Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Land theft

Rogue settler bulldozes 150 dunums of Al-Khader land under cover of dark
An Israeli settler destroyed at least 10 dunums of Palestinian land and damaged at least 140 more when he drove a bulldozer over agricultural land near the town of Al-Khader on Friday. The settler, who appeared to be acting alone, left the illegal West Bank settlement of Efrata with a bulldozer in the early hours of Friday morning and dug a road down the center of a large swath of a land growing almond trees and grapevines, crushing hundreds of plants under the wheels of the vehicle. The land, in the Abu Bkir area just outside the center of town, is privately owned by several Al-Khader families. Locals said the settler appears to be attempting to confiscate the land and impose “de facto” realities preventing Palestinians from using it.

IDF missile threat drill: Absorption of thousands in Samaria

( Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council head Gershon Mesika says that the wide open expanses of the hilltops and valleys of his municipal council are the answer to the dangerous population density in the Tel Aviv region. The army and other government bodies recently held an exercise for emergency scenarios in Samaria.  Among them was a drill for the emergency absorption of thousands of Jews in the region. Samaria, also known as the northern part of the West Bank, is the large hilly area in the middle of Israel which lies just north of Jerusalem and east of Tel Aviv. Since Jewish towns [colonies] exist there alongside Arab villages, it is widely assumed that Arab enemies would be less likely to attack the region for fear of harming Arab/Muslim population centers. ... [Meshika writes,]“The more we encourage citizens to leave the low-lying and crowded Gush Dan area and move to Samaria, the more the State of Israel will thus reduce the non-conventional threat it faces – especially the threat emanating from Iran’s nuclear plant in Bushehr.”

Yesha harvest 2009: Wine and settlements
Winery owners wish to expand approved project to include the building of several vacation homes next to their vineyard, only a km away from illegal outpost Migron -- ...The owners pay a hefty 17 Euro fee on every bottle as a 'fine' for growing and producing the beverage in the West Bank. But despite the resulting high price of the bottles, the vineyard is able to find buyers abroad and the owners display with pride prizes that their vintages have won in Europe. Meanwhile, the project has expanded beyond a mere vineyard. Now that a road to the area has been paved, some 20 vacation homes are expected to be built next to the vineyard. In this way, the commercial vineyard will lead to wider projects, including residential areas.,7340,L-3709217,00.html

Salah: IOA built more than 100 synagogues around the Aqsa Mosque
MILAN, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied Palestine, has said that the Israeli occupation authority was intensifying its judaization campaign of occupied Jerusalem, citing the construction of more than 100 synagogues around the holy Aqsa Mosque. He said during a Friday Khutba (sermon) in Milan, Italy, that the IOA was leveling Palestinian homes surrounding the Aqsa, noting that the excavations under the holy site over the past 40 years had led to a network of tunnels that included a synagogue and a Hebrew museum.

On Israeli settlement freeze, public has Obama's back
By Robert Naiman.There have been hints in the press that the Obama Administration has been considering conditioning U.S. aid to Israel on a real freeze of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. There's a conventional wisdom that suggests that doing this would touch a "third rail of politics." But the conventional wisdom might not have been accurate; if it once was accurate, it might not be accurate any more. has just released a poll showing that three-quarters of Americans oppose Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. This number is up 23 points from 2002. Even among respondents who say they sympathize with Israel more than the Palestinians, 64% say Israel should not build settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli attacks

Two Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrike on southern Gaza
Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike carried out against smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Saturday ... [They] were identified as Jehad Abu Jarad and Hamdan Al-Astal, both in their 20s. A third Palestinian is possibly still missing, Hasaneen added. Following three months of near-silence on the borders, Israel's air force carried out three airstrikes aimed at underground tunnels on the Al-Barazil area of southern Gaza on Saturday, during which five Palestinians were lightly injured, and were also transferred to Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital for treatment. Targets included a group of fighters, a farmer, and smuggling tunnels.

Israeli forces breach Gaza borders in four attacks Saturday; four injured
Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip at 7am on Saturday morning in response to projectile fire from the northern Strip and clashed with forces from the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades. The second incident saw Israeli fire injure a Palestinian farmer in the southern Gaza Strip village of Khuza’a east of Khan Younis. He was tending his lands at the time of the incident and evacuated to hospital. Israeli warplanes launched two raids on tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border on Saturday, injuring three Palestinians.

Soldiers shoot two Palestinians in Hebron-area village
Two Palestinians were shot amid clashes with settlers that erupted in the Kharbat Safa village near the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday. A number of Israeli settlers from the illegal Jewish settlement of Bet Ayn attacked residents of the village, leading to the two injuries, both reportedly gunshots fired by the Israeli army. "One of those who was injured sustained a bullet wound in the back, while the other was hit in the thigh and both were transferred to local hospitals in Hebron," a paramedic told Ma'an.

Female Israeli soldier beats Azzun Atama woman; village isolated behind separation wall on edge
Forty-year-old Palestinian Sundus Mahmoud Ahamd sustained moderate injuries after being hit with the rifle butt of a female Israeli soldier as she tried to reach her home on the far side of the separation wall from Qalqiliya to the village of Azzun Atama on Friday. Soldiers shut down the village shortly after the incident and barred media from crossing the military checkpoint erected on the main road.

ReliefWeb: Israeli forces open fire on Gaza farmers; eyewitnesses
Gaza City_(dpa) _ Israeli forces on Saturday opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the security fence in south-east Gaza Strip and sent ground troops into the other end of the coastal territory, according to eyetwitness accounts.The farmers were working their land in the Faraheen area in the east of Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip when they came under machine gun fire from the Israeli army posts on the border, the witnesses said ... Meanwhile, three Israeli bulldozers, backed by two tanks, rolled for a few hundreds of meters into Beit Lahiya town, an agricultural community in the northern Gaza Strip. Residents said the bulldozers leveled some groves and withdrew later in the morning.

PCHR weekly report: 20 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces this week (23-28 April)
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, during the week of 23 - 28 April 2009, 20 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank. A number of these civilians were wounded by Israeli settlers during a joint attack with Israeli forces ... During the last week, Israeli forces conducted 28 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, Israeli forces abducted 32 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children. Israeli forces positioned at military checkpoints in the West Bank abducted 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children. Full report:

Palestinians hurt following spat with West Bank settlers
Two Palestinians were lightly injured Friday following confrontations with settlers near Havat Gilad in the Samaria region. One of the Palestinians was hurt by rocks hurled at him and the other from an aerosol spray of a yet-to-be-determined nature. The spat broke out following a dispute over agricultural practices in the area. Samaria local council officials said that a group of about 25 Palestinians arrived around noon to the vicinity of Havat Gilad and began tending to [Palestinian!] lands that constitute part of the [illegal] settlement's fields.

On eve of papal visit, Israeli police attack Palestinian Christian
The Palestinian who lives on Latin Patriarch Street in East Jerusalem, Samer Andrea Karkar, was assaulted near an Italian restaurant and store, both of which he owns, on the same street. Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli police had prevented Palestinian residents from passing through the street under the pretext that it was being renovated before the pope's visit. When Samer tried to convince the police to allow his sister and her sleeping children to return home, police ordered him to leave one of them behind, for reasons that were not immediately clear.  Police then told Samer that they "do not want to see him on the entire street" and eventually threw him on the ground, while other police officers beat him so severely that he was ultimately taken for treatment at Hadassa Hospital in Jerusalem. Police have been telling the residents and store owners in the East Jerusalem neighborhood that the area will be shut down for the pope's visit, and that residents should stay inside their homes for the duration of his visit, without attempting to leave them.

Ten Palestinians lightly injured at Bethlehem-area [Ma`sara] protest
The Palestinians choked on tear gas, causing a few of them to faint, including Shaher Sa'ed, secretary-general of the Union of Palestinian Workers, as well as Franco Beneti, an Italian official within the Council of Italian Workers, and union activist Muna Jubran, who was struck by tear-gas canisters and stun grenades.  Other demonstrators were arrested, among them an Italian union official and activists from the Popular Committee Against the Wall, including Azmi Ash-Shyukhi and brothers Hasan and Mohammad Buriejieyah.

Israeli soldiers break into homes during Ni`lin demonstration Friday
Israeli soldiers invaded the West Bank village of Ni`lin on Friday, attempting to occupy the rooftops of two homes near the wall and where residents typically perform weekly prayers. The two homes broken into on Friday belong to Mustafa Shem’on A’meerah and A’zmi Al-Khawaja ... Residents attempted to prevent the soldiers from occupying the homes, clashing with them and suffering tear-gas canister shots and injuries from rubber-coated bullets. Four Palestinians were injured in the clashes.

Israel to investigate soldiers on charges of robbery and abuse in Dura
The Israeli army will investigate the case of 31-year-old Ayish Ajawi who reported being illegally detained, blindfolded, beaten, robbed and harassed during one of the regular Israeli invasions into the West Bank. The army said no formal complaint was been filed by Ajawi, who instead reported the incident to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem which in turn reported the event to Israeli military authorities ... Despite documented cases of assault and brutality several other investigations and criminal suits against Israeli soldiers have ended in light or no punishment for soldiers.


Israeli forces apprehend 50-year-old father and son near Hebron
Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the southern West Bank town of Sa’ir north of Hebron and several military checkpoints were erected at the main entrances to the town bringing traffic to a standstill on Saturday morning. Local sources said Israeli forces stormed the home of 50-year-old Muhammad Imtour and detained him along with his 28-year-old son Imad.

Palestinian resistance

Israel: Two projectiles land Saturday; Friday report false alarm

Two homemade projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip landed in western Negev in Israel, said Israeli sources on Saturday morning.  According to the sources, the projectiles landed in an open area in Shaar HaNegev; no casualties were reported. On Friday, Israeli military command denied that a homemade projectile landed in western Negev despite several media reports to the contrary, asserting that a false alarm was heard in the area.

Fighters fire mortars at undercover forces invading Jabalia
The Salah Ed Deen Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, reported Saturday that its fighters fired three mortar shells at undercover forces invading an areas east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The Brigades said that the undercover forces invaded the area at 7 on Saturday morning, and that its fighters clashes with them and fired three mortars at them forcing the troops to retreat.

PFLP affiliates fire on Israeli watchtower near Gaza crossing

Armed Palestinians affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility on Saturday for targeting Israeli military cameras and a watchtower in Gaza. Palestinian snipers opened fire on the military posts near the Nahal Oz crossing point, according to a statement from the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP. "The attack comes within a continued confrontation against the [Israeli] occupation," the statement added.


Letters: Reality of gaining access to Gaza
Bill Rammell is disingenuous when he says that the UK does not control access to Gaza (Letters, 28 April). He knows the Egyptians require those wanting to cross the border to have a letter from their embassy. Only the British have consistently refused to provide a letter, which is why British doctors, psychiatrists and lawyers have been turned away and denied access to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. Whatever arrangement the UK reached with Israel on access to Gaza, it is not working. The siege continues and the humanitarian disaster is deepening.

Anyone would think from this that the Israelis and Egyptians had nothing to do with it: Cancer patients trapped in Gaza while factions duke it out
Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in the Gaza Strip, unable to travel abroad for crucial treatment for cancer and other diseases, because of political infighting between Hamas and its rival secular faction, Fatah. Eight Gazans who were waiting to travel abroad have died since the crisis began in March, when the dispute shut down a medical referral committee that helps sick residents find treatment outside of Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.,7340,L-3709490,00.html

European campaign criticizes world slackness in dealing with Gaza siege
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege on Gaza Strip has criticized the world community's slackness in dealing with the "oppressive" Israeli siege on the Strip that has been ongoing for three years. It said in a statement on Saturday that the UN and other international organizations' concern and denunciation did not change the bad situation in Gaza and did not absolve those organizations of their responsibility.


Hamas: PA seized 146 affiliates during April
The Hamas movement on Saturday accused Palestinian Authority security departments in the West Bank of seizing 146 affiliates and three Islamic Jihad members during the month of April. In its monthly report, the movement also accused the PA of "eliminating all resistance factions, deleting the culture and thought of resistance." It added that the PA had kidnapped women to pressure their husbands to force them to surrender, giving examples of the wives of ex-prisoner Ahmad Abu Al-I’zz and the widow of Mustafa Nofal. The Hamas report also accused the PA of torturing political prisoners ... The report concluded by accusing PA security forces of breaking into a number of mosques

New Palestinian police station built near Tulkarem
Palestinian police in Tulkarem on Saturday inaugurated a new police station in the village of Bal’a, east of Tulkarem, in coordination with Israeli authorities. According to Director of Tulkarem police Ma’roof Al-Barbari, the station will be manned with 30 police officers and four patrols. They will cooperate with neighboring police stations, particularly the one in the town of Anabta, he said.


Mada report: 257 violations of media freedom in Palestine during 2008
The West Bank and Gaza witnessed 257 violations of media freedoms during 2008. Of those, 147 were committed by Israeli settlers and military, and 110 by Palestinian security services and armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The report counted 51 Israeli arrests and detainments, and the closure of four media broadcasting stations across the West Bank and Jerusalem. Rival Hamas-Fatah violence also contributed to the poor media situation in Palestinian areas, the report found, and counted 60 journalists arrested or detained and some tortured by West Bank and Gaza Strip security forces.

New York Times describes Israeli settelements in E. Jerusalem as 'developments'
By Philip Weiss. In the Times piece, which is accompanied by a wonderful photo, Isabel Kershner noted today that "more than 195,000 Israelis live in Jewish developments -- referred to as 'neighborhoods' by the Israelis and as 'settlements' by the United Nations -- in East Jerusalem." Later she refers to the "Israeli development of East Talpiot." Sometimes what sounds like neutrality is actually a way of taking sides.  Times also said that demolitions reached an annual peak of 133 in 2004. But a reader says the number of houses demolished straight away in 1967 in the Moroccan Quarter in order to create the plaza before the Western Wall was more than that.

Other news

Palestinian women settlement workers' plight
By Sarah Irving. Umm Raed's sick husband hasn't worked in more than 20 years. Her own family can't, or won't, help support her and her seven children. So her job in the Royalife factory in the Barkan industrial zone, built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land in the Salfit governorate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was the household's main source of income. But since autumn 2008, Umm Raed and a number of other women from her village have been out of a job. Sick of low pay, dangerous conditions and bullying treatment, in the summer workers at the factory took action.

Tighter enforcement for PA workers
( The IDF's Civil Administration plans to impose sanctions on Palestinian Authority Arabs who violate the terms of their work permits. Those who do not return to PA-controlled areas by the time specified on their permit could lose the right to work in pre-1967 Israel, warned government officials. Workers will be tracked by a computerized system that will record the times at which they pass through manned crossings along the Judea and Samaria separation barrier. The workers will now be required to return home from work via one of the several crossings where the system is in effect. ... According to PA government figures, more than 70,000 PA Arabs work in Israel legally. Most are from Judea and Samaria. In recent years, many PA Arab workers have been replaced by foreign workers who work in fields including construction, agriculture and private health care. Roughly 100,000 foreign citizens currently work legally in Israel, as do several thousand Sudanese refugees.

Palestinians mark International Workers Day in Jerusalem
Under strict Israeli measures and ongoing violations against Arab neighborhoods in occupied Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinians marched in Jerusalem marking May Day in the heart of Jerusalem, in Mount Olive, expressing determination and steadfastness of the Palestinians in the city. Hatim Abdul-Qader, an advisor to president Mahmoud Abbas, Shaher Saad, secretary-general of the Palestinian Workers Union, and several officials and representatives of workers groups participated in the procession, in addition to representatives of American, Norwegian and Italian unions.

Israeli archaeology department refuses to return artifact from Al-Aqsa compound
Head of the Israeli archeology department Shai Friedman refused to return an Umayyad-era artifact “stolen from the Umayyad Palaces in the southern part of the Al-Aqsa compound a month ago,” said Palestinian lawmaker Hatim Abdul Qadir.  According to the Jerusalem affairs official, the ancient stone was transferred to the courtyard of the Israeli Knesset on Friday, and Israeli officials have stonewalled requests to have the stone returned to the Al-Aqsa compound. Abdul Qadir has threatened to file a suit at the International High Court of Justice against the Israeli archeology department for stealing artifacts belonging to Palestinians. He added that a representative of the UNESCO would be invited to attend hearings in court.

Haredi women get special tour of West Bank separation fence
An unusual delegation visited East Jerusalem's Abu Dis neighborhood two days ago, sparking the curiosity of many Palestinian residents. Some of them already recognize the group's guide, Shaul Arieli, from the Geneva Initiative, who periodically brings groups to the area to personally acquaint them with the West Bank separation fence, which bisects the neighborhood. But on this particular day, the group, comprised mostly of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, was greeted with astonished stares. The women, for their part, were focused on Arieli as he explained to them why he feels the fence harms Israel's interests, just as retaining control over Palestinian neighborhoods does.

Netanyahu candidate Michael Oren tapped as US envoy
Dr. Michael Oren is set to be appointed Israeli ambassador to Washington after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman added his endorsement over the weekend. The cabinet must now approve the appointment at its weekly meeting Sunday. Oren, a visiting Georgetown University professor, said in a lecture there last month, "The only alternative for Israel to save itself as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating most of the settlements."

Haniyeh addresses conference of Palestinians in Europe
Palestinian Prime Minister of the Hamas-run government based in the Gaza Strip Isma’il Haniyeh on Saturday addressed the seventh conference of Palestinians living in Europe through videoconference. In his remarks, he called on the European community to remove Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups from the so-called “terrorism list.”

Taking a swing at coexistence
The London-based charity Cricket for Change visited Israel for the second time last week, continuing its mission to spread street cricket amongst young Israelis from both Arab and Jewish communities. Known colloquially as 'tape ball' or 'Street20,' street cricket is a new take on the traditional game.,7340,L-3706101,00.html

Israel, PA to cooperate on swine flu
Health Ministry representatives from Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority meet to discuss swine flu pandemic; Jerusalem offers help with lab testing for H1N1,7340,L-3709303,00.html

MOH: No H1N1 in 800 Bethlehem-area pigs; no guarantee for wild pigs in north
Worries over the safety of two pig farms in the Bethlehem-area suburbs of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour have been eased after tests of all animals at both farms came back negative for H1N1, more commonly known as swine flu ... There is no guarantee, added Badr, that the over one thousand wild pigs living in the hills of the northern West Bank which regularly attack farms and farmers in the Jenin, Nablus, and Tubas areas, do not have the flu.

Op-ed / Analysis

Regrettable statistical error
B. Michael says Independence Day report that Jews comprise 75% of Israel’s population inaccurate -- ...However, it appears that these figures were tainted by a regrettable error. The source of the error has to do with the strange existence of what is known around here as the Green line. According to the data provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics and by the CIA, the Israeli government rules over 11.43 million people at this time. Of those, 5.6 million people are Jewish, while 5.83 million people are not Jewish (2.46 million Palestinians in the West Bank, 1.55 million Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip, 1.5 million Palestinians who are citizens of the State of Israel, and another 0.32 million people characterized as “other non-Jews.”) Therefore, the accurate figures are in fact as follows: A total of 49% Jews and 51% non-Jews currently live across the territory of the Israeli empire. Indeed, we may start referring to ourselves as “members of the minority.”,7340,L-3709436,00.html

Israel-Palestine is already a de facto single state
By Antony Lerman. state exists. It has not been formally proclaimed. It has no legal status. No one wants to acknowledge it. But it's hard to see Israeli control of the area of the pre-1967 state, the West Bank and Gaza as constituting anything other than one, de facto state ... "Israel continues to control the joint Gaza Strip-West Bank population registry", even though formal authority for administering the population registry was transferred to the PA under the second Oslo Agreement of 1995. "By controlling the population registry," says B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, "Israel continues to determine who is a 'Palestinian resident' and who is a 'foreigner'."

The ten tribes
By Gideon Levy. ...Despite the impressive national recruitment, the (sometimes imposed) Hebraicizing of names, service in the Israel Defense Forces, ingathering of the exiles and integration, Israel has remained a tribal, multinational, multiethnic and multicultural immigrant society. First, one-quarter of the Jewish state's population is not Jewish, and one-fifth are members of the Arab nation. The language of the Arabs in Israel, their world, culture and viewpoints certainly do not allow them to be part of "the Israeli people." Excluded, discriminated against, ostracized, alienated, and secluded in their towns and villages, they certainly are not part of the tribal campfire. The same is true, but to a lesser extent, of the 1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Fact - even the "Mizrahim", most of whom have lived here for around 50 years, are still a separate tribe. Possibly due to discrimination and other reasons, they have not found a respectable place in the country's elite.

One Voice: manufacturing consent for Israeli apartheid
By Ali Abunimah. How do Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and siege see their world, especially after Israel's massacre of more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in the occupied Gaza Strip three months ago? Two recent surveys shed light on this question, although one -- published on 22 April by the pro-Israel organization One Voice -- appears intended to influence international opinion in a direction more amenable to Israel, rather than to record faithfully the views of Palestinians or Israelis

Nakba is not a dirty word!
By Amaya Galil of Zochrot. As I spoke with people about the nakba, and learned more about it, I began to ask myself questions and began to get worried. A crack opened in what I had known, and in my identity. The crack made me continue questioning. This educational process allows me to rethink my life here. The nakba isn't only the Palestinian's memory and history. It's also an event that is a part of my individual and collective memory and identity as an Israeli. The Israeli collective memory emphasizes the Jewish-national history of the country, and mostly denies its Palestinian past. We, as a society and as individuals, are unwilling to accept responsibility for the injustice done to the Palestinians, which allows us to continue living here.

Israel swallowing West Bank
By As'ad Abdul Rahman. When Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007, a new interim government - headed by Dr Salam Fayyad - was formed in the West Bank. Immediately, some politicians promised that the West Bank, unlike the besieged Gaza Strip, would be transformed into a flourishing economy. Fayyad was keen on emphasising his intention to turn the West Bank, in terms of economy, into "another Israel".

Pope's visit to Israel fraught with potential minefields
By Ruth Ellen Gruber. ROME (JTA)—The official Israeli government Website  for Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to Israel and the West Bank promotes the May 11-15 visit as a “Bridge for Peace.“ Others, however, describe it as a potential minefield where various factions may try to exploit the pope’s presence for political gain. “Both Jewish and Muslim ideologues are determined to stop the pope crossing that bridge,” wrote Catholic religion journalist Damian Thompson in his blog for the U.K. Telegraph, “either by smearing him as an anti-Semite or by making his visit to a Palestinian refugee camp look like a politically motivated reproach to Israel.”

Clinton's unpromising start
By Ramzy Baroud. ...if recent comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffice as a general indication of the administration's Middle East policy, then little change is on the horizon. Clinton told US legislators on 23 April that the key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was Tehran; that without getting tough on Iran, Israel could not be expected to pursue peace with the Palestinians. "The two go hand in hand," she emphasized. What a baffling approach to peacemaking.

Film review: Lemon Tree
In the last few years the Israeli Arab actress Hiam Abbass has become a cinematic force of nature - an Anna Magnani of the Middle East. US moviegoers know her as the mother in "The Visitor," but her best recent role was probably the bride's older sister in 2004's "The Syrian Bride," wearily coping with the ruinous surrealism of borders and national identity. That film's writer-director, Eran Riklis, has put Abbass front and center in his latest film, "Lemon Tree," and while it's a lesser work than "Bride" - more obviously symbolic, overly forced in its plotting - the star rewards her director's trust with a performance that keeps shooting out unexpected tendrils of observation.


Nasrallah taunts Egypt: You've only made us stronger

Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah used his televised speech Friday evening to respond once more to Egypt's accusations that his organization is trying to topple the regime in Cairo. Without going into detail, Nasrallah thanked Egypt for the negative campaign its leaders have been waging since Egyptian security forces arrested Hizbullah-linked terror cells within its borders.,7340,L-3709323,00.html


Half life of a toxic war: Iraq's wrecked environment
By Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank. The ecological effects of war, like its horrific toll on human life, are exponential. When the Bush administration (parts one and two) and its congressional allies sent troops to Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, they not only ordered these men and women to commit crimes against humanity, they also commanded them to perpetrate crimes against nature. Former Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said the environmental consequences of the Iraq war could be more ominous than the issue of war and peace itself. Blix was right.

Pilgrims put faith in fragile peace
By Alice Fordham. Karbala -- A pilgrimage to Karbala would, even a year ago, have been too risky for all but the most devout. The 80-kilometre Baghdad-Karbala motorway runs a gauntlet of what were some of post-invasion Iraq’s most dangerous areas ... But today, the fighting in Dora has ebbed, the checkpoints are manned by the Iraqi army and pilgrims are coming back to Karbala – and other holy places – in droves ... But even as holy sites such as Karbala and Najaf are attracting pilgrims and investment, they are again becoming targets for suicide bombers, who, some say, want to upset Iraq’s stability and religious tolerance.

Former US soldiers describe rape of Iraqi girl, killings
PADUCAH, Kentucky (AFP) – One of the five US soldiers who helped rape an Iraqi girl and kill her family told jurors that he regrets what happened that day in March 2006. "I should have had more sense that that," James Barker testified Friday, calling the crimes "barbaric" and saying his actions that day went against how he was raised. Barker, now serving a 90-year-term in a military prison, was testifying at the civil trial of the atrocity's alleged ringleader.

Babylon ruins reopen in Iraq, to controversy
BABYLON, Iraq — After decades of dictatorship and disrepair, Iraq is celebrating its renewed sovereignty over the Babylon archaeological site — the “liberation” of it and other archeological sites, as one official put it — by fighting over the place, over its past and future and, of course, over its spoils.

Saturday: 2 US soldiers, 3 Iraqis killed; 3 Iraqis wounded
Excerpt: Two U.S. soldiers were killed in a small arms attack in Mosul, while attacks in Basra and Fallujah left no American casualties. Meanwhile, at least three Iraqis were killed and three more were wounded in those and other attacks.Three people were killed during a roadside bomb blast near Kirkuk. A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol in northern Basra wounded one Iraqi civilian instead.


New book says FDR tried to save Jewish refugees
A new book disputes widely held assumptions that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was insensitive to the plight of European Jews under the Nazis, and instead concludes that he tried to arrange resettlement for thousands of refugees in the late 1930s, only to be thwarted by his own State Department.,7340,L-3709386,00.html

US drops spy charges against two ex-AIPAC officials
Federal prosecutors moved Friday to dismiss espionage-related charges against two former pro-Israel lobbyists accused of disclosing classified U.S. defense information, ending a tortuous inside-the-Beltway legal battle rife with national security intrigue. Acting U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said the government moved to dismiss the charges in the drawn-out case after concluding that pretrial rulings would make it too difficult for the government to prove its case. Boente also said he was worried that classified information would be disclosed at trial.

Rosen/Weissman case may go away, but the issue of influence won't
By Philip Weiss. ...So in both instances, you have powerful hawkish gov't officials turning to outsiders connected to the Israel lobby for help in their advancement. In both instances, the officials believe that the Israel lobby can affect their careers. This is why I can't shut up about the lobby. It's a huge force in our politics, and its influence is regularly denied. The Justice Department also wanted to pursue a case against Harman. Somehow it abandoned that one, too.

Hamas: US diplomacy's final frontier
(TIME) ...But if Israel's new government is making the Obama team anxious, it's nothing compared with the government that could be coming together next door in the Palestinian territories - where President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party may join hands with the Islamist militants of Hamas. That's a problem, since the U.S. won't have anything to do with Hamas or any government in which it takes part. A few months ago, when Hamas was at odds with Abbas and at war with Israel, that was an easy position to take. But now it's becoming harder. And sooner or later, the U.S. may have to come to the same painful realization it has arrived at in Iraq and Afghanistan: the only thing worse than talking to terrorists is not talking to them. (Read "Rift Between Hamas and Fatah Grows After Gaza.") In a way, Hamas is the final frontier.

Ex-spy sits down with Islamists and the West
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Talking to Islamists is the new order of the day in Washington and London. The Obama administration wants a dialogue with Iran, and the British Foreign Office has decided to reopen diplomatic contacts with Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group based here. But for several years, small groups of Western diplomats have made quiet trips to Beirut for confidential sessions with members of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist groups they did not want to be seen talking to. In hotel conference rooms, they would warily shake hands, then spend hours listening and hashing out accusations of terrorism on one side and imperial arrogance on the other.

US may revive Guantánamo military courts
The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, which was a target of critics during the Bush administration, including Mr. Obama himself. Officials said the first public moves could come as soon as next week,
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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