and other news from Today in Palestine:
The Cemeteries of Numbers
Barak stops transfer of Palestinian bodies to PA at last minute
Haaretz 5 July 00:26 — Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered to stop the transfer of the bodies of 84 Palestinian terrorists to the Palestinian Authority at the last minute on Monday, despite earlier confirmation from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office that the transfer would go through. Barak made his decision to hold off on the transfer after a Haaretz report revealed that two of the bodies to be returned to the PA were the Awadallah brothers, former leaders of the Hamas military wing, who were killed by Israeli soldiers near Hebron in September 1998. The defense minister explained his decision, saying it was important to weigh the repercussions of such a transfer on a future Shalit deal.
Israel confirms deal to hand over Palestinian bodies kept since 1967
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July 22:17 — Israel has approved the transfer of 84 bodies from a Jordan Valley “cemetery of enemy combatants” to the Palestinian Authority, officials said Monday … Earlier Monday, Palestinian Authority Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Ash-Sheikh told Ma‘an that Israel had agreed to return the bodies of Palestinian fighters killed since 1967 to their families. Until now Israel had refused to return the bodies to their families. The deceased have been kept in what Israel calls “enemy fighters’ cemeteries,” known to Palestinians as “cemeteries of numbers.” But Ash-Sheikh told Ma‘an radio on Monday that the two sides came to an agreement to release the bodies following “long and arduous negotiations” with Israeli authorities.
The ministry released a list of 84 Palestinians whose bodies would be returned. [one died in 1936!] Their identities have been confirmed by Palestinian forensic experts. Most of those listed were young men killed in their teens or early 20s, many of them during the Second Intifada, or uprising. Of those to be returned, Amir Ali Abdullah was the youngest when he was killed aged 15 in Tel Aviv in 2004. The bodies of four Palestinian women are among those to be returned. President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials will attend a farewell ceremony for the deceased, and the bodies will be returned to their families, Ash-Sheikh explained. The government will arrange to deliver the bodies to other countries where necessary, he added. Ash-Sheikh said 102 bodies were yet to be identified, but forensic experts would be sent to cemeteries in Israel to perform DNA tests. The bodies would be delivered as soon as they were identified, he said.
VIDEO: Israel’s secret cemeteries
France 24 — 24 Oct 2010 — For 60 years the Israeli Army have confiscated the bodies of Palestinian and Arab fighters. The corpses are kept in secret cemeteries and given identification numbers. The Palestinians call these cemeteries “Makaber el Arkam” the cemeteries of numbers.
Land, property, culture theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Israel pushes on with settlement plans on annexed land
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 4 July — Israel’s Jerusalem municipality approved a plan on Monday to build hundreds of new homes for Jews on annexed land in the occupied West Bank, a council member said. Elisha Peleg told Reuters that Jerusalem city planning commission had approved building plans for 900 new units in Gilo, an urban settlement built on land Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem.
Israeli government to build hundreds more settlement units
TEL AVIV (WAFA) 4 July – The Israeli government has decided to build hundreds of new residential units in illegal settlements throughout the West Bank, according to Israeli TV Channel 10 on Sunday. Israeli TV said the Ministry of Housing will soon issue bids to build hundreds of additional housing units in Beitar Elit, Karnei Shomron, Gush Etzion, Ariel, Kiryat Sefer and Ma’ale Adumim settlements in the West Bank. According to the channel, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was behind this settlement-building decision before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reduced his authority in matters relating to settlement activity.
Ministry: Israel name change initiative aimed at erasing Palestine’s identity
GAZA (PIC) 4 July — The Gaza Ministry of Justice has said the Israel initiative to convert the names of Arab cities into Hebrew names is derived from a series of steps to erase the Arab identity of the region. Israel has been working under the premise that “the old will die, and the young will forget,” the ministry said in a statement on Sunday. On Sunday, the Knesset approved of the Israeli government’s formation of a committee designed to Judaize the names of Palestinian towns and historic sites and change them to Hebrew names. “These crimes are just as serious and criminal as shedding the blood of innocent people, which the Zionists have become used to, because the theft of heritage and erasure of identity and destruction of cultural landmarks is deemed a prosecutable crime in international law not waived by the statute of limitations and not by changing the place’s features,” the justice ministry said.
Israel blocks Adhan broadcasting
Press TV 4 July — Israel has blocked the broadcast of Adhan (the Islamic call to prayer) from the holy Ibrahimi (Abrahamic) Mosque in the occupied West Bank. Zaid al-Jabari, director of the Muslim Waqf (endowment) in the West Bank city of al-Khalil, said on Sunday that Israeli authorities prevented the holy site from broadcasting the Adhan, claiming that it disturbed the settlers of the occupied region, the independent English daily Youm7 reported. Al-Jabari condemned the “racist” move by Israeli officials, considering it “an encroachment on the divine religions.” … In April, Israeli authorities prevented the mosque from broadcasting the Adhan 68 times, according to al-Jabari.
Alarming rise in clashes between settlers and Palestinians in West Bank
Haaretz 5 July — The IDF is alarmed by the increase in clashes in the West Bank between Palestinian villagers and settlers in nearby outposts and by the growing harassment of senior army officers and civil servants by right-wing extremists. The commanders are concerned that the situation may deteriorate even further with the diplomatic crisis looming in September when Palestinians make their bid for UN recognition.
Hundreds of settlers attack citizens’ homes in Nablus village
NABLUS (PIC) 4 July — Hundreds of Jewish settlers attacked the homes of Palestinian citizens in Assira Al-Qabaliya village, south of Nablus, on Sunday night, local sources said.
They added that more than 500 settlers attacked the villages under protection of the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and threw stones at the houses breaking the windows of many of them. Witnesses said that the inhabitants retaliated throwing stones at the attackers, adding that the IOF soldiers intervened and fired rubber bullets and gas canisters at the Palestinian citizens
Jewish settlers set on fire hundreds of Palestinian olive trees
NABLUS (PIC) 4 July — Jewish settlers torched hundreds of Palestinian olive trees south of Nablus on Sunday night, local sources said. They said that tens of settlers from Itamar settlement attacked the olive fields of Aqraba village and set them on fire, destroying 450 trees including 150 that are hundreds of years old.
Over 1,000 Israelis enter Nablus overnight
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 July — Over 1,000 Israelis entered the West Bank city of Nablus overnight Sunday to visit Joseph’s Tomb, witnesses and the army said. Locals said Israeli forces imposed heavy restrictions on the site, where some believe the biblical figure Joseph was buried. Dozens of Israeli soldiers were deployed to the area and Huwwara checkpoint was closed, they said. An Israeli military spokesman said forces coordinated the visit of 1,000 Israelis on around 20 buses. Witnesses said over 1,000 Israelis prayed at the site until Monday morning. The Israeli news site Ynet reported that settlers asked the Israeli army to allow 40 buses to visit the tomb, in occupied Palestinian territory. The report said the army refused due to fears that the settlers would barricade themselves in the tomb, as they have done on previous visits.
‘Rightists attacked IDF commander’s car’
Ynet 4 July — Settlers claim activists kicked vehicle belonging to Judea and Samaria Division head in Tapuach Junction, drove him away from entrance to Nablus where hundreds visited Joseph’s Tomb
Face to face with an Israeli warship / Al-Samarrai
Mondoweiss 4 July — Charcoal smoke snaked above the horizon about one mile into the distance as we saw an Israeli warship steaming towards a cluster of six hasaka - or fishing- boats. We edged ever-closer to the hasaka boats, stopping only to radio in to our base office, updating them on the confrontation that was unfolding ahead … Four times a week, the Civil Peace Service (CPS) Gaza leaves the port of Gaza to join local fishermen as they spend their mornings trawling the 3 nautical miles searching for fish. The Civil Peace Service exists to monitor and document human rights violations. That day — July 3 — one fishing boat was shot at, with two young fishermen aboard. They were only two miles away from the shore.
From the sea to the pond / Eva Bartlett
SHEIK RAJLEEN, GAZA (IPS) 4 July — “Farmed fish are now better than sea fish in Gaza. They shouldn’t be, but because of the sewage in Gaza’s sea and the Israeli fishing restrictions, farmed fish are cleaner and healthier than sea fish.” Sohail Ekhail has a point. The 38-year-old marine engineer and sea captain is one of the pioneers of the aquaculture industry in Gaza. Coming from a scientific background, he speaks of the current advantages of aquaculture in the Strip. “It is almost impossible for our fishermen to fish in the sea, so fish farms provide another source of salt water fish.”
IOF soldiers detain 300 citizens in June
GAZA (PIC) 4 July — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained 300 Palestinians and foreign activists in the West Bank over the past month of June including 36 children, the ministry of prisoners in Gaza said on Monday. Riyadh Al-Ashqar, the ministry’s spokesman, said that among the detained were four women, four lawmakers, and 15 foreign solidarity activists. He said that the IOF troops launched 572 raids on various West Bank areas, adding that among those detained was Mansour Hamdan who served 25 years in Israeli captivity
The Israeli military arrested 50 civilians from Hebron in June
Hebron (PNN) 4 July — Amjad al-Majar, Director of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Hebron, Southern West Bank, announced on Monday that during the month of June 2011 Israel has arrested 50 prisoners among them people diagnosed with chronic illnesses. According to the report seven of those arrested are children under the age of 12, another 10 are high school students. Al-Majar said that among those arrested were Tamir Al-Atrash who suffers from lung cancer and Nasser Al-Hourob who has Hepatitis C. The Prisoners Society noted that all the arrested from Hebron were taken based on testimonies by soldiers and settlers and military quotes have given them unjustified sentences and high bail amounts which total 65,000 NIS.
IOF troops arrest two brothers in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 4 July — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested two Palestinian minors in the village of Housan, west of Bethlehem, at dawn Monday and took them to an unknown destination. Local sources said that the IOF soldiers burst into the home of Ahmed Z’aul and arrested his two sons Ayub, 15, and Saad, 17, after searching the house.
The soldiers broke into a house in Doheisha refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and detained its owner for a while before telling him that his son should report to the intelligence center in Etzion.
Other IOF units stormed the village of Iraq Burin, southwest of Nablus, after closing its entrances and burst into many houses and took photos of young men in front of their homes, locals said.
IOF soldiers stormed the village of Shaqba west of Ramallah on Sunday night and broke into many houses, witnesses said, noting that the storming of the village was repeated over the past few days and that many former prisoners and students were summoned for questioning.
Soldiers detain 3 Palestinians at Nablus checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 July — Israeli forces on Monday detained three Palestinians at Zatara checkpoint south of Nablus. Palestinian officials identified those detained as Adham Libbada, Raghib Shihab and Ayman Makhlouf. An Israeli military spokesman said they were “wanted for questioning.”
PA: Revoking prisoners’ rights may lead to clash
Ynet 4 July — Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs, Issa Kraka, expressed concern Monday that revoking the privileges of Palestinians detained in Israel might trigger a confrontation in the West Bank. “The prisoners might rebel against the new regulations and start a hunger strike that will cause agitation on the streets,” Kraka said during a meeting in Ramallah. “A widespread protest can nullify the efforts made by the security arms to establish order in the Authority. It might set us two steps back.”
Activism / Solidarity
Israel readies for pro-Palestinian airport protest
JERUSALEM (AFP) 4 July — Israel was making intense preparations on Monday to foil plans by hundreds of activists to flood Israel’s Ben Gurion international airport on Friday in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to coordinate all law enforcement and aviation authorities, said a statement from Netanyahu’s office. Israeli media reported that flights landing on Friday from Europe would be taken to a separate terminal and all passengers carefully screened.
Video: Ni‘lin village demonstrates in solidarity with the Freedom Flotilla Two – Stay Human
Ni‘lin Sons 2 July — …From the beginning, Ni‘lin village has stood and protested peacefully in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza strip. On 27.12.2008, two of Ni‘lin’s sons were brutally killed by the Israeli occupation forces while protesting non-violently in solidarity with Gaza. Another one was shot in the leg. Despite the inevitable Israeli violence, today the West Bank village of Ni‘lin demonstrated in solidarity with Freedom Flotilla Two. The demonstration was organized by Ni’lin popular committee against the apartheid wall and joint by the people of Ni‘lin together with a number of international peace activists … Ibrahim Amireh, coordinator of Ni‘lin’s popular, declared that the people of Ni‘lin and the West Bank are now more rock solid in their support for their beleaguered Gazan sisters and brothers than ever and will remain so.
Quarry staff determined on 19th day of strike
Morning Star 4 July — Palestinian workers employed at a quarry in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank maintained strike action for a 19th day today to press their demands for basic employment rights and improved pay … Workers’ committee member Nihaz Qaddha said: “We don’t want to harm the quarry, we don’t want to strike. “We are just asking for what we are legally entitled to.”
Flotilla (see also Analysis / Opinion)
July 4th update (with instructions)
ustogaza — We want to give you all a quick round up of several items related to the U.S. Boat to Gaza and the flotilla. But first….Given the tremendous obstacles placed in the way of the flotilla we should not for a moment think this work has been in vain. Just the opposite. We have called greater attention to the urgent need to end the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza, as well as the overall occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The lengths to which the Israeli government has gone to stop the boats only expose the real story: they are determined to hold on to their repressive, inhuman and illegal policies at any cost. Israel has outsourced its naval blockade of Gaza to Greece.
Gaza-bound ship damaged after attempt to flee Greece
Athens, Greece (CNN) 4 July — One of the ships in a Gaza-bound flotilla blocked by Greece tried to flee on Monday and was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard. Greece called for the immediate arrest of the ship’s captain, but organizers on the ship insisted they no longer had a captain. In a tweet, organizers said “extreme damage” was done to the Canadian ship, the Tahrir. “When commandeered & towed by Greek Coast Guard it was slammed into a concrete wall,” the tweet said, adding that the ship was “taking on water.” The Tahrir was brought to the port of Agios Nikolaos on the Greek island of Crete.
Gaza-bound Tahrir crew warned ship may be in danger / Amira Hass
Haaretz 5 July 01:55 — The steering committee of the “Tahrir”, a Canadian ship set to take part in the upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla told Haaretz early Tuesday that there is reason to believe that further harm will be done to their vessel. The Canadian ship attempted to depart from the Greek port of Agios Nikolaos on Monday, however it was intercepted the Greek coast guard shortly after departure. No violence was reported during the takeover of the ship … The Canadian vessel is currently without electrical power and has not been authorized to restart its generator that is in working order. The lack of power prevents those on board the Tahrir from using sanitary facilities or refrigeration, and they remain without lighting for security.
UN cheers, Palestinians dismiss a Greek offer to ship aid to Gaza
(CNN) 3 July — Days after blocking a Gaza-bound flotilla, Greece’s government offered Sunday to ship aid to the Palestinian territory — a move applauded by the U.N. chief but derided as insufficient by protest organizers and Palestinian authorities … That same day, Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis talked by phone with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. chief “thanked” the Greek official and “expressed support for the Greek initiative,” according to a statement from the United Nations … However, one Palestinian official, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, said that funneling food, cement and other goods via other means, such as Greek ships, missed the point, which he said is to “immediately lift, not ease” Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza. He lauded those behind the flotilla as people “who have dedicated their time, effort and passion for a just cause.” “The situation in Gaza is not about border crossings,” Erakat said Sunday in a statement. “It is about the illegally denied and internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people to dignity, freedom and self-determination.”
’30 captains’ on intercepted Canadian boat to Gaza
ATHENS, Greece (AFP) 4 July — Thirty pro-Palestinian activists on a Canadian boat bound for Gaza that was stopped out of a Greek port Monday for breaking a ban, defied authorities by claiming they had all captained the ship. Greek coastguards halted the Canadian vessel Tahrir about 10 minutes after it left port on the island of Crete Monday afternoon with some 40 people on board, organisers said. “We have been boarded by about 15 armed special forces,” David Heap of the Canadian Boat to Gaza organization said by phone from the vessel. “I’m being blocked by a man with a machine gun,” he said over the noise of shouting from passengers he said were being pushed around. “We are not using force back,” he added. The Tahrir, which was carrying activists from Canada, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey, was forced to turn back to Aghios Nikolaos port in Crete, as Heap and others shouted, “We have to go to Gaza. Let us pass!” It had sailed without a captain in the hope of avoiding a severe legal repercussions.
Canadian boat forced back to shore after attempt to sail to Gaza – report and pictures / Ali Abunimah
EI blog 4 July — The Canadian Boat to Gaza, the “Tahrir,” attempted to set sail for the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip today from the port of Agios Nikolaos, on the Greek island of Crete, but was quickly intercepted and boarded by the Greek Coast Guard. Despite nonviolent resistance, the Greek Coast Guard took control of the boat and it was towed back to port.
Israeli organizations support Freedom Flotilla to Gaza
Jerusalem (PNN) 4 July — A group of Israeli peace organizations have announced their support for the flotilla to Gaza in a statement issued today, in which they call the flotilla a “courageous act of political protest.” The organizations, including Gush Shalom, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and many others, said that “We, Israeli organizations, Jews and Arabs, full-heartedly support Freedom Flotilla’s aim of sailing to the Port of Gaza with the proclaimed goals of breaking through the sea and land siege and blockade of Gaza.” The Israeli organizations also condemn Israel’s “campaign of slander” against the activists on board the participating boats,
Mystery deepens over the flotilla on the rocks / Catrina Stewart
Independent 4 July — The many mishaps that have befallen 10 ships heading for Gaza have triggered accusations of Israeli dirty tricks … This year’s flotilla hit problems when an Israeli legal centre mounted legal challenges against boats in the convoy, declaring them unseaworthy and delaying their departure. Campaigners on the Irish ship Saoirse and Scandinavian boat Juliano then reported extensive damage to their propeller shafts, blaming saboteurs. Meanwhile, several of the activists said they were mugged and their mobile phones stolen, raising suspicions that somebody was trying to monitor their activities. Others said they noticed people filming them on iPhones as they left their Athens hotel. Then there was the case of the fishermen loitering in oily water without buckets or bait. “Even without a background in intelligence, the delegates have concluded that the strange fishermen have more to do with the flotilla than with fish,” wrote a reporter on Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. A French TV crew, meanwhile, reported somebody had broken into their hotel room, damaging satellite equipment and hacking their computers. “It might just be an unconnected crime,” Agence France-Presse quoted the producer as saying. “But it seems a bizarre coincidence that someone should go to the effort of riddling our Macintosh computer with viruses.”
Racism / Discrimination / Incitement
MK Tibi’s ‘Nakba denier’ bill rejected
Ynet 4 July — The Knesset presidium rejected on Monday a bill by MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) calling for the withholding of funds from organizations and authorities that deny the ‘Nakba’ – a Palestinian day of mourning for the establishment of the State of Israel. The presidium debate focused on an appeal made by MKs Danny Danon (Likud) and Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu), who demanded that the bill be rejected offhand by the presidium, without reaching the Knesset for a vote. It was the first time in seven years that the presidium, charged with accepting or rejecting urgent proposals, had made such a call. Five of its members were in favor, and three opposed. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin joined MK Danny Danon (Likud) in claiming that the bill negates Israel’s existence.
Ministers and general to honor rabbi charged with incitement / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 4 July — Dov Lior, whose detainment caused riots, will receive an award in the presence of two ministers and an active duty general … The ministers will be Eli Yishai, the ultra-Orthodox Interior Minister, and Moshe ‘Boogie’ Ya’alon, the Minister for Strategic Threats. Ya’alon will also be the guest of honor … Aside from them, also present will be Major General Avi Mizrahi, head of Israeli Central Command. What is an active-duty general doing in a ceremony honoring the rabbi who inspires the rabble who then attacks his soldiers on a regular basis, and who advocates the murder of Palestinians, which Mizrahi – as part of his duties – is expected to protect?
Hundreds in Jerusalem protest arrest of senior rabbis
Haaretz 4 July — Two top rabbis briefly detained for questioning for their endorsement of book which justifies killing of non-Jews; Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, says arrests have awakened rightist activists.
62%: Rabbi Lior’s arrest – right move
Ynet 4 July — Ynet-Gesher survey shows 77% of seculars, 57% of traditional Jews support law enforcement authorities’ decision to detain rabbi for incitement, while 94% of haredim and 80% of religious Jews say it was wrong
Political / Diplomatic / International news
Israel, Greece mark growing ties with joint air force drill
Haaretz 4 July — Israel’s Air Force on Monday concluded a two-week drill with the Hellenic Air Force as the two nations cemented growing ties between their militaries, recently reflected in Greece’s recent move to halt a Gaza-bound flotilla set to depart from its shores.
Barak on Turkey: Let’s put past behind us
Ynet 4 July – Defense Minister Ehud Barak hinted Monday that reconciliation with Turkey is drawing near, saying that Israel is very interested in “putting the past behind us.” “Turkey is a very important nation, one of four key nations in the region, besides Israel, of course,” Barak said during an Independence Faction meeting at the Knesset. “As our ties with the Saudis are strained, in fact we have no ties, our relationship with Iran is hostile, we have peaceful ties with Egypt but it is undergoing difficult changes – it is our priority to iron out the difficulties with Turkey.”
Israel, Turkey scramble to reach compromise on UN Gaza flotilla report
Haaretz 4 July — Three days before a UN report on last year’s deadly flotilla raid is due, Israeli and Turkish officials were engaged in feverish behind-the-scenes diplomacy in an effort to mend the bilateral ties that ruptured after the death of nine passengers aboard a Turkish ship.
Report: Turkey asked to use Hamas ties
Ynet 4 July — Turkish newspaper report suggests US senators asked Erdoğan to play role in efforts to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bring Hamas to negotiating table
Palestinians set up diplomatic war room ahead of September vote on statehood
Haaretz 4 July — The Palestinian Authority has a plan for diplomatic counterattack to Israel’s efforts to foil recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations General Assembly in September, according to internal Foreign Ministry documents. Ahead of the fateful vote, Israel and the PA are scrambling for every vote, even in the most distant corners of the world. Until two months ago, the Palestinian leadership believed it was going to score an easy diplomatic victory at the UN. However, the Foreign Ministry’s campaign against the Palestinian effort, first reported by Haaretz weeks ago, bore significant fruit and created momentum to counter the Palestinian move – with the United States, Germany, Italy and Canada announcing publicly they would vote against recognition of a Palestinian state in the General Assembly.
Mideast Quartet to meet July 11
WASHINGTON (AFP) 3 July — Envoys from the Middle East diplomatic Quartet will meet in Washington on July 11, a senior US official said Saturday, ahead of a Palestinian bid to seek UN recognition of their state in September. The United States had hesitated for months over organizing the meeting before securing substantial progress towards a return to negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israeli, Palestinian security forces take precautions to avoid September violence
AP 3 July — Both sides say region is headed into uncharted waters if Palestinians follow through on pledge to turn to the United Nations … For now, Israeli and Palestinian officials said they do not want – or expect – armed hostilities to resume. But both sides fear that one small incident could quickly spin out of control.
Bardawil: Abbas froze reconcilation in response to American-Israeli pressure
GAZA (PIC) 4 July — Hamas leader Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil has charged that PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas had frozen the national reconciliation agreement due to American and Israeli pressures. He told Quds Press that Abbas’s insistence on Salam Fayyad for the post of premier of the transitory government was only a cover meant to conceal his acceptance of American-Israeli pressures to backtrack on the reconciliation agreement. Bardawil said that Abbas was looking for any trivial reason to halt the reconciliation process, opining that any mediation to convince Abbas to complete the reconciliation process would not succeed without an American-Israeli green light.
Video: Egypt gas pipeline hit by explosion
Reuters 4 July — Saboteurs blew up a pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan on Monday, forcing a shutdown in the flow of gas, Egyptian security sources said. Officials in Israel later told Ynet that the pipeline is internal and does not lead to Israel. They said the gunmen did not touch the pipe leading to Israel or the one next to it, which leads to Jordan. They noted that the gas flow will be restarted later Monday or Tuesday … It was the third attack since early February on the pipeline, which supplies natural gas to Israel and Jordan, local cement plants and a power station.
Rights group condemns dispersal of protests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 July — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on Monday condemned measures taken by the government in Ramallah against activities organized by the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement a day earlier.
OPT: Capoeira to ease child trauma
WEST BANK (IRIN) 4 July — Shu‘fat refugee camp, in an Arabic neighbourhood of East Jerusalem in the occupied Palestinian territory, is a difficult place for a child to grow up in. “The area has very few opportunities for kids to do constructive and positive things,” said Isaac Heinrich, project manager for an NGO called Bidna Capoeira. “It is dirty [and] just outside the camp school they burn garbage while the kids are in class… The camp is right on the border with Israel, and half of it is encircled by the wall. The level of violence is high, and the threat from outside feels overwhelming.” It is here that Bidna Capoeira started a project in March to help children overcome trauma by learning capoeira, an age-old Afro-Brazilian martial art.
Israeli ministry enlisting frontline rabbis
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 4 July — The Israeli military is mustering battlefield rabbis in what it calls a campaign to promote religious values in its frontline ranks. The move, announced in the latest issue of the military’s official weekly magazine, Bamahane, drew fire on Monday from one of Israel’s most popular newspaper columnists, who cautioned against creating a “God’s Army.”
Report: Israel’s hospitals are most crowded in the West
Haaretz 4 July — Medical centers in Israel at average of 96.3 percent occupancy, well above OECD average of 75.9 percent, but average length of stay among lowest … The overall ratio of hospital beds in Israel continues to be low (two beds per 1,000 people ), with only Finland (1.8 ) and Mexico (1.6 ) in a worse situation.
Rabbi promotes ‘modesty wounds’
Ynet 4 July — Girls should hurt their legs if parents won’t let them wear long skirts, rabbi says
Analysis / Opinion
Inside Story: Outsourcing the Gaza blockade
AJE 4 July — Is Greece helping Israel enforce the siege by banning the Freedom Flotilla 2 from leaving its ports? — Inside Story, with presenter Sohail Rahman, discusses with guests: Huwaida Arraf, the chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement International Flotilla Committee; Akiva Eldar, the chief political correspondent for Haaretz newspaper; and Mustapha Barghouthi, the general-secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday, July 3, 2011.
The Flotilla embodies the Arab Spring spirit / Yousef Munayyer
AJE 4 July — As governments sit by idly, civilians from multiple countries challenge Israel’s unjust occupation of Gaza … When fundamentally unjust situations are left unaddressed by states, the people must step in. That is precisely what happened in Tahrir square when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Egyptians lost all faith in the government’s ability to reform. That is also precisely what drives the flotilla and the activists aboard it. They have watched as the collective punishment of 1.5 million civilians lingers with no objections coming from states that can change the situation. In fact, the siege of Gaza has been supported by Israel, the United States and Mubarak’s Egypt (though post-Mubarak Egypt promises to be different).
America’s response to the Gaza flotilla brings shame on the Founders / Ray McGovern
AlterNet 4 July — Yes, that was I standing before the U.S. Embassy in Athens on the eve of the July Fourth weekend holding the American flag in the distress mode — upside down. Indignities experienced by me and my co-guests on “The Audacity of Hope,” the American boat to Gaza, over the past ten days in Athens leave no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama’s administration has forfeited the right to claim any lineage to the brave Americans who declared independence from the king of England 235 years ago.
Haaretz editorial: The blockade is the problem
4 July — The economic pressure of the blockade has not brought about moderation in Hamas’ positions, and stopping protesters en route to Gaza will not change the military balance — All signs indicate that the government of Israel has taken steps to receive the present Gaza flotilla in a manner much more systematic than last year’s actions. Instead of relying entirely on the use of force, diplomatic measures were taken this time, and friendly states, first and foremost Greece, mobilized to help Israel and hampered the flotilla’s departure. This diplomatic action proved that there are alternatives less violent than Israel’s predilection for discharging armed soldiers to suppress civilian protests. Yet the industriousness and creativity which Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have displayed merely underscore the folly that serves as the foundation of their policy.
Setting sail on Gaza’s Sea of Spin / Ethan Bronner
NY Times 2 July — Some see a parallel with the Exodus, the ship filled with Jewish refugees that tried to break the British blockade of Palestine in 1947 and helped sway world opinion toward Zionism. Others are struck by the insistence on transporting basic aid — food and cement — when it is no longer needed. Still others note the way the Israeli authorities portray the organizers as violent Islamists when most are middle-aged European pacifists. Almost everything about the flotilla stuck in Greece and waiting to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza seems to be a parable for something else, part of an unstated effort to recast the Israeli-Palestinian narrative in extreme terms. Instead of helping to clarify what Gaza needs and how it might build a future, the saga has merely brought out the public relations demons on all sides.
This Fourth of July, Israel-American kinship is thin on the ground / Barak Ravid
Haaretz 4 July — The warm words Netanyahu bestows upon the U.S. cannot mask the fact that there is very little trust left between the two countries … There is a reason that these days there is a cynical remark being uttered around Washington – “For the U.S., Israel has been turned lately from an asset to a pain in the ass-et.” Netanyahu’s speech in Congress a few weeks ago and the friction with President Obama a few days before destroyed the little trust the White House still had for the Israeli prime minister. Israeli officials who maintain close ties with the administration speak of a deep frustration over Israel’s policy, in particular as the Palestinian vote on statehood at the UN nears.
Dancing in a Palestinian bubble / Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH (IPS) 3 July — It’s Thursday night, the beginning of the weekend in the Muslim world, and time to party and let one’s hair down in Ramallah, the occupied West Bank’s isolated bubble and de facto capital … Ramallah is the de facto political (and some say playboy) capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in light of Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem. It is home to a fairly large expatriate community of NGO and other aid workers, foreign political activists, foreign diplomats and many U.S. educated Palestinian- Americans who returned following the1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
A preacher’s arrest shows the UK can be led by the nose / Jonathan Cook
The National 4 July — He is an Islamic “preacher of hate” whose views reflect “virulent anti-Semitism” and who has funded Hamas terror operations, according to much of the British media. The furore last week over Sheikh Raed Salah, described by the Daily Mail newspaper as a “vile militant extremist”, goaded the British government into ordering his late-night arrest and a fast-track deportation … The outcry in Britain against Sheikh Salah has shocked Israel’s 1.3-million Palestinian citizens. For them, he is a spiritual leader and head of a respected party, the Islamic Movement. He is also admired by the wider Palestinian public. The secular Fatah movement, including Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, were among those condemning the arrest … Israeli officials detest Sheikh Salah as well, but again not for any alleged racism. His long-running campaign to prevent what he regards as an attempted Israeli takeover of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque compound – part of a wider “Judaisation” programme in the occupied areas of the city – has made him a thorn in their side … The British media and government, meanwhile, have stumbled cluelessly into this domestic Israeli feud, and revealed their own deep prejudices.
The Raed Salah affair in the Arab media
MEMO 3 July — Using the clumsiest of methods, Britain has sleepwalked into a high-profile political imbroglio in its relations with the Palestinian people and the Arab world. At the centre of this putrid mess is the arrest and detention of Shaikh Raed Salah. The Conservative-led coalition government has gone to great lengths to depict him as a “hate preacher” who was able to slip through stringent border surveillance and controls to “threaten the public good” in Britain. Obviously, Home Secretary Theresa May did not bank on facing escalating diplomatic and legal fallout from her banning and deportation order. As the right-wing British press bayed with self-righteous horror about Salah’s visit (some as much critical of the UK Border Agency’s alleged ineptitude as of Shaikh Salah himself), mainstream newspapers across the Middle East denounced his arrest and possible deportation unanimously as yet another hideous manoeuvre orchestrated by Israel and enacted by its British lackeys.