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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Israel approves Gaza housing projects for homes demolished in 2001

Ma'an- Israel has approved construction of two housing projects in the southern Gaza Strip, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday.

UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasnah said two major projects would be constructed to house families from Rafah and Khan Younis whose homes were demolished by Israel in 2001.

The new buildings will also provide housing for families made homeless during Israel's 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, Abu Hasnah said.

Major Guy Inbar, spokesman for the defense ministry department responsible for liaison with the Palestinian territories, told AFP Israel had approved materials to build 1,200 homes and 18 schools. He said the materials would be consigned to UNRWA.

The UN welcomed the decision. Abu Hasneh said UNRWA was waiting for authorities to take practical steps to allow thousands of truckloads of construction materials into the coastal enclave.

He said the building would start with projects funded by Saudi Arabia and Japan, as well as the construction of eight schools.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunnes said the agency had learned of Israel's decision "informally."

"We welcome this reported approval which follows lengthy negotiations with the Israeli authorities," he said.

"The reported approval will be judged in light of the arrival of the necessary materials in Gaza. We hope this will help meet the needs of refugees, particularly those in the South of the Gaza Strip, many of whom lost their homes nearly a decade ago."

Gunnes added that the agency's fundamental request was for Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry also welcomed the "significant step.

"We will continue to work together with the relevant UN agencies to implement these projects in a timely fashion so as to improve the situation in Gaza."

A devastating 22-day Israeli military offensive, which ended in January 2009, reduced much of Gaza's infrastructure and many private homes to rubble.

For 18 months afterward, Israel banned the import of cement and other construction materials, saying that they were likely to be used by the Gaza's Hamas rulers to fix bunkers, tunnels and other fortifications.

It relented last summer in response to mounting international pressure to ease restrictions after nine Turkish activists were killed in a May 31 commando raid on a flotilla of aid ships trying to break the blockade.

Israel now allows in everything except arms or materials they claim could be used to make weapons or explosives or otherwise help the militants, who have fired locally manufactured rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli towns and farms.

Building supplies may only be brought into Gaza by recognized international organizations managing specifically approved projects. Israel still maintains a tight naval blockade on the territory.