and other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement
Left slams ‘hallucinatory’ West Bank annexation plan
Ynet 23 Feb — Israel’s Left called a new initiative meant to conquer the prolonged stalemate plaguing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process “hallucinatory” and warned that if adopted it may lead to a binational state. Former Yesha Council Director Naftali Bennett’s plan suggests imposing full Israeli sovereignty over Area C in the West Bank, which constitutes 62% of the territory, unilaterally. Area C is currently under full Israeli security control. “Bennett’s plan is a failed attempt to cut corners and make the occupation more comfortable,” Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer said Thursday. “The initiative is detached from reality; it belongs in the science fiction section of the library.”
High Court reaffirms settlements are integral to Zionism / Haggai Matar
972mag 24 Feb — The High Court of Justice re-validated a law defining the demolition of settlements as “traumatic” – and denying claims that demolition of Palestinian houses is just as bad.
Israeli forces demolish house, water wells
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 Feb – Israeli forces Thursday demolished a Palestinian house and two water wells in Beit Ula, a town northwest of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to a local activist. Coordinator of the popular committee against the wall, Isa al-Omla, told WAFA that a large Israeli force stormed the town and demolished a 50-square-meter house, razing the land around it in addition to two water wells.
Israeli bulldozers raze land, demolish water well
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 Feb – Israeli bulldozers Thursday razed 30 dunums of Palestinian-owned cultivated land and demolished a water well in Surif, a town northwest of Hebron, according to official sources. Surif mayor Mousa al-Sha’er told WAFA that Israeli bulldozers accompanied with soldiers razed 30 dunums, demolished a water well and uprooted more than 750 productive trees including almond and olive trees. Israeli forces claimed that the land was state-owned despite the fact that it is included within the structural plan of the town, added Sha’er.
Army orders construction on houses to stop
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 Feb – The Israeli authorities Thursday issued notices to stop construction work on eight Palestinian houses in the Hebron area village of Surif as a prelude to demolish them under the pretext they were built without permit, according to the Land Research Center (LCR) … Owners said the houses were inhabited and were built 10 years ago.
J’lem construction frozen ahead of PM’s US visit
Ynet 24 Feb — Days before he takes off for Washington DC, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to ensure that there are no causes for embarrassment when he is sitting with Obama in the Oval Office.The prime minister has instructed the Housing Ministry to freeze major building tenders in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 67 borders, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday. At this stage there are 1,575 units on the market – 950 in Gilo and 625 in Pisgat Ze’ev.
Government condemns Israeli plan for Qalandia Airport
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 Feb – Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib Thursday condemned an Israeli plan to transfer Qalandia airport into an industrial zone, considering it a violation of international law. “The airport is located in an occupied land according to international law and therefore Israel has no right to make any changes to the status quo,” said Khatib. He added that re-opening Qalandia airport was part of the Palestinian Authority’s development plans for the future … The airport has been closed by the Israeli authorities since the second Intifada which started in October 2000 and was never reopened.
For first time, Civil Administration rejects government plan to legalize West Bank outpost
Haaretz 24 Feb — In an unprecedented move, the Civil Administration’s zoning committee has rejected a government proposal to legalize the West Bank outpost of Sansana, saying there is no justification for a new settlement in the area because it is possible to build within existing ones. The decision is expected to have major implications for government efforts to legalize other unauthorized outposts. Sansana, located in the south Hebron hills, was established in 2008. Today it numbers 60 families, all in temporary housing.
Israeli court implements Hebron evacuation order
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Israeli forces implemented Wednesday the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to evacuate settlers from a building owned by the Tahbub family in the Old City. The general manager of the reconstructing Hebron committee, their lawyers and a group of people were present during the process. The court decision was issued Sunday.
Abu Laila prevented from traveling again
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Democratic Front lawmaker Qais Abu Laila was prevented again from leaving the occupied West Bank, and he was sent back from an Israeli checkpoint, party associates said. He was en route to Egypt for talks on reconciliation and a PLO meeting scheduled for Thursday. Abu Laila was told that he couldn’t travel abroad last year but the issue was supposed to be resolved. Then Thursday the soldiers manning the checkpoint refused to let him through again. He said the effort to keep him in the West Bank was intended to obstruct the unity talks.
Palestinian unity undermined by geographic divide
BBC 24 Feb — Since 2007, Hamas has been in power in Gaza with Fatah left to govern the West Bank. So, Palestinians face not only a political divide, but also a geographical one … At its narrowest point the distance between the West Bank and Gaza is just 40km. But that short stretch of land is across Israel, and Palestinians cannot pass without Israeli permission. Since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, Israel has severely restricted the movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinian population registry is controlled by Israel, which has occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since 1967. A Palestinian with an ID card that registers them as living in Gaza cannot easily move to the West Bank. “The separation between Gaza and the West Bank has only deepened over the past many years as part of a policy by the Israeli government to separate the two,” says Sari Bashi from the Israeli human rights group, Gisha, that campaigns for greater freedom of movement for Palestinians to and from Gaza. “The communities are divided, families are divided, and economic ties are being dismantled,” she adds.
Injured protester ‘dies in surgery’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) — Medics say a Palestinian protester died Friday during surgery after being shot during clashes with the Israeli army near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Talat Ramia, 25, suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and five others were injured, medics at the Palestine Medical Complex said. Ramia died during surgery, they said. Israeli forces were firing tear gas and both live and rubber bullets at protesters gathering near the Qalandia checkpoint after hearing rumors of a raid on a holy site in Jerusalem.
The first martyr in Aqsa support hails from Ram
RAMALLAH (PIC) 24 Feb — Tala’t Ramieh (25 years), from the village of Ram, was killed Friday afternoon at the Qalandia roadblock when he was hit by an IOF bullet during their attempts to quill protests in support of the Aqsa Mosque. The IOF troops also wounded six others, including a photo journalist and two children, the injury of one of them is serious. Dozens suffered breathing difficulties as a result of inhaling teargas. Eyewitnesses said that Ramieh was hit with a live bullet and was taken to the Palestine Medical Complex. [photo of Tala't Ramieh]
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Israeli forces clash with worshipers at Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, exchanging a volley of tear gas and rocks. Israeli troops entered the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Compound) after the Friday noon prayer, and fired tear and and sound grenades, causing confusion amongst the large crowds who worship at the holy site on Fridays, a Ma‘an correspondent said. Palestinian youth threw rocks at the forces, witnesses told Ma‘an, adding that high security measures were imposed throughout Jerusalem. Red Crescent medics said 30 Palestinians were injured, and an Israeli police spokesman said 11 police officers were lightly hurt and treated at the scene. Four Palestinians were detained at the site, spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said … Tensions at the sacred complex have been heightened after far-right Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin tried to make a publicized visit to the site two weeks ago, and leaflets were distributed around the city calling to remove “Israel’s enemies” from the site.
Soldiers ‘beat Hebron man’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Israeli forces apprehended a 37-year-old Palestinian man walking to his Hebron village on Thursday evening, beating him severely, relatives told Ma‘an. Fayez Yasin Abaydeh from Shuyukh village north of Hebron was returning from work in Jerusalem when forces fired into the air, before stopping him, in an assault that left him covered in bruises and his hand broken, his brother said.
Report: Israeli cars attacked in West Bank
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Feb – Israeli media reported Friday Palestinians attacked an Israeli military post near al-Aroub refugee camp with five Molotov cocktails. No injuries were reported. The report on Israel Radio also said Israeli cars were showered by stones while passing near Husan village in Bethlehem. No injuries were reported in that incident.
PCHR Weekly Report [16-22 Feb] : 25 Palestinians wounded, 21 abducted in 74 Israeli incursions
IMEMC 24 Feb — …Israeli forces have continued bombardments and shootings in the Gaza Strip, including 5 airstrikes and 9 missiles that wounded 14 civilians, including 2 women and 3 children. A metal workshop was destroyed and several houses and civilian establishments were damaged. Israeli forces have continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. 7 protesters, including an Israeli peace activist, were wounded. 5 of the wounded were participating in Kafr Qaddoum protest and 2 of them were participating in al-Nabi Saleh protest….Full Report
Israeli warplanes fire on Gaza City, injure 2
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — Israeli warplanes fired on a Gaza City neighborhood early Friday, lightly injuring two Palestinian fighters. The airstrike on the Zeitoun neighborhood injured two militants who were evacuated to hospital, emergency services’ spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said. Their identities and affiliations were not immediately identified. An Israeli army statement said the warplanes hit “two terror activity sites in the northern Gaza Strip…in response to the rockets fired at Israel.” Three rockets fired from Gaza landed in southern Israel on Thursday evening, and two projectiles early Friday, without causing injuries of damage … The Nasser Salah al-Din brigades said the fire was in response to Israel’s violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians. On Sunday, Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip injured six people, including a one-year-old infant.
Hamas, Egypt strike deal to end energy crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Egyptian authorities and Hamas officials reached an agreement on Thursday to end the energy crisis in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said a deal had been reached after “intensive negotiations” between Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, Egyptian officials, and the Islamic Development Bank. The deal included three stages, the Hamas official said. The first stipulates that Egyptian companies pump fuel directly to Gaza under the terms of contracts signed with firms. The second agreement will see the Islamic Development Bank finance a project to increase the capacity of Gaza’s sole power-plant by 40 megawatts. The third part of the agreement will see the Gazan electricity grid connected to Egypt’s, as well as converting the coastal enclave’s sole power plant from diesel to gas, a statement said.
ICRC supplies fuel to Gaza Strip to ease crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — The International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday supplied 150,000 liters of fuel to the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip. “The lack of fuel restricts the functioning of vital public services, especially hospitals,” Irfan Sulejmani, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza, said in a statement. The supplies will help ensure that 13 hospitals can maintain essential services for the next 10 days. “Without these emergency supplies, the treatment of thousands of patients could be interrupted and lives endangered,” Sulejmani added.
Israel allows transfer of 230 truckloads of goods, 20 cars to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Israel allowed the transfer of 230 truckloads of goods and 20 cars into the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattuh said that two trucks of flowers were exported from the coastal enclave to Europe. Limited quantities of cooking gas are scheduled to be transferred to Gaza, he added.
Activism / Solidarity
In Photos: 300 Palestinians, Israelis demand opening of Hebron’s Shuhada Street
AIC 24 Feb — Over 300 Palestinians and Israelis participated in Friday’s international Day of Struggle for the Opening of Shuhada Street in the West Bank city of Hebron. (All photos by the Alternative Information Center). .Palestinian and Israeli protesters began marching down Karantina Street, which leads directly to Shuhada Street from the East. Karantina Street is closed to Palestinian pedestrians … Soldiers attacked protesters with tear gas and sound grenades. The military later took advantage of a funeral procession which attempted to pass through in order to spray skunk water in the area. Members of the funeral procession and the deceased were drenched in the foul water, after which the army prohibited the funeral procession from proceeding. 17 demonstrators required medical treatment on the spot due to tear gas inhalation and nausea from the petrochemical skunk water.
Thousands rally on anniversary of Hebron shooting attack
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Thousands of Palestinians rallied in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, commemorating the anniversary of a deadly shooting in Hebron’s revered mosque. The protesters, marching from the Wasaya Rasul Allah mosque in southern Hebron, demanded the city’s main thoroughfare be reopened after Israeli forces shut it off shortly after extremist settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians at prayer [in Feb. 1994]. Israeli forces deployed throughout the city in advance to prevent the demonstrations, an Israeli army spokesman said. Soldiers detained six Palestinians from the march, including coordinator of Youth Against Settlements Badie Al-Dweik, 39, and Palestinian activist Fadi Quran. Forces fired tear gas, sound grenades and foul-smelling chemicals at the demonstrators calling for the opening of Shuhada street, a Ma‘an correspondent said. [Note that this 1994 suicide shooting set off the suicide bombings in Israel five weeks later.]
Tens of thousands demonstrate in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 24 Feb — Tens of thousands of Palestinians participated in the demonstration which Hamas called for in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis after the Friday prayers in support of the Aqsa Mosque … The demonstrators marched the streets of the city chanting support for the Aqsa Mosque and called on Palestinians to prepare to make sacrifices in defence of the first Muslim Qibla (direction of prayer) and the third holiest Shrine in Islam in the face of Zionist aggression.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Kafr-al-Deek: Spreading grassroots resistance in Palestine
Al Akhbar 23 Feb by Omar Rahman — The West Bank’s Kafr al-Deek is the latest stop for activists mobilizing village-base protests against the continued colonization of Palestinian land – …Kafr al-Deek, which has had approximately 12,000 dunams (1,200 hectares) of land appropriated by settlements and the military, represents the spread of the popular struggle – a combination of unarmed protest and civil disobedience – to an increasing amount of Palestinian villages. This has been used as an alternative, and in many ways, revived form of resistance. Kafr al-Deek has become one of eight villages currently involved in weekly protests and the number is growing, with others soon planned… Women, in particular, are spearheading many of the local initiatives, a resurrection of their role in the First Intifada, when women were very active in grassroots politics.
Liberated Palestinian woman goes on hunger strike to protest her re-arrest
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 23 Feb — Hana’a Shalabi, who was recently liberated in the Hamas-Israel exchange deal, went on hunger strike for her re-arrest and subsequent administrative custody. Lawyer Shireen Iraqi said that Hana’a, from Bruqin village in Jenin province, went on hunger strike since her re-arrest a week ago. She said in a statement on Thursday after visiting Hana’a in her prison cell that Hana’a was humiliated and beaten by the Israeli soldiers in front of her family. The lawyer said that Hana’a was held in administrative detention and thrown in an isolation cell in Sharon jail since 16/2. Shireen said that Hana’s was in bad health condition and was threatened by the prison administration that she would be transferred to the Jewish homicide convicts ward in Ramle prison if she continued in her hunger strike.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Abulsabh: Israel retracts promises in exchange deal; Egypt should intervene
GAZA (PIC) 23 Feb — Gaza minister of prisoners Dr. Attalla Abulsabh has lashed out at the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) for recanting on its promises in the prisoners’ exchange deal, brokered by Egypt, not to re-arrest freed prisoners. He said in a press release on Thursday that the IOA has re-arrested six of those freed prisoners so far, which, he said, points to occupation’s ill-intention … The minister asked the Egyptian leadership to shoulder its responsibility and immediately intervene to ensure that no such arrests would be repeated and to pressure the IOA into respecting all articles of the exchange deal. Abulsabh also denounced the PA security authority in Ramallah for detaining a freed prisoner in the same exchange deal.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
IOF soldiers round up 21 Palestinians
NABLUS (PIC) 23 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched a large-scale arrest campaign in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem at dawn Thursday. IOF sources said that the army detained nine Palestinians seven of them in Nablus at dawn Thursday, but well-informed Palestinians sources said that the IOF soldiers arrested 21 Palestinians. They said that the campaign focused on the northern West Bank as nine were captured in Al-Ein refugee camp west of Nablus city, seven in Azzun village east of Qalqilia city, one in Arrabe village to the south of Jenin city, and four in occupied Jerusalem.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/
My friend Walid Abu Rass … update from Israeli High Court hearing / Sam Bahour
ePalestine blog 24 Feb — You may recall my article about my friend Walid Abu Rass who was arrested by Israel and placed under 6-month administrative detention. You may also remember reading his daughter’s passage about her visit to the prison …
… After losing his appeal, which was a joke given the judge is a military judge from the occupation forces, he took his case to the only other court that Israel, the occupying power, respects (and even that, not always), the Israeli High Court.I just heard from Walid’s wife and the organization legally representing him, Addameer . Walid’s wife attended the High Court hearing. It too was a joke. At the appeal last month the state claimed that Walid was a PFLP operative. The PFLP is a left-wing, political part of the PLO, the same PLO that Israel signed the Oslo Accords with. Now, at the High Court hearing the state presented to the 3 judges a letter saying he was an Islamic Jihad operative. The Islamic Jihad is a Palestinian Islamic party not part of the PLO. Even the judges were embarrassed and questioned the state prosecutor about how the same person can be viewed so differently. After the some back-and-forth between the state and the judges, the state withdraw the latter submission.
PA security arrests Hamas supporter in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 24 Feb — The Ramallah PA security arrested on Thursday evening Muhammad Atef Shalaldah (25 years) from the village of Sair in the southern West Bank district of al-Khalil. Sources close to the family said that a number of PA security men raided Shalaldah’s house in the village, beat him up and ransacked his home before arresting him and taking him to the Mukhabarat (General Intelligence) headquarters in al-Khalil city. Shalaldah was released four months ago from a 7-month long detention by the Mukhabarat.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Israeli Arab students are learning the hard way
Haaretz 24 Feb — The trip that 3-year-old Jannat Abu-Labdeh and her relatives make to nursery school begins at 6:45 A.M., when she sets out with 37 other children from her Israeli Arab extended family. The children range in age from 3 to 16, and the trip to their various schools in Ramle takes almost two hours. It includes a bus trip and considerable distances on foot … When asked why it doesn’t provide transportation for the children, the regional council said the family members are squatting on privately-owned agricultural land and have ignored a court eviction order. Family members denied the allegation that they have been illegally squatting on the land, claiming they have lived at the location since before the founding of Israel in 1948.
Political developments / Diplomacy
Abbas, Haniyah meet for first time in 4 years
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — For the first time since they split into rival government in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007, Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met in Cairo late Thursday. The leaders met in Al-Andalus castle in the Egyptian capital, accompanied by top officials from both parties. They discussed the process of reconciliation between their factions, including ways to overcome obstacles to the Cairo and Doha agreements, a Hamas official said.
Hamas sets new terms for reconciliation with Fatah
GAZA CITY (Reuters) 23 Feb — Hamas has set new terms for implementing a reconciliation deal with President Mahmoud Abbas’s rival Fatah group, an official said on Thursday … At an internal meeting chaired by Mashaal in Cairo on Wednesday, Hamas officials united behind new demands, said a Palestinian official involved in the talks. The terms seemed certain to be rejected by Abbas. “Hamas demanded to keep the key ministries in the new government, including the ministry of interior,” said the official. “It also demanded no change in the structure of security services in the Gaza Strip.” The interior ministry oversees the Hamas-run security services, and Palestinian political analyst Samir Awad said the new terms proved the group “was not prepared to abandon control of Gaza,” territory it seized from Fatah in fighting in 2007. Abbas has been seeking a unity government staffed by independents and technocrats to ensure it would not be boycotted by the West, which donates essential funds to his Palestinian Authority and refuses to deal with Hamas.
Hamas denies placing barriers to unity
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Feb — Hamas officials on Thursday played down reports that the movement was placing barriers in front of a reconciliation deal it signed with Fatah earlier this month. Party spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas was moving forward with the deal in line with the terms agreed in Doha by President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal. Barhoum was responding to reports that a Hamas official said the group was setting new terms for implementing the deal, including demands for certain ministries. “We don’t have any demands which would block the reconciliation,” Barhoum said. “Any amendment to be added by Fatah or Hamas is to protect the process of reconciliation,” he said.
Hamas ditches Assad, backs Syrian revolt
CAIRO/GAZA (Reuters) 24 Feb – Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule. The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip. Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad’s army, largely led by fellow members of the president’s Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.
Egyptian intelligence brokered deal to end 67-day hunger strike by Palestinian prisoner
Haaretz 24 Feb — Several senior Islamic Jihad officials approached senior Egyptian intelligence officials on Adnan’s behalf, warning that if he died in administrative detention, it could spark widespread unrest in the territories.
Extremist Israeli MK denied US visa for terror affiliation
IMEMC 24 Feb — Extremist far-right Israeli Member of Knesset, Michael Ben Ari, of the fundamentalist National Union Party (Ichud Leumi), was denied a visa to the United States for his affiliation with a terror group. The U.S. is referring to Ben-Ari’s affiliation with the Kach movement that is considered a terror group by Israel, the United States, Canada and the European Union … Haaretz reported that Knesset Spokesperson, Reuven Rivlin of the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was angered by the U.S stance and sent a letter to Dani Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv, urging him to reconsider this decision and told him that “banning an Israeli MK from entering the United States is not acceptable”.
Britain warns diplomats not to meet Israelis in public
Ynet 23 Feb — London’s Foreign Office has cautioned its diplomats abroad not to travel in cars with Israelis, or meet with them in public for fear of being targeted by terrorists trying to attack Israelis abroad.
US ‘committed’ to relationship with Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Feb — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special advisor for global youth issues met Friday with local students, telling them that America is “committed” to its relationship with the Palestinians.
Protests and graffiti show long-standing Golan Druse support for Syrian regime cracking
QUNEITRA CROSSING, Occupied Golan Heights (AP) 2 Feb — Syria’s embattled leader, Bashar Assad, appears to be losing one of his last bastions of reliable support: the Druse Arab community in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Israeli ultra-Orthodox confident Yeshiva students won’t be drafted to IDF
Haaretz 23 Feb — Ultra-Orthodox reactions to a High Court of Justice ruling overturning the Tal Law, which exempts tens of thousands of yeshiva students from military service, ranged yesterday from utter indifference to prophecies of Armageddon.
Navy’s new super-sub revealed
Ynet 22 Feb — Foreign media say Israel’s navy ready to test advanced, German-made submarine said to be virtually undetectable by radar, able to launch nuclear missiles
Israelis flock to sages’ tombs seeking miracles
AP 21 Feb — One man prays to heal the legs he broke in a car accident. An older woman pleads for grandchildren. Another visitor has come to see “God’s secretary.” These believers are part of a growing phenomenon in Israel, where hundreds of thousands of people from starkly different backgrounds flock to the tombs of ancient Biblical figures or modern-day rabbis, seeking blessings and claiming they’ve witnessed miracles. At many of these sites there is scant proof that any sage is actually buried there. Some are even believed to be co-opted Ottoman or Muslim burial places. But to the faithful, the lack of hard evidence is irrelevant. It’s the deep spiritual experience or, for some, the desperate desire to be blessed, that matters.
Zuckerberg to help Peres launch Facebook page
Ynet 24 Feb — President joins world of social networking, launches Israeli, international Facebook pages with help of Mark Zuckerberg