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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
27 January, 2008

Tank fire kills Gazan; soldier dead, three others injured in blast
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Israeli tank fire killed one Palestinian and injured a second after Palestinian fighters launched a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) at an Israeli tank patrolling the Gaza border in the south-central area of the Gaza Strip. Israeli sources said the RPG killed one soldier and injured three others. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was quoted as saying Israel should respond quickly to the attack no matter who was responsible for launching the projectile. The head of the committee in charge of bringing aid into Gaza Raed Fattouh said Israel closed all commercial crossings to the Gaza Strip after the explosion. Medical sources identified the Palestinian casualty as 27-year-old Anwar Al-Brim. Witnesses said they saw Palestinian faction fighters launch an RPG at an Israeli patrol near the Kissufim military base in south-central Gaza.

PM: Response to Kissufim attack will come
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Olmert says Israel’s unilateral ceasefire intended to provide opportunity to respond harshly to attacks -"The IDF’s response today was not a response to an incident in which an IDF soldier was killed and three injured. Israel’s response to this incident will come," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday during a meeting with ministry heads in Jerusalem. The prime minister was referring to the ambush of an IDF patrol near the Kissufim crossing on the Gaza border earlier in the day. One soldier was killed and three others were wounded in the attack. " We didn’t say this ceasefire fragile for nothing. Israel did not sign an agreement with Hamas, but decided to cease its fire unilaterally. This allows us the maneuvering space to respond to such incidents. " Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni joined Olmert’s assessment that. . .

Soldiers to Mother: ’Choose five of your children to ‘give as a gift to Israel’
Notes From Palestine - MECA 1/27/2009
Director of US Aid Group Enters Gaza, Reports on Destruction and Targeting of Civilians - "Out of all the devastation I have seen, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to ‘give as a gift to Israel. ’ As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. - BERKELEY, Calif. - January 22 - Barbara Lubin, Founder and Director of the California-based Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Sharon Wallace, a long-time MECA supporter, entered the Gaza Strip Wednesday, January 21st...

NGO seeks arrest of 15 Israeli leaders over Gaza
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
LONDON - An international non-governmental organization has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court for the arrest of top Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, and has called for information about the travel plans and whereabouts outside Israel of the suspects. The International Coalition against Impunity (HOKOK), a non-governmental organization registered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, has submitted a “Letter of Notification and Referral” to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court outlining the case for the arrest of 15 Israeli political and military leaders for crimes committed in Gaza in violation of the Rome Statute and the Fourth Geneva Convention. It has also issued an international appeal for information about the undermentioned war crimes suspects.

Hebron houses slated for demolition, Israel tells residents
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli authorities are planning to demolish Palestinian homes near Hebron, according to an advance notice sent to residents on Tuesday. The demolitions will affect residents at Um Lasfah, a village east of Hebron’s Yatta area. Demolition notices were sent to Ismail Al-Adra, warning of the impending action, which will leave 20 Palestinians homeless. Israeli authorities demolished several houses in the same area in 2008. Israel is also planning to demolish an eight-meter room inside the hosue of Ismail A’lian, who lost his last appeal against the action, according to a similar notice. The head of Hebron’s Territories Center, Jamal Al-Emlah, said the decisions “violate the human right of living freely in one’s home. ”He added that International Quartet Envoy Tony Blair had promised to end such demolitions.

IOF closes Gaza crossings after killing Palestinian farmer
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday closed down all Gaza commercial crossings in what they said was a retaliation to the bombing of an IOF patrol, which was followed by IOF intensive firing that killed a Palestinian farmer. Ra’ed Fattuh, the head of the committee supervising entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said that around 110 trucks were expected through the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing on Tuesday along with cooking gas and diesel through Shujaiah (Nahal Oz) crossing. He said that 80 trucks of wheat and fodder were expected through Mintar (Karni) crossing along with 18 trucks for the private sector and assistance from Jordanians, Arabs and UNRWA. He added that IOF did not change the nature of goods allowed into the Strip and they remained similar to the pre Gaza war mainly wheat, rice, cooking oil, frozen meat and dairy products.

Naalin holds Holocaust exhibit
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 1/27/2009
’Unfortunately, we are paying price for pain suffered by Jews,’ says member of village committee - As the world commemorated the Holocaust Tuesday, a small village in the West Bank held a surprising exhibit memorializing the most tragic event in modern Jewish history. Naalin, a village that has become the symbol for the Palestinians’ battle against Israel’s construction of a separation fence in the West Bank, erected a display of photographs purchased from Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and invited the public to learn more about the persecution of the Jews. Mohammad Amira, a member of the village’s Land Defense Committee, said hundreds of people visited the exhibit by early afternoon. He said many had praised the initiative. "People are surprised at what they see here; there are people who are seeing images of the suffering in the Holocaust for the first time. "

Red Cross: 115 Gazans missing since Operation Cast Lead
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
About 115 Palestinians have been registered by their families as missing in the conflict in Gaza, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday. The neutral humanitarian agency said in a statement that it was trying to trace the missing and restore contact between them and their loved ones. "They may have been detained, wounded or just not been in touch," ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas told. The ICRC has no information on Palestinians detained by Israeli forces during the offensive but the spokeswoman said it expected to have access to all detainees. A three-week Israeli air and ground offensive killed 1,300 people in the Gaza Strip before a fragile ceasefire was put in place 10 days ago. An Israeli soldier was killed by a bomb on the border with the coastal enclave. . .

PA:'No more reason to refer any more children for treatment abroad'
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - The Palestinian Authority has stopped providing injured Gazan patients the proper papers to get them over the Gaza border to Egypt in order to seek treatment abroad, the German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur reported Monday. The agency quoted the Ramallah-based Ministry of Health as stating on 22 January, that there was “no more reason to refer anymore children for treatment abroad. ” The statement came only four days after Israel called a unilateral ceasefire, and three days after Gaza factions responded with a unilateral ceasefire of their own. The statement from the Ministry noted that the treatment of injured Gazans would be provided for them in locations “close to their families and friends. " DPA said relatives of injured children reported they were unable to seek treatment from hospitals outside the Gaza Strip, for what they described as “urgent” need.

Parents hope UNRWA psycho-social support will help kids 'grow for a better future for their country'
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - After three weeks of war and a week of shocked recovery, eight-year-old Aseel Abu Etaweh found it strange to wake up to her mother calling her out of bed for another day of school. For the first three weeks of the New Year, Aseel had been woken up by explosions. Being the eldest, Aseel usually takes on the responsibility of getting up first so she can help her little brother Samer get out of bed. These days her coaxing words tell him to get up, because everything is going to be all right. “Kids now find it hard to go back to the old routine,”said psychiatry consultant in Gaza Dr Rawya Al Borno. She explained that there have been “countless damages” from the war on Gaza, but noted that the longest lasting are “the psychological damages that occur in kids, how they suffer … losing the feeling of safety, sticking close to their parents, losing the ability to sleep, to focus, and to eat. "

Aid workers protest restricted access to Gaza
Tamar Dressler/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/28/2009
RAMALLAH, 27 January 2009 (IRIN) - Aid agencies have been protesting about their restricted access to Gaza since the 18 January ceasefire, stressing that the full opening of crossing points is crucial for the delivery of humanitarian aid. "It is unacceptable that staff of international aid agencies with expertise in emergency response are still not given full access into Gaza, and that the crossings are not fully operational for humanitarian and commercial goods," said Charles Clayton, chair of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which includes 75 agencies. A recent CARE survey found that 89 percent of Gazans had not received humanitarian assistance since 27 December, underscoring the clear need, according to CARE, for more aid and humanitarian workers in Gaza. CARE officer Juliette Seibold in Jerusalem told IRIN by phone on 26 January. . .

Factory’s ruin bodes ill for Gaza
Oakland Ross, Toronto Star 1/27/2009
Businessman says his tile plant destroyed by Israelis for ’revenge,’ dozens put out of work - KARNI CROSSING, GAZA STRIP – For 10 years, Mohammed el-Ashram journeyed each day from his home in Gaza City to his factory near the Israeli border, to supervise the manufacture of tiles. He makes the same trek still, but now he spends his days huddling in the shadows of ruin, as he ponders the injustice of war." I come here just to be here," the grey-bearded Palestinian businessman said the other day. "We have lost everything." As he spoke to a reporter, el-Ashram slouched in a tube-metal chair against a backdrop of crumpled aluminum siding, twisted metal struts, and smashed slabs of concrete – all that now remains of the El-Ashram Tile Factory, the manufacturing venture he launched in 1999.

EU calls on Israel to reopen Gaza borders
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
BRUSSELS - The European Union expressed concern Monday about the slow pace at which aid is entering war-torn Gaza and renewed calls for border crossings to be opened. "What is absolutely needed is access, access, access," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters, after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers. "We are disappointed that the opening of the crossings for humanitarian aid is not always completely fulfilled as we would like to see," she said. "One-hundred and fifty lorries are entering more or less, and 600-800 should enter every day. " French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said: "The number of trucks is completely insufficient. " Israel’s war on Gaza killed 1,330 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and wounded 5,450 others. Among the dead were 437 children, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists.

Settlers attack two children in Hebron
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Palestinian medical sources in Hebron, in the southern West bank, reported on Monday that Israeli setters hurled stones and empty bottles at two brothers, aged 4 and 5, in the Old City of Hebron, causing minor injuries. The sources stated that Amer Qneiby, age 4, and his brother Yassin, age 5, were mildly injured in front of their home after settlers hurled empty bottles and stones at them. The two children were playing in front of their home, adjacent to the Abraham Abino illegal settlement outpost in the city. Local sources in the city reported that settlers are carrying out repeated attacks against the Palestinian residents of Hebron, their homes and their properties. In related news, settlers attacked several shepherds east of the West Bank city of Tubas, and forced them out of the area under gunpoint.

Two Palestinian youth injured by Israeli military fire in northern West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Medical sources reported that Israeli troops shot and injured two Palestinian youth on Tuesday morning at al-Far’a refugee camp, located in Tubas city in the northern West Bank. Local sources reported that Israeli soldiers stormed the refugee camp on Tuesday morning and opened fire at local resident and their homes, injuring the two youth. Medical sources reported that two Palestinians youth sustained medium-range wounds and were indentified as Imad Tayah, age 21 and Jalal Jamal, age 20. [end]

VIDEO - Israeli soldier and Palestinian killed in attacks near Gaza border
Peter Walker and agencies, The Guardian 1/27/2009
Roadside bombing close to crossing point • Farmer shot dead by troops - An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian man were killed in Gaza today during the most serious outbreak of violence since a ceasefire came into force nine days ago. The soldier was killed, and three others injured, in a roadside bombing near the Kissufim crossing between central Gaza and Israel. The blast, the first major breach of the informal weeklong truce, also wounded three soldiers and triggered a brief battle when Israeli soldiers briefly crossed the border in search of the attackers. A 27-year-old Palestinian farmer was shot dead by Israeli troops in the same area. Local people reported seeing Israeli tanks and bulldozers crossing the border. Israel responded with an air strike in the south of Gaza. Hamas said one of its members was injured in the attack while riding a motorbike near the town of Khan Younis.

Farmer killed in Gaza, soldier dies in explosion
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
Gaza -- Israeli forces razed large areas of land in the central Gaza Strip between Deir Al Belah and Al Maghazi Tuesday evening. In the morning the military had killed a farmer. The armed resistance fired at a military patrol past the agreed upon line and killed a soldier Tuesday afternoon while an Israeli warplane fired into Al Qarara and a tank shelled a house near Kissufim early that evening. Under decades of occupation Gaza Strip Palestinian farmers are frequent targets. Within the past several days of "ceasefire" the army has opened fire on farmers in their fields, particularly those nearest the boundary lines. At a length of approximately 23 miles long and from three to seven wide, much of Gaza’s farm land is "near the border. "This morning Israeli forces bombed houses in Al Qarara, a small town just to the northeast of Khan Younis where the Abu Holi Checkpoint was imposed before the withdrawal of settlers in 2005.

Palestinian critically injured as drone fires over Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian man was critically injured after an aerial drone opened fire in the center of southern Gaza’s Khan Younis early Tuesday evening. The reconnaissance drone fired on Hayan As-Ser, who was riding a motorcycle, in the neighborhood of Akkad, central Khan Younis, witnesses said. As-Ser was taken to Nasser Hospital for emergency surgery, according to Dr Muawiya Hassanein, the de facto Health Ministry’s director of Ambulance and Emergency Services. Hassanein described As-Ser’s condition as critical. The attack came following the death of an Israeli soldier, who was killed by an explosive device near the Kissufim kibbutz on the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday morning. Three other soldiers were injured in the blast that targeted a military convoy. Meanwhile, Israeli military mechanics entered the Abu-Hammam and Wadi As-Salqa areas near the Kissufim. . .

Israeli Army kills a Palestinian farmer near Gaza Israeli border
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
A Palestinian farmer was killed near the Israeli Gaza border as he was shot by Israeli tanks on Tuesday. Witnesses said that Israeli tanks shelled civilian homes and farms, located near the southern Gaza strip city of Khan Younis,in the village of al-Faraheen at borders with Israel. Medics said that Anwar Al Bareem, age 27, arrived dead at the hospital in Khan Younis after being shot by tank fire. Israeli media sources said that Israeli troops at the borders opened fire and clashed with local fighters before shelling nearby areas, the Israeli Army also said that a road side bomb was detonated by Palestinian fighters near Israeli military vehicles. Media sources said that an Israeli soldier was killed by the road side bomb which exploded near the southern Gaza -- Israel borders. Army sources reported that an Israeli soldier was killed and three injured by the road side bomb.

Palestinian gunman involved in today’s attack injured in IAF strike
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Air Force targets motorcycle in Khan Younis driven by Hussain Abu Shamia, who took part in border attack on IDF patrol earlier today that killed soldier, wounded three. Top military officials said response to attack ’should not be proportional’ - Palestinian sources in Gaza reported Tuesday that the Israeli Air Force fired at a motorcycle in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. One man was confirmed wounded in the attack, identified by defense officials as Hussain Abu Shamia, who was involved in the border attack on an IDF patrol earlier today that killed one soldier and wounded three. According to the officials, a terror cell affiliated with the Worldwide Jihad planted five explosive devices along the security fence in an attempt to hit IDF forces on patrol. The group is apparently not directly linked to Hamas, but may have been operating under its auspices.

Soldier killed, 3 injured in border blast
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Six days after last soldier leaves Gaza, explosive device detonated near army patrol vehicle traveling along border fence. Non-commissioned officer killed, officer seriously injured, two other troops sustain light wounds. Palestinians report of clashes in area, including sniper fire - For the first time since the last IDF soldier left Gaza six days ago following Operation Cast Lead, Palestinian organizations resume activities against Israeli army: An IDF soldier was killed Tuesday morning as an explosive device exploded near the Kissufim crossing along the border with the Gaza Strip. An officer was seriously injured in the incident and two other troops sustained light wounds. They received initial medical treatment on site and were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba with injuries to their limbs and shrapnel wounds.

Israeli soldier killed in explosion near Gaza
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
GAZA CITY - One Israeli soldier was killed and three others were wounded in an explosion on Tuesday near the Gaza Strip, the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya television channel reported. The Dubai-based channel reported the information citing one of its correspondents in Israel. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera reported that the soldier was killed when a shell hit a group of Israeli troops on the Gaza border. Security sources in Israel confirmed an explosion near an army unit patrolling the border in central Gaza, but did not comment on casualties. "An explosive device was detonated near an army force patrolling the border on the Israeli side," a security source said on condition of anonymity. Palestinians living near the area of Khan Yunis reported hearing fire from tanks and said Israeli warplanes were overflying the area.

Gazans wounded in Israeli air raid
Al Jazeera 1/27/2009
Two people have been wounded in an Israeli air raid on the Gaza Strip, Hamas and Palestinian medical officials have said. Hamas, the Palestinian group, said one of its members was injured in the attack as he was riding a motorcycle in the town of Khan Younis on Tuesday. The raid came after an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian were reported to have been killed in a clash near the Kissufim border crossing. Israel and the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip have maintained uneasy ceasfires since the end of Israel’s three-week campaign in Gaza, in which 1,300 people were killed, on January 18. Neither Hamas nor any other group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Israeli patrol near the Kissufim crossing. The incident is the first apparent [Palestinian] breach of the January 18 ceasefires. -- See also: Ceasefire Broken From Day One

Killings Threaten Gaza Truce
Griff Witte, Washington Post 1/27/2009
Tensions Rise Before Visit of New Middle East Envoy - JERUSALEM, Jan. 27 -- Palestinian fighters detonated a bomb near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, killing an Israeli soldier, the Israeli military said. Later in the day, Israeli gunfire killed a Palestinian farmer, and an airstrike critically wounded two men, at least one of whom was a Hamas gunman, according to Gazan medical officials.... The Israeli military said it had closed the border crossings with Gaza after the attack on the soldiers, preventing 185 truckloads of humanitarian supplies and other goods from entering the coastal enclave. There was no immediate indication of when they would reopen.... Continuing with a Bush administration policy of not talking to Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, Mitchell is not expected to meet with any members of the movement.

Deadly roadside bombing ’threatens Gaza truce’
Matti Friedman, AP, The Independent 1/27/2009
Palestinian militants today detonated a bomb next to an Israeli army patrol along the border with Gaza, killing one soldier and wounding three others in the first serious clash since a cease-fire went into effect more than a week ago. Israeli soldiers quickly crossed the border in search of the attackers and Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said Israel "cannot accept" the attack. "We will respond, but there is no point in elaborating," Barak said in comments released by his office. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. The incident jolted the calm that has largely prevailed since Israel ended a devastating three-week offensive on January 17. Since withdrawing its troops, Israel has threatened to strike hard at any violations of the truce. Heavy gunfire was audible along the border in central Gaza and Israeli helicopters hovered in the air firing machine gun bursts, Palestinian witnesses said. -- See also: Ceasefire Broken From Day One

IOF aerial bombing wounds 3 Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Israeli aerial bombardment of a motor bicycle in Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday wounded three Palestinian citizens including two children. Medical sources told PIC reporter that Hussein Shamiya, 24, was seriously wounded when his motorbike was targeted in Akkad refugee camp in Khan Younis while two children passing nearby were moderately injured. The sources said that Shamiya suffered serious injuries including amputation of his limbs. The incident follows the Israeli occupation forces’ incursion on Tuesday morning east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza Strip, that was made after an explosive device blasted an IOF jeep killing a soldier and wounding three others.

The Israeli military bombs homes in southern Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli army helicopters fired shells and resident homes located near Deir Al Balah town in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that Israeli troops also took over a house there which is near the Gaza Israeli borders. Local sources said that the bombardment caused damage but no injuries. [end]

Mitchell heads to Middle East to initiate dialogue between Israel and Hamas
Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Rory McCarthy in Gaza City, The Guardian 1/27/2009
Clinton: "We support Israel’s right to self-defence. The [Palestinian] rocket barrages which are getting closer and closer to populated areas [in Israel] cannot go unanswered," Clinton said in her first news conference at the state department. She added: "It is regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defence instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza. "- President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is expected tomorrow to explore the chances of the Palestinian group Hamas being brought into a peace dialogue with Israel. Mitchell, on the first leg of a weeklong trip to the region, is scheduled to meet the President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo tomorrow. The Egyptians have been engaged in extensive talks with Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Clinton: Israel has right to respond to Gaza rocket attacks
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Israel had a right to defend itself and that Palestinian rocket attacks on the Jewish territory [sic] could not go unanswered. "We support Israel’s right to self-defense. The [Palestinian] rocket barrages which are getting closer and closer to populated areas [in Israel] cannot go unanswered," Clinton said in her first news conference at the State Department. "It is regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defense instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza," she added. Clinton also said that U. S. President Barack Obama’s first days in office have made it clear that a more open Iranian approach to the international community could benefit Iran.

Obama envoy Mitchell in Cairo on first leg of Mideast tour
Haaretz Staff and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/27/2009
U. S. President Barack Obama’s new Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, arrived in Cairo on Tuesday as he embarked on a week-long tour to the region and Europe. The trip kicks off the new administration’s efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and shore up a shaky Gaza truce. Mitchell, a former U. S. senator, was to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday at the start of the trip, which will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France and Britain. A U. S. State Department spokesman said Monday that Mitchell "is coming to listen to regional leaders. " "He wants to begin working," the spokesman said. "He will assess the situation and report his conclusions to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. " Obama, wading quickly into Middle East diplomacy, said in an interview aired Monday that the. . .

Carter: No Palestine, catastrophe for Israel
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/27/2009
Israel will face a "catastrophe" unless it revives the Mideast peace process and allows the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, former US president Jimmy Carter said Monday. Carter pointed out in an interview with The Associated Press that Arabs would outnumber Jews in the Holy Land in the foreseeable future. "If we look toward a one-state solution, which seems to be the trend - I hope not inexorable - it would be a catastrophe for Israel, because there would be only three options in that case," Carter said. Those would be to expel large numbers of Palestinians, deprive the Palestinians of equal voting rights, or to give them equal voting rights and therefore the majority, he said. "And you would no longer have a Jewish state," Carter predicted.

Hamas slams France for sending frigate to Gaza
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
GAZA CITY - The head of the Hamas government in Gaza Ismail Haniya on Tuesday lashed out over the deployment of a French frigate to take part in a mission that Paris claims is against arms smuggling into the Palestinian territory. "We expected France, whose motto is ’liberty, equality, fraternity’ to send hospital ships to treat the children burned by banned weapons or to set up a humanitarian bridge. . . rather than deploy a navy ship to reinforce the blockade," Haniya said in a statement. The Germinal frigate has been deployed to international waters off Gaza. Haniya also dismissed criticism by European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel who on Monday said Hamas bore "overwhelming responsibility" for the Israel’s 22-day war in Gaza. "We are astonished by the European position which blames the victims and the oppressed people for the tragedy that befell the Gaza Strip," he said.

France demands Syria to aid in releasing Shalit
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
French President, Nıkolay Sarkozi, sent a senate member to Syria asking the Syrian government to help in efforts to release Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza in 2006. Sarkozi wants Syria to pressure Hamas into releasing the soldier, who also carries French Citizenship. The move came after Sarkozi met with the father of Shalit. Sarkozi phoned the Syrian president, Bashar Asad, last week and discussed the issue of Shalit with him before sending his envoy on the same issue. The envoy, French senator, Philippe Marini, said that the issue of Shalit was among the top issues on Sarkozi’s agenda during his visit to Syria earlier this month. Last week, Sarkozi phoned Asad and discussed the same issue with him. During his visit to Syria, Sarkozi said that Shalit is a French Citizen and France is responsible for defending its citizens.

IDF: Hamas didn’t carry out attack - but is responsible
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Ambush on IDF patrol near Kissufim crossing executed by pro-Iranian militant group whose extremism outstrips even Hamas. Army stresses that even if Hamas didn’t carry out the attack, it authorized it -The attack on an IDF force patrolling the Gaza border earlier on Tuesday was carried out by a cell belonging to the Worldwide Jihad. An IDF tracker serving with the Gaza Division’s southern brigade was killed and three additional soldiers were seriously wounded. The name of the tracker, a Bedouin from Rahat, is being withheld at the request of his family. An Islamist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda calling itself the ’Jihad and Tawhid Brigades’ claimed responsibility for the attack. The group delivered the announcement to the Ramattan news agency, which distributed the footage. The IDF believes that the cell behind the attack is an extremist pro-Iranian group,. . .

Israel closes all Gaza border crossings
Rami Almeghari&Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
The Gaza-based border crossings administration announced that the Israeli occupation authorities sealed off all Gaza’s crossings on Tuesday morningThe closure came right after an explosion near the Israeli military Kissufim crossing in southern Gaza, in which an Israeli soldier was killed and few other soldiers were wounded earlier this morning. Also on Tuesday morning, the Israeli army shot dead a Palestinian farmer in the same area. Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak , had earlier stated that the latest three-week Israeli army attacks on the coastal Strip would help accelerate the release of Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit, captured by Hamas since June2006. Amidst such new developments, Israeli and Palestinian officials including those of Hamas party, have been negotiating in Cairo over renewed truce talks as well as working out a prisoner swap deal.

Egypt says 5 February date for major Israeli-Palestinian truce
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egypt’s foreign minister on Tuesday said 5 February 2009 will mark the start of a truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. According to Foreign Minister Aboul-Gheit, Egypt hopes a comprehensive agreement is maintained over a long period and that it will include an opening to Gaza’s crossings by the beginning of February. Egypt will also host Palestinian unity talks beginning in February, according to the announcement by Aboul-Gheit. “The invitation for Palestinian factions would be in the third week of February,” the foreign minister said, adding that Egypt is “hoping that they reach an agreement” shortly thereafter. According to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), those talks are slated to begin on the 22 February, the Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported on Tuesday.

Top Defense Ministry official: Egypt sees Hamas as ’national enemy’
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad said on Tuesday that Egypt views Hamas as a national enemy and a threat to its regime, and is now more willing than ever to fight against the ongoing smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip. "Egypt demonstrated extreme tolerance toward the Israel Defense Forces’ activities [in Gaza]," said Gilad, who is Israel’s top negotiating official on matters with Egypt. "Even today, Egypt is being very strict on Hamas and is not prepared to give the group anything - [including] the opening of the Rafah border crossing. Gilad said that Egypt’s determination against smuggling was unprecedented, saying even the international community has never demonstrated such willingness to curb the illegal flow of arms. Gilad said it remained to be seen whether these intentions would pan. . .

To help controlling the Gaza Egypt borders: Germany send military experts to Egypt
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Israeli sources announced on Tuesday that Germany have sent a team of 6 military experts to Egypt to help in controlling the borders with the Gaza Strip. The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that Germany believe that stopping the weapons going to Gaza will create a stable cease fire. US experts visited the borders earlier to decide on the locations of the new equipments the US is going to install to detect tunnels between the borders. Gazans have used the tunnels to smuggle food and much needed medicine and fuel supplies into Gaza during the past six month because Israeli have placed the coastal region under total closer. [end]

Abbas to tell visiting U.S. envoy: Israel does not want peace
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Tuesday to take a tough stance in talks with Israel and said he would tell a U. S. envoy that Israel’s Gaza offensive proved it was not intent on peacemaking. In his first news conference in the Palestinian territories since Israel launched its 22-day offensive on December 27 that killed some 1,300 people in Gaza, Abbas also said he would back international efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes. "We will do all we can to prove Israel committed crimes that would make your skin crawl," Abbas said, referring to the Geneva Conventions. "We want the world to give us justice for once. "Israel does not want peace, otherwise it would not have done this. We need to understand this and tell it to those coming from Europe and America. "

Abbas: We will prove Israeli war crimes
Reuters, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Palestinian president vows to tell US envoy Mitchell that Israel is not serious about peace, says he will back efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes ’that would make your skin crawl’ - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Tuesday to take a tough stance in talks with Israel and said he would tell a US envoy that Israel’s Gaza offensive proved it was not intent on peacemaking. Abbas also said he would back international efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes. "We will do all we can to prove Israel committed crimes that would make your skin crawl," Abbas said, referring to the Geneva Conventions. "We want the world to give us justice for once. "Israel does not want peace, otherwise it would not have done this. We need to understand this and tell it to those coming from Europe and America.

Fayyad: Open Gaza Strip crossings as agreed in 2005
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday urged Israel to return to a 2005 agreement that included the opening of border crossings into Gaza. Following a Ramallah meeting between Fayyad and the vice president of the European Commission, Antonio Tijani, who spoke with reporters about Gaza. “Our goal is to build a secured Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. We do not just want to help the physical and economical sides; we want peace in the Middle East,” said Tijani. Tijani also condemned “terrorism,” calling it the “main enemy of the Palestinian people. ” He pointed out that the European Union will aid in Gaza reconstruction efforts, as well.

Europe suggests joint PA and Israel transport office
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
The European Commission has proposed that Israel and the Palestinian Authority establish a common office for transport issues. European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani made the offer Tuesday to Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz in Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned. Mofaz welcomed the initiative. Tajani, who is responsible for transport in the commission, also met Tuesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Industry, Trade and LaborMinister Eli Yishai, and visited the Palestinian Authority. He is to deliver the keynote speech at at the annual Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Herzliya. [end]

Police arrest Jewish teens for allegedly assaulting Arab youth in Galilee
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
An Arab youth from the Galilee village of Majd el-Krum was injured lightly on Monday night after a gang of Jewish teens beat him with sticks while he was walking along the promenade in Tiberias. Police arrested eight suspects ranging from 14 to 16 years of age who are believed to have taken part in the assault. The victim, Mohammed Mansur, was rushed to Poriah Hospital near Tiberias, where he was treated for injuries sustained all over his body. The suspects were taken into custody after police launched a city-wide search during which they set up checkpoints on main roads and thoroughfares. The teens will be arraigned on Tuesday morning. Police will recommend that the Tiberias Magistrate’s Court extend their remand. The incident occurred two days after police arrested nine people suspected of assaulting Arab residents of Upper Nazareth and their property. -- See also: Israeli police launch campaign targeting Arab citizens

Tiberias youths suspected of beating Arab man
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Nine teenagers aged 14 to 16 arrested after allegedly assaulting 20-year-old Majdal Krum resident while walking on promenade. ’They hit him mercilessly,’ police source says - Violence against north’s Arab residents spreading:Nine youths from the northern city of Tiberias were arrested Monday night for allegedly beating a 20-year-old resident of the Arab town of Majdal Krum with clubs. The man, Muhammad Mansour, was hospitalized at the Poria State Hospital in Tiberias in light condition. Police suspect that the youths, aged 14 to 16, assaulted the man after realizing he is Arab. An initial investigation revealed that the young man ran into the group of teenagers while heading home after spending time at the Tiberias promenade. "The teenagers surrounded him and asked, ’Where are you from? ’ When he said he was from Majdal Krum, they beat him mercilessly," said Tiberias Police Commander Effie Partuk.

Israeli police launch campaign targeting Arab citizens
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Israeli police campaign targeting Arab citizens of Israel announced that it confiscated dozens of weapons from the citizens living in northern Israel. The Israeli Hebrew daily Maariv said the campaign began in the days leading up to Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip. Officers continued to target Arab youth and said they found a “variety of illegal weapons,” including pistols, hand grenades, and explosivesThe police claimed to have collected intelligence on where weapons were being hidden, and the Chief of Police explained that the campaign was to remove weapons that “threaten the lives of the Arabs. ”[end] -- See also: Police arrest Jewish teens for allegedly assaulting Arab youth in Galilee

Hamas: no unity talks while Fatah holds prisoners
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
CAIRO - The detention of Hamas activists by Fatah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will scupper reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian groups, a Hamas official was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah are expected to resume reconciliation talks in Cairo on February 22, Salah al-Bardawil told Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Yom daily, but Hamas will not attend while a "single (Hamas) prisoner" remains in jail. "We will not sit down (with Fatah) until they release (Hamas prisoners), and whoever does not want to release them does not want reconciliation," he said. Bardawil headed a delegation of Hamas officials from Gaza that met over the weekend with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to bolster a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and restart Palestinian unity talks. Another member of the delegation, Jamal Abu Hashim, met with Fatah official Azzam. . .

Hamas denounces Abbas’s security for quelling peaceful protest of families
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security apparatuses for suppressing a peaceful protest held Sunday by the families of political prisoners in Al-Khalil city, noting that they physically assaulted participating women and children which resulted in wounding eight of them. In a statement received by the PIC, Hamas said that the PA in Ramallah and its security apparatuses are delusional and mired in confusion and frustration if they still think they could eliminate the Movement through assaulting women and children. Hamas underlined that these blatant crimes are a practical response to all those who still believe in the possibility of making a rapprochement with such a group of people who dedicated themselves to subdue their people and silence any opposing voices by force and terrorism even if this voice was a peaceful picket held by. . .

Leftists and Hamas weigh in on Cairo talks
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
PNN - The leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Talal Abu Zarifa, says that the ongoing talks in Cairo are on the right track and are very encouraging for the moment. He told PNN this afternoon, "We are trying to reach a unified position among all the Palestinian factions that are expected to meet with the Israelis on the fifth of next month. " From the Egyptian capital Abu Zarifa said, "During the ongoing dialogue among all factions in Cairo we are all considering three cases: the process of ’calm,’ reconstruction in the Strip and inter-Palestinian dialogue. "With regard to the process of reconstruction in Gaza after the major Israeli attacks and preceding siege, Abu Zarifa said that the DFLP delegation is proposing to follow the Lebanese example. "Each entity who promises to build or rebuild something provides everything necessary for that project.

Hamas and IFJ refute mutual claims regarding press freedoms in Gaza
Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
PNN - The International Federation of Journalists has issued numerous statements criticizing Israeli policy against Palestinian and foreign journalists, particularly the killing of four recently in the Gaza Strip. In one of its statements this week the IFJ was critical of the Hamas party in the Gaza Strip, claiming it intimidated Palestinian journalists, which the Fateh party’s Palestinian Authority is also accused of in the West Bank. The Hamas party refuted the claims regarding the Strip and referred to the IFJ statement as biased. Today the IFJ is attempting to further explain its position by issuing an additional statement: "’strongly rebutted claims from political leaders in Gaza that it was biased in its claims of Hamas interference and intimidation of journalists. "In a statement issued yesterday, Hamas accused the IFJ of ’baseless statements’ and ’unacceptable partiality’. . . " -- See also: IFJ Refutes Claim of Bias and Calls on Hamas to Protect Journalists

Reporters Without Borders visits Ma’an, applauds war coverage
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Officials from the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) visited Ma’an’s Gaza City sub-office on Tuesday to congratulate its journalists for their coverage during Israel’s assault there. John François, director of the Paris-based organization, said his visit should be interpreted as an effort to “show solidarity with Palestinian journalists who did their duty during the war on Gaza. ”François was joined by Soizick Dolly, RSF’s Middle East coordinator, who spoke on covering the news amidst warfare at a lecture for Ma’an employees in Gaza. Dolly said he was astonished by the agency’s coverage during the war on Gaza, noting that RSF “still wonders how [Ma’an] accessed certain areas and found its sources. ”Ma’an’s Gaza director, Imad Eid, welcomed the RSF employees, incidentally mentioning that his organization resents views expressed. . .

Palestinian party: PA arresting Hamas-affiliated journalists
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) on Tuesday condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA) for harassing and arresting journalists, according to a statement. PNI said the PA’s security services are detaining journalists working for Al-Quds TV, which is affiliated with Hamas, in the West Bank. The two reporters were identified as Samer Khuwaira and Ahmad Bikawi. In a statement sent to Ma’an, the two journalists were arrested by PA forces on Saturday and have been holding them ever since. Additionally, PNI claimed two other journalists, identified as Ahed Ar-Rantisy and Mamdouh Hamamreh, had been ordered to appear for interrogation. “[PNI] sees that such arrests are a threat to mass media and their freedom to work, especially following the Gaza war,” the statement said.

Barak vows to retaliate Kissufim attack
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Defense minister warns Israel will counter grave incident on Gaza border which left one soldier dead, three injured. Foreign Minister Livni: This is a test of actions, not just of rhetoric. Shas chairman urges another strike on Strip -Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Tuesday that Israel would retaliate the grave ceasefire violation at the Kissufim crossing. An explosive device was detonated near the crossing, which is adjacent to the Gaza Strip border, around 8 am Tuesday, just as an IDF force was approaching the area. A gunfight soon ensued. The incident claimed the life of one soldier, leaving three others injured. Barak was briefed on the morning’s events in Kissufim while observing a drill held at the Field and MOUT (Military Operations on Urban Terrain) Training Center, at the southern IDF base of Ze’elim.

Hamas blames Israel for post truce violence
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said that Israel is to be held responsible for the post-truce violence as the Israeli army killed several Palestinians after the truce was declared. On Tuesday, one Palestinian and one soldier were killed in renewed violence. Mosheer Al Masry of Hamas said that "the Zionists are responsible for the violence", and added that the movement would retaliate to the Israeli offensives. Meanwhile, Israeli officials said that the army would respond harshly to "violations of the cease-fire". On Tuesday morning, the Israeli army fired a shell at Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and killed one resident. The slain resident, Anwar Zayid AL Breem, 24, is the third Palestinian killed by the army since the truce was achieved on January 18. Also on Tuesday, the Israeli air force fired a missile at a motorcyclist wounding him along with two children who were playing in the shelled area.

Hamas ’evacuating buildings for fear of IDF strike’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Following Gaza border incident which left one soldier killed, three injured, Palestinian sources report government offices in Strip closed, Hamas security officers evacuate headquarters for fear of Israeli response - Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported Tuesday afternoon that government offices and security institutions were being evacuated for fear of an Israel Defense Forces attack in response to the incident which took place earlier near the Kissufim crossing, leaving one soldier dead and three injured. The Palestinians reported that government offices have stopped providing services and that the Hamas government’s security officers were evacuating their headquarters. Following the incident, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with senior defense establishment officials at his Tel Aviv office for an evaluation of the situation. Barak said earlier, "This is a grave attack, we cannot accept it and we will respond. "

Gaza violence mars Mitchell tour
Al Jazeera 1/27/2009
George Mitchell, the US peace envoy, has arrived in Cairo at the start of his Middle East tour as fresh violence broke out in the region. Mitchell arrived in Egypt on Tuesday, shortly before Israel launched an air raid on the Gaza Strip and Israeli troops reportedly crossed into the territory following clashes that led to the deaths of an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian. The envoy, who has been briefed by Barack Obama, the US president, to "engage vigorously" to achieve peace in the Middle East, is holding talks with Egyptian officials before visiting Israel, the Palestinian West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia and then heading to Europe. Upon his arrival at the airport, Mitchell briefly met Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, who is in Egypt to discuss shoring-up Hamas’ and Israel’s ceasefires in Gaza.

Obama’s initiative: Denmark conference on Gaza smuggling
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Next week will see meeting of representatives from US, EU, Israel and possibly Egypt in Copenhagen for in-depth discussion of arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza - US President Barack Obama has no intention of waiting for the general elections in Israel before tackling one of the region’s most contentious problems. Ynet has learned that a meeting of high-ranking officials on arms smuggling into Gaza is shaping up to take place as early as next week in Denmark. Expected participants include European nations, Israel and possibly Egypt. President Obama vowed he would work aggressively to advance the process between Israel and the Palestinians, and this initiative is focused primarily on stabilizing the ceasefire between Israel and the Islamist Hamas. Obama, officials in Jerusalem say, wants to make it clear that the US is present, active and adamant. . .

VIDEO - Obama ’seeks to repair damage’ in Middle East diplomacy drive
Mark Tran and agencies, The Guardian 1/27/2009
"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect," Obama said in the interview, recorded yesterday. - In a signal of his desire to repair the diplomatic damage of the George Bush era, Obama chose to give his first formal television interview since becoming US president to the Arabic cable TV network al-Arabiya. In it, he said the US sometimes made mistakes, but stressed that his administration would adopt a more open diplomatic approach than his predecessor’s. Obama renewed his pledge to make an address in the capital of a major Muslim country, pointed out that he had lived in Indonesia for several years while growing up, and said his travels through Muslim states had convinced him that, regardless of faith, people had certain common hopes and dreams.

Report: UNRWA ’pays terrorists’
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 1/28/2009
In sharply worded report, former legal advisor to UN agency says group must redefine oxymoronic labeling of Palestinians with Jordanian, Lebanese citizenship as refugees - The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees employs and provides benefits for terrorists and criminals, asserts a former legal adviser to UNRWA who left the organization in 2007. James Lindsay, now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as an attorney with the US Justice Department for two decades before leaving to work for UNRWA in 2000. Titled ’Fixing UNRWA: Repairing the UN’s Troubled System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees,’ Lindsay’s report puts forward suggestions intended to improve the agency. Established by the US and Britain after the 1948 war, UNRWA’s objective was to aid displaced Palestinians.

Father of captive soldier Shalit: Sarkozy assured me Gilad is alive
Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
The father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit said that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had assured him during their talks in Paris on Tuesday that his son is still alive. The French president met with Noam Shalit to update him on the latest developments in the diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Gilad, who was captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 cross-border raid. Speaking to Haaretz from France, the elder Shalit noted that no new direct messages from his son were received, but expressed hope that, "something might well be on the way. "He said the new information was received at a pre-arranged meeting with Sarkozy, who has been trying to secure up-to-date information about the soldier’s state ever since the cease-fire went into force earlier this month.

Noam Shalit: Sarkozy told me Gilad is alive
Ynet and Reuters, YNetNews 1/27/2009
’We have a little more hope tonight, but things are still complicated,’ says father of kidnapped soldier with cautious optimism after meeting with French president. Earlier today Sarkozy’s envoy to Damascus said he has asked Syria’s Assad to pressure Hamas to release Shalit - Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, said following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that the latter told him his son is still alive. " We have a little more hope tonight, but things are still complicated," Shalit told Channel 10 News. Earlier on Tuesday a French lawmaker sent by Sarkozy on a Middle East fact-finding mission said France has asked

At a Flash Point in Gaza, A Family’s Deadly Ordeal
Jonathan Finer, Washington Post 1/27/2009
ZAYTOUN, Gaza Strip -- Just before dawn on Jan. 4, a sledgehammer crashed through the living-room wall of the home of Almaz al-Samuni in this southern enclave of Gaza City, pounding a hole wide enough for someone to poke a rifle through while shouting in a language she didn’t understand." Get out of the house now," an Israeli soldier ordered, this time in accented Arabic, she recalled. Almaz, small for her age of 13, and her family quickly did as they were told, heading for her uncle Wael’s house nearby, where by daybreak 92 family members had packed in thigh-to-thigh. It was a week into Israel’s 22-day war with Hamas. At least 29 members of the Samuni family died over the next two weeks -- including Almaz’s mother and two brothers. Sixteen or more were killed Jan. 5 when at least two Israeli shells smashed Wael al-Samuni’s crowded house.

De facto government Documentation Committee collects testimonies for war crimes trials
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government in Gaza launched a Documentation Committee Tuesday, responsible for tracking and cataloguing Israeli war crimes against the people of Gaza. The information will be collected against those who “committed massacres in the latest war against the Gaza Strip. ” Heading the committee are de facto Minister of Justice Faraj Al-Ghoul and Judge Deya Ad-Din Al-Madhoun. Al-Ghoul noted that the information collected would be sent to the international courts, where the information will be used to press war crimes charges against Israeli army personnel and officials. The committee has over 160 members who were dispersed throughout the Gaza Strip to collect evidence, video documentation and narrative accounts from Gazan civilians. The Judge Al-Madhoun noted that the crews have been authorized by head prosecutors and attorneys to collect evidence.

Israel Acts to Block War Crimes Charges
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
Jerusalem - Mounting fear in Israel that the country’s leaders face war crimes charges over their involvement in the recent Gaza offensive pushed officials into a frenzy of activity at the weekend to forestall legal actions abroad. The urgency was underlined after rumours last week that Belgian authorities might arrest Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, if she attended a summit of European counterparts in Brussels on Wednesday. In an indication of how seriously the matter is judged, Ms Livni’s advisers were on the verge of cancelling her trip when the story was revealed to be a hoax. Nonetheless, officials are braced for real attempts to arrest senior political and military figures following a warning from the country’s chief law officer, Menachem Mazuz, that Israel will soon face “a wave of international lawsuits”.

UN’s role in Gaza rises among the rubble
Alfred De Montesquiou, Yahoo! News 1/26/2009
Associated Press - JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip – Crouching against piled mattresses in a room crammed with refugees, Bissan Abu al-Eish focused on her homework, blocking out the relentless shrieks of dozens of toddlers and the stench of overflowing latrines." I’m so happy to be studying," said the 9-year-old girl, bent over the new textbook she received this weekend when classes resumed for 200,000 Gaza children at United Nations facilities. Beyond being schooled by the U. N. , Abu al-Eish and her seven siblings eat the agency’s food, wear its clothing and now live in one of its buildings after their own house was leveled during Israeli bombardments on Gaza. Hamas may be politically in charge of the Gaza Strip, but it’s to the U. N. ’s relief agency that the majority of the 1. 4 million Gazans turn for health care, garbage collection, food assistance...

For Children of Gaza, Scars to Last a Lifetime
Griff Witte, Washington Post 1/26/2009
Many Fear That Young Will Suffer Psychological Effects of War for Decades - GAZA CITY, Jan. 25 -- One by one, the seventh-graders rose from their old wooden desks and, in toneless voices that betrayed neither sadness nor surprise, spoke of horrible things." A missile targeted my relatives," said Adhem Abdulal, a tall boy with a bright grin. "My cousin got shrapnel in his leg. Another cousin got shrapnel in his head." "The F-16 bombed my uncle’s house. His stomach got ripped out, and he died," said Mohammed Abu Hassan, fidgeting with the zipper on his red leather jacket." Our house was burned by the shelling," said Othman Abu Ghaioon, his dark brown hair framing a pale, expressionless face. "The top two floors are destroyed, but the ground floor got fixed. There are 20 of us there now."

Photo: What children saw
Washington Post 1/26/2009
A Palestinian child in the northern Gaza Strip draws an image of a tank aiming at a house. Half the population of Gaza is under the age of 16. Photo Credit: AP Photo

Q&A: ’Gaza Will Take Years to Recover’
Mel Frykberg Interviews Katharina Ritz Of The ICRC, Inter Press Service 1/28/2009
RAMALLAH, Jan 27(IPS) - Gaza will need years to recover from the devastating Israeli assault, says Katharina Ritz, head of mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Israel’s 22-day assault left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead, and decimated much of the coastal territory’s infrastructure. Excerpts from the interview: IPS: How long do you think it will take for Gaza to be rehabilitated? Katharina Ritz: Gaza will take several years at the very least to recover from the Israeli military campaign. This is the best case scenario, assuming that the border crossings are opened permanently and all the necessary aid and help is allowed in unhindered. IPS: How will the reconstruction take place, and what will this involve? KR: There will be several stages. The initial shortages of electricity, water, food and medicine can be met, and the sewage and water systems repaired within weeks if sufficient quantities of spare parts, fuel and humanitarian aid are allowed in.

A Flurry of Tunnel Repairs Is Underway in Gaza’s South
Jonathan Finer, MIFTAH 1/27/2009
While the neighborhoods of Gaza remain in ruins, and tens of thousands of residents still lack water and power, reconstruction of its more illicit infrastructure was well underway Saturday in this bustling town on the Egyptian border. A Caterpillar backhoe bored into the sandy earth. Generators rumbled under the cover of tattered white tents. And above and below ground, teams of workers set about restoring the warren of smuggling tunnels that the Israeli air assault had sought to destroy. Despite constant bombardment, particularly during the early stages of the conflict, some of the smugglers’ tunnels remained open, Rafah residents and tunnel operators said. Many others have reopened since Israel and Hamas separately announced cease-fires a week ago. Israel says the tunnels are used to transport arms, such as materials to make the rockets that Hamas fighters fire into southern Israeli towns.

Ma’an Exclusive: PA lays out plan for rebuilding Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – The Palestinian Authority is planning a major reconstruction effort for the Gaza Strip, according to preparations for an upcoming donors’ conference in Egypt. The plan will cover “all aspects of life,” which will be presented on 26 February at the Egyptian resort city Sharm Al-Sheikh, PA Planning Minister Samir Abdullah told Ma’an. The PA set a condition for the aid, insisting that the “appropriate political atmosphere for national reconciliation” be apparent, as well as a permanent ceasefire. “The reconstruction of Gaza needs operational capacities from the West Bank, in addition to Arab and foreign countries,” due to the Strip’s weak infrastructure, Abdullah said. He added that donors want guarantees that calm will prevail and reconstruction efforts will not be in vain, but laid out his plan for social and economic rebuilding.

Haneyya welcomes Arab, international role in rebuilding Gaza Strip
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- PA premier Ismael Haneyya has welcomed any role the Arab league or donor countries could play in the reconstruction programs of the Gaza Strip, asserting that what was crucial to his government is to make sure that the financial assistance would reach those who deserve it. In a press release he issued Tuesday, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, Haneyya pledged that his government would cooperate and facilitate everything for the parties that would tackle the reconstruction programs, underlining that the "great Palestinian people who demonstrated a legendary steadfastness during the Israeli war on Gaza, are worth being cared for and sheltered. He also made it clear that his government wasn’t keen on receiving the money, but it wants to make sure that the money goes to the right people in order to end the tragedy of the displaced families.

Israeli troops invade West Bank, take nine for questioning
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli troops detained nine Palestinians from across the West Bank overnight Monday. Israeli sources said the men were all “wanted. ” Two were from Ramallah, three from Badras near Ramallah, two from Bethlehem and two from Hebron. Palestinian security sources noted that seven Israeli patrols overran Al-Karkafeh Street in Bethlehem and raided a Zbun family house. They detained 24 year-old Ayesh Ibrahim Suleiman Nawawreh. Israeli troops also raided the Al-Azzeh refugee camp in Bethlehem and detained 18-year-old Maher Muhammad Issa Zbun after raiding his house. In Hebron, Palestinian security forces said Israeli troops overran Al-Thahriyeh village south Hebron and raided several houses. Those detained were identified as 34-year-old Muhammad Abdel Jalil Al-Hawarin and Tareq Abu Allan.

The Israeli army kidnaps three civilians during pre dawn invasions in Hebron area
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli military has kidnapped three Palestinian civilians during pre dawn invasions targeting the southern West Bank city of Hebron and near by villages on Tuesday. The sources said that Israeli troops attacked and searched resident homes in Hebron city, the nearby Al Thahriya town as well as Dora village. The operation which lasted for several hours ended when troops too the three men and left. The three were identified as Mo'ayad AL Natsha, 22, Mohamed AL Harwan, and Tarik Abu Allan. Witness in Al Thahriya town said that troops searched homes and local shops and damaged some of the people belongs during the search.

The Israeli army kidnaps five Palestinian civilians from Ramallah
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Five Palestinian civilians where kidnapped by Israeli troops during an invasion targeting the central West Bank city of Ramallah and nearby villages on Tuesday. In Budrus village Israeli troops searched and ransacked homesthen kidnapped three civilians and took then to unknown locations, witnesses reported. In Kufer Malak village, Israeli troops stormed some homes then kidnapped two men and took them to unknown locations. People said that troops destroyed some of their belongings during the search. [end]

Family keeps name private of IDF tracker slain on Gaza border
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
The name of the 23-year-old Israel Defense Forces NCO killed Tuesday near the Gaza border was not released to the press, at the request of the family. A mourning tent was erected at the entrance to the neighborhood of the Bedouin town in which he lived, with many of the residents coming to pay their condolences to the family. He was buried in the local cemetery, with many members of the Bedouin community attending. The soldier is survived by his wife and two children. He served as a tracker with the Desert Patrol Battalion of the Givati Brigade. Friends of the family said that he had lived with his parents and was planning to build a home in a new neighborhood under construction in the town. "He was a good man, entirely dedicated to the army," a neighbor said.

Palestine Today 012709
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
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 Tuesday, January 27th, 2009. The Israeli army kills a Palestinian farmer in Gaza, and kidnaps civilians from the West Bank, these stories and more coming up. Stay tuned. The News Cast A Palestinian farmer was killed near the Israeli Gaza border when he was fired on by Israeli tanks on Tuesday. Witnesses said that Israeli tanks shelled civilian homes and farms, in the village of al-Faraheen at borders with Israel, located near the southern Gaza strip city of Khan Younis, Medics said that Anwar Al Bareem, age 27, was dead on arrival at the hospital in Khan Younis. Israeli media sources said that Israeli troops near the border opened fire and clashed with local fighters before shelling nearby areas.

Abu Marzouk: Hamas got prepared for the war since last summer
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, on Sunday said that his Movement had been getting prepared for the Israeli war since last summer, highlighting that in the next battle, Hamas fighters would meet the Israeli tanks before stepping the Gaza lands. In a lecture delivered at the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Dr. Abu Marzouk noted that Hamas had trained 5,000 Hamas members to confront the expected war on Gaza. The Hamas leader underlined that the Israeli soldiers during the aggression were wearing electronic tracking devices in order to reveal their whereabouts in case they were captured, adding that Israeli warplanes killed three Israeli soldiers wearing these devices after being taken as prisoners by Hamas fighters. He also said that the war on Gaza was meant to destroy the resistance, but both Israel and those who wished. . .

Israeli analysts say blast near Gaza ’work of Al-Qaeda affiliates’
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Jerusalem/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli military analysts on Tuesday night claimed a Hamas splinter group affiliated with Al-Qaeda set off an explosive near Gaza that killed a soldier and wounded three others. Appearing on Israel’s Channel Ten broadcast, experts suggested the group, which is also allied with Islamic Jihad, placed the improvised explosive device under a military jeep near Gaza on Tuesday morning. Analyst Alov Ben said preliminary Israeli investigations “suggest the device was not old and that there had been five large, planted explosives near the fence. ”“The group was successful in detonating one against the patrol but the soldiers escaped from the others,” he added, noting that Israel responded by assassinating someone on a motorcycle in Khan Younis. Analysts were baffled on an appropriate response to the attack, however, insisting that Israel wants. . . -- See also: Israel 'faked al-Qaeda presence'

WJC: We must finish off Hamas first before going to a two-state solution
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The World Jewish Congress is holding its 13 th general meeting on Monday and Tuesday in the occupied city of Jerusalem, which indicates that the Israeli occupation government was intensifying judaization programs in the city. Around 400 persons representing more than 80 Jewish organizations world-wide are attending the meeting, which, according to the organizers, aims to demonstrate solidarity with Israel in its war on Gaza. More than 1330 innocent Palestinian citizens in Gaza Strip, the bulk of them were children and women, were brutally killed during the 23-day Israeli occupation aggression on Gaza. WJC president Roland Lauder said that the meeting in Jerusalem aimed at extending our full support to the "people of Israel", and to let them feel that they weren’t alone in confronting the Islamic attacks that threatens the existence of Israel.

Fundamentally Freund: Alleviating the aliya crisis
Jerusalem Post 1/27/2009
On Sunday, we received yet more bad news. In a statement to the media, the Bank of Israel projected that overall output would shrink this year for the first time since 2002, heralding the onset of recession after five years in which the average annual growth rate was nearly 5 percent. As a result, the economy now takes its place alongside Gaza, the water shortage and the Iranian nuclear threat as another acute problem on the national agenda. With so many crises vying for our attention, it’s hardly surprising that a no less important emergency has largely fallen by the wayside. And that is the steady and ongoing decline in Jewish immigration, which is no less an issue of national security than borders, terrorism or defense. Aliya, of course, is the lifeblood of the Zionist enterprise, as well as being an engine of economic growth.

National Union chair spars with terrorist’s grandmother
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 1/27/2009
’Arab schools shouldn’t teach murder of Jews, like schools in Europe did,’ says Katz on Jerusalem tour - Members of the National Union Party toured east Jerusalem Tuesday, and passed by the home of Kasem Mugrabi, the terrorist who rammed his vehicle into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem last year. The party called for the razing of the house, located in Jabel Mukaber neighborhood. "As you can see, this is a beautiful and fancy home belonging to one of the wealthiest families in Jerusalem," said Yaakov Katz, who heads the party. "All kinds of false prophets say that when the Arabs are rich and their economy healthy, they will wander from the path of terror. Where is Jumes now? Where is Peres? "he asked, referring to Meretz Party Chairman Chaim Oron and President Shimon Peres.

MIDEAST: A Tale of Two Summits
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 1/28/2009
CAIRO, Jan 27(IPS) - Despite declarations of Arab unity at a recent economic summit, Egyptian commentators say that fundamental differences between rival Arab camps - especially over the issue of Palestine - are far from over. "The deep divisions currently plaguing the Arab world cannot be solved over the course of an official state luncheon," Mohamed Abu Al-Hadid, political analyst and chairman of the board of the state-owned Dar Al-Tahrir publishing house wrote in official daily Al-Gomhouriya Thursday (Jan. 22). On Jan. 16, leaders and representatives of 12 Arab League (AL) member states attended a meeting in Doha, Qatar to discuss the carnage then taking place in the Gaza Strip through Israel’s military campaign. The meeting followed repeated calls by Qatar for an emergency AL summit in hope of forging a common Arab stance against ongoing Israeli aggression.

Minister of Waqf calls Palestinians to work for a better future with religious unity
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Religious institutions must unify and support Palestinians as they work towards the fulfillment of their national project, said Minister of Religious Affairs and Waqf Jamal Bawatneh on Tuesday. As Palestinian factions return to the table to discuss the extension of the two unilateral ceasefires declared by Hamas and Israel, Bawatneh sent the comments in a statement on the necessity of support from the religious institutions of Palestine. Separating the national project from religion is a mistake, he said, and could prove a bad influence over the Palestinians people and their futures. Under the example of religious institutions people must ensure they are working for the sake of each other and not working to strengthen division. “Islam has so many failures,” said Bawatneh, but it always tries to achieve its goals even when they have not been successful in the past.

A trustful witness in Gaza, Mustafa Barghouthi currently in the Strip
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 1/27/2009
Ramallah, 27-01-09: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of the , is visiting the damaged and traumatised Gaza Strip today. Dr. Barghouthi will assess the human, health and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip after 3 weeks of permanent Israeli assaults. As a Doctor, Deputy, and Civil Society activist who advocate for the development of the Palestinian civil society and grassroots democracy and for the Palestinian Unity, he is a trustful witness and legitimate voice for the Palestinian society. After 24rd day of attacks, at least 1,312 people have reportedly been killed (including more than 417 children and 108 women), and more than 5,340 have sustained heavy injuries, including 411 seriously wounded. The majority of the casualties are civilians and 48% are children and women.

Hamas: Az-Zahhar is safe and sound; rumors of injury a 'big lie'
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Hamas leader and co-founder Mahmoud Az-Zahhar was not injured during the Israeli war on Gaza, de facto government spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said Tuesday. He is safe and healthy and conducting his normal political duties, said Barhoum in response to rumors he had been injured during Israel’s three week war on Gaza. Barhoum called the rumors of his injury “a big lie. ”Az-Zahhar’s son also denied that his father is wounded saying he is “on his duty as normal and in a good health. ”News sites alleged that Mahmoud Az-Zahhar was injured during the last days of the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip and he was secretly taken to receive treatment in Egypt.

VIDEO - TV appeal for Gaza raises £1m despite BBC and Sky refusal
Jenny Percival and Vikram Dodd, The Guardian 1/27/2009
Donations to an emergency fund for Gaza have doubled despite the refusal of the BBC and Sky News to broadcast an appeal that was shown on three other channels last night. The number of complaints to the BBC also rose overnight and now stands at more than 21,000, with just 380 writing in support of the corporation’s stance. At the same time, a parliamentary motion criticising the BBC’s decision has grown in popularity and has attracted the signatures of MPs from all parties. The BBC is also being threatened with a lawsuit alleging its decision to ban the charity appeal for Gaza from its airwaves was discriminatory, the Guardian has learned. The case is being brought on behalf of 42 people who say they were offended by the corporation’s decision. They will argue that the ban discriminated against the Palestinian people because the BBC refused to allow a charity appeal for them to be broadcast,

BBC receives 10,000 complaints, Labour MP says explanation to ban ad is '˜incoherent’
Polly Basak for PNN, Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
London - The BBC, the only UK terrestrial channel refusing to show a humanitarian appeal for Gaza, was eclipsed by ITV, Channel 4 and five news channels, all of which aired the short film. The BBC, joined by Sky News on Tuesday, has fallen into the trap of a "misconstruction of the concept of balance," commented a former correspondent. Protesters continue to express their anger after Sky News joined the BBC’s decision refusing to broadcast the emergency aid appeal for Gaza. The two minute ad showing the destruction of infrastructure and homeless civilians in Gaza reports that 60 percent of the population is now living in poverty. Last Saturday more than 5,000 people protested outside the gates of the BBC in central London and Glasgow. On Monday protestors burned their TV licences and held banners saying ’Hands off Gaza.

Pressure builds on BBC in Gaza row
Al Jazeera 1/27/2009
Pressure is building on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Sky News to reconsider their decisions not to air a charity appeal to help the people of Gaza following Israel’s war on the territory. More than 100 politicians, several government ministers, 21,000 BBC viewers and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England, are calling for the appeal to be televised. A House of Commons motion criticising the broadcasters’ decisions, which was signed by 112 MPs from all parties, was published on Tuesday. The appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella group of British charities, was screened on Monday by three of Britain’s largest broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. Richard Burden, the Labour party MP who tabled the Commons motion, said: "It shouldn’t be about. . . "

Sky joins BBC in refusing to run humanitarian ad, demonstrations throughout UK
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
Amman - Today the British news outlet Sky has joined the BBC in refusing to run an emergency appeal issued by Oxfam, Save the Children, the Red Cross and 10 other humanitarian organizations seeking aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Upwards of 10,000 Brits protested this weekend and demonstrations continue throughout the United Kingdom. Protesters filled the streets for weeks only to return upon the BBC’s refusal to run an add asking for donations for the Gaza Strip after 23 days of major Israeli attacks. The BBC says running the ad would negatively impact its credibility as an "impartial source. "At a demonstration in London last week, Polly Basak reported for that the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli operation which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians in just over three weeks was the focus of derision.

Solidarity campaign includes broadcasting for schools
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
Qatar -- Israeli forces bombed the United Nations Al Fakhoorah school in northern Gaza earlier this month, killing 42 Palestinians. A satellite channel of the same name began broadcasting this week in solidarity with the students of the Strip. Al Fakhoora Satellite broadcast channel and website opened in the framework of an international campaign of support. "This is a work of solidarity between the pupils of the State of Qatar and those of the Gaza Strip," state organizers in Doha. The aim of the initiative is to "highlight the tragic situation faced by students in the Gaza Strip," say organizers. The sponsor is Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Misnad, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) consort for the Emir of Qatar. Some students said that the launch of the channel and the solidarity campaign was an attempt to "sow roses amid. . .

Yemeni figures invoke Constitution in appeal for war crimes tribunal
PNN / Kahlani Majid, Palestine News Network 1/27/2009
Sanaa - The Yemeni Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms issued one of hundreds of calls internationally to try Israeli leaders for war crimes committed against the Gaza Strip. In an appeal to Yemen’s Attorney General, the Sanaa based group said today that a judicial investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Foreign and Defense ministers Livni and Barak is crucial. Cases have been brought to The Hague by several legal groups worldwide in a direct response to the 23 days of major Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. "We add to those names warranting investigation into the commission of war crimes all involved commanders and army officers," the Yemeni Organization said Tuesday. The Movement for Change in Yemen has signed on along with Sheikh Hamid Abdullah Hussein Al Ahmar, the Yemen Socialist Party, Hatem Abu Hatem, Chairman. . .

Kuwait decides not to give Gaza money to Abbas’s team
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
KUWAIT, (PIC)-- Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Subah Al-Ahmad Al-Subah has officially announced Sunday that his government will send the money allocated for Gaza Strip to the Arab Development Fund instead of sending it to the PA in Ramallah city. The decision of the emir was promulgated after Kuwaiti lawmakers and civil society leaders expressed fears that the money could be wasted if it sent to the team of Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The decision was broadly welcomed among the politicians in Kuwait who revealed that the PA government in Ramallah was relentlessly striving hard to get the money and to handle the rebuilding programs, and not to send it to the legitimate PA government in Gaza Strip. "The majority of the parliament members were against sending a single penny to the PA of Abbas that lost legitimacy, because this money should go to those who sacrificed their blood and souls for Allah", said Kuwaiti MP Naser Al-Sane’e.

Turkish Jews fearful of anti-Semitism after Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 1/27/2009
One of largest Jewish communities in Muslim world faces threatening public atmosphere following Operation Cast Lead. ’I feel worried, sad and scared for myself and for my country’s future, which is leaning towards racism,’ says Jewish journalist - Turkey’s centuries-old Jewish community says it is alarmed by anti-Semitism that emerged during protests at Israel’s Gaza assault, and is questioning how this reflects its status in the predominantly Muslim republic. Although Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan condemned anti-Semitism, Jews in Turkey and beyond believe the language he employed during the conflict gave some a license to translate their outrage at Israel’s action into racial hatred. Heightened anti-Jewish sentiment comes at a time of rising nationalism in Turkey, blamed for the murders of several Christians in the last few years, as hardliners fight against those struggling for a more plural, multi-ethnic society.

Abu Zuhri in Indonesia calls for retaining diplomatic momentum to end Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
JAKARTA, (PIC)-- Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, has advocated continued international rallies and diplomatic pressure to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and to open all crossings in order to start the reconstruction of the devastated Strip. Abu Zuhri, speaking to the PIC from Jakarta at conclusion of a four-day visit to Indonesia, said that he met with Hidayat Nur Wahid, the chairman of the people’s consultative assembly, and Agung Laksono, the speaker of the parliament. He explained that discussions during the two meetings tackled the conditions in Gaza before, during and after the Israeli aggression in which the Palestinian resistance topped by Hamas displayed brave resistance. Abu Zuhri said that he tabled his Movement’s political views regarding current events in Palestine and re-asserted Hamas’s insistence on Palestinian rights and constants and vowed never to surrender them regardless of sacrifices.

Moroccan Parliamentarians in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/27/2009
Parliamentarians from Morocco managed to enter the Gaza Strip on Monday evening through the Rafah border terminal, in the southern Gaza Strip. The parliamentarians attempted to enter Gaza on Sunday, but were barred by the Egyptian Authorities. This visit is considered the first to be carried out by parliamentarians in the Arab world. The nine Moroccan Parliamentarians, representing four political parties, were welcomed by Hamas officials, including Legislator Mosheer Al Masry, secretary of Hamas’ parliamentarian bloc. Al Masry welcomed the visiting officials and said that this visit is very important since it comes after the Israeli offensive which targeted homes, facilities, hospitals, mosques and the infrastructure in Gaza. Directly after managing to enter Gaza, the Parliamentarians started chanting for Gaza and its steadfastness, and said that they stand with the Palestinian people and their just cause.

First official Arab delegation arrives in Gaza since Israeli seige imposed in 2007
Ma’an News Agency 1/27/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – After being refused entry for two days, the first official Arab parliamentarian delegation to the Gaza Strip since Israel imposed its siege on the area managed to enter the Gaza Monday evening via the Rafah crossing. The Moroccan delegation was denied entry into Gaza from Egypt for two days, and staged a sit-in at the Egyptian side of the border crossing, according to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza. As the parliamentarians entered the Gaza Strip they began chanting slogans applauding its people. They affirmed solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just cause. The delegation was invited by Hamas lawmaker Mushir Al-Masri, according to director of public relations in the Hamas “change and reform bloc” in the PLC Muhammad Radwan. They arrived to see firsthand the damage caused by the three week Israeli onslaught.

Turkey calls on Hamas to pick politics over arms
Reuters, The Independent 1/27/2009
Turkey’s government, accused of siding with Hamas during Israel’s Gaza offensive, has called on the Islamist group to use peaceful means to achieve its aims rather than armed struggle, its foreign minister said. The government has come under criticism for the strong rhetoric it used against Israel during the offensive in the Gaza strip. Turkish opposition parties, ex-diplomats and columnists have accused the government of taking a pro-Hamas stance. "Hamas should make a decision. Do they want to be an armed organisation or a political movement? ," Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told Milliyet and Radikal newspapers in an interview published today. "Our suggestion is that they work within the framework of the political system. The party supported by Hamas got 44 per cent of the votes in the last elections. It is impossible to ignore this base," he said.

Mishaal heads Hamas delegation on Qatar visit
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of Hamas Movement, is to lead a Movement’s delegation on a visit to Qatar on Tuesday within a tour of a number of Arab countries. A senior source in Hamas said that the tour would target discussing means of ending the siege on Gaza and opening all crossings. He noted that the delegation’s visit to Doha falls in line with contacts with the Arab countries in a bid to explain Hamas’s views regarding Palestinian developments and to assert the importance of continuing efforts to open all Gaza crossings and lift the siege. The delegation includes deputy political bureau chairman Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk and members of the political bureau.

Truth, lies and Obama / Contending Israeli parties kick off TV campaigns
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
Contending political parties Tuesday evening launched their televised election campaigns, presenting the best of advertising companies and Israel’s most influential strategic political advisors. The broadcasts, once an integral part of the election process, have lost a significant number of viewers over the years. Their assessed rating is quite low and it can be assumed that not many viewers will tune in on Tuesday to see political propaganda at its finest. Israel’s growing number of television channels over the years is said to be one of the leading causes for the broadcasts’ low ratings, but increasing public apathy and lack of interest in politics may also account for the notable change. Kadima’s ads were the first to be broadcast, emphasizing that party chairwoman Tzipi Livni did not give in. . .

Beirut International Forum Closing Statement
Translated By Diego Traversa And Revised By Saja Raoof, Members, Palestine Think Tank 1/27/2009
To support Peoples’ Anti-Imperialistic Resistance and the building of Alternatives to Globalisation  On the initiative of several research centres, associations and socio-political movements, The Beirut International Forum was held on 16, 17 and 18 January 2009, attended by Arab and international delegations and authorities from five continents (66 countries). This Forum, in which South America, Asia and Near East were massively represented, embodied the spirit of the Tricontinental centre. Two major topics characterised the Forum. On one hand, the heroic resistance by the Palestinian people of Gaza and their ability to confront an intense violence and unprecedented barbarity. On the other, capitalism’s global crisis, which is not only financial but also on economic, social, cultural and moral fronts, thus posing a threat to the survival of humanity itself.

French delegation confirms Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
PARIS, (PIC)-- A French delegation visited Gaza last week affirmed that Israel committed real war crimes in the Gaza Strip and called for the establishment of an international investigation committee in this regard and for the suspension of the European partnership agreement with Israel. The delegation which included MP Francis Wurz and mayor of Bagnolet city Marc Everbecq had visited Gaza on the 21st of this month. In a conference held Monday by the delegation members in Paris, MP Wurz said that what the delegation saw did not look like effects of confrontation between two warring parties, but it was a massacre claimed the lives of hundreds of unarmed civilians in conjunction with the destruction of residential neighborhoods and the displacement of thousands of residents. The lawmaker underlined that the delegation had an unwavering belief that Israel committed war crimes in. . .

Gaza situation could ’complicate’ pope’s Israel trip
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
ROME - A planned trip by Pope Benedict XVI to Israel could be "complicated" by the situation in Gaza, a high-ranking prelate said Monday. "The organisation of the visit is tied mainly to political questions," Cardinal Walter Kasper said in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica, adding that it would be "complicated (by) the events in Gaza. " Kasper, who handles the Vatican’s relations with Judaism, said the pontiff’s May 8-15 trip to Israel will be "complicated" by the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza that ended January 18. "In any case, no decision has been taken yet, and the programme has not been set. It depends on how the situation develops on the ground," he said, stressing that "the situation must be calm" for the visit, and that the pope will want to "meet his people" in Bethlehem.

Assad meets leaders of Palestinian factions, hails resistance
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad on Tuesday received the leaders of Palestinian factions based in Damascus for a discussion on latest Palestinian developments. The Syrian news agency quoted Assad as hailing the steadfastness of Palestinian people and the collective resistance acts of the Palestinian factions during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. He said that the Gaza inhabitants’ support of resistance had led to victory and to failure of the Israeli schemes and goals. The president called for investing this victory on the political level to endorse the Palestinian rights including the refugees’ right of return to their homeland. The Palestinian delegation thanked the Syrian leadership and people for their great support, affirming the intention to continue along the road of resistance until achieving the greater victory and establishing the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Assad optimistic about relations with US
Middle East Online 1/27/2009
BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was cautiously optimistic on Monday about relations with the United States under Barack Obama, saying a "serious" joint dialogue has been initiated. "We have witnessed in the past weeks a desire by the current US administration, before it took office, to examine the Middle East situation, particularly the peace process and Iraq," Assad told the Al-Manar television of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. "We have positive indications, but we learned to be careful. As long as there are no tangible results, we have to assume that things have not changed. " Assad rejected any preconditions to talks with the United States. "As long as there are (US) conditions for dialogue with Syria, there will be no dialogue," he said in the interview. "But I think dialogue started some weeks ago in a serious manner through personalities who are close to the administration and who were dispatched by the administration.

Assad: Gaza remained steadfast till the last day
Palestinian Information Center 1/27/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad stated Monday that the Gaza Strip remained steadfast until the last day of the Israeli war and if it had collapsed, then all steadfastness we see throughout the Arab world would have collapsed, pointing out that Israel failed to eradicate the structure of the Palestinian resistance.   In an interview with Al-Manar TV satellite channel, the Syrian president explained how the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine achieved victory over Israel, saying if the Israeli aim was to destroy houses and to kill civilians in the first war in Lebanon and the second war in Gaza, then with this criterion, Israel would gain victory, but if the aim was to eliminate and strike the resistance, then Israel failed to achieve this goal. "They told us that war would not restore rights. The peace negotiations were held and did not restore rights"¦ it was evident that Israel understands nothing but the language of force.

U.S. releases Iranian ship believed to be carrying arms for Gaza
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
The U. S. navy was forced to release an Iranian boat detained in the Red Sea on suspicion of carrying arms to Hamas-ruled Gaza. Weapons of various kinds were found aboard the ship, which was flying the Cypriot flag when it was stopped January 19. The ship was released Tuesday when it became apparent that there was no legal basis for holding it. At a press conference in Washington, Admiral Mike Mullen, who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said although American naval personnel boarded the ship and found the weapons, they had no legal authority to impound the arms. He suggested that more stringent resolutions by the UN Security Council would be required, stating clearly that Iran is violating standards against arms smuggling. Mullen stressed involving Iran in solving regional problems, including the deteriorating. . .

Shas to endorse Likud’s Netanyahu as next prime minister
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 1/27/2009
Shas chairman Eli Yishai on Tuesday announced that his party would endorse Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu as the next prime minister. Yishai, who announced the endorsement during the official launch of Shas’ election campaign, also said that Labor chief Ehud Barak should serve as minister of defense in the next government. The war of words between Shas and Kadima, which has escalated in recent days, reached a new zenith Monday night when Kadima chairman Tzipi Livni stated that she would not give Shas control of the education ministry in the next government. Livni also addressed the issue of coalition negotiations between the various parties, the failure of which led to early elections. "I was told that Shas would not be able to back me, because they are angry over the fact that during my tenure. . .

Likud warns against overconfidence
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 1/27/2009
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu took pains to downplay expectations on Monday, in the face of polls predicting victory for his party in the February 10 election with just two weeks left to go. Netanyahu’s associates said he did not want to repeat a mistake made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who lost seats for his party two weeks before the 2006 elections when he told Russian immigrant voters that the race had already been decided. "We need to get elected," Netanyahu said at an event with religious-Zionist supporters. "We still have two weeks. Even though things look promising, they are not guaranteed. " Netanyahu spoke amid reports that he had already decided to form a government with Labor and leave Kadima in the opposition. He was quoted as saying in closed conversations that "Kadima will stay out.

Muslims urge Arab parties not to ’exploit’ Gaza dead
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 1/27/2009
Islamic Movement calls on Arab parties to refrain from using ’blood of Gazan martyrs’ in elections -The Islamic Movement’s northern branch launched its campaign on Tuesday, calling on the Arab parties to refrain from taking advantage of the "blood of the martyrs in Gaza" in order to gain votes in the upcoming elections. The movement accused a number of parties of using the fighting in Gaza to draw in voters. The campaign’s signs, posted throughout Arab villages, say, "The blood of the children of Gaza is pure and clean and must not be ridden upon to the Knesset". A member of the Islamic Movement’s political bureau explained the campaign’s goal. "The campaign wants to remind that no one should take advantage of the blood in Gaza and turn it into an elections platform," said Abed al-Hakim.

How the call for aid to Gaza left the BBC in the thick of battle
Steve Bell, The Guardian 1/27/2009
The Guardian comment cartoon [end]

Cartoon of the day
Mr. Fish, Palestine Think Tank 1/27/2009
Israel attempting to rid the world of anti-semitism [end]

Iran MPs Plan Gaza Visit to Praise Hamas Resistance Against ’Zionist Offensive’
Haaretz, MIFTAH 1/27/2009
Five Iranian parliament members intend to visit the Gaza Strip to congratulate the Palestinians on their resistance against the "Zionist offensive. " The Iranian lawmakers will tour parts of Gaza to evaluate the damage sustained during Israel’s three-week-long Operation cast Lead. Iranian parliament member Mahmoud Ahmadi said the group also plans to meet with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, whom Ahmadi called "the legitimate Prime Minister of Palestine. " Another lawmaker said Tehran’s foreign ministry is trying to expedite the visa process, so they can enter Gaza via Egypt. Syrian President Basher Assad also recently met with Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal to congratulate Hamas for the "victory achieved by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza," the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Saturday.

Ahmadinejad: Breaking lock on Holocaust box would kill Zionist regime
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/28/2009
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a new verbal attack on Israel on Tuesday in a message to a Tehran university conference called "Holocaust, the West’s sacred lie," Iranian media reported. Ahmadinejad caused outrage in the West and Israel for saying in 2005 the state of Israel should be wiped off the map and for a Tehran conference in 2006 that sought to cast doubt on the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were deliberately killed by the Nazis. The Islamic Republic does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and refers to it as the "Zionist regime". It has condemned Israel’s recent attacks in Gaza, which Ahmadinejad has described as "genocide". At Tuesday’s conference he said in a message read out by the government spokesman that "the illegitimate Zionist regime is one of the consequences of the Holocaust," state broadcaster IRIB reported on its website.

IBM to expand Israeli XIV production facilities
Shmulik Shelah, Globes Online 1/27/2009
After selling $50 million of XIV systems in the fourth quarter, IBM VP Robert Cancilla said IBM will expand production. IBM Corporation (NYSE: IBM) reports that it sold $50 million worth of storage products of XIVin the fourth quarter of 2008, the first quarter in which the products were included in IBM’s product line. Sales amounted to less than $10 million in the preceding quarters XIV had a few million dollars in sales when IBM acquired it in January 2008. "Globes" named XIV founder Moshe Yanai as the most influential high-tech entrepreneur for 2008. IBM Israel said that increased sales of XIV storage systems meant increased production in Israel. IBM VP Robert Cancilla, who is currently visiting Israel, said, "Our production facilities in Israel will be expanded, together with the growth of XIV systems.

Texas Instruments layoffs include Israelis
Shmulik Shelah, Globes Online 1/27/2009
TI has 400 employees at its R&D center in Israel. Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) will lay off 3,400, 12% of its workforce, following the publication of disappointing financials yesterday. The layoffs will include employees at the company’s Israeli units. According to IVC Online, Texas Instruments has 400 employees at its R&D center, which is based on the acquisitions of Libit in 1999 and Butterfly in 2002. Texas Instruments did not state in which business segments or geographical regions it would make the layoffs, but if they are across-the-board and uniform, several dozen Israeli employees could lose their jobs. Texas Instruments said in response, "Cutbacks will be made in a number of countries in the EMEA, but the impact of the measure on Israel will be fairly small. "

Bank of Israel: 1% inflation at most in first half
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/27/2009
"Inflation will likely return to within the target range only in 2010. "The Bank of Israel predicts that inflation in the first half of 2009 will be less than 1%, and could even be negative. The central bank cited the worsening economic climate and the collapse of energy and commodities prices. "Inflation will likely return to within the target range only in 2010," it adds. The Bank of Israel today published its Inflation Report for the fourth quarter of 2008, a day after Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer cut the interest rate to an unprecedented 1% and just days after the Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 3. 9% in 2008, above the 1-3% inflation target. The Bank of Israel says that things could get worse, possibly significantly worse.

Netanyahu presents economic plan: More tax reform
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 1/27/2009
"Our aim is to turn things around - to stop the slide and move to growth. ""The economic crisis is global and on a scale that the public still does not fully understand. But it is a crisis that will hit us and has already hit us. The Governor of the Bank of Israel said yesterday that there will be an extra 50,000 unemployed by the end of 2009," Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu said today at a press conference to launch the Likud’s economic manifesto. Flanked by three former Likud Ministers of Finance - Silvan Shalom, Prof. Yaakov Ne’eman and Dan Meridor, Netanyahu said, "The process is accelerating and will threaten the employment of Israeli citizens - but we reverse the trend and put a brake on it and create places of employment. " He added, "Lowering taxes is the crucial component in reversing the trend - this is also good news for everybody below the tax threshold. "

First college for haredi women inaugurated
Tzipi Kepel, YNetNews 1/27/2009
As of next academic year, ultra-Orthodox women will be able to expand their job opportunities thanks to new college in Netanya - The first technological college for ultra-Orthodox women was inaugurated in Israel this week, in the city of Netanya. The college’s opening marks a change in the way the financial viability of haredi households is being perceived. While the college will only begin operating in the next academic year (October 2009), its founders are already busy preparing the facilities and have proudly exhibited the structure and technological equipment that will be in use there. The students at the college will be taught by lecturers from the Rupin Academic Center, and will be offered certification studies in accounting, bookkeeping and tax consultation, among other courses. The pioneering move was lead by the director of the Beit Margalit. . .

Britain must release Iraq war files
Al Jazeera 1/27/2009
The British government has been ordered to release the minutes of crucial ministerial meetings from 2003 at which the United States-led invasion of Iraq was discussed. The information tribunal, which hears appeals under Britain’s data protection act, backed a decision to disclose minutes of cabinet meetings from March 13 and 17, where ministers held talks about whether the decision to go to war was allowed under international law. The tribunal said: "We have decided that the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the formal minutes of two cabinet meetings at which ministers decided to commit forces to military action in Iraq did not. . . outweigh the public interest in disclosure. The cabinet office has 28 days to decide whether to appeal against the ruling.

JORDAN: Government adopts anti-human trafficking law
Maria Font de Matas/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/28/2009
AMMAN, 27 January 2009 (IRIN) - The Jordanian parliament has endorsed legislation to combat human trafficking in light of international complaints that local companies are sending foreign workers to Iraq against their will. The law, endorsed on 25 January, paves the way for the creation of an anti-human trafficking commission to oversee its implementation. The commission will be affiliated to the Ministry of Labour and will include officials from the police and Ministry of Justice. The authorities also plan to set up a shelter for victims of trafficking - to provide them with temporary accommodation before they are sent home. Violators of the law will be imprisoned for three years and tough measures will be taken against companies convicted of human trafficking, including permanent closure. In 2008 a number of Amman-based companies were accused of using the country as a transit point to forcefully send Asian workers to Iraq.

Few Welcome Mats for Guantanamo Detainees
Marina Litvinsky, Inter Press Service 1/28/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 27(IPS) - International human rights groups have expressed mixed reactions to the European Union’s lukewarm pledge to accept some detainees from U. S. custody at Guantanamo Bay once the facility closes. After some prodding, European leaders said they are willing to accept detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay prison as long as the U. S. shows that they pose no risk, but made no specific promises as to where and when they would take the inmates. U. S President Barack Obama said in an executive order issued last week that he would close the controversial U. S. prison on a naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "It’s a shame that the EU couldn’t send a stronger signal to the U. S. and its own citizens," said Joanna Gomez Cardoso of Amnesty International, adding that very few countries actually said they were willing to accept detainees.

Saudi defends its ‘Soft Counterterrorism Strategy’
Habib Trabelsi - PARIS, Middle East Online 1/27/2009
The Saudi authorities defend their rehabilitation program of ex-jihadis, or "Soft Counterterrorism Strategy", despite the return of a Saudi citizen to Al Qaeda’s ranks - an ex-Guantanamo prisoner who has undergone brainwashing in a rehabilitation center of "lost" repentants. "The program ’Mounasaha’ (coaching) has succeeded in 80 or 90% to rehabilitate ex-detainees in Guantanamo Bay and prisons in Iraq in addition to the lost (i. e. members of the Saudi branch of Al-Qaeda in Saudi phraseology) held in the kingdom," said an official of the Saudi Interior Ministry. According to the official, quoted Sunday by the local press, 109 Saudis have been transferred, from the US detention camp in Guantanamo (Cuba) where 140 Saudis had been imprisoned since 2001, to the kingdom where they have undergone a rehabilitation program.


Alternative Birthing Methods for the New Middle East
Belén Fernández, Palestine Chronicle 1/27/2009
      ’Birth pangs can sometimes occur in the form of aerial bombardments.’
     Israel’s recent holiday assault on the Gaza Strip provoked no dearth of flashbacks in the international press to the summer 2006 assault on Lebanon. The flashbacks, it seems, were triggered not only by indiscriminate bombing and civilian casualties but by other factors as well, such as endorsement of bombing and casualties by the US Senate and tautological clarifications by Condoleezza Rice that the aim of total destruction was to prevent a return to the status quo ante. In contrast with her performance during the Lebanese debacle, however, Rice refrained from characterizing as "birth pangs of a new Middle East" what happened when the Gazan status quo ante attempted to remain the status quo; she conserved additional energy by abstaining from physical contact with the afflicted region.
     I explored Rice’s newfound succinctness during a visit to the website of the US State Department a few days prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama. A superficial comparison of the transcripts of two press briefings -- "Special Briefing on Travel to the Middle East and Europe" of 21 July 2006 and "Situation in Gaza" of 2 January 2009 - confirmed a loss of oratory motivation on the part of the outgoing Secretary. Despite similar passages rejecting ceasefires on the basis that they might not hold for eternity and condemning respective status quos ante for illegal behavior like abducting Israeli soldiers and winning elections, the discourse on Lebanon is far more effective in its metaphorical elaboration, which centers around the two concepts of feet and birth pangs.

Worse than an Earthquake: Peace Activist Kathy Kelly on the Destruction in Gaza
Democracy Now! 1/27/2009
      Listen - Watch - Read
     AMY GOODMAN: How long were you in Gaza, and how did you get in?
     KATHY KELLY: We were there, Audrey Stewart and I, for a total of six days, and we had entered after going back up to Cairo and getting an official-stamped letter. You had to swear before the United States embassy in Cairo that you were going in on your own responsibility.
     AMY GOODMAN: And what did you see? Where did you go?
     KATHY KELLY: We went to Rafah, and we were very fortunate. A family that had fled from their own home and was living in a home that was lent to them in-laws invited us to stay with them. And we were immediately outside the area where people were told to evacuate. And so, we timed it. Every eleven minutes, there would be a huge bomb thudding down on the neighborhood. This was very close to where the tunnel industry had been in full activity prior to the December 27th attacks.
     And so, we heard many of the bombs falling, we heard Apache helicopters firing, and then traveled with young people, students, up to Gaza City after the ceasefire was in place and the roads had been cleared and could see just how stunned the students were at the extent of the devastation. And then, from there, we visited inside the hospital, the burn unit, in a major—Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and then went up to Beit Lahiya and Audrey over to Tufa to further see the extent of the damage.

Palestinian economy: Foundation of a state or common burden?
Sami Halabi, Electronic Intifada 1/27/2009
      The consequences of Israel’s recent war on Gaza are evident to anyone with a television or Internet access. Recurrent images of civilians dying or injured in Gaza’s hospitals, smoke bellowing from distant buildings on the horizon and diplomats the world over shuttling from one photo-op to another will, in all likelihood, be duly recorded as merely another chapter of Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israeli occupation. Those of us who live outside of Palestine can only imagine the horrors that have befallen the Palestinians in Gaza over the last few weeks. However, when the dust settles, the Palestinian people will have to deal with getting back to whatever sense of normalcy they can muster in the face of the whimsical dictates of their occupiers.
     Perhaps the most nuanced aspect of Palestinian suffering that goes more or less unnoticed is the abominable state of the Palestinian economy. The systemic and perpetual economic hindrances imposed upon the Palestinian economy by the Israeli occupation are viewed by most experts to be the primary impediment to allowing the Palestinian economy to reach its full potential. The World Bank has identified three principal "paralytic effects" of Israeli policies on the Palestinian economy: access to economies of scale, access to natural resources and access to an investment horizon. It also cited physical impediments -- road blocks, closures, earth mounds and the ongoing construction of the wall on West Bank land, the route of which was deemed illegal in an advisory opinion made by the International Court of Justice in 2004 -- as a "paralysis confronting the Palestinian economy."

Obstacles to Aid: PARC’s Resolve is Unwavering
Gen Sanders - Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 1/27/2009
      ’The farmers are poor people but they give what they can, without a second thought.’
     Delivering the most extreme blow to Gaza since 1967, Israel’s 22-day "Operation Cast-Lead" killed over 1,300 people, 895 of which were civilians (OCHA, January 24-26, 2009), left almost 5,000 people injured, caused a colossal amount of damage to every thinkable type of public and private infrastructure, and is responsible for an extraordinary amount of human suffering which appears to have no end.
     The assault has undeniably left a humanitarian crisis in its wake. As people begin picking up the pieces of their shattered lives (and homes), urgently required aid has finally started to trickle in - albeit very slowly. When it comes to the unreasonable inefficiency of getting vital aid through Israeli checkpoints and border crossings, as well as its tenuous safety when it finally gets there, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) could tell you a story, or two.
     On the 28th of December 2009, the second day of Israel’s appalling assault on Gaza, PARC called an urgent meeting for all active Palestinian NGOs to discuss a possible intervention plan. A popular relief campaign was agreed upon and agricultural committees in rural areas immediately began collecting donations from rural farmers in the West Bank. Saleem Abu Ghazaleh, the Director of the Fair Trade Department of PARC, choked back emotion as he explained "the farmers are very poor people but they give what they can, without a second thought, in order to help." Indeed, when Gaza bleeds, the West Bank grieves, as evidenced by the massive demonstrations of solidarity since the assault began.

In Gaza, food doesn’t taste different, no matter who brings it
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/27/2009
      The true damage in Gaza is hard to evaluate. It is impossible to put a price on the human life that has been lost, however it is possible to try to calculate the damage to the infrastructure of Gaza. Naturally the people, 80% of whom already relied on international aid before Operation Cast Lead started, cannot afford to rebuild their country. Therefore once again they must rely on the complicated process of waiting for the international community to act and come to their rescue.
     The Palestinian Statistical Authority estimates that there is $1.9 billion of damage due to Operation Cast Lead . This includes the price of the destroyed infrastructure, the cost of clearing away the debris, as well as the cost to the ongoing economic activity in the strip.
     4,100 homes, 25 schools and hospitals, two bridges, 1500 factories and shops, 20 ambulances and numerous government offices and buildings were destroyed. 10 water and sewage arteries and 10 electricity-generating stations were also destroyed. Around 50km of paved roads need rebuilding. The estimate does not take into account the damage to streets inside Gaza neighbourhoods. 80% of all agricultural properties have also been destroyed. This includes all buildings upon the land as well as crops that had been planted.

The War to End All Wars
Frank Barat - London, Palestine Chronicle 1/27/2009
      ’Go tell Gazans, Iraqis or Afghans that we are good people, doing this for them.’
     We have in the last few days entered in a fascinating debate regarding the legality of Israel’s war against the people of Gaza. Fascinating because the debate has not been about the morality of a war which in roughly a month saw over 1300 people including many women and children (men have been completely ignored in all those statistics, implying that all men in Gaza were in some way terrorists and part of Hamas) die but about the legality of this onslaught and the weapons used by Israel.
     Our usual TV Middle East "experts" have for now been replaced by International law and Human rights lawyers and by weapon specialists.
     Is the use of white phosphorus weapons legal in the Gaza situation? What about the alleged use of DIME bombs and flechette shells? Are cluster bombs being used and is this in compliance with international law?
     A lengthy debate normally follows, focusing on very obscure details of international law and many loopholes in the Geneva conventions, laws of war, UN charters and other institutions.

Stripping Palestinians of Their Right to Self-defence
Stuart Littlewood - London, Palestine Chronicle 1/27/2009
      Livni dining with EU officials in Jerusalem. (MaanImages/file) A pre-meditated and carefully planned slaughter binge resulting in 1330 dead, 5450 wounded and the whole place reduced to rubble; and what did the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers just do?
     They sat down to dinner in Brussels with Tzipi Livni.
     This must have come as a slap in the face for the millions of justice-loving EU citizens who were expecting to see Ms. Livni arrested for crimes against humanity the minute she set foot outside Israel.
     All is forgiven. Right now Israel’s helpmates in Europe are lining up to pay with our tax money for the humanitarian mess and the economic wreckage, and to offer Israel the services of EU member states in helping to turn the screw yet again in the subjugation of a people Israel has terrorized, abused and dispossessed for 60 years.
     Never mind that the EU has spent billions over the years on infrastructure projects in Gaza, only to see them wantonly smashed by Israel’s military.

National Palestinian Unity to Isolate the Traitors
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 1/27/2009
      The meeting in Cairo on Monday 26 January, between a Hamas representative and Fatah leader Azzam al Ahmed is a glimmer of hope for millions of Palestinians and their allies who are hoping and praying for a speedy end of the enduring rift between the two biggest political camps in the Palestinian arena.
     Though symbolic and procedural in nature, the meeting shows that the problems between the two sides can be overcome if both sides display good-will and especially if the Ramallah regime ends its ignominious subservience to Israel and the United States.
     Needless to say, the rift has wreaked havoc on the reputation of the just Palestinian cause and caused many bleeding wounds to our people, the scars of which will take a long time to heal.
     However, we are still one people, feeling the same pain, languishing under the same hateful occupation, and harboring the same hopes for freedom and justice.
     But in order to reach a lasting national harmony, we need to be honest and frank, and refrain from trying to negate the other side.  This is so because neither Hamas nor Fatah will go away or evaporate into nonexistence.

Fuelling the Cycle of Hate
Neve Gordon and Yigal Bronner, Palestine Chronicle 1/27/2009
      ’Hatred is the great winner of this war. It has helped mobilise racist mobs.’
     Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: "Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?" sang the crowd. "Because all the children were gunned down!" came the answer.
     Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that Israel scored an impressive victory in Gaza -- a victory measured, not least, by the death toll.
     Israeli pilots and tank commanders could not really discriminate between the adults and the children who hid in their homes or huddled in the UNRWA shelters, and yet they chose to press the trigger. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that the lethal onslaught left 1,314 Palestinians dead, of which 412 -- or nearly one third of all of the casualties -- were children.
     This latest assault underscores that Israel, not unlike Hamas, readily resorts to violence and does not distinguish between civilians and combatants (only the weapons at Israel’s disposal are much more lethal). No matter how many times the Israeli government tries to blame Hamas for the latest Palestinian civilian deaths it simply cannot explain away the body count, especially that of the children. In addition to the dead, 1,855 Palestinian children were wounded, and tens of thousands of others have likely been traumatised, many of them for life.

George Mitchell and the Middle East
Gerry Adams, The Guardian 1/27/2009
      In the crowds of Washington’s Union Station last week, I bumped into George Mitchell. We were both in the city for Barack Obama’s inauguration, but at that point there was only speculation that George might be made US special envoy for the Middle East – it wasn’t until I returned to Ireland that the appointment was confirmed.
     President Obama in his inaugural address signalled a new direction for US foreign policy. The posting of George Mitchell and the referencing of his very significant role in the Irish peace process hint at a more focused engagement by the US in seeking to secure a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian people.
     But as George and I both know from our separate but related experience in Northern Ireland, making peace is a difficult, exhausting and, at times, hugely frustrating process.
     George Mitchell had been a very successful and influential Senate majority leader for the Democrats. He was known as someone who could broker a deal between opposing groups.
     ...In a peace process, the goal must be an inclusive agreement that is acceptable to all sides, is doable, deliverable and sustainable. That means enemies and opponents creating space for each other. It means engaging in real conversations and seeking real solutions. It means accepting that dialogue is crucial and that means recognising the right of the Palestinian people to choose their own leaders, their own representatives.
     The Israeli government and other governments have to talk to Hamas.

International Court for Israeli War Criminals
Ali Alebadi, Middle East Online 1/27/2009
      From 1917 (British Balfour Declaration) until this moment, no other nation on planet earth has ever been subjected to so many atrocities on daily basis like the Palestinian nation.
     Q - Is it possible to bring Israeli war criminals to the international justice?
     A - Are you kidding me? On which planet do you think you are?
     In retrospect at the major events of the last hundred years, the following horrendous fact becomes very clear: from 1917 (British Balfour Declaration) until this moment, no other nation on planet earth has ever been subjected to so many atrocities on daily basis like the Palestinian nation. Paradoxically, even the European Jews themselves whose sons are ruling Israel today suffered only temporarily on the hands of Nazi authorities in Germany from 1935 to 1945, i.e. before and during the WW II.
     Unfortunately, the recent 22-day Israeli massacres in Gaza strip from December 27, 2008 to January 17, 2009 may not be the last one. Despite the hermitic Israeli measures to prevent Western journalists from entering Gaza during the onslaught, using video footages, Webcams, voice-over-Internet massages, blog diaries, cell phones, and testimonies of some UN employees and Red Cross physicians, Palestinians managed to document and break up this extremely violent siege against Gaza.
     Some people may argue that Israel is the only superpower in Arabic-Islamic region (Middle East), and USA is the ultimate superpower on earth. So far, no one could take any Israeli war criminals to a foreign court simply because they enjoy the unconditional protection of Americans. That is true.

Refugees to prime minister: End military siege of our camp
Open letter, Residents of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, Electronic Intifada 1/27/2009
      While Lebanese officials were publicly denouncing Israel’s war on the Palestinians of Gaza, the Lebanese cabinet was busy making sure the Palestinians of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon never recover from the war waged on their community more than a year ago. For more than three months, the Lebanese army fought the Fatah al-Islam group that had infiltrated the camp. On 16 January 2009, the cabinet approved a decision to build a naval base in the area. The decision was met with stern opposition by the people of Nahr al-Bared who wrote a letter of protest addressed to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his ministers. The letter was published in two major Lebanese newspapers, As-Safir and Al-Akhbar, but has triggered little follow-up reaction in the press so far.
     Al-Akhbar’s Ghassan Saoud says the people in the camp these days are weary of criticizing the Lebanese army out loud but more convinced than ever that there is no will to rebuild the camp and properly resettle its inhabitants. According to Saoud, people point to four developments that seem to dim any chances of full reconstruction and rehabilitation of the camp: the continued lack of adequate financial funds for reconstruction; the call by most officials with the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) for people to "get used to" the contemporary homes currently set up in the camp; the distribution of returned refugees into isolated spots in the camp that prevents the revival of a closely-knit community; and the continued siege of the camp by the Lebanese army that suffocates the prospects of economic revival. The decision to build a base can only exacerbate the last condition. The letter is clear about the detrimental effect of such a siege.

Arabs at the Brink
Robert Dreyfuss, Middle East Online 1/27/2009
      Anger is boiling over in the Middle East over Gaza, and the result of the war has been to boost radicalism throughout the region, to strengthen the terrorist-inclined fanatics of Hamas, and to enhance the muscle of terrorist-inclined Israelis, including far-right parties such as Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and, of course, Likud’s bombastic Benjamin Netanyahu.
     You probably didn’t know that the reason the Bush administration, in its last days, reversed course on Gaza is because they feared that US embassies in the Middle East might be stormed by angry crowds if they did nothing. You’ll remember that, after weeks of supporting Israel’s invasion of Gaza, the United States suddenly reversed course and allowed the UN Security Council to pass a unanimous resolution demanding a ceasefire. (The United States didn’t vote yes, but it abstained -- rather than threatening its oft-used veto.)
     Speaking on January 14 at the New America Foundation, the outgoing US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilizad said explicitly that the United States feared a violent explosion in the region, including the seizure of US embassies by angry mobs, if the United States continued to block action by the UN. A central concern, said Khalilzad, is that mosque leaders all over the Middle East would mobilize the anger and direct it against the United States.

Names and Photos of Israeli War Criminals in Gaza
Kawther Salam, Palestine Think Tank 1/27/2009
      I have decided to publish some names and photos of the Israeli military personnel who participated in the so-called “Operation Cast Lead”, the offensive launched by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Gaza Strip between 27 December and 18 January 2009. The names of these criminals called my attention since the first day of their criminal attack against the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. I consider each person who took part in this IOF and each one whose name appears in this report as a war criminal who should be requested by an international court of justice, just like all other war criminals who were persecuted before…
     The Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is conniving with others the war crimes committed in Gaza. These others are Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and his cabinet of criminals, and the military counterpart, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is equally involved in the war crimes in Gaza. The Attorney General of Israel asked his military counterpart to open a quick investigation among the military as an “alternative” measure to hinder potentially “hundreds” of international lawsuits against Israeli officials alleging war crimes against the Gaza population during the operation has been widely anticipated. There is growing concern in the offices of the Israeli justice and war ministries because they expect a massive wave of lawsuits for human rights violations against Israeli officers and politicians.

The Ordeals of Gaza
Charles Glass, 1/22/2009
      Lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
     Israeli military spokesmen, justifying their army’s assault on the Gaza Strip, said the war was about Sderot. In a way, they were right. It is about Sderot. In 1948, where Sderot houses Israeli Jews today, there was a village called Najd – Arabic for a high plateau. It was home to about seven hundred people, most of them small farmers. Two days before the declaration of the State of Israel – that is, on May 13th – Haganah forces expelled the inhabitants.
     Eventually, these people – as the Egyptian Army that invaded Palestine a few days later gradually lost ground to the new Israeli Army – found refuge in the Gaza Strip.
     In 1949, Israel defined its first borders through a series of truce accords with its neighbours. To Egypt, it offered to absorb the Gaza Strip into Israel. At the time, Israeli leaders were under the impression that there were about 100,000 Palestinian Arab refugees in Gaza. I quote now from an excellent book, 1949: The First Israelis (Henry Holt, NY, 1986), by the Israeli historian Tom Segev:
     "Moshe Sharett told the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Knesset that the government hoped to obtain “considerable advantages” from the annexation of the Strip, such as the additional territory, the removal of the Egyptian presence from Israel’s border to the other side of the Sinai desert, and the elimination of the possibility that the Strip would be annexed by Jordan, or anyone else. When the government had agreed to annex it, it figured that the Strip’s total population numbered no more than 180,000; later it turned out the figure was 310,000, 230,000 of whom were refugees. At that point Sharett suggested that there should be no more talk about the Gaza Strip." (page 30)