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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
21 January, 2008

Gaza’s displaced seek shelter from cold
Report, Electronic Intifada 1/21/2009
TEL AVIV (IRIN) - One of the chief concerns for displaced Palestinians in Gaza and aid agencies is to find adequate shelter in temperatures that can drop to less than 7-8 degrees Celsius at night. Thousands are still holed up in United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) shelters or schools. Some are able to return to their homes; others are erecting tents where their destroyed homes used to stand, according to local news agencies. According to a field update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) -- based on reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza -- houses, infrastructure, roads, greenhouses, cemeteries, mosques and schools in the al-Zaitoun, Tufah, Shaaf, Jabaliya, Tel al-Hawa, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya areas of northern Gaza have been destroyed. ICRC field staff said: "A number of areas, including parts of Beit Lahiya, looked like the aftermath of a strong earthquake. "

Gaza Rebuild ’To Cost Billions’
BBC News, MIFTAH 1/21/2009
Rebuilding the Gaza Strip after Israel’s three-week offensive will cost billions of dollars, the UN has warned. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been left homeless and 400,000 people still have no running water, it says. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, is currently visiting northern Gaza to see what assistance can be provided. Ceasefires declared by Palestinian militant groups and Israel are holding, and Israeli troops are expected to complete their pull-out later. Israeli political sources say the military aims to have withdrawn before Barack Obama’s inauguration as the new president of the United States at 1700 GMT. But analysts say big questions remain, such as who will police Gaza’s southern border with Egypt and how much power Hamas still has. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he wants troops to leave Gaza "as quickly as possible" and some have already left. Hamas has said it will hold fire until Sunday to give Israel time to withdraw.

Obama vows to seek ’durable’ Mideast peace
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
RAMALLAH, West Bank - US President Barack Obama promised Mahmud Abbas to work toward a "durable peace" in the Middle East in what Palestinians said was his first call to a foreign leader on Wednesday. Obama phoned the Palestinian leader a day after taking the oath of office and vowed "to work with him as partners to establish a durable peace in the region," Abbas’s spokesman said. Abbas was the first foreign leader Obama called since taking office, spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said. "This is my first phone call to a foreign leader and I’m making it only hours after I took office," Rudeina quoted Obama as telling Abbas. "He said he would deploy every possible effort to achieve peace as quickly as possible," the spokesman added. "President Abbas urged him to work towards peace based on international resolutions," Abu Rudeina said.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi refutes Israeli claims to have Withdrawn from Gaza
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 1/21/2009
ramallah - Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary-General of the , has claimed that Israel, with the apparent complicity of the international press, has successfully painted a picture of ’Withdrawal’ following their declaration of a unilateral cease fire. "It is not a withdrawal" said the Doctor from his office in Ramallah, "It is simply the redeployment of soldiers. They maintain control of the land, sea and air of the Gaza Strip and are still continuing the policy of siege and starvation as a collective punishment upon the tortured civilians of Gaza. " "Their drones are still flying over head, their tanks are still sealing our border crossings, and their warships sit off of our coast preventing vital aid from reaching the crisis and Palestinian fishermen from trying to get food of their own. Israel’s ’withdrawal’ is similar to the ploy of ’disengagement’ in 2005.

Mourning for 29, the Al Samouni family
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/21/2009
Gaza - The number of deaths in Gaza reached 1,328 on Wednesday as reported by medical officials, with 5,450 wounded. Zahwah Al Samouni is still in a state of shock. She is one of tens of members of the same family who were trapped from the third through the tenth of January. Among them were dead and injured, grandparents and babies. Zahwah is one of the survivors of the Israeli attacks on Gaza City’s Al Zeitoun neighborhood. She recalls the death scene of her husband and her son, shot and killed in front of her by Israeli soldiers. Aircraft had fired a missile into the house and a bulldozer joined tanks outside at the ready to demolish what was left. Fifty-two year old Attieh Al Samouni was killed in the early hours of the Israeli ground operation in Gaza on the tenth of January. "We heard explosions and shooting near the house. The soldiers approached the house, firing. They opened the door and told Attieh to lift his shirt and then his hands. They told us to leave the room, blew up the bedroom and then opened fire on Attieh. He died in front of us. We were screaming. &rdquo.

Smugglers back at work in tunnels beneath Gaza
Donald Macintyre in Rafah, The Independent 1/22/2009
Some Gazans are working to restart -- or are continuing with -- the smuggling of contraband under the Gaza-Egypt border, despite the hundreds of Israeli bombing raids which they admit have destroyed most of the tunnels that operated here until Operation Cast Lead began. They say that highly prized diesel and petrol for fuel-starved Gaza is still flowing through improvised piping under the border as other operators begin to assess the damage and work on reconstructing tunnels filled in by precision F16 bombing. As well as destroying or damaging hundreds of tunnels, the bombing has dramatised Israel’s central war aim of persuading Egypt -- with international help -- to call a halt to arms smuggling under the Rafah border. While arms are presumed to have been brought through the network, many of the openly dug tunnels have supplied fuel, domestic goods and livestock, in what. . .

Court denies residency to Palestinian Child paralyzed by Israeli shell
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Nearly two weeks ago, the Israeli High Court of Justice denied a petition to grant residency to a Palestinian child paralyzed from neck down when the army shelled in 2006 her father’s vehicle killing her mother, her brother and her grandmother. Maria Aman, 8, became quadriplegic after the shell struck her dad’s vehicle, in the Gaza Strip, while the hole family was in it, she is receiving treatment at an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem and is accompanied by her father and her youngest brother. The Israeli high court is refusing to allow her and her family to remain in Jerusalem. Human rights Groups filed an appeal to grant her permanent residency in Jerusalem as she needs to remain close to the hospital due to the severity of her condition. The Israeli Defense ministry carried repeated attempt to expel the child and her family from Jerusalem and suggested that they should move to. . .

Palestinian children need an open place to catch their breath
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/21/2009
Geneva -- As United Nations agencies take advantage of the Israeli ceasefire to assess the devastation, they say the Gaza Strip appears to have been subjected to an earthquake. Of the major Israeli attacks that began on 27 December, health official in the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Guido Sabatinelli, said, "The Gaza Strip now seems as if it was hit by an earthquake. " The United Nations official also commented on the displacement of many people. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs wrote in a report on the second day of ceasefire that over 40,000 Palestinians were still in UNRWA shelters. However, after many people had left the shelters they have now returned upon finding their homes destroyed, the UNRWA confirmed today. For its part the International Committee of the Red Cross is distributing what it can get in to the Gaza. . .

Red Cross: Massive devastation calls for vast humanitarian effort in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The International Committee of the Red Cross says that a massive reconstruction effort is needed to overcome the devastation of Israel’s 23-day onslaught on Gaza. "The level of destruction is absolutely overwhelming," said ICRC delegate Jérome Giraud. "Most people have not been able to move back to their houses. Many checked on their homes, but then decided to return to the UNRWA shelters. They had no other choice. " People are assessing the damage sustained by their homes, neighborhoods and fields. "It is as if they were waking from a nightmare," said Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC office in Gaza. "They are sharing their stories of hardship and survival with the family members and friends they were separated from during this ordeal. " Tel Al-Hawa, in the centre of Gaza City, was one of the areas hardest hit, according to the ICRC.

Study: 89% of Gazans have received no humanitarian assistance
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An overwhelming 89% of Gaza’s 1. 5 million residents have received no humanitarian aid since Israel began its three-week war in December, the international aid agency CARE reported on Wednesday. CARE conducted a survey among Gaza residents that it says shows that more aid and humanitarian workers are needed in Gaza, and that Israel should “fully open” Gaza’s borders to allow“humanitarian supplies, building materials, and commercial goods into the region. ”Another 56% of Gazans are hosting displaced people in their homes, according to the three-day phone survey. “The survey shows very clearly, however, that the efforts of CARE and the other humanitarian partners have only been scratching the surface,” said Martha Myers, CARE International’s Country Director in the West Bank and Gaza.

Public works ministry: Reconstruction of Gaza costs more than $2b
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of public works in the PA government in Gaza has estimated the cost of reconstructing the Gaza Strip following the three weeks of Israeli war at 2. 215 billion dollars. Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, the minister of public works, told a press conference on Wednesday in Gaza city that the amount was a preliminary estimation following the ministry’s preliminary statistics and categorization of damage. He added that the sum also includes relief and shelter for civilians who were rendered homeless by the aggression. He pointed out that 5000 families had lost their homes and furniture completely and each needs around 10000 dollars for a period of one year. He added that the homes of 6000 families were partially damaged but could not be used for residence and those families lost part of their furniture.

Lancet blasts Israeli ’atrocities’ in Gaza
ABC News 1/15/2009
Israel is responsible for "large and indiscriminate human atrocities" in Gaza, and the world medical establishment is a silent accomplice in the bloodshed, The Lancet medical journal says. In an editorial released ahead of publication next Saturday, the British health journal said Israel, by hitting civilians and wrecking medical infrastructure, had carried out attacks that were "unjustified and disproportional." "We find it hard to believe that an otherwise internationally respected, democratic nation can sanction such large and indiscriminate human atrocities in a territory already under land and sea blockade," The Lancet said." The collective punishment of Gazans is placing horrific and immediate burdens of injury and trauma on innocent civilians. These actions contravene the fourth Geneva convention."

Gaza war munitions investigated
Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it will open an investigation into Israel’s alleged use of depleted uranium during the 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip. Wednesday’s announcement came after Arab nations sent a letter to Mohammed ElBaradei, the IAEA director-general, asking the UN agency to investigate whether the controversial munitions were used in the war, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Depleted uranium is added to munitions because its density allows them to penetrate armour more easily. It is thought that the dust left at blast sites after the weapons have hit could pose a health risk, but a definitive link has not yet been proven. "We are circulating the letter to member states and will investigate the matter to the extent of our ability," Melissa Fleming, an IAEA spokeswoman, said after the UN agency received the letter from the Saudi Arabian ambassador. The exact course of action will be decided after member states have been consulted, the UN agency said.

7 Gaza Strip maps
UNOSAT 1/20/2009
Gaza - Post-Shelling Satellite Overview of UNRWA HQ - This damage map was produced in response to the IDF shelling of the UNRWA H. Q. building in central Gaza City on 15 January 2009 at approximately 10:30 AM local time. This map presents a satellite image overview of the UNRWA compound and immediate vicinity after the IDF shelling as recorded by the Quickbird satellite at 10:30 local time, 16 January 2009. The UNRWA warehouse fire was still active at the time of image acquisition, with a dense smoke plume visible drifting to the west. Damage buildings and impact craters have also been marked. Please note: Buildings not marked in the map as damaged does not imply the buildings are undamaged, only that damages were not identified with the available satellite imagery at the time of map publication. -- See also: In Brief: New satellite maps show damage to Gaza buildings

UN seeks urgent Israeli explanation on attacking Gaza schools
Shlomo Shamir and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The United Nations Security Council is likely to release a statement on Wednesday demanding Israel provide urgently an explanation of attacks on UN facilities in Gaza. The statement comes after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the council he expected Israel to provide a full explanation, and that those responsible must be held accountable. A diplomat who attended the brief said "the Secretary General’s address was harsh and grim. " Reporting to the UN Security Council on his return from the Middle East, Ban said the recent violence in Gaza was a sign of "collective political failure" and called for a "massive international effort" to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ban visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pledge aid for Palestinians after Israeli attacks killed 1,300 and made thousands homeless in a 22-day assault Israel said was to stop Hamas firing rockets at southern Israel.

UN to probe claim Israel used depleted uranium bombs in Gaza
Reuters, Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
United Nations organizations said yesterday that it will investigate complaints that Israel used depleted uranium projectiles in the course of the fighting in Gaza, causing health and environmental damage. The inquiry will be conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Environment Protection Organization, at the request of the Arab states’ UN envoys. Israel yesterday denied using uranium-depleted munitions during the Gaza Strip offensive and said that this could be proven by any UN investigation. The Foreign Ministry’s foreign press spokesman called these accusations blatant, groundless propaganda. "We will investigate the matter to the extent of our ability," an IAEA spokeswoman told Haaretz.

Israel denies using uranium-infused bombs during Gaza op
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Israel denied on Wednesday its armed forces used ordnance with depleted uranium during the Gaza Strip offensive, and said that could be proven by any United Nations investigation. Responding to a letter from Arab envoys, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday it would consult with member states on the diplomats’ demand for a probe into whether Israeli attacks on Gaza might have featured the controversial munitions, which can leave dangerous radioactive debris. "I deny this completely," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, adding that such allegations were "no more than a recurring motif of anti-Israel propaganda". The IDF, meanwhile, has begun investigating whether a reserve paratroops brigade made improper use of phosphorus shells during the fighting in Gaza.

IAEA to probe Israeli uranium ammunition
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
VIENNA - The UN nuclear watchdog said Wednesday it would investigate if Israel had used ammunition containing depleted uranium during its 22-day military offensive on Gaza. Arab countries accused Israel of using depleted uranium in a letter addressed to Director General Mohammed ElBaradei and delivered by the Saudi Arabian ambassador on Monday. They asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate the matter. IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming confirmed the receipt of the letter. "We are circulating the letter to member states and will investigate the matter to the extent of our ability," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said. The exact course of action would be decided after consultation with member states. The Israeli ambassador to the IAEA, Israel Michaeli, declined to comment. Depleted uranium is a waste product of uranium enrichment and has a. . .

Israeli army investigates use of white phosphorus in Gaza
Owen Bowcott, The Guardian 1/21/2009
The Israeli army is investigating its forces’ widespread use of white phosphorus during the Gaza offensive, the daily paper Ha’aretz has reported. The inquiry comes as more visual and medical evidence is being accumulated about the deployment of the highly incendiary munitions. The Israeli army has insisted white phosphorus shells were only used to provide smoke screens for their advancing ground troops. Around 200 of these shells were fired in the northern Gaza Strip in the latter stages of the war. Two Palestinian children were killed and 14 people suffered severe burns on January 17 when Israeli shells landed in a UN-run school in the northern Beit Lahiya area, medical officials said. Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes over its use of highly incendiary munitions in heavily-populated areas. " Amnesty International delegates visiting the Gaza Strip found indisputable

Israel admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza
Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/21/2009
Israel has admitted – after mounting pressure – that its troops may have used white phosphorus shells in contravention of international law, during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip. One of the places most seriously affected by the use of white phosphorus was the main UN compound in Gaza City, which was hit by three shells on 15 January. The same munition was used in a strike on the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City the same day. Under review by Colonel Shai Alkalai is the use of white phosphorus by a reserve paratroop brigade in northern Israel. According to army sources the brigade fired up to 20 phosphorus shells in a heavily built-up area around the Gaza township of Beit Lahiya, one of the worst hit areas of Gaza. The internal inquiry – which the army says does not have the status of the full investigation demanded by human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human

Jordanian doctors returning from Gaza: 90% of injuries from phosphorus bombs
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
AMMAN, (PIC)-- The Jordanian medical team that returned from the Gaza Strip told a press conference in Amman on Tuesday that 90% of injuries suffered by Palestinians in the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression were from the white phosphorus bombs. Members of the team said that the IOF used internationally banned weapons in the war on Gaza, which earned Israeli leaders a deserved international arbitration for "war crimes". Norwegian medical experts, who previously worked in Afghanistan and Lebanon and finally in Gaza, asserted that the injuries were the result of non-conventional, internationally banned weapons, the Jordanian doctors underlined. They added that the Norwegian doctors took samples of the injuries to check them in Norway, and would issue a report and document their findings before providing them as evidence in the trial of the Israeli war criminals.

VIDEO - Ban Ki-moon outraged at Gaza devastation
The Guardian 1/21/2009
UN secretary general visits Gaza Strip and city of Sderot, in southern Israel, as part of Middle East peacekeeping tour [end]

Israeli army use of phosphorus in Gaza probed
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
TEL AVIV - Israel’s army has launched an inquiry into whether paratroopers used banned white phosphorus shells close to civilians during the Gaza offensive, a newspaper said Wednesday. Haaretz said the probe centred on the firing of some 20 shells -- which are banned for use in populated areas -- around Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip by a reserve parachute brigade. Reserve colonel Shai Alkalai was put in charge of the investigations, the paper said, but an army spokesman said it was not an official inquiry. Haaretz said the army used two types of phosphorus shells and considered them as smoke bombs. Under international law, white phosphorus is banned for use near civilians. Israel’s use of white phosphorus -- banned under international law for use near civilians -- during the Gaza offensive was "clear and undeniable," Amnesty International said on Monday.

Israeli administration moves to sidestep war crimes tribunals
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/21/2009
Bethlehem -- Allegations of war crimes are being readied for international courts, including from a group of lawyers in Brussels and the United Nations that has just named five nominees to head its investigation committee. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has been called for immediate arrest, as were the outgoing Prime Minister and Defense Minister. Amnesty International’s field delegation said that the Israeli use of white phosphorus bombs in Gaza City alone constitutes a war crime. From the first week of more than three of attacks the Israeli military and administration began to provide cover for itself. Now with the end of the major attacks, the Israeli military is taking additional steps. The Israeli press reported this morning that they are working to "protect the military officers who were involved in the recent war on Gaza for fear of litigation against them abroad. "

Livni nearly cancelled Belgium trip over lawsuit concerns
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni nearly cancelled a planned trip to Belgium over concerns that the Israeli leader could face legal actions for war crimes. The website of the Israeli newspaper Yediot reported that Livni put her trip on hold on hearing a report that she could face war crimes charges. Israel’s Ambassador to Brussels Tamar Samash, European Union Ambassador Ran Curiel and the Israeli Justice Ministry immediately began looking into the report. This initial report turned out to be false, and Livni’s trip to the EU headquarters is to go ahead as planned. According to Yediot, the episode signal’s the Israeli government’s growing concern over war crimes charges. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s three-week war on the Gaza Strip in December and January.

Bethlehem families sound call for legal justice
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 1/21/2009
Bethlehem -- As part of the resistance, Palestinians are again invoking international law by leading a global movement to try Israeli leaders for war crimes. Director of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Bethlehem, Abdullah Zughari told a sit-in today in the West Bank city, "Israeli officials and military leaders be prosecuted as war criminals. . . . . . by the International Criminal Court, charged with the massacres and destruction in the Gaza Strip. "From the families of the 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons came an echo to the call moving toward The Hague. "One cannot allow the killing of children and women, and the destroying of homes and use of internationally prohibited weapons," said a father who added a demand for the release of political prisoners. Wednesday’s demonstration was held in front of the local headquarters of the international Red Cross on Jamal Abdel Nasser Street.

Reserves sent home, air force remains on alert
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The Israel Defense Forces completed its withdrawal from Gaza early yesterday morning as the last troops left the strip after more than three weeks of fighting. Top Defense Ministry Official Amos Gilad is to leave for Cairo this morning to discuss ways of preserving the cease-fire achieved earlier this week between Israel and Hamas. Infantry and armored forces pulled out of outposts in the north and south of the Gaza Strip yesterday, several hours behind schedule. Military sources warned Israel would react harshly to any fire from the strip, but no such incident occurred yesterday and the withdrawal wasuneventful. Most of the troops redeployed in the south in case a renewed conflagration occurs in Gaza, and air force squadrons are being kept on high alert. The release of reserve soldiers continued, however.

How IDF lawyers okayed hitting Gaza homes
Yotam Feldman and Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The idea to bombard the closing ceremony of the Gaza police course was internally criticized in the Israel Defense Forces months before the attack. A military source involved in the planning of the attack, in which dozens of Hamas policemen were killed, says that while military intelligence officers were sure the operation should be carried out and pressed for its approval, the IDF’s international law division and the military advocate general were undecided. After months of the operational elements pushing for the attack’s approval, the international law division, headed by Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, gave the go-ahead. In spite of doubts, and also under pressure, Sharvit-Baruch and her officers also legitimized the attack on Hamas government buildings and the relaxing of the rules of engagement, resulting in numerous Palestinian casualties.

Barak sought wider op, Olmert refused
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
During the second week of the war in Gaza, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave top political and security officials a document proposing that Israel substantially expand the ground operation during Operation Cast Lead. However, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered Barak to take back all the distributed copies -- not because he objected to the content, but because he was angered by Barak’s failure to adhere to protocol. Olmert told Barak he was not willing to accept documents signed by Barak’s chief of staff and said he cannot send such material directly to the heads of the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad, who are subject to the prime minister’s authority. Protocol requires that such documents go to the recipients’ chiefs of staff rather than directly to ministers or intelligence chiefs. The same day, Barak had couriers retrieve the copies that had been. . .

Sign Petition to urge ICC to prosecute Israel for War Crimes
Palestine Think Tank 1/21/2009
Approximately 300 among NGOs and associations ask the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation on the war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. Our support is indispensable. Sign and circulate this urgent «universal petition». To the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC): Law is the distinguishing mark of human civilisation. All progress made by humanity coincides with the consolidation of rights. The challenge that Israel’s aggression against Gaza poses to us consists in affirming, when confronted with such great suffering, that the response to violence is justice. War crimes? Only courts are able to bring about a sentence, but all of us can bear witness, because a human being only exists in his relationship with others. The circumstances show the breadth of their dimension in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. . .

Seven Palestinians seized in northern West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested seven young Palestinians in the northern West Bank on Wednesday morning, according to a village leader. The mostly teenagers were seized from their homes in the village of Qaryout, south of Nablus, early on Wednesday, the head of the village’s local council told Ma’an. According to Abd An-Nasser Badawi, several Israeli patrols raided the village overnight and ransacked a number of houses, ultimately arresting seven young men and boys. Badawi identified the arrestees as 18-year-old Ahmad Mousa, 20-year-old Khalid Issa, 18-year-old Muhammad Amjad Mousa, 17-year-old Kutayba Farhan, 18-year-old, 18-year-old Mahmoud Nafiz, 17-year-old Abdo Kasab and 19-year-old Muhammad Abdul-Fattah.

The Israeli military injures a Palestinian old woman near Hebron
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
A Palestinian old woman was injured on Wednesday by Israeli troops fire in the village of Shoykh Al Arob village near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Medical sources said that the woman aged 45 sustained wounds after being hit by a rubber-coated-steal bullet. Local sources said that Israeli troops opened fire at local youth in the village injuring the old woman. Witnesses said that Israeli troops stormed the village and detained men, after aulting the men, local stone-throwing youth clashed with the soldiers. Soldiers responded with tear gas and rubber-coated-steal bullet. The medics in the local ambulance service said there were at least 10 others who were treated for gas inhalation.

Undercover Israeli forces abduct Islamic Jihad leader near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – Undercover Israeli forces abducted an Islamic Jihad leader from his home in the West Bank town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, on Wednesday afternoon. According to sources in the Palestinian security services, Israeli special forces operatives disguised in civilian clothes surrounded Salih Kamil’s house and then seized him from outside the house. Israeli military vehicles then invaded the town, transporting the undercover agents and Kamil out of Qabatiya. Kamil was released from an Israeli prison a year ago. Since then house has been raided by Israeli forces several times, most recently a week ago. [end]

The army kidnaps six Palestinian civilians from the southern part of the West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli Army has kidnapped six Palestinian civilians during a pre-dawn attack, targeting the village of Sa’er on Wednesday. Witnesses said that Israeli troops stormed the village late Tuesday night, and then began a house-to-house search campaign. The troops left the village in the morning, taking with them six civilians to unknown locations, residents reported. Among those kidnapped were Riad Jaradat, Fadi Jaradat, and Ha’er Jaradat. [end]

The Israeli army storms Qabatiya village near Jenin and kidnaps one civilian
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
The Israeli military invaded the town of Qabatiya located near the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday and kidnapped one Palestinian civilian. Israeli troops and armored vehicles stormed the town then surrounded the house of Saleh Imel, 32, after searching the home the man was taken to unknown location, witnesses reported. The Israeli army claims that Saleh is on their wanted list, local sources said that troops searched other number of homes before leaving. [end]

Israeli Army kidnaps seven Palestinian from a village in the northern West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Seven Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by the Israeli Army during a pre dawn invasion, targeting the village of Qaryut, located near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday. Local sources said that Israeli forces invaded the village, and then conducted a house -- to-house search before taking seven Palestinian civilians to unknown location. Witnesses said that among those kidnapped were; Yazan Azem, age 20, Mohamed Kassab, age 18 and Khaled Mojali, 23. [end]

Bishop Hanna on support for Gaza: the people rose up and said no to barbarism
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 1/21/2009
Jerusalem -- "Blessed Gaza pride, what a hero of resistance you are," echoed the words of dozens of residents of East Jerusalem during a press conference held by Islamic and Christian leaders. Their first words were a tribute to the "steadfastness of the people in the face of Israeli aggression. "After three weeks of attacks both the survivors and the killed are being held as the heroes who confronted the occupation. Head of the Supreme Islamic Council, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, said that the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip were "unprecedented in criminal history. "Bishop Atallah Hanna make particular noted of the exit of Israeli soldiers from the Gaza Strip who were waving victory signs as if "the killing of children, women and the demolition of houses is a victory. " "There is a human dimension that was brought to this when the world as a whole, the people,. . . "

Four Palestinians injured in Ni’lin
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Hundreds of residents and international peace activists held on Wednesday a protest in Nil’in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and chanted slogans against the Annexation Wall and the Israeli assaults against the Gaza Strip. The army attacked the protesters and injured four protesters, dozens were treated after inhaling gas fired by the army. The protest started in the center of the village where the residents and international peace activists gathered and marched towards the Annexation Wall built on the village lands. They chanted for unity among all Palestinians, and chanted against the ongoing Israeli military aggression and occupation. Israeli bulldozers started uprooting orchards in the southern part of the village eight months ago in order to construct a section of the Wall there.

Palestinians rally in Bethlehem demanding war crimes tribunal over Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Dozens of Palestinians rallied on Wednesday at the Red Cross headquarters in the West Bank city of Bethlehem in solidarity with the Gaza Strip demanding war crimes tribunals for Israeli leaders. The demonstration was organized by a committee of Palestinian political factions and the Palestinian Prisoner Society. Demonstrators chanted slogans condemning Israeli aggression in Gaza while others raised posters calling for war crimes prosecutions. On some posters, photos of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni appeared next to swastikas. [end]

Bodies of two women uncovered, three residents die of earlier wounds
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Wednesday morning that the bodies of two women, aged 90 and 62, were located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and that three residents, wounded during the offensive, died of earlier wounds. Dr. Muawiya Hassanen, of the Emergency Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, reported that the bodies of Kamela Mustafa Al Attar, age 90, and and Halima Siyam, age 62, were found under the rubble of shelled homes in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, the Arabs48 news website reported. Also, Dr. Hassanen added that resident Mohammad Saleh Abu Sweirih died at an Egyptian hospital, Imad Abdullah Miqdad died in Khan Younis Hospital, and Mohammad Madi died at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The three residents were seriously injured during the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Israel ’completes Gaza troop withdrawal’
Jeffrey Heller, Reuters, The Independent 1/21/2009
Israel said it completed a troop pullout from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip today, starting its relationship with US President Barack Obama by quitting Palestinian land devastated by its 22-day offensive. "As of this morning, the last of the Israel Defence Forces soldiers have left the Gaza Strip and the forces have deployed outside of Gaza and are prepared for any occurrences," an army spokesman said, about 13 hours after Obama’s inauguration. Israel had withdrawn most of its forces before Obama was sworn in on Tuesday, in a move analysts saw as an attempt to avoid any early tensions with his administration that could cloud the start of a new era in a key alliance. Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, endorsed Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire by the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas Islamists.

IDF leaves Gaza
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/21/2009
Troops are now redeployed outside the Gaza Strip. This morning, the last IDF soldiers left the Gaza Strip and returned to Israel. They are now deployed outside the Gaza Strip. Israel declared a ceasefire on Saturday night. Yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon ahead of the latter’s visit to Sderot and the Gaza Strip. UN Secy. -Gen. Ki-Moon told Prime Minister Olmert that he appreciates Israel’s decision to hold its fire in the Gaza Strip. The two men discussed ways to maintain the stability of the ceasefire, and the UN’s and several countries’ plan to coordinate humanitarian aid efforts for the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and in the second stage to contribute toward its reconstruction. Prime Minister Olmert reiterated his position that the reconstruction efforts must be coordinated. . . -- See also: Israel says Gaza pull-out completed

Israel says Gaza pull-out completed
Al Jazeera 1/21/2009
Israel has said its troops have completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, although forces have redeployed on the territory’s outskirts and Israeli vessels remain in Gaza’s territorial waters. The Israeli military said its pull-out was completed before dawn on Wednesday, just hours after Barack Obama replaced George Bush as US president. "The last soldier left the Gaza Strip this morning," an army spokesman said. "However the army remains deployed all around the Gaza Strip to meet any eventuality. "The army later issued a statement saying the troops had returned to Israeli territory, ending its so-called Operation Cast Lead. But Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said: "We can still see Israeli naval vessels still very much in territorial waters, and [they] have been heard firing through the course of the morning. . . "

Israel says last of its soldiers left Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – All remaining Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip withdrew on Wednesday morning, the army said. The withdrawal came 23 days after launching the devastating Operation Cast Lead against Hamas, which killed hundreds of civilians. “As of this morning, the last of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers have left the Gaza Strip,” an army spokesperson said. The withdrawal was completed before dawn on Wednesday, according to Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, which quoted another military spokesperson. The timing of the evacuation coincided with the inauguration of US President Barack Obama, apparently a purposeful attempt to begin a new with the incoming American administration. Both Hamas and Israel have declared separate unilateral ceasefires, although at least two Palestinians have been shot dead by retreating Israeli soldiers.

Israeli army says Gaza pullout completed
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
TEL AVIV - Israeli troops have completed their withdrawal from Gaza after a 22-day offensive against the Strip, an Israeli army spokesman said on Wednesday. "The last soldier left the Gaza Strip this morning," the spokesman said. "However the army remains deployed all around the Gaza Strip to meet any eventuality. " The pullout began Sunday after Israel declared a ceasefire and the Palestinian resistance matched it. Hamas gave Israel a week to remove all troops and open crossing points into Gaza or face renewed hostilities. Israel launched its massive assault on December 27, bombarding the narrow coastal strip where 1. 5 million Palestinians live from land, air and sea. Palestinian health ministry figures list more than 1,300 people dead, including 410 children and about 100 women. Another 5,300 people were wounded -- 1,855 of them children and 795 women.

Despite Truce, IOF Kill Farmer near Jabalya
Palestine Media Center 1/21/2009
Two Palestinian children were killed by explosives left behind by Israeli forces in Gaza and a farmer was shot dead by Israeli gunfire, hospital officials reported. The director of Emergency and Ambulance Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, Muawiya Hassanain, told Ma’an that the farmer came under Israeli fire east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. His body was taken to Kamal Udwan hospital. Earlier on Tuesday, Palestinian medical sources announced that a young boy and his sister were killed when they were playing with an unexploded bomb left behind by Israeli troops in the Ash-Sha’f area of eastern Gaza city. They were identified as 10-year-old Abdullah Hassanain, and 11-year-old Shurouq Hassanain. Hospital officials urged Gaza residents to stay away from ordinance left behind by Israeli forces, and not to eat food discarded by Israeli soldiers as it may be poisoned.

IOF troops bulldoze southern Gaza areas, fire at random
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday advanced into eastern Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, in Khuza’a town and bulldozed agricultural lands in a fresh breach of its self-declared ceasefire. Local sources told the PIC reporter that a number of IOF tanks and bulldozers had advanced a few hundred meters into the area amidst random firing. The IOF troops destroyed totally or partially around 100 Palestinian houses in the area over the past few days other than damaging a large section of cultivated lands. IOF gunboats have also fired shells on Wednesday at the Gaza coasts for the third day running while IOF reconnaissance planes maintained intensive flights over the Strip. MP Samir al-Halaika in Al-Khalil city in the West Bank asked human rights groups and legal institutions to inquire about the prisoners of war who were taken from Gaza during the three weeks of IOF aggression.

Israel completes Gaza withdrawal
Owen Bowcott and agencies, The Guardian 1/21/2009
Last armoured units and foot patrols leave territory shortly after inauguration of new US president - Israeli forces completed their withdrawal from Gaza early today and have taken up positions along the perimeter of the Palestinian territory, according to a military spokesman. The last armoured units and foot patrols left three days after Israel and Hamas separately declared ceasefires. Officials had promised they would be out before the inauguration of the US president, Barack Obama. " As of this morning, the last of the Israel defence forces soldiers have left the Gaza Strip and the forces have deployed outside of Gaza and are prepared for any occurrences," the military spokesman said. Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, endorsed Israel’s right to enter the Gaza Strip in its efforts to defend itself against rocket fire from Hamas militants. -- See also: Israel says Gaza pull-out completed

As the Israeli army leaves Gaza, Israeli naval boats open fire on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Palestinian sources reported that Israeli naval boats opened fire on Wednesday at areas in the Gaza Strip. The sources said that the shells landed in open areas and did not cause any damage or injuries. Meanwhile the Israeli Army announced on Wednesday that all of its tanks and ground troops have left the Palestinian costal region. Resident in Gaza said the Israeli Army left but Israeli jet fighters were flying over the Gaza Strip since morning. The Israelis stopped the attack on Gaza on Sunday. The attack started on January 17th, 2008, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians killed and nearly 6,000 injured. [end]

Norwegian envoy equates Israel with Nazis
Jerusalem Post 1/21/2009
A Norwegian diplomat based in Saudi Arabia has sent out e-mails from her Foreign Ministry e-mail account equating Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza with the systematic mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. The e-mail, sent out by Trine Lilleng, a first secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh, includes a juxtaposition of black-and-white pictures from the Holocaust with color images of Operation Cast Lead [and other Israeli atrocities - Ed. ]. "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany," the e-mail states. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Jerusalem Post. The 40-plus pictures included as attachments in the e-mail include the famous image of a Jewish boy with his hands raised as a German soldier points his gun at him, next to an image of an Israeli soldier aiming his weapon at a Palestinian boy. -- See also: The Grandchildren Of Holocaust Survivors Are Doing What Was Done To Them in WWII

King’s students stage sit-in over Gaza
Anthea Lipsett, The Guardian 1/21/2009
Protesters demand university revoke doctorate bestowed on Shimon Peres, Israel’s president - Students at King’s College London are staging a sit-in protest on campus over the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the honorary doctorate bestowed on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres. In the latest of a flurry of occupations at English universities in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza, more than 100 students took over a lecture theatre in the university yesterday. Kings students are demanding that the university issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Gaza and revoke the honorary doctorate Peres was awarded in November last year. The protesters also want King’s, and its vice-chancellor, Rick Trainor, to provide five fully funded scholarships for Palestinian students, help organise a cross-campus fundraising day, establish links with educational institutions in Gaza, and donate any surplus educational resources to them.

Israel to evacuate 400 foreign-passport holders from Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israel plans to evacuate dual citizens of the following countries from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday: Australia / Austria / Canada / Denmark / France / Ireland / Jordan / Norway / Sri Lanka / Turkey / United States -- According to a statement from Israel’s Coordination Office for Government Affairs in the [occupied Palestinian] Territories, some 400 dual citizens will be evacuated from Gaza. The Coordination Office said they would then be taken from the Erez crossing, through Israel and over the Allenby Bridge to Jordan for travel abroad. Palestinians are not permitted to use Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Israel says the evacuations came at the request of the governments of the dual citizens in Gaza, but it was not immediately clear why no one was evacuated until after the Gaza assault had already ended.

Gaza doctor buries three daughters
Vered Lee, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Dr. Ezzeldin Abu al-Aish, whose three daughters were killed by Israeli tank fire in Gaza last Friday, left the Erez checkpost at about 3 P. M. yesterday for the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where one of his daughters, who was wounded, is hospitalized. He was accompanied by four of his children who were not hurt. "We are one united family. Despite the tragedy, we have tomorrow," he told the crowd of journalists waiting for him. Six days have passed since al-Aish’s apartment was shelled by the Israel Defence Forces, killing three of his daughters and wounding a fourth. When the evacuation of the wounded was finally allowed, he accompanied his daughter, who was hit in the eye, to the hospital. Yesterday morning he returned to see the extent of his home’s destruction and to cry on the graves of his three daughters, whose funeral took place while he was tending his daughter in the hospital.

Student collects 10 truckloads of basic supplies for Gazans
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
A student at Sapir College near Sderot has over the past week collected 10 truckloads of basic supplies, which she hopes to deliver to the people of Gaza. Hadas Balas, 25, says she felt she had to take action after visiting her college last week, where she heard the sound of bombs exploding in Gaza and the sound of sirens in Sderot. "I realized there were people getting killed who had no food and nothing to drink, and that caused me a lot of pain," she said. Together with her friend, Lee Ziv, 27, Balas wrote e-mails, asking people to donate to the humanitarian cause. "We are working beyond the rules, with the common goal of ensuring the right to live to those who are alive," stated their e-mails. The correspondence reached human rights organizations that passed on the women’s appeal through their own e-mail lists, yielding more donations than the two had initially anticipated.

Mash’al: Hamas should handle Gaza reconstruction funds
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khalid Mash’al said on Wednesday that Hamas should be given the responsibility of overseeing the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which was devastated by three weeks of Israeli bombardment. In a televised speech from Damascus, Mash’al asked Arab states to send reconstruction funds to the Hamas-run government in Gaza led by Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh. He also called for the Gaza Strip’s borders to be reopened. “We are fully responsible for our people in Gaza and Hamas will be working in two ways: the first will be recovering the causalities and providing shelter for the homeless and the other will be by rebuilding the Gaza Strip and all the demolished houses,” he said. He also called the international community to deal with Hamas.

Jenin residents send basic aid to Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Jenin – Ma’an – A convoy of emergency humanitarian aid from Jenin is en route to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, according to the governorate. Sent in coordination with the Palestinian National Campaign to Help Gaza, Jenin’s Governor Qaddoura Mousa said four trailers were loaded with blanked, canned food and mineral water. Mousa added that the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs, in cooperation with the Jenin Chamber of Commerce and the Youth and Sports Ministry, began collecting donations for Gaza. The Waqf Ministry donated NIS 74,000, the governor said. The Israelis are refusing to let in clothing, for unknown reasons, and the campaign is waiting for pending official approval, according to coordinator Nayif Khamaysa. Another aid shipment is scheduled to be sent next week in cooperation with the United Nations.

In Brief: New satellite maps show damage to Gaza buildings
Free Gaza, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/22/2009
DUBAI, 20 January 2009 (IRIN) - UNOSAT has produced a series of damage assessment maps covering the entire Gaza Strip. It estimates that 400 buildings were affected. Of these, 302 appear to have been destroyed and 98 severely damaged. It also identified 97 impact craters on roads and 395 in fields. UNOSAT says the damage described is probably an underestimate because damage identification is limited by the spatial resolution of the satellite imagery used. [end] -- See also: UNOSAT: 7 Gaza Strip maps

Bodies of two old women found under the rubble, four citizens succumb to wounds
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Medical and civil defense squads on Wednesday recovered two bodies of two old Palestinian women from the rubble of destroyed homes in northern Gaza, medical sources reported. Muawiya Hasanein, the director of ambulance and emergency in the PA health ministry, said that the bodies of Kamela Al-Attar, 90, and Halima Siyam, 62, were found under the rubble of their homes. He added that four seriously wounded Palestinians had succumbed to their wounds one in an Egyptian hospital, another in Shifa hospital and two in Khan Younis hospital. The health official underlined that the number of martyrs in the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression Gaza had risen to 1326 while the wounded reached 5450 many of them suffering severe and critical wounds, which might increase the number of victims or the number of those living with permanent disability as a result of the IOF use of internationally banned weapons.

European campaign: Delaying dispatch of aid to Gaza entails grave results
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege on Gaza has warned that any further delay in dispatching urgently needed aid to the Gaza Strip especially after the vast devastation wreaked by the Israeli war machine would entail "dire consequences". Dr. Arafat Madi, the head of the campaign, said in a statement in Brussels that what the Israeli "criminal war" on the Palestinians in Gaza had caused was beyond imagination. "Thus the siege on Gaza must be lifted immediately and permanently," he stressed. The Israeli aggression on Gaza had aggravated the suffering of one and a half million Palestinians who were already suffering from a strangling siege, Madi elaborated, noting that 6,000 wounded Palestinians in the aggression were added to the list of 2,000 patients who were deprived of receiving the minimum limit of necessary medical care.

Palestine Today 012109
Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 00s || 2. 75 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Wednesday, January 21st 2009. As the Israeli ground forces leave Gaza, five more Palestinians killed in Gaza, while 15 other kidnapped in the West Bank, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian medical sources reported on Wednesday morning that the bodies of two women, aged 90 and 62, were located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and that three residents died due to wounds sustained during the Israeli offensive. Dr. Muawiya Hassanen, of the Emergency Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, reported that Mohammad Saleh Abu Sweirih died at an Egyptian hospital, Imad Abdullah Miqdad died in Khan Younis Hospital, and Mohammad Madi died at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

Jailed PLC speaker touts Palestinian resistance
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Salfit – Ma’an – The speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) asserted on Wednesday that the Palestinian people will “protect their victory” achieved in the Gaza Strip. PLC Speaker Dr Aziz Dweik, who is imprisoned in an Israeli jail, addressed the Palestinian resistance, saying fighters must “protect the country and the nation’s dignity. ”“The Palestinian people are able to protect victory, which the Palestinian resistance achieved in the Gaza Strip,” Dweik said in the message. “You know that today you are not only defending the homeland, but you also represent the remaining followers of Prophet Muhammad’s nation, whose mission is to defend religion and protect the country and the nation’s dignity,” he said. “You know that the support you received from your nation was not random, nor a result of outrage, but rather reflects understanding by that nation. . .

Israel releases Qalqiliya’s mayor from prison
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israel released the mayor of the West Bank city of Qalqiliya from prison on Tuesday night after holding him for nearly two years. The 43-year-old Hamas-affiliated Mayor Wajih Qawwas was seized by Israeli troops in May 2007. Speaking to Ma’an upon his release, Qawwas said, “All detainees wish that [Palestinian] unity will be achieved soon especially after the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip and the bloody Israeli massacres. ”“The Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails hope that Palestinian factions will reconcile to oppose the Israeli attacks and the confiscation of lands,” he said. Qawwas praised the Palestinians’ steadfastness and opposition to the Israeli attacks against civilians, mosques, lands and schools in the Gaza Strip.

Widow of slain minister Ze’evi: I`m willing to swap his killers for Shalit
Haaertz Service, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The wife of slain cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi (also known by his nickname Gandhi) said Wednesday "I would be happy to see Gilad Shalit returned to his family, even in exchange for Gandhi’s murderers. " Shalit was abducted by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006 and has been held captive since. Yael Ze’evi, whose husband was murdered by Palestinian assassins eight years ago, said in an interview with Channel 2 that her husband was "murdered while wearing dog tags bearing the names of captive and missing soldiers. He viewed the release of captive soldiers as a supreme priority. "Ze’evi’s killers are listed among the Palestinian prisoners slated to be exchanged for Shalit if a prisoner swap goes through. In light of Yael Ze’evi’s remarks, Shalit’s family announced that they planned on contacting her.

Israel ’ready to pay awful price for Shalit’
Avi Issacharoff Barak Ravid and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
As Israel and Egypt coordinate efforts to clamp down on Hamas’ smuggling operation in Gaza, senior officials in Jerusalem say that Israel has softened its positions ahead of a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hamas for the retrieval of Gilad Shalit. Haaretz has learned from several cabinet ministers that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers who had refused Hamas’ demands for Shalit’s release have recently "realized that there is no choice but to pay the price," as one minister put it. By contrast, over the past few months Olmert has said that Israel should not meet Hamas’ demands for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel - many of whom were involved in terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of Israelis - in exchange for Shalit.

Report: Israeli ministers accept Hamas’ demands for prisoner swap
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A number of Israeli government ministers have changed their views on a proposed prisoner exchange with Hamas, Israel’s Channel Two television reported on Wednesday evening. According to the report the ministers have apparently accepted a list of Palestinians Hamas is demanding released in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in Gaza since 2006. The report did not name the ministers but said that they are members of Israel’s Security Cabinet. The report also indicated that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has also eased his position on the proposed prisoner exchange. [end]

Mahmoud Abbas Seen as Big Loser After Fight Between Israel and Hamas
Joel Greenberg, MIFTAH 1/21/2009
The Gaza Strip has been devastated by Israel’s punishing offensive against Hamas, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be the war’s most serious political casualty. Sidelined during the fighting and now struggling to play a role in Gaza’s reconstruction, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, is battling to stay relevant. " Marginalized is a very good choice of words," Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian government in the West Bank, told journalists on Monday. Abbas, a moderate who has pursued negotiations with Israel for more than a year, is certain to be part of any renewed peace efforts by the Obama administration. Yet Abbas appeared to many Palestinians as ineffective during the Gaza war, unable to press Israel to halt its onslaught while sending his police to break up pro-Hamas demonstrations in the West Bank with tear gas, clubs and even gunfire.

Hamas welcomes calls for national dialogue based on sincerity
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has welcomed calls for national dialogue among the Palestinians, but it stressed that such dialogue should be sincere and truthful, and should accept others as partners in the Palestinian equation. "The true strength of our people is in our unity, and legitimacy is derived from the people and by respecting the ballot boxes; and it couldn’t be given by any party other than the Palestinian people, and therefore, we should provide the good atmosphere for any dialogue if we want to succeed", asserted Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman of Hamas in Gaza, on Wednesday in a press conference he held at mount Al-Rayyes in Gaza. He also pointed out that once the Israeli war on Gaza ends, the siege is lifted, and the crossings are open, and the atmosphere for national dialogue becomes suitable, we will be the first to sit at the table waiting for our brothers in order to start national reconciliation talks".

Nablus governor meets injured Gazans at area hospitals
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Nablus Governor Jamal Muheisin visited injured Palestinians from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, visiting several hospitals in the northern West Bank city. Two officials from the Palestinian Authority’s Office of the President’s Humanitarian Unit, Raedah Al-Faris and Midhat Taha, accompanied Muheisin during the visit. After checking up on the injured, the delegation delivered financial support from acting President Mahmoud Abbas. The governor insisted that all Palestinian institutions must support the Gaza Strip and its residents following a devastating attack by Israeli forces. He stressed national unity and insisted it is no longer optional “in the face of threats to the entire national project. ”Muheisin added that the importance of maintaining national unity is “in order to counter the challenged faced by the Palestinian people, including Israeli occupation. . .

Hamas confirms PA affiliates in Gaza executed for collaboration
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Former Palestinian Authority figures “distributed candy celebrating the Gaza offensive,” Hamas claimed on Wednesday. According to Hamas leader in exile Mousa Abu Marzouq, PA sympathizers “sent kisses to Israeli warplanes” and “guided these planes to their targets. ”For the first time since allegations were made weeks before, Abu Marzouq confirmed that Hamas did execute several collaborators during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip. He threatened to bring others to justice, as well, particularly some he said “guided the Israelis” to the location of Hamas-affiliated de facto Interior Minister Sa’id Siyam, who was killed in an airstrike. “Our approach to the Egyptian Initiative [for ceasefire] was to take whatever benefits us and avoid anything that harms our interests,” the Abu Marzouq told Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq.

Hamas admits killing ’Israeli collaborators’
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 1/22/2009
Hamas haseffectively admitted killing Palestinians suspected of informing Israel on potential targets during the three week bombing and ground offensive in Gaza. While purportingnot to know details, Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Islamic faction said yesterday in Gaza City that Israel had relied on "spies" to provide information including on the whereabouts of Hamas leaders. He added: "Maybe some of them were were killed because they wereacting against the population, against the resistance. "Mr Barhoum was speaking in the wake of a report in the Qatari daily A-Sharq which quoted Moussa Abu Marzuk, deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau as confirmingthat it had executed Gazans suspected of collaborating with Israel. Mr Barhoum also disclosed that there had been "some investigation and interrogation" of persons accused of informing on the whereabouts of the Hamas interior. . .

Hamas security forces fought invading Israeli forces during war
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The head of National Security in the Hamas-run government in Gaza that security forces in Gaza played two roles during Israel’s three-week war: first, fighting the Israeli forces and second maintaining security in Gaza. National Security chief Hussein Abu Athera said during a press conference at the demolished Saraya security compound in central Gaza City, We trained the security forces to do their best maintain security because others in society tried to spread corruption and chaos in Gaza during the Israeli attacks. ”Abu Athera also said that Palestinian security officers continued to work during the Israeli offensive wearing civilian clothes in order to avoid being targeted by Israeli warplanes. He said that four security officers had been killed on duty, and 17 National Security installations were destroyed.

PA releases Palestinian journalist arrested on incitement charge
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA) released a journalist from Hebron on Wednesday following a two-day detention on dubious charges. PA Preventative Security had originally arrested Khalid Amayrah from the town of Duha, near Hebron, for “incitement against the Palestinian Authority” during the Israeli assault on Gaza. Amayrah was also accused of “arousing rivalry” between Palestinian factions. But Preventative Security released the journalist after questioning and a two-day detention while legal procedures were handled. The journalist, however, did note that he was not treated poorly while in detention, despite the its illegality. Amayrah is notable for having jointly proposed a ceasefire initiative in the Gaza Strip with Israeli Rabbi Menachem Fruman in February 2008, but their attempt failed.

De facto government to return to work in Gaza on Saturday
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government cabinet in the Gaza Strip announced through its secretary-general on Wednesday that all ministries would reopen on Saturday. According to Hamas-affiliated Secretary-General Muhammas Awad, the de facto government notified ministries to begin offering services to Gazans as usual on Saturday. “The de facto government has circulated a note to all governmental employees asking them to go to the new headquarters of their ministries in order to offer services to Gazan citizens,” he said. Although the buildings of all de facto government ministries were destroyed in the assault, Awad said they would be housed in temporary buildings until they could be rebuilt. “New ministries’ headquarters will be announced later after most of the ministries have been demolished by Israeli forces,” Awad said.

Hamas: IOF withdrew thanks to resistance’s strikes, people’s steadfastness
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas has renewed insistence on resistance as the sole means to fight occupation of Palestine and insisted that the Israeli occupation did not fulfill its targets in Gaza. Ismail Radwan, a Hamas political leader, said that the Israeli occupation forces did not withdraw from Gaza in response to international resolutions or pressures but rather due to the Palestinian resistance’s strikes and the Palestinian people’s steadfastness. He affirmed conviction that the IOF command was deceiving the Israeli public opinion about its troops’ losses. He addressed the Israelis saying, "Your leaders are deceiving you and lying to you and are exploiting your blood for election purposes. You will not enjoy security and safety unless the Palestinian people enjoyed the same and occupation troops must withdraw from the Palestinian lands".

Haneyya government ministries resume work
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian government in Gaza Strip has declared that all ministries should return back to normal work as of Wednesday in apparent challenge to the Israeli aggression that was launched to eliminate this government. The government in a terse statement by its spokesman Taher Al-Nunu called on all civil servants to report to their jobs as of Wednesday morning. Life was slowly returning to normalcy in the beleaguered Gaza Strip that reeled under a bloody Israeli aggression for three weeks, which ended in immense devastation. Universities and schools in Gaza also announced start of work for its administrative staff in preparation for re-opening classes. Thousands of Palestinian citizens on Tuesday marched through the streets of Gaza in response to a Hamas call to display support for the Hamas-led government.

Fatah calls Thursday rallies in response to Gaza assault
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Fatah Party on Wednesday called upon its supporters to rally in condemnation of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, according to a statement. The leadership of the Palestinian movement also called on Israel’s leaders to be tried or sued in international courts, as well as the rallies called for Thursday in the West Bank. The statement insisted that “Israeli aggression” on the Gaza Strip “did not distinguish between Palestinian factions or parties, but rather targeted everyone. ”It maintained that all Palestinian factions must remain united against Israel, inviting members of other parties and organizations to join in the rallies on Thursday, as well.

Iran: Palestinian resistance has the right to arms
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday that Palestinian resistance groups should have the right to weapons. Mottaki said during a televised speech from Tehran that Israel is well armed, and that it would therefore be wrong to deny Palestinians the right to arm themselves. In the speech, the Iranian minister was rejecting an attempt by the United States and Israel to stop alleged arms smuggling from Iran to Hamas in Gaza. Mottaki did not explicitly say that Iran had supplied weapons to Hamas in the past or would in the future. The minister also called for Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to be tried for war crimes. He also said that Palestinians should unite and put an end to their internal conflict, calling for new Palestinian presidential elections, as the current president, Mahmoud Abbas, finished his term earlier in January.

Iran: ’Palestinian resistance has right to arms’
Reuters, The Independent 1/21/2009
Iran, accused by Israel of supplying arms to Hamas militants, today said resistance groups around the world like those in Gaza had the right to have access to weapons to fight against "colonialists. " "A government or a people who would like to defend themselves, it is very natural they will do their utmost to get weapons from whatever place possible," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in a speech on the conflict in Gaza. Israel accuses Iran of providing weapons to Hamas. Tehran says it provides financial, humanitarian and moral support and has condemned Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory. Mottaki, who did not say Iran would itself offer arms, added that Israel’s goals in Gaza had been to "wipe away the resistance and also to destroy the defensive capability of the resistance," in a clear to reference to Hamas.

India, Israel on verge of closing defense system deal
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
India and Israel are concluding large arms deals valued at about $600 million, signaling a new era in security ties between the two countries. In recent years, relations between the nations have been strained by suspicions of corruption and bribes by Israeli firms to senior Indian officials, including the former Indian defense minister. The newspaper India Express reported Tuesday that the Indian Navy is about to purchase two Israeli-made aerial balloon radar systems. The transaction, which is close to completion, will enable India to improve the defense of its coastlines. The purchase is being implemented in the shadow of the most recent terror attack in Mumbai, which was carried out by Pakistani Muslim extremists arriving by sea. The two radar systems are manufactured by ELTA systems, a division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and are already in use by the Indian Air Force.

India, Israel closing weapons deals worth $600 million
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 1/21/2009
India and Israel are closing weapons deals worth $600 million. The deals represent a renewed era in bilateral ties tainted in recent years by Israeli companies’ alleged bribery of Indian officials. The Indian Express quoted unidentified sources as saying that the Indian navy would shortly sign an agreement to purchase two Israeli-made Aerostat airborne radars, in an effort to improve India’s coastal defense. The move comes in the wake of November’s terror attack in Mumbai, in which terrorists arrived by sea. "While the acquisition was on the Navy’s shopping list for a long time, it was accelerated by the Government after the Mumbai attack," the paper said. The purchase will allow the navy to operate balloon-mounted air defense radars for the first time. The EL/M-2083 radars, which are manufactured by defense electronic company Elta Systems,. . .

Turkey seeks to boost role for Mideast peace
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
ANKARA - Turkey is casting itself as an aspiring powerbroker in the Middle East, hoping that its growing influence in the polarized region will not only facilitate peace but prove to the European Union that it is worthy of membership, analysts said Tuesday. But the country’s new drive in the region is not without critics: some pro-Israelis here do not wish to see engagement with the democratically elected government of Hamas, which is also a resistance movement determined to end Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. According to Ahmet Davutoglu, top adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and architect of Turkey’s Middle East policy, Ankara’s quiet diplomacy was instrumental in achieving a tenouos ceasefire in Gaza, establishing its position as a regional broker. "Why does everyone trust Turkey? It is because Turkey has always abided by the. . .

Turkish relief society IHH opens its first branch in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım, the president of the Turkish relief society IHH’s board of trustees, has opened the first branch of his society in the Gaza Strip in the presence of Palestinian health minister Basem Naim and MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege. Naim hailed the Turkish supportive role of the Palestinian people’s government and people, noting that Ankara was among the pioneering countries that contacted the Palestinian government and stood alongside the Palestinian people during the 23 days of Israeli "savage" aggression on the Strip. The minister asserted his government’s keenness on boosting the "brotherly relations" between the two people and on developing horizons of joint cooperation to serve both countries’ interests and to enhance the steadfastness of the people of Gaza who have been under tight siege for 19 months.

Hamas Leader Says He Never Expected Scale of IDF Operation in Gaza
Haaretz, MIFTAH 1/21/2009
The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram quoted Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal on Tuesday as saying his Islamist group was surprised by the force Israel recently used against it in the Gaza Strip. Meshal, who was speaking at an Arab conference on Gaza in the Qatari capital Doha, reportedly told a closed forum that Hamas had believed that Israel’s 22-day campaign against it would last no longer than three days. The offensive ended Sunday, after Israel and Hamas separately declared a cease-fire. " We didn’t expect the crimes that were committed against our citizens, the residents of Gaza," Al-Ahram quoted the Damascus-based Meshal as saying. Approximately 500 Hamas militants were killed in the operation, Israeli estimates state, and hundreds more were wounded. The IDF also killed hundreds of militants belonging to various armed factions and militias. More than 1,250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the offensive. Hamas says just 48 of its fighters died in the fighting.

Meshal urges West: Stop trying to eliminate Hamas, deal with us
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal urged the West on Wednesday to lift its boycott of the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. "I tell European nations. . . three years of trying to eliminate Hamas is enough. It is time for you to deal with Hamas, which has gained legitimacy through struggle," Meshal said in a televised speech from the Syrian capital. The Hamas leader also urged newly inaugurated U. S. President Barack Obama and European leaders to glean the "required lessons" from their countries’ support for the "Israeli aggression. "Under international pressure, Israel and Hamas declared separate ceasefires in the Gaza Strip after a 22-day Israeli offensive devastated the small, densely-populated Palestinian territory and killed nearly 1,300 Palestinians.

Meshal: Use words, not bombs, to deal with us
Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
’3 years of trying to eliminate Hamas is enough’ - Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal urged the West yesterday to lift its boycott of the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. "I tell European nations. . . three years of trying to eliminate Hamas is enough," he said. "It is time for you to deal with Hamas, which has gained legitimacy through struggle," Meshal said in a televised speech from the Syrian capital. The Hamas leader also urged newly inaugurated U. S. President Barack Obama and European leaders to glean the "required lessons" from their countries’ support for the "Israeli aggression. " Under international pressure, Israel and Hamas declared separate cease-fires in the Gaza Strip after a 22-day Israeli offensive. Meshal claimed "unequivocal victory" over Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, saying it would. . .

Maghreb states could quit Med Union over Gaza
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
TRIPOLI - The five nations of the Arab Maghreb Union (UAM) are reviewing their membership in the newly-formed Mediterranean Union due to Israel’s assault on Gaza, a UAM spokesman said on Wednesday. "UAM countries have begun to review their membership of the Mediterranean Union, of which the Israelis and Palestinians are members, especially after what happened in Gaza," said the spokesman, Libya’s official news agency JANA reported. Libya, current president of the UAM, which also groups Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia, has opposed the Mediterranean Union as a stumbling block to Arab and African unity. After Israel launched its 22-day offensive in Gaza on December 27, official Libyan media expressed virulent opposition to the Mediterranean Union, charging it had led to the war in the impoverished Palestinian enclave.

News in Brief - Turkey denies Defense’s Gilad snubbed official
Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Turkish diplomats yesterday denied a Haaretz report that Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad had refused to meet with an advisor to the Turkish prime minister last week while the two were in Cairo. The diplomats said the meeting failed to take place due to lack of time and not against the backdrop of anti-Israeli comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in recent weeks. Gilad, who is the head of the Defense Ministry’s political-security bureau, has refused to respond to the Haaretz report, but a government source said that Gilad contacted the Turkish ambassador in Israel to confirm that the meeting did not occur due to time constraints. (Barak Ravid) / Barak vacates rented apartment in Ashkelon - Defense Minister Ehud Barak has returned to his luxurious apartment in Tel Aviv’s Akirov. . .

Livni: Israel ready to cooperate on Gaza aid `as far as needed`
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The European Union said it hoped more humanitarian aid could get through to Gaza Strip on Thursday after Israel assured EU officials it would fully cooperate on allowing urgent supplies through. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said after talks with EU officials in Brussels that crossings into Gaza were open for such humanitarian purposes and Israel was ready to cooperate "as far as needed" to ensure vital aid got through. "I am happy to hear what the minister said," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after talks late on Wednesday. "I hope very much that will be reality tomorrow and that the lorries that are necessary to go in. . . can enter into Gaza. " Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, told the same news briefing the EU had won permission. . .

Hamas: Kuwait summit statement 'weak'
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Hamas on Wednesday expressed regret that the Kuwait economic summit’s final statement was "weak" and did not clearly support Palestinian resistance or adopt a decision to halt normalization with Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, welcomed the statement’s call on Palestinian factions to forge national conciliation on the basis of the Saudi monarch’s initiative. He said that past failures should be taken as a lesson and the Arab parties involved in the dialogue should only serve as patrons and not parties to it. He clarified that those parties should stand at equal distance from all Palestinian factions and to recognize all Palestinian legitimacies and not to favor one at the expense of another. The spokesman expressed disappointment at the outcome of the summit in general, saying that it was less than the expectations as regarding the Gaza situation.

Radwan: Ban Ki-moon not balanced in his stand regarding war on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/21/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Wednesday charged the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, of being biased in his position regarding the Israeli occupation forces’ war on the Gaza Strip. Dr. Ismail Radwan, one of the Hamas leaders in Gaza, said in a press statement that Ban Ki-moon was as usual making the culprit and the victim equal when he compared the Israeli raids with the crude resistance’s missiles. He added that the Secretary General was content with visiting the UN headquarters in Gaza, which were targeted in the IOF aggression, and did not meet those targeted by the aggression. Ban Ki-moon did not bother to visit the other sites of the Israeli inflicted holocaust in the Strip to realize the immensity of the Israeli destruction, Radwan elaborated. He described the UN top official’s visit to Gaza as "symbolic" that was meant to avoid criticism.

PA hosts Latin American ambassadors in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestine’s undersecretary at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ahmad Subih, met ambassadors to the West Bank at his office in Ramallah on Wednesday. Subih hosted the ambassadors to Palestine from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela for talks on the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and about Israel’s assault, in general. The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Munjid Salih, an advisor on Latin American affairs, joined the talks alongside the undersecretary, as well. Subih told his guests that Israel’s aggression “is not random, but rather planned and well-studied. ”In fact, even Israel’s former defense minister, Amir Peretz, told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz the invasion it was planned during his tenure. Ehud Barak is Israel’s current defense minister. Subih insisted that Israel’s intention is to “completely separate the Gaza Strip from. . .

Blair: Quartet ready to talk to Hamas if it recognizes Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said that the international Quartet would be willing to deal with Hamas if it recognizes Israel. "The Quartet has always said it is prepared to talk to Hamas provided that Hamas is part of a government that is on terms that are consistent with the two-state solution," said Blair, who represents the Quartet, a diplomatic grouping of the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations. "The issue is not whether we talk to Hamas or not. The issue is whether there is a basis for talking that allows us to make progress on the two-state solution," he told reporters on the sideline of an energy summit in Abu Dhabi. The Quartet has endorsed a US proposal called the Roadmap that calls for a Palestinian state coexisting peacefully alongside a secure Israel.

Hezbollah congratulates Hamas for defeating Israel in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hezbollah congratulated Hamas leader in exile Khaled Masha’al and the Palestinian people on Wednesday for their “triumph” against invading Israeli forces in Gaza. In a telephone call to Mash’al, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah applauded Palestinian sacrifices in the Gaza Strip, highlighting that Israel’s “defeat” in Gaza marked the second defeat of Israeli forces in as many years, referring to the July 2006 war in Lebanon. Mash’al thanked Nasrallah for Hezbollah’s “unwavering support for the Palestinian resistance,” insisting that the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance both face “the same challenges and same destiny. ”On Tuesday, Nasrallah phoned the secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, congratulating him on the “defeat of Israeli forces. ”

Court: Rightist march in Arab town can be held after election
Eli Ashkenazi and Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 1/21/2009
The High Court on Wednesday ruled that a march by far-rightists through the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm could go ahead after February’s general election. The ruling came after extremists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel in December petitioned the court when police decided to delay the demonstration until further notice. The State Prosecutor’s Office argued that the march needed to be deferred until after the election because of the recent hostilities in Gaza and the deteriorating security situation in Israel. Justice Edmond Levy asked the prosecution, "If a group wished to demonstrate today for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the demonstrators were waving Israeli and Palestinian flags, and threats were heard against from this or that side - would you also say this march needed to. . . "

Obama’s Middle East policy could take cues from Northern Ireland experience
Jonathan Freedland in Washington, The Guardian 1/21/2009
If Barack Obama appoints George Mitchell as Middle East envoy, he will signal that he sees sectarian divisions in Ulster as relevant to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - If the rumours prove founded, and Barack Obama appoints former US senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy, he will not only have chosen one of the few international figures with a proven record as a peacemaker: he will also have signaled that he sees the Northern Ireland experience as relevant to, even a model for, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For while Mitchell has some experience of the Middle East - chairing an international commission of inquiry into the sequence of events of late 2000 that sparked the second intifada - his greatest achievement was the brokering of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Appointed by Bill Clinton as a special envoy to Northern Ireland in 1995, he embarked

Waging the web wars
Riyaad Minty, Al Jazeera 1/21/2009
Debates on the Gaza war have moved from traditional media to online social networking sites Propaganda has always played an important role in the way war is waged. Using the available traditional media platforms - such as television, radio and print - governments have battled for mindshare in an attempt to convince the public that military engagements are serving their best interests. Over time, new communication technologies have forced governments to realign their propaganda campaigns. In the modern age of warfare, government spokespersons have provided major news networks the opportunity to engage, question and dissect domestic, foreign and military policies. However, the recent war in Gaza has pushed the boundaries of traditional media as the debate on the conflict opened a new front - online. Though television has continued to provide viewers with in-depth coverage of the conflict, it did not sufficiently allow the average, frustrated person on the street to express their views.

Obama ’selects Middle East envoy’
Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
Barack Obama, the US president, is set to name George Mitchell, former peace negotiator in Northern Ireland as US special envoy for the Middle East, diplomatic sources have said. The White House is set to announce the appointment of Mitchell, who served as Democratic senate majority leader from 1989 to 1995 under Bill Clinton and George Bush, the sources said on Wednesday. He is best known for helping to broker Northern Ireland’s historic Good Friday agreement in 1998 which ended decades of bloody conflict. In 2000, he also presided over a committee investigating the ongoing violence of the Middle East conflict and recommended Palestinians do more to stop attacks on Israel and an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land. The White House is expected to announce the decision later on Wednesday or on Thursday, media reports said.

A return to Clinton
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
In an interview in Tel Aviv last month with U. S. President Barack Obama’s designated Mideast envoy, George Mitchell said it was crucial for the American president and Israeli prime minister to have a secure and trusting relationship. Sovereign statesinevitably have difference of opinion over tactics and timing, and that shouldn’t worry anyone, he said. But, he added, when it comes to the key issues - like a comprehensive and stable peace between Israel and its neighbors and getting Iran to turn away from nuclear weapons - it’s important for the American and Israeli leaders to cooperate and agree on objectives and strategy. Mitchell spoke in Tel Aviv about the American perspective on the U. S. -Israel alliance in the new administration at a December conference sponsored by the Institute for National Security Studies.

Obama contacts Middle East leaders
Al Jazeera 1/21/2009
Barack Obama, the US president, has contacted four Middle Eastern leaders on his first full day in office. Among the first leaders he contacted on Wednesday was Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, who has been under intense political pressure since Israel launched its 22-day war on the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Obama went on to hold telephone conversations with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president. He also spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said: "He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued co-operation and leadership. Obama was sworn in as US president two days after Israel and Hamas called separate unilateral ceasefires after a three-week Israeli offensive in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister says Obama will strengthen Israel-US relationship
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
The US has long had a ’special relationship’ with Israel, which has included financial and military ties, economic ties, and wholehearted US support for every Israeli endeavor. Now, with the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the US President, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is convinced that the relationship and American-Israeli colaboration will increase even more. The Inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday follows a little-publicized part of the negotiated Israeli ceasefire that began on Saturday, in which outgoing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed off on a commitment to provide US military and intelligence resources to the Israeli military to assist in the Israeli occupation of Gaza. This security cooperation agreement will continue through the Obama administration. In comments to the press on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated, "The entire. . . "

Ramon: Israel need not fear Obama’s plan to talk to Iran
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said on Wednesday that Israel had nothing to fear from United States President Barack Obama’s stated intention to talk to Iran. "Let’s not fear President Obama," Ramon told Israel Radio, speaking a day after Obama was sworn in as the 44th U. S. president. Ramon said the talks should not be a cause of concern, since Obama intended to use them in order to tell Tehran that it would not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. In reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the vice premier added: "I am convinced that President Obama and his team want to achieve what is essential to Israel - two states for two peoples. "Ramon’s comments came as Iran’s Foreign Minister urged Obama to change American policies in the Middle East but said Iran will wait before making any specific judgments about the new president’s positions on Iran.

ADL: Obama’s inauguration revives hopes for new era of Jewish-black relations
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/21/2009
Even before Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, Jewish groups across the U. S. voiced hope that the historic event would bring about a new era in black-Jewish relations. The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday called Obama’s inauguration as the first African-American president "historic" and "a milestone in the history of the nation. ""The inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president is a true milestone in our history and it is, in one sense, a realization of the dream," the ADL said in a statement. "And yet the struggle to rise above hatred, prejudice and bigotry continues. ""We join with President Obama in his hopes that ’the old hatreds shall someday pass’ and that America will play a role in ushering in a new era of peace," said the ADL.

White House: Obama determined to help consolidate Gaza truce
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/21/2009
U. S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday called four Middle East leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to express his commitment to be actively engaged in the path toward Middle East peace. The White House said in a statement that Obama was determined to help consolidate a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and would pursue an active role in reaching a Middle East settlement. During their phone conversation, Obama promised Olmert that he would work together with Israel to halt the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Olmert, meanwhile, congratulated Obama on his inauguration and said that the ceremony had very much touched all of Israel. Olmert also updated Obama on the situation in the Gaza Strip, following Israel’s three-week offensive there.

Obama pledges to work for peace in call to Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – US President Barack Obama pledged to work for lasting peace in a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday. Abbas congratulated Obama on becoming president at his inauguration a day earlier. Abbas also urged the American president to work for peace and justice in the Middle East according to international law. Senior Palestinian negotiator Sa’eb Erekat said that Obama assured him that he will work with the Palestinian President towards peace in the region. Obama later called Israeli Prime Minister Olmert but Israeli media did not report the content of their conversation. [end]

Obama phones Abbas, vows to boost peace process
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
The new US president, Barrack Obama, phoned on Wednesday the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and informed him that his administration will be a full partner in the Middle East peace process. The While House said that Obama also phoned Israeli, Jordanian and Egyptian leaders, and vowed to them to be actively involved in the Middle East in an attempt to achieve a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Obama for his inauguration, and urged him to act for a comprehensive peace based on justice, international legitimacy and the Arab peace Initiative. Senior Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, said that Obama told Abbas that his administration will be a full and real partner for peace in the region. Spokesperson of the Palestinian Presidency, Nabil Abu Rodeina, stressed on the Arab Peace Initiative as the key for a comprehensive. . .

The Return of Dennis Ross
The Middle East Times, MIFTAH 1/21/2009
The return of veteran U. S. peace envoy Dennis Ross to his old beat on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process should receive a qualified welcome across the region: Ross and the policies of reconciliation that he can be guaranteed to energetically promote will be a vast improvement on the malign neglect of the past eight years practiced by President George W. Bush. . . . Middle East governments should also be warned that during his long career, Ross has shown zero interest in any other issue in the region outside the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and no real familiarity with any of them either. Indeed, when he served first President George Herbert Walker Bush and then Clinton, he was accused of seeking to sideline knowledgeable and experienced U. S. Foreign Service officers whose expertise might possibly pose a challenge to his monopoly of the secretary of state’s ear on foreign policy issues.

Iran urges Obama to change U.S. foreign policy in Mideast
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Iran’s Foreign Minister on Wednesday urged U. S. President Barack Obama to change American policies in the Middle East but said Iran will wait before making any specific judgments about Obama’s positions on Iran. Manouchehr Mottaki is quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Wednesday that Iran will wait for practical policies from the new American president before making any judgment about Obama’s stance on Iran. Mottaki also said Wednesday that resistance groups around the world like those in Gaza had the right to have access to weapons to fight against "colonialists. ""A government or a people who would like to defend themselves, it is very natural they will do their utmost to get weapons from whatever place possible," Mottaki said in a speech on the conflict in Gaza.

Report: Olmert Privately Proposed Division of Jerusalem to Arab Leaders
Akiva Eldar, MIFTAH 1/21/2009
Were Ehud Olmert running in the upcoming election, his spokesmen would most likely hasten to deny the revelation of the Ir Amim organization, according to which the outgoing prime minister proposed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Jerusalem be divided along lines that strongly resemble the Clinton outline of December 2000. Ir Amim’s annual report, released on Monday, states that, according to a number of reliable sources, the text of the proposal that Olmert presented to Abbas and the leaders of a small number of Arab states, reads, "The Jewish neighborhoods will be under Israeli sovereignty and the Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty. The historic basin [of the Old City] will be administered under a special regime that will include representatives of the relevant sides. Free access to the holy places will be maintained. "

Court reverses election ban on Arab parties
Tomer Zarchin Yoav Stern and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The High Court of Justice yesterday overruled a parliamentary panel which had decided to bar the Israeli Arab parties United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running in next month’s parliamentary election. The court ruled to accept a petition by Arab politicians against last week’s decision by the Central Election Committee to ban their parties from running, with a minority opinion by Justice Edmond Levy. The reasons for the decision will be published at a later date. The Central Election Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion last week, accusing the country’s Arab parties of incitement, support for armed struggle against Israel and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. During the hearing, Justice Levy asked attorney Hassan Jabarin of the minority rights organization Adalah, who represented the. . .

Israeli Supreme Court voids ban on participation of Arab parties in National Elections
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/21/2009
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported on Wednesday that the Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling voiding a order barring Arab parties in Israel from participating in the parliamentary elections which will be held in Israeli next month. The ruling was made after several Arab political leaders filed an appeal against the ban. Arab member of Knesset, Ahmad Tibi, said that this decision is "a defeat to fascism", and added that discrimination is deeply rooted in Israel, therefore the "battle is not quite finished", Haaretz reported. The United Arab List and the Balad parties were banned from participating in the elections after the Central Elections Committee issued an order last week in this regard. Arab parties objected against the ruling and described its as a form of fascism. The Central Elections Committee accused Arab parties of "incitement, supporting terrorist groups and of refusing to recognize Israel", Haaretz said.

Israeli court allows two Arab parties to compete in election
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The Israeli The High Court of Justice overturned on Wednesday a decision to bar two key Arab parties from upcoming parliamentary elections. Israel’s Central Elections Committee had banned Balad and United Arab List-Ta’al on the grounds that neither “recognized Israel as the Jewish homeland. ”Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, appealed the decision to the High Court of Justice, on behalf of both parties. "We have beaten fascism," said Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi, of the United Arab List. "This fight is over but the battle is not. Racism has become a trend in Israel… the court’s decision has righted a wrong by Kadima and Labor. " Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who was asked to prepare a brief on the matter for the court, said Monday that he saw no grounds to prevent the Arab parties from taking part in the elections.

Scout troops go door to door for Gaza in Beit Sahour
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Scout troops in a predominantly Christian town in the West Bank have organized a campaign collecting donations for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Scouts from 40 different troops affiliated to Orthodox Christian and Catholic communities went door to door in their scout uniforms collecting money. The scout troops said in a statement that they condemn the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. [end]

BAN Achinoam Nini (Noa) from participating at Gaza Charity Event!
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 1/21/2009
Call to Kill the Parents and Volunteer to Sing for the Children - We, the undersigned, demand that Achinoam Nini be barred from participating in the Gaza charity event scheduled for Friday, January 23, 2009  at "Levontin 7" in Tel Aviv. In an open letter to the Palestinian people, Israeli singer Ahinoam Nini wrote: "I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas. " Today, after her wish has been fulfilled, and the Israeli army "GOT RID" of over 1300 Palestinians, over 400 of them children, over 100 of them women, and injured more than 5000, Ahinoam Nini wants to share the stage at a charity performance for the sake of Gaza’s children? -- See also: Noa writes open letter to Gazans

Report: Arms smuggling into Gaza continued during Israel’s offensive
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
RAFAH, EGYPT - Although the Israeli air force bombed the Phildelphi corridor along the border thousands of times during the course of the Cast Lead campaign, smugglers acknowledge that some tunnels running under the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip have remained in use, and were in operation even during the fighting. Contrary to media reports, the Israeli air force apparently did not use more powerful bunker-busting bombs to destroy the tunnels, rather than regular explosives. Tunnels lined with wood reinforcement have been especially resistant to air force bombing raids. Smugglers manage to transfer merchandise, drugs and weapons through tunnels dug under the Philadelphi corridor. According to residents of Rafah, the reinforced tunnels were even used during the Israeli military offensive to smuggle in a group of German doctors who wanted to provide medical care to Gaza residents.

Under the border with Egypt, Gaza’s smugglers return to work
Rory McCarthy in Rafah, The Guardian 1/21/2009
Flow of goods begins after owners make repairs • Key Israeli war aim had been to destroy network - Dozens of Gazan smugglers were back on the border with Egypt today openly repairing and restarting tunnels between the two territories after three weeks of intense Israeli air strikes. There were deep impact craters in the soil just a few hundred yards from the border, but many of the tunnels appeared to be at least partly intact. Several tents covering tunnel entrances were still standing, though most were pockmarked by shrapnel. Bulldozers were clearing away sand as men dug for the wood-reinforced wells that descend around 15 metres from the surface into the tunnels. Israel set as one of its war aims in Gaza the destruction hundreds of tunnels that have brought goods in from Egypt for several years. Most of what arrived was food, cigarettes, fuel, even farm animals - all intended to break

Egypt bent at the border
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 1/21/2009
CAIRO (IPS) - Tens of thousands of houses inside the Gaza Strip were destroyed by air strikes and artillery during Israel’s recently concluded military campaign. Areas along Egypt’s border with the hapless enclave, meanwhile, have not been immune from the devastation. "Dozens of homes on the Egyptian side of the border were badly damaged as a result of nearby Israeli air strikes," Hatem al-Bulk, journalist and political activist, told IPS. "Most people living within two kilometers of the frontier have left for safer locations. " From the launch of Israel’s campaign on 27 December until a ceasefire declaration Saturday, 17 January, the 14-kilometer border area between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was hit by hundreds of Israeli air strikes. Israeli officials say the attacks targeted tunnels allegedly used for smuggling weapons into Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Top Israeli negotiator meets with Egyptian officials in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The head of Israel’s military police within the Defense Ministry is scheduled to meet his Egyptian intelligence counterpart a day before Hamas officials arrive for talks, according to Israel Radio. Political-Military Policy chief Amos Gilad will join Omar Sulaiman, the director of Egyptian Intelligence, Israel Radio reported, adding that the two would discuss implementing Egypt’s plan for a stable ceasefire. The two men will particularly discuss the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, all but completed by Wednesday morning, as well as the reopening of Gaza’s border crossings. On source explained that Egypt would deliver a message from Gilad to Hamas’s delegation the following day. He added that Gilad would insist on an end to weapons smuggling between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in the absence of international monitors.

Egypt rejects European naval forces in its waters
Ma’an News Agency 1/21/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egypt rejected on Wednesday any suggestion of deploying European naval forces in its territorial waters in an effort to stop alleged weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit said that Egypt would maintain full control over its own waters. European states have signaled they are prepared to send warships to the eastern Mediterranean in an effort to stop arms shipments from reaching the Hamas government of Gaza. The Gaza Strip has been under a total Israeli and Egyptian blockade by land sea and air for nearly two years. [end]

How did Kadima lose four seats in one week?
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
A Channel 2 election poll revealed on Wednesday that Likud has opened a significant lead over Kadima, which stands at eight seats. According to the poll, in next month’s general election Likud will win 30 seats, as opposed to 22 for Kadima. Labor under Defense Minister Ehud Barak wins 14 seats, as opposed to 16 in last week’s poll. Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu has gained unprecedented popularity, and now wins 16 seats. Shas grows stronger too, and wins 11 seats. It is yet to be determined to what extent the support for the Arab parties Balad and Ra’am-Ta’al has been influenced by Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold their right to run. So far they win three and two seats respectively. Another poll showed on Wednesday that Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is favored by the largest proportion of the voters to lead the country in case the violence in Gaza resumes. He wins the support of 34 percent of the people surveyed, as opposed to 17 percent that favor Tzipi Livni.

Rabbinate stalls on protected hospital wing
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The conflict over moving ancient human remains discovered at the construction site of an Ashkelon hospital emergency room slated to be reinforced against rockets has been resurrected. The renewed debate follows the apparent back-tracking of the Chief Rabbinate on its decision to allow the bones, discovered at Barzilai Medical Center, to be moved to another site. The Chief Rabbinate yesterday asked the Prime Minister’s Office for a two-week extension before officially announcing its decision, originally made last week, to allow the re-interment of the ancient bones. A source in the Chief Rabbinate said the delay was needed to "obtain further clarifications," however, the change seems due to internal ultra-Orthodox politics. A halakhic (Jewish law) decision published yesterday by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and two other ultra-Orthodox rabbis holding. . .

Pensioner wannabes?
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 1/21/2009
No fewer than 34 political parties submitted lists of candidacies to the Central Elections Committee for a spot in the next Knesset. Most of them are ostensibly known and familiar to the public. But the voter who stands in the polling booth on February 10, assuming that the elections will not be postponed, will find additional paper ballots belonging to tiny parties alongside the familiar big-party slips. Unfortunately for these parties, nobody has heard of them. Up until three weeks ago, each of these parties toiled on their campaigns that perhaps could have yielded a breakthrough into the public consciousness. Now, after the fighting in Gaza threw a monkey wrench into all their plans, and given the minuscule budgets at their disposal, they are pursuing every avenue and every which way in order to garner attention, recognition, and if possible, voters.

Internet exec, famous lawyer and gym coach among 10 suspects in sex assault on preteen
Yuval Goren, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Israel police have arrested at least ten men suspected of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy. Police also said that at the house of one of the suspects they arrested a prominent attorney, who was allegedly in possession of the amphetamine-like drug Hagigat. A gag order on the case was lifted yesterday, revealing that the suspects include a leading individual in the Internet industry and a well-known sports coach. The affair began about two years ago when, at age 13, the boy allegedly posted a page on the gay Web site Atraf, in which he stated his age as 18 and posted a picture of himself without his shirt and wearing sunglasses, saying he wanted to meet men. Police said the boy received many replies, among them from nine of the men now under arrest in the case, and other men who have not yet been located.

Pumping from Kinneret halted as water drops to critical level
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
The pumping of water from Lake Kinneret, which serves as Israel’s primary water reservoir, was halted on Monday as water levels reached just 40 cm above the critical "black line," below which all pumping is forbidden. Pumping was stopped as Israel suffers the driest winter season since measurements began in the 1920s. Since the beginning of the rainy season (October), precipitation throughout the country has reached only 50-70% of its average. January, the rainiest month in the season, has seen just 22 mm of rain - 10% of the multi-annual average for the month - in central and northern areas. Without a dramatic change in the meteorological picture, January 2009 is expected to be the driest in recorded history. The Water Authority said this week that there is already an unprecedented shortage in Israel’s water reserves.

Pumping from Kinneret suspended
Lior Baron and Shmuel Dekalo, Globes Online 1/21/2009
13 firms have petitioned the High Court of Justice against a directive banning the watering of gardens. Mekorot National Water Company today suspended the pumping of water from the Kinneret to the National Water Carrier. The water level in the Kinneret has fallen to 214. 38 meters below sea level, just 50 centimeters above the Black Line, which designates irreversible harm. This year’s drought has pushed the Kinneret to an all-time low. Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer today ordered preparations to be made to immediately increase output by desalination plants. "If this drought continues, we’ll have to increase desalination to as much as one billion cubic meters of water," he said during a presentation of Mekorot’s work plan for 2009 today. The government’s current desalination target is 600 million cubic meters of water a year by 2013.

Sderot to get sewage treatment plant
Shira Horesh, Globes Online 1/21/2009
Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer: Construction of sewage treatment plants is vital because of their great importance to the water economy. Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has ordered the construction of a sewage treatment plant at Sderot, after a series of meetings with Mayor David Buskila. The plant will be a joint facility of the municipality and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. The NIS 45 million sewage treatment plant will serve both households and industry in the region. The treated wastewater will be used for irrigation. After the detailed blueprint is prepared and a cost-sharing structure is drawn up, the share of the various authorities can be determined. The Sderot municipality has enough money to cover its probable share of the project, with about half the budget coming from government grants to communities near the Gaza Strip.

Delek refutes Lebanese claim to Israeli gas field
Globes Online 1/21/2009
Delek’s chairman said that the Tamar-1 gas field is significantly inside waters belonging to Israel’s exclusive economic zone. Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) chairman Gabi Last has ridiculed claims by Lebanese parliamentarians that part of the Tamar gas prospect may belong to Lebanon. Last said, "The border of Israel’s exclusive economic zone waters passes to the north of the Tamar oil drilling, and significantly so. " Two Delek Group subsidiaries,Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE:DEDR. L ) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE:AVNR. L ) each own 15. 625% in the Tamar prospect. Yitzhak Tshuva is the controlling shareholder in Delek Group. The Tamar 1 well is located 90 kilometers west of Haifa at a total depth of 16,076 feet (4,900 meters) feet.

Zion Oil and Gas completes share offering in US
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/21/2009
The company explores for oil and gas between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Zion Oil & Gas Inc. (AMEX:ZN ) has raised $2. 49 million on Wall Street. The funding was the third of three stages, in which it raised a total of $6. 66 million. The previous two stages were held in October and December of 2008. The company reported that it sold a total of 666,343 units at $10 each. Each unit consisted of one Zion share and one warrant to buy a share. Zion CEO Richard Rinberg said, “With the funds raised in this offering, we now eagerly await the arrival of the 2,000 horsepower drilling rig and the drilling of Zion’s second well, on our Josephl license, to the Triassic Formation (down to a depth of 15,400 feet) and then, we plan, to the Permian Formation (down to a depth below 18,000 feet).

Moody’s reports negative outlook for Israel’s banks
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 1/21/2009
Credit rating agency Moody’s: With some delay, Israel is now feeling the effects of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis. Moody’s Investor Service today issued a report entitled "Negative for Israeli banking system. "The report cited the expected slowdown in the domestic economy and the impact of the global crisis as the reasons for its negative outlook. Moody’s negative outlook for the Israeli banking system expresses the rating agency’s view on the likely future direction of fundamental credit conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months. It does not represent a projection of rating upgrades versus downgrades. Moody’s continued that with some delay, Israel is now feeling the effects of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis. The banking system has been indirectly affected by the increased risk aversion. . .

Tel Aviv-Jaffa population hits all-time high of 391,300
Noah Kosharek, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s population hit an all-time high of 391,300 as of the end of June 2008, according to a new statistical yearbook put out by the municipality’s Center for Economic and Social Research. Most of the yearbook’s statistics relate to 2006 or 2007, and they show that as of 2006, the city’s population was relatively old: Only 17. 4 percent of its residents were children up to age 14, compared to a national average of 28. 3 percent, while 14. 6 percent were 65 and older, compared to a national average of 9. 9 percent. The biggest population sector was the 35 to 44 age group. Fully 41 percent of Tel Aviv’s men were bachelors in 2006, compared to a national average of 34 percent, while 35 percent of its women were unmarried, compared to a national average of 27 percent. Moreover, 21.

Negative forecast for entire Israeli sector
Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Moody’s, the well-known U. S. credit rating company, published a negative outlook for Israeli banks yesterday, further compounding the negative effects of a bad day in the US banking sector the day before that sent local bank share prices sharply down. Moody’s said the rating is a reflection of the expected deterioration in the domestic economic and credit environment under the influence of the global financial crisis. As the negative forecast further weighed down the TA-Banks index, which lost some 6% by the end of the day. All of the major banks lost ground, with Bank Discount shares plunging 8. 2% by the end of a bloody day on the market. Bank Hapoalim shares shed 5. 82%, Mizrahi Bank sank 4. 72% and First International shares got off relatively easy, losing just 3. 42% by the close of trade.

New Israeli tourism intiative calls on Christian pilgrims to pedal the Nazareth - Jerusalem route
Irit Rosenblum, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, head of the Vatican’s pilgrimage organization, last week called upon the faithful to visit the Holy Land and build bridges of dialogue and peace. This May, the Pope himself is scheduled to visit Israel, an event to which the local Tourism Ministry ascribes great importance. The last visit by a Pope in 2000 served as a catalyst for revival of the Israeli tourist industry, which had been beleaguered following the second intifada. The Josp fest, held this year for the first time, is an exhibition of Catholic spiritual tour itineraries sponsored by the Vatican’s official pilgrimage organization - the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, which is seen as the leading organizer of pilgrimages from in Italy to Israel. The exhibition, held January 14 - 18 at the new Rome Fairgrounds under the auspices of the Vatican and the. . .

Number of jobless steady, despite all
Haim Bior and Ido Solomon, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
Despite headlines telling of layoffs in every sector, in reality unemployment didn’t budge in November compared with the previous month. Joblessness stayed steady at 5. 9% of the workforce in November, unchanged from October, the Central Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. That figure means that 175,000 people are out of work and actively seeking jobs. From May to September 2008, unemployment was 6%. However, the indicators are not good. In parallel, the Central Bureau of Statistics said that demand for workers in the business sector plunged in the last quarter of the year as did the number of available jobs. Benny Pfefferman, head of the Research, Planning and Economics Administration at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, warns that the "employment balance" turned negative in the last three months of 2008 for the first time since late 2003.

Treasury wants NIS 500m in IEC employee benefit cuts
Lior Baron and Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/21/2009
At issue is the second extra monthly salary bonus paid to 7,000 of IEC’s 12,400 employees. Another round in the battle between the Ministry of Finance and Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) workers committee has begun. On Monday, Director of Wages Ilan Levin wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker, telling him to abolish employee benefits to the tune of NIS 500 million, subject to a hearing. IEC’s management and workers committee were instructed to respond by February 15. At issue is the second extra monthly salary bonus (the 14th salary) paid to 7,000 of IEC’s 12,400 employees covered by the company’s labor contract, and for the return of NIS 100 million in illegally paid bonuses. Levin also demanded an end to the practice of promoting IEC pensioners by a pay grade every two years after their retirement.

Fischer to cut rates again
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/21/2009
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer is expected to cut interest rates next week by another 50 basis points. Capital market sources expect Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer to announce next week that he is cutting interest rates by another 50 basis points. These sources feel that the deepening recession, deflation and the aggressive lowering of interest rates by other countries worldwide will give Fischer no choice but to make an additional interest rate cut in order to encourage exports. After a 50 basis points cut Israel’s interest rate, already the lowest in the country’s history, would be 1. 25%. The rate has been cut from 4. 25% in September. [end]

Central Israel feels light earthquake
Globes Online 1/21/2009
The epicenter was about 40 kilometers off the coast. A light earthquake was felt in central Israel today. According to the Seismology Division at the Geophysical Institute of Israel, the earthquake measured 3. 6 on the Richter scale. There were no reported injuries or damage. The epicenter was in the Mediterranean Sea, about 40 kilometers off the coast of Hadera. In June, the Seismology Division at the Geophysical Institute of Israel warned that the probability of a strong earthquake in the north had measurably increased, and noted then that 500 tremors in the preceding two months pointed to extraordinary seismological activity. [end]

Arab League, OIC ink cooperation pact
Middle East Online 1/21/2009
RIYADH - The Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference Wednesday sealed an agreement to cooperate in areas from politics to economy and science. The accord brings closer two of the most influential organisations in the Islamic world, with the Arab League representing 22 Middle East states and the OIC 57 members and 1. 5 billion Muslims worldwide. They agreed to develop Arab-Islamic relations "to preserve and develop mutual interests and to resist colonialism, Zionism and racism, exploitation and terrorism in all its forms," the two organisations said in a joint statement. They also agreed to regularly exchange views on political issues of interest to Arab and Islamic countries, to allow each other’s observers at their meetings, and to meet to coordinate positions and policies ahead of international forums such as the UN General Assembly.


Profound psychological damage in Gaza
Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/21/2009
      The streets leading from the seriously-damaged Wafa rehabilitation center in Shejaiyeh were filled with black filth smelling of sewage. The hospital -- attacked on 12 January with a chemical bomb that may well have been white phosphorus and which set fire to the roof, and whose four different buildings were shelled intensely on 15 January -- is trying to rebuild and reopen, as is the shelled, burned, seriously-damaged al-Quds hospital in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City.
     Even today, after mentioning to the Canadian TV crew accompanying me that fire blobs had burned up ’til yesterday, we found still more blobs spread out, smoldering and willingly breaking into white smoking fires anew. I have seen this often enough now. They were impressed by it, by the fact that it’s now eight days after the fire and the blobs are still simmering, smoldering, ready to flame up.
     The Red Crescent team of the north of Gaza had gathered at the Ezbet Abed Rabu station, to cut swathes of transparent plastic into lengths to be further cut to fit glass-less windows, blown out in the bombings on and around the houses. This is the first step in providing some immediate relief from the cold. For the homeless, however, I don’t know what will be offered, or if tents are available.

Up to 200 still missing under Gaza’s rubble
Erin Cunningham, Electronic Intifada 1/21/2009
      GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - A pillow, a belt, a child’s school bag and pages of a torn copy of the Quran lie in the wreckage of the al-Daa family home in al-Zeitoun, a neighborhood of Gaza City. Twenty-four members of the family were killed when an F-16 fighter jet dropped a bomb on their house. Nine bodies still lie under what is now just a massive pancake of concrete, metal wires and death.
     "There were no Hamas fighters here," said Zohair al-Raay, a neighbor of the al-Daa family. "Where are the weapons? Where are the missiles? The al-Daa family had nothing to do with that."
     Eyad al-Daa, father of 32, was found clutching three small children in the stairwell.
     As the ceasefire continues to hold, the sheer scale of the destruction in the Gaza Strip is finally emerging. The deadly, three-week assault by Israel has been devastating.
     Generations of families are vanished, and entire villages now destroyed. Many of the dead are still buried beneath the rubble, their neighbors and relatives left with no way to retrieve them.
     In one of the most harrowing incidents, 35 members of the Samuni family were killed in al-Zeitoun by an F-16. The surviving members dug the bodies out on Sunday, the first day of the ceasefire.

Gaza Rises from Ashes
Ola Attallah – Gaza City, Palestine Chronicle 1/21/2009
      It was very early in the morning, but Samir was already working hard to remove the rubble from outside his clothes store in Gaza.
     But for his surprise, minutes after opening the store, he had the first customer of the day show up.
     "Gaza, reeling under destruction and pain, is still alive," Samir told
     Across the coastal enclave, devastated by 22 days of massive Israeli air, land and sea bombing, people are quickly picking up what’s left of their lives.
     Just like Samir, Hamed came out with his wooden carriage laden with fresh vegetables and fruits, not expecting to find buyers.
     In just one hour, everything was sold.
     People, imprisoned for three weeks inside their own homes by the Israeli bombing, were thirsty and hungry for life.
     A few meters away, kids were out in force playing football amid the rubbles of their homes and schools.
     "Come on, let’s play," Marawan, a 10-year-old, told his friends.
     "The warplanes are gone."

Israel’s right to defend itself
Joseph Massad, Electronic Intifada 1/20/2009
      Common Western political wisdom has it that when Western countries support Israeli military action against Arab countries or the Palestinian people, they do so because they support Israel’s right to defend itself against its enemies.
     This has always been established wisdom in Israel itself, even before the colonial settlement was established, wherein its predatory army is ironically named the Israel Defense Forces, not unlike the South African apartheid army, which was also known as the South African Defense Forces. This defensive nomenclature is hardly exclusive to Israel and South Africa, as many countries rushed after World War II to rename their Ministries of "War" as Ministries of "Defense." Still, Israel’s allegedly defensive actions define every single war the colonial settlement has ever engaged in, even and especially when it starts these wars, which it has done in all cases except in 1973.
     Thus the war of 1948 which Zionist militias started against the Palestinian people on 30 November 1947, a day after a Western-controlled United Nations General Assembly issued the Partition Plan, is presented as "defensive," as was its expulsion of about 400,000 Palestinians before 15 May 1948, i.e. before the day on which three Arab armies (the Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraqi armies) invaded the area that became Israel (Lebanon hardly had an army to invade with and hardly managed to retrieve two Lebanese villages that Israel had occupied, and Jordanian forces only entered the areas designated by the UN plan for the Palestinian state, and East Jerusalem which was projected to fall under UN jurisdiction).

Self-defence is no defence
Michael Paulin, The Guardian 1/21/2009
      As more testimony emerges from the ruins of Gaza, evidence is stacking up that Israel has a war crimes case to answer
     Under Article 51 of the UN Charter, a state can take military action without the prior authorisation of the Security Council if it is acting in self-defence. Yet, as CNN has reported, it was Israel – and not Hamas fighters – that broke the ceasefire. On the November 4 2008, Israel shelled the villages of Wadi al-Salqa and al-Qarara, killing six Hamas activists.
     It is true that Israel has suffered from Hamas rocket attacks. Insofar as these attacks indiscriminately target civilian areas, Hamas would be guilty of war crimes under the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Yet, in the past eight years, Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza have killed around 20 people in southern Israel. Israel’s response is neither necessary nor proportionate.
     At the time of writing, after 23 days of bombardment, more than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, including 410 children and 104 women, while 5,300 are seriously injured, of whom 1,855 are children and 795 women. Israel has shelled three clearly marked UN schools, the existence and GPS coordinates of which Israel had been repeatedly notified. Israel has shelled the headquarters of UNRWA, the UN’s relief agency (which is responsible with providing aid to 750,000 Palestinians), and it has shelled and bombed hospitals, ambulances, and medical personnel. In typical Israeli fashion, it has bulldozed homes without warning in an attempt to bury the inhabitants alive. Recent UN human rights reports expose that the Israeli army has deliberately used white phosphorus on civilians, which is prohibited "in all circumstances" under Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and evidence has emerged that Israeli snipers have deliberately targeted civilians.

View from Ramallah / Israeli refuseniks confront the IDF, from Ni’lin to Tel Aviv
Jesse Rosenfeld, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
      I had just returned to Tel Aviv from a demonstration in the West Bank village of Ni’lin last July, when I caught word that the Israeli military had shot 11-year old Ahmad Musa in the head during a protest against the separation wall. Twenty minutes later, three Israeli anarchists and I were speeding back to the West Bank to see what had happened.
     Soon we were again in the West Bank, where Israeli suburban-like settlements interrupt Palestinian farmland and villages. Apart from the occasional phone call by the activists to spread the word, we drove mostly in a stifling silence of despair.
     As we were waved through a military checkpoint by an Israeli soldier with an M16 dangling carelessly around her neck, activist Yonatan Pollack kicked the glove compartment. "Fucking child killers," he spat out.
     On November 7, Haaretz reported that the army had requested that the Shin Bet - Israel’s domestic spy network and internal security service - provide information on left-wing Israeli activists traveling to the West Bank.

Investigate now
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
      In the aftermath of the war, the questions arise. Now, as the last IDF soldiers leave the Gaza Strip and the plumes of smoke and dust dissipate over the ruins, the picture of the war starts becoming clearer.
     The first wave of international journalists has already succeeded in entering Gaza through Rafah, despite the outrageous closure which Israel has imposed on coverage of the events. They are already reporting on the sites they are witnessing for the most important global media outlets. International aid organizations have also started investigating what transpired on the streets of Gaza.
     The questions are plentiful and troubling: the mass killing of civilians, among them 300 children and 100 women; the shooting at medical crews; the use of illegal munitions against a civilian population, including white phosphorus shells; the prevention of the evacuation of wounded; bombing and shelling of schools, hospitals, supply convoys and a UN facility. These questions cannot remain unanswered. The suspicion that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza is liable to cause it great damage.

Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
      On the morrow of the return of the last Israeli soldier from Gaza, we can determine with certainty that they had all gone out there in vain. This war ended in utter failure for Israel.
     This goes beyond the profound moral failure, which is a grave matter in itself, but pertains to its inability to reach its stated goals. In other words, the grief is not complemented by failure. We have gained nothing in this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and the besmirching of Israel’s image.
     What seemed like a predestined loss to only a handful of people at the onset of the war will gradually emerge as such to many others, once the victorious trumpeting subsides.
     The initial objective of the war was to put an end to the firing of Qassam rockets. This did not cease until the war’s last day. It was only achieved after a cease-fire had already been arranged. Defense officials estimate that Hamas still has 1,000 rockets.
     The war’s second objective, the prevention of smuggling, was not met either. The head of the Shin Bet security service has estimated that smuggling will be renewed within two months.

Teaching the piano to sing in Nablus
Noam Ben Ze'ev, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
      NABLUS - An improvised road block. An armored jeep to the right. An armed soldier making circles in the air with his finger. These were the first sights that greeted the conductor, pianist and world-renowned musicologist Joshua Rifkin on his sortie to the West Bank last Shabbat. The soldier’s finger was pointing downward, and car after car that approached him turned around accordingly, heading back the way it had come. There was no entry to the small village on the outskirts of Nablus, through which all travelers must pass, on the only road leading from Jerusalem to the city’s main checkpoint.
     There is no way past the soldier, and no talking to him either, but we have to reach Nablus. Rifkin has been planning this visit for three months, so I motion to the soldier from a distance, from inside the car, asking that I be allowed to come closer, to speak to him. "Yalla, get lost. I’ve had enough of your nonsense," he shouts at us, angrily gesturing at us in response.
     What can we do? Others who have been turned and have gathered on the slope of the road in front of the road block in semi-despair, offer their advice. A taxi driver from the village offers to drive us around the village on a dirt road, for NIS 70. We go with him, zigzagging along a winding, hilly, bumpy road riddled with potholes, and suddenly the impromptu road block is behind us, and we are on the main road to the city.

Israel and the white heat of justice
John Palmer, The Guardian 1/21/2009
      A political solution for Gaza must not preclude the investigation of war crimes, including Israel’s use of white phosphorus.
     Amnesty International has now joined the United Nations and Human Rights Watch in accusing the Israeli government of breaking international law outlawing the use of white phosphorus shells in the middle of highly populated areas of Gaza. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, has condemned Israeli attacks on UN humanitarian centres in Gaza as "outrageous" and has called for an independent, international inquiry.
     Meanwhile a senior minister in the Israeli government has been quoted in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying that when the full extent of the destruction brought on Gaza becomes known "I will not be taking my holidays in Amsterdam". This possibly "humorous" observation referred to the possibility that leaders of the Israeli government may yet be arraigned before the International Criminal Court in The Hague – or a similar tribunal - to answer charges of war crimes.
     Indeed some 300 human rights organisations have already prepared an initial 37-page dossier to be presented to the court. At the same time, in a move which could be equally damaging to the international standing of the Israeli government, a number of United Nations humanitarian agencies have insisted that there must be an independent, internationally approved, legal inquiry into the prima facie evidence of crimes committed. It is clear now that Israeli shelling and missile attacks – including those on UN facilities used as shelters for civilians during the war – have taken many hundreds of innocent civilian lives.

Message from the Church of God in Gaza
Fr Manuel Mussallam - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 1/21/2009
      Note: A message has arrived from courageous and widely admired pastor of the Catholic Church in Gaza, Fr Manuel Mussallam, written on 20 January, speaking of the plight of his community in the wake of the Israelis’ vicious assault. Here is what this veteran of the long struggle says.
     From the Church of God in Gaza: Peace and blessings upon you, as we pray to God to lift man’s anger and shower Gaza with his mercy and kindness.
     Gaza was suffering prior to the war, it suffered during the war and it will continue to suffer after the war.
     Hundreds of people have been killed and many more injured in the Israeli invasion. Our people have endured the bombing of their homes, their crops have been destroyed, they have lost everything and many are now homeless. We have endured phosphorus bombs which have caused horrific burns, mainly to civilians. Like the early Christians our people are living through a time of great persecution, a persecution which we must record for future generations as a statement of their faith, hope and love.
     Many families fled to United Nations (UNRWA) schools where they thought they would be safe. But with 50-60 people to a room, no electricity, water, bedding or food and nowhere to wash, living conditions are terrible.
     Emergency aid has not yet arrived at the Church and because they are too frightened to venture onto the streets our people cannot reach the warehouses which hold Red Cross and UNRWA relief supplies. We trust in God but appeal to the whole world and in particular the Church to help Gaza. Your prayers and your kindness will be our salvation.

Worse Than an Earthquake
Kathy Kelly – Rafah, Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 1/21/2009
      Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza’s coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel’s ultra modern unmanned surveillance planes criss-cross the skies. F16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground.
     Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.
     “Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake,” said a doctor at the Shifaa hospital in Gaza. “We feel very frustrated,” he continued. “The West, Europe and the U.S., watched this killing go on for 22 days, as though they were watching a movie, watching the killing of women and children without doing anything to stop it. I was expecting to die at any moment. I held my babies and expected to die. There was no safe place in Gaza.”
     He and his colleagues are visibly exhausted, following weeks of work in the Intensive Care and Emergency Room departments at a hospital that received many more patients than they could help. “Patients died on the floor of the operating room because we had only six operating rooms,” said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, M.D, an ICU doctor who grew up in Chicago. “And really we don’t know enough about the kinds of weapons that have been used against Gaza.”

How Israel drowns dissent
Seth Freedman, The Guardian 1/21/2009
      Firefighters turned their hoses on a peaceful anti-war protester last week. Their attitude reflects a worrying shift in public opinion
     Last week, at the height of Operation Cast Lead, a group of Israeli firemen threw their hats into the political ring, albeit in somewhat undiplomatic and uncivilised fashion. During a peaceful anti-war vigil outside a Tel Aviv air force base, several members of the fire brigade turned on one protester, drenching her relentlessly with water from their hoses, before approaching her and ordering her into the station in order to "give us all head".
     Their actions were, while wholly illegal, none the less emblematic of a massive shift in Israeli public opinion over the last few years, according to Sharon Dolev, the woman on the receiving end of the assault. A veteran activist, Dolev has suffered a great deal during her 20 years of campaigning in the Israeli peace camp ("death threats, being shot with rubber bullets, hate mail, beatings"), but said that this incident was "the first time that the establishment felt safe in [taking action such as this]".
     "It used to be a big deal if bus drivers criticised protests and vigils in public," she recalls, "since as employees of the state, they were not allowed to express political opinions in uniform." Now, however, the firemen felt so secure of escaping punishment that they even bombarded her with firecrackers during the attack, telling her "now you know what it’s like to live in Sderot".

In Gaza, love is the strongest weapon
Kathy Kelly writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/21/2009
      18 January 2009 Late last night, a text message notified us that the Israeli government was very close to declaring that they would stop attacking Gaza for one day. Shortly before midnight, we heard huge explosions, four in a row. Till now, that was the last attack. Israeli drones flew overhead all night long, but residents of Rafah were finally able to get eight hours of sleep uninterrupted by F-16s and Apache helicopters attacking them.
     Audrey Stewart, a human rights worker, and I stayed with Abu Yusif and his family, all of whom had fled their home closer to the border and were staying in a home loaned by Abu Yusif’s brother-in-law, who is out of the country.
     The family arose this morning after a comparatively restful slumber.
     For the first time in three weeks, they weren’t attacked by bombs throughout the night. This morning, while his wife Umm Yusif prepared breakfast, Abu Yusif and the children nestled together, on a mat, lining the wall. Abu Yusif had a son under each arm, while the youngest son playfully circled his siblings and then fell into his father’s lap. Umm Yusif prepared a mixture of date preserves and pine nuts, served with warm bread, cheese and spices. Her daughter smiled in contentment, while her nephew, her husband and a close family friend talked about the news.

PM Gordon Brown, Here Is My Shopping List
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 1/20/2009
      Gordon Brown the British PM has managed to come up yesterday with one of his most immoral and irresponsible announcements so far. In his desperate attempt to appease notorious Israeli war criminal leadership, Brown pleaded to redeploy the British Navy in the region. “We’ll send Royal Navy to help fight (weapon) smuggling,” said the British PM.
     Mr PM, can’t you see for yourself the total carnage inflicted on the innocent Palestinian civilians by the IDF? Didn’t you follow, like the rest of us, the horrendous indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians perpetrated by the Israel army while being fully supported by the Israeli Jewish population? Did you also manage to miss the repeated Israeli usage of unconventional weapons against innocent civilians? Did you fail to learn about the repeating reports of Israeli bombardments of UN refugee centres?
     PM Brown, in case you do not realise, the Palestinian people urgently need weapons to defend themselves against one of the strongest armies in the world. It is the Palestinian people who need protection against one of the most immoral military powers in the history of humanity. For the last three weeks the Palestinian people needed the Royal Navy to intervene and protect them from indiscriminate shelling by the Israeli Navy. The Palestinian people needed the Royal Navy to impose a siege on Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports to make it impossible for America to supply Israel with weapon through the sea. The Palestinian people needed the British aircraft carriers to be deployed in the region so they could deter the IAF from dropping one-tonne bombs on innocent civilians.

This Violence in Gaza Has Killed the Moderates
The National - Editorial, MIFTAH 1/20/2009
      After three weeks of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip a ceasefire is finally forthcoming, yet there is little to celebrate. Over 1,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the bombardment of densely populated urban areas. Much of Gaza’s infrastructure, already depleted after six months of crippling economic blockade, is demolished or non-functioning. And this ceasefire contains nothing that ensures that the violence will not resume in the immediate future. For, despite international efforts to impose a bilateral ceasefire on Hamas and Israel, little progress was made. Instead Israel has decided to halt its assault under what it terms a “unilateral ceasefire”, but the move amounts to little more than a face-saving measure.
     It had been hypothesised that Israel’s invasion would end before the inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday to avoid alienating its staunchest ally, the United States, but few realised just how cynically Israel would adhere to that deadline. It was always thought that the attempts to cripple Hamas amounted to little more than a public-relations campaign ahead of the parliamentary elections in February, and the triumphalist rhetoric of the Kadima leadership illustrates the accuracy of that belief. The party, which suffered a severe blow to its credibility with the disastrous conclusion of the 2006 war in Lebanon, has enjoyed a resurgence in support for its actions in Gaza. Tzipi Livni, Kadima’s main prime ministerial candidate, has been eager to capitalise on the invasion to improve her standing against her chief opponent, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sacrosanct State and Complacent West
Jeremy Salt – Ankara, Palestine Chronicle 1/20/2009
      Attack on UN school in Gaza. Merkel: ’Thousands of (Israelis) are living in fear.’
     ’Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.’ -- Barrack Obama
     ’I’ve been to Gilo and seen the security fence protecting Israeli families from attacks in their own homes.’ -- Hillary Clinton
     ’When I heard about the rocket fire at Israel I felt it was a danger to Italy and to the entire West.’ -- Silvio Berlusconi
     ’While we speak here today thousands of people are living in fear and dread of missile attacks and acts of terror by Hamas.’ -- Angela Merkel
     These quotes are chosen at random from a script written in the theatre of the absurd known as ’the west’. Does Barrack Obama, the Harvard law graduate, not know that Jerusalem is an occupied city? Does Hillary Clinton not know that the Israeli ’families’ living at Gilo have built their homes on land belonging to someone else? Does Silvio Berlusconi seriously regard Hamas rocket attacks as a threat to Italy and even the ’entire West’? Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton were speaking at the AIPAC conference in Washington last June, Angela Merkel in the Knesset in March and Silvio Berlusconi at Sharm al Shaikh this week.He and other European ’leaders’, as they are called, Merkel,Sarkozy and Gordon Brown among them, had gathered in Egypt to ’discuss’ Gaza with Husni Mubarak andMahmud Abbas, i.e to tell them what their part would be in the European plan to bring peace to Gaza.

In Memory of Martin Luther King
Yousef Abudayyeh, Palestine Think Tank 1/20/2009
      Today, as the Palestinian people continue to search for their dead in the Gaza Strip and bury their scorched children, mothers, and fathers, the United States as whole, the very custodian of Zionist bigotry and colonial malice, is recognizing a champion of civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This is a man that the US imprisoned, beat, accused of treason, and ridiculed before it celebrated, and only after he was assassinated.   He is a preacher of a people whose churches were firebombed and burned to the ground, just like Palestinian mosques and churches; and against whom the US segregated, on whom it set vicious dogs, beat with batons, rifles and fire hoses.  This is a people whose leadership and everyday activists in the struggle for equality were shot at, assassinated, and indeed, lynched by mindless mobs supported by public policy. They are a people whose history is relegated to the margins, whose art and cultural expressions robbed by others, whose youth remain subject to the combined brutalities of poverty, wretch racism, and police powers.
     In the context of the amplified suffering of the past 23 days and in recognition of the proud resilience of the Palestinian people, sadly yet proudly, the likeness to the Palestinian struggle is enormous.  Be it African American or Palestinian, geography is perhaps the only difference.

Audio: Abunimah, Finkelstein, Mearsheimer discuss Israel’s attacks on Gaza
Audio, Electronic Intifada 1/21/2009
      On Saturday, 27 December 2008, Israel began its onslaught against the 1.5 million besieged and imprisoned Palestinians in the Gaza Strip -- one of the most densely populated areas in the world. One week later, on 3 January, Israel began its ground invasion. Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on 17 January, 22 days after the attacks began. The attacks have been the deadliest since Israel’s occupation of Gaza in 1967, with more than 1,300 Palestinians killed and thousands injured by intense bombardment from air, land and sea.
     On 8 January, a panel featuring the following speakers was held at the University of Chicago to discuss the the reasons and ramifications of the recent attacks on Gaza and the larger Palestinian-Israeli conflict:
     John J. Mearsheimer is the Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and the co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, a New York Times Best Seller.
     Ali Abunimah is a writer, commentator, and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, and co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.
     Norman G. Finkelstein is a scholar of political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is the author of five books including Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and most recently, Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history. -- See also: Download [MP4 - 26.1 MB]