Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

East Jerusalem towns being cordoned off, nearby village under complete isolation
(12 July) Israeli forces have imposed a travel ban on the street leading to the East Jerusalem town of Beit Hanina and the Bir Nabala neighborhood. Nabi Samwiil is utterly isolated due the road closure and impossibility of passing the checkpoint.  Residents from neighboring villages are unable to use the street as well, causing a wide gap in the international right to freedom of  movement. Nabi Samwiil has also recently been separated by Israeli forces from the rest of the West Bank. The village with a population of 220 Palestinians is now almost entirely isolated. The old village is now 'interfering' with the much more recently built Israeli settlements of Givat Ze'ev and Ramot. . . This is not the first case of total isolation in the West Bank. Villages in Nablus, Bethlehem and the Jordan Valley faced similar scenarios. It is part and parcel to the creation of cantons and the Israeli policy of eating the West Bank until the lives of the Palestinians are so difficult, they leave on their own.

Palestinians: IDF demolished family home without explanation
(11 July) A Palestinian family on Thursday said that the Israel Defense Forces demolished their house in the West Bank city of Hebron without giving them an explanation why. An Israeli army spokesman described the demolition, which destroyed the home of two brothers and their families, as a 'military operation' but declined to comment further. Faisal Karameh, 31, one of the two brothers, told Reuters that soldiers forced the occupants from the house at gunpoint during the morning. After he told them his 39-year-old brother Jamal was not present, the IDF demolished the two-story building. "We had no idea what they were doing," Karameh said. "My brother Jamal is a maintenance worker and a peaceful person."

France denounces Israeli approval for large settlement construction in East Jerusalem
(11 July) Spokesperson for the French ministry of foreign affairs Eric Chevallier called for the Israeli government to reconsider this decision. Chevallier said that France is calling on Israel to stop any unilateral act that might negatively affect the final status of the Palestinian territories especially concerning Jerusalem.

Twilight Zone / 'Worse than apartheid' – by Gideon Levy
(10 July) I thought they would feel right at home in the alleys of Balata refugee camp, the Casbah and the Hawara checkpoint. But they said there is no comparison: for them the Israeli occupation regime is worse than anything they knew under apartheid. This week, 21 human rights activists from South Africa visited Israel. Among them were members of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress; at least one of them took part in the armed struggle and at least two were jailed. There were two South African Supreme Court judges, a former deputy minister, members of Parliament, attorneys, writers and journalists. Blacks and whites, about half of them Jews who today are in conflict with attitudes of the conservative Jewish community in their country.

130 West Bankers arrested in one week
(12 July) The Palestinian Center for Defending Detainees, a Gaza-based organization, revealed on Saturday that Israeli forces apprehended 130 Palestinians in six West Bank districts during the first week of July. The report said that there were children and disabled individuals among those arrested. According to the report, Israeli forces relied mainly on undercover forces which raided cities, towns and villages in order to apprehend and assassinate Palestinians. They used police dogs to scare women and children during arrest raids.

Fayyad to US: Stop Israeli incursions into West Bank
Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad said on Friday evening that he sent a letter to the US monitor General William Fraser complaining about Israeli incursions in the West Bank, specifically in Nablus in the northern West Bank. Fayyad explained in an interview with the AP that Israeli activity impeded his government's efforts to keep law and order. The number of Israeli military operations in the West Bank, said Fayyad, rose by 50% during the first half of July compared to the same period in June.

ISM: Many injured in mass demonstration in Ni'lin
(11 July; photos, video) An estimated 400 Palestinians, internationals, Israeli activists and world media marched on the construction of the illegal apartheid that annexes much of the village of Ni'lin's land. One 70 year old American working with the Christian Peacemaker Team was shot in the lower back by a rubber bullet. Six Israeli activists were severely beaten by batons, one activist was rifle butted in the head, another suffered injuries that will disable him for a week caused by a baton-wielding Israeli border guard, two others had their hands broken and another was hit in the head by searing hot teargas cannister that was fired as a projectile weapon. . .  By the time the fires caused by the hot tear gas canisters  had been put out more than fifteen trees were burnt beyond salvation.

Israeli army apprehends medical team at entrance to Ni'lin
(12 July) The Israeli army apprehended a medical team from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society and the Committee of Physicians for Human Rights in the early hours of Saturday morning at the entrance of the village of Ni'lin. Dr Mustafa al Barghuthi that Israeli soldiers apprehended the medical team while they were trying to reach Ni'lin to offer treatment to residents who had been under a strict curfew. The team was barred entry into the town, and was not able to transfer in the medications that they had brought with them.

PCHR weekly report: Palestinian child killed, 23 civilians injured in Israeli attacks
(11 July) A Palestinian child from Rafah died from the explosion of an unidentified object left by the Israeli military.  In addition, 23 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, and a French human rights defender, were wounded by Israeli military gunfire. 11 of these civilians were wounded during peaceful demonstrations organized in protest of the construction of the Annexation Wall.

Nablus Women's Centre stages protests against Israeli army's invasions of Nablus
(11 July) The Women's Centre of Nablus is a social centre for women and children. The center supports women economically and socially by organizing summer clubs for children, a bakery to support children with food and much more. At 12 o'clock at night to the army entered the centre. They took five computers as well as files and books with addresses for the organization's work. No reason was given to why the centre was raided by the army. Immediately the same day after the invasion the women's centre organized a protest against the invasions with a message to the Palestinian Authorities to support them against the Israeli army's violations.

Reporters without Borders: Israeli soldiers close West Bank TV station
(11 July) Reporters Without Borders calls for the reopening of Afaq TV, a Palestinian commercial TV station based in the West Bank city of Nablus which Israeli soldiers yesterday closed for one year on the grounds that it was a 'terrorist' media. The station has stopped broadcasting and seals have been place over its entrance. "Palestinian journalists must be allowed to enjoy the same freedom and ability to work as their Israeli counterparts," Reporters Without Borders said. "Israel's arbitrary measures against media in the Palestinian Territories are unacceptable and unworthy of a democracy. The military must put a stop to this policy of censoring Palestinian media."

EU VP: Escalation of Israeli raids is unacceptable
(12 July) Vice President to the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini released a statement Friday condemning the "ongoing raids, closures, arrests and confiscations actuated by the Israeli army against Institutions, associations and even schools in Nablus." She stated that such actions are illegal, and represent "not only a clear violation of International law" but "a direct attack on the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Government."

Bulgarian delegation expresses shock at Israel's human rights violations
(12 July) OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Press sources in the 1948 occupied lands reported that Dr. Peter Byron, the deputy speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, and his accompanying parliamentary delegation expressed their shock at Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians they witnessed during their visit to Palestine. The visiting delegation which was invited by Arab Knesset member Wassel Taha and the national democratic assembly said that what they saw and heard during their visit exposed the size of the Israeli official lies to the public opinion in Europe.

Israeli forces try to arrest pardoned Fatah activist in Jenin camp on Saturday
(12 July) Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank refugee camp of Jenin at 2:00 am on Saturday with the aim of arresting a 'pardoned' activist from Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades. Palestinian security sources said that invading Israeli forces besieged a four-storey building while they searched for Mahmoud Amarna. Amarna is an Al-Aqsa Brigades activist who was pardoned by Israeli authorities as part of a deal between Israel and the PA. The soldiers spoke to residents of the building via loudspeakers, and demanded that they evacuate the building. After six hours of searching the soldiers were unable to find Amarna.

Fayyad calls for interim Palestinian government to prepare for elections
(12 July) The London-based Al-Hayat daily newspaper said, "The Palestinian Prime Minister [Salam Fayyad] behaved more like an Intifada man than an academic or an economist." The paper was responding to the recent actions of the prime minister, as he ventured out of his offices and into the lives of Palestinians. Fayyad left his office in Ramallah Friday and went to the town of Ni'lin west of Ramallah, where he observed the confrontations that erupted between peacefully protesting residents and Israeli soldiers under the heat of July. Before leaving the area, he announced that his government would provide every possible support to the residents who demonstrated against the separation wall.

Palestinian president hopeful Paris summit will aid peace process
(11 July), AFP) "This summit can give positive momentum to the peace process and could lead to more economic support for the Palestinian Authority," Abbas said at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi for his part said the conclusion of peace negotiations "had never been closer" and that U.S. President George W. Bush, who he met at the recent G8 summit in Japan, was optimistic about the chance of reaching an agreement before 2009. Olmert and Abbas will meet face to face in Paris on Sunday at the launch of the Mediterranean Union, a flagship project of French President Sarkozy.

Jenin municipality gets new water pump

(11 July) The deputy of head of Jenin municipality, Ali As-Shati, said on Friday that the water crisis in the city is about to end. Government officials in Ramallah have recently decided to buy a new 200 million NIS pump for the Jenin municipality with the help of a French donation provided through CARE (100,000 US dollars). The new equipment, he said, is a step towards permanently solving the region's water crisis.

Despite claims of safety, Ramallah maternity ward closed for Klebsiella tests
(10 July) Moghli also said in a press statement that he has ordered the formation of a committee of bacteria and infection specialists to investigate the presence of klebsiella bacteria in the maternity ward. The statement came in response to an earlier announcement by Palestinian medical sources which said that klebsiella bacteria were responsible for the deaths of 9 premature babies in the Ramallah government hospital this month.

Two videos on the Occupation in the West Bank
(1) Israeli army shuts Palestinian shops and schools - 09 Jul 08 David Chater, AlJazeeraEnglish ; (2) Water-rich West Bank suffering from shortage of water Shirin Yassin, Press TV, July 2, 2008

Haniyeh agrees to Carter Center proposal that they monitor truce
(11 July) Gaza –The Prime Minister of the de facto Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh approved a proposal Friday from theCarter Center which has volunteered to monitor the commitment of the Palestinians and Israelis to the 19 June truce conditions. The announcement of the agreement came at a press conference held by de facto government spokesman Taher An-Nunu.

Hamas rejects Palestinian premier's call for unity
(12 July, DPA) "Fayyad's call is far away from any national proposal," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom in Gaza. Barhoom criticised Fayyad, saying "he is the most dangerous person on the Palestinian cause and he is not a part of the Palestinian equation, he is part of the Israeli and American equation." In an interview with a pan-Arab newspaper, Fayyad had said that "the home must be reunited because this is the way to respond to the Israeli actions." Israel recently launched a crackdown against Hamas' charities in the West Bank. Hamas wants the dialogue to start first and it demands that the issue of the Gaza takeover be dealt with through the talks, but Fayyad concurs with Abbas' vision that Hamas must give up its control over Gaza to pave the way for dialogue.,hamas-rejects-palestinian-

Taha: Hamas delegation ends talks in Cairo, heads for Yemen
(12 July) GAZA, (PIC)-- Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, on Saturday said that his Movement's delegation had ended talks in Cairo and was heading for Yemen where it would be joined and led by Khaled Mishaal, the supreme leader of Hamas.

Ahrar al-Jalil Brigades claim responsibility for Friday night Jerusalem shooting
(12 July) The attack took place Friday night, when an unknown shooter opened fire and injured two soldiers. The Brigades said in a statement that a gunman affiliated to the group opened fire at a group of 'settlers' near the Lion's Gate of the old city of Jerusalem. According to the statement, the shooting took place at 11:15 pm on Friday and the shooter escaped unharmed. The incident left two Israelis injured, one of the victims was seriously injured and the other moderately so. One of the injured men fired at the shooter, as did two policemen who were in the area.

Dichter: Recent attacks on Jerusalem aren't start of new intifada
(12 July) Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Saturday said that a spate of recent terror attacks in Jerusalem does not constitute the start of a new intifada, speaking in response to a shooting attack late Friday that wounded two policemen in the capital. "It is hard to find a link between the three last attacks in the capital, but the matter will be investigated," Dichter said.

Knesset passes stiffer anti-terror bills
(9 July) Three bills seeking to enforce additional punishments on Israeli residents involved in terror attacks passed their preliminary readings on the Knesset floor Wednesday, a week after the deadly tractor attack carried out by an east Jerusalem resident on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road. The wave of legislation began when a bill sponsored by Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar to enable the state to seize property owned by terrorists passed by a sweeping majority of 50 to 13. Such seizures are currently legal in Israel and other countries as punishment for economic crimes. In the United States, the 2001 Patriot Act legalized the seizure of property of a foreign citizen, foreign organization or foreign state which according to the president were involved in any manner in hostile or aggressive activities against the United States. . .

'Siege with a new flavor': Gazans disappointed with truce
(12 July) Life in Gaza has improved marginally – the constant shelling has stopped and a few more goods have been allowed into the besieged territory – but Israel's continuing total closure of the borders to civilian travel has rendered the ceasefire a letdown. Only the purported reason for the closure has changed. Whereas before Israel blockaded Gaza in response to homemade rockets fired by Palestinian fighters, it now justifies the closure in terms of 'violations of the truce'. Some Gazans call their new predicament a 'truce-struggle'. It is a struggle over their own fate, in which ordinary Palestinians see themselves as powerless.

Israel 'stalling Gaza rebuilding'
(11 July, BBC) Vital reconstruction in Gaza is being stalled because Israel is not allowing in enough supplies, UN Middle East special envoy Robert Serry has warned. He said it was still difficult to import items like cement or piping. Among the projects the UN is waiting to restart are a new housing scheme for the homeless and a project to stop sewage being pumped onto Gazan beaches.

146 truckloads of food and construction materials allowed into Gaza on Thursday
(11 July) 'Adwan told Ma'an that 113 truckloads of food supplies and other goods were allowed into Gaza Strip through the Sufa crossing east of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip. 33 truckloads, containing 3,000 tons of construction materials, crossed into the Strip through the Karni crossing east of Gaza City. He affirmed that no fuel was allowed through the Nahal 'Oz crossing on Thursday. Construction materials are allowed into the Gaza Strip three days per week but in such small quantities that they are insufficient to meet the needs of the residents, he added.

Abu Salim: Hamas arrest of al-Aqsa projectile launchers disrupts national unity
(11 July) Abu Salim, the official spokesman for the National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), called on the de facto government to release the two resistance fighters, and recent projectile launchers, affiliated to the Al-Aqsa Brigades, stressing that their arrest interrupts the national dialogue.

Fatah states al-Aqsa Brigades not responsible for projectiles fired at Zekim Thursday
(11 July) Rather, said Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abd Ar-Rahman, a letter claiming the attack was sent out using the logo of the Brigades. The Brigades, according to Ar-Rahman, are fully integrated into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip security departments, which support the current truce agreement and will not thus fire projectiles.

Qassam hits western Negev in new Gaza truce violation
(12 July) Gaza militants on Saturday fired a rocket into Israel in new violation of a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the coastal Strip. The rocket struck an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, in the western Negev, according to Israel Radio. There were no reports of casualties. There also was no claim of responsibility. The truce between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel took effect June 19. Hamas officials say they're trying to enforce the truce, and it appears smaller opposition groups are mainly involved in truce violations.

Al-Quds Brigades record all Israeli truce violations
(10 July) The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said on Thursday that Israel has continued to violate the June 19th truce. The Brigades established a department of "War Media" in order to keep track of Israeli violations of the truce, and has thus far recorded nine violations in the three weeks of truce. The information collected by the department revealed a systematic targeting of Palestinian fishermen working in the sea off the Gaza Strip. According to the Brigades, Israeli soldiers opened fire on fishermen three times in the third week of the truce and seven times in the first two weeks. The violations recorded during 3-9 July 2008 (the third week of truce) were as follows: . . .

Fatah accuses Hamas of gruesome torture of party member in Gaza
Official sources within Fatah accused Hamas members on Saturday of killing Bassam Al-'Anani, the secretary general of the party. According to the Fatah spokesman, Hamas members kidnapped the 40-year-old Al-'Anani a month and half ago. During his detainment, the man's health deteriorated. Fatah claims that he was beaten and tortured then admitted to local hospital of Ash-Shifa' in Gaza in critical condition.

Abu Marzouk: We declined the Israeli offer to release only 71 prisoners
(12 July) CAIRO, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, stated Saturday that the Movement rejected the Israeli approval of releasing only 71 names on the list submitted to the Egyptian mediators which includes 450 names, stressing the Movement's adherence to all names on the list of the first stage. In a press statement to the London-based Hayat newspaper, Dr. Abu Marzouk underlined in another context that the exclusion of the West Bank from the truce agreement from the beginning is one of its failure factors, warning that the provocative acts in the West Bank will have reflections in Gaza.

Another man dies of injuries from Thursday's tunnel collapse in Gaza
(11 July) The man had been brought to hospital with serious injuries, said Dr Mu'awiyah Hassanein, director general of ambulance and emergency services in the Gaza Strip. This brings the death toll from the collapse of this latest tunnel in the As-Salam neighborhood near Rafah, to two. Three others are being treated for their injuries, and another three are missing. This is the second collapse of a Gaza-Egypt tunnel in as many weeks, and the third death.

Mostafa: Israel is seeking to revive negotiations to buy Palestinian gas
(10 July) The managing director of the Investment Fund, Mohammaed Mostafa, has revealed yesterday thatIsrael is seeking to revive negotiations to buy Palestinian gas, while the Palestinian side and the British Gas company, the main developer of gas from Gaza's beaches, are being cautious in making a decision over this issue until they are certain of Israel's seriousness. Mostafa estimates the size of the coast of Gaza's gas at around one trillion cubic feet, and needs an investment of around 800 million dollars in order for the gas to be extracted and marketed. The expected profit exceeds 4 billion dollars spread over 10 years

Gaza family left to hope that prisoner swap will see son's body returned home
(12 July) Israel has been withholding Khalid al Khateeb's body from his family since April 1995, when he booby-trapped a car in the middle of a number of Israeli military vehicles near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Darum in the central of the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for this attack that killed 7 Israelis and injured 40 others. The Al- Khateeb family accused Israeli authorities of intentionally withholding the body of their son, with full knowledge that they wish to bury him according to the laws of Islam. Israeli authorities are slated to release an unknown number of the approximately 200 Palestinian and Lebanese killed during various battles with Israeli forces.

PFLP condemns arson attack on charitable organization in Gaza
(11 July) Unknown assailants blew up the headquarters of the Yabous Charitable Association in Rafah in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday morning. Eyewitnesses said they heard a huge explosion at 2 am. The huge explosion destroyed the entire building, but no one was injured. The reasons behind the attack remain unknown and the de facto government's police force have begun an investigation.

Man tried to sneak crocs, kangaroos into Gaza
(11 July) EL-ARISH (
Egypt): The Egyptian authorities caught a Palestinian man trying to smuggle crocodiles, kangaroos and squirrels into the Gaza Strip on Friday, a security official said.

Politics, religion, and nationalism was the message at this wedding
(12 July) Nablus / Amin Abu Wardeh – Political analyst and Professor at An Najah University, Abdel Sattar Al Qassim watched his daughter marry in Nablus. But it was not just a traditional ceremony during this high wedding season. 24-year-old Mays Abdel Sattar Al Qassim carried a diorama rendition of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex in her hand. The words written on this East Jerusalem Palestinian monument and Islamic holy place were: The Homeland Above All. A Palestinian flag flew in the breeze behind the bride, groom and the bride's father. The groom, Walid Ghassan Al Shami, also carried one. . .

Gazan expresses concern over dance festival in Ramallah
(11 July) Dr Yunis Al-Astal, a parliamentary leader in the de facto Hamas government in Gaza and former adviser to the committee for the Islamic University Gaza, has spoken out against the shows, and worries particularly about the dance costume sported by some of the troupes. In his view, hosting the "half naked performers and dancers" in Ramallah is a "great treason to God and our religion and all people in Palestine." Al-Astal said in a statement received by Ma'an that "it is very shocking that these celebrations are taking place very late at night on a Wednesday in Ramallah." He could not understand why such a festival was taking place "at the same time as the Israeli forces continue with their policy of ethnic cleansing," referring particularly to the ongoing raids in Nablus.

Obituary: Jaweed al-Ghussein
(11 July) Jaweed al-Ghussein, who has died aged 77, was a Palestinian philanthropist, educationist and former chairman of the Palestinian National Fund. In that role, he drew attention to the extensive corruption of his colleague Yasser Arafat. His whistleblowing was met with a sustained campaign of persecution by the Palestinian Authority (PA). . .  He personally funded the education of many young Palestinians and then made sure they got the jobs to match their qualifications, either at Cordoba or elsewhere. He was a passionate believer in peaceful co-existence with Israel and determined to ensure the rights of all Palestinians.

Palestinian Arab workers' rights in Israel
(11 July) (The following is an extract from an article in Sawt el-Amel/The Laborer's Voice, an independent grassroots organization founded by Palestinian Arab workers in Nazareth in 2000 to defend and promote the rights of Arab citizens in Israel.) The Palestinian working class in Israel is among the poorest sections of society and the one whose rights are most abused by employers. It should be emphasised that this group of workers is part of the Arab Palestinian minority holding Israeli citizenship, which has been faced with racial discrimination for sixty years, as manifested in land confiscations, home demolitions and the denial of work opportunities.

Four Israelis arrested for allegedly selling weapons to Palestinians
(12 July) Security forces last month arrested four [apparently 'Israeli Arab'] Israeli citizens suspected of selling weapons to Palestinians, a gag order lifted on Friday revealed. The Shin Bet security service and the Galilee District Police arrested three residents of the northern village of Kafr Makr and a resident of Acre for allegedly carrying out the crime.

Division grows with the Wall – by Jason Koutsoukis
(12 July) Few legacies of the former prime minister Ariel Sharon remain so popular among Israeli voters as the 723-kilometre security barrier that separates Israel from the Palestinian West Bank. "I look at that and I feel protected," Yossi Boker says, echoing the views of most Israelis. "It has stopped the bombs, hasn't it? [No, Hamas stopped the suicide bombers, before the wall was anywhere near done; and it isn't finished even yet. And let's not forget that settler Baruch Goldstein's attack on the Hebron mosque in 1994 started the suicide attacks on civilians.] You must first live here to understand this, why we like it." A report issued this week by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Human Affairs says the barrier has had a devastating affect on Palestinian villages, towns and cities, isolating communities and separating tens of thousands of people from services, lands and livelihoods.

The Galilee gaffee -- by David Parsons
(9 July) Israel has reached the long, dry summer season and, as predicted, the Sea of Galilee [or Lake Kinneret] has dropped to dangerous levels that could cause irreversible damage to this delicate and invaluable water source. Most Israelis probably don't realize it, but part of that "damage" could be yet another public relations disaster abroad - a "Galilee Gaffe" - since Christians worldwide consider the Sea itself to be one of the historic sites connected with the life and ministry of Jesus.

Film review: Cresting the waves – by Barry Davis

(10 July) British-born Jerusalemite Alan Rosenthal's Waves of Freedom casts some welcome light on the contribution of (mostly Jewish) American volunteers in helping thousands of 'illegal' Jewish immigrants come to Palestine between the end of 1946 and early 1948. Waves of Freedom, which screens today as part of the Jerusalem Film Festival, focuses on just one of the overcrowded, largely dilapidated and barely seaworthy craft that sought to smuggle Jews into the
Holy Land.

New technology at Ben Gurion Airport allows customs officers to view passengers naked

(11 July) The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv reported on Friday that the new technology will be in use one month from now. It is the first such machine to be used in Israel's ports and airports. When a passenger steps into the rays of the machine, they can be viewed totally naked. Officials say that the machine will be used to uncover hidden drugs, jewelry and or weapons. Many orthodox Jews have complained that the machine will show them naked in front of strangers, which is forbidden.

Analysis: Two years on, IDF starting to look like an army that can fight a war – by Amos Harel
(12 July) The Israel Defense Forces is once again starting to look like an army that knows how to deal with a conventional war, a challenge that - due to more pressing troubles [i.e., the Occupation] - it downplayed during the years between the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000 and the Second Lebanon War, whose opening shots were fired two years ago tomorrow.

Hezbollah hands over report on Ron Arad to Israel Saturday
(12 July) Missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad was captured in Lebanon in 1986. Security sources said that the report, which was brought to Israel by the German mediator Gerhard Konrad, does not address two major issues: the fate of Arad, whom Hezbollah believe is dead, and why his body has not been found. Later Saturday or on Sunday Hezbollah is expected to provide supplementary information, including clarifications and answers to questions submitted by Israel.

Israel denies reports of IAF training in US-controlled Iraq
(11 July, Reuters)  An Israel Defense Forces spokesman described as "utterly baseless" media reports on Friday about Israel Air Force warplanes secretly training in U.S.-controlled Iraq for possible attacks on neighbouring Iran. The Baghdad government and the Pentagon similarly played down a report quoting an Iraqi news network, that Israeli jets were practicing in Iraqi airspace and landing on U.S. airbases in the country.

Iran 'to target Israel, US bases'
(12 July) Iran will target "the heart of Israel" and 32 US bases in the Gulf if they launch an attack on Iran, an Iranian official has warned.

'Iran test showed no new capabilities'
(12 July, AP) Iran's missile test this week demonstrated no new capabilities, according to a US official familiar with the intelligence, and the test may not have included one of the longer-range missiles that Iran said was among those launched.

Iran red lines
(10 July) Washington Dispatch: Mother Jones has learned that a parade of high-level Israeli officials are on their way to the White House over the next two weeks to discuss Iran policy. Here's where the two countries differ on what to do next.

US military hoped for virtually unlimited freedom of action in Iraq
(13 June) Drafting of US-Iraq security agreement began nearly five years ago.

Mubarek hires the mosque [to protect against Iraqi Shi'ites] -- by Rannie Amiri
(12-13 July) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is co-opting the scholars of Al-Azhar—its seminary considered to be the highest religious authority in Sunni Islam—to do his sectarian bidding. More disturbingly, Al-Azhar seems willing to comply. Egypt is now home to approximately 150,000 of the more than one million Iraqis who fled or were driven out of their neighborhoods in the unending aftermath of the 2003 war. A significant number of those in Egypt, if not the majority, are Shiite Muslims. What apparently attracted the state's attention to these new arrivals were applications submitted to the Ministry of Endowments asking permission to build mosques and other religious gathering places.

For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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