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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
1 March, 2009
5 Palestinians killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Health official says one person missing in cave-in; collapse said to be caused by heavy winter rain - Palestinian medics say five people were killed when a tunnel under the Gaza border collapsed. Health official Dr. Moawia Hassanein says another person is missing in the cave-in. He says the collapse was caused by heavy winter rain. Gazans use tunnels to smuggle in goods that are not available in the territory because of Israel and Egypt’s blockade of its borders. Gunmen also use the tunnels to bring in weapons. Many tunnels suffered major damage in Israeli bombing raids in an attempt to halt the arms smuggling. Egypt also tries to destroy tunnel entrances on its side of the border. The latest deaths, which occurred late Saturday or early Sunday brought to 13 the number Palestinians killed this year in tunneling accidents.

As snow falls in Gaza, concern grows for those living in tents
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – An emergency appeal to assist displaced Gazans living in tents during heavy winter rains was made by Director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in Gaza Muawiya Hassanein Sunday. As temperatures dropped and the heavy rain turned to snow in several areas across the Gaza Strip, and concern for those living in tents grew. UNRWA, the de facto government and several international organizations erected hundreds of tents to house families whose homes were destroyed by Israeli forces. As Gaza gets rain, and even snow in some places, tent residents are getting sick and cold. Hassanein called on medical staff, hospitals and Palestinian officials to offer urgent support to Gazan citizens in tents. He also appealed to tent residents to avoid fire inside the tents, warning that the tents might catch fire.

OPT: Gaza borders must open - UN humanitarian envoy
Iyad El Baba/UNICEF-oPt, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 3/1/2009
GAZA CITY, 1 March 2009 (IRIN) - On his first visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Humanitarian Envoy, Abdul Aziz Arrukban, met with aid agency officials to discuss better ways of bringing in relief supplies and with Gaza residents to assess how much aid they were actually receiving. "The borders are still closed and goods and building materials still can’t enter," said Arrukban, a Saudi national who reports directly to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes. Since Israel’s 23-day military campaign in the Gaza Strip ended on 18 January, Arrukban has brokered more than US$50 million in humanitarian aid from two Gulf countries , channeled via UN agencies, for the dilapidated coastal territory. Qatar donated $40 million, of which $30 million went directly to UN agencies. . .

Village residents to Israel: Stop wall construction on our land
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinians of the West Bank village of Silwad, near Ramallah, have demanded to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to stop wall construction on their land. According to Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the Palestinian villagers also sought help from Central Command Chief Gadi Shamni, demanding that the Israeli constructed barrier be dismantled. The wall, which was built on their land between the Amona and Ofra illegal Israeli settlements, prevents residents there from accessing their farmland. An Israeli legal aid organization, Yesh Din, apparently helped the residents file the complaint, the Israeli newspaper reported in its online, English-language edition.

Israeli settlers’ unleashed pigs attack Palestinian near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Dozens of pigs belonging to Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian young man from the village of An-Nasarieyah, north of the West Bank city of Nablus, on Sunday. Palestinian medical sources said that Ayman Ibrahim Hamdan, 25, was transferred to Rafidia Hospital in the city after being bitten by one of the pigs. Hamadan told Ma’an that dozens of pigs unleashed by the Israeli settlers of the illegal settlement of Al-Hamra adjacent to the village had attacked him while he was in his farm in the village. One of the pigs apparently bit him in the foot, causing injuries, and he was transferred to the hospital, where his condition was described as lightly injured.

Israel PM’s family link to Hamas peace bid
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor, The Guardian 3/1/2009
Olmert rejected Palestinian attempts to set up talks through go-between before Gaza invasion. - Hamas, the militant Palestinian organisation, attempted to conduct secret talks with the Israeli leadership in the protracted run-up to the recent war in Gaza - with messages being passed from the group at one stage through a member of prime minister Ehud Olmert’s family. Confirmation of attempts to establish a direct line of communication between Hamas and Israel - and the willingness of senior figures in Hamas to contemplate direct negotiations - fundamentally alters the narrative of the build-up to the war in Gaza which claimed more than 1,300 Palestinian lives and led to about a dozen Israeli deaths. Most remarkable is the story of the involvement of a member of the prime minister’s family in the passing of messages to Olmert about the case of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Iran urges Interpol to arrest 15 Israelis over Gaza ’war crimes’
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Iran has asked Interpol to arrest what it says are 15 Israeli "war criminals" who were involved in the conflict in Gaza in December and January, the Tehran prosecutor said in remarks reported on Sunday. Iran, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, said in December it had set up a court to try Israelis for attacking Gaza. It had said at the time it was ready to try those it accused in absentia. " In the current week, we have completed our investigation [of] about 15 individuals who were among those criminals," Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said. "Based on our investigation and according to article two of the Interpol charter, we asked Interpol to arrest these suspects," he said in comments carried by Iranian state television, according to the BBC’s monitoring service. "Based on our investigation and according to article two of the Interpol charter, we asked Interpol to arrest these suspects," he said in comments carried by Iranian state television, according to the BBC’s monitoring service.

Two Gazan photojournalists win Thomson foundation awards; West Bankers take first and third in print
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Two Gazan journalists received prizes from the British Thompson Foundation’s “Inquirer Award 2008” which for the first time included a category for photojournalists. They accepted the awards in absentia, being denied permission to leave Gaza. The Inquirer Award is an initiative of British ambassadors in the Middle East and seeks to reward the region’s best investigative reporter of the year. The criterion for the award is “the ability to examine in depth a significant issue of relevance to the region and its people. ” It is funded by the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeFour Palestinians were recognized for their work in the past year, two print journalists from the West Bank who took first and third place. Respectively, they are: Ibrahim Abu Kamish, from Al Hayat Al0Jadeeda and Sanabel monthly won the first place for best investigative. . .

Outgoing Israel PM vows harsh response to homemade shells from Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/1/2009
The outgoing Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, vowed on Sunday that Israel would response harshly to continued homemade shell-fire from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns. Olmert’s remarks came more than one month after Israeli warplanes, tanks and naval forces waged a massive war on Gaza, in which more than 1,350 Palestinian men, women and children were killed, and more than 6,000 others were injured. Gaza’s infrastructure, including thousands of homes, was destroyed partially or completely. Meanwhile, a senior Israeli Army officer, speaking under conditions of anonymity to the Yediout Ahronot Israeli Daily, said that the continued homemade shell-fire is believed to be intended to undermine the Israeli deterant policy following the last three-week attacks on Gaza. The officer maintained, however, that the Hamas party in Gaza has been dealt a severe blow during the recent military offensive, but Hamas pretends that they have not been affected.

Arab health committee meeting addresses deterioration of Gaza medical services
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Salfit – Ma’an – The PA Ministry of Health will take on the challenge of rebuilding the health sector in the Gaza Strip announced a delegation headed by Director of International Cooperation for the ministry Dr Qasim Al-Ma’ani on Saturday. The announcement came at an Arab League conference being held in Cairo in parallel with the donor conference in Sharm Ash-Sheikh Egypt. The emergency Arab health committee was attended by representatives of health ministries of six Arab countries; Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Palestine. The meeting was dedicated to discussing the deteriorated health conditions in the Gaza Strip as a result of the 22-day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip in addition to the crippling siege. In his speech during the meeting, Dr Al-Ma’ani said a high level of coordination with the caretaker Ministry of Health would be necessary so humanitarian aid and reconstruction could go smoothly.

Blair calls for new Gaza strategy
Al Jazeera 3/2/2009
Tony Blair has told Al Jazeera during his first visit to Gaza as Middle East envoy that a "different strategy" is needed to rebuild the territory following Israel’s 22-day war on the Strip. He said on Sunday there "was trauma, but a determination to rebuild". But he said: "We need a different strategy for Gaza, one that helps the people who want a better life and a better future. . . [including] rebuilding infrastructure so that basic life can continue. "We need to work on getting pledges and get money in. . . [and] get the politics right because. . . it is not just about the amount of money pledged, it is also about resolving the political impasse," he said. No solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be reached until a "credible negotiation process, changes in the West Bank" and a "different, better strategy" for Gaza were in place, Blair added.

Israelis beat, detain young Palestinian at Nablus checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers arrested 20-year-old Husam Mohammad Abu Hamad from a village near Nablus on Sunday, local witnesses said. The young man from the village of A’sira Al-Qebliya was beaten before his arrest at the Huwwara checkpoint on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus, witnesses claimed. "The Israeli soldiers harshly beat Abu Hamad [who was] trying to pass through Huwwara, before being handcuffed, and then transferred him to the nearby Huwwara military post," one of the witnesses told Ma’an. [end]

Largest U.S. Jewish body urges EU to take Obama’s lead, skip Durban
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The biggest Jewish body in the United States on Sunday lauded the decision of the Obama administration not to participate in a United Nations anti-racism summit which it fears will be used as a forum to criticize Israel. Alan Solow, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said they greatly appreciate the decision of the Obama administration not to participate and urged the European Union to follow its lead. It was clear from the preparatory meetings that this conference was again being hijacked by those who want to have a repetition of the first Durban conference, which focused almost singularly on Israel and was the occasion for vile and bigoted declarations and manifestations," Solow and Hoenlein said.

US backs out of UN-led Geneva conference on racism
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/2/2009
WASHINGTON: The United States has decided against taking part in a UN-led conference on racism after it quit the previous session in 2001 over claims of anti-Semitism, US officials said. "We’re not going to further engage in Durban II," a State Department official told AFP on the condition of anonymity, referring to the conference scheduled for April 20-24 in Geneva. A US delegation took part in the preparatory talks in Geneva on February 16 and made proposed changes to a resolution that is expected to be adopted at the conference, which Canada and Israel have said they would boycott. According to a statement issued by State Department spokesman Robert Wood later Friday, the "document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable. ""As a result, the US will not engage in further negotiations on this. . . "

Clinton to assess Mideast peace prospects
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/1/2009
US secretary of state to make her first official visit to Israel on Tuesday in order to familiarize herself with Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic stands. Prime minister-designate to introduce concept of ’financial peace,’ steer clear of two-state solution -US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be arriving in Israel on Tuesday as part of her first official visit to the Middle East. Clinton is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister-designateBenjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to assure her e will comply with the obligations agreed to by his predecessors. Nevertheless, Netanyahu is unlikely to state he will strive to advance the two-state solution. Clinton will arrive in Israel from Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, where she will be attending a meeting focused on the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip following Operation Cast Lead.

Report: Hamas tried to pass messages to Olmert via relative
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Hamas tried to hold clandestine talks with Israeli leaders in the lead-up to Operation Cast Lead, and attempted to pass messages to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert through a member of the PM’s family - according to a report in the Observer on Sunday. The British weekly did not name which member of Olmert’s family was reportedly contacted by Hamas, but said that veteran Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin was used as an intermediary between the militant group, Israeli officials, and Olmert, by way of a member of the PM’s family. Baskin is quoted by the Observer as saying that Israel missed several opportunities over recent years to pursue dialogue with Hamas, including over captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized by Hamas-linked militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. " Three times since Shalit’s kidnapping there has been the suggestion of opening a back channel through me. . . . " -- See also: Israel PM's family link to Hamas peace bid

UK paper: Olmert relative passed messages to PM from Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Members of the Hamas movement attempted to conduct “secret talks” with the Israeli prime minister before the 22-day war, a British newspaper said. In an article published on Sunday, the United Kingdom’s Observer newspaper reported that Hamas sent messages to the Israeli leadership via one of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s family members. According to the Observer, the confirmation of attempts by Hamas to establish a direct line of communication with Israel “fundamentally alters the narrative of the build-up to the war in Gaza. ”Even more notable is that at least one member of the Israel prime minister’s family apparently helped pass along messages over the case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The Observer claims to know the identify of the family member but agreed not to reveal his or her name. -- See also: Israel PM's family link to Hamas peace bid

PA: Israel to approve 3,458 family reunification applications
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority’s head of Civil Affairs said 3,458 family reunification documents would be published by Israel on Monday. The department head, Husein Ash-Sheikh, said that the move to approve the documents was evidence of "the efforts made by the [Civil Affairs] department on this issue. " He added that the development "came out of hard work on this initiative upon the instructions of President Abbas," noting that "these efforts will continue for all submitted reunification applications through coordination and dialogue with the other side [Israel]. " He concluded by saying that “this file is of national importance, since citizenship is a right for each Palestinian, and we make our utmost efforts" on the issue.

'Israeli Apartheid Week' Taking Place in Universities and Refugee Camps
BNC, Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 3/1/2009
BDS National Committee (BNC), Occupied Palestine, 26 February 2009 – The fifth international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) – occurring in over 40 cities in Palestine and worldwide – will be held across the West Bank from 2-8 March 2009. This is the second year of IAW in the West Bank, and will feature lectures, film screenings, art and photography exhibits, cultural events and demonstrations aimed at deepening the apartheid analysis ofIsrael, and to gather support for the growing local-Palestinian and international movement for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel complies with international law. The theme of this year’s IAW is “Standing United with the People’s of Gaza” a focus which comes in the wake of the brutal Israeli military attacks on the people of Gaza in early 2009, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians (overwhelmingly civilians), and sparked widespread protests and indignation worldwide.

Heavy flooding as rains finally come
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/1/2009
Tulkarem - It was the driest winter on record in 10 years, but with the end of February and continuing today into the first of March, the downpour seems unstoppable. At least 50 families remain outside of their northern Tulkarem homes after being rescued from the floods yesterday. The Department of Municipal Works was able to rescue this morning a passenger car stuck on a flooded-out bridge. Although the rains are hitting the entire region, the northwestern West Bank is being particularly affected because of the Wall. It encircles the Tulkarem and Qalqilia districts in such a way that the soil was heavily degraded and cannot hold excess water, engineers have said during previous years of flooding. Flooding began in Tulkarem several years ago with the first rainy season after the Wall was built. Yesterday and today the northern Tulkarem town of Qaffin is closed with. . .

Qalqiliya boy believed missing in flood waters
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Qalqiliya - Ma’an - A Palestinian boy went missing in Wadi Qana between the villages Kafr Thulth and Sanniriya south of the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. He is believed to have been dragged away by torrential flood waters Saturday as heavy rains flooded the area. Civil Defense and Red Crescent staff continue to search for the boy. [end]

Israeli Arab charged with spying for Hezbollah
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
An Israeli citizen suspected of being a prospective Hezbollah spy was indicted on Sunday on charges of contact with a foreign agent. Ismail Saleiman, a 27-year-old man from the Jezreel Valley town of Hajajra, is suspected of being in contact with a Hezbollah operative and planning to spy on Israel for the terror group. Police and the Shin Bet security service arrested him February 5, but the incident was placed under gag order until Sunday, when Saleiman was indicted in the Nazareth District Court. Saleiman’s lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said Sunday that her client never had any intention of causing damage to Israel’s security. "The person from Hezbollah initiated contact with him when he was in Mecca and pestered him," she said. "The main story here is how Hezbollah is tripping up Israeli Arabs who travel to sites that are sacred to Islam.

Galilee man suspected of providing intel to Hizbullah
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Shin Bet believes Ismail Muhammad Suleiman from northern village of al-Hajjara was recruited by Shiite group during pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia - Cleared for publication: A joint Shin Bet and police operation has led to the arrest of a 27-year-old man from the Galilee village of al-Hajjara, on suspicion that he was recruited by a Hizbullah agent. Ismail Muhammad Suleiman was arrested by the Haamakim Subdistrict Police officers in early February, after he allegedly met with a Hizbullah handler during a Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. According to the indictment, Suliman’s handler instructed him to gather intelligence about Israeli Defense forces’ activities in the north. The two are also believed to have set up a second meeting, during which Suliman was to give his handler the information.

Iran seeks arrest of 15 Israeli ’war criminals’
Reuters, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Tehran prosecutor says Islamic Republic asked Interpol to arrest ’suspects involved in IDF’s offensive in Gaza’ -Iran has asked Interpol to arrest what it says are 15 Israeli "war criminals" who were involved in the conflict in Gaza in December and January, the Tehran prosecutor said in remarks reported on Sunday. Iran, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, said in December it had set up a court to try Israelis for attacking Gaza. It had said at the time it was ready to try those it accused in absentia. "In the current week, we have completed our investigation (of) about 15 individuals who were among those criminals," Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said. "Based on our investigation and according to article two of the Interpol charter, we asked Interpol to arrest these suspects," he said in comments carried by Iranian state television, according to the BBC’s monitoring service.

Gates: Iran ’not close’ to nuclear weapon
Reuters, YNetNews 3/1/2009
US defense secretary’s comment comes after Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen’s said he estimates Tehran has enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. ’The challenge is finding balance between sanctions to pressure Iran and incentives for engagement with US and Europe, Gates adds -Iran is not close to having a nuclear weapon, which gives the United States and others time to try to persuade Tehran to abandon its suspected atomic arms program, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday. "They’re not close to a stockpile, they’re not close to a weapon at this point, and so there is some time," Gates said on NBC television’s "Meet The Press. " Gates’ comments followed a televised interview with Adm. Mike Mullen, head of the US military Joint Chiefs of Staff, who

U.S. Army chief: Iran has ability to make nuclear bomb
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The United States believes Iran has obtained enough nuclear material to make a bomb, U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said in a televised interview on Sunday. But U. S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said hours later that Iran was in fact not close to having a nuclear weapon, which gives the United States and others time to try to persuade Tehran to abandon its suspected atomic arms program. "They’re not close to a stockpile, they’re not close to a weapon at this point, and so there is some time," Gates said on NBC television’s "Meet The Press. " Gates’ comments followed a televised interview with Mullen who told CNN’s "State of the Union" that he believed Iran has enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. "We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen said.

Iran official: U.S. artists must apologize for offensive films
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
The artistic adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that a team of visiting Hollywood actors and members of the movie industry should apologize for films deemed insulting to many in Iran. Javad Shamaqdari, the art and cinema adviser Ahmadinejad, said members of the Iranian cinema community should not meet with representatives from the nine-member team until they apologize. "In my viewpoint, it is a failure to have an official meeting with one who is insulting," Shamaqdari said. The group includes the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sid Ganis; actors Bening, and Alfre Woodard; producer William Horberg; AMPAS Special Events Programmer and Exhibitions Curator Ellen Harrington; and Tom Pollock, the former Universal Pictures chairman.

Iran criticizes appointment of Dennis Ross as Persian Gulf adviser
Jerusalem Post 2/25/2009
ASSOCIATED PRESS, TEHERAN, Iran - Iran says the choice for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser on the Persian Gulf signals there will be no change in Washington’s policy toward Teheran. Iranian state radio reported that the newly appointed Dennis Ross is influenced by Israel and that he supports Israeli actions against Iran’s nuclear program. The State Department said on Monday that Ross - a veteran diplomat who has served as Mideast envoy under Democratic and Republican presidents - will be asked to provide Clinton with assessments, strategic advice and perspective. Ross is the latest in a series of high-profile appointments by Clinton to take up especially thorny diplomatic problems for the Obama administration.

Ross joins Obama team in Iran-related capacity
Ron Kampeas, JTA 2/23/2009
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Dennis Ross joined the Obama administration in a coordinating role on policy regarding Iran and its neighbors. Ross was named special adviser to the secretary of state for the Gulf and Southwest Asia. "This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law. . . . to be successful, we will need to be able to integrate our policy development and implementation across a broad range of offices and senior officials in the State Department, and in his role as Special Advisor to the Secretary, Ambassador Ross will be asked to play that role. ". . . . Ross, the statement said, "will provide to the Secretary and senior State Department officials strategic advice and perspective on the region; offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region. . . "

West Bank teachers at PA schools to strike Monday and Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – West Bank schools run by the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be closed Monday and Tuesday as teachers strike over the caretaker government’s failure to meet union demands. Secretary General of the Palestinian Teachers Union in the West Bank Jamil Shahada announced the strike action on Sunday. The strike will affect hundreds of schools and 39,000 teachers. The union has been demanding change over three core issues around pay schedules:1- Regular payment of salaries for teachers who work on yearly contracts (these are newly hired teachers whose contracts are renewed on a yearly basis until they get “tenure”)2- Adjustment of salaries in accordance with high cost of living3- Payment for teachers who worked extra hours monitoring and grading (high school exit and university placement) Tawjihi examsShahada maintained that the teacher’s union. . .

Hamas lashes out at Abbas’ remarks 'predetermining' agenda for transitional government
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian national dialogue will not be connected to the opening of crossings of the planning of aid or reconstruction, Hamas officials said Sunday. The priority, said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum, is to work out a suitable solution for the problem of internal division for the benefit of the Palestinian people. Barhoum’s comments came following remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about any transitional government having to necessarily accept the principal of a two state solution. Abbas spoke on Al-Jazeera television from Sharm Ash-Sheikh where he is preparing to participate in the donors conference on 2 March. “He is jumping to conclusions and setting preconditions which do not serve dialogue aimed at forming unity government,” Barhoum said. Barhoum called the move a “one-sided dictation” and said sides should first agree on the “nature. . .

PA security forces in Nablus release Hamas-affiliated reporter
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian security forces released 30-year-old Samer Al-Ikhweirah on Sunday after he was held in the Nablus Al-Juneid Prison for 36 days. Al-Khweireh is a reporter for the Al-Quds satellite channel, which is affiliated with Hamas. He told Ma’an that PA security forces interrogated him thoroughly over his job as a reporter and his press activities, affirming that he was not tortured or harmed at all. He added that he is "carrying a message" from the prisoners jailed in Al-Juneid, saying that "the Palestinian dialogue held in Cairo is the hope of restoring unity to the Palestinians again, and they are hoping that it will succeed to wrap up this division from Palestinian history. ”The PA security forces arrested Al-Ikhweirah along with Ahmad Bekawi, who is also a journalist, on 24 January after summoning them for questioning.

Hamas slams Abbas’s demand for recognizing two-state solution
Palestinian Information Center 3/1/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday strongly criticized ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas for demanding any future Palestinian government to recognize the two-state solution, considering it a dictate imposed by one party on other Palestinian parties. In a press release received by the PIC, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that one Palestinian party cannot impose such dictate on the other parties that should reach a consensus on the program and shape of the government through the committee formed in this regard. The spokesman added that the Palestinian government to be formed must be strong and active in order to be able to protect the interests of the Palestinian people, warning that any preconditions might actually undermine the formation of this government.

British foreign minister supports Palestinian unity government
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – British Foreign Minister David Miliband on Sunday expressed his support for an Egyptian-brokered Palestinian dialogue to form a technocrat unity government in the West Bank and Gaza. He said he hopes it will be able to cooperate with the international community and enable the Palestinians to focus on economic development and prepare for elections. Miliband also described Palestinian agreement on a unity government as a positive step. Miliband’s comments came during a recentvisit to Cairo, where he added, "We encourage all sides to assimilate in serious talks in order to bring to an end to the unacceptable status quo, as there are two separate Palestinian entities. " "This will benefit nobody, especially the Palestinian people," he noted. The British foreign minister appealed to all concerned sides to exert efforts leading to a permanent framework. . .

West Bank strike unifies country that is divided on the map
PNN exclusive, Palestine News Network 3/1/2009
Ramallah -- "What is being done to my neighbors in Silwan is being done to the whole of Palestine," Adela Hosseini told PNN yesterday during the West Bank-wide commercial strike against the destruction of East Jerusalem. The Al Bustan area of Silwan, just to the south of Al Aqsa Mosque, is one of dozens of East Jerusalem neighborhoods under threat of destruction as the Israeli administration continues the steady takeover of the holy city. The call for Saturday’s commercial strike came from the Palestine Liberation Organization after 90 families received eviction notices in Al Bustan. A lunchtime rally drew some 400 people to Ramallah’s Al Manara Square. Adela Hosseini lives in another East Jerusalem neighborhood under threat. She is a resident of Sheikh Jarrah, known for its solidarity tent, heavy resistance, and one of its most famous residents, Um Kamal Al Kurd.

Rizqa: Al-Sharm conference invited the wrong representative of Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 3/1/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Youssef Rizqa, the political advisor to premier Ismail Haneyya, stated Sunday that the organizers of the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference on the Gaza Strip who invited Salam Fayyad to represent the Palestinian people went to the wrong address, saying that Fayyad represents only the international and American will. In a statement published by the Bayan media center, Dr. Rizqa underlined that this conference should have invited the true representative of the Palestinian people represented in the democratically elected PLC, stressing that without the government in Gaza there could be no reconstruction. Regarding his expectations about what this conference is likely to engender, the political advisor expressed no optimism over the conference’s results, saying that its decision would be more theoretical than practical and it would try to put political conditions until the formation. . .

Palestinian factions in Cairo identify duties of committees
Palestinian Information Center 3/1/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- The Palestinian factions identified at the conclusion of their meetings in Cairo the duties of the five committees formed to deal with the files of the national unity government, the security apparatuses, the rebuilding of the PLO, the elections and the national reconciliation. According to a statement issued by the Palestinian factions and a copy of which was received by the PIC, the committee on the government has been entrusted with the task of preparing a proposal about the formation of the government and its nature as a transitional government until the end of the PLC’s mandate and determining its assignments.   The same committee will be also working on settling the question of the charities and institutions which have been impounded or shut down and will take the actions necessary for the reunification of the national PA institutions in Gaza and the West Bank and the resumption of the PLC’s work in accordance with the law.

Clinton, other international envoys arrive in Egypt for Gaza donor conference
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/2/2009
SHARM EL-SHEIKH: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Egypt on Sunday for an international donor conference the Palestinians hope will raise billions of dollars to help rebuild war-torn Gaza. The former first lady is on her first trip to the Middle East as America’s top diplomat since US President Barack Obama took office in January pledging a new spirit of global cooperation. The United States is reportedly mulling a $900-million aid package to rebuild Gaza, which was devastated by Israel’s three-week war against its Hamas rulers in December and January and a continuing blockade. Clinton will have to respond to the worries of European leaders who want Washington to pressure its ally Israel to improve aid distribution to the Palestinian enclave. She said on Friday the aid would depend on how well the Palestinians meet the conditions of the diplomatic Quartet of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

U.S.: One-third of our $900m pledge is earmarked for Gaza
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will pledge more than $900 million for the Palestinians at a donors conference on Monday but only a third of that is earmarked directly for Gaza, a U. S. official said on Sunday. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the pledge amounted to $300 million to meet "urgent" humanitarian needs in Hamas-ruled Gaza after Israel’s invasion of Gaza in December. The remaining funds would be to meet budget shortfalls of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and to support economic and other reforms by the PA. None of the money would go to the militant group Hamas, he said. Palestinian officials said Sunday that a donors’ conference set to kick off in Sharm el-Sheikh should generate political pressure on Israel to open Gaza’s borders, in addition to raising billions of dollars. . .

European Parliament delegation surveys damage in Gaza
Palestine News Network 3/1/2009
PNN - Jill Evans represents the whole of Wales in the European Parliament and was among a five-member delegation sent to report back on the humanitarian situation in Gaza following the 22 days of Israeli bombing. "As the new year dawned, like thousands of others, I watched in horror as Israeli bombs rained down on Gaza," she told the EP this week. Wales / Jill Evans - Having visited Palestine several times, I knew what death and destruction would be caused in this densely populated area (the size of Wrexham) where a million and a half people live. I had seen at first hand the grinding poverty caused by the Israeli occupation and the two year siege of Gaza. People who were already living in desperate conditions were now under attack with no way to escape and nowhere to hide. Now I was going to see Gaza after twenty two days of bombing.

Quartet envoy Tony Blair visits Gaza Strip for first time
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Tony Blair paid his first visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Sunday as envoy of international peace brokers and said reconstruction aid after Israel’s offensive would not have a lasting effect without peace. Blair, a former British prime minister, also toured the Israeli border town of Sderot, a frequent target of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. He did not meet Hamas officials in the coastal enclave, a day before an international donor conference in Egypt to raise funds for rebuilding homes and infrastructure damaged or destroyed in the 22-day offensive Israel launched in December. "There will be money - that will be coming, and there will be money, probably a significant amount of it, pledged at the conference - but this money will not have a lasting impact unless there is a political solution," Blair told reporters.

Blair in Gaza: The siege should be lifted, goods allowed in and reconstruction of all that was destroyed moved forward
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem/Gaza - Ma’an - In his first visit to the Gaza Strip Quartet Envoy Tony Blair met Sunday with twice displaced Palestinians, business owners and schoolchildren in Gaza, promising to being their stories to the donor conference on reconstruction in Egypt. Bringing peace to the Middle East is a "huge challenge," Blair told the press during his visit, but added that it is "perfectly possible" to realize it. He also noted that crossings must be opened so reconstruction efforts can go forward. Upon his arrival Blair was received by Deputy of Head on Palestinian Water Authority Rebhi Ash-Sheikh and Head of the Projects Department Sa’di Ali. Bothmen gave Blair an assessment of the risks around water sanitation and the environment following the Israeli war on Gaza that not only destroyed infrastructure, but has since prevented the import of tools and materials to repair the damage.

UK pledges 30 million pounds for Gaza reconstruction
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – British Minister of International Development Douglas Alexander announced on Sunday that his government will deliver 30 million pounds for Gaza reconstruction. The aid will help in reconstructing homes, schools and hospitals harmed or destroyed in Gaza during Israel’s 22-day assault on the Strip. Some 20 million pounds of this donation will be delivered in addition to ten million previously announced in January. Alexander said, "These funds will support the first stage of reconstruction for what was destroyed by the Israeli war, as well as supporting fixing the infrastructure, including water, sanitation and power networks. " He noted that “six weeks after the war, many people are still living in temporary homes and 90 percent of the residentsneed food aid. ”Alexander urged the Israeli side to ease their tight restrictions on the materials allowed. . .

Palestinian Donors Conference opens Monday in Sharm el-Sheikh, EU pledges 436 million euros
Palestine News Network 3/1/2009
PNN -- Tomorrow the donor conference begins in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh from which funds are expected to reach the Gaza Strip, unlike many donations that are currently trapped at the crossings. The European Commissioner is pledging 554 million USD to the Palestinian people for 2009. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, says she will pledge 554 million USD to the Palestinian people for 2009. The "Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza," is expected to bring in billions to rebuild the Strip after two years of siege and two weeks of major bombings. Funds will be conditional, however. It is the Palestinian Authority that will control them. The Hamas government will not be "aided in any way" by the donations that will support the western-back PA at the expense of the elected government.

Middle East envoy Tony Blair in Gaza for first time
Reuters, The Independent 3/1/2009
Middle East envoy Tony Blair visited the Gaza Strip today, his first such trip to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory since being appointed two years ago. "I wanted to come to hear for myself, first hand, from people in Gaza whose lives have been so badly impacted by the recent conflict," Blair said in a statement. Aides said Blair would discuss with business and civil leaders efforts to repair damage from Israel’s January offensive. Reconstruction will also be the focus of an international donor conference in Egypt on Monday. "I will relay their account of events, their assessment of what is needed for reconstruction, their goals for rebuilding a vibrant private sector and civil society, to this week’s conference in Sharm El Sheikh," Blair said in the statement. A spokeswoman for the former British prime minister said he had no plans to meet Hamas officials

Four presidents, 80 countries, 40 ministers and an expected 2.7 billion to arrive for Sharm conference
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Sharm Ash-Sheikh – Ma’an – Delegations have been pouring into Egypt’s resort town Sharm Ash-Sheikh ahead of what will likely be a billion dollar aid and reconstruction drive to fund the PA three tier Gaza development plan. The plan, not yet made public, is based on a rejection of the Israeli siege on Gaza and assumes international pressure will force open the crossings without preconditions. This would mean no restrictions on goods coming into Gaza and would allow building materials into the area, which are currently banned. The Palestinian Authority (PA) plan is three-track; emergency support, Palestinian economy and rebuilding Gaza. Leaders have estimated that at least 2. 7 billion US dollars will be needed to execute the plan. One billion had already been pledged by Saudi Arabia and an additional 900 million from the US.

Gaza rain: A good omen for Cairo talks?
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The rain, so the joke goes in Gaza, came to prove the good omen over the talks of rival factions in Cairo scheduled for next week. The talks, like the rain, illicit mixed reactions. A boon for farmers the rain will mean replenished groundwater and a productive harvest. For those displaced after their homes were destroyed during the Israeli war on the area, however, the rains mean a wet, cold, miserable existence. For the past two days, heavy rains fell across the Strip, but all Gazans wondered whether the rain, and the talks in Cairo, would really bring life in the starved Strip back to normal. [end]

Gazans say Karem Shalom fire caused $11 million in damages
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A committee of Gaza traders who were harmed by the fire that broke earlier at warehouses near the Karem Shalom crossing in Gaza estimated their total damages at USD 11 million. "Our loss reached 11 million USD, which equals 43 million NIS, due to the fire that broke out in the Karem Shalom crossing and burned 150 truckloads of goods, which belonged to traders and importers from Gaza," the group said. At a news conference on Sunday in Gaza City, Khaled Lubad, a spokesperson for the committee, held the Israeli government responsible for the damages and insisted they should compensate those harmed. He described what happened as a “disastrous strike for the private sector in Gaza. ”He called for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to include the issue among their priorities.

Israel allows cooking gas and diesel through Nahal Oz, experts say 'it’s not enough'
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza- Ma’an – Israel allowed more than 100 tons of cooking gas and 440,000 liters of industrial diesel through the Nahal Oz crossing east of Gaza City on Sunday. A spokesperson for the Union of Gas Station Owners, Mahmoud Al-Kahzendar, said the industrial diesel was for the power plant only, and added that quantities were insufficient given the cold weather. Israel allowed three trucks loads, 65 tons, of cooking gas into the Strip Friday, though officials estimate daily need for just cooking gas at 350 tons per day. [end]

Three Palestinians die in collapse of tunnel used for imports during siege
PNN, Palestine News Network 3/1/2009
Gaza - Human Rights Watch wrote that aid is meaningless for the Gaza Strip if the crossings remain closed. Palestinian Legislative Council member Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi called on the European Union to impose sanctions against the Israelis for the continuing siege on the Gaza. Because of the continuing siege only a few items are allowed to enter the Strip, none of them are reconstruction materials. The tunnels between Rafah and northern Egypt’s Sinai remain a lifeline however three people died today when one collapsed. Palestinian medical sources said on Sunday that three Palestinians were killed in the collapse of a tunnel on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The three men were working inside. Director General of Ambulance and Emergency in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, said, "Three of the workers inside a tunnel in Rafah died as a result of the collapse.

Five dead in Rafah tunnel collapse; heavy rains blamed
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Five Palestinians were killed and several others went missing when a tunnel under the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip collapsed Sunday. The collapse is believed to be a result of heavy rain throughout the region. Palestinian medical sources at Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah identified the victims as: 20-year-old Ahmad Hamdan from Beit Hanoun, 24-year-old Hasan Fuju from Rafah, 18-year-old Nidal Kaskasin from Gaza City, Ibrahim Sharqawi from Gaza City, Ahmad Samhadana from Rafah. Rescue personnel are searching for those believed to be in the tunnel as it collapsed. [end]

Five Palestinians killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Palestinian medics say five people were killed when a tunnel under the Gaza border collapsed. Health official Dr. Moawia Hassanein says another person is missing in the cave-in. He says the collapse was caused by heavy winter rain. Gazans use tunnels to smuggle in goods that are not available in the territory because of Israel and Egypt’s blockade of its borders. Militants also use the tunnels to bring in weapons. The latest deaths, which occurred late Saturday or early Sunday brought to 13 the number Palestinians killed this year in tunneling accidents. [end]

Human rights group demands investigation into Gaza City murder
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) on Sunday called upon the de facto government in Gaza to initiate an immediate investigation into the murder of one of the Strip’s residents. Hamza Mahmoud Al-Shoubaki, age 40, was abducted by unidentified gunmen on Thursday, 26 February and subsequently died. "PCHR reiterates that this murder is part of the state of security chaos and violations of the rule of law plaguing the occupied Palestinian territory," the group said in a statement to Ma’an. According to investigations conducted by the group, at approximately 22:00 on Thursday, 26 February, masked gunmen abducted Hamza al-Shoubaki from the Al-Daraj neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. Al-Shoubaki’s wife provided a testimony to the rights organization, stating:"Approximately four months later, I visited my husband at the ISS prison. . . -- See also: PCHR Calls for Investigation into Gaza City Murder

PCHR Calls for Investigation into Gaza City Murder
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 3/1/2009
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls upon the government in Gaza to initiate an immediate investigation into the murder of Hamza Mahmoud al-Shoubaki, age 40, who was abducted by unidentified gunmen on Thursday, 26 February and subsequently died. PCHR reiterates that this murder is part of the state of security chaos and violations of the rule of law plaguing the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 22:00 on Thursday, 26 February, masked gunmen abducted Hamza al-Shoubaki, from the al-Daraj neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. At approximately 08:00 on Friday, 27 February, al-Shoubaki’s body was brought to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after he had been shot dead by two gunshots to the head.

Israeli military detains a Fatah leader in Tulkarem
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 3/1/2009
The Israeli military detained early on Sunday a Fatah leader from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Palestinian media sources reported. The sources added that an Israeli military contingent broke into the Qafin neighborhood, where Ala To’mah, age 24, lives. The sources explained that Israeli soldiers took To’mah to an unknown destination shortly after he was arrested from his home. The Israeli military has been detaining Palestinian residents from the occupied West Bank on a daily basis since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, or Second Intifada in September of 2000. Currently, Israel has more than 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, locked up in prisons. [end]

Israeli forces detain Fatah affiliate near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Sunday morning arrested a Fatah member in the northern West Bank town of Qaffin, north of Tulkarem. Ma’an’s correspondent quoted Palestinian security sources as saying that Israeli military vehicles stormed the town and detained 24-year-old Alaa Tu’ma from his home in the center of the town. [end]

Olmert: Israel will act to achieve calm in south
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Prime minister begins weekly cabinet meeting by addressing weekend’s rocket fire on southern Israel, says ’terror groups will not expect’ nature of Israeli response to ceasefire violations - Israel has a wide range of options at its disposal and these options will be exhausted until we achieve complete calm in the south, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday. "This weekend saw 11 rockets fired at the communities in southern Israel," he said at the beginning of the cabinet meeting. "Hamas is trying to recover from the blow dealt to it during Operation Cast Lead and it is doing it the only way it knows how – through terror. "A month ago, Israel decided to end Operation Cast Lead and hold its fire. The cabinet formed a unanimous policy saying that any rocket fire would be met with a harsh, uncompromising response. This policy will be carried out until the terror groups understand that we will not, under any circumstances, abide rocket fire. "

PM vows to bring ’total’ quiet to South Staff, Jerusalem Post 3/1/2009
Following a weekend of rocket fire on Ashkelon and other areas of the western Negev, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday that Israel would not tolerate the escalation and would employ a wide array of measures in order to end the threat on southern Israel. Olmert: Israel will not tolerate violence escalation - "Terrorists, led by Hamas, are trying to recuperate from the hard blow of Operation Cast Lead, and are doing this in the only way they know how to - through terror," he told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "The Israeli government has formulated policies and a unanimous decision has been made by the cabinet according to which, should the rocket fire continue, we will respond in a serious, painful, strong and uncompromising way," Olmert continued. "The cabinet’s decision will be carried out until the terror organizations understand that Israel is not willing to accept their way.

Six Qassams hit Negev after Olmert vows ’painful’ response
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Sunday launched six Qassam rockets into southern Israel, just hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised a ’painful, uncompromising response’ to Palestinian rocket fire. One of the rockets struck in a field in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. Another exploded in the backyard of a Sderot home, causing damage. A third launched earlier in the day hit near Ashkelon,There were no casualties reported in any of the strikes. Olmert’s vow came a day after ten rockets were fired at Israel from the coastal territory, bringing the number of projectiles launched from Gaza since the truce to more than 100. Speaking before the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert accused Hamas of using Qassam rockets to make up for their losses suffered during the three-week Israel Defense Forces offensive in the Gaza Strip which ended in late January.

6 Qassams hit Negev region
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Rocket lands in yard, lodging itself in mud thereby causing little damage, five more Qassams land in open Negev areas ; no injuries reported -A Qassam rocket landed Sunday evening in the yard of a Sderot home. Luckily, because of the recent rain the rocket became lodged in mud, causing only minor damage to the house. No injuries were reported as no one was in the house at the time. Later two more Qassam rockets landed in open spaces in Sdot Negev Regional Council, and another landed in Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported in the attacks. The Color Red alert interrupted Sderot Mayor David Buskila while he was honoring a number of basketball players with trophies after a game that took place in the southern city. " We stopped the ceremony and ran for cover.

Hizbullah in Palestine fires two projectiles at western Negev
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian Hizbullah on Sunday claimed responsibility for firing two homemade projectiles at the western Negev and Ashkelon. According tostatement, the attacks came as part of the military group’s “sacrifice for Jerusalem” campaign. The armed group added that the shelling came in retaliation for Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. [end]

IDF: Hamas taking advantage of Israeli vacuum
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Government promises ’disproportionate response’ to ongoing rocket fire after Gaza offensive, but in practice only Philadelphi route bombed. ’Failure to respond could have implications on Israel’s power of deterrence on other fronts as well,’ senior military official tells Ynet - As the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continues even after Operation Cast Lead, Israel Defense Forces officials fear that the fighting’s achievements will lose their value and that Israel’s deterrence will suffer. A senior military source told Ynet on Sunday morning that "the Israeli failure to respond to the rocket fire could have implications on Israel’s power of deterrence on other fronts as well. This is not the reality we would like to see a month and a half after the operation. "Palestinian gunmen fired a Grad rocket towards Ashkelon on Saturday night, following two rockets that hit the area in the morning hours.

Mashaal: The resistance is a strategic choice of Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 3/1/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, stated Saturday that the resistance is the strategic choice of his Movement and it is an obligation until the liberation of every inch of Palestine, highlighting that Hamas seeks a reconciliation preserving the unity of the Palestinian people, their resistance and national constants. "I assure you that Hamas, no matter how far it has reached in the field of politics, will remain a resistance movement and the battle of Gaza is an exemplar and practical conclusive proof that neither the passage of years nor positions can change the fighter," Mashaal underlined in a speech to a Jordanian delegation in his office in Damascus. Regarding the national reconciliation, the Hamas leader said that his Movement moves forward in this project in order to achieve reconciliation preserving the unity of Gaza and the West Bank. . .

Turkish newspaper: Israel plans to oust Turkish premier Erdogan
Palestinian Information Center 3/1/2009
ISTANBUL, (PIC)-- The Turkish Zaman newspaper reported Saturday that Israel plans to overthrow the Turkish government headed by Recep Erdogan because of his support for the Palestinian cause and his withdrawal from the Davos forum in protest at not being given enough opportunity to respond to the fallacies of the Israeli president. The newspaper revealed that Israel provides support for Turkish forces opposed to the ruling party of justice and development and trying to topple the Turkish government.  The newspaper confirmed that Israel helped in 1997 the Turkish neo-conservatives and officers to topple the then coalition government headed by Necmettin Erbakan. The newspaper pointed out to a report issued by the Israeli war ministry in 2007 and leaked to the media which stressed the need for ousting Erdogan government through a plan similar to that used in the overthrow of Erbakan government.

Hariri tribunal begins operations in The Hague
Daily Star 3/2/2009
BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon charged with prosecuting suspects in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri began work on Sunday promising an impartial investigation into his murder four years ago. Speaking at an opening ceremony in the tribunal’s future courtroom, Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare called the court the world’s "first international anti-terrorist tribunal," and told an audience of high-ranking international figures he would soon request Lebanon transfer all suspects and detainees to the court in The Hague. "No request has been made yet but it will be made as soon as possible," he said, adding it would be put to the Lebanese authorities within the next two months. "Our work will be independent. We work according to evidence, the law and our own conscience," he added. Self-made billionaire and five-time Prime Minister Hariri was killed with 22. . .

Beirutis’ sentiments on Hariri court range from confidence to apathy and skepticism
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 3/2/2009
BEIRUT: Years will go by before the tribunal set up to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will have anything to show. Or at least that’s the opinion of 20-year-old Vicken who spoke to The Daily Star on Saturday as he hurried through Achrafieh on his way to a nearby church. "Even if they blame the military of Syria or their intelligence, how are they going to put them in jail? Are they going to launch a war against them? " Vicken asked. "They can’t even tell us who killed John Kennedy, one of the most popular presidents of the United States, and it wasn’t even a bomb that killed him, it was just a person shooting from a building. So do you think that they will reveal who the killer was in this type of a murder? I don’t think so. "Strolling through Beirut’s Mar Elias neighborhood, Hoda, 29, couldn’t disagree more.

Trial begins in The Hague into murder of slain Lebanese PM Hariri
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
An international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri opened Sunday with a moment’s silence and a pledge to impartially investigate the politically charged case. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Special Court for Lebanon, prosecutor Daniel Bellemare said he will continue his investigations without political interference and said he will call as soon as possible for Lebanese authorities to turn over four pro-Syrian generals who are suspects in the case. Bellemare, a Canadian, said he could issue several indictments as a result of his wide-ranging investigation into the February 14, 2005, suicide bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others on a Beirut seaside street, but he would not say when. "I will submit an indictment when I am satisfied personally and professionally. . .

Hariri tribunal opens in The Hague
Al Jazeera 3/1/2009
An international tribunal on the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, has opened in The Hague. The start of proceedings on Sunday follow four years of investigations, but it is not clear who will be charged for the suicide truck bombing that killed al-Hariri and 22 other people. However, the prosecutor of the UN court has said that he will ask Lebanon to hand over four generals being held in connection with the case. "All that I can tell you is that. . . it [the transfer request] will be done," Daniel Bellemare, a Canadian who has been leading the investigation into al-Hariri’s death, said. "I have no reason to believe that the Lebanese authorities won’t cooperate with us fully," he said. "They will not be held indefinitely and they will get their day in court.

Mazuz says will indict Olmert in Talansky affair
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Attorney general informs PM he will be indicting him on criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust and illicit benefits in ’cash envelopes’ affair involving US businessman - Attorney General Menachem Mazuz informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday e will be filing criminal charges against him, including fraud, breach of trust and receiving illicit perquisites - each carrying a three-year mandatory prison sentence. The charges pertain to the ’cash envelopes’ investigation involving US businessman Morris Talansky. A final decision on the matter will be reached following a hearing. The Attorney General’s Office sent a similar notification to Olmert’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken. " The prime minister’s overall conduct demonstrated a methodic, systematic abuse of his public office and standing, which took place over a number of years, and was meant to derive financial benefits from Mr.

Likud presents reform plans to Peres
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Reforms include job protection in periphery, creating new channel of communication with Obama Administration, improving lives of West Bank Palestinians. MK Steinitz: President was impressed with plans -Likud Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz presented President Shimon Peres on Sunday with the reforms intended to be carried out by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s bourgeoning government in the fields of education, personal security, war, and crime. Steinitz chairs a committee tasked with preparing a plan of action for the next government’s first 100 days. The "First 100 Days Committee" also consists of MK Gilad Erdan, Professor Uzi Arad, businessman Izzy Tapuchi, who has been mentioned as a candidate to head the PM’s Office, and Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s strategic advisor. "The team focused on a number of key issues: Passing the State Budget within 45 days, as. . .

Draft-dodging on the rise, IDF says
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Chief of personnel mainly concerned with women who evade service by citing ’religious lifestyle’ -The IDF’s chief of personnel said Sunday that the number of draft-dodgers has been steadily rising over the past two decades, mainly among those asking to be released from army service due to religious reasons. Brigadier-General Avi Zamir’s report was especially concerned with draft-dodging among women. In 1991 32. 8% of able females did not enlist, the report said, while in 2008 the percentage recorded rose to 44%. Regarding men, the number increased from 18. 2% in 1991, to 25. 8% last year. The IDF claims many youths evade the draft using religious reasons. In 1991 21. 3% of women did not enlist by citing a religious lifestyle, and in 2008 the number grew to 34. 6%. In his report, Zamir said the army believes at least 8% are lying.

Lieberman to meet religious party heads in bid to solve rift over civil agenda
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman is scheduled to meet on Monday with leaders of right-wing ultra-Orthodox parties in a bid to solve the rift between them over matters of state and religion. The meeting was initiated by Lieberman, and is expected to include representatives from tultra-Orthodox parties, including the National Union party, Habayit Hayehudi and Agudat Israel. If Lieberman and the Haredi leaders are able to reach agreements, it would make Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s task of forging a narrow right-wing government easier. As a precondition for joining a coalition, Yisrael Beiteinu has demanded that civil unions be permitted for couples who are unable to marry under Jewish law. Likud representatives said that they were certain a solution could be reached for the 300,000 people considered. . .

Cabinet approves defense budget supplement
Adrian Filut and Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 3/1/2009
The supplement in the defense budget approved today was double the amount the Finance Ministry felt was needed to cover the cost of the Gaza campaign. Despite opposition from the Ministry of Finance, the cabinet today approved an extra NIS 3. 2 billion for the 2009 defense budget. Of this sum, NIS 2. 45 billion will be passed onto the IDF to cover the replacement of equipment following Operation Cast Lead, while NIS 800 million will be kept in reserve for special events as set out in the Brodet Plan. The 2009 defense budget has not yet been approved. The cabinet meeting did not report what would be the source of this supplementary budget. The defense establishment today said, "On the basis of this decision the defense establishment will work immediately to replace inventory and bring the IDF up to full fitness. " The supplement in the. . .

Livni aides: Mofaz’s aspirations have to wait
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Kadima chairwoman’s associates say she convinced majority of party members there is no use in entering Netanyahu’s coalition; others ask Likud’s unity bid not be automatically rejected - Sources close to Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni stressed Saturday night that despite the growing sentiment in the party, seeking to study Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition offer, she has no intention of forming a team to do so. Livni and the Likud chairman met again on Friday, as part of Netanyahu’s bid to have Kadima join his coalition. Their meeting, like the one before it, proved futile. "(Livni) sees no need to form any negotiation team and the faction is backing her," said a Kadima source. Those close to Livni also jeered Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who voiced his desire to join the coalition last week, saying that while his aspiration to be the next defense minister was understandable, he would have to bide his time "and wait until the next elections".

Olmert told indictment may include Talansky charges
Ha’aretz 3/1/2009
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Sunday informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s attorney that he was considering filing criminal charges against the premier for allegedly accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from Jewish-American businessman Morris Talansky. Olmert will have one last chance to testify, should he choose to do so, before a final decision is made on the matter. Olmert’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, received a similar message from the attorney general on Sunday. In late November, Mazuz notified Olmert that he was considering indicting him in a separate case, where he is suspected of double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad, then pocketing the difference or financing trips for relatives. and after that appearance, the attorney general will decide whether to indict.

Nablus area prepares for higher than average rainfall this winter
Ma’an News Agency 3/1/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – In two days Nablus has seen 123mm of rainwater fall in a so-far dry winter that many feared would exacerbate the drought that paralyzed Palestinian farmers and left residential taps running dry for much of last summer. According to Muhammad Fatayir, director of the Nablus district Ministry of Agriculture, before this week residents feared that again this year they would be almost 250mm short of their average annual rainfall. Since rain is expected to continue throughout Sunday and Monday, the area could see more than its 600mm annual average of rain this year; a blessing for the water-starved area. Fatayir noted that groundwater and springs have been noticeably replenished by the recent rainfall, and said he anticipated a similar effect on aquifers.

Judea Pearl: Jewish university students fear for their safety
Ynet, YNetNews 3/1/2009
CNN quotes father of slain reporter as saying anti-Semitic email, verbal threats at California universities escalated since IDF offensive in Gaza. Simon Wiesenthal Center: Administrators not doing enough to protect students - However, in an email to Ynet Pearl stressed that his remark about receiving a hate message "was blown out of proportion. "He explained that "In response to a question by a CNN reporter whether I, personally, ever felt threatened, I recalled a hateful email message that I received from someone at UCLA, which I passed on to campus police, who could not trace the sender. "I should have made it clear (but was pressed in time,) that the message in question was received six years ago, on May 15, 2002, much before the recent hostilities in Gaza. "-- Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, said Jewish students and faculty at California universities

Southern residents: No one taking responsibility
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 3/1/2009
Qassam rocket hits western Negev on Sunday afternoon. South’s residents forced to return to life under daily rocket attack - with no response from IDF, accuse politicians of exploiting transition period to new government to avoid taking care of situation. ’I feel like an actor in a tragedy,’ says one resident -A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon was believed to have landed between the Sha’ar Hanegev and Ashkelon Coast regional councils in southern Israel. At least 66 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead. A resident of the Gaza vicinity communities said on Sunday after hearing the government’s promises to respond to the recent rocket fire attacks raining down on Israel’s southern towns over the weekend, "In another week, a new government will take power and no one wants to take responsibility for providing a response (to the rockets). . . . "

Discount Bank issues profit warning
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 3/1/2009
The bank said it expects a loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, but estimates that for the full year it will report a profit. Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT ) has become the latest Israeli bank to warn of fourth quarter losses. In a notice to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), the bank said it expects a loss of NIS 70-120 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. It estimates that for the full year of 2008 it will report a profit of NIS 250-300 milion. The bank expects to increase its provisions for doubtful debts, and to reduce the value of its real holdings as well as subsidiaries. Discount Bank’s share fell 3. 2% in early trading on the TASE today to NIS 2. 70, as part of a general market drop.

NGOs urge changes in welfare-to-work ’Wisconsin’ program
Ruth Eglash, Jerusalem Post 3/1/2009
Several social advocacy groups are using the ongoing negotiations on the next government coalition to urge lawmakers to make significant changes to the Lights to Employment welfare-to-work program, The Jerusalem Post has learned. At a joint conference to be held in the capital on Sunday evening, representatives of Rabbis for Human Rights, the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow, the Alternative Information Center and Commitment to Peace and Social Justice will discuss ways to improve the government’s flagship employment program, which is often referred to as the Wisconsin Plan, after the US model on which it is based. Speakers will also present the most recent statistics and personal stories highlighting some of its main problems and examine whether it will hold up through the current economic recession.

Histadrut head enters Tax Authority worker spat
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 3/1/2009
The Histadrut’s intervention follows the breakdown of contacts between the Israel Tax Authority workers committee and the Treasury. Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini has been forced to intervene in the dispute between the Israel Tax Authority’s workers committee and the Ministry of Finance after contacts between the two sides broken down. Three weeks ago, Ministry of Finance officials attended a meeting with the Histadrut representative responsible for government employees but refused to sit with the chairman of theTax Authority’s workers committee. The Ministry of Finance officials maintained that they had already presented their position on the negotiations and were waiting for the workers response on the subject. The dispute between the Ministry of Finance and the workers committee reportedly revolves around the division of a pay rise. . .

Nacht puts up $45m of Check Point shares for sale
Tali Tsipori, Globes Online 3/1/2009
This is the second application to sell shares that the vice chairman has requested so far this year. Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:CHKP ) vice chairman Marius Nacht last week applied to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to put up for a sale a second block of two million shares worth $45 million. Check Point closed at $21. 97 on Friday, giving a market cap of $4. 7 billion. The share has risen 16% since the beginning of 2009, but is unchanged for the past 52 weeks. A review by "Globes" of transactions by parties at interest in Check Point found that Nacht has sold $263. 2 million worth of shares, assuming that the SEC approves his last two applications. These sales make him the largest seller of shares by a party at interest in an Israeli company listed on Wall Street, and also make him one of Israel’s wealthiest men.

Elbit Imaging seeks mall locations for Gap
Michal Margalit, Globes Online 3/1/2009
The company wants to open Gap stores at malls in Petah Tikva, Rehovot, and Nazareth owned by British Israel. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ thatElbit Imaging Ltd. (Nasdaq:EMITF ; TASE:EMIT ) is negotiating to lease space for Gap stores at three malls owned byBritish-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:BRTS Two weeks ago, Elbit Imaging subsidiary Elbit Trade And Retail Ltd. signed an exclusive franchise agreement with Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) to open and operate Gap and Banana Republic stores in Israel. The first store, which will have 800 square meters, is due open in August at the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem owned byAlrov (Israel) Ltd. (TASE:ALRO The three British Israel malls where Elbit Imaging wants to open Gap stores are the 27,800-square meter Avnet Mall in Petah Tikva, the 25,000-square meter Rehovot. . .

February sees a sharp rise in Iraq violence with at least 258 people killed
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/2/2009
BAGHDAD: A total of 258 Iraqis were killed in violence in February, a sharp rise from the previous month that saw the lowest casualty figures since the 2003 US-led invasion, authorities said Sunday. Statistics compiled by the Defense, Interior and Health ministries showed that 211 civilians, 17 soldiers and 30 policemen lost their lives to violence across the country in February. The death toll was up 35 percent on January’s total of 191, which was the lowest figure since 2003. The latest casualty figures also showed that 456 civilians, 31 soldiers and 61 police were wounded in February. The increase was in part attributable to a bloody February 13 suicide bombing in Iskandiriyya when at least 35 Shiite pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Kerbala for a major religious ceremony were killed. "Because there were several suicide attacks in February, like the incident in Iskandiriyya,. . .


Israel’s death squads: A soldier’s story
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 3/1/2009
      A former member of an Israeli assassination squad has broken his silence for the first time.
     The Israeli military’s policy of targeted killings has been described from the inside for the first time. In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, and in his testimony to an ex-soldiers’ organisation, Breaking the Silence, a former member of an assassination squad has told of his role in a botched ambush that killed two Palestinian bystanders, as well as the two militants targeted.
     The operation, which took place a little over eight years ago, at the start of the present intifada, or uprising, left the former sharpshooter with psychological scars. To this day he has not told his parents of his participation in what he called "the first face-to-face assassination of the intifada".
     As the uprising unfolded, targeted assassinations became a regularly used weapon in the armoury of the Israel military, especially in Gaza, where arrests would later become less easy than in the West Bank. The highest-profile were those of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi in 2005, and of Said Siyam in the most recent offensive. But the targeting of lower-level militants, like the one killed in the operation described by the former soldier, became sufficiently common to attract little comment.
     The incident described by the ex-soldier appears almost trivial by comparison with so much that has happened since in Gaza, culminating in more than 1,200 Palestinian casualties inflicted by Operation Cast Lead this January. It might have been forgotten by all except those directly affected, if it had not been for the highly unusual account of it he gave to Breaking the Silence, which has collected testimony from hundreds of former troops concerned about what they saw and did – including abuses of Palestinians – during their service in the occupied territories. -- See also: Breaking the Silence

Dennis Ross and Iran

Sasan Fayazmanesh, CounterPunch 2/28/2009
      The Fox Guarding the Chicken Coop
     In October 2008 I presented a paper, entitled “What the Future has in Store for Iran,” at a conference on Middle East Studies. The paper, which was subsequently posted at , examined what the US policy toward Iran might look like if either Barack Obama or John McCain came to office. The conclusion of my essay, stated in its last two lines, was: “In the case of McCain, the war [waged against Iran] might come sooner than later. In Obama’s case, one might see a period of ‘tough’ or ‘aggressive diplomacy’ before hostilities begin.”
     My conclusion was based on the argument that the US foreign policy toward the Middle East has become institutionalized and it makes very little difference who is the president. The starting point of the argument was an analysis that appeared in The Jerusalem Post just before the Bush Administration took office, predicting that the US Middle East policy would be made more by the neoconservative forces within the new administration than anyone else. In one essay, on December 8, 2000, The Jerusalem Post wrote that both Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz “are the type of candidates the pro-Israel lobby is pushing.” In another article on January 19, 2001, entitled “All the president’s Middle East men,” The Jerusalem Post expressed how the “Jewish and pro-Israel communities are jumping for joy,” knowing that people like Wolfowitz will be in the new administration. The essay predicted: “What you will have are two institutions grappling for control of policy.” It then added: “It is no secret in Washington–or anywhere else for that matter–that the policies will be determined less by Bush himself and more by his inner circle of advisers.”
     The message of the Israeli analysts was clear: the Middle East foreign policy of the US has become institutionalized; and rather than watching the US president, one has to watch the institutions that would make the policy.....
     .... given his close ties with Israel and the fact that his containment plans were well known to the Iranians, [Ross] had to settle for a less provocative title. Needless to say that the new title, “Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the Gulf and Southwest Asia,” is still quite provocative as far as Iran is concerned....
     .....With the help of Richard Holbrooke, Stuart Levey—Bush’s Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, who is now in Obama’s Administration—and all the other “president’s Middle East men,” Dennis Ross might be able to finish the unfinished business of the neoconservatives, the containment of Iraq and Iran. The Israelis and pro-Israel communities must be jumping with joy once again.

10 Ways to Kill Fatah

Uri Avnery - Israel, Palestine Chronicle 2/28/2009
      ’Israeli leaders asserted publicly that they were waging the war for Abbas’ sake.’
     979 days have passed since the soldier Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner. On any one of these days it would have been possible to free him for the price fixed by Hamas right from the beginning: 450 ’important’ Palestinian prisoners, in addition to hundreds of others, as well as all the women and juvenile prisoners.
     In the eyes of our government, it is all about the return of the "kidnapped" soldier in exchange for "heinous murderers" who have "blood on their hands".
     In the eyes of Hamas, it is about releasing a Jewish "prisoner of war" in return for the freeing of hundreds of "resistance fighters" who have "carried out heroic attacks deep in the territory of the Zionist occupier."
     Many had hoped that Ehud Olmert would tie up the affair before leaving office in the next few weeks. But Olmert is afraid. Recently he has made several U-turns. One moment he decides this way, another time the other. Which would be more popular? To act or not to act?

Abbas has no right to ask Hamas to recognize Israel

Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine, Palestinian Information Center 3/1/2009
      The de facto chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA)  Mahmoud Abbas is once again asking Hamas to recognize Israel as a precondition for the formation of a prospective national unity  government.
     In a speech in Ramallah on Saturday, 28 February, Abbas said any  Palestinian unity government " will have to  be committed to our values and  respect agreements previously signed by the Palestinian Authority."
     Abbas didn’t explicitly say that Hamas would have to recognize Israel. However, this is exactly what every Palestinian listening to his speech  understood from his statements.
     Well, it is really sad and lamentable that the Palestinian political discourse has stooped to this level of national apostasy.
     Palestinian leaders from time immemorial never stopped urging our masses to resist Zionist aggression, and never give up the dream of earning our freedom from the cruel hands of Zionism.
     Hence, the fact that a late comer shamelessly urges his own people to recognize the legitimacy of their oppressors and dispossessors, who have just incinerated hundreds of children in Gaza using  White Phosphorus bombs, is more than demeaning and injurious to our collective national spirit.

Not as mighty now

Amin Howeidi, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/26/2009
      While some saw Israel’s war on Gaza as an attempt to restore Israel’s military cachet, it was Israeli deterrence that was the final victim of Israel’s failed offensive.
     If there is anything to learn from Operation Cast Lead, the codename for Israel’s latest onslaught on Gaza, it is that Israel is not as invincible as it likes to think. I am not talking here about who won and who lost. In conflicts such as this a few points won here or there is not what matters. What matters is deterrence; something Israel used to have and is now losing.
     By dictionary definition, deterrence is the ability to make political gains with the mere threat of force. In other words, one must have enough power and a willingness to use it, to force the enemy to make concessions. In Gaza’s case, none of this worked. Israel threatened force and the resistance stood its ground. Then Israel attacked and the resistance still stood its ground. This must be scary for Israel, for it makes the future rather uncertain.
     Israel used to have it easy. It maintained overwhelming force, which means that it didn’t have to attack. Then, if it attacked, it had the ability to score fast victories, or retaliate with a convincing second strike. Israel likes its wars short. First, this means that it doesn’t need to call in the reserves. And it obviates the need to confront angry world public opinion.

Al-Kurd Family Becomes Symbol of Palestinian Struggle

Palestine Media Center 2/24/2009
      Father Dies of Sorrow, Future of the Family Unknown
     Mohammad al-Kurd, 62, also known as abu-Kamal, the father of a Palestinian family who were evicted from their home in East Jerusalem on November 9 by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) died at the weekend of sorrow after his family’s eviction from the house where they had lived for more than 50 years.
     Abu-Kamal, a 1948 refugee from Jaffa, left behind his wife Fawzieh al-Kurd (umm-Kamal), five children and their families.
     Al-Khad for weeks been hospitalized due to diabetes and related health problems. People around him for the last couple of months stated that before the evacuation of his family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, he was in a better condition than he had been for a long time. However, the Israeli authority’s forceful evacuation of him and his family from their house, where they had been living since 1956, put him under severe pressure and affected his condition.
     The situation for the al-Kurd family has been dramatic the last two weeks. While abu-Kamal was hospitalized, his wife had for two weeks been living in a tent, not far away from their home from which they were evicted, along with international peace supporters.
     Last week, Israeli police and military personnel came three times to demolish this tent. The last time was Friday, on November 21, when a representative of the Jerusalem Municipality arrived at 9:30 a.m. with an order stating that within two hours the tent would be destroyed.