Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

Palestinian Prisoners' Day / Detention

Palestinian Prisoners' Day
AIC 17 Apr -- Today, 17 April, is Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The day commemorates the release of Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Hijazi in the first prisoners’ exchange between the Palestinians and the Israelis in 1974 ... The situation for Palestinians in Israeli prisons is grim. According to ADDAMEER, the Palestinian Prisoners' Rights NGO, over 6,800 Palestinians, from the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and 1948 Palestine, are currently imprisoned by the Israeli state. Of those, over 300 are children, 34 are women, 18 are elected Palestinian representatives and almost 300 are 'Administrative Detainees' - that is they have been interned without trial not having been charged with any crime or seeing the secret evidence against them.

IOF troops detain 845 Palestinians in three months, including 105 children
GAZA, (PIC) 16 Apr -- A statistics report by the Ansar Al-Asra society said on Saturday that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained 845 Palestinians in the first three months of 2011. The statement added that among those were 105 children and three members of the Palestinian legislative council. It noted that the IOF detention spree in the first quarter of 2011 witnessed an upsurge as it started with 180 people in January, then 285 in February and 380 in March.

VIDEO: Israeli prison raid footage released
AJ 17 Apr -- Hundreds of Palestinians have died inside Israeli prisons and now an Israeli television channel has aired shocking footage of Israel's so-called Control and Restraint unit, or Masada, attacking Palestinian prisoners. Activists have demanded people in charge of the operation, carried out in 2007, be charged and the family of one of the victims told Al Jazeera that they would consider suing Masada. Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Seida in the occupied West Bank.

PCHR: Narratives behind locked doors
In honor of Prisoners' Day, several articles: The Transformation of Palestinian Prisoners' Visitation Rights over the Years; Arwa Abdel-Rahim, a Mother of two Prisoners; Abla Sa'adat: A husband imprisoned; Trying to See Her Brother - The Struggle of the Family of a Prisoner from the West Bank; No Family Visitation for Prisoners from Gaza: the Case of Abdallah Inshahsi; and others.

Report: More than 130 prison raids in 2010
VIENNA, (PIC) 17 Apr -- A report by Vienna-based Friend of Humanity International documents that this year was ”not normal in the lives of Palestinian prisoners”, as the Israeli prison authority more than 130 cell raids on Palestinian prisoners this year alone. The report details human rights violations that took place in Israeli prisons throughout 2010. Its release was time to coincide with the Palestinian prisoner day observed on April 17. The report documents that special security units and soldiers sprayed gas and used fists and electric batons and isolated prisoners in a year rife with abuses.

Military court orders Nabi Saleh protest organizer Bassem Tamimi remanded until end of legal proceedings
ISM 17 Apr -- The arrest of Bassem Tamimi, a 44 year-old protest organizer from Nabi Saleh and the coordinator of the village’s popular committee, was extended indefinitely today at the Ofer Military Court. Tamimi will remain in detention until the end of legal proceedings in his case. The indictment against Tamimi, filed two weeks ago, is based on questionable and coerced confessions of youth. He is charged with incitement, organizing unpermitted marches, solicitation to throw stones, disobeying the duty to report to questioning, and a scandalous obstruction of justice charge, for allegedly giving youth advice on how to act under interrogation by the police in the event that they are arrested.

IOF troops detain 7 in Silwan, a minor in Al-Khalil
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 17 Apr -- ...The Hebrew radio said on Sunday that the Israeli police rounded up seven Jerusalemites over the past few days on suspicion of throwing stones and firebombs at police vehicles. It claimed that the youth confessed to the charge of organizing riots in Silwan and would face a trial hearing in the central court on Sunday. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained a Palestinian minor in Al-Khalil's Old City on Saturday night as he was heading home. Local sources said that the soldiers took the 15-year-old Mutaz Mohtaseb to the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement. IOF soldiers at dawn Sunday stormed the city of Jenin and nearby villages but no detentions were reported. The soldiers installed a roadblock between Jenin and Nablus and searched vehicles on Sunday morning.

IOF troops violently disperse relatives of Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH, (PIC) 17 Apr -- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and Ofer prison guards used force to disperse a peaceful rally by relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in that notorious jail on Sunday. Hundreds of Palestinians staged a sit-in before the military jail in which Israel is holding around one thousand Palestinian prisoners demanding their release. The participants hoisted Palestinian flags and photos of their relatives in the rally organized to mark the Palestinian prisoner's day.

Report: Sheikh Salah detained at Allenby
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- Israel's Jerusalem Post reported Sunday night the arrest of the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel Sheikh Raed Salah at the Allenby Bridge border crossing as he returned from a trip to Jordan.  According to the report, Salah was detained because he refused to submit to investigations and searches that border staff at the crossing intended to carry out.  Police told the Post that Salah arrived at the border crossing with his wife and refused a search of his wife, standing between police and his spouse to prevent it.

Haniyeh says no to Shalit compromise
Ynet 16 Apr -- Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, urged the Palestinian factions holding Gilad Shalit to insist on their prisoner swap demands. Haniyeh made the remarks Saturday during a special session of the Palestinian parliament in Gaza convened to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day.,7340,L-4057661,00.html

Abbas: No peace deal until political prisoners freed
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that no peace deal could be reached with Israel until all political prisoners were released. Abbas' comments were made in a televised address ahead of Palestinian Prisoners' Day on Sunday.

Relatives of detainees ask Ramallah authority to release them
RAMALLAH, (PIC) 17 Apr -- The relatives of detainees held in jails of the Fatah-controlled Ramallah authority have called for their immediate release. The relatives' committee issued a statement hailing the steadfastness of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons. It described the authority's arrest of prisoners liberated from Israeli jails as a "shame", and called for an immediate end to the political detention policy. The committee along with human rights groups had said that the Ramallah authority was detaining 420 Palestinians including 300 ex-prisoners in Israeli jails.

Land, property,resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Shas MK: East Jerusalem building blocked for political reasons
Haaretz 17 Apr -- Statements made by Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias represent first time a senior Israeli figure discussed existence of freeze on East Jerusalem construction, which runs contrary to PM's public stance.

Jerusalem aid committee announced in Washington
WASHINGTON, (PIC) 16 Apr -- The establishment of an international campaign designed to curb the Israeli Judaization of Jerusalem was announced in United States capital Washington, DC on Friday. The campaign will include a group of international figures as well as political and media events from across the world. The campaign said it would take Jerusalem as its main contact center, and that the center would be linked to Ramallah, Nazareth, and Gaza to provide information. The Jerusalem protection campaign is aimed at protecting Jerusalem families who are threatened by Israeli plans to displace major portions of the Arab population in the city and replace them with Jewish settlers.

Demolition orders handed out in south
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- Israeli authorities gave a military order to demolish a barn and a water well in the village of Al-Bira village southwest of Hebron on Thursday afternoon. According to the Land Research Center, land owner Yasser Salem Al-Awawda was handed the notification, which gave one week for the structures on the property to be taken down. Al-Awawda told the center that he removed the barn’s roof, citing concern that the demolition would harm his cattle.

Army brutality as violent clashes sweep through Silwan
SILWANIC Saturday, 16 April, 2011 | 23:29 Clashes erupted tonight between Israeli troops and Palestinian youth in Bir Ayyub district of Silwan. Massive quantities of tear gas have been fired by Israeli forces on Palestinian residents. Palestinians responded by throwing stones at military vehicles, causing damage to one settler vehicle in the process ... Several entrances to Silwan have been sealed off by the military, including the Wadi Rababa entrance that links Silwan to West Jerusalem ... Israeli forces have also assaulted journalist Hamza Najib, a photographer for Pal Media, while he was covering events in Samer Sarhan Street. Silwanic photographer Ahmed Siam was also assaulted and threatened by armed forces in an attempt to stop him covering unfolding confrontations in the area.

The effect of Passover on Palestinians

More youths' detention extended in the leadup to Passover
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) -- A hearing was held in the Israeli Central Court today regarding the arrest of a young man and 3 children from Silwan ... A member of the Rajabi family stated that "an overwhelming number of Silwan’s youth have been seized and their detention extended recently. We take this as a precautionary tactic employed by Israeli authorities in the leadup to their holiday of Passover. We, meanwhile, must suffer the closure of roads, acts of provocation and the arrest of our children – throughout every Jewish holiday."

Military closure for West Bank on Passover
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- Israel's military announced a "general closure" of the West Bank during the Jewish Passover holiday, which will begin on Sunday at 11:50 p.m. and continue for ten days. The closure will affect Palestinians with work permits, barring them from access to Israel and Jerusalem until 11:50 p.m. on 26 April.
In addition, Israeli officials announced heightened security measures around Jerusalem as the country's religious Jewish residents prepare to celebrate Passover, Israel Radio said, with Palestinians expecting restrictions on freedom of worship and movement ... Israel's police department told the station that extra officers would be deployed around areas where Christian pilgrims would gather for the upcoming Easter holiday.

Jerusalem: Christians face restrictions during Holy Week
17 Apr -- For Christians, Holy Week in Jerusalem has a special spiritual connection. The  Old City, its gates and roads, the Mount of Olives, Via Dolorosa and The Holy Sepulchre Church, where pilgrims from all over the world journey to, are equally  important to the Palestinian Christians of Gaza and the West Bank, who want to  join their Christian brethren in Jerusalem, for the liturgical events leading to the holiest celebration in Christianity. In every country that respects and implements freedom of worship, worshipers of  different faiths live their faith and express their prayers without restrictions from governing authorities. In Jerusalem for the past decade, this has  not been the case.


Israeli tanks open fire in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) 17 Apr -- Several Israeli army tanks entered northern Gaza on Sunday and opened fire, witnesses said. No injuries were reported, but residents said fields sustained heavy damage from the tanks' caterpillar tread, which ripped through crops.

'Oliva' in Gaza: Launch of international boat to monitor human rights in Palestinian waters
17 Apr -- On Wednesday, April 20th, "Oliva", a human rights monitoring boat with an international crew, will launch from the port of Gaza City. The crew of the Civil Peace Service, which currently consists of citizens from Spain, the United States, Italy and Belgium, will accompany Gazan fishermen within Palestinian waters. Violations of international law will be monitored and documented. Data and video materials will be collected and disseminated. Vittorio Arrigoni, the murdered human rights activist, was involved in setting up this project and therefore a commemoration of his life and work will be held at the end of the press conference.

Rafah crossing to open to pilgrims only
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- Egypt's Rafah crossing will be opened on Monday only for Gaza residents registered as pilgrims set to perform the Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Crossings chief in Rafah Ayoub Abu Sha‘ar said other travelers who scheduled to leave on Monday were delayed to Tuesday, but said no other disruptions were expected.

Gaza: 1 border crossing partly open
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- Israeli authorities on Sunday opened Gaza's Kerem Shalom crossing to allow the limited entry of commercial merchandise and humanitarian aid into the besieged coastal enclave.

The murder of Vittorio Arrigoni

Gazans to hold 'state funeral' for slain Italian
AFP 17 Apr -- Hamas foreign affairs and planning minister Mohammed Awad told reporters that slain activist Vittorio Arrigoni's body would be moved to Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on Monday after a funeral in Gaza. "We're waiting for his friends and relatives to arrive in Gaza. Some are already here but there are others we are waiting for, and then there will be a state funeral," Awad said. "We expect afterwards that his body will be taken to the Rafah crossing and then on to Cairo, according to the wishes of his family." Hamas officials said Arrigoni's girlfriend was already in Gaza, and his mother told Israeli media that she too planned to visit the coastal territory to see where her son "lived and died."

Gaza police up stakes for arrest in activist murder
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Apr -- Chief of police in the Gaza Strip Abu Ubayda Al-Jarrah announced Sunday a reward to any security officer who helped locate the killers of an Italian solidarity activist found dead two days earlier.  The statement was made despite the arrest and questioning of four men currently being interrogated over the murder of Italian reporter and activist Vittorio Arrigoni, who was found hanged early Friday morning.

Man arrested in the Arrigoni murder case suspected of collaboration
GAZA, (PIC) 17 Apr -- The murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni raised the serious question as to who stands behind such a gruesome act, especially after the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu declared he has plans to thwart solidarity with the Gaza Strip "at any price". The Palestinian security awareness website Majd has revealed a few surprise discoveries as the case unravels and after several men were taken into custody over suspected involvement in the abduction and murder. It has come to light that one of the suspects that has been arrested is also suspected of collaboration and has a number of violations on his list, while others appeared naïve.The website said that one of the men got orders to abduct and kill Arrigoni on the internet.

Vittorio Arrigoni's mother to join Freedom Flotilla II
Gaza - PNN  16 Apr -- Agidea Prata, the mother of Vittorio Arrigoni, the Italian activist and journalist killed in Gaza on Friday, said that she will be sailing to Gaza on May with the Free Gaza flotilla.
Prata on Saturday told Italian news sources that “I want to see the Gaza that my son loved and sacrificed for, I want to meet the good people living there that my son Vik always talked about”. She added that Vittorio's work will go on though his friends.Vittorio’s mother added that her son received death threats from a right wing American group on their website two years ago because of his photos published online and the pro Palestinian tattoo he has on his shoulder.

He who endures shall overcome / Roqayah Chamseddine
15 Apr -- I admittedly wept when I heard the news of his murder. I had watched and translated the kidnappers' video via Twitter, wherein a seemingly abused and beaten-up Vittorio was displayed, donning a blindfold. He was stolen, so easily. As if a life had meant nothing to his captors. As if his blood had no value. This is the plight of the men and women who are not Palestinian by blood but by heart; their actions have helped bring attention to the plight of the subjugated and persecuted people of Palestine. He is an honorary Palestinian in this right. As I perused his facebook page for a picture I came across a poem by Mahmoud Darwish which he had cited under “about me” and it has much more meaning now, in death, than it could have before. Passport  by Mahmoud Darwish:  They did not recognize me in the shadows / That suck away my color in this Passport....

VIDEO: London vigil to pay respect to Vittorio Arrigoni

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

VIDEO: Remembering Bassem Abu Rahma
Anarchists against the Wall 17 Apr 2010 -- On April 17th we mark one year to losing Bassem, who we also knew as Pheel. Although he is greatly missed at the village and during every demonstration, his spirit keeps on living with each and every one of us. For this anniversary we decided to share the short film made in his memory.

We honor their memories through the fight for justice / Joseph Dana
Today marks the two year anniversary of the murder of Bassem Abu Rahmah. El Pheel, as he was known to his friends, was killed when an Israeli solider fired a high-velocity tear gas canister directly at his chest from a distance of no more than ten meters. Shai Carmeli-Pollak, the Israeli filmmaker behind Bilin Habibti, has made a moving tribute to Bassem and the Popular Struggle in Bil’in. It is now online for the anniversary of Bassem’s death. During this week of shock and sadness at the brutal murder of Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza, we must honor the other amazing individuals that we have lost in this struggle.

Popular committee planning march to occupied Palestine borders
AMMAN, (PIC) 16 Apr -- The Jordanian popular committee to commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe) announced it was planning a march to the Jordanian borders with occupied Palestine on the 64th anniversary of the Nabka on 15th May. Tawfik Abu Ershaid, the committee's spokesman, said on Friday that the march would pose as a symbolic return of Palestinian refugees to their occupied homeland.

Helen Thomas to address anti-Israel protests during Netanyahu's visit to U.S.
Haaretz 17 Apr -- A series of anti-Israel protests, lectures and meetings are scheduled to coincide with the PM's visit and the AIPAC conference in Washington DC in May; BDS founder meets Friday night with 250 activists calling Israel apartheid state.

Itamar murders

Two teens from West Bank village arrested over Itamar massacre
Haaretz 17 Apr -- Israeli security forces have arrested two teenage residents of the West Bank Arab village of Awarta for allegedly carrying out last month's murder of five family members in the settlement of Itamar, the lifting of a gag order revealed on Sunday. Palestinian students Amjad Awad, 19, and Hakim Awad 18, both admitted to committing the murder ... Shin Bet investigators have at this point not identified the murder as being carried out under the auspices of the Popular Front organization. According to what is currently known, the murders were carried out independently by the two suspects. Six additional Palestinian suspects from Awad were also arrested in connection to the crime, four of whom belong to the same family. The six purportedly aided the two alleged perpetrators in hiding the murder weapon and in suppressing additional evidence.

Israel holds 2 Palestinians over settlement killings
Reuters 17 Apr -- ...Nimrod Aloni, a senior military officer who commanded Israeli troops in the search for suspects in Awarta, said in a conference call the killings were not premeditated but that the brothers were egged on by their own daring."The murders were not planned, they were something that happened when they entered and exited the house twice. They wanted to test their own ability to break into a house and steal a weapon. The killings took place when they went in for a second time," Aloni said. Hakim's mother, Nof, told Reuters by phone that her son was innocent and suggested he may have been pushed into a confession by Israeli questioning. "Maybe my son went crazy as a result of the interrogation or they asked him to sign some paper. My son cannot do such a thing ... They had taken his sister to prison for six days (to pressure him) and they also took me in for two days," she said. Aloni said he had no doubt the killers had been caught, although he did not elaborate on the evidence that had been uncovered other than mentioning the assault rifle found in the two men's possession.

Itamar massacre solved; 2 arrested
Ynet 17 Apr -- ...The first suspect is Hakim Mazen Awad, 18, a high school student whose father was active in the Popular Front terror organization. Awad has a prison record. His uncle, who was killed in clashes with IDF forces in 2003, was involved in a June 2002 terror attack in Itamar, which left five dead. The second suspect, Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, also a student, is affiliated with the Popular Front ... On April 5 and April 10, IDF forces arrested Amjad and Hakim. The investigation into the attack revealed that the two decided to carry out a terror attack and attempted to acquire weapons three days before the March 11 attack.  In order to obtain the weapons they turned to a Popular Front militant in their village, but he refused to acquiesce to their request. And yet, at midday on Friday March 11, they decided that they would go to Itamar that night, armed with knives and carry out the attack. ... Sources familiar with the investigation said the two offered a dispassionate account of the attack, and "a chilling reenactment.",7340,L-4057894,00.html

Awarta stunned over Itamar attack revelation; 'They're just kids'
Ynet 17 Apr -- Awarta village neighbors of two suspects in Itamar massacre stunned by their arrest. Village chief says confessions must have been coerced, demands international probe ... Other villagers didn't try to claim that the two teens weren't involved in the massacre but they received the news with a great deal of sadness. "We're in the stage where we're just trying to digest the details and people here are in complete shock," Samir, a villager told Ynet.,7340,L-4057965,00.html

Family of Awarta teen deny allegations
AWARTA, West Bank (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- The family of one of two teens charged by Israeli forces in the murder of a settler family last month is contesting the allegations, saying 19-year-old Hakim Awwad was too ill to have carried out the gruesome attack. Nouf Awwad told Ma‘an on Sunday, the day reports of the allegations against her son were made public with the lifting of an Israeli gag-order on the case of the slain settlers, that her son was still recovering from a recent surgery, which prevented him from walking long distances and required him to use the toilet every hour. "We have the medical records, he is in unstable health," she said, adding that the family is gathering the papers to present as evidence

Solving the Itamar case does not justify the means the army uses on Palestinians / Noam Sheizaf
17 Apr -- Now that Israel has in custody two people who admitted to committing the murder in Itamar a month ago, I received several comments demanding I “update” my post on Awarta, meaning retract on the allegations in its last few paragraphs. I really don’t see a reason why. Hundreds of Palestinians were arrested and interrogated without due process. Such “investigation” would have never taken place were the suspects Jews. The legal system in the West Bank is purely Apartheid: One law for Jews and another for Arabs. The fact that alleged killers of Palestinians from Itamar were never located is further proof to that matter -- Itamar was never terrorized the way Awarta was. When Awara tactics will be used everywhere - or preferably, when Palestinians enjoy due process - will there be a need to retract.

Political/Diplomatic/International news

Donor states to PA condemn provocative flotillas to Gaza
Haaretz 17 Apr -- The donor states to the Palestinian Authority, which held a conference last week in Brussels, condemned in its concluding statement uncoordinated aid flotillas to Gaza. The conference called on all parties to use land terminals to the Strip and avoid provocations. The statement is signed by the chairman of the conference, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store. A major force behind the clause was intense lobbying from the Israeli delegation to the conference

Abbas eyes French, German help on statehood
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Abbas has told AFP he will visit France next week and Germany in May to seek advice on the creation of a Palestinian state ... "We will ask [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy for his advice," Abbas told AFP, saying he wanted the Europeans' advice about the steps leading to the recognition of a Palestinian state later this year.

Ministers to PM: Present foreign policy in Israel, not US
Ynet 17 Apr -- Prime Minister Netanyahu says his upcoming speech at US Congress is opportunity to 'present political, security principles.' Right-wing ministers demand him to introduce strategy in Israel first,7340,L-4057923,00.html

Druze in Golan rally against Assad
Ynet 16 Apr -- For first time, Druze living in Golan Heights join protests against Syrian government,7340,L-4057638,00.html

Other news

Israeli teen wounded in attack on school bus dies
JERUSALEM  17 Apr -- A hospital official says an Israeli teen critically wounded when an anti-tank rocket fired from Gaza hit a school bus 10 days ago has died. The 16-year-old did not regain consciousness. Inbal Guter, a spokeswoman for Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, says he died Sunday ... The bus dropped off all its passengers except for the teenager minutes before it was hit by the anti-tank rocket from nearby Gaza.

Palestinian support for attacks drops, poll finds
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Apr -- ...The survey conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre found that support for Palestinian "military operations of any kind' against Israel fell from 53.3% in January 2009 to 37.1% in April of this year. Palestinians also showed less support for the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, with 25.4% saying they believed the rockets "are useful in achieving the national goals," down from 50.8% in January 2009. In Gaza, respondents felt more strongly than their West Bank counterparts that the rocket fire was harmful, with 41.5% saying the rockets harmed "Palestinian goals" as compared to 36.8% in the West Bank.

60% of polled Israelis support a new war on Gaza
NAZARETH, (PIC) 17 Apr -- An Israeli opinion poll revealed that 60% of Israelis support a new sweeping attack on the Gaza Strip similar to the 23-day operation Cast Lead of late 2008. The poll conducted by "New Wave" polling institute for the Israel Today newspaper surveyed 400 Hebrew speaking Israelis. The results displayed that only 29.6% opposed such a war. A similar survey conducted last month for the same paper showed that 50.8% were supportive of a new military campaign against Gaza while 38.8% opposed it.

Gaza lawyer elected president of Arab Organization for Human Rights
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr -- Palestinian lawyer and activist Raji Sourani was elected president of the board of trustees of the Arab Organization for Human Rights on Saturday. Sourani was elected to the position at a vote in Cairo on Saturday evening. He is the first Palestinian ever to hold the post.

Analysis / Opinion

Vittorio and Israel's attack on the intellectual intifada / Lauren Booth
17 Apr -- ...The headline ‘Italian peace activist killed by Palestinian extremists’ is an Israeli propagandist's wet dream. A gift as potentially large in its political implications as the now inevitable retraction by the UN of the Goldstone report. Why? Two reasons. firstly, if nothing is done, and fast, Israel will use the momentum of these two machinated events as an excuse to re invade the Gaza Strip under the auspices of ‘terrorism and security’ issues. Secondly, Israeli is seeking to end the growing momentum of the siege-breaking movement and the increasing appeal of the ISM (International Solidarity Movement).

Michael Jansen: Murder of Vittorio Arrigoni
17 Apr -- The question that must be asked about the assassination of Arrigoni is: cui bono? Who benefits? Not the Salafis.  Hamas is certain to strike them with an iron fist. Not Hamas. It has been exposed as having failed to provide security in the strip although Arrigoni’s kidnapping is the first since Hamas took power nearly four years ago. Not Gazans who count on the support given by ISM “internationals” who interpose between Israeli forces and threatened fishermen and farmers and report to the excluded outside world what is taking place in the strip. Foreign activists, who had felt safe among welcoming Palestinians, may now have doubts about their security when they go about their work. Israel, however, can claim that Salafis connected to Al Qaeda – the current bogey-movement of the Western world – are asserting themselves in Gaza and, consequently, the siege and blockade must remain. Israel can also contend that the ostracism of Hamas, which has, allegedly, permitted the Salafis to prosper, must continue. Cui bono can also be asked about the murder of Mer-Khamis, but that is another story.

Lift the blockade on Gaza, talk to Hamas / Yousef Munayyer
17 Apr -- ... I don’t have a solution for the immediate political and diplomatic problems, but I there are a few questions which nobody seems to be asking. Looking back, wasn’t it better to let Hamas enjoy its victory in the 2006 elections? ... Hamas is not ready to abandon the armed struggle and become a political movement -- but when it actually did, the election results were canceled and the political leaders of Hamas put under Israeli arrest. So instead of political confrontation, the fight between Hamas and Fatah became a civil war. Shouldn’t we encourage the politicization of Hamas, as oppose to its militarization, as we do now? Second thought: Isn’t isolating the strip just making Hamas stay in power? This is pretty obvious -- when Gaza is disconnected from the world, and no elections take place, who is there to challenge Hamas? And how exactly could one do so? It seems to me that by isolating Gaza, we are actually making it much easier for Hamas to exercise complete control. If we break Hamas (I’m not sure how this can be done, but still) -- are we going to like those who will replace them? What if it is a group like the Salafi who killed Vittorio? What is there to be lost from talking to Hamas?

The Settler State / Uri Avnery
16 Apr -- ...Some weeks ago I wrote that the problem may not be the annexation of the West Bank by Israel, but the annexation of Israel by the West Bank settlers. Some readers reacted with a chuckle. It looked like a humorous aside. It was not. The time has come to examine this process seriously: Is Israel falling victim to a hostile takeover by the settlers?


Saturday: 4 Iraqis killed, 6 wounded
At least four Iraqis were killed and six more were wounded in light violence. In Baghdad, a policeman was shot to death in Ilam. A bomb targeting an Education Ministry official wounded two bystanders in Karrada. Gunmen wounded a policeman in Kadhimiya. A Washash bombing left two wounded. A federal policeman was killed in a shooting in Saidiya. In Hawija, the body of a Sahwa leader was found several days after he had been kidnapped. Two suspects were arrested in an unrelated event....


Israel chief rabbi says Obama must free Pollard if he wants another term
Haaretz 17 Apr -- The Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, told congregants in a Sabbath sermon that if U.S. President Barack Obama seeks reelection, he must release Jonathan Pollard, Israel Radio reported on Sunday ... Metzger said there was a feeling that many American Jews that had supported Obama in the last election were disappointed in him, in no small part because of Obama's indifference to Pollard.
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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