Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Meanwhile in Palestine

‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ – Barrier Wall choking Palestinian community in birthplace of Christ: On a recent journey to the Holy Land as representatives of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), we witnessed this reality and the unfathomable results it has wrought. Before this trip, the full picture of this crisis was not clear to us. What we hear and read in the U.S. media is too filtered for us to really know the whole truth or to know how much the Palestinians in Bethlehem – and throughout the West Bank and Gaza – are suffering.

4 Hamas members lose resident status: Interior Ministry Roni Bar-On stripped three Hamas legislators and a Hamas minister of their Israeli residency status, even though they live in east Jerusalem, because they refused to resign from their political posts, the state told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch Statement on our November 22 Press Release: We have since concluded that we were wrong, on the basis of the available evidence, to characterize the IDF's planned destruction of the house as an act of war. We recognize that it is important to view the planned destruction of Barud’s house in light of Israel’s longstanding policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sharply increased in Gaza since June, of demolishing houses not as legitimate military targets but as a punitive measure.

Moving on to the next scandal: Peace Now report, which said that close to 40 percent of the land under the control of West Bank settlements is privately owned by Palestinians. The report was based on an official state database that Peace Now leaked. Haaretz was the only Israeli media outlet that adequately covered the report. The Maariv daily gave a synopsis of the report on page six; Israel Radio announced it in its midday broadcast; and it stayed on various electronic news sites for about a day. The remaining media outlets, including Yedioth Ahronoth, the television stations and Army Radio, completely ignored it.

Meeting between Israeli religious leaders ends with spat over occupation: The founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Abdullah Nimr Darwish, had spent a long time trying to bring the religious leaders together for what was dubbed a "historic meeting," and suggested that the participants meet again on a regular basis in an effort to find a shared basis among the region's various religions. But in yesterday's debate, the religious leaders found it hard to agree on the word "occupation."

Israeli forces besiege Jenin area while residents were sleeping or praying, kill three Palestinians:
Israeli forces raided several home in the western town of Al Salh Harithiya in search of the “wanted” Wednesday morning. These types of pre-dawn raids beg the question, not only of the legitimacy that any Palestinian can legally be arrested by the Israelis as the occupying force, but whether there are any on this so-called “wanted” list.

Israeli Army Assassinates Two More Palestinians in the West Bank: Medical sources identified the two Palestinians killed as Hussam Al Aifie and Salah Fawastah, both were said to be fighters for Al-Quds Brigades which is the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. During the gun fight, an additional two activists were also injured and then abducted by the invading Israeli troops.

Israeli settler Runs over 72-year-old Palestinian man near Bethlehem: Medical sources said that Ahmed Sbeih 72 sustained fractures and cuts all over his body and he was transported to Beit Jala public hospital. Eyewitnesses said that Sbeih was deliberately run over as he was returning home in the village.

Palestinian nonviolent protest at checkpoint as Israeli soldiers beat student:
Eyewitnesses report that an Israeli soldier took the identification of Salem Zayada and suddenly pulled the student to the ground by grabbing ahold of his beard. Soldiers drug the young man behind a barrier where seven soldiers beat him. Hundreds of Palestinians were shouting to stop as they disembarked from their cars while Israeli soldiers trained their machine guns on the people. A nonviolent protest ensued with residents shouting for justice while beginning a sit-in.

Officer, soldier suspended over killing of Palestinian girl: In response to the incident B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, demanded the IDF immediately publish its rules of engagement, in wake of the girl's death. The soldier who opened fire at the girl was also suspended until the conclusion of an investigation by the Military Police.

Israeli Army Abducts Eight Palestinian Men During Morning Invasion in the West Bank: In Nablus city, also in the north of the West Bank, Israeli Army Forces invaded the city and the nearby Askar refugee camp, searched several homes, and took Wajdi Al-Affouri, 25, Mohammed Al-Mansi, 23, and Zekki Al-Tashtoush, 19, to unknown destinations, eyewitnesses reported.

Misuse of Weapons by Armed Groups and Security Personnel: PCHR is gravely concerned for the increasing number of casualties resulting from the misuse of weapons by armed groups and security personnel, which is part of the state of security chaos and misuse of weapons. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian National Authority, represented by the Attorney-General, to investigate such attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

PA sources: Olmert and Abbas to meet in coming days: A meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is expected to take place in the coming days, Palestinian sources said yesterday, although in Israel a date has not been confirmed.

Olmert: No good reason why I shouldn't meet with Abbas: "If it's possible to make him happy and make me happy, then I can't see a reason not to do it, and hope that it will happen very soon," Olmert said during a press conference in Jerusalem with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Sources: Israel may release tax funds to Abbas: A senior Palestinian source told Ynet Wednesday that significant progress has been made in the talks regarding Israel's transfer of millions of dollars in withheld Palestinian tax funds to President Mahmoud Abbas. The move could bolster him in the run-up to elections over his Hamas rivals, the source said.

US compensation lawsuit against Ya'alon dropped: Ya'alon served as head of IDF Intelligence at the time. Justice Paul Freidman ruled that the bombing of Qana was an official government act and that Ya'alon, acting in his official capacity as an IDF officer, cannot be held personally accountable in a US court.

Expelled Jordanian gets visa to see son in Bnei Brak: A Jordanian of Palestinian origin who married an Israeli Jewish woman in 2003 and was deported the following year, was recently issued a visa that will allow him to see his three-year-old son for the first time in two years. The child is being raised by his mother in Bnei Brak as an observant Jew. About a month ago the father, Bashar Idris, 35, arranged to see his son, with the aid of Family Court.

Asia-Africa Countries to Assist Palestine: Assistance to Palestine is expected to be able to provide moral support and human resources development so that in the future Palestinian leaders can bring prosperity to their people. Palestinian ambassador Fariz Nefa Mehdawi, who also attended the meeting, expressed his gratitude and promised to maximize the aid in improving Palestine in the future.

On the New Book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”; Carter's apartheid charge rings true: Israel maintains two sets of rules and regulations in the West Bank: one for Jews, one for non-Jews. The only thing wrong with using the word "apartheid" to describe such a repugnant system is that the South African version of institutionalized discrimination was never as elaborate as its Israeli counterpart -- nor did it have such a vocal chorus of defenders among otherwise liberal Americans.

US threatening Hamas rule, says Haniyeh: "There was a direct decision to bring down this government and make it collapse, and the Americans are behind this policy," Mr Haniyeh said in a speech on Palestinian television. His words came only a day after Tony Blair travelled to Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, to give his backing to Mr Haniyeh's rival, the Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas. Mr Abbas issued a challenge to Hamas on Saturday when he called for early presidential and parliamentary elections.

Reiterating the keys to peace: As recommended by the Hamilton-Baker report, renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are a prime factor in promoting peace in the region. The report also recommended peace talks with Syria concerning the Golan Heights. Both recommendations have been rejected by Israel's prime minister. It is practically impossible for bitter antagonists to arrange a time, place, agenda and procedures that are mutually acceptable, so an outside instigator or promoter is necessary.

There is still another way for Palestine: Days of interfactional violence, following Abbas' speech in which he threatened to call new elections (something most legal experts agree he does not have the authority to do), claimed at least seven lives. A shaky truce continued to be violated, and the events of the past week have provided a terrifying glimpse of what may yet await Palestinians if Abbas decides to continue on his disastrous path.

O.K. from a declining America?: Amos Oz, for example, joined them yesterday. And it is not true that Olmert has no agenda. He has a full agenda, stuffed to bursting with "no"s. No, to Syria, following his no to talking with the Palestinian leadership, no to removing outposts that laugh at the law, no to any measures that would reduce the suffering of the entire population in the Gaza Strip, no and no again to changing the prime minister's arrogant style.

Missing the forest for the trees: Four months have gone by since the finale of the second Lebanon war: a salvo of 250 Hezbollah rockets against northern Israel on the last day, signaling victory by a few thousand Hezbollah fighters against the Israel Defense Forces. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's tactic of stubbornly refusing to set up a state commission of inquiry to investigate the mistakes that led to this defeat has so far worked in his favor.

Peretz approves zero tolerance policy along northern border: Amir Peretz on Tuesday agreed with a recommendation by senior Israel Defense Forces officers that Israel should respond harshly to Hezbollah provocation along the Israel-Lebanon border. Such provocation includes throwing rocks at IDF patrols, holding protests near the border and hanging Hezbollah flags along the fence - moves that IDF General Staff and Northern Command officials say are meant to test Israeli policy in the wake of last summer's Lebanon war.

Worse Than Apartheid: The question is not whether Israel practices apartheid. Apartheid is a fond dream for most Palestinians. The awful question is rather will Israel be able to unleash a policy so draconian and cruel that it will obliterate a community that has lived on this land for centuries.

US weapons prompt Hamas arms race?: The United States for the past few days has been providing arms to militant groups from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party to bolster it against rival Hamas factions, WND has learned.

Tanya Reinhart: The Road Map to Nowhere – Israel/Palestine since 2003: In the present political atmosphere in the US and Europe, anybody who expresses criticism of Israel’s policies is immediately silenced as an anti-Semite.

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