently announced construction moratorium. An Israeli government plan to build nearly 700 homes for Jewish families in Palestinian-dominated East Jerusalem drew fire Monday from the Obama administration, which called the plan a hindrance to relaunching peace talks. 

Israeli forces kill 6 Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza 
LA Times 27 Dec 2009 - Three suspects in the recent slaying of a Jewish settler are shot during an early-morning raid on their West Bank homes. In a separate incident, three young Palestinian men die in a Gaza airstrike. In a deadly spurt of violence, six Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces Saturday, three of them suspects in the slaying of an Israeli West Bank settler two days earlier. 

Iran police clash with protesters across Tehran 
LA Times 27 Dec 2009 - Thousands of anti-government demonstrators take to the streets during a religious period. Heavier clashes are foreseen for Ashura, the day of mourning for Imam Hussein. The Iranian capital erupted in small sporadic clashes Saturday, beginning in the morning and ending after darkness fell, spreading from the south to the far north of the city, as the peak of a 10-day religious holiday approached. 

'Footnotes in Gaza' by Joe Sacco 
LA Times 27 Dec 2009 - Joe Sacco's "Footnotes in Gaza" is not a sequel to his 1996 book " Palestine," although it's tempting to read it as such. Both are works of comic-book journalism that take place in the occupied territories, and both offer a ground's-eye-view of situations that seem too big, too incomprehensible for us to wrap our minds around. But while "Palestine" is a portrait of its moment, an account of Sacco's visit to the West Bank and Gaza during the early 1990s, "Footnotes in Gaza" is a more expansive effort. Built around two forgotten incidents (the 1956 mass killings of Palestinians in Rafah and Khan Younis), it is a book that digs deep, exploring the relationship of past and present, memory and experience -- rigorously reported yet always aware of the elusive nature of testimony, the way that stories solidify and harden over time. 

New York Times

Police Are Said to Have Killed 10 in Iran Protests
New York Times 28 Dec 2009 - An opposition leader reportedly said Monday that the government’s actions in suppressing the protests were even more brutal than the regime that was overthrown. 

Tehran Protesters Defy Ban and Clash With Police
New York Times 27 Dec 2009 - Demonstrations in Iran underline the government’s inability to suppress the opposition despite beatings with batons and chains. 

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. 

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

Stymied in Cairo–still something is gelling among the international marchers
Mondoweiss - 28 Dec 2009 - Gaza Freedom March delegates in Cairo. (Photo: codepinkhq ) The Egyptian authorities have told the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March once, twice, three times and four that we can’t go to Gaza, but the organizers will go back a fifth, sixth and seventh time, Medea Benjamin...

Hedy Epstein and others begin hunger strike to pressure Egypt on Gaza
Mondoweiss - 28 Dec 2009 - Hedy Epstein in Cairo with school supplies for Gaza (Photo: Ali Abunimah ) About two weeks ago we posted on Hedy Epstein’s challenge to Elie Wiesel to travel to Gaza . She is now in Cairo trying to get into Gaza, and has embarked on a hunger strike...

Meet the Post-zionist Zionists: Sivan Fridman
Mondoweiss - 28 Dec 2009 - Over the next week we will be sharing a project from Tel Aviv-based freelance journalist and writer Mya Guarnieri. She has interviewed a group of Jewish Israelis on what Zionism means to them. We share these profiles as part of our continuing effort to challenge and...

Freedom Marching in Circles While Winding Our Way to Gaza
Mondoweiss - 28 Dec 2009 - Cairo, Egypt Yesterday we joined the people of Gaza, the people of all of Palestine, and allies around the world in remembering the anniversary of the inhuman and illegal Israeli attacks that stole the lives of more than 1,400 mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons last December...

Ripped from the headlines
Mondoweiss - 28 Dec 2009 - Here are the top headlines today from Haaretz: If anyone can reconcile the second and third stories, please let me know. It seem perhaps a mashup of the headlines would work best – "Netanyahu: No more excuses – time is ripe to build 700 new homes...


Articles

One Year after Gaza Massacre: Over 500 Academics and Cultural Workers Call for Boycott 
United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of, Dissident Voice 12/27/2009
      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 them of power, water and other essentials, and sought to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, including hospitals, administrative buildings and UN facilities. It targeted with peculiar consistency educational institutions of all kinds: the Islamic University of Gaza, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, at least ten UNRWA schools, one of which was sheltering internally displaced Palestinian civilians with nowhere to flee, and tens of other schools and educational facilities.
     While world leaders have tragically failed to come to Gaza’s help, civilians everywhere are rallying to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people, with anniversary vigils taking place this week in New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and many more cities and towns in the US and world-wide.
     The United States Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in the immediate aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, bringing together educators of conscience who were unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions. Today, over 500 US-based academics, authors, artists, musicians, poets, and other arts professionals have endorsed our call.... more.. e-mail

Gaza’s Shrinking Borders: 16 Years of the Oslo Process 
Sharat G. Lin, Dissident Voice 12/26/2009
      Forty-two years of military occupation and sixteen years of the Oslo Process have made Gaza a smaller place. Already one of the most densely-populated strips of land in the world, its population has grown during this period from less than 360,000 in 1967 to 1.5 million today. Meanwhile, its borders have not only become more impermeable, but they have been progressively closing in on what some have called “the world’s largest open air prison.”
     In the early years following Israel’s seizure of the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War in June 1967, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals routinely crossed the border between Israel and Gaza without much difficulty. Palestinian fishermen routinely sailed as far out to sea as necessary to secure a good day’s catch. International freighters continued to arrive at Gaza Port to unload their goods and take on Palestinian fruits, flowers, and other products. Among the first casualties of the Israeli occupation was the loss of trade and tourism with Egypt, but life went on for most Gaza residents. Over the years, many would eventually find employment in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere inside Israel, mostly in construction and services – 130,000 workers commuting from Gaza to Israel at its peak.
     However, owing to the heightened tensions of occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank, illegal Israeli settlement activity, successive breakdowns in the peace process, and the Palestinian Intifadas, the situation of Gaza residents continued to deteriorate. Employment inside Israel for Gaza residents was largely cut off by Israel during the Second Intifada beginning in September 2000, and completely eliminated with the economic siege imposed on Hamas in Gaza in January 2006. more.. e-mail

Cast Lead 2 
Uri Avnery, Dissident Voice 12/26/2009
      Did we win? Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the Gaza War, alias Operation Cast Lead, and this question fills the public space.
     Within the Israeli consensus, the answer has already been given: Certainly we won, the Qassams have stopped coming.
     A simple, not to say primitive, answer. But that is how it looks to the superficial observer. There were the Qassams, we made war, no more Qassams. Sderot is thriving, the inhabitants of Beersheba go to the theater. Everything else is for philosophy professors.
     But anyone who wishes to understand the results of this war has to pose some hard questions.
     Was the real aim of the war to stop the Qassams? Could this have been achieved by other means? If there were other aims, what were they? Is the final balance sheet positive or negative, as far as the interests of Israel are concerned?
     I pity the historians. They have to scrutinize documents, peruse protocols, disentangle tortuous texts.
     Documents are misleading. If Talleyrand (or whoever it was) was right in saying that words were invented in order to hide thoughts, this is even more true for documents. Documents falsify facts, hide facts, invent facts – all according to the interests of the writer. They disclose a little to hide the rest. Anyone who has been involved in public affairs knows this. more.. e-mail

Report: The impact of closure and attacks on the Gaza Strip
Electronic Intifada: 28 Dec 2009 - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has released a report highlighting the reality of life in the occupied Gaza Strip, and illustrating the dramatic deterioration in the human rights situation brought about by 928 days of continuous illegal closure, as well as numerous offensives, incursions and attacks. 

Egypt blocks travel of Gaza Freedom March activists
Electronic Intifada: 28 Dec 2009 - CAIRO (IRIN) - More than 1,000 persons from 42 countries who have vowed to travel from Cairo to the Gaza Strip on 31 December in a bid to highlight and break the Israeli economic blockade, will be prevented from carrying out their mission, according to the Egyptian authorities. The protesters hope to bring aid to the 1.5 million residents of Gaza a year after Israel's 23-day offensive ended on 18 January 2009. 

Portuguese activists fight state water company deal with Israel's Mekorot
Electronic Intifada: 28 Dec 2009 - In October, EPAL, Portugal's state water company, announced a deal with Mekorot, Israel's state water company. An intern who responded to the news by informing colleagues of Mekorot's role in Israel's discriminatory water policies and assistance in its violation of international law was immediately sacked. News of the firing has inspired Palestine solidarity activists to campaign to end the deal. Similarly, the EPAL workers' committee has denounced management's decision. 

Israeli forces kill six Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza
Electronic Intifada: 27 Dec 2009 - On Saturday morning, 26 December 2009, Israeli occupation forces killed six Palestinians in two separate attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the northern Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation forces employed excessive lethal force and killed three Palestinians, and Israeli undercover units extrajudicially executed three members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah movement) in Nablus. 

Palestinians remember the massacre
In Gaza: 28 Dec 2009 - Palestinians gathered in Gaza City, with flowers and candles, and remembered the over 1400 martyrs, and over 5000 wounded in the Israeli massacre of Gaza. Israel as usual claimed it was defending itself against “terrorists”, but ended up showing the entire world that the only terrorist around is the Zionist entity itself. During this latest Israeli genocide 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 Palestinians were injured by the IOF attacks, including 600 who suffered permanent disability and 221 required amputations. Of the 1419 victims,...

A Single State, with Liberty and Justice for All
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Dec 2009 - By Susan Abulhawa with Ramzy Baroud Prior to the establishment of Israel, Palestine had been multi-religious and multi-cultural. Christians, Muslims and Jews, Armenians, Greek Orthodox, to name a few, all had a place there; and all lived in relative harmony. Other nations fought wars and waged epic struggles to attain the kind of coexistence that was already a reality in Palestine.But while the world strives toward the noble truths that we are all created equal, Israel legislates the notion of a Chosen People with exclusive rights and privilege for Jews. Where countries have worked to integrate their citizens to create the richness of diversity, Israel is working in reverse, employing racist policies to "Judaize" the land whereby property and resources are confiscated from Christians and Muslims for the exclusive use of Jews. Where there is consensus that certain human rights are inalienable, Palestinians have lived subject to the whims of soldiers at checkpoints; of airplanes and helicopters raining death onto them with impunity; of curfews and restrictions and denials; and of violent armed settlers who fancy themselves disciples of God. Living under Israeli occupation, in refugee camps or in exile, we Palestinians have endured having everything callously taken from us – our homes, our heritage, our history, our families, livelihoods, freedom, farms, olive groves, water, security, and freedom. In the 1990s, we supported the Oslo Accords two-state solution even though it would have returned to us only 22% of our historic homeland. But Israel repeatedly squandered our generosity, confiscating more...

Viva Palestina: A Report from Aqaba
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Dec 2009 - By Rifat Audeh – Aqaba, Jordan Just as the world was shocked and outraged one year ago with Israel barbarically dropping bombs on civilians in the Gaza Strip including banned white phosphorous, it is just as appalled now with a new crime being perpetrated against the Gazans once again. A convoy called Viva Palestina had started traveling from London, England on December 6th, carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians of Gaza. It arrived in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba on December 24th, and has been stuck there ever since. This is because the Egyptian regime has refused to allow the convoy to enter Egyptian territory through the designated route via Al-Nouwaibe’ port. The convoy is carrying toys for children, blankets, medicines, foodstuffs and other desperately needed items for the people of Gaza. Over 1400 men, women and children were murdered in Israel’s brutal assault. Hundreds more have died as a result of the inhumane siege imposed on the Strip. And now, with Egypt preventing the convoy from bringing its supplies to Gaza, more people will needlessly die. The Egyptian authorities have set a condition that the convoy must sail into Al-Arish port, thus adding an almost insurmountable burden to the journey of 500 more miles, countless costs and logistic impossibilities in traveling through the Suez Canal. The convoy organizers have naturally rejected this prerequisite and continue with their demands to be allowed quick and safe passage to Al-Nouwaibe’. They’ve assembled at the Professional Associations Complex in Aqaba, with...

Gaza's Untold Story – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Dec 2009 - By Mamoon Alabbasi – London My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story'. Ramzy Baroud. Pluto Press, London: 2010. One year on since Israel's criminally-insane war on Gaza, many are still unaware of the roots of the 'conflict' and the plight of the Palestinian people. Israel would like to have us believe that its latest onslaught was a direct response to resistance rockets or even Hamas's democratic accession to power, forgetting that both of which came into existence as a response to Israeli policies. But even those of us who have seen the true light, and are no longer deceived by the barrage of 'flat earth news', sometimes forget - if we were ever aware of - the depth and complexity of the tragedy. And that is the gap in understanding that veteran American-Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud seeks to fill in his latest book "'My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story." In our preoccupation with the Goldstone report (among other UN probes), human rights groups assessments, war crimes allegations, high civilian casualties, UNRWA statistics, official statements here and there, we become overwhelmed with information that makes many of us lose sight of context. And many of those who do take a step back to get a clearer picture of why such things are happening tend to stop at 1967; Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. Yet for Palestinians, and for those in Gaza in particular, the tragedy goes back to 1948; dispossession. For those who are...

Why Jihad Went Global – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 28 Dec 2009 - By Jim Miles The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. Fawaz A. Gerges. Cambridge University Press. N.Y. 2009. First published in 2005, this text still stands the test of time for the theses that it presented then. In this new edition, Fawaz Gerges writes hopefully and expectantly that the new U.S. President, Barak Obama, can overcome the mistakes he sees that the U.S. has made in its “war on terror.” His hopes will obviously have dimmed somewhat if not greatly in consideration of Obama’s actions in the Middle East, but Gerges’ essential thematic message remains important. Two main themes underlie the ideas in the book. The first tells of the relationship between bin Laden and Zawahiri and how their ideas interacted and reacted to turn the jihadis from the ‘near’ enemy - the local regional governments - to the ‘far’ enemy - the United States. The second theme is the poor manner in which the U.S. has understood essential differences between ‘near’ and ‘far’ jihadis, the history of their development, and the major divisions within the jihadi proponents. Following from the latter theme, a missing context of Gerges arguments concerning U.S. actions in the Middle East is readily discerned. Bin Laden and Zawahiri Osama bin Laden is the iconic anti-hero of the al-Qaeda movement, shooting to prominence in the western media with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Still at large presumably somewhere in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, bin Laden remains the iconic reviled evil of...
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