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21 January 2005

Opinion/Editorial WHAT “PEACE” REALLY MEANS TO ISRAELIS Avigail Abarbanel, The Electronic Intifada, 21 January 2005

Two months ago I returned from a two-week family visit to Israel. Although I am an activist for Palestinian rights, I decided that this visit would be entirely private. Living for two weeks with my brother, his wife and their two little girls in their tiny apartment in a North Tel-Aviv suburb, gave me an opportunity to observe and see what daily life is like for Israelis at the moment. Israelis have always talked about peace, sung about it, made art and poetry about it as if it is something almost supernatural, some kind of a paradise that they yearn for but that has nothing to do with their everyday reality, and that they have no idea how to create.


Role of the Media BEHIND ISRAEL’S OFFICIAL VERSION OF THE NEWS Anna Weekes, The Electronic Intifada, 20 January 2005

Two innocent Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on 12 January 2005. Although they were the latest in a long line of Palestinian victims, and from a tiny village near Ramallah, they made headlines all over the world. They were the first Palestinians to be assassinated by the IOF since the election of Mahmoud Abbas, which had taken place just three days before. The so-called ‘period of restraint’ had come to an abrupt end with the killings. For this reason, the assassinations were portrayed by the commercial media as a necessary response to two violent militants who had opened fire at Israeli soldiers. However, eyewitnesses on the ground report an entirely different story.


Israel Lobby Watch US MUST ACT TO STOP ETHNIC CLEANSING IN PALESTINE Priscilla Read, The Electronic Intifada, 21 January 2005

The average American finds unfathomable the desperation that drives suicide bombers. Yet Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a recipe for producing violence. It robs Palestinians of their livelihood, their dignity, and their faith in the future. U.S. acquiescence in Israeli policies that render Palestinians’ lives untenable in order to force them off their land makes a mockery of Washington’s pretense at being an honest broker in this conflict. Across the Arab and Muslim world, suffering in the Occupied Territories provokes bitter hostility.


Diaries NO REST FOR NABLUS DURING EID CELEBRATIONS Ray Smith, Live from Palestine, 21 January 2005

Optimism for a period of peace following the elections has been misguided. In Nablus, Israeli military aggression continues as usual. The army made a special effort for Eid celebrations. On 18 January at 9pm a large number of troops entered Nablus in unmarked vehicles and took up positions in the area. Soon after, a group of medics and internationals reached Old Najah Street near the Old City. More army also arrived, in about twenty military vehicles. If anyone approached the soldiers, the result was “access denied” at gunpoint.


Israel Lobby Watch SHARON COALITION ON BORROWED TIME Khalid Amayreh, Al Jazeera, 21 January 2005

There are serious concerns in Israel that the new Likud-Labour coalition government may not survive intense pressure from the extreme right within Likud, Ariel Sharon’s own party. On Monday, 13 Likud lawmakers in the Knesset voted against the new coalition government, forcing the Israeli prime minister to rely on the centre-left Yahad and the Arab parties to bail him out from certain government collapse. According to an Israeli commentator, the split in Likud places the Sharon-Peres government in real jeopardy and might very well spell its end.


Human Rights RAFAH BORDER CLOSED FOR 39 CONSECUTIVE DAYS Report, OCHA, 19 January 2005

Rafah Terminal, located on the Egyptian/Gaza Strip border, has been closed by the Israel armed forces since 12 December 2004. The terminal is effectively the only access point for Gaza Strip residents to areas outside the Gaza Strip. It has now been closed for 39 consecutive days, by far the longest period of uninterrupted closure in the last four years of the Intifada. Between 18 July and 5 August 2004, Rafah Terminal was closed for 19 consecutive days. This closure attracted widespread international attention because of the deteriorating humanitarian situation faced by as many as 2,500 people stuck south of the border.


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