zaterdag 11 augustus 2007

Tien gewonden bij schietincident in Oude Stad van Jeruzalem

Raadseltje: een man (vermoedelijk een Arabier) valt een bewaker aan in Jeruzalem, pakt zijn wapen af en schiet hem ermee in zijn schouder. Een tweede bewaker rent achter de man aan, en er ontstaat een vuurgevecht waarin de aanvaller omkomt. Hierbij raakten 10 omstanders gewond. Wat is de reactie van Palestijnse kant?
Mustafa Al Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the Palestinian national initiative, condemned the killing, saying "This incident just confirms the enormity of Israeli crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians."
Misschien hadden de beide bewakers, en alle omstanders, onmiddelijk op de grond moeten gaan liggen? Of met hun handen omhoog voor de aanvaller gaan staan?

Ten wounded in shooting attack in Old City of Jerusalem
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service 
Last update - 19:16 10/08/2007

Ten people were wounded, three moderately and seven lightly, during a shooting attack Friday morning in Jerusalem's Old City.

The assailant, who has yet to be identified, was shot and killed by a security guard.

The attack took place near the Old City's Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Christian Quarter.

The assailant was walking with a friend on Hanotsrim Street near Jaffa Gate, when he attacked a security guard, managing to take his gun. He then shot the guard, moderately wounding him in his shoulder.

The attacker then fled the scene, running down Avtimos Street. Another guard ran after the man, and nine bystanders were wounded, four from ricochets, in the ensuing gunfight. Five people were wounded by the attacker's gunfire, according to Israel Radio.

A witness told Israel Radio that even after it was clear that the man had been killed, the guard continued shooting, causing additional injuries.

However, police sources said that cameras stationed in the Old City caught the incident on film, and indicated that the guard acted professionally and appropriately.

Security sources said the attacker was approximately 20 years old, and carried no identification. Police and the Shin Bet security service are attempting to locate his family.

Magen David Adom emergency medical teams arrived at the scene to treat the wounded and evacuate them to Jerusalem hospitals.

Following the incident, police raised the alert level ahead of Friday prayers in the Old City.

Police Commissioner Dudu Cohen said at the scene, "East Jerusalem security is at its maximum level, and people can come visit."

Slecht nieuws over Nederland in Israël

Voor een commentaar op Gerstenfeld's experiment zie IMO Blog: Slecht nieuws uit Israël
Haaretz, Aug. 10, 2007
Beating press bias at its own game
By Cnaan Lipshitz

At the very end of his term, the Dutch Ambassador to Israel, Bob Hiensch, is being forced to contend with an unprecedented phenomenon: Holland-bashing. This parting gift is the work of media analyst Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, who recently began teaching a seminar called "Bad News about the Netherlands." Gerstenfeld hopes to counter what he calls the partial and biased reporting on Israel in the Netherlands. About a dozen people meet once a week at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), the veteran nonprofit think tank headed by former UN ambassador and senior Likud official Dore Gold, to hear Gerstenfeld - the chairman of JCPA's board of fellows - deliver a biased media review of the kingdom.

Hiensch indicated that he regarded the project as simplistic and naive, but Gerstenfeld says he is "merely employing the methods that some in the Dutch media are using to report about Israel, but we publicize the fact that we are presenting a distorted image whereas they claim to report objectively. Plus, we state the facts instead of falsifying them with so-called explanations."

If not for the seminar's title, latecomers to the center's conference room might understandably think they had joined an action group on Sudan rather than a learning forum on the Netherlands. In a single week, Gerstenfeld highlighted abuse of asylum seekers by the state, government officials inciting racial discrimination, death threats against politicians and reports of civilians being tortured and executed by soldiers.

Afterward, participants ask about the overall goal of the seminar. "Many foreign journalists here are interested in instilling prejudice against Israel. The spreading anti-Israeli sentiment is proof of their success," says Gerstenfeld, who immigrated to Israel from the Netherlands about 40 years ago. He explained that he decided to copy the strategy of Israel's detractors in order to "agitate the Dutch public into thinking twice and to ultimately question the reports that they hear about Israel."

One participant isn't convinced Gerstenfeld's strategy will work. "Moaning about the government is a national pastime in Holland. For the Dutch, every day is a bad news day. I doubt more of the same could really shock them."

Ironically, perhaps, the Dutch media seem to be highly interested in Gerstenfeld's project. Two national radio stations have contacted him and one of the country's most important dailies, Volkskrant, ran an in-depth article on his initiative.

"The Dutch haven't quite developed the thick skin that we have as Israelis to outside acrimonious criticism. Maybe that's why the seminar is generating such interest there," Gerstenfeld suggested. "And by successfully blackening Holland's name despite its positive image abroad, we are demonstrating how easy it is to portray any country as a brutal police state."

As a result on the media exposure in the Netherlands, Gerstenfeld has been able to delegate the task of gathering news to volunteers, both Jews and non-Jews, who e-mail him their "gems" from the Dutch media. "We are considering opening a weekly bad-news Internet blog. There is a tremendous willingness out there, so the whole project requires very little effort on our part," Gerstenfeld said.

He hopes to recreate his success with the Netherlands with other European countries, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Belgium. "I hope others will use our model to level the playing field. I had no idea this would generate such hype, but we seem to have struck a nerve," Gerstenfeld said.

The Dutch ambassador, who is scheduled to leave Israel next week, does not share Gerstenfeld's enthusiasm.

"I am not going to comment on the free press, whether Dutch, Israeli or international," Hiensch told Haaretz. He added, however, that "Israel does indeed generate a lot of negative publicity in the world press, and it is a relevant question to wonder why. To blame this, however, on the media is too easy and even naive."


Israel will vluchtelingenprobleem vroeg aan de orde stellen

Israël wil in onderhandelingen met de PA het vraagstuk van de Palestijnse vluchtelingen eerst op tafel hebben. Als Abbas openlijk akkoord gaat met het laten vallen van de oude claim dat Palestijnse vluchtelingen uit 1948 en hun nakomelingen naar Israël moeten kunnen 'terugkeren', zal het voor Israël makkelijker zijn om concessies te doen op territoriaal vlak en die aan de Israëlische bevolking te 'verkopen'.
Zeker waar, maar het omgekeerde geldt evenzeer: als Abbas een duidelijke toezegging krijgt over de omvang en de voorwaarden voor een Palestijnse staat, kan hij aan zijn achterban makkelijker 'verkopen' dat hij daarvoor het 'recht op terugkeer' laat vallen. Het is de vraag wie het eerst over de brug moet komen, en wellicht is het toch makkelijker als ze eerst alle onderwerpen (Jeruzalem, nederzettingen, veiligheidsbeleid en grenzen) uitonderhandelen, zodat beide partijen met een totaalpakket naar hun achterban kunnen gaan, die dan in referenda of anderszins kunnen aangeven wel of niet akkoord te gaan.

Israel wants to deal with refugee issue up-front
Thu Aug 9, 2007 11:56AM EDT
By Adam Entous

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel wants the divisive question of Palestinian refugees addressed early in talks with President Mahmoud Abbas and suggested movement on the issue could lead to a pledge to hand over more Israeli-held land.

In meetings over the last week with visiting U.S. and European officials, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and other Israeli leaders stressed the importance of addressing the refugee issue up-front, participants said on Thursday.

No issue, with the possible exception of Jerusalem, is as emotional and troubling for Palestinians and Israelis as the fate of Palestinian refugees at the core of the conflict.

"This is a killer for Abbas," one diplomat said of the refugee issue, adding that addressing it first could jeopardize talks over a U.S.-sponsored conference expected in November.

Israel wants any agreement of principles to reflect its position, backed by U.S. President George W. Bush, that refugees settle in a future state of Palestine, rather than in Israel.

Many Israelis fear that any mass return would threaten the Jewish character of the state carved out in 1948.

Without an early agreement in principle on refugees, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "it will always remain a concern that the establishment of a Palestinian state has not ended the conflict and that there are more demands on Israel".

Diplomats said Israel wants talks on refugees to precede the other final status issues of borders and Jerusalem.

Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said it was premature to discuss such matters. "It's up to the leaders to decide," he said.

In return for movement on refugees, Western diplomats said Israel was likely to agree to principles that include a call for a Palestinian state in nearly all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel would seek to hold onto some of the largest Jewish settlement blocs through land swaps.


Regev declined to comment specifically on what the Palestinians could receive in return for movement on refugees. But he said: "Movement on this issue would give great impetus to dealing with other issues."

Western officials and analysts said any movement by Abbas away from the "right of return" would have to be subtle and gradual to avoid a fierce backlash, particularly from Hamas Islamists who seized the Gaza Strip in June.

Palestinians have long demanded that refugees and their descendants have the right to return.

A U.N. agency said the number of registered Palestinian refugees totaled around 4.4 million, a figure disputed by some. One third of those registered, about 1.3 million, live in 58 recognized refugee camps, the agency added.

Regev said: "Creation of two homelands means just as Israel solved the Jewish refugee issue, the creation of Palestine will solve the Palestinian refugee issue."

As a starting point on refugees for Olmert and Abbas, Western officials pointed to proposals by U.S. President Bill Clinton before he left office in January 2001.

Clinton said the new state of Palestine should be the homeland for refugees, without ruling out the possibility Israel might accept some of them.

One Western official said Washington wanted Olmert and Abbas to at least develop a "concept" for how they would settle the refugee question and other "fundamental issues" before the conference so that participants can offer support.

"In order to implement anything that they agree on, it's going to require the support of the international community with financial resources, maybe with other things, including admitting refugees," the official said.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.
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donderdag 9 augustus 2007

Israel will UNIFIL mandaat verbeteren

De controle op de kustwateren van Libanon (door onder meer een Nederlands fregat) verloopt goed, maar via de Syrische grens worden er nog volop wapens naar Hezbollah gesmokkeld.
Israël zelf schendt nog vrijwel dagelijks het Libanese luchtruim met F-16s om zicht te houden op de aktiviteiten van Hezbollah. De gesmokkelde wapens zouden vooral in stedelijk gebied verstopt worden.

Israel wants to improve UNIFIL mandate
Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 7, 2007

Israel is working through diplomatic channels to insert some changes in the UNIFIL mandate in Lebanon to make sure that international forces in the South patrol more in urban areas, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The mandate of the 13,600-strong UN peacekeeping force is due to expire at the end of August, and the Security Council is scheduled to discuss renewing the mandate on August 16.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to extend the mandate in a letter to the council president on Monday. Ban said Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora had asked to renew the force's mandate for a year.

Israel has also made clear it is in favor of renewing the mandate, though it would like to see "some improvements." While Israel believes the forces are operating well in the open areas in southern Lebanon, Jerusalem is keen on seeing UNIFIL establish more of a presence in the cities and towns there and take a more "proactive" role.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a speech to graduates of the National Security College two weeks ago, said the performance of the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon since the Second Lebanon War had shown that an international force could be effective, given the right mandate and the right make-up of forces.
Olmert said the German, Italian and French forces had been much more effective in southern Lebanon than forces from Muslim states, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Ban, in his letter to the Security Council president, praised the troops for helping to establish security in southern Lebanon following last summer's war. The force is comprised of 11,428 ground troops, 2,000 maritime personnel, 185 staff officers and 20 local staffers.

"The swift and effective deployment of UNIFIL has helped to establish a new strategic military and security environment in southern Lebanon," Ban wrote. The peacekeepers from 30 countries that make up the land and maritime forces and the "strong peacekeeping partnership with the Lebanese armed forces" have made it possible to implement several key aspects of the resolution that ended the war, he wrote. In addition to the UNIFIL forces, there are also some 15,000 Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon.

But Ban said "recent events have tragically shown that much work remains to be done." He cited "the vicious attack" on June 24 that killed six peacekeepers belonging to the Spanish contingent whose armored personnel carrier in southern Lebanon was struck by a bomb. It was the first such attack against UNIFIL.
And in early July, a roadside bomb struck a UN jeep near Tyre, but there were no casualties. Ban also cited the firing of rockets into Israel on June 17, which caused no casualties and little damage but demonstrated the continuing volatility of the border region.

Ban reiterated that as a result of these attacks, the United Nations "will not be deterred from implementing its Security Council-mandated activities," including negotiations on critical issues between the parties.

"At the same time," he wrote, "the attacks on UNIFIL have changed the security environment in which the mission operates in Lebanon." In an effort to increase protection for the UN force and civilian staff, Ban said the mission will continue to strengthen its cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and will also require additional "risk mitigation assets."

UN officials said these include explosive detectors, jammers on vehicles, and material and equipment to conduct investigations.
AP contributed to this article

Marokkaanse liberaal: red de Arabische wereld van het Islamisme

Volgens Berber schrijver Abdelhamid Assassi heeft de Arabische wereld internationale hulp nodig om zich te ontworstelen aan de primitieve islamitische denkbeelden en tot moderne seculiere democratieën te worden.

Special Dispatch-Morocco/North African Reformist Thinkers Project
August 9, 2007
No. 1676

Moroccan Liberal Abdelhamid Assassi:
International Community Must Save Arab Society from "Pernicious and Lethal Disease" of Islamism

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit:

In a July 23, 2007 op-ed on the liberal website Bila Hudud, Moroccan Berber author Abdelhamid Assassi writes that the vast majority of the Muslim world lives in ignorance and would prefer Osama bin Laden to secular democracy. He argues that these societies must, with help from the international community, take a difficult path towards secularization.

Assassi, who lives in the Rif region of northern Morocco, writes regularly for Arabic-language liberal websites and heads the youth section of the liberal Moroccan Renewal and Equity Party.

The following are excerpts from his July 23, 2007 article: (1)

Most Arabs Would Prefer a Bin Laden-Led Caliphate to Secular Democracy

"It is true that the Hamas organization rose to power in a transparent, democratic manner. It is also true that a significant portion of the Palestinians voted for Hamas, supposing that it could solve their problems with Koranic verses about taking refuge in Allah and the Day of Judgment, and through hadiths about [Muhammad's horse] Al-Buraq and about the stones and the gharqad tree:

"'Abu Hurayra related that the Prophet said: Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will kill them such that the Jew will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, here is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad, for it is the tree of the Jews.'(2)

"If the same atmosphere of transparency and democracy were present in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would be able to reach the [Presidential] 'Abidin Palace. And if the path of the Islamic Salvation Front had not been blocked in Algeria... there would have been a catastrophe... If the Moroccans were given the choice between a reasonable constitutional regime and the visions of [Islamist leader] 'Abd Al-Salam Yassin, they would choose [to play] with the angels.

"And if all the peoples of Ignoranceland (jahlistan) were given the choice between secular democratic regimes and a rightly guided Islamic Caliphate led by Osama bin Laden and [his deputy] Al-Zawahiri, they would choose the latter, by more than 90 percent.

"The flaw is not in the regimes, but in the conceptual and doctrinal makeup of the herds [of people] that have been programmed by CDs full of the wars of Khaybar, chastisement after death, and the signs of Judgment Day. These herds gargle night and day with the urine of the righteous forefathers,(3) ritually cleanse themselves in the mire of divine retribution...., and never tire of dreaming of a lost paradise...

"The Masses That Cry Out 'Khaybar Khaybar, Oh Jews, Muhammad's Army Will Return'... Are Brigades of Idiots"

"These herds do not give a thought to the losses. They do not consider things as they really are, and do not look out for the good of the coming generations. They do not know that engaging in wars necessitate that the state convert its economy to a war economy, and that the results of war are millions of wounded, sick, and thirsty, a destroyed economy, and a threadbare education sector.

"They believe that Allah will assist them [by sending] angels who will fight in their ranks. The masses who cry out: 'Khaybar Khaybar, oh Jews, Muhammad's army will return' are not just juvenile; they are brigades of idiots. They want war, and they want to throw Israel into the sea, slaughter the Jews, and win back Al-Andalus [Islamic Spain]. The masses see the campaign of the green banner [of Islam], and the arsenal of jurisprudents of darkness, as a savior that will once again bring them glory, victory, and the good life.

"Hamas rose to power because it does not believe in Israel's right to exist, and [because it believes] that the Palestinian state must encompass not just the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but all parts of Palestine, from the waters to the waters [i.e. from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River], with Tel Aviv coming before Jerusalem, Kiryat Shemona before Gaza, and Eilat before Ramallah.

"This is what the Hamas leadership deeply believes. But they believe something that is worse: They believe in the conquest of Rome.

"[Hamas believes that] Palestine is an Islamic endowment of [Caliph] Omar [ibn Al-Khattab]... The Hamas leadership believes in this, and they cannot deny it; if they deny it, they are two-faced...

"At first, Muhammad used to pray in the direction of Jerusalem, in order to seek the sympathy and support of the Jews in the [Arabian] Peninsula, who carried great economic and social weight. Then he traded the Jews' direction of prayer for that of the pagans, in order to rally the Arab tribes to his preaching. For this reason he later took revenge on the Jews by expelling them, slaughtering them, robbing them, and taking their women as wives.

"Muhammad's landing [in Jerusalem] on [his horse] Al-Buraq and his praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque was what gave legitimacy to the [Muslim] ownership of this spot. [Then] Omar ibn Al-Khattab secured Palestine's belonging to the Abode of Islam with his infamous racist pact. Here is what Omar's genius generously granted [the Christians], in what is called the Pact of Omar:

"The text of the Pact of Omar as found in Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya:

"'When the Muslims occupied Greater Syria, Omar ibn Al-Khattab laid down the following conditions on its Christians:
'They must not build any new monasteries, churches, or monks' cells in their cities or the surrounding areas;
'They must not rebuild those that were destroyed;
'They must not refuse any Muslim who wishes to spend three nights in a church, and they must feed him;
'They must give no harbor to spies;
'They must not conceal any disloyalty to the Muslims;
'They must not teach their children the Koran;
'They must make no public show of polytheism;
'They must not prevent their relatives from [converting to] Islam if they so desire;
'They must show reverence for the Muslims;
'They must give up their seats if the Muslims wish to sit;
'They must not resemble the Muslims in any way in their clothing;
'They must not adopt Muslim surnames;
'They must not ride on a saddle;
'They must not carry swords;
'They must not sell wine;
'They must cut their bangs short;
'They must wear their [i.e. Christian] clothing wherever they may be;
'They must wear a sash around their waists;
'They must not display a crucifix or any of their [holy] books in the Muslims' path;
They must not bury their dead near the Muslims;
'They may only sound the prayer gongs softly;
'They must not raise their voices when reading in their churches in the presence of Muslims;
They must not carry palm branches [on Palm Sunday];
'They must not raise their voices [when mourning] their dead;
'They must not carry candles at their funerals;
'They must not purchase slaves whom the Muslims captured in war.
'If they violate any of these conditions, they will not enjoy protection, and the Muslims will be permitted to do with them as they do with those who resist them.'"

The International Community Must Mobilize to "Remold the Nation of Ignoranceland and Strip it of the Sword of Stupidity"

"This then is the Pact of Omar, one of the giants of Islam in whom [Sheikh Yousef] Al-Qaradhawi, [Al-Azhar Sheikh Muhammad] Al-Tantawi, and [Sheikh] Al-Sha'rawi take pride. This is the same Omar whom the Muslim clerics mention to the Christian clergy when breaking the fast during Ramadan and at the hug-fests... and the Christian clergy nod their heads in wonder at Omar's inimitable justice...

"The reason for the popularity of bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, Al-Zarqawi, and the brigades of the green banner [of Islamism] is... the filth on which the tamed herds feed and for which they have developed a grievous addiction.

"The best way to rehabilitate these sick people, and to treat their addiction, is to force the regimes of Ignoranceland to undertake democratic reforms, to reform school curricula... to try to universalize secular, modernist, enlightenment thought, and to keep the religious establishment out of politics. This is a responsibility that is incumbent upon all, in order to avert a great disaster that will encompass all humanity...

"It is true that this operation will not be easy, and will require much effort, much time, steely determination, and great sacrifice. One cannot, in the span of a few years, wipe out 15 centuries...

"This is a large-scale international project, under which the international community, human rights activism groups and organizations, and democratic governments must mobilize, with the aim of remolding the nation of Ignoranceland and stripping it of the sword of stupidity, so that its future generations will be free to occupy themselves with building, development, and useful sciences, instead of thinking about plundering, looting, killing, and sleeping with the captured white women... "

"If humanity succeeds in this great human project, it will have effectively shattered a tremendous idol... and saved millions from a pernicious and lethal disease."

1, July 23, 2007.
2 This hadith is cited in Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant; see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1092, "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas," February 14, 2006,
3 This is a reference to the recent controversy over the Mufti of Egypt's assertion that the Prophet's Companions used to drink his urine; see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 363, "Media Uproar Following Egyptian Mufti's Fatwa on Companions of the Prophet Muhammad Being Blessed by Drinking His Urine," June 13, 2007,

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Search previous MEMRI publications at

Zomerkamp voor vreedzaam samenleven

Misschien wel het belangrijkste vredeswerk bestaat eruit om Palestijnse en Israëlische kinderen samen te brengen, zodat zij zien dat de ander geen duivel met hoorntjes is. Sinds de Tweede Intifada zijn dit soort projecten helaas moeilijker te organiseren vanwege alle veiligheidsmaatregelen.
Aan Palestijnse kant is de Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem het bekendste voorbeeld.
Co-existence summer camp

Peres Center for Peace holds fifth annual summer camp for Israeli, Palestinian children.
Hopes to create environment for children to interact in on regular basis

by Tova Dadon
Published: 08.08.07, 00:26 / Israel News,7340,L-3434988,00.html

Israeli and Palestinian children recently took part in a special summer camp at kibbutz Gat. The summer camp, sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace, was a week long and hosted 180 children.

This is the project's fifth year and, so far, more than 1,800 children, ages six to fourteen, have participated in it.

Creating an environment in which Palestinian and Israeli children can interact is part of the center's ongoing mission to educate the country's youth about the Israeli-Arab co-existence.

This week's activities brought together young girls from Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi and Be'er Tuvia with girls from the West Bank city of Nablus and the town of Beit Safafa.

The center's sports department also holds annual soccer and basketball tournaments for Israeli and Palestinian boys and girls, in hopes that children who play together will not grow up to be each others enemies.

The center's requests to have children of the West Bank cities of Jenin and Hebron take part in the tournaments have so far been denied.

woensdag 8 augustus 2007

Palestijnse raket doodt 2 kinderen in Gaza

Een Palestijnse raket doodt per ongeluk twee Palestijnse kinderen. Ik hoop dat veel mensen tegen deze schending van de mensenrechten zullen protesteren, zowel in Arabische landen als hier.

"We have yet to determine how it happened but we stress our support for resistance," Ghsain said, referring to armed confrontation with Israel.

"At the same time, we urge resistance factions to take all the necessary measures to avoid causing any harm to civilians," he said.

Hamas woordvoerder Al-Ghsain bedoelt uiteraard alleen Palestijnse burgers, want die raketten zijn bedoeld om Israëlische burgers te treffen. Gisteren kwam er nog een terecht in een speeltuin in Sderot. Het is uiteraard racisme om Palestijnse en Israëlische burgers zo verschillend te behandelen, en om de dood van Palestijnse kinderen door Israël erger te vinden dan die door hun eigen mensen.

Palestinian rocket kills 2 Gaza children
07 Aug 2007 12:11:58 GMT
Source: Reuters

GAZA, Aug 7 (Reuters) - A rocket fired at Israel by Palestinian militants on Tuesday fell short and killed two Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, ambulance crews said.

No group claimed responsibility for launching the rocket, which the medical workers said landed near the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, killing a seven-year-old boy and his sister, aged 9.

Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman for the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior in Gaza, said an investigation into the circumstances of the children's deaths was underway.

"We have yet to determine how it happened but we stress our support for resistance," Ghsain said, referring to armed confrontation with Israel.

"At the same time, we urge resistance factions to take all the necessary measures to avoid causing any harm to civilians," he said.

Hundreds of people attended the children's funeral in Beit Lahiya.

dinsdag 7 augustus 2007

Fayad: PA niet klaar om veiligheid op Westoever te controleren

Westerse 'vredesgroepen' zoals "Stop de Bezetting" eisen altijd een onmiddelijke en gehele terugtrekking van Israël uit de bezette gebieden. De PA geeft in onderstaand bericht zelf aan dat men momenteel nog niet in staat is om de orde te handhaven in de steden op de Westoever, en met name om terroristische aanslagen te verhinderen.
Het bestrijden van de corruptie en het handhaven van een staatsmonopolie op geweld zijn wellicht de twee belangrijkste uitdagingen waar de PA voor staat. De nieuwe Palestijnse premier Fayad heeft verklaard beide zaken aan te zullen pakken. Hij kan daarbij rekenen op de steun van Tony Blair, die door het 'Kwartet' (VN, VS, EU en Rusland) is afgevaardigd om de Palestijnen te helpen hun staatsinstituties op te bouwen.
NB: De hieronder genoemde bijeenkomst in Jericho heeft al plaatsgevonden.

Last update - 08:37 06/08/2007

Fayad: PA not ready to assume control of security in West Bank

By Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

The Palestinian Authority's security organizations are unable to assume security control of cities in the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad told senior Israeli officials during recent meetings. Fayad told Israeli officials that the PA's security forces are unable "to impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was scheduled to meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho on Monday. The meeting will focus on making substantive progress in preparation for the regional summit planned to take place in November in Washington.

During meetings with senior Israeli officials, the interim Palestinian prime minister and his interior minister, Abd al-Razek al-Yihiya, made it clear that the PA's security cannot at this time assume control of West Bank cities. Among those to whom this message was conveyed recently was Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.

Originally, Fayad and al-Yihiya made the transfer of some West Bank cities to PA security control one of their prime requests of Israel. Israel did not immediately reject the request, but asked that the PA security forces be prepared to take action against any militants who may try to carry out a terror attack against Israel from areas in which Israel would surrender security control.

However, Palestinian security commanders admitted before the PA leadership that their forces are not currently capable of preventing terrorist attacks against Israel, or, as Israel defines it, of "combatting terrorism."

Fayad told Israel that the PA's security forces are unable to "impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz that Fayad told Israel, immediately after he assumed power, that he intended to focus on the gradual establishing of law and order in the West Bank, before turning his attention to political negotiations.

"However, after we realized that there were Israeli limitations on our demands to expand the 'fugitives agreement,' and the security forces in the West Bank are still not prepared to take on responsibility in the cities, Fayad changed his stance on the matter of negotiations, and this became essential - almost exclusively so - in bolstering the PA's position in the West Bank," the senior Palestinian officials said Sunday.

During their meeting Monday at the InterContinental Hotel in Jericho, Olmert and Abbas plan to push ahead in achieving maximum progress in negotiations.

"The purpose is to achieve the maximum possible mutual understandings on a two-state solution prior to the summit in the fall and in a way that will not endanger the entire process," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday. The aim is to stabilize Abbas' rule in the West Bank so that the PA will be able to carry out its commitments, particularly on the security front.

This will be the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the PA since the outbreak of the intifada, in September 2000. The meeting will take place under draconian security measures; Palestinian Presidential Guard officials and Shin Bet VIP Security officers have held a number of meeting in recent days to prepare the ground.

The meeting between the two leaders will be restricted to the press and there will be a photo-opportunity only at the beginning.

Palestinian sources said that the two leaders will have a private lunch, and most of the meeting will be behind closed doors, with no aides present.

Abbas and Olmert will pick up where their talks begun at their meeting in Jerusalem two weeks ago left off, with a focus on the "Agreement of Principles."

Ontmoeting Olmert en Abbas: eindelijk hoop op nieuwe vredesbesprekingen?

Nadat de unilaterale plannen voor eenzijdige terugtrekking in de ijskast belandden, is er weer een beetje hoop voor hernieuwde vredesonderhandelingen. Olmert spreekt zich onomwonden uit voor een Palestijnse staat en verwijst naar de Routekaart voor Vrede uit 2003, die destijds nog grotendeels een dode letter bleef. Olmert en Abbas zouden de eerste noodzakelijke stappen op deze weg moeten zetten, maar gezien hun beider zwakke interne posities is het de vraag hoever ze komen.
Het initiatief van Bush voor een Midden-Oosten conferentie dit najaar moet de druk op zowel Israël als de Arabieren opvoeren. Intussen zou Tony Blair als nieuwe Midden-Oosten gezant de Palestijnen moeten helpen bij de opbouw van staats-instituties. Nadat die klus is geklaard, kunnen de eeuw-oude rivalen om het kleine strookje land eindelijk hun grens trekken, kronkelend door de smalle straatjes van het oude Jeruzalem en al dan niet om grote en kleinere nederzettingenblokken heen, met of zonder afscheiding op de grens; zeker zonder het 'recht op terugkeer' van de miljoenen Palestijnse vluchtelingen naar Israel.
Als dit allemaal lukt, dan is er nog maar één klein detail op te lossen, toch?

PM Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas meeting
ahead of talks in the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday. (GPO)

Last update - 03:38 07/08/2007   

PM: Israel, PA to expand talks on establishing Palestinian state as soon as possible

By Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting in the West Bank on Monday he would push for the establishment of a Palestinian state as "fast as possible."

In a Jericho meeting with the PA chairman, Olmert refrained from setting a schedule, but said statehood would be achieved by adherence to the internationally brokered road map to Middle East peace, and through mutual understanding.

"We have decided to expand the scope of the negotiations between us in order to advance mutual understanding and formulate the framework that will allow us to move forward toward establishing a Palestinian state," Olmert said.

Monday's meeting marked the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the Palestinian Authority since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. The meeting took place under heavy security.

Palestinian Presidential Guard officials and Shin Bet security service VIP officers held a number of meetings in recent days to lay the groundwork for the security at this historical meeting.

While Olmert did not present a timetable, he declared that he has no intention to stall for time on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

"Our mutual goal is to realize the shared vision between us and [U.S. President George] Bush regarding the establishment of two states for two peoples who live side by side in security and peace. We want to achieve this as soon as possible," Olmert added.

Olmert also mentioned that the basis for negotiations "will continue to be the road map, which is acceptable to both sides." The prime minister was referring to a peace plan proposed by the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - that calls for an independent Palestinian state.

During the meeting between the two leaders, Abbas told Olmert that Israel's release of the 255 Palestinian prisoners last month had a positive effect on the Palestinian people, and requested the release of additional prisoners in the coming weeks. Olmert said he would consider Abbas' request.

Abbas also called on Olmert to allow the return to the West Bank of militants whom Israel deported in 2002. The militants, who had barricaded themselves in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem five years ago, were told they would be arrested if they returned to the West Bank, and consequently dispersed in Gaza and Europe. Olmert agreed to consider this request as well.

Both sides agreed the meeting had been constructive, but made no announcements of significant progress.

"Abbas did not come to the meeting with a magic wand, and neither did Mr. Olmert," Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said at a post-meeting press conference.

"There is an agreement on a series of meetings to discuss the issues, including the establishment of a Palestinian state," he added.

David Baker, an Olmert spokesman, said the leaders did not discuss the core issues of the conflict or conduct negotiations.

"Both sides decided to expand the contents of their discussions in order to advance the understandings ... to allow further progress to be made for the establishment of a Palestinian state," Baker said.

"I came here in order to discuss the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, hoping that this will lead us soon into negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state," Olmert said at the outset of the talks earlier Monday.

The aim of the meeting between the two was to prepare for a U.S.-led regional summit on peace between Israel and the Palestinians to be held in Washington in November.

"The purpose is to achieve the maximum possible mutual understandings on a two-state solution prior to the summit in the fall and in a way that will not endanger the entire process," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday. The aim is to stabilize Abbas' rule in the West Bank so that the PA will be able to carry out its commitments, particularly on the security front.

Abbas and Olmert picked up where their previous talks, initiated at their meeting in Jerusalem two weeks ago, left off. The talks focused on an "agreement of principles."

Baker said the meeting was a signal of Israeli good will, adding that Olmert intended for it to be a productive meeting to enable progress with the Palestinians.

Both sides said ahead of the talks that the meeting would also deal with easing daily life in the West Bank, including the removal of some of the checkpoints erected after the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000.

The meeting between the two leaders was restricted to the press and photographs were allowed only at the beginning.

Fayad: PA not ready to assume security control

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad told senior Israeli officials during recent meetings that the Palestinian Authority's security organizations are unable to assume security control of cities in the West Bank. Fayad said that the PA's security forces are unable "to impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

During meetings with senior Israeli officials, the interim Palestinian prime minister and his interior minister, Abd al-Razek al-Yihiya, made it clear that the PA's security cannot at this time assume control of West Bank cities.

Among those to whom this message was conveyed recently was Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.

Vrede zonder Hamas?

Hamas wil pertinent geen vrede sluiten met Israël, zoals het keer op keer op keer verklaard heeft; maar buiten Hamas om lijkt een vredesovereenkomst ook niet te realiseren. Als vrede niet op het menu staat, moet Israël dan toch een Palestijnse staat opdienen?

If Hamas isn't in the game

By Danny Rubinstein

The Olmert government in Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, are in the midst of renewed political activity, encouraged by intensive American efforts. There have been frequent meetings, discussions of an agreement of principles and plans for a regional conference. Although there still are many problems in the field, like the amnesty agreement for wanted men that the two sides haven't managed to finalize, there certainly has been progress. The liaison committees between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have begun operating again, the government headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayad is receiving substantial financial support, and the security services in the West Bank are beginning to be restored.

The Palestinian media has been reporting that a new city is being planned in the West Bank, between Nablus and Ramallah. One newspaper said it would be a top-priority national project: the first new Arab city since Arab conquerors founded Ramle 1,500 years ago. The Americans and the Saudis will fund the construction, which will provide work for tens of thousands of unemployed Palestinians.

This backdrop makes an apparently marginal disagreement interesting. The dispute in question began after Israel announced that it would allow a few dozen Palestinian refugees who fled Iraq to return to the West Bank. The refugees are members of families that lived in villages in the southeast Carmel region. The Iraqi army, which reached northern Samaria in the 1948 War of Independence, was assisted by some of the residents of those villages. After the Arab defeat, they were allowed to go to Iraq, and lived there until they were compelled to flee, due to the war there. Some had been living in temporary camps on the Jordanian and Syrian borders, and now Israel is allowing a few dozen of them to move to the West Bank and become PA citizens.

The problem, as explained by Palestinian newspapers, is that in accepting the right to be naturalized in the West Bank, they must give up their United Nations refugee certificates. From a Palestinian nationalist perspective, this is practically treason, since it means giving up the right of return. In the past 60 years, almost all Palestinian political statements have completely rejected the idea of resettling the refugees anywhere other than where they used to live in Palestine.

Hamas representatives expressed fierce opposition to the Iraq refugees giving up their UN certificates. Many members of Fatah and the other Palestinian factions joined Hamas in condemning the move.

The matter is primarily a symbolic one, but Hamas spokesmen - led by political adviser Ahmed Yousef - have said in the past few days that they would torpedo any Palestinian development that runs contrary to their position. This applies to Palestinian elections, along with other political and practical issues going beyond the refugees. Abbas has announced that he wants to move ahead the general elections for the PA parliament and chairmanship. Hamas is opposed, and it clearly won't allow elections to take place in the Gaza Strip. If Hamas calls for a boycott of the elections, it will be impossible to hold them in the West Bank, too. Hamas has a lot of destructive power regarding a variety of other issues as well.

There is an almost unanimous consensus in Palestinian politics regarding the conditions for any agreement with Israel: A Palestinian state must be established on the basis of the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and there must be some solution to the refugee problem. Even Hamas is prepared to agree to such a deal, in exchange for a long-term cease-fire and cooperation with Israel, though without peace or official recognition of Israel. The Hamas government in Gaza is currently making every effort to show that it is capable of maintaining good governance, law and order. Last week it invited foreign journalists to see what was happening there, and most left with a positive impression.

However, there is no doubt that Hamas is more capable of sabotaging Abbas' policy than it is of ruling. As long as the Hamas leadership has a hope of holding on in Gaza and of influence in the West Bank, there will be relative quiet. But when Hamas loses hope and it becomes clear that Abbas is far from achieving the minimum that the Palestinians are demanding, then the terrorism and violence almost certainly will be renewed. In other words, all the current political activity is liable to turn out to be nothing but bunk. Ultimately, the opinion of many Palestinians will turn out to be right: If Hamas isn't in the game, there is no game.

De grondvesten van een Palestijnse staat

Een levensvatbare en stabiele Palestijnse staat wordt breed gezien als de enige oplossing voor het Israëlisch-Palestijnse conflict.
Die staat zou ook nog eens democratisch moeten zijn, want niemand pleit natuurlijk voor het oprichten van een nieuwe dictatuur.
Helaas hebben de Palestijnen nog niet kunnen aantonen zo'n staat te kunnen opbouwen, en een echte democratie zou ook in de Arabische wereld een primeur betekenen.
Repeating a historic failure
Haaretz - Sat., July 28, 2007 Av 13, 5767
By Shlomo Avineri

Many people believe that Palestinian extremism is responsible for the fact that the Palestinians do not have a state: because they rejected the United Nations partition plan of 1947, because they rejected the proposals of prime minister Ehud Barak and U.S. president Bill Clinton at Camp David in 2000, and because they then reverted once again to terrorism against civilians. All this is true, but a review of history shows a more profound structural failing, which has accompanied the Palestinian movement over the years: the inability to establish institutions that are based on a national consensus and that are able to serve as the foundation for a state.

The failure began back in the time of the British Mandate, which allowed the Jews and the Arabs to establish structures of self-government to deal with education, economics, development and welfare. The Yishuv [pre-state Jewish community in Palestine] took advantage of this to establish a widespread system of self-government that became "the state in the making": Elections were held for an assembly of representatives in which more than a dozen political parties participated, and educational and welfare systems, as well as municipal and village government networks, were established that served most of the Jewish community. The National Committee (Va'ad Leumi) and the Jewish Agency became the foundation on which, when the time came, the institutions of the State of Israel were built.

The Arab community, however, did not succeed in establishing a parallel institutional system. The Arab Higher Committee was no more than an assembly of notables, who were appointed on a regional and clan basis without elections, and it represented only itself. The committee never established education or welfare systems, and a party-based political system never developed.

This weakness was clearly evident in the years 1936-1939, which in the Palestinian narrative are called "the Great Revolt" against British rule. A united command for the revolt was never created, and the situation degenerated into an Arab civil war in which armed militias killed each other's members: the mufti's followers and the Husseinis against the militias identified with the Nashashibi clan. In this struggle more Arabs were killed by Arabs than were killed by the British or the Jews.

A similar picture also emerged after the United Nations partition resolution. The Palestinians (apart from the few communists) were united in their opposition to partition, but they never established a consolidated political and military leadership, and the lack of such a leadership is responsible for some of their weaknesses in 1947-48. The Arab Higher Committee did not have at its command effective administrative and institutional structures, and many of its members fled the country when the violence started. The fighting was left to regional and local leaders.

What we are now seeing in the Gaza Strip - the inability of the two Palestinian factions to work together within an agreed-upon framework - is nothing but a repeat of this historic failure of the Palestinians. The current Palestinian excuse is that it is difficult to establish coherent political institutions in conditions of territorial fragmentation, refugees and Israeli occupation. All this is true, but irrelevant. Every national movement emerges in difficult conditions, which usually have to do with being under foreign rule. It is hard to imagine more difficult conditions than those that faced the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine in the 1930s and '40s, with the rise of the Nazis, abandonment on the part of Britain, the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. But this is the test of a national movement: whether it is able to transform a crisis into a historical moment of opportunity.

The Arab world as a whole does not excel at building institutions, and certainly not democratic ones. Thus far the Palestinian movement has not transcended this common Arab heritage. In the near future this will be its major test: If it does not become aware of the historical burden it is carrying on its shoulders and overcome it, the Palestinians' legitimate desire for independence will shatter on the rocks of the harsh internal reality that has accompanied their movement from its very beginning.

maandag 6 augustus 2007

Israëlische bloed en bodem?

Is Joods nationalisme (= Zionisme) racistisch?
Op de blog Judeosphere wordt het antwoord goed verwoord, bij monde van professor Gadi Taub.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Blood and Soil?
Among the most provocative statements in Walt and Mearsheimer's paper "The Israel Lobby" is the argument that Israel does not deserve special treatment from the United States as a fellow democracy because it was "explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship."

Writing in the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Gadi Taub of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem surveys the latest trend of anti-Zionist academic literature and 
highlights the duplicity of those denounce Jewish nationalism:
It is still true...that Zionism preserved many ties to Judaism as a religion, and often made concessions to the Orthodox. The result is no clear separation between church and state. Is that what singles Israel out as nondemocratic? Probably not. England has a state church, as do Denmark and Norway, and that doesn't seem to constitute evidence of a nondemocratic character...Moreover, a strict separation of church and stateas, for example, in France is not necessarily more egalitarian. France is extremely aggressive toward minorities whose religion has a public dimension (like Muslim women who cover their heads in school). Israel's Muslim minority is, in that respect, better off: Israel has a publicly financed Arab-language school system, for example, and a state-sponsored system of Muslim courts for marriage and family status. Arabic is one of the official languages of the state.

But then there is the Law of Return. The law grants automatic citizenship to immigrating Jews. Is that what makes Israel nondemocratic? Hardly. Many other countries with diasporas have such laws: Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and Poland, to name a few.

Or is the core of the problem...that Zionism is an "ethnic" national identity? The term "ethnic democracy" [insinuates] what Israeli law clearly forbids: confining full civil rights to Jews only.

Despite repeated usage, it is still not clear why the term "ethnic" is useful for describing Israel, which is far less ethnically homogeneous than, say, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Poland, or Sweden. In what sense does "ethnic" describe the common identity of Israeli Jews from Argentina, England, Ethiopia, Germany, Morocco, Russia, and Yemen? And how does one classify the ultra-Orthodox, a large group that does not share Israel's national identity but is nevertheless Jewish? Are they part of the ethnos but not of the nation? The real dividing lines in Israel are national — between those who do and those who don't share the national Jewish identity.

Nor does the existence of national minorities within Israel's boundaries present any unique problem to its democracy. Other nation-states also have national minorities that want to preserve their separate identities: the Basques in Spain and the Germans in Poland, say. Few observers, however, make that grounds for denying the rights of the majority in Poland or Spain to national self-determination. Granted, Israel's situation is peculiarly complicated by the fact that the state is in conflict with the Palestinian nation, to which a minority in Israel belongs. But that, too, is not the root of the intuitive feeling that the Israeli state is inherently malignant.

The alleged contradiction between "democratic" and "Jewish" is thus, at bottom, a reading of the occupation back into Zionism. Increasingly, Israel's most vehement critics tend to see things this way: Zionism is a blood-and-soil ideology that postulates that the land belongs exclusively to Jews. Therefore the occupation is its natural extension. And so an end to the occupation may alleviate some of the symptoms but not cure the disease. That is why [many] believe that the only way to make Israel fully democratic is to make it non-Zionist — that is, not a nation-state.

It is ironic that such a reading comes at a time when the most important change Israel has undergone is best described as the triumph of Zionism over the occupation....Hence, in Israeli public opinion, the "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has won over the ideology of a Greater Israel.

Imposing America's model of one liberal state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea would mean suppressing the aspirations of both Jews and Palestinians to self-determination. It may be noble of such writers to shoulder what was once called the White Man's Burden, and take it upon themselves to teach the natives the right form of self-determination. But from the point of view of the natives, that does not seem like a way to promote democracy. It seems more like an assault on self-determination with a liberal accent.

[Tony] Judt on Israel is closer to Bush on Iraq than [he] would like to believe: American notions of democracy are what count, not what Iraqis, or Palestinians, or Israeli Jews want. And, as in Iraq, such a solution would mean civil war. If anyone needed a demonstration of that, Hamas's military takeover of Gaza has supplied it. If Hamas and Fatah cannot reconcile their differences without resorting to force, then throwing a Jewish minority into the mix is unlikely to produce a peaceful liberal democracy.

Knesset leden tegen uitzetting Soedanese vluchtelingen

Met zoveel steun uit de Knesset voor een petitie tegen het terugsturen van vluchtelingen uit Darfoer naar Egypte, zou je denken dat Olmert wel moet zwichten. Hij is toch geen Verdonk?
Het is onbegrijpelijk hoe Egypte met de Soedanese vluchtelingen omgaat. Waarschijnlijk zijn miljoenen Soedanezen in de loop der jaren naar Egypte gevlucht vanwege de oorlog in Darfoer of om aan het fundamentalistische regime te ontsnappen.

Sudanese refugees in Be'er Sheva last week.

Last update - 17:00 03/08/2007

MKs oppose the deportation of Darfur refugees back to Egypt
By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press

Dozens of legislators from across the political spectrum have urged the government to refrain from deporting to Egypt Sudanese refugees who enter Israel through the Sinai Peninsula.

Channel 10 reported Thursday on Israeli soldiers who said they had witnessed Egyptian security officers executing several refugees.

"The refugees need protection and sanctuary, and the Jewish people's history as well as the values of democracy and humanity pose a moral imperative for us to give them that shelter," the MKs said in a petition.

The document has been signed by 63 MKs including Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Labor's Amir Peretz, Hadash's Dov Khenin and the National Religious Party's Effi Eitam.

The legislators propose to keep the refugees here until they are transferred to a safe haven abroad. MKs who signed the petition added suggestions such as building a high fence along the Egyptian border and stipulating quotas for the absorption of refugees.

The petition against deporting Sudanese asylum-seekers back to Egypt is the initiative of a group of students from Jerusalem and Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.

Many of the students first encountered the refugees up close in the capital. The Sudanese refugees were housed there in tents after they had entered Israel through Egypt, after escaping the genocide in the Western Sudan region of Darfur.

In conversations with refugees, the students became convinced that deportation to Egypt was tantamount to a death sentence.

"Our student group was concerned with raising the public's awareness to the refugees' plight," activist Na'ama Katz said. "When they arrived in Wohl Rose Park in Jerusalem, we got a chance to actually see what shape they were in. We began gathering testimonies and interviewing them. They told us they had been persecuted in Egypt, and we understood what going back there meant for them."

According to Katz, many of the refugees told the students that they had suffered persecution and physical abuse in Egypt. One of them who wished to remain anonymous told Haaretz that at some point during his stay in Egypt, he and his family were afraid to leave home for fear of being beaten.

"After Sudanese refugees took to demonstrating in Egypt in 2005, it was no longer safe for us to go out on the street. We couldn't go to the police because they were part of it. The Egyptian police joined in on harassing us refugees," he said.

According to an inter-ministerial committee on refugees crossing into Israel from Sinai, about 1,400 are currently in Israel. The committee was headed by Interior Minister Roni Bar-On.

In talks last month on the African refugees, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that any refugee caught crossing into Israel from Egypt would be returned to that country through an official crossing. Olmert said the matter had been finalized in discussions with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian soldiers murder Sudanese refugees near border with Israel

Egyptian soldiers murdered three Sudanese refugees, beating two to death in front of horrified Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Channel 10 television reported Thursday, screening what it said was army surveillance video and interviews with the soldiers.

Egyptian police told The Associated Press that authorities arrested two Sudanese refugees Thursday, seriously injuring one when he scuffled with police. But Egyptian police Captian Mohammed Badr did not report any deaths.

Channel 10 TV said the incident happened late Wednesday night. The refugees are seen running toward the Israeli border in the video. Then, according to one of the soldiers, who was not identified and whose voice was distorted, Egyptian soldiers opened fire, killing one and wounding the other.

The third tried to climb the border fence but was tackled by Egyptian soldiers, the TV report said.

IDF soldiers were sent to the scene to try to help the refugees, and at one point they got into a tug-of-war with the Egyptians, each side holding on to the Sudanese.

"We pulled one way they pulled another, they pointed their guns at us," said one of the soldiers. He said they let go for fear that the Egyptians would fire at them.

Then the IDF soldiers said they watched helplessly as the Egyptians passed the two refugees from one to the other, beating them. "We saw them gang up on them and beat them on the ground until they stopped moving, said one of the men identified as a soldier.

"They killed two men with their own hands and sticks and rocks," he said. "We heard them crying and screeching in pain until they died."

The IDF said it was looking into the incident. There was no confirmation from Egypt of any refugees being killed.

Hundreds of Sudanese refugees, many from the war-wracked Darfur region, have crossed the desert border from Egypt into Israel in recent months.

Last month, Egyptian border guards shot and killed a Sudanese woman and wounded four others. She was the first Sudanese refugee to be killed.

zondag 5 augustus 2007

IDF: luchtaanval verhinderde aanslag door Islamitische Jihad

De Islamitische Jihad zou een aanslag op Israëli's van plan zijn geweest, maar was schijnbaar op weg naar de Rafah Crossing met Egypte. In 2004 hadden terroristen die er niet in slaagden Israël binnen te komen, aanslagen gepleegd in het Egyptische Taba, waar veel Israëlische toeristen komen. Meer dan 30 doden waren toen het gevolg.

IDF: Gaza air strike foiled massive terrorist attack
AP and staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 4, 2007
A massive terror attack was foiled Saturday night when an IAF air strike on two vehicles near the southern Gaza Strip's border with Egypt killed two Palestinians, including an Islamic Jihad operative, and wounded 21 others, the IDF said.

The army said that one of the vehicles was carrying Islamic Jihad operatives and was filled with explosive devices including suicide bomb belts. The group, said the IDF, was on its way to carry out a huge terror attack against Israelis.

Islamic Jihad said some of its members were in at least one of the two vehicles hit in the IAF strike near the Rafah Crossing - a Mercedes saloon and a pickup truck parked alongside. Eyewitnesses said several blasts came from the pickup after the attack, suggesting that it had been carrying explosives. Three of those wounded were Islamic Jihad operatives and were in serious condition.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing a rocket into a Sderot neighborhood shortly before the air strike, but it was not clear if they were the same group hit by the IAF strike. Two more rockets were fired at the western Negev on Saturday night. No casualties or damage were reported as a result of the Kassam attacks.

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