Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Confronting the occupation

Episcopal News Service - I recently returned from a two-week pilgrimage to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, my third trip to the area. It was emotionally devastating.

I travelled in the company of some 30 Northern California members of Friends of Sabeel North America. Sabeel is an ecumenical Palestinian Christian liberation theology group based in Jerusalem and headed by the Rev. Naim Ateek, an Episcopal priest and graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Our trip was a little different from the average Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The average pilgrim flies into Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, gets on an Israeli bus, drives up the coast to Galilee, across the Galilee to Nazareth and Capernaum, down the Jordan Valley, and up through the Judean Wilderness to Jerusalem. Such pilgrims see lots of sacred sites, but meet not a single Palestinian, and return with the same one-sided view of Israel/Palestine he or she left with.

Ours, however, was a pilgrimage to experience the truth of the current situation in Israel/Palestine and to witness to it.

To that end, we travelled from Mount Hermon on the occupied Golan Heights, where we met with Druze villagers cut off from their families in Syria, to the Negev desert in Israel's south where Bedouin villagers are struggling to save their homes from demolition.

And across the West Bank we experienced pain at every turn -- the shuttered shops in Hebron, the empty ones in Bethlehem, the farmers in Qalqilya and Jayous cut off from their fields, the sullen streets of the refugee camps, the still-open wound of a decade-old massacre in Jenin, the stench of tear gas in Bil'in. And, everywhere, the gleaming white hilltop colonies, home to half a million Israeli "settlers"; the myriad checkpoints; and the looming obscenity of a 30-foot-high wall.

The pain was perhaps most pronounced in East Jerusalem's neighborhoods where we met with Palestinians whose homes were being demolished in Silwan and, in Sheikh Jarrah, where elderly Palestinians were living in a tent beside their home now occupied by young Israeli religious extremists. Even the dead, we learned, were being dispossessed. In the Muslim cemetery of Mamilla -- across the street from the American Consulate -- graves were being desecrated to make room for an American-financed "Museum of Tolerance."

My sense of profound sadness and moral outrage was blessedly tempered by our encounters with young Palestinians and Israelis...
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BDS victory against Ahava in UK

International Solidarity Movement - In a victory for the BDS movement, the UK flagship store of Ahava has been forced to relocate after years of protests and direct action. Ahava, an Israeli company which sells cosmetic products produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem has been a target for protesters in the UK who have sought to drive it out of London and challenge the legality of the company’s practices. In the past two and a half years protesters have blockaded the shop a number of times, preventing the store from trading. Ahava have so far been unsuccessful in securing any convictions for these actions in court. Under UK law, the crime of aggravated trespass is committed if one disrupts or obstructs a lawful activity on someone else’s property. However activists have argued that Ahava’s business is not lawful as it operates out of an illegal settlement. Ahava has also been under scrutiny for labelling its products as ‘made in Israel’ misleading customers and violating domestic consumer law. They have also been accused of evading tax by mislabelling their products.

Every fortnight the UK flagship store in Covent Garden, London is the site of a protest which regularly draws in large numbers of BDS and Palestine supporters. According to The Jewish Chronicle online these protests have resulted in complaints being made against the company by the neighbouring businesses which have led to a decision not to renew their lease when it expires. The protests have also seemingly effected Ahava UK’s profits, with their accounts up until the end of 2009 showing a total loss of more than £250,000, despite receiving more than £300,000 from its Israeli parent company, with no repayment plan.
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The impoverishment of Palestinian Arabs in Israel

Middle East Monitor - The Israeli government sets a state budget which is allocated to all sectors of society.
-Claims of economic discrimination are rife given the disparity in living conditions between Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis.
-61.3 per cent of Palestinian families live below the poverty line compared to 29 per cent of Jewish families.
-Of the Israeli Civil Service employees, just 5% are Palestinian Israelis.
-The Israeli government spends $1,100 per year on each Jewish Israeli student and $192 per year on each Palestinian Israeli student.
-In the 2008 - 09 budget the Israeli government apportioned just $11 million out of $188 million to the Palestinian infrastructure within Israel.

The Palestinian population living within Israel is estimated to be 1.5 million citizens, approximately 20 per cent of the Israeli population. Of this number, about 370,000 are 'internally displaced'; they live in Israel but are not allowed to return to their homes or villages from which they were displaced during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe). Often regarded as the 'forgotten Palestinians' of the region, the Palestinians who reside in Israel find themselves in a unique situation compared to their compatriots in Israel and their neighbours in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -they are not entitled to the same rights as Jewish Israeli citizens and are not included or represented in the political negotiations.

In recent years, Palestinians in Israel have become more assertive and organized in their attempts to reverse the growing trend toward far right policies of racial discrimination. Since this trend has entered the official political discourse, the Palestinian community in Israel have campaigned to highlight the disadvantages they face. Israel's incumbent government have, since 2009, passed several bills to force non-Jewish citizens to declare loyalty to a 'Jewish state', as well as limit their ability to own or purchase property and land.

The Palestinian community in Israel functions within a distinct sphere to Jewish Israelis; they live in separate areas, follow a separate education system, and utilize a different health care system. Notwithstanding, almost all systems are centrally controlled and financed. As a result of this pattern of separate development the Palestinian community find themselves subject to polices of 'economic discrimination'. Much of Israel's budgets for social services are disproportionately distributed between the Palestinian and Jewish communities.
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The devastation of the Patriot Act

AntiWar - Incessant warmaking overseas will someday end when the United States runs out of money or soldiers or both. But less well understood is the collateral damage here at home where the consequences of the global war on terror will linger on in the form of a shattered constitution. The Patriot Act is generally promoted as the principal legislative tool being used to fight international terrorism. It is, in reality, a devastating and poorly conceived bit of legislation originally approved just after 9/11. It will soon be up for an extension in the US Senate. President Barack Obama, who criticized it while he was a candidate but apparently has had a change of heart since that time, favors its renewal. Most members of Congress, few of whom have ever read the entire act, want it renewed. The mainstream media likes it because who can resist patriotism?

That is the bad news. But there is also some good news. Libertarians, traditional conservatives, progressives, and even some tea partiers are for the first time uniting to stop the extension. Senator Rand Paul led the charge in the Senate back in February, resulting in a temporary 90 day continuation of key provisions of the act that will expire in May. Before that happens, the Patriot Act will again be up for Senatorial approval but this time there will be an open debate in front of the full Senate and under the scrutiny of the media. It will be the first time that has happened since 2001. There will also be a roll call vote with each Senator having to come down for or against. It is an opportunity not to be missed to roll back the tide of government intrusion in the life of every citizen.

Americans should know what the Patriot Act has done to each and every one of us. Broadly speaking, the Patriot Act was designed to make it easier for law enforcement to investigate US citizens and permanent residents by easing legal restraints on records and activities that were hitherto considered private or required a judge’s order to access. The Act has enjoyed bipartisan support since 2001...
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Israel passes la prohibiting discussion of 1948 from a Palestinian perspective

Mondoweiss - Israel is a country rift with multiple overlapping narratives. They drift into each other, defy one another and wrestle for the unachievable title of ultimate truth. And although there is no such thing, it appears as if the current Israeli government is working hard to officially establish one authoritative story as part of the ongoing construction of a Jewish-Zionist only national identity. Tuesday night, March 22nd, the Knesset passed a piece of legislation that seemed to go largely undetected, despite its significance. The “Nakba law,” which legislates the withdrawal of state funding from any institution that commemorates the Palestinian day of mourning, is discriminatory and threatening to Palestinian citizens, and harmful for Palestinians and Jews alike.

Nakba day marks the expulsion, displacement and loss of life and property that occurred in 1948 and coincides with the celebrations of the Israeli day of Independence. When asked for the reason behind the law, MK Alex Miller, of Yisrael Beitenu, who sponsored the bill stated, “I view Independence Day as a state symbol, but from an early age, some citizens of Israel are taught to view this day as a day of mourning! So either we want education for coexistence and peace, or we want pupils to be brainwashed and incited against [other] citizens of their state from an early age."

To use co-existence as the rational for a law that delegitimizes the collective memory of a minority indigenous population is absurd. It is an appalling step back when compared with advancements in minority education at the global scale. Post-colonial and post-conflict societies, such as Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa, have begun to implement programs of intercultural and multi-cultural education that teach multiple historical narratives in an effort to work towards reconciliation and to build an inclusive national identity. Israel’s new law meanwhile officially solidifies the incompatibility of Palestinian history and culture with the current construction of the Israeli-nation state by promoting one history that is not to be questioned, debated or examined, and framing the Palestinian point of view as invalid, violent, antagonistic, and illegal.

This law’s concentrated effect on Palestinian citizens of Israel makes it easy for Jewish citizens to ignore. In fact, it passed with a 37 to 25 vote, as many liberal leaning MKs who would have opposed it simply did not show up to vote, because maybe it seemed like no big deal. However, I believe that the idea that it does not concern us is one of the biggest errors surrounding the commemoration of the Nakba. The Nakba narrative is a significant part of the Jewish Israeli history and it is crucial to recognize the tragedy that comes with violent victory in order for lessons to be learned from the past...
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Thousands mark Land Day in the Negev

IMEMC - Thousands of residents and university students marched on Wednesday Marking March 30, the Palestinian Land day, and chanted slogans against the illegal Israeli policies of land theft, and the ongoing attempts to remove the Arab residents from their lands in the Negev, and in different parts of Palestine.

Sheikh Siyah Al Toury, head of the Popular Committee to Defend Al Araqeeb town in the Negev, stated that the Israeli Authorities demolished Al Araqeeb village 21 times, adding that its residents will remain steadfast even if Israel destroys their village a thousand times.

Al Toury thanked the Arab legislators and Knesset members for standing in support of the residents of Al Araqeeb “despite being battled at the Knesset by members of one of the most racist parliaments in the history of Israel”.

Arab Legislator, Talab El Sane', addressed the protestors and saluted their steadfastness despite of the repeated violations and aggression against them.

Ramiz Jaraysy, head of the Regional Committee of Local Councils, spoke of the history of March 30, 1976, and the sacrifices made on that day to prevent Israel from annexing more Arab lands to build Jewish-only areas.

Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, and sheikh Hammad Abu Daabis, said that the Arabs will remain steadfast and will struggle against illegal land confiscation in Al Araqeeb, Lod, Jaffa and other Arab cities and towns.

Member of Knesset, Dov Khenin, and the head of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Ibrahim Al Waqeely, also addressed the marchers saluting the steadfastness of the residents, and slamming the ongoing Israeli violations against them.

Dr. Amer Al Hazeel, acting Mayor of Rahat city, spoke about the so-called “Goldberg Plan” that aims at annexing most of the lands in the Negev by concentrating the Arab population in small isolated areas so that Israel can annex the lands. ..
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30, Land Day: What it means and why it's important

Permission to Narrate - Today, March 30th, marks Land Day or Youm Al Ard in Arabic. Perhaps more than May 15th, when the Nakba is often marked, or June 5th, when the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is marked, Land Day is symbolic of the totality of the Palestinian struggle. It's a day that refugees, who dwell in dismal camps dreaming of return, internally displaced or marginalized Palestinians in Israel and Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza are bound together in commemoration of what the Palestinian struggle is all about: a people's desire to live free on their native land.

So what precisely is Land Day? An info brief here, which is worth reading in its entirety, explains:
"On 29 February 1976, the Israeli government announced that it planned to confiscate 21,000 dunum (5,500 acres) of Arab-owned land in order to create eight Jewish industrial centers. While government officials claimed that this expropriation was necessary in order to develop the region of Galilee, Israel's Palestinian citizenry perceived it as another attempt by Israel to geographically marginalize the state's Arab community and strip it of its agricultural livelihood. Their fears were later confirmed when Israel's Ministry of Agriculture declared the plan's primary purpose to be the creation of a Jewish majority in the Arab Galilee.

Having experienced institutionalized discrimination since the Jewish state's inception, the Palestinians of Israel decided to challenge this latest measure. Almost immediately after the announcement of land expropriation was made, community leaders met in an attempt to organize and communicate a unified message of objection. To deliver this message, a public demonstration was planned at the Knesset. Rather than risk a violent encounter with Israeli police, community leaders decided to cancel the protest and, instead, encourage members of their community to remain indoors making their objections known through a general strike.

Anticipating Palestinian repudiation of the measure, Israeli authorities imposed a curfew on the lower Galilee on the evening of 29 March 1976. The following morning, Israeli police and military forces entered the striking Arab villages, a move which provoked some Arab youth into a stone-throwing demonstration. To the protestors' dismay, Israeli forces responded with live ammunition, indiscriminately opening fire upon the unarmed protestors. By the day's end, six residents of Sakhnin, Arabeh, Kufr Kana and Taibeh were killed, 96 others were injured and 300 arrested.

Israeli authorities eventually confiscated the land in question under the guise of 'security.' The territory was later converted to Jewish settlements and an Israeli military training camp. The events of 30 March 1976 have not been forgotten in the minds and hearts of the Palestinian people. To this day, Palestinians, whether Israeli citizens or not, annually mark March 30 as 'Land Day' to demonstrate their connection to the land and to honor the memory of those who died defending Palestinian rights to the land."

Things haven't gotten much easier for Palestinian citizens of Israel and we are holding an event on the challenges they face in particular next week which you can attend in DC or watch live from anywhere in the world.

But it's not only Palestinians who are marking Land Day this year. Palestine solidarity activists in the United States and around the world are working to bring attention to the BDS movement on this day. The YouTube video below shows how one such group in New York decided to do just that by breaking out into a flashmob dance, reworking the lyrics to a popular Journey song, in the middle of Grand Central Station last night...
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Video: Don't stop boycottin' Israel

Some 1,500 Israeli Arabs take part in Land Day protest in Lod

Demonstrators protest against government demolitions of illegal houses in Lod, other 'racist' government policies, burn pictures of Lieberman and carry signs reading 'Enough with the Ethnic Cleansing.'
Haaretz - Some 1,500 Israeli Arabs protested in Lod on Tuesday against government policies which affect Israel's Arab sector, launching the events of Land Day, to be marked on Wednesday.

The protesters were demonstrating against the government demolition of the houses of the Abu Eid family, which left some 50 family members, 30 of them children, without a home.

The protesters raised Palestinian flags, carried signs reading "Enough with the Ethnic Cleansing" and burned pictures of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Israeli Arab Knesset members and Jewish residents of mixed cities also participated in the protest.

Ibrahim Abu Saluk, a member of the Popular Committee in Lod, condemned the burning of Lieberman's photo saying, "This is not the point of the protest, and whoever did that did it on his own accord. We want to show that the policy of demolitions is not the solution."

Abu Saluk emphasized that the main reason for the protest was to demonstrate against the demolition of houses in Lod...
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Israel bombs Gaza, killing 1

Maan News Agency - Israeli forces launched an air strike on the southern Gaza Strip shortly after the dawn prayer on Wednesday, killing one militant and injuring a second.

In a statement from the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, officials identified the slain man as Mohammad Abu Mu'ammer, killed by an Israeli air strike near a mosque in the An-Nasser neighborhood in northeastern Rafah, near the refugee camp.

Spokesman of the higher committee of ambulance and emergency services Adham Abu Salmiya said the 24-year-old man died shortly after being taken to hospital. He confirmed that a second was being treated for critical injuries as a result of the strike.

Officials said a drone had carried out the attack...
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UN chief Ban Ki-moon says settlements, occupation must end

Maan News Agency - UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Tuesday for an end to settlement construction, saying the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is “morally and politically unsustainable, and must end.”

In an opening address to a UN meeting in support of Middle East peace in Uruguay, the secretary-general called on Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza, halt settlement building, and reduce obstacles to Palestinian development.

“Time is of the essence in realizing the two-state solution,” he said.

“The status quo is untenable, particularly at a time when so many throughout the region are pursuing freedom and dignity through non-violence -- a reawakening also being felt among Palestinians,” the UN chief stated.

The official noted the importance of responding to “the Palestinian people’s legitimate call for reunification”, according to a report from the UN News Centre...
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New York Rabbi confesses to money laundering

Ha'aretz – Rabbi Saul Kassin, spiritual leader of New York's Syrian Jewish community is one of 44 arrested [including five rabbis] for alleged involvement in an international corruption ring, trafficking in goods as diverse as human organs and fake designer handbags.

[Rabbi Kassin, 89, who was born in Israel, is the author of several respected books on Jewish law.]

Rabbi Saul Kassin, a well-known spiritual leader in the Syrian Jewish community of Brooklyn, confessed on Monday to using a religious charity for money laundering.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Report: “Settlement construction quadrupled in 2010”

IMEMC - An official research conducted by researchers of the Palestinian Census Bureau revealed that Israel’s settlement construction in occupied Palestinian had quadrupled in 2010 comparing to the number of settlement units constructed in 2009. This escalation in settlement activities occurred despite Israel’s claimed 10-month settlement freeze in 2010.

The Bureau issued a statement on the eve of March 30, the Palestinian Land Day, stating that in 2010, Israel built 6764 housing units for Jewish settlers in Jewish only settlements built in the occupied West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem, comparing to 1703 units built in 2009.

The significant increase in settlement construction and expansion took place despite the so-called 10-month freeze in construction that was declared by the government on Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in 2010.

Last month, the Palestinian Authority headed to the United Nations Security Council to obtain a ruling that obliges Israel to halt its settlement activities in the occupied territories, the United States used its Veto power to topple the vote.

The Palestinian Census Bureau stated that data collected in the occupied territories revealed that the number of settlement outposts and military bases increased to 470 in 2010 as seven new settlement outposts were built while 141 settlements were expanded.

Settlement outposts are outposts installed by settlers without the approval of the Israeli government. Although a few outposts were removed by the Israeli army, outposts generally expand to become “recognized” settlements and start receiving full services by Israel.

The Bureau also stated that the Israeli Annexation Wall built deep in the West Bank and not on the Green Line (that separates between Israel and the West Bank) led to the annexation of 733 square kilometers (%13 of the West Bank).

Last year, Israel demolished 31 Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem as in 2009 the Jerusalem Municipality handed dozens orders to demolish homes that belong to Palestinian residents of Silwan, Shu’fat, Sheikh Jarrah and other Arab neighborhoods in the city.

As for the percentage of population, the Bureau stated that 11.5 million persons live in historic Palestine (what became Israel and the occupied territories) an area estimated by 27.000 square kilometer.

The percentage of Jews in all of Palestine now stands at 49.4 and they live and use more than %85 of the lands. Under the British Mandate, the Jewish population was %6.2, and lived on 1.682 square kilometer.

By the end of 2009, the Arab population was %47.9 and they live on less that %15 of the land, while persons of different nationalities and origins (%2.7 of the total population) live inside the territories occupied in 1948 in the lands that became internationally known as Israel.
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Israel to evict more Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley

IMEMC - Three families from the Jordan Valley, on Tuesday, have been served eviction notices by the Israeli military.
The familes live in the Wadi Samra area, and have been informed that if they do not leave the land within three days, the mlitary will demolish their tents and any structures.

This latest evicion follows the demolition of tents owned by a family in the Ein al-Hilwe area last Friday. The family legally rents the land from the Lutherin Church, but are coming under attack from the Israli military following a group of settlers moving onto the land.

Since the settlers arrived, Ein al-Hilwe has come under repeated attacks including a woman from the village who was attacked whilst attempting to take water from a local well.
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Israeli army breaks into Palestinian town and arrests many civilians

IMEMC - The Israeli forces broke into a city in Nablus called Oriyya and arrested many civilian people this morning.

The mayor of Oriyya Qais Awwad reported to maan news agency that tens of jeeps with police dogs broke into the city the previous night and inspected many houses in the city.

He added that after taking the fingerprints of hundreds of people they arrested tens of them.

Oriyya had been exposed to such invasion many times since the murder of the five settlers who were killed this month in "Itmar" settlement which is located in that city.
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Israel passes "citizenship law" which requires all citizens to pledge loyalty to the Jewish state

Arab Israeli MPs blasted the new law as "racist" saying it was aimed solely at the country's Arab minority, in a stance backed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
Maan News Agency - Israel's Knesset has passed a law which would enable the court system to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of spying, treason or helping the enemy during times of war.

The bill, which was passed by 37 to 11 at a late-night session on Monday, was initiated by two Knesset members from the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The new legislation empowers the Israeli court system to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted on charges of "terrorism," espionage, helping the enemy during time of war or any other act which harms national sovereignty.

"Without loyalty, there can be no citizenship," Lieberman said just minutes after the bill was passed, in comments reported by the Jerusalem Post. "Any person who harms the country cannot enjoy the benefits of citizenship and its fruit."

The law is part of Lieberman's "no loyalty, no citizenship" campaign which he pushed during the run up to the 2009 elections, which is widely understood to target Israel's Arab minority.

Arab Israeli MPs blasted as "racist" the new law which they said was aimed solely at the country's Arab minority, in a stance backed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

"MKs have made it clear that even though the wording of the bill is broad, it is very clearly aimed at Israel's Arab citizens, and sends them a message that their citizenship is not guaranteed," ACRI spokeswoman Ronit Sela told AFP.

In passing the bill, the parliament was sending "a very severe" message to the Arab community which makes up around a fifth of Israel's citizens, she said.

"The vote in support of this bill shows that the Knesset has lost sight of a very important principle: that citizenship is not a prize that is given or taken away, it is a person's protected right," she said.

Although a similar procedure for revoking citizenship already exists under the 1952 Nationality Law, it could only be done through the interior ministry.

"Before, it was a separate process handled by the interior ministry, but now, if the court has convicted someone, they can revoke citizenship at the same time as handing down sentence," she said.

The move will also affect those with residency status, such as Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem, she said...
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Israeli tanks and bulldozers invade Gaza

Maan News Agency - Several Israeli military tanks crossed the border into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning near the Kissufim military post north of Khan Younis.

Witnesses northeast of the town of Qarara, close to where the military action was reported, said three tanks and four bulldozers were operating inside the coastal enclave.

Gunfire was reported, but no injuries, and onlookers said the bulldozers began leveling agricultural areas around the Kissufim military base.
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Aid industry harms Palestine by shielding Israel's occupation and colonial project

Electronic Intifada - The "Palestine Papers" reveal fully the extent to which Palestinians have neither genuine leadership nor a partner for peace. At the foreground is an unrepresentative "authority" prepared to compromise the most fundamental of Palestinian aspirations for an unrelenting colonizer and its imperious supporter. In the background lies a key mechanism enabling Palestinian deprivation: the aid industry.

Palestinians are among the most aid-subsidized people on earth. Anne Le More's International Assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo demonstrates how $8 billion of post-Oslo aid made its way to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1994 and 2006 for the purposes of development, building Palestinian Authority capacity and increasingly for emergency relief operations. Much of this, it was claimed, was needed to build the institutions necessary for a two-state peace process and to support socioeconomic development.

However, the aid industry is a key factor in Palestinian de-development. Discourses of "aid," "development" and "reconstruction" shield Israel's ongoing occupation and colonial project. A full third of the Palestinian Authority budget is aid-subsidized. In addition to funding a distorted Palestinian political system, the aid industry directly removes from Israel the burden of responsibility for the destruction of Palestinian lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. In doing so, it allows Israel to focus its resources and efforts on the acceleration of Palestinian poverty, the expansion of settlements, the expropriation of Jerusalem and the destruction of Gaza...
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The left’s double standards on Libya

Western leftists are hypocritical, saying they are anti-imperialism yet treating Libyan civilians as expendables and supporting murderous Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as long as he appeared to be opposed by the West
Redress - While the odds are that this so-called "humanitarian intervention" will end badly for the people of Libya, one factor that has been studiously ignored by its opponents and that effectively was used to justify the intervention in the first place was the repeated threats by both Muammar Gaddafi and his playboy son Saif al-Islam to carry out a door to door bloodbath against the people of Benghazi. Dictator and son declared them to be foreigners in the pay of Al-Qaeda, and Libyan tanks and armored personnel carriers were on the road to Benghazi to carry out their threats when they were attacked by French aircraft and destroyed.

Whether they would actually have carried out what they promised we will never know – neither Gaddafi nor his offspring are known for their mercy. But it must be understood that their threat to carry out a bloody massacre of major proportions was the equivalent of an engraved invitation to the Western countries to intervene in the name of, but not for, humanitarian reasons.

The belief that any country, and I mean any country, ever bases its foreign policy on humanitarian principles is belied by history and, in this instance, the records of the US, UK and France are certainly proof of that.

France's Nicolas Sarkozy acted quickly because he stood to be embarrassed by the close relationship he had with both the colonel and his son which reportedly included the latter contributing considerable sums to his election victory. British ties to the Gaddafi regime also included payoffs to important Britons and the report that part of the deal to allow BP to obtain a lucrative exploration contract with Libya was the release from a Scottish prison of the man convicted, probably wrongly, of the Lockerbie bombing.

There is strong evidence that this intervention was not something the Obama administration wanted or needed at this time, just as he was taking off on a long-postponed trip to Latin America and his party was engaged in a major budget fight with the Republicans. Moreover, it was Defence/War Secretary Robert Gates who first publicly objected to the no-fly zone because it could not be enforced without taking out Libya' air defences, which would be an act of war. The French and British positions, however, made it difficult for Washington not to participate and in a major way...
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Israeli forces abduct 14 in West Bank town, including 7 children

IMEMC - In the latest in a series of raids targeting Palestinian villages engaged in non-violent weekly protests against the Wall, Israeli forces invaded the village of Beit Ummar, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, at 2:30 am on Monday and seized 14 residents, including 7 children, from their beds.
Mohammad Awad, Media spokesman for the Palestinian Solidarity Project, reported that the Israeli soldiers invaded the town and kidnapped Jamil al-Za’akik,25; Mohammd al-Za’akik,14; Ahmad al-Za’akik,18; Ahmad Khalil,20; Montaser Khalil;16; Mohamad ‘Azzam,16; Malik Slaibi,16; Sharif Breghth,17 and Hassan al-Slaibi,16, among others.

Awad stated that heavily armed troops, along with sniffer dogs, raided houses in different parts of the village searching for Palestinian boys who they claim threw stones at invading Israeli settlers last week. They took the boys and young men to an unknown detention center for interrogation.

Awad added that the main entrance of Beit Ummar is still closed for sixth day in a row. An increased military presence began last week when construction began on a length of electric fencing that severs the southern part of the village and annexes the land for an Israeli settlement.

Last week two Palestinians were injured, one critically, when an Israeli settler opened fire on a funeral procession on its way to the cemetery.

Many residents of the village fear that they are now being targeted by Israeli troops for their involvement in non-violent weekly protests against the Israeli Annexation Wall, which is being constructed on village land, annexing a large part of the village for Israeli settlements...
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Palestinian Youth hospitalized after Israeli soldiers attack him

IMEMC - Palestinian medical sources reported, Monday evening, that a 16-year-old Palestinian youth from Azzoun town near the northern West Bank of Qalqilia, was hospitalized after being violently attacked by Israeli soldiers stationed near Izbat Al Tabeeb, east of Qalqilia.
Omar Omran Hussein, 16, suffered concussions and bruises to several parts of his body after being kicked and punched by the soldiers.

The Israeli Coordination Office informed its Palestinian counterpart that there is a resident who was injured in a traffic accident, but when Palestinian ambulances rushed to the area, they did not find any signs of an accident.

Eyewitnesses reported that after beating the youth, a military ambulance arrived at the scene and apparently took Hussein to an Israeli hospital. His location remains unknown until the time of this report.

An Israeli military spokesperson stated that the youth was arrested by the soldiers after he allegedly hurled stones at an Israeli military jeep driving on the main Nablus-Qalqilia Road.

The spokesperson added that soldiers “had to act after he refused to comply with their demands”, adding that Hussein was moved to an Israeli hospital.
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Israel's negative ratings rise sharply in US, UK, BBC global poll finds

Ali Abunimah - Israel remains one of the world's most negatively viewed countries alongside Iran, North Korea and Pakistan, according to the latest annual survey of global opinion by the BBC World Service. But most significantly, according to full results of the survey:

"While overall views of Israel have not moved substantially over the past year , there have been significant increases in negative views of the country among Americans (negatives rising from 31% to 41%) and Britons (from 50% to 66%)."

In total 28,619 citizens in 27 countries, were interviewed face-to-face, or by telephone December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011 by the firm GlobeScan on behalf of the BBC.

The poll does not give reasons for why this shift has taken place, but this erosion of support for Israel is no doubt due to a combination of factors: Israel's brutal massacre of Palestinians in Gaza in winter 2008-2009, the ongoing siege and the massacre aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last May, as well as the general aura of extremism and intransigence conveyed by the country's actions (continued settlement in the occupied West Bank, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, racist laws against Palestinian citizens and so on).

The reality of Israel is can no longer be hidden by slick hasbara. The world is waking up to smell the apartheid.
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Israeli troops demolish Palestinian home in the Jordan Valley

IMEMC - The Israeli military invaded the Palestinian village of Ein al-Hilwe in the eastern part of the West Bank known as the Jordan Valley, an area subject to numerous recent attacks by Israeli settlers, and demolished the home of the Nabel Daraghmeh family over the weekend.

According to Jordan Valley Solidarity, the recent attacks by Israeli settlers who colonized the area in the last few years escalated three days ago when a group of settlers descended in the middle of the night on the area where the Daraghmeh family had their tent, setting up their own tent only metres away.

Over the last three days, that group of settlers has intimidated, threatened and attacked the family, throwing rocks towards the family’s cattle pen, urinating outside their tent and water-tank, and making as much noise as possible, preventing the family from sleeping. The settlers also put up a fence around the Daraghmeh family’s tent and cattle pen, preventing them from being able to bring their cattle in at night.

Five days ago settlers tied a rope around the neck of a young horse belonging to villagers and attached the rope to the back of their truck, lynching the horse in front of a group of children. Two weeks previously a woman from the village was also attacked while attempting to take water from the well.

The Daraghmeh family legally rents the land from the Lutheran Church, and the family has lived there for fifteen years. However, the Israeli army recently ordered the family to dismantle and remove their home from the land. When the family refused, the Israeli military invaded the family's land and destroyed the tent in which the family lives, and the makeshift barns for their animals...
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Settlers vandalize West Bank village, chop down trees

Maan News Agency - Villagers said ultra-orthodox settlers chopped down dozens of fruit trees in fields belonging to a Palestinian farmer from the southern West Bank village of Husan, in the latest incident of apparent settler vandalism.

Jabir Taha Hamamra told Ma’an that he was surprised Monday morning when he walked into his fields to discover dozens of trees had been chopped down.

"I was in the fields on Thursday, and they were all fine," he said, pointing to the adjacent settlement of Betar Illit, "but I did notice that there were military vehicles in the area."

He took little notice, however, saying "there are military patrols almost every day," but then wondered if the patrols were in the area because of the settler activity.

Hamamra said 25 olive trees, two almond trees, one fig tree, and four walnut trees were destroyed by vandals...
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

False Symmetry: Gaza schools teach about the Holocaust while Israel forbids Palestinian history

Aletho News - Spring has turned red in Gaza with a new Israeli massacre. Late Monday night Israeli combat planes pounded Northern Gaza and murdered two children and three adults whose only crime was playing football in front of their house. At the same day Haaretz published a report complaining that Hamas protests UN plans to teach Gazans about the Holocaust. It was also the very day that the Knesset in Israel approved the Nakaba Law, an absurd legislation that bans Palestinian citizens from commemorating the Nakba.

This is no mere coincidence. Nor is it the first time that Israel’s massacring of Palestinian children is followed by absurd demands to teach Jewish victimhood in Palestinian schools, while working to prevent its Palestinian citizens from commemorating their tragedy at the same time.

The uproar against the UN plan to teach the Holocaust in Gaza schools was spurred in February this year after a UN official told a Jordanian daily that UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, would introduce the Holocaust history to Gaza students as part of its human rights curriculum for the next school year starting in September.

Haaretz also reported a series of statements by UN and Israeli officials accusing Palestinians of not fully understanding the tragedy that happened to the Jews, of divvying up facts, taking things out of context, and being reluctant to acknowledge Jewish suffering fearing it would diminish recognition of their own claims. The Israeli newspaper did not forget to remind Palestinians how the need to find a sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors contributed to the creation of Israel and that Palestinian recognition of the Holocaust is a necessary step toward peace.

A set of historical ironies arises from this absurd report. Most notable is that Israel’s billing of the Holocaust as a moral justification for the creation of Israel is historically refuted. Simply because it does not account for the fact that preparations for the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine had begun some half century before the Holocaust. Nor does it really tell us how many Holocaust survivors live in Israel today...
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Israel air strike kills 2 in Gaza less than 24 hours after Palestinian leaders offer truce

Maan News Agency - Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza on Sunday morning, killing two Palestinian fighters and injuring three others.

Medics at the Kamal Udwan Hospital identified one of those killed as Sabri Hashim Asaliyya, a recently-married nurse. Asaliyya, 22, and Radwan Namrouti, 26, were both later identified by Islamic Jihad's military wing as fighters.

The Al-Quds Brigades confirmed that two of its fighters were killed in an attack on the northern Gaza Strip, a statement said, noting both were from the An-Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Ma'an's reporter said Islamic Jihad's supporters announced the death of two fighters through loudspeakers on vehicles in Jabalia's streets.

According to medics, the group of men were hit by a missile fired from an Israeli reconnaissance plane on As-Sikka Street east of the camp.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it identified "a group of rocket launchers preparing to fire a rocket" in the northern Gaza Strip and fired at them.

A hit was confirmed, the statement added.

The attack came less than 24 hours after Palestinian factions offered a truce if Israel's military stopped bombarding the Gaza Strip.

The latest strike brought the death toll in the coastal enclave to at least 12, including civilians and children, over the last week. More than 50 have been injured...
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Israel destroys ancient wells near Bethlehem

Maan News Agency - Israeli authorities destroyed ancient water wells and natural reservoirs used by Bedouins southeast of Bethlehem, Palestinian officials said.

A 3,000-cubic-meter well owned by Ali Madghan Rashayida and a 225-cubic meter reservoir belonging to Majid Rashayida were demolished last week, in a move Palestinian Authority officials said was illegal and "an obvious assault by the Israeli occupation."

International and local human rights groups had been working with PA officials to help the Rashayida Bedouins rehabilitate the area, and use natural caves to collect water for domestic use and for their sheep.

Bringing water tankers to the area had been very costly, and beyond the means of the community.

By demolishing the structures, Israeli authorities deprived the community of the right to file a legal appeal, officials added, noting that the time limit given in the demolition warrants had not yet passed...
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Gaza factions offer truce, if Israel reciprocates

Maan News Agency - Palestinian factions in Gaza agreed Saturday to commit to a truce with Israel if that country's military stopped attacking the coastal enclave.

The decision was made during a two-hour meeting in Gaza City, initiated by Hamas, to discuss what has been called Israel's escalation in attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Over the previous week, Israeli forces have bombarded the coastal enclave, killing 10 Palestinians including civilians and children. Dozens more were injured.

Israel's army says it is responding to a barrage of projectiles fired by militants into Israel, which have injured one Israeli in the last week.

On 19 March, Hamas militants fired 50 projectiles toward Israeli targets, in a move statements said was retaliation for the death of two fighters in an Israeli air strike earlier in the week. No injuries or damages were reported as a result of the projectile barrage.

The truce meeting was initiated by Hamas on Saturday, and was attended by representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several other parties, all of which have claimed projectile fire in recent weeks...
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Letters, Packages en Route to Gaza via Israel Go "Missing"

Washington Report - ...The Rafah post office is eerily quiet. Instead of reflecting its location in the most densely populated area on the planet, the post office looks and feels more like a remote outpost from America's Old West that hasn't seen a courier in months...

The shortage of goods that is the intended result of Israel's four-year blockade of Gaza has forced many residents to rely on care packages sent by relatives living abroad and purchases made over the Internet. Yet these attempts to live above the "lowest level possible" are only intermittently successful.

Imad Abuel Khair, 44, is one of many Palestinians in Gaza whose life revolves around a post office box. Afflicted with chronic rheumatism, he relies upon medication his brother sends from Italy. Every work day for two months he has arrived at Rafah Post Office, stood at the window and asked postal employee Hani Abu Helal if his package has arrived. Abu Helal's answer never varies: "You don't need to come. We'll call you when the mail arrives."

While postman Abu Helal speaks with Abuel Khair, Imad Fouda arrives looking for a document he has been expecting for months: a signed copy of his letter of acceptance to a Ph.D. program at a German university. His letter has not arrived, either—and if he does not receive it within the next 60 days, he will not have time to apply for a German visa. Fouda's future hangs in the balance—and he is only one of many scholars in Gaza who continue to face obstacles in sending and receiving academic materials, including books and research documents.

"It takes a very long time for mail to come, if it arrives at all," explains university professor Mohammed Meqdad. "Otherwise we must depend on travelers to bring books and magazines with them."

Disappearing packages, late packages, damaged packages, expired packages—if they're going to or coming from Gaza, notes postman Abu Helal with frustration, "priority stickers are given no priority by Israeli officials."

For those awaiting much-needed medicines and perishable supplies, this means that even if the medicine does arrive, it has expired, or is about to—assuming, that is, that it has not already been destroyed due to inadequate storage conditions while in transit.

Abu Helal's job is mainly delivering bills and cell phones from the Paltel Telephone Company to homes in Rafah. "We deliver internal packages within Gaza in less than 24 hours upon arrival," he explains.

In 2009, the Postal Service of the Palestinian Authority was awarded an International Mail Processing Center Code by the Universal Postal Union. This designation allows the Palestine Postal Service to send and receive mail directly to and from other postal services around the world, rather than having to go through Israel. Unfortunately, such legitimization has not improved the situation, according to postal officials in Ramallah, who note that local deliveries within the West Bank are made promptly, but that Israel still controls international mail into and out of the occupied territories.

Yousef Al Mansi, minister of post and telecommunications with Gaza's de facto Hamas government, says that he and his staff are launching an international campaign to alert concerned postal services worldwide about the situation, in the hope of generating pressure on Israel to let the people of Gaza send and receive mail freely. "The continuous Israeli restriction on the mobility of Gaza's mail is a violation of international and humanitarian law, which protects and guarantees the individual right to send and receive mail," he emphasizes.

The situation in Gaza has created a burden on other nations as well. In August 2010, for example, the Canada Post decided to no longer accept mail destined for the Gaza Strip, as the bulk of it is returned to the sender. The only other place to which letters or packages from Canada cannot be sent is Somalia. Not all Canadians agree with the cessation, however. In a show of solidarity, the Canadian Postal Workers Union announced plans to symbolically deliver mail to Gaza on a Canadian aid ship. The union cited international law guaranteeing the safe delivery of stamped mail—even if the state of Israel refuses to comply.

The delay and non-delivery of mail is detrimental not only to individuals, but to commerce as well. Laments an importer-exporter in Gaza who prefers to remain anonymous, "People lost confidence in us because we simply could not be relied on." He has lost several clients due to the restrictions, he added. While his branches in the West Bank and Jerusalem are able to send and receive parcels, Israel allows only documents into Gaza, and their arrival is unpredictable at best. This has caused tremendous difficulties with inventory management, he says, as well as customer service...
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Boycotting from within

Israelis explain why they joined the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement
Al-Jazeera - It was Egypt that got me thinking about the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement in a serious way. I was already conducting a quiet targeted boycott of settlement goods - silently reading labels at the grocery store to make sure I was not buying anything that came from over the Green Line.

I had been doing this for a long time. But, at some point, I realised that my private targeted boycott was a bit naïve. And I understood that it was not enough.

It is not just the settlements and the occupation, two sides of the same coin, which pose a serious obstacle to peace and infringe on the Palestinians' human rights. It is everything that supports them - the government and its institutions. It is the bubble that many Israelis live in, the illusion of normality. It is the Israeli feeling that the status quo is sustainable.

And the settlements are a bit of a red herring, a convenient target for anger. Israelis must also face one of the major injustices that have resulted from their state - the nakba, the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

While BDS addresses that, among other concerns - the three principles of the movement are respect for the Palestinians' right of return, as outlined in UN resolution 194, an end to the occupation and equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel - I remained reluctant to get involved.

I have to admit that I was frightened by the movement. I did not think it would help. I was sure that BDS would only encourage Israel to dig its heels in deeper. It will only make things worse for everyone, I reasoned.

Egypt was the tipping point for me. I was exhilarated by the images of people taking to the streets to demand change. And while the Palestine Papers prove that the government seems intent on maintaining the status quo, I know plenty of Israelis who are fed up with it...
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UNHRC adopts 4 resolutions criticizing Israel

Maan News Agency - The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted four decisions against Israel on Friday, with Arab and Islamic countries and some Latin American countries voting in favor and the US voting against.

In one resolution, the council demanded that Israel end its occupation of the Palestinian land occupied since 1967, and that it respect its commitments within the peace process toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The resolution strongly condemns Israel's military operations, including its regular incursions, and calls for their immediate cessation and condemns also indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire from Gaza...
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Israeli forces demolish Palestinian tent in the West Bank

Maan News Agency - Israeli forces on Friday demolished a tent belonging to Palestinians in the northern West Bank, a day after Israeli settlers erected a tent in the same area.

On Thursday, residents of the illegal Maskiot settlement put up a tent by the Ein Al-Helwa village, north of the Jordan Valley, on land belonging to Nabil Daraghmeh.

Settlers installed barbed wire around the tent, put up Israeli flags and chanted slogans demanding the expulsion of all Palestinians, locals said.

On Friday, Israeli authorities arrived in the village and demolished the tent belonging to Palestinians, but left the settlers' tent standing, witnesses said..
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Israel breaks up anti-wall protests across West Bank

Maan News Agency - Israeli forces used tear-gas to break up anti-wall protests in villages across the West Bank on Friday.

Undeterred by the rain, demonstrators focused on Palestinian national unity as well as an end to Israel's occupation.

Hunger strikers from the March 15 youth movement left Ramallah's Manara square to join the protest in Bil'in, where this week's slogan was "End the division and the occupation."

Villagers, local and international activists marched to the site of the wall, carrying Palestinian flags and posters of Jawaher Abu Rahma and her brother Bassem. Jawaher died on January 1 after inhaling massive amounts of tear gas at a demonstration in Bil'in the day before. Bassem was killed at a protest in the village in 2009, when an Israeli soldier fired a high-velocity tear gas grenade into his chest.

Israeli forces were waiting at the wall, and fired tear gas grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs and a chemical liquid at the demonstrators...
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Gazans count cost of escalating violence

"Why is Palestinian blood cheaper than Israeli blood?" asks Wael Abu Awema, a 40-year-old father of five.
BBC - There have been Israeli attacks on Gaza every day this week. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed, including at least four civilians, two of them children. More than 30 Palestinians have been injured.

"Of course we are worried. My kids are wetting themselves at night when they hear the Israeli air strikes," says Mr Abu Awema.

His eyes are bloodshot and red, as if he also might be losing sleep.

Every day too, Palestinian militants have fired rockets and mortars into Israel, causing danger, fear and anxiety for communities living in range of the strikes.

There is concern on both sides that there could be a further escalation after Wednesday's bomb attack in Jerusalem in which a British tourist was killed and more than 30 people were injured.

No militant group - including Hamas's military wing the Al Qassam Brigades - has said it carried out the bomb attack.

Mr Abu Awema tells me he is not a supporter of Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs in Gaza.

In fact he actively opposes them. He says he has sympathy for the civilians who were targeted in the Jerusalem bombing.

But he says Gazans are all too familiar with the anxiety caused by violence...
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The killing of children is a horrific, despicable act, yet Israel condones it

IMEMC, Celine Hagbard – Every Palestinian group has harshly condemned the murder of a family sleeping in their beds in Itamar settlement last Friday, as well they should.

So why is there no equivalent renunciation by the Israeli government of its military, which kills children on a regular basis? Why, instead, did an Israeli internal investigation, which released its findings just two weeks ago, say that a 2002 missile strike in Gaza that tore apart the small bodies of 8 children asleep in their beds was 'justified', and that there was 'no wrongdoing' committed by the perpetrators of this horrendous act? (

The killing of children is never justified! Under any circumstances! Why does the Israeli government condemn the killing of children when the victims are Israeli Jews, and allow the killing of children when the victims are Palestinian Arabs? This kind of double standard is blatantly racist and unjustifiable.

Why is someone like Rabbi Dov Lior, who said just last month that the killing of non-Jews, even children, is allowed under Jewish law, allowed to remain in his post as the Chief Rabbi of the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, in the southern West Bank ( Even Hamas, among the most extreme of the Palestinian resistance movements, condemns the killing of children under any circumstances.

In 2007, a year which saw 92 Palestinian children killed (thankfully, no Israeli children were killed in 2007), Israeli reporter Gideon Levy wrote these words about a tour he made of the Gaza Strip: "The day after Rosh Hashanah we traveled to Rafah. Dam Hamad, 14, had been killed in her sleep, in her mother's arms, by an Israeli rocket strike that sent a concrete pillar crashing down on her head. She was the only daughter of her paralyzed mother, her whole world. In the family's impoverished home in the Brazil neighborhood, at the edge of Rafah, we met the mother who lay in a heap in bed; everything she had in the world was gone. Outside, I remarked to the reporter from French television who accompanied me that this was one of those moments when I felt ashamed to be an Israeli. The next day he called and said: "They didn't broadcast what you said, for fear of the Jewish viewers in France." (

Schnabel's 'Miral' receives major attention, while Palestinian director of 'Jenin Jenin' remains under assault

Al Ahram – Massacring Truth – Seraj Assi
Israel's campaign against Palestinian filmmaker Mohamed Bakri's film Jenin Jenin is part of a twisted logic that demands that Palestinians apologise for Israeli crimes

The story began in April 2002, when the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) invaded the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin, levelled it to the ground, killed more than 70 people and buried civilians alive in their demolished homes and the smoldering buildings.

During Operation Defensive Shield, the Israeli name for the Jenin massacre, the IDF refused to allow journalists, human- rights and humanitarian organisations into the camp. Jenin remained sealed off for days after the invasion.

Bakri was among the first to enter the camp after the massacre and collect oral testimonies from local residents. His film Jenin Jenin tells the story of the ruined camp and the massacre's survivors.
On 23 June 2002, the film's executive producer, Iyad Samoudi, was killed in Alyamoun by Israeli soldiers at the end of filming. Bakri himself continues to receive death threats. The war on Jenin Jenin continues to this very day.

Settlers install barbed wire fence around Palestinian home

Maan News Agency - Settlers from the illegal settlement of Miskiyut, protected by Israeli soldiers, installed a barbed wire fence around a Palestinian home on Thursday.

The settlers barred residents from moving inside or outside the house while installing the fence around the barns of sheep and cows there, according to Palestinian and international peace activists who were also barred from the home.

The owner of the house, Nabil Mutawe, told Ma’an that settlers made death threats against his family.

Head of the village council of Al-Beida Mustafa Al-Fuqaha appealed to human rights organizations to urgently intervene to rescue the family noting that the settlers had previously attacked Palestinians in the area.
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Settlers observe 'Day Of Rage' pouring wrath on Palestinians

IPS News - Israeli settlers observed their own 'Day of Rage' last Thursday, launching reprisal attacks on Palestinians for the recent murder of a settler family in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, and the demolition of a settlement structure by the Israeli authorities.

Over the years, Israeli settlers have carried out the much publicised "price tag" policy of intimidation and violence against Palestinians and their property every time Israeli officials have demolished a settler outpost.

The outposts, mostly comprising a few caravans often unconnected to water and electricity, are deemed illegal by the Israeli authorities unlike the larger settlements.

A settler family comprising a mother, father and three children, including a three-month-old baby, were stabbed to death in Itamar, a settlement near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Suspecting the killer or killers to be Palestinian, without any evidence and despite rumours that Thai labourers involved in a pay dispute with their employers in Itamar could have been responsible, settlers attacked Palestinians and their property throughout the West Bank as their day of rage extended over the week.

This followed days of rage carried out by pro-democracy protestors against authoritarian governments throughout the Arab world including Palestine.

"The government must understand that it doesn't pay to destroy our homes and we are going to make them regret what happened here," said Rabbi Meir Goldmintz, who teaches at West Bank seminary.

"We are going to pay them (Palestinians) a visit to do what the Israeli government should be doing to them and not to us," he said pointing at nearby Palestinian villages.

On Thursday, true to their word major traffic intersections near Nablus were blocked by settlers burning tyres as cars and pedestrians were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails...
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Counter to media-induced myth of celebrations, Palestinians decried Itamar murders

Palestine Chronicle - The morning news of the Itamar murders broke out, I got a call from my father, a man from Gaza whose entire life was derailed by Israel's occupation of his land. He was fuming: "nothing could justify these murders" he yelled "even if we were to bring up the occupation, the harassment, the brutality of Israel's army and settlers - the minute we entertain an act so criminal as to kill a baby in cold blood, we become no better than those whose acts we despise." I posted his comment on my Facebook wall.

A day later, some of my Jewish friends sent me messages inquiring if it was true that Palestinians in Gaza celebrate the killing of Jews. One of them asked “Is there a custom to give out sweets after such events?” The messages came with several links. I expected to see the usual pro-Israel hasbara sites but to my surprise one link was to the Australian Herald Sun which lead me to an article titled ‘White House Condemn Killing’.

The article had no mention of any Gaza celebrations, but was accompanied by a large AFP credited photo of a man standing in a street in Gaza offering a small platter of sweets to two somber looking Hamas Policemen. The only reference or clue to celebration came in the photo caption: ‘A Palestinian man distributes sweets in the streets of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on March 12, 2011 to celebrate an attack which killed five Israeli settlers at the Itamar settlement near the West Bank city of Nablus.’ I did some more research and found that the same article also appeared on Perth Now, and The Daily Telegraph.

From here I began an extensive search on the internet. There were references to Gaza’s celebrations in a variety of international media websites including Fox News and Washington Post, but all the references pointed to one original source – three photos by AFP cameraman posted on Getty images, so I followed the trail.

The three original photos starred the same man with the same small sweet platter. In the first shot, he offers the platter to the two policemen; in the second he offers it to a man in a car at a traffic light who looks a bit confused but is accepting the offer of sweets; and in the third photo, the same man offers the small platter of sweets to an old lady sitting on a pavement. The backdrop of the photos revealed nothing more than an average busy day in a street in Gaza with the normal amount of traffic, a few cars, vans etc. There was nothing in the photos to convey a sense of joy or celebration: there were no crowds, no smiling faces, no banners, no flags and no scarfs… in fact, no people appeared in the photos except for the man with the platter and his subjects. This was highly unusual for a Gaza celebration...

The photos of so called ‘Gaza celebrations’ are becoming an internet sensation because they offer desperately needed proof that Palestinians are evil in nature. One headline from a hasbara site read “How do you start a party in Palestine? You kill a Jewish family.”

The campaign to demonise is indeed in full swing and seems to have no moral boundaries. Barely had the blood of the murdered children dried up the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs in Israel hastened to release the graphic images of the murdered children to be used as fodder in the war to demonise the Palestinian people. The minister – who authorised the release – stated in an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz “on the internet the images are really catching on and circulating”. After all, what could be worse than people who murder children and then celebrate?

Did we not learn anything from the tragic lessons of Jewish history about the vicious demonisation of an entire people? My response to my Jewish friends about Itamar was a simple one; “Your people and mine deserve better than this”.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Group launches petition to save historic Palestinian village from being erased from history and turned into luxury Jewish-only development

iPetitions - Lifta, a most picturesque Palestinian village, lies on the slopes of West Jerusalem below the highway linking it to Tel-Aviv. It has been abandoned since the invading Hagana underground forces backed by the Stern Gang drove the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

It was the one single event which changed the nature of the place and the whole region. Although dozens of houses were destroyed, many of them still remain poised on the landscape.

Lifta is considered by many as a rare and fine example of Palestinian rural architecture with narrow streets aligned with the slopes of the mountains around it. Its cubist forms are a wonderful manifestation of the mastery of the Palestinian stone masons who were the indigenous owners and builders of these houses.

Today Lifta is more or less a ghost town suspended in space and remains deserted despite the fact that most of its original Palestinian inhabitants live in the surrounding communities. The Israeli authorities refuse to allow them to return.

Now the Jerusalem Municipality has produced plans to turn Lifta into a luxurious and exclusive Jewish development – reinventing its history in the process.

The Plan, numbered 6036, was designed by two architectural offices: G. Kartas – S. Grueg and S. Ahronson, as part of the “local space planning of Jerusalem”. The plan was submitted on June 28, 2004, and according to its title refers to “The Spring of National”. The plan, submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality Planning Committee in 2004, was approved by a regional committee...
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Giraldi: Israeli-centric neocons with Iran in the cross-hairs continue to dominate US policies

AntiWar - One of the enduring mysteries is why neoconservative foreign policy continues to dominate the Republican Party and also large parts of the Democratic Party even though that policy has been disastrous for the United States. No one – not even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – is willing to call the two land wars currently underway in Asia successful and the hemorrhage of more than $12 billion a month to support the conflicts does nothing whatsoever for a struggling US economy unless one is a defense contractor. Yet the view that the United States must use its waning power to remake much of the globe prevails. The policy is in some circles underwritten by the myth that the United States is a special nation that makes it somehow immune to the history of the decline and fall of past empires. The catch phrase “American exceptionalism” persists in the minds of presidential wannabes like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, both of whom conflate the country’s genuinely unique national qualities with a divine right to intervene militarily anywhere and at any time, a continuation in perpetuity of the nearly forgotten Bush Doctrine.

The neocon wordspinners are always ready with a glib turn of phrase to mask reality. America is not poised to intervene or invade in their minds. It is instead pursuing a “freedom agenda” and who can criticize freedom? Tunisia, Egypt, and now even Libya are being welcomed as democracies in the making, though with the usual caveats lest democracy proceed too fast and in the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton has made it clear that the Obama administration wants to see the proper kind of democratic development even as she privately moves to reassure remaining friendly despots in the Persian Gulf that the United States is not eager to embrace any more regime changes after Gadhafi goes.

As the situation in the Middle East stabilizes, the new enemy that is surfacing is the same old enemy: Iran. Iran has not helped its own case by cracking down hard on protesters at a time when the region might be moving towards what amounts to a populist revolt against authoritarian governments. But Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen have also opted for the iron fist, indicating that at least some rulers in the region will not hesitate to shoot their own subjects in order to survive. Iran is, of course, a special case in the neocon mind because it potentially poses a threat to Israel, which is not the case in Manama, Riyadh, and Sanaa...
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Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian popular committee activist

Bassem Tamimi, coordinator of the Nabi Saleh popular committee, was arrested when dozens of soldiers raided his house at noon today beating his wife and daughter in the process.
Joseph Dana - Minutes after Bassem Tamimi entered his home to prepare for a meeting with foreign diplomats, dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed his house at the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh and arrested him. The soldiers tried to prevent Tamimi’s wife, Nariman Tamimi, from filming the arrest, hitting her and trying to grab the camera from her. When she passed the camera to her 10 year-old daughter, the soldiers grabbed it from her using violence and threw it outside in the mud.

Tamimi is one of the prominent figures of the Palestinian popular struggle in the West Bank and considered by many as the engine behind Nabi Saleh’s grassroots mobilization against the occupation and for the protection of the village’s lands from settler take over.Just yesterday, another leading protest organizer from Nabi Saleh, Naji Tamimi, was indicted on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. The court extended his arrest until the end of legal proceedings. Bassem Tamimi is expected to face the same charges.Over the past two months, the army has arrested eighteen of Nabi Saleh’s residents on protests related suspicions. Half of those arrested are minors, the youngest of whom merely eleven.

The majority of recent Nabi Saleh arrested are made based on incriminations extracted from a fourteen year-old boy from the village, recently arrested at gun-point during a military night raid. The boy was then subjected to verbal and emotional pressure during his interrogation, denied his fundamental right to legal consul and interrogated in absence of his parents, albeit obliged by law. The interrogators have also never bothered informing the boy of his right to remain silent.

Ever since the beginning of the village’s struggle against settler takeover of their lands, in December of 2009, the army has conducted 64 arrests related to protest in the village...
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Israel launches further attacks on Gaza

IMEMC - Palestinian news sources report two waves of air-strikes in the Gaza Strip. The first took place last night, and the second this morning.

A total of one person was injured during the second strike. At approximately 2am on Thursday, the Israeli Air Force attacked several areas in the Gaza Strip. They allegedly targeted a tunnel, a site connected to Hamas's armed wing – the al-Qassem brigades and a power station. The latter attack caused blackouts in Gaza City.

No injuries were reported from this attack, although it is said to have caused panic in large portions of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government stated that the attack was in response to a recent series of rockets fired from the Strip into southern Israel.

A second attack on a group of men by a gas-station, near Jabaliya refugee camp, caused one injury and took place at approximately 8.30 am. Israel claims that the group of men were 'terrorists preparing to launch rockets at Israeli territory', although no evidence has yet been provided to substantiate this claim.

Hamas has vowed to 'restore calm' to the area and recently offered Israel a truce, although it's not known whether this offer still stands following Israel's killing of several Gazan civilians, including 2 children. The recent escalation in fighting follows a lethal attack by Israel on two Hamas militants on 16th March, which the group responded to by firing 50 mortars into southern Israel.
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Israeli bulldozers destroy Freedom Street in Northern West Bank Village

Palestine News Network - On Thursday morning Israeli army bulldozers destroyed Freedom Street, which connects the Northern West Bank village of Karwit Bani with the nearby city of Salfit. The head of the village council, Abbad Rayan, said that this is the second time this street has been bulldozed by the Israeli army; he added that soldiers beat up any villager who tried to reach the area while the bulldozing takes place.

Freedom Street was bulldozed two months ago by the Isreali army and was renovated by the local municipality, supervised by the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad himself.
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Israeli forces detain 9 in the West Bank

Maan News Agency - Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from the southern West Bank overnight, mostly from the Hebron region, saying all were "wanted for terrorist activity."

In the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, soldiers closed off entrances to the area, entering the town and detaining four men between the ages of 19 and 30.

Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad identified those detained as Naser Fathi Fakhri Ikhlil, 22, Ahmad Ali Aqel Ikhlil, 30, Muhammad Ali Issa Awad, 19, and Shadi Shahda Abdul Aziz In’aim, 23.

A Halhoul resident, Muhammad Jamil Abdul Jawad Zama’ra, was detained while on his way home from Bethlehem.

In Hebron's Old City, Palestinian security sources said four were detained, including Omar Abu Arafeh, Adnan Abu Arafeh, Jawad Al-Muhtaseb, and Ayman Al-Jebrini.
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US protects Libyan civilians but not others

Even if you think that the incipient Libyan civil war was an unfolding humanitarian tragedy that justified some international intervention, it is hard not to take note of the endless double standards and selective outrage that pervade U.S. foreign policy.
Consortium News - For instance, there’s the parallel hypocrisy in Washington’s tepid reaction to the invasion of Bahrain by military forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, supporting a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators by Bahrain’s king. Where are the warnings of a muscular Western response in the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet?

Indeed, many Washington policymakers and pundits quietly justify the Saudi/UAE military action by noting that the protesters are part of Bahrain’s Shiite majority who might favor closer ties to Shiite-ruled Iran if some form of democracy came to the island kingdom.

Since Iran is considered a U.S. adversary – and because the Sunni-run Persian Gulf sheikdoms provide lots of oil to the West – Realpolitik suddenly takes over. The principles of majority rule and human rights are shoved into the back seat.

Similarly, when Yemen, a key U.S. ally in the “war on terror,” opens fire on pro-democracy protesters, there’s only a little finger-waving, no international clamor for a military intervention.

Of course, this double standard is even more striking when it is Israel killing civilians – such as when it escalated minor border clashes into full-scale assaults against nearby enemies, inflicting heavy civilian losses in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008-09, not to mention Israel’s repeated assaults on Palestinians in the West Bank....
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American Israel lobby fundraises off bomb attack

Maan News Agency - The American pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC apologized Wednesday for using a bomb attack in Jerusalem to solicit money from its supporters, news reports said.

Hours after the attack killed a British woman and injured 30, AIPAC circulated a letter reading: "Today, terrorists exploded a package at a Jerusalem bus stop killing one person and injuring 30 others, 15 seriously.

"And in this last week alone, Gaza terrorists have bombarded Israeli towns with more than 50 rockets and mortars," it continued, adding, "And this is why I am writing today to ask for your help."

The Washington Jewish Week reported that AIPAC official Jonathan Missner sent out a second note to donors saying the pro-Israel lobby was "deeply sorry" for soliciting funds in such a manner.

"Today, you received an email from us about the dangers facing Israel right now and ways in which you can help ensure American support for Israel at a difficult and dangerous time," the note said.

"We included information about the horrific bombing in Jerusalem. In hindsight, it was wrong of us to mention this terrible tragedy the same day it occurred in the context of this email. We are deeply sorry...
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Medics report Palestinian man treated for wounds from settler beating

Maan News Agency - A 30-year-old Nablus man was accosted by a group of settlers Wednesday night, and hospitalized by a subsequent attack, medics reported.

Traveling south of Nablus, Iyad Azzam told Red Crescent medics that he believed residents of the illegal settlement of Yitzhar were behind the attack.

He remains in moderate condition at the Rafidya Hospital in Nablus...
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Airstrikes reported across Gaza, blackouts roll across Gaza City

Maan News Agency - Israeli aircraft opened fire on several areas in the Gaza Strip early Thursday, witnesses said.

Aircraft targeted a tunnel in the south and a site connected to Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades west of Gaza City, onlookers said.

Jets also struck a power station causing blackouts in Gaza City, Reuters reported.

No injuries were reported, Health Ministry official Adham Abu Salmiya told Ma'an.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army had no immediate comment.

Earlier, the army said six mortar shells hit the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Ten other projectiles landed in southern Israel including two Grad rockets fired at Beer Sheva, the military said...
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Netanyahu approves further strikes in Gaza

IMEMC - Israeli sources reported Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, approved a series of strikes in the Gaza Strip before he headed to Russia.

The decision came during a meeting he held at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, with Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, Army Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.

The meeting focused on evaluating the current situation following the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip and the Wednesday bombing in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Egypt issued a statement warning Israel not to rush into a military offensives targeting the Gaza Strip.

Official spokesperson of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Minha Bakhoum, stated that Foreign Minister, Nabil Al Arabi, demanded Israel to show self-restraint and to refrain from rushing into a military offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Al Arabi stated that such an offensive will only lead to further tension and escalation.

He added that escalation will not serve the interests of the Palestinians and the Israelis, and will not help the efforts to achieve peace and stability.

He concluded by stating that nobody should give Israel the chance to practice violence, and that Egypt’s steady policy is rejecting and denouncing any attacks against civilians.
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University of Johannesburg ends Israeli links– Historic moment for boycott of Israel movement

UJ Petition - Today, setting a worldwide precedent in the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has effectively severed ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU).

This was after UJ’s Senate rejected a last ditch motion by pro-Israeli lobbyists to have two separate bilateral agreements - one with a Palestinian University and another with an Israeli University. UJ chose instead to uphold its previous Senate Resolution that required taking leadership from Palestinian universities. Palestinian universities unanimously rejected any collaboration with BGU (in any form) and have come out in full support of the the academic boycott of Israel. UJ chose to respect this.

UJ is the first institution to officially sever relations with an Israeli university - a landmark moment in the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel campaign. Throughout the campaign, academics and international human rights activists have been anticipating this decision. This boycott decision, coming from a South African institution, is of particular significance. This has set a precedent and must start a domino boycott effect!

The movement to end ties with BGU was boosted by the overwhelming support given to the UJ Petition ( - a statement and campaign in support of UJ academics and students who were calling on their university to end its apartheid-era relationship with BGU. As the UJ senate met today, over 400 South African academics, including nine Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors, had signed the UJ Petition.

Included in the list of supporters are some of South Africa’s leading voices: Professors Neville Alexander, Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Barney Pityana and Sampie Terreblanche. South Africa's popular cartoonist Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, Bishop Rubin Phillips, former Minister Ronnie Kasrils and leading social activist Zackie Achmat also backed the campaign...
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Israel continues to bomb Gaza while Israeli politicians consider further escalation

IMEMC - Fighting between groups in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army has continued today.
Two "Grad" rockets were fired at the city of Be'er Sheva, and a number of mortars were launched into the western Negev from Gaza. A total of one minor injury and modest damage have been reported from the incident. The group Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attacks. In a statement, Islamic Jihad claimed that the rockets had been launched "in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli aggression."

The Israeli air force and army have both attacked the Gaza strip in response. One man, allegedly a member of Islamic Jihad's military wing, was injured in the attacks.

The attack is the latest in an escalating round of violence. Earlier, the Hamas-led government in Gaza, and the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, stated that they would commit to a truce should Israel halt its assaults on Gaza. Given the present violence, this prospect is rapidly fading.

On Tuesday, a wave of Israeli military escalation targeting the Gaza Strip led to the deaths of nine Palestinians, including three children. At least 38 Palestinians, including six women and fifteen children, were injured in a number of Israeli attacks targeting the Gaza Strip in the last 4 days. Israeli politicians are said to be considering a further escalation, perhaps resulting in a 'Cast Lead 2'.
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Israeli forces injure 1, detain 3 in the West Bank

Maan News Agency - Israeli forces injured one Palestinian and detained three others, during a funeral north of Beit Ummar on Wednesday, local sources said.

The southern West Bank town’s popular committee spokesman, Muhammad Ayyad Awad, said forces fired sound grenades and tear gas at mourners, after stones were thrown at a settler’s car in the area.

The Israeli military reported one Israeli civilian was lightly injured near the Hebron-area settlement Karmi Zur.

Awad said that Israeli forces shot one young Palestinian male...
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UN, Palestinian leadership condemn Jerusalem bombing

Maan News Agency - President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday condemned a bombing attack in central Jerusalem that killed one woman and injured dozens, the official Palestinian Authority news agency reported.

Salam Fayyad, the resigned caretaker prime minister, said in a statement, "I condemn in the strongest terms possible the terrorist attack in Jerusalem today regardless of who is behind it."

He also wished a speedy recovery to those who were injured.

An Israeli woman critically wounded when a bomb ripped through a bus in Jerusalem has died of her injuries, Israel's public radio reported, citing medical sources.

The explosion was caused a bomb attack, Israel's internal security minister said. "The bomb was inside a bag which was left at the bus stop," Yitzhak Aharonovitch told reporters at the scene.

The blast, which injured 20 people, hit the 174 bus as it stopped to pick up passengers at a stop between the central bus station and the ICC conference center, both of which lie at the western entrance to Jerusalem....

No group has claimed the bombing, which comes amid a wave of violence in the region.
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Is this another 'Operation Cast Lead'?

Mondoweiss, Alex Kane - Are we witnessing the stirrings of a new, large-scale Israeli military operation? Haaretz reports that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Wednesday that the Israel Defense Forces would continue to use ‘firm determination and assaults’ on Gaza…[Netanyahu said:] ‘It could take the form of exchanges of fire, it could continue for a particular length of time.’”

Indeed, the stars seem to be aligning for another brutal Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip two years after “Operation Cast Lead” killed some 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, and completely destroyed 3,000 homes in what Judge Richard Goldstone termed a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”

Eerie parallels between the period leading up to “Cast Lead” and the situation now exist, and there’s nothing to stop Israel from launching another assault, given that the United States has sent the world the message that Israeli war crimes will go unpunished.

First, the parallels:

In the months leading up to the 2008-09 assault on Gaza, a tenuous truce held between Hamas and Israel as Hamas stopped firing rockets at Israeli communities and attempted to reign in other armed groups in Gaza from doing so...
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Egypt warns Israel against military action in Gaza

Reuters Africa - Israel should not rush into carrying out any military operations in Gaza, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby said in a statement on Wednesday.

Elaraby "asked Israel to exercise self restraint and warned it against rushing into a military operation in Gaza".

He also warned others -- an apparent reference to Palestinian groups -- from giving Israel any excuse to use violence, adding that Egypt rejected and condemned violence against civilians.

Israel has launched air strikes and shelling in the Gaza Strip from where militants have increased the firing of rockets into Israel in recent days.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

United Nations envoy to the Middle East condemns killing of civilians in Gaza after Israeli tank fires on family playing football

Maan News Agency - The UN's envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry on Tuesday condemned Israel's killing of civilians in Gaza.

On Tuesday afternoon, an Israeli tank fired at a family playing football outside their home in the eastern part of the Ash-Shaja’iya neighborhood in Gaza City.

The Israeli military said it regretted harm to innocent civilians, but blamed Hamas, who it said operated in civilian areas.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Serry condemned the attack and expressed concern at the escalating situation in Gaza and southern Israel.

"Serry condemns the killing of three Palestinian children and their uncle and the wounding of thirteen other civilians by an Israeli tank shell in the Gaza Strip earlier today," the statement said.

"Israeli firing into densely populated areas is extremely dangerous and appalling incidents such as today's raise serious questions."

The Special Coordinator also condemned the sharp escalation in rocket fire from Gaza, which he said endangered Israeli civilians...

Serry said the UN was working urgently to prevent any further escalation, and called for "an urgent halt to all acts of violence and full respect of international humanitarian law by all parties before more civilian lives are lost."
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