Antiterrorism 2

The fight against the terrorist ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas regime - for a free Palestine

Supplement to IJ@ 4 (31), http://www.anarchy.no/ija431.html , with anarchist point of view

Introduction:

THE 25 HIGHEST RANKING COUNTRIES ACCORDING TO LIBERTARIAN DEGREE ETC.
SYSTEM ANALYSIS

Countries:

Rank of country according to libertarian degree, and type of system

Libertarian degree and (authoritarian degree) %

Degree of socialism
and (capitalism) %

Degree of autonomy and
(statism) %

Gini-index

Norway

1 Anarchy

54,0 (46,0)

55,0 (45.0)

53,2 (46,8)

25,8

Switzerland

2 Anarchy

53,0 (47,0)

51,0 (49,0)

55,1 (44,9)

33,1

Iceland

3 Anarchy

52,0 (48,0)

54,0 (46,0)

50,1 (49,9)

25,0 (est.)

Liechtenstein

4 Soc.dem.

49,5 (50,5)

51,4 (48,6)

47,7 (52,3)

32,0 (est.)

Luxembourg

5 Soc.dem.

49,2 (50,8)

52,1 (47,9)

46,5 (53,5)

30,8

Denmark

6 Soc.dem.

48,8 (51,2)

55,3 (44,7)

43,0 (57,0)

24,7

Japan

7 Soc.dem.

48,5 (51,5)

55,2 (44,8)

42,6 (57,4)

24,9

Belgium

8 Soc.dem.

48,2 (51,8)

54,0 (46,0)

43,0 (57,0)

25,0

Finland

9 Soc.dem.

47,9 (52,1)

53,8 (46,2)

42,6 (57,4)

26,9

Sweden

10 Soc.dem.

47,5 (52,5)

54,0 (46,0)

41,7 (58,3)

25,0

Netherlands

11 Soc.dem.

47,2 (52,8)

52,0 (48,0)

42,8 (57,2)

30,9

Canada

12 Soc.dem.

46,8 (53,2)

50,9 (49,1)

43,0 (57,0)

33,1

Austria

13 Soc.dem.

46,5 (53,5)

52,1 (47,9)

41,4 (58,6)

30,0

Ireland

14 Populist

46,2 (53,8)

45,0 (55,0)

47,4 (52,6)

35,9

Germany

15 Soc.dem.

45,9 (54,1)

53,0 (47,0)

39,6 (60,4)

28,3

Spain

16 Soc.dem.

45,5 (54,5)

51,5 (48,5)

40,1 (59,9)

32,5

Australia

17 Populist

45,0 (55,0)

48,0 (52,0)

42,2 (57,8)

35,2

United King.

18 Populist

44,5 (55,5)

44,7 (55,3)

44,3 (55,7)

36.0

New Zealand

19 Populist

44,0 (56,0)

44,6 (55,4)

42,4 (57,6)

36,2

France

20 Soc.dem.

43,5 (56,5)

51,4 (48,6)

36,6 (63,4)

32,7

Italy

21 Populist

43,0 (57,0)

44,7 (55,3)

41,3 (58,7)

36,0

USA

22 Cons. lib.

42,5 (57,5)

24,5 (75,5)

69,8 (30,2)

40,8

Israel

23 Populist

42,3 (57,7)

47,8 (52,2)

37,3 (62,7)

35,5

Hong Kong

24 Cons. lib.

42,1 ( 57,9)

22,1 (77,9)

74,8 (25,2)

43,4

Greece

25 Populist

42,0 (58,0)

47,9 (52,1)

36,6 (63,4)

35,4

The estimates are approximately figures. © IIFOR/IJA ISSN 0800 – 0220 2007 and later. Anarchy = here social-individualist anarchism; Soc. dem. = social democrat marxism; Populist = here moderate parliamentarian democratic fascism; Cons. lib. = Conservative liberalism. See economic-political map at System theory and EP-map. Ranking of countries according to libertarian degree, estimates of the libertarian degree in general, and information on methodology, see Ranking and System theory - Chapter V.B.. According to ThesaurusLegend: approximately = (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct. Thus: The estimates are approximately figures = The estimates are imprecise but fairly close to correct figures. By the way, the punk band Sex Pistols is right in their hypothesis that UK is fascist in the meaning of populist, a moderate parliamentarian democratic fascism, but not in meaning that UK has a totalitarian fascist system, with more than about 67% authoritarian degree, i.e. "the Sex Pistols punk perspective" in the meaning of 'allergic' to authority, typically for chaos-punks and their interpretation of the band's records, see Real democracy - Introduction. The Sex Pistols has declared that they are for musical anarchy, not political anarchy. They are probably neither chaos-punks, nor real anarchists... There are many broader analysis of countries' systems at the Anarchy Debate, in issues of IJA, at the IAT-websites, and at the Norwegian Anarkidebatt, say, Israel, see (click on:) The official link-site of AI/IFA. We have used " , ", the European standard instead of American/UK standard, i.e. " . " as decimal separator. The term "ca" is an abbreviation for the latin circa, which means about or approximately.

Israel is the most libertarian country in this region, i.e. in the Middle East and North Africa.

Arab countries on the economic-political map

With Arab countries we mean the 22 members of the Arab Leauge. The main goal of the League is to "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries." The Arab Leauge is the main fascist organization of today, with four moderate fascist systems, and eighteen totalitarian fascist systems, with more than 67% authoritarian degree.

Qatar is the least authoritarian Arab country. The degree of statism is estimated to 65,4 %, clearly a statist country. Thus the authoritarian degree is estimated to 62,5 % and the libertarian degree 37,5 %, ranked as no 47 of countries according to libertarian degree. It is thus not a totalitarian system with more than 67% authoritarian degree, but  rather authoritarian. It is located to the left in the populist sector of the fascist quadrant on the economic-political map, thus it is a left populist regime, moderate fascism. Similar systems, but a bit more authoritarian are in the United Arab Emirates, ranked as no 48 of countries according to libertarian degree, with ca 37,4 % libertarian degree, Bahrain 49 (ca 37,3%) and Kuwait  50 (ca 37,2%).

The other Arab countries are totalitarian fascist states, with less than 33,33 % libertarian degree: Libya ranked as no 68 (ca 32,5% libertarian degree),  Oman 74 (ca 31,9%), Saudi Arabia 82  (ca 31,1%), Lebanon 84 (ca 30,9%), Tunisia 92 (ca 30,1%), Jordan 93  (ca 30%), Algeria 105 (ca 28,5%), Syria 108 (ca 28,2%), Occupied Palestinian Territories 110 (ca 28%), Egypt 122 (ca 26,7%), Morocco 127 (ca 25,8%),  Comoros 135 (ca 24,5%), Sudan 144 (ca 23,6%), Djibouti 152  (ca 22,8%), Yemen 154 (ca 22,6%), Mauritania 155 (ca 22,5%), Iraq 177 (ca 20,5%) and Somalia 186 ( ca 20%).

Somalia with its rivaling polyarchy and heavy ochlarchy is the most authoritarian country in the world. These totalitarian fascist states have very little respect for human rights and are ruled very significantly from the top downwards to the boottom/grassroots, both economically and political/administrative. There is a marginal anarchist opposition in some of the countries, say Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco, but most of the oppositions are fundamentalist, islamist, fascist terrorist groups, even worse than the existing regimes. The Anarchist International supports human rights, including labor and womens' rights, and anarchist opposition, in these countries, and the AI-note "What anarchists are against and what they are for" is translated to Arabic by Arab anarchists, see Anarchism in Arabic, but it is a long way to go before anything close to anarchy regarding the societal system seen all in all can be achieved in these countries. At least this was the situation until 2010. Per February 2011 the situations in Tunisa and Egypt regarding oppositions have changed somewhat, but the libertarian degrees of the systems, seen all in all, in these countries have not changed significantly so far, but they may change in the coming years.

***

Iran is not an Arab country, see IJA 2(39) for more information about the situation in Iran.

***

17.06.2007: Hamas islamic fascists declare the "liberation" of Gaza .

Palestinians are alarmed at the deterioration of security in the region. Iranian backed Hamas fighters captured bastions of forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas across Gaza and the Islamists declared the "liberation" of the impoverished strip. Hamas loyalists then murdered many Fatah members in the street execution style. In the latest violence, gunmen of Hamas took over Fatah security offices in the southern town of Rafah, emptied its contents, and blew up the building. Hundreds of civilians gathered on site and took furniture and equipment from the building before masked gunmen fired in the air and dispersed the crowd. "This is a step in the wrong direction" a spokesperson for the AIE says. 

It is true that Hamas was elected but so was Hitler and many other fascist regimes with more than 67% authoritarian degree. It does not make them significantly less fascist. Such terrorist, fascist rulers are only elected when the alternatives, usually wrongly, seem even worse, but the people, seen as a class in contrast to the superiors in rank and/or income, are always better off with a less authoritarian system. Thus such systems should always be done away with and replaced with a less authoritarian. The anarchists in the Israel, Hamas, Palestine conflict, as always support the people, the Palestinian and Israeli people, seen as a class in contrast to the superiors, including the ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas rulers, i.e. the Israeli people against Hamas' terrorist rocket attacks, and the Palestinian people against deadly Israeli, IDF, attacks. The Anarchist International, AIE and ICOT's aim is a two independent countries' solution based on the 1967 borders, with no states in the meaning of topheavy pyramid structures, an end of the Israeli occupation, no wall, and the two countries living in peace, with an end of terrorism etc. Also the Palestinian refugee problem must have a positive solution within the two-countries' approach. The AI, AIE and ICOT mainly support "Anarchists against the wall".

27.12.2008 and beyond

27.12.2008 and beyond: Stop killing innocent civilians! UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire.
There can be no ceasefire agreement before the criminal Hamas rulers are arrested, or if they do not surrender, but keep on killing - killed!
Since 2001 more than 10 000 rockets and mortar fire have been sent from Gaza to Israel...
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak: ... Israel was not targeting the people of Gaza, rather its rulers, Hamas...
So far the Israeli soldiers don't hit the people of Gaza, but its rulers Hamas, proportionate in self defense, they have anarchist support.
Later the Anarchist International, with about 50 000 persons loosely associated to the network,
demands the civilian bloodshed must now stop,
and calls for a durable peace agreement and ceasefire, with simultaneously stop in the attacks from both Hamas and Israel.
19.01.2009. Gaza: End of fighting opens opportunity for real peace and justice!
01.02.2009. The ceasefire is dead.
The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT.
06.02.2009. The anarchists support the people of Gaza, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors in rank and/or income, i.e. the Hamas rulers, and call for revolt against Hamas. There will probably be no durable ceasefire and peace agreement as long as Hamas rules Gaza.

09.02.2009. The ultra-fascists Hamas and Lieberman's party have common interests in instability in the region, and their influence should be minimized.
10.02.2009. Amnesty International has accused Hamas militants in Gaza of kidnapping, killing and torturing fellow Palestinians.
13.02.2009. The anarchists call for a durable peace deal. This may take some time to reach, but as long as the negotiations go on, there will probably be few terrorist attacks by Hamas and associates, and thus few responses from Israel. Thus, the anarchists call for continued peace talks, until a lasting peace agreement can be reached.
18.02.2009. Israeli officials say the country's Security Cabinet has decided to keep the Gaza Strip's border crossings closed until an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, is freed.
26.02.2009. The anarchists demand that Netanyahu continues with the peace negotiations and work for a two independent countries solution.
04.03.2009. The anarchists support a two independent countries' solution, but they should not be states, but anarchies. This may however take long time to achieve...
05.03.2009. The anarchists take a clear stand against the ultra-authoritarian fascist systems of both Iran and Hamas.
12.03.2009. Palestinian factions are trying to hammer out a power-sharing agreement. The anarchists support the efforts.
18.03.2009. Hamas is the bottleneck in the negotiations that will benefit the Palestinian and Israeli people, seen as class in contrast to the superiors in rank and/or income, the anarchists say: we support the Israeli and Palestinian people... we call on the Hamas-rulers to act with reason!
25.03.2009. The Anarchist International and ICOT mark that the new Netanyahu government will push for Israel-Palestinian peace and hold all agreements with the Palestinians.

02.04.2009. Israeli foreign minister Lieberman's "peace policy" cannot be taken seriously, the anarchists say: he will face the music from the anarchists, EU, USA, etc.
16.04.2009. The anarchists again reject Lieberman's policy and call for a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT.
20.04.2009. The anarchists condemn Hamas for killing 32 Palestinians and hurting several more on Gaza, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for calling Israel racist.
07.05.2009.Palestinians and anarchists give cool reception to Netanyahu plan.
14.05.2009. The whole international community, including ICOT, AIE and AI, puts pressure on Israel to accept Palestinian independence soon.
18.05.2009. The anarchists condemn the widespread Holocoust denial among Israeli Arabs.
27.05.2009: Netanyahu calls on Arab states to normalize ties.
31.05.2009: Fatah fights Hamas. Six Palestinians killed. The anarchists support the less authoritarian Fatah's fight against the more authoritarian Hamas.
04.06.2009. Hamas can 1. recognize Israel and join the peace process, or 2. continue with terrorism and lose in the long run. The anarchists urge Hamas to choose option 1.
10.06.2009. The anarchists push for prompt Mideast peace talks.
14.06.2009. Israeli prime minister says Israel would agree to a peace agreement with a "demilitarized Palestinian state." A small step in right direction but not enough, the anarchists say.
25.06.2009. Israel reduces control of 4 West Bank towns - Hamas leader welcomes Obama's new Mideast approach.
19.07.2009. Israel rejects US call to halt Jerusalem project. The anarchists call on Israel to halt the Jerusalem project and all new settlement building.
23.07.2009. Israel won: Hamas shifts from rockets to "culture war".
18.08.2009. Israel quietly halts permits for new settlement building.
31.08.2009. Top Hamas official says Holocaust "a lie".
04.11.2009.
Clinton: US wants Israel settlement halt 'forever'.
11.11.2009. No peace talks unless Israel halts settlements, Abbas and the anarchists say.
15.11.2009. Palestinians aim to secure UN support for state.
17.11.2009. Anarchists, Palestinians, US, UK criticize Israeli Jerusalem plan.
19.11.2009. Israeli air strikes in response to continued recent rocket firing into Israel from the Gaza Strip.
21.11.2009. Gaza militants agree to halt rocket fire.
24.11.2009. Israeli air strikes in response to rocket firing into Israel from the Gaza Strip, despite the agreement to halt rocket fire.
25.11.2009. Israel proposes 10-month West Bank settlement halt.
27.11.2009. Abbas says Israeli settlement freeze not enough.
30.11.2009. The terrorist group Hezbollah to continue arming to fight Israel.
01.12.2009. Netanyahu: Settlement freeze only temporary.
06.12.2009. World Bank gives Palestinian Authority $64 million to help it prepare for independent country. Preferably a Palestinian anarchy - not state - the anarchists repeat.
14.12.2009. Obama and anarchists: UN resolutions in Lebanon must be enforced.
20.12.2009. Israel threatens to use force against settlers.
03.03.2010. Meeting in Cairo, foreign ministers from the Arab League have endorsed preliminary talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
08.03.2010. Indirect talks? The Anarchist International, ICOT and the Anarchist International Embassy once more call for real peace talks, and mean proximity talks can be a first step in this direction.
10.03.2010. AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the Israeli government's decision to build some 1,600 new settlement homes on Palestinian land next to Jerusalem. Biden attacks new Israeli settlement plan.
14.03.2010.Israel's Prime Minister has, for the first time publicly, voiced regret for the timing of the announcement of a Jewish settlement plan.
15.03.2010.Netanyahu: Jerusalem building doesn't hurt Arabs. The anarchists condemn the building plans, and call for 100% halt in Israeli settlements.
17.03.2010. Israel has lifted West Bank closure in force since March, 13.
18.03.2010. Palestinian rocket kills worker of kibbutz in Israel, first such death since Gaza war. Kibbutz is mentioned by Noam Chomsky and the Anarchists International as anarchistic. This is thus a direct attack
on anarchism. AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the terrorist attack, the murder of the Kibbutz worker, and the direct attack on anarchism.
28.03.2010. Arab leaders renew support for peace efforts. The anarchists, The AI, ICOT and AIE, back the Arab leaders' renewed support for peace efforts.
02.04.2010. Hamas signals it wants to keep Gaza quiet.
08.05.2010. Palestinian approval opens door to Mideast talks.
19.05.2010. Proximity talks. The anarchists, The AI, ICOT and AIE, back the talks.
31.05.2010. Hamas-supporters killed. Anarchist criticism. Netanyahu: Israel regrets the loss of life. Flotilla raid was self defense.
03.06.2010. Demonstration tomorrow supported by anarchists.
04-05.06.2010. Ochlarchist demonstrations Friday in Palestine, with youths throwing stones at security forces. The anarchists condemn the ochlarchy. No anarchists were involved in the ochlarchy.
09.06.2010. Obama calls for new approach on Gaza blockade.
13.06.2010. Israel's blockade of Gaza must end, says the Arab world's top diplomat. ICOT, AIE and AI call for an anarchist solution. Obama backs Israel's inquiry into flotilla raid.
17.06.2010. Israel loosens chokehold on Gaza after anarchist and other pressure.
24.06.2010. Jewish dance group stoned in Hanover, Germany. The anarchists condemn the anti-Semitic attack.
12.07.2010. Israeli report says flawed intelligence, planning led to botched raid on Gaza flotilla.
13.07.2010. Israel: Gaza aid ship diverts to Egypt. Aid provided by an organization named after the ultra-authoritarian ruler of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi.
14.07.2010. Gadhafi ship reaches Egypt.
01.08.2010. Israel warns Hamas after rocket fire.
02.08.2010. Rockets hit Israeli resort of Eilat and Jordan's Aqaba.
03.08.2010. Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire Tuesday
20.08.2010. Israel, Palestinians to talk 02.09.2010. Anarchist comment. New York Times' analysis.
31.08.2010. Hamas kills 4 Israelis on eve of peace talks.
01.09.2010. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT welcome the peace talks in USA.
02.09.2010. Hamas among intractable issues in Mideast talks. More talks for Israel, Palestinians.
16.09.2010. Israel's settlements key to peace talk progress.
03.10.2010. No talks unless Israel halts settlements, PLO says.
11.10.2010. Israeli PM offers conditional settlements freeze.
16.10.2010. Palestinians weighing alternatives to peace talks.
15.11.2010. Netanyahu tries to shore up support for US proposal to halt West Bank settlement building. Anarchist comment.
02.01.2011. Israeli PM wants nonstop talks with Palestinians. Anarchist comment.
09.01.2011. Israeli bulldozers have demolished a hotel in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for homes for Jewish settlers.
The anarchists condemn the demolition.
13.03.2011. Israeli go-ahead for more settlements on the occupied West Bank. The anarchists condemn the move.
19.03.2011. Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars into Israel. The anarchists condemn the Hamas' terrorist attack.
23.03.2011. Dozens of casualties in Jerusalem blast. Tension increases between Israel and Gaza.
03.04.2011. Israel says the Gaza Goldstone report must go into the "dustbin".
28.04.2011. Palestinian leader downplays fears over Hamas deal.
The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, greeted the unity deal with caution.
02.05.2011. Gaza Hamas leader condemns US killing of Osama bin Laden. Anarchist comment. ITUC and Palestine May Day.

04.05.2011. Palestinians end four-year rift at Cairo ceremony. Anarchist comments.
10.08.2011. In Israel protests, a surprise Arab-inspired taste.
19.08.2011. Rockets, airstrikes follow attack on Israel. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn the terrorist attack.
21.08.2011. Israel-Gaza violence threatens protest movement.
03.09.2011. Israelis turn out for largest economic-political protest.
05.09.2011. Sweden earmarks $630,000 to protect its Jews from hate crimes.
23.09.2011. Palestinians submit request for UN membership. Israel: The Palestinians want a state without peace.
02.12.2011. US and anarchists: Israel, Palestinians must restart direct talks.
15.12.2011.The Anarchy of Iceland recognizes Palestine.
12.03.2012. Israel-Gaza violence.
13.03.2012. Israel-Gaza truce taking hold.

15.11.2012. Hamas rocket kills 3 Israelis, wider war looms.
18.11.2012. A "serious" effort to work toward Middle East peace "starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel's territory."
19.11.2012. Israel and Hamas must heed the call of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a truce.
20.11.2012. The anarchists, the ICOT, AIE and AI, had an international direct action with the parole "Call for truce Israel and Gaza".
21.11.2012. Terrorist bombattack complicates truce-negotiations. Truce into effect at 19:00 GMT.
29.11.2012. The United Nations General Assembly endorsed an upgraded status for the Palestinian Authority.
19.07.2013. The long-dormant Middle East peace efforts got new life.
20.07.2013. Israel says it will release a number of Palestinian prisoners.
29.07.2013. Obama hails Mid-East talks, warning of 'hard choices'.
30.07.2013. Middle East peace talks have resumed.
13.08.2013. Illegal settlements.
30.06.2014. Missing teenagers found dead.

01.07.2014. Israel launched more than 30 air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
07.07.2014. Three people, Jewish extremists, have confessed to murdering a Palestinian teenager.
08.07.2014. Israel carries out more air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
20.07.2014. CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
26.08.2014. A truce has been reached
04.11.2014. A letter written by a non - Jewish Scottish professor to his students who voted to boycott Israel.
11.12.2015. Deadly clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians.

29.12.2008: For a third day running, Israel has pursued what it is calling its "war to the bitter end" with the terrorist, ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas-regime. As Gaza took a further pounding, sources in the territory said around 350 people have now died. According to the UN, at least 57 of the dead are civilians. Israel says the offensive, launched weeks before a national election, is aimed at halting Palestinian rocket attacks that intensified after a truce with Hamas expired. But even as Israeli ground forces gathered, heightening speculation about a possible invasion of Gaza, the Islamist group remained defiant. Against a backdrop of mounting international criticism and demonstrations with ochlarchy, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak has attempted to justify what he called a "war without mercy" against Hamas. This afternoon he told a stormy session of the Knesset that Israel was not targeting the people of Gaza, rather its rulers, Hamas, which it blamed for the current situation.

Meanwhile, one of the homemade Palestinian rockets regularly launched from Gaza killed an Israeli in the city of Ashkelon this morning. He and more than a dozen other Israeli Arabs had been working on a building site in the city centre. The man was the second Israeli to have been killed over recent days. Two rockets hit the city on Sunday and more than 20 landed in the surrounding area. So far the Israeli soldiers don't hit the people of Gaza, but its rulers Hamas, proportionate in self defense, they have anarchist support. Stop killing innocent civilians! UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire. There can be no ceasefire agreement before the criminal Hamas rulers are arrested, or if they do not surrender, but keep on killing - killed! The Israeli people probably need much more than about 7000 soldiers to make Hamas surrender. They need to outnumber Hamas about 3 to 1 to avoid a blood bath, even with the air support. Hamas has about 30 000 militants. But Israel has more fire power, tanks and air support helping to outnumber Hamas. Perhaps about 60 000 Israeli soldiers with tanks and air support will make Hamas surrender? The more outnumbering - the less blood shed...

30.12.2008: In the morning Israeli jets have attacked the Gaza Strip for a fourth day, with raids on a number of Hamas government buildings and security installations. An Israeli woman has died after Palestinian militants fired a rocket at the town of Ashdod, which lies thirty kilometres from the border with Gaza. Four other people were injured in the attack. Shortly beforehand, an Israeli man died from his injuries after being caught up in an earlier rocket attack in the town of Nahal Oz. The deaths bring to five the number of Israeli citizens who have died since Saturday, when Israel began its campaign of air strikes against Gaza. Israel says it is ready for "long weeks of action" as it continues its fiercest air assault on Gaza for decades to stamp out militant rocket attacks. Palestinian officials say 10 people died in the latest attacks, taking the death toll to over 360 since Saturday. Dozens of civilians have been killed. Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit rejected any ceasefire until the threat of rockets was removed completely. Israel is massing tanks on the border with Gaza and has declared the zone a "closed area" for journalists, stoking rumours that a ground offensive is being prepared. The bombings so far are only the "first stage out of a series of measures that the cabinet has approved" according to the Israeli Prime Minister. Ehud Olmert has vowed to strike Hamas with an "iron fist" while treating Gaza's civilian population with "kid gloves." Israel is trying to pinpoint militants. Hamas are committed to destruction of the people in Israel. They're firing missiles at the civilians. They're hiding behind their civilians. That's a double war crime right there.

Israel has announced that a convoy of 109 trucks carrying international humanitarian supplies had been authorised to enter Gaza today. The Egyptian-Gaza border was due to be opened to permit more trucks carrying aid to enter the territory, and for wounded Palestinians to be transported to Egyptian hospitals. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, under popular pressure to open the crossing fully, said that could not happen while Hamas, rather than the Palestinian Authority, led by its rival Fatah, controlled the border. Demonstrators in Yemen, angered by Egypt's co-operation with the blockade on Gaza, briefly stormed the country's consulate in Aden, where they burned an Egyptian flag and hoisted a Palestinian one. There have been angry, ochlarchical, protests against the Israeli offensive, mainly by fascists in many other cities across the Arab world, and in several European capitals, mainly by leftists, i.e. authoritarian marxists. Later on Tuesday Mr Olmert agreed to a  48-hour temporary truce, suggested by France, to let in humanitarian aid to Gaza, under the condition that Hamas should stop its attacks, but Hamas has so far rejected the offer. Late in the afternoon the death toll from the Israeli airstrike campaign in Gaza has surpassed 375, according to Palestinian medical sources. Israel has confirmed that a rocket fired by militants linked to Hamas landed in the town of Beersheba. Beersheba is 42 km (26 miles) inside Israel, the furthest a missile has ever reached. Militants in Gaza have fired more than 70 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel since Monday. At least 180 rockets have been launched into Israel since the campaign began.

31.12.2008: International calls for a ceasefire, including a European Union statement calling for an "unconditional" halt to Hamas rocket attacks, were rejected by Hamas, and thus there will be no truce, but Israel has said that dialogue with the international community will continue, and that Israel will work with the international community to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza. In the morning Palestinian officials said about 374 Palestinians have died in Israeli air strikes since Saturday. The rocket attacks from Hamas continue. A police spokesman said 860 000 Israelis were now in range of Palestinian rockets. The UN says at least 62 Palestinian civilians have died since Saturday. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sounded a defiant tone in a televised address to Palestinians at night saying that the Islamist group would win the fight against Israel, and sooner than people thought. This is not realistic.

01.01.2009: The first day of 2009 dawned in Gaza with a sixth day of Israeli airstrikes, a bombardment Israel's prime minister vowed would not end until Hamas militants quit firing rockets into the Jewish state. An overnight attack on the Palestinian parliament building gutted the structure, and periodic strikes sent columns of smoke over Gaza City into Thursday morning. Palestinian medical sources said 400 people have been killed in Gaza since the Israeli raids began Saturday, with 42 children, 13 women and two medical workers among the dead. Another 2,000 have been wounded, 216 critically, they said.

Israel launched the bombing campaign in an effort to halt the firing of rockets into southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled territory. Four Israelis -- three of them civilians -- have been killed by Palestinian rocket fire, police and IDF officials have said. Another 56 have been wounded, four seriously, emergency medical services reported. A draft UN resolution for peace put forward by Egypt and Libya failed after the US and UK complained that it called on Israel to ends its air assaults but made no mention of Hamas rocket attacks against Israel, which they say started the latest hostilities. Despite the failure of the initial UN talks, diplomatic efforts continue to bring an end to the fighting. Israel says it has not ruled out a truce, but it remains poised to launch a ground offensive. A poll shows that most Israelis support tough military action to eliminate the threat of rocket attacks. The UN's relief agency, Unwra, says Gaza is facing a dire humanitarian situation and is on the brink of catastrophe. However, Capt Benjamin Rutland of the Israeli Defense Force  has said that enough food and medical supplies were getting through.

Israel continues air strikes on Gaza. Palestinian sources said targets south, west and north of Gaza City were hit early Thursday. In addition to the legislative building, the ministries of justice and education and civil defense headquarters, to the city's west, were targeted by Israeli airstrikes. The Israel Defense Forces, IDF, said its air force and navy hit 20 targets overnight. In addition to Palestinian government facilities, the IDF said it hit a weaponry workshop in central Gaza, five tunnels and police headquarters in the border town of Rafah and rocket-launching sites on the Mediterranean coast. At least two people were killed and 10 wounded in the Rafah airstrikes, Palestinian sources said. Meanwhile, five rockets were launched into Israel, including two medium-range rockets that fell near the city of Beer Sheva, nearly 19 miles outside Gaza, the IDF reported. A leading commander of Hamas' military wing in Gaza was among 10 people killed Thursday in an Israeli airstrike on a Palestinian refugee camp, a Hamas security source said. The source said Hamas military commander Nizar Rayyan was killed when the Israeli missile hit his house in the Jabalya refugee camp, north of Gaza City. Nizar Rayyan was a cleric widely regarded as one of Hamas's most hardline political leaders, and he had called for renewed suicide bombings inside Israel. The Israeli military said it bombed the home of a second senior Hamas military operative in Gaza,  Nabil Amrin, on Thursday, but did not know if he was there. Weapons and ammunition stored in Amrin's Gaza City house caused a large secondary explosion, the IDF said in a statement. There was no word on casualties. The air strikes on Gaza have not prevented further rocket attacks on Israel. The cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba were again hit, although there were no reports of casualties. By midday, at least 21 missiles had been fired into Israel.

The anarchists call the Palestinian people of Gaza, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors in rank and/or income, to revolt against the terrorist, ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas rulers. The marxists' criticism of Israel is not fair. The anarchists remind the marxists that Gaza is not occupied territory, and "liberated" by Hamas. Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has said: "Israel is working with the pragmatic leadership in the Palestinian Authority in order to reach a peace treaty while simultaneously we need to address Hamas... The only way to see a change in the region is to help the moderates but simultaneously to attack and to keep the pressure on the extremists like Hamas." In the afternoon Palestinian medical sources say 402 people have been killed.

02.01.2009: Israel has allowed 443 foreigners to leave the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as it continues its military assault on the territory. Many of those allowed out are spouses and children of Gaza Palestinians. Those leaving got on buses at dawn and headed for the Erez border crossing. According to the authorities they are US, Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Turkish and Norwegian passport holders. Israeli authorities say seven rockets fired from northern Gaza hit Ashkelon and Sdot Negev Regional Council limits, which borders western Gaza. One of the rockets hit a house in Ashkelon. A woman was slightly injured by shrapnel and several people are being treated for shock. The morning barrage comes after a relatively quiet night in Israeli territory close to Gaza. That follows the 52 rockets fired into Israel on Thursday, according to security forces.

Yesterday's killing by Israel of Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan has escalated the conflict, with the militant group vowing to avenge his death. The islamist ochlarchs call for blood as Israel hammers on. A mosque was one of around 20 targets hit by Israeli overnight air strikes in which two people were killed. Israeli security officials said rockets had been stored there. About noon the death toll in Gaza rose to 421 as some badly wounded succumbed to their injures. A quarter of the dead were civilians, the United Nations estimates.

Thousands of Palestinian islamist fascists of the West Bank have joined demonstrations after a call from Hamas for a "day of wrath" against the Israeli attacks on them. Fascist demonstrations have also been held around the Muslim world after Friday prayers. Confused pacifists and marxists join in the protests. The anarchists remind the protesters about the Hamas terror war against Israel. Remember 1 212 rockets and 1 290 mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip have struck southern Israel only in Jan-Nov 2008. No need for the Israeli people to pay any attention to fascist, marxist and pacifist protests. The anarchists again call the Palestinian people of Gaza, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors in rank and/or income, to revolt against the terrorist, ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas rulers with a.o.t. the aim of stopping the ochlarchical rocket attacks on the Israeli people.

About the humanitarian situation Israel has said Gazans were continuing to receive sufficient food and medicines. In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said that since the beginning of the campaign, 335 truckloads of humanitarian aid (7 800 tonnes) had been delivered into Gaza. It said it was working with international organisations in Gaza as well as various governments "in order to assess the humanitarian needs... and make the necessary response". All reports indicate that there are sufficient medicine and food in Gaza, the statement read. The UN's Maxwell Gaylard said: "It is true supplies have been going into the Strip, in fact possibly more than in previous weeks, but at the same time there are critical gaps." The anarchists demand that increased and sufficient food and medicines etc. are sent to Gaza.

Israel has, as mentioned, moved tanks to the outskirts of Gaza, and called up at least 2000 army reservists. A ground operation with such small troops will certainly flop, see the anarchists' advice above. Israel should take this seriously. Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal said Israel faced a "black destiny" if it launched a ground offensive. In a pre-recorded statement broadcast on al-Jazeera television, he said Israelis would be making a "stupid mistake", adding that Hamas resistance and infrastructure were intact. "We will not break, we will not surrender or give in to your conditions," Mr Meshaal said in Syria. He was also playing on the islamist populist/fascist myth that this was not a battle against Hamas alone, but against the entire umma, or nation, and that Hamas are defending the muslim world against a modern form of crusades. He sounds like Saddam Hussein's "Comical Ali"... The number of rockets sent by militants from Gaza into Israel decreased Friday. The average of 70 a day was down to just over 30, according to the IDF.

03.01.2009: President George W. Bush has blamed the violence in Gaza and southern Israel firmly on Hamas, a hypothesis that is mainly correct. In his weekly radio address President George W Bush said Hamas was responsible for the latest violence and rejected any unilateral ceasefire that he said would allow Hamas to continue to fire on Israel. He added that no peace deal would be acceptable without tougher action to prevent Hamas and other groups from receiving weapons. "There must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure the smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end," he said. "I urge all parties to pressure Hamas to turn away from terror and to support legitimate Palestinian leaders working for peace," Mr Bush added. Hamas said one of its military leaders, Abu Zakaria al-Jama, died in an overnight strike. Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued early on Saturday, with 35 reported. One person was killed as large parts of the American school, a private Palestinian college, in north-west Gaza, were destroyed. The Israeli military said the school was a hiding place for Hamas activists and a base for firing rockets. Naval vessels also shelled the area from the Mediterranean coast, witnesses said. Combining information from Palestinian medical sources and the Israeli military, about noon at least 435 Palestinians have been killed. About 2 200 people have been wounded.

The anarchists mean the time has not come for a ground offensive yet. There must be a lot more Israeli soldiers and tanks before this can be victorious. The Israeli military has stepped up its attacks on Gaza, as the offensive on Hamas enters its second week. Israeli artillery and tanks bombarded the territory for what is thought to be the first time during the offensive, and further air strikes were launched. Leaflets signed by the commander of the Israeli military were dropped over northern Gaza on Saturday morning, warning residents to "leave the area immediately" to ensure their safety. In one raid, at least 13 persons were killed, when a missile hit a mosque in Beit Lahiya, Palestinian medics said. The anarchists say that Israel must not forget that this is a fight by the Israeli people against the terrorist Hamas ochlarchs, not a war against Gaza's people. Israeli military has destroyed a number of mosques since it began its Gaza campaign a week ago. Israel says Hamas uses them to store weapons. Israel insists its military offensive will continue until the group's infrastructure is sufficiently weakened to stop all attacks on Israeli civilians. Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more rockets into southern Israel on Saturday. IDF Maj. Avital Leibovitch said Hamas militants had launched 20 rockets from Gaza into Israel by late afternoon Saturday. Rockets set a house on fire in Ashkelon, damaged a kibbutz dining hall and slightly wounded two people in an eight-story building in Ashdod, according to Israeli ambulance services. "We still see that Hamas is targeting Israeli civilians. Namely, we still did not reach the goal of crippling Hamas' launching capabilities," Leibovitch said. "We still have many more targets to go," she added. In the afternoon Israel has carried out more than 800 strikes on Gaza since launching the offensive a week ago, including 40 on Saturday. An airstrike killed two Hamas militants in Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, Palestinian officials said. Palestinian medical sources said Saturday evening that at least 460 people have been killed..

In the evening Israel has launched a ground offensive. This is risky business. The anarchists hope they know what they are doing... Israeli ground troops have started to enter the Gaza Strip, Israeli military officials have confirmed, a week after the offensive against Hamas began. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the intention was to "take control" of areas from which Palestinian militants have been firing rockets into Israel. The first 10 vehicles have already been crossing the northern border. Earlier, Israel intensified air and artillery attacks on the territory. "We want to create a situation where the civilian population in southern Israel is no longer on the receiving end of those deadly Hamas rockets. When quiet can be achieved, this operation can be finished," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev has said. The goal of Operation Cast Lead, OCL, is to halt what Israeli officials describe as a near-constant barrage of Hamas rockets into the southern part of the country from Gaza. "We haven't articulated regime change as the goal of this operation. Our goal is to protect our people," Regev said. Israeli officials say four people have been killed and 59 wounded in Hamas rocket attacks in the past week. Regev said Gaza's civilian population was not Israel's enemy. "In many ways, they are victims like us. Both the civilian population of southern Israel and the civilian population of the Gaza Strip have been victims of this terrible, extremist Hamas regime," Regev said.

Hamas' military wing, The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has about 23 000 terrorists, associates and other terrorist organizations on Gaza have about 7 000 militants, all in all about 30 000 militants. Israel said it called up tens of thousands of reservists. But will it be enough? A Hamas spokesman, their "Comical Ali", said to the Israeli soldiers: "Gaza will be your cemetery". It will certainly not be so for most of them. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the ground campaign against Hamas "will not be easy or short, but we are determined". "Our aim is to force Hamas to stop its hostile activities against Israel and Israelis from Gaza, and to bring about a significant change in the situation in the southern part of Israel," he told a news conference. "We have carefully weighed all our operations. We are not war-hungry, but we shall not allow a situation in which our towns, villages and civilians are constantly targeted by Hamas." Mr Barak also said Israel would "keep a sensitive eye" on its northern border with Lebanon, where it fought a short but bloody war with the Shia Hezbollah movement in 2006. "We hope the situation will remain calm. Nevertheless, we are ready and alert to face any unwanted development in that area," he added. The anarchists wish the Israeli soldiers good luck - they may need it...

04-05.01.2009: Israel has sent ground forces into the Gaza Strip after a week of air strikes to try to halt rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. Israeli troops were reported to be engaged in heavy clashes with Hamas fighters in northern Gaza. Earlier, Israel intensified air and artillery attacks on the territory. Witnesses say Israeli military convoys crossed into northern Gaza at four separate points. Wearing night-vision goggles on their helmets and camouflage paint on their faces, Israeli ground troops entered the Gaza Strip along with columns of tanks. They were supported by attack helicopters. Advancing Israeli tanks were reported to be in battles around Gaza City and the northern towns of Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya. Hamas fighters replied with mortars and rockets, witnesses said. The incursion began just hours after the European Union announced that a delegation is heading to the Middle East to meet with regional leaders and broker a ceasefire.

Israeli troops gained control of the eastern section of northern Gaza Sunday morning. Smoke filled the sky during clashes between Israeli and Palestinian forces at the border of Gaza City. In his first public comments since the ground offensive began, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the operation was "unavoidable", but that he will not allow a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. At least 21 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza Sunday morning, Palestinian medical sources said. Eight of those deaths happened during heavy battles between Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters in northern Gaza, the sources said. Four civilians were killed by Israeli shelling in Rafah in southern Gaza, one militant died in Khan Younis, five people were killed near the Jebalya refugee camp and three died in Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources also said.

An IDF statement said Sunday morning that dozens of Hamas fighters were "hit" in the fighting, although it did not say how many were killed. Israeli missiles targeted 45 Hamas locations overnight, including the Hamas intelligence headquarters, the IDF said. It also said soldiers engaged Hamas fighters in several firefights during the first hours of the ground incursion into Gaza. At least 30 rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel Sunday morning, although no injuries have been reported, the IDF said. Blasts of heavy machine-gun fire and explosions from airstrikes have filled the air in Gaza since Israel rolled thousands of troops into the Palestinian territory. Israel's ground assault followed a weeklong flurry of airstrikes. Israel has said the attacks are in response to recent rocket attacks from Hamas militants in Gaza. According to the Israeli military, 30 soldiers have been wounded during the incursion into Gaza in the morning. Two of the soldiers reportedly have serious injuries.

Israeli forces killed three senior members of Hamas' military wing on Sunday, Hamas sources said. In the evening Palestinian medical sources say Israeli forces have killed 37 Palestinians, both civilians and militants, since moving into the territory Saturday night. With those deaths, at least 507 Palestinians, including about 100 women and children, have been killed since Israeli airstrikes began December 27, "sources" told CNN.

How long to end Hamas-terrorism? 23 000 terrorists/30 killed terrorists per day = About 2 years. Worst case scenario: Not long after Israel's ground incursion began, Hamas vowed to "fight until the last breath", i.e. about 23 000 terrorists. At a killrate of about 30 terrorists per day, it will take 767 days, i.e. a bit more than two years, to end the terrorism...  An Israeli soldier was killed and another seriously wounded near Jabalya in northern Gaza, according to the Israeli military. It marks the first Israeli military death since the ground operation was launched Saturday night. Worst case scenario: 767 Israeli soldiers dead to end the terrorism. Of course this worse case scenario is a bit pessimistic, but what is realistic? Think it over... two years, one year, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, 14 days, one week? The efficiency must up, up, up!!! Another estimate of Hamas militants is about 16 000. 16 000 terrorist/30 killed terrorists per day = 533 days, about one and a half year. A third estimate, suggested by CNN, is about 15 000 militants of Hamas. 15 000 terrorists/30 killed terrorist per day = 500 days, i.e. 1,37 years, about one year and 4 and a half month. These scenarios are not much better... A solution and peace agreement similar to in Lebanon 2006 seem to be reasonable.

The Israeli president Shimon Peres told American TV they do not want to occupy Gaza, nor crush Hamas, but to stamp out terror. How are the Israeli soldiers going achieve this aim by armed struggle without hitting the Hama-terrorists? Phones in Gaza homes rang repeatedly with recorded Israeli military messages Monday saying, "We are getting rid of Hamas." That goes beyond the stated goals of Israel's top leaders, who have emphasized that the operation is intended to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. The Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, said after a meeting with officials from the Czech Republic, Sweden and France that Israel would "change the equation" in the region. She added that in other conflicts, "countries send in forces in order to battle terrorism, but we are not asking the world to take part in the battle and send their forces in — we are only asking them to allow us to carry it out until we reach a point in which we decide our goals have been reached for this point."

Many figures and claims cannot be verified. Israel is refusing to let international journalists into Gaza, despite a Supreme Court ruling to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

Israel have stepped up its psychological campaign Monday, trying to turn the citizens of Gaza against Hamas. "Urgent message, warning to the citizens of Gaza," said a recorded phone call to Gaza resident Moussa El-Hadad. "Hamas is using you as human shields. Do not listen to them. Hamas has abandoned you and are hiding in their shelters." The Israeli military said the current ground assault is the second phase of the operation to stop militants from firing rockets and mortars into southern Israel. The cat-and-mouse game continued into Monday as thousands of Israeli troops, backed by tanks, artillery and helicopters, pushed deep into Gaza, essentially splitting the territory in two, the north and the south. Palestinian sources reported seeing a column of Israeli tanks near the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, in what could be an effort to further divide the territory. On Monday morning, at least 20 people died in Israeli attacks, "sources" told CNN. The dead included 13 members of a family in Gaza's Zeitoun neighborhood and seven members of another family in Gaza City. With those deaths, the sources said 530 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its military operation on December 27. Hamas rocket fire into southern Israel persists despite 10-day campaign.

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said rocket attacks on Israel will continue. Neither Israel nor the Hamas leaders in Gaza showed any sign of considering a ceasefire in the face of continuing international pressure to do so. Israel on Monday continued its military assault on Gaza from the air and the ground. Heavy fighting erupted Monday night around Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces said. Earlier in the day, Israeli forces took "tens of Hamas militants" into custody, the military said. IDF also said that fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli troops left several of the militants injured, but it did not say how many.  Eight Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded during battles with Hamas militants Monday afternoon, IDF said. The military campaign has not stopped militants in Gaza from firing on southern Israel: 47 rockets and mortars struck Israel on Sunday and at least another 40 on Monday, the Israeli military said. A delegation of EU foreign ministers is in Jerusalem to push for a truce, while Egypt is putting pressure on Hamas leaders in Gaza. Israel on Monday allowed 80 trucks filled with humanitarian supplies to pass into Gaza.

06.01.2008: As the Israeli military surrounded densely populated Gaza City on Tuesday, it said it has killed 130 Hamas fighters since beginning a ground offensive over the weekend. European diplomats swarmed the region, trying to pull together the elements for a ceasefire. But neither side showed any real interest in international calls for a truce. Israeli Prime Ministry Ehud Olmert, in a meeting with Nicholas Sarkozy Monday, told the French president that Israel wants a "full solution" to the conflict, not just a ceasefire that allows Hamas to fortify itself, said Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman. "Before the last ceasefire with Hamas began, Hamas had missiles with a range of 20 kilometers," Regev said Tuesday. "By the end of the ceasefire, the range of the missiles grew to 40 kilometers. Israel does not want the next ceasefire to allow them to get missiles with a range of 60 kilometers." A Hamas rocket penetrated farther than ever before into Israel on Tuesday, landing in the town of Gadera, about 36 kilometers (23 miles) north of the Gaza border, and 28 km (17 miles) from Tel Aviv.. And Monday, a rocket hit a kindergarten in Ashdod, about 26 kilometers (16 miles) north of Gaza. Hamas had fired 10 rockets at Israel by midday Tuesday, the Israeli military said.

IDF: "We are getting rid of Hamas"! Yes, less than 1%! Still a long, long way to go... Three Israeli soldiers were killed in northern Gaza late Monday in a "friendly fire" incident involving an explosion from a tank shell that hit a building the troops were in, the military said. Two dozen troops were wounded in the explosion, one critical, three severely. Later an Israeli officer was killed in a separate incident, apparently also by Israeli fire, the army said, bringing the Israeli troop deaths from the Gaza operation to five. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation grew worse as the wounded swarmed Gaza's largest hospital and scores of Gazans headed for the morgues, where two bodies are crammed into each drawer. Forty people in Gaza were killed on Monday alone, bringing the Palestinian death toll to more than 530, including at least 100 women and children, since Israel launched its operation on December 27, according to Palestinian medical sources. Another 2 750 Palestinians have been injured, most of them civilians, the sources said. Doctors at Gaza's Shifa Hospital feared that the casualties would mount quickly as Israeli troops closed in on Gaza City. There was intense fighting overnight on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, where residents huddled indoors in fear. Thousands of Gazans are reported to have fled their homes, despite the dangers of moving around outdoors in the territory. Deaths recorded by Palestinian medics reached 564 in the morning Tuesday. Most of the several dozen deaths reported by hospitals in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in recent days have been civilians. The Israeli military said it killed 130 militants since Saturday, a figure that suggested the total Palestinian death toll since December 27 might be close to 700 and that bodies could still be on the battlefield. On Monday 05.01.2008 the Israeli military declared "We are getting rid of Hamas." Perhaps, but at best only about 130/15000 = 0,86%, less than 1 %, since Saturday. There is still a long, long way to go before "getting rid of Hamas" is achieved, if ever.

Israel's forces pushed into the Hamas stronghold of Khan Younis in the south of the territory and also battled militants on the outskirts of Gaza city. Three artillery shells believed to have been fired by Israeli forces struck near the perimeter of a UN school in northern Gaza, killing at least 30 people and wounding 55, a UN official said. The Israeli military said Hamas militants had fired mortar shells at Israeli forces, prompting return fire, according to its initial investigation. UN Relief and Works Agency Director John Ging said most of the casualties were outside the school in the Jabalya refugee camp. "It's a very built-up area, so of course it was entirely inevitable that if artillery shells landed in that area there would be a high number of casualties," he said at a UN briefing from Gaza City. Palestinian sources said 44 were killed in the attack. Other airstrikes hit the homes of people linked to Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, including the Wadi family in Jabalya, Hamas security sources said. Eight people were killed in that strike. An overnight airstrike hit the Jabalya home of Imad Siam, one of the leaders of Hamas' military wing. An Israeli soldier was killed Tuesday morning in northern Gaza City, the Israeli military said, bringing to six the number of Israeli forces who have died in Gaza since Israel launched its ground incursion. As Israeli forces encircled Gaza City , which has a population of about 400 000, diplomats turned up the heat for a ceasefire. The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated. Hundreds of wounded people swarmed into Gaza's largest hospital. The Israeli military said 80 trucks with humanitarian aid would be allowed to pass into Gaza on Tuesday at the Kerem Shalom crossing. In the afternoon the Palestinian death toll is estimated to 555 since Israel commenced airstrikes December 27. In the evening Euronews is estimating the Palestinian death toll to at least 630. 35 rockets fell on Israeli territory on Tuesday, Israeli police said.

The anarchists mean the Israeli people's self defense is mainly proportionate. Proportionate does not mean Lex Talionis, "an eye for an eye", but what is just necessary to get rid of Hamas' rocket attacks, but no more use of force. This is mainly what is happening. The Israeli soldiers don't hit civilians deliberately, as opposed to Hamas rocket fire that is aimed at civilians. The many thousand rockets and mortar fire sent by Hamas to Israel since 2000 may also be taken into account. And also that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, which is proven on several videorecordings.

Israel has agreed to establish a "humanitarian corridor" to supply residents of Gaza with aid as international concerns about conditions among civilians mount. Ehud Olmert's Web site said Olmert decided to accept a proposal from security advisers to open the corridor. It said a path into Gaza "will be opened for a specific period of time, during which the population can receive the aid." The statement also said Olmert spoke Tuesday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to "update her on political and military developments," including the humanitarian situation.

07.01.2009: Israel's strategy in Gaza? The joker in the game is of course the USA. Israel's decision to launch a land offensive seemed as unavoidable as it was risky: to not act would signal acceptance of Hamas' rule of Gaza, but moving in could result in stalemate. "Our aim is to force Hamas to stop its hostile activities against Israel and Israelis from Gaza and to bring about a significant change in the situation in the southern part of Israel," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The goal for Israel is to use its armed forces' superiority to achieve a number of long-term goals, starting with weakening Hamas and detering future attacks. It also wants to implement new security arrangements on the border between Egypt and Gaza, and ensure no formal ceasefire is put in place, giving it freedom to act if it judges necessary. However, the military operation against Hamas must be short-lived to avoid too many civilian casualties among the Palestinians. For now, the international community has held back, for several reasons, according to the head of the London-based think tank the Transatlantic Institute, " [In] the regional game being played in the Gaza Strip and the current conflict, of course, there is the hand of Iran and its allies," said Emanuele Ottolenghi. "And in this sense it is very telling that the Arab leadership of moderate countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has refrained from matching a rhetoric of condemnation of the current events and the loss of civilian life with political steps to thwart Israel's attempts."

In 2002, the Israeli army carried out a similar offensive in the West Bank camps of Jenin and Nablus, with relative success. However, this time round, the upcoming elections were an added motive according to the Palestinian envoy to the EU, who argues the offensive is crucial for the defense minister and his Labor Party: "I really think this illustrates Mister Barak's comeback," says Leila Shahid. "His first aim is to cleanse the Israeli army's honour following the 2006 war with Lebanon, especially after the Vinograd report, and second he wants to boost his ratings ahead of February's election, and sadly you can see that he has grown in popularity since the launch of the Gaza offensive." But for how long? The defense minister's plan is subject to one condition: not to leave the troops in the Gaza Strip for too long as heavy losses among soldiers would not be popular with voters. The joker in the game is of course the USA... Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for a "ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security", not something else. So far this is not possible due to Hamas' terrorism that will not stop. This strategy note is mostly based on Euronews, and not Israel's official declarations.

Israel Wednesday expelled Venezuela's top diplomat from the country in a tit-for-tat gesture after the South American very authoritarian marxist president Hugo Chavez's government ordered the Israeli ambassador to leave over the increasingly bloody ground offensive in Gaza. No reason to pay attention to the authoritarian baboon babble of Hugo Chavez. - Israel has said it will halt its attacks on Gaza for three hours a day. The pause, the first of which is due to start at 11.00 GMT (13.00 local time) on Wednesday, will "allow residents to resupply, get aid and so on", an IDF spokesman said. Overnight, Israeli forces launched 40 fresh air strikes in Gaza. Israeli media reports say nine rockets were fired into southern Israel from Gaza early on Wednesday. So far Israel has lost seven soldiers on the ground. Four people within Israel have been killed by rockets. At least five hit southern Israel on Tuesday, one of them injuring a baby. In the morning Wednesday the Palestinian death toll stands at 642, according to local medical officials. The "humanitarian corridor" was open about three hours as planned, and similar openings are planned for the days to come.

UN officials are "99.9 percent certain" there were no Palestinian militants in or on the grounds of a school that was shelled by Israeli forces Tuesday, killing more than 40 people, a spokesman said Wednesday. Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency, disputed Israel's account of the bombardment of the northern Gaza school. But he said that if anyone could clear up the remaining uncertainty, "We would like them to come forward and be part of an impartial investigation." The deaths have stoked international concerns about the Israeli campaign in Gaza, which showed little sign of letting up Wednesday. The Israeli military said Hamas militants were firing mortars from the UN school in the northern Gaza town of Jabalya that was being used as a shelter by hundreds of civilians. It said a pair of prominent Hamas operatives, Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar, were in the school. Those operatives, described as heads of Hamas mortar-firing operations, were killed in the strike, the Israel Defense Forces said. "We face a very delicate situation where the Hamas is using the citizens of Gaza as a protective vest," Brig. General Avi Benayahu, an IDF spokesman has said. UN piles pressure on Israel over truce plan, but so far nothing concrete has happened.

The anarchists mean an armed struggle against terrorism seems to be a necessary part of the general fight against terrorism, but will always, however not deliberately, also have some civilian losses. This is regrettable, but never the less defensible. Also, accidents happen. This is specially valid when Hamas is using civilians as human shields. As mentioned above, the Israeli people's self defense is also mainly proportionate. Thus, the anarchists mean the Israeli actions in Gaza are not war crimes, as some authoritarian groups, mainly supporters of Hamas, suggest... In the afternoon the Palestinian death toll is estimated to about 680, and another 3000 are wounded. In the evening the Palestinian death toll is estimated to more than 700. According to UN figures, more than a quarter of the Palestinian dead are civilians.

The anarchists support the French-Egyptian peace efforts. Israel said it viewed "positively" talks with Cairo over a wider ceasefire plan promoted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy. Israel wants a.o.t. a ceasefire deal to include a specialized international force to search out and destroy tunnels along the border between Gaza and Egypt to prevent Hamas from rearming and firing more rockets at Israeli towns. Israeli sources said Egypt was seeking an initial 48-hour ceasefire, during which it would put the finishing touches to its plan. Israel, the sources said, opposed a preliminary truce and wanted all the details of a ceasefire agreement completed first. A Palestinian official said the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers, who want an end to Israel's blockade of the enclave, had been briefed in Egypt by Mubarak and were debating the proposal. "Aggression must stop, the siege must be lifted and the Zionist forces must pull out, and then we can talk about others issues, including calm and rockets," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Thus it seems to be a long way to go before a truce can happen. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice endorsed the Mubarak proposal and said a "sustainable" ceasefire should involve both closing off Hamas's ability to rearm and easing the lives of the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip by reopening trade routes. The anarchists support the French-Egyptian peace efforts, but realistically seen it may take a long time to implement.

While it ordered the three-hour-long lull in "offensive" armed forces' operations to let in aid, Israel also considered entering a third stage of its air and ground offensive, a deep push into Gaza's cities and refugee camps. But an Israeli official, citing the Egyptian and French ceasefire efforts, said Olmert's security cabinet deferred voting on the urban armed struggle plan to an undisclosed date. Fierce combat in Gaza's narrow alleyways and streets, leading to heavy casualties on both sides, would hold political risks for Israel's leaders ahead of a February 10 national election. The Israeli air force bombed targets in Rafah, Gaza, on Wednesday shortly after warning residents of the town to leave, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed. Israel has said Hamas, the Palestinian movement which controls Gaza, smuggles weapons from Egypt into Rafah on the Gaza side through underground tunnels. Shutting down that supply route is one goal of Israel's nearly two-week armed operation against Hamas. The Israeli army says it attacked dozens of targets throughout the day and that more than 20 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza.

08.01.2009: Israel has made 60 air strikes on the Gaza Strip in a single night after the first daily truce to allow in humanitarian aid expired. Targets included police sites, 10 Hamas tunnels, weapons storage facilities, launching pads "and a number of armed gunmen", the Israeli army said. In addition to the air strikes, Israel's army said that naval and artillery units had "continued to support the ground forces" overnight and reported one soldier lightly wounded. Reports also spoke of a tank advance with helicopter support towards Khan Younis, also in the south, shortly after midnight. 11 Israeli lives have been lost since the offensive began 12 days ago.

Peace talks continue. Israel said on Wednesday it accepted the principles of the French-Egyptian truce proposal, which was backed by Washington and the anarchists, but wanted to see the details. Israeli security sources have confirmed that senior Israeli defense official Amos Gilad will travel to Cairo on Thursday to discuss ceasefire options. A Hamas delegation is expected in Cairo at some stage for parallel "technical" talks, Egyptian diplomats said. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is expected in the Egyptian capital on Friday.  The UN Security Council seemed deadlocked over the crisis. Arab countries want the Council to vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire while Britain, France and the US are pushing for a weaker statement welcoming the French-Egyptian initiative. The US could well veto any vote as it is a permanent member of the Security Council.

Rockets hit Israel from Lebanon. Four rockets have been fired into northern Israel from Lebanon, wounding two people and raising fears the Israeli offensive in Gaza may spread. Israel's army responded with artillery. No group has yet claimed responsibility.  The Lebanese Army issued a statement, saying the rockets were launched by "an unknown group" and that the Israeli retaliatory fire inflicted no casualties. Israeli media later reported a second rocket attack, but an army spokesman said this was a false alarm. The anarchists mean this is a dangerous moment in the current conflict. The rocket attacks from Lebanon have raised concerns about a wider armed struggle. It is is not clear if the rockets were fired by Hezbollah or by one of the armed Palestinian groups that operate in Lebanon. If Hezbollah mounted the attack there is a grave risk of a very strong Israeli reaction. The Palestinians in Lebanon do not have the capacity to fight a significant armed struggle with Israel, but Hezbollah does.

Later Lebanon's prime minister condemned the firing of rockets into northern Israel. "What happened in the south [of Lebanon] is a violation of Resolution 1701 and is rejected by Lebanon," Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said, referring to the UN resolution that ended the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon's shiite muslim Hezbollah terrorist militia. In a statement issued by his office, Siniora said he has asked Lebanese authorities to investigate the attack alongside troops from the UN peacekeeping force deployed along the border. He also condemned the Israeli retaliatory strikes. Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, said the rockets appear to have been fired from a point about 4.5 miles east of Naqoura, where the peacekeepers are headquartered. "We've been intensifying our patrols on the ground in order to prevent any further incident," Tenenti said. He said UNIFIL's commander, Maj. Gen. Claudio Graziano, is in "constant and close contact" with both sides "and has urged maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation."

Mind your language! The armed struggle against the Hamas terrorist rulers is not war, and Gaza is not a concentration camp. The anarchist mean a more or less limited armed struggle against terrorists is not war. Terrorism is principally an order problem, and fight against terrorists is thus not  war. The so called "war on terror" world wide is in reality not a war, but just a.o.t. a limited armed struggle. There is no war in Gaza, just limited armed struggle by the Israeli people's defense forces against Hamas, a revolt against the ultra-authoritarian terrorist Hamas rulers. Furthermore: Gaza is not a concentration camp! The Pope's justice minister, Cardinal Renato Martino, has sharply criticized Israel's actions and likened the Gaza Strip to a "big concentration camp". His words mark the Vatican's toughest comments since Israel began its offensive with intensive air attacks. Martino said "Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp." The relations between Israel and the Vatican have been strained recently, after the Pope made it clear that he favoured making Pope Pius XII a saint. The controversial wartime pope is accused by Jews and anarchists  of turning a blind eye to the holocaust. Cardinal Martino's comments were immediately criticized by Israel, who said the Vatican was repeating Hamas propaganda. The anarchists agree and say: No need to pay attention to the very authoritarian Vatican's baboon babble. The anarchists say clearly: Gaza is not a concentration camp! The anarchists call on the international newsmedia and mandated persons to mind their language and not escalate the conflict by using harsh words.

The Red Cross has accused Israel of failing to fulfil its obligation to help wounded civilians in Gaza. The Israeli military however said it worked closely with aid groups so that civilians could get assistance. Amnesty International has accused both sides of using civilians as human shields. Meanwhile the UN said it was suspending aid operations in Gaza, saying its staff were at risk from Israeli forces fighting Hamas militants, after drivers were attacked and one killed. Adnan Abu Hasna, a Gaza-based spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), did not say how long the suspension by the agency, which provides food and other aid to some 750,000 Gazans, would last. The suspension would continue "until the Israeli authorities can guarantee our safety and security", the UN said. Responding to the suspension of UN aid efforts, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel fully supported the work of the UN and other humanitarian agencies in Gaza. "We will do what needs to be done to facilitate this vital work," he said. "In these difficult days we must work together to meet the humanitarian needs of the population." The anarchists demand that Israel must take these accusations seriously, help wounded civilians, not attack aid workers and not use civilians as human shields. The same message goes to Hamas. - In the afternoon the Palestinian death toll is estimated to about 760. At least 11 Israelis have been killed, eight of them soldiers. More than a dozen rockets had hit southern Israel Thursday, in the afternoon. The "humanitarian corridor" was mainly open about three hours as planned, and Israel continued the offensive afterwards.

Peace talks at UN continue. The anarchists demand deeds, not words. The US, UK and France have dropped opposition to a UN resolution urging an immediate ceasefire, and Arab nations are studying a draft. The US, UK and France had earlier wanted a weaker statement from the UN Security Council. But Arab foreign ministers said anything less than a binding resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire would be an inadequate response to the crisis. If the Arab nations' response to the draft resolution is positive, a vote could happen later. The draft calls for an immediate ceasefire, action to stop the smuggling of arms by Hamas across the Egypt-Gaza border and the opening of border crossings into Gaza so aid can be delivered. The anarchists demand 1. deeds, not words in this connection, as soon as possible, and 2. that the [opening of] borders must be controlled to avoid import of weapons from Iran or other countries to Hamas.

Thursday evening the death toll from the Israeli incursion is estimated to765, with more than 3,200 injured. Three Israeli soldiers died in the fighting on Thursday, bringing to 10 the number of Israeli soldiers killed in the operation. Also three Israeli civilians have been killed in the operation, the IDF reported. Around 20 rockets hit Israel on Thursday, substantially fewer than at the start of the war. Israel is bent on halting Hamas rocket fire so that "quiet will reign supreme," as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. That goal had not been achieved and a decision on further military action "is still ahead of us," he said. In Washington, the Senate adopted a bipartisan resolution "reaffirming Israel's inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza," majority leader Harry Reid said. The United States would do the same if "rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada" hit Buffalo, New York, he said. The anarchists mainly agree... CNN estimates that the Israeli soldiers have done away with about 75% of the launching sites for Hamas rockets. There are still about 25% left, and this is anyway a false measure of success. Hamas can easily regroup and make new rockets and launching sites!

Non-binding UN Security Council resolution. The UN Security Council late Thursday overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the resolution, with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice abstaining from the vote on behalf of the United States. The resolution expresses "grave concern" about the growing humanitarian crisis and heavy civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as civilian deaths in Israel from Hamas rocket fire. The resolution "stresses the urgency of, and calls for, an immediate, durable, and fully respected ceasefire which will lead to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza." A resolution from the council, particularly one that passes with such large support, can put international pressure on parties involved in a conflict. But they are in no way binding, and many in the past have been ignored  by factions in conflict. The anarchists mean there is probably still a long way to go in Gaza before a durable ceasefire can be achieved. "We are all very conscious that peace is made on the ground while resolutions are written in the UN," said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. "Our job here is to support the efforts for peace on the ground and turn the good words on paper into changes on the ground that are so desperately needed."

Rice applauded the resolution's goals, but said the United States prefers to wait for results of ongoing, Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo, Egypt, with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  She said the United States supported the text, goals and objectives of the resolution, but that the United States feels it's important to see the terms of any ceasefire hammered out in Egypt. The resolution welcomes efforts by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to broker a ceasefire. It calls for opening corridors to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, where food, water, electricity and medicine shortages have worsened already poor conditions since Israel's offensive in Gaza began. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, told the Security Council that Hamas rocket attacks "left us with no choice." "The responsibility for the current hostilities lies squarely on Hamas," she said. "The international community must focus its efforts on the Hamas activity and make sure that the terrorist activity can never be legitimate." The IDF says its operation is aimed at halting the firing of rockets into southern Israel by Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007. There was wrangling over the resolution centered on wording. Arab countries generally pushed for language demanding Israel cease its attacks, while Western diplomats wanted more neutral language. "Security for the people of Gaza, too. Not security for Israel alone," Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, of Egypt, said before the vote as reporters were asking diplomats about the resolution. The 15-member Security Council is tasked by the United Nations with establishing and maintaining peace around the globe. It has the power to create peacekeeping operations, impose sanctions and authorize armed action. The United States, Russia, China, France and Great Britain are the five permanent members, with the other 10 elected by the UN assembly to two-year terms. Any one of the permanent members can veto a resolution.

09.01.2009: The Israeli offensive continues, and Hamas fires rockets... UN peace resolution rejected by Hamas. Israel is considering it. Overnight, at least 50 air strikes hit Gaza, one attack reportedly killing five Palestinians. Hamas terrorists fired several rockets into southern Israel in despite of the UN resolution. In the morning it is estimated that 770 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed. Meanwhile, witnesses have told the UN that about 30 Palestinians died earlier this week as Israeli forces shelled a house in Gaza City into which Israeli soldiers had previously moved more than 100 people, half of them children. Israel said the allegations into the shelling of the house in the Zeitoun district were being investigated. After the Security Council vote, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel would continue to act bearing the security of its citizens in mind. Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, told the BBC that Hamas must not be able to rearm itself, and that the UN resolution "does not provide practical means to create a sustainable ceasefire". The Israeli security cabinet is meeting to consider its reaction and next steps. There is certainly no  guarantee that the UN's call for an immediate end to hostilities will be met. Hamas officials dismissed the UN resolution as not being "in the best interest" of Palestinians. Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said: "Even though we are the main actors on the ground in Gaza, we were not consulted about this resolution and they have not taken into account our vision and the interests of our people."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later rejected the UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as "unworkable". "The firing of rockets this morning only goes to show that the UN decision is unworkable and will not be adhered to by the murderous Palestinian organizations," he said in a statement. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also said the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel showed the UN resolution "cannot work" and that the army "would go on defending citizens." As bombs blasted the coastal enclave for a 14th day, senior Israeli ministers met to consider the next move. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave an indication the guns were unlikely to fall silent: "Israel has acted, is acting and will act only according to its considerations, the security needs of its citizens and its right to self defense," she said. Israel says it wants to stop rockets landing on its towns. At least 14 had been fired on Friday about noon, fewer than the dozens Hamas was able to launch in the early days of the struggle. Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, residents said. Elsewhere, Palestinian medics said tanks shelled a house in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza Strip, killing six Palestinians from the same family. The armed struggle in Gaza, where many civilians including children have been killed, has solid support among Israeli voters. A poll on Friday showed over 90 % support among Israel's Jewish majority. The UN resolution spoke of a ceasefire that was not only "immediate" but also "durable and fully respected". language that chimes with Israeli and US demands in those negotiations that Israel secure guarantees that its Hamas Islamist enemies will be unable to rearm by halting smuggling from Egypt. France, which brokered a ceasefire proposal put forward by Egypt on Tuesday, said the resolution complemented negotiations being mediated by Cairo, but made clear it did not expect Israel to act immediately: "It's not the end of the story," foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevalier has said.

In the morning the Israeli air force hit at least 50 targets across the enclave, including launching pads for rockets and facilities used to manufacture rockets, an army spokesman said. IDF commanders appeared keen to pursue what was termed a third stage of the operation with additional ground troops being sent into the heart of Gaza's built-up areas to flush out more gunmen and to try to secure more gains. Israel ceased fire for three hours from 1 p.m. local time on Friday to transfer humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave and allow its residents to stock up on food and other supplies. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said the group did not recognize the resolution as it had not been consulted. However another spokesman said Hamas was "studying" the resolution.  But the militants say they will never accept Israel, whose establishment amid conflict 60 years ago dispossessed and uprooted Palestinian people. The resolution also said there should be "unimpeded provision" and distribution of aid to the territory, home to 1.5 million people, many of whom are dependent on food assistance. Thus, both Hamas and Israel sent somewhat mixed signals about the UN resolution. The anarchists urge both parties to adopt and implement the resolution as soon as possible.

The UN Relief and Works Agency, which distributes the vast majority of aid in Gaza, kept its operations suspended on Friday after the death of one of its drivers in Israel's offensive. It was not clear when aid distribution would resume. Hamas officials said the Palestinian death toll had risen to 783, about noon. Israel says it is doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties but again accuses Hamas of deliberately placing its fighters close to homes and mosques.  About 800 people in Gaza are now reported to have died, perhaps as much as half of them civilians. Israel continued its offensive in Gaza on Friday, hitting more than 70 targets. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, have also have so far been killed, IDF said. One soldier was moderately wounded and two others were lightly wounded during the day, but no deaths were reported Friday. Meanwhile, an Hamas delegation has left for Cairo for talks on a truce proposal, while UN aid workers who stopped activities in Gaza over security concerns have now decided to resume their work.

There have been support actions for Hamas with riots and ochlarchy many places, after Hamas called for a day of rage. Right and left-wing politicians in Rome have come out in support of the city's Jewish community in the wake of a proposed boycott of Israeli products because of the Gaza offensive. Flaica CUB , the small left-wing union that came up with the idea, denies its initiative is anti-semitic. However banners signed by a neo-fascist group were hung up in the Italian capital denouncing Mayor Gianni Alemanno for condemning the boycott. Italy's European Affairs Minister, Andrea Ronchi, says the Flaica CUB should be ashamed. "This news has scared everyone. I think all Romans and Italians condemn this group," he added. Those sentiments are shared by one of the leader's of the leftist opposition, Piero Fassino. He described the proposal as a stupid provocation: "To boycott means to negate. It's a form of negation of Israel and its rights. But the peace in the Middle East can not be achieved by negation but by recognizing the rights of Israel and of the Palestinian people," he said. Piero Marrazzo, governor of the Lazio region of which Rome is the capital, has called the idea of boycotting Jewish shops blood-curdling and has been meeting leaders of Rome's Jewish neighborhood to express his solidarity. The anarchists agree, in this case boycott is anti-semitic.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Friday some incidents reported during the fighting in Gaza might warrant prosecutions for war crimes. "The vicious cycle of provocation and retribution must be brought to an end," she told the human rights council. As mentioned both sides on Friday ignored a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire to the conflict, which began on 27 December. Hamas rejected the move first. Late on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telephoned Mr Olmert to express his disappointment that violence was continuing on the ground in disregard of the ceasefire call. The United States, which abstained in the UN vote, offered further public support for Israel's goals in Gaza. "This situation will not improve until Hamas stops lobbing rockets into Israel," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. The anarchists declare that the accusations of war crimes must be investigated. So far no sound evidence is brought forward.

10.01.2009: Gaza conflict enters third week. Israel said it launched 40 overnight air strikes, while Hamas militants fired two rockets at Israeli towns. Senior Palestinian officials are in Egypt for talks on how to end the Gaza conflict.The fresh wave of air strikes into Saturday morning had targeted weapons storage facilities and smuggling tunnels, according to Israel. It also said there had been exchanges of fire between its defense forces and militants on the ground in Gaza. This situation will not improve until Hamas stops lobbing rockets into Israel. Reports from inside Gaza suggest Israeli troops are still not entering the most densely populated areas. Gaza residents said Israeli airplanes had attacked unoccupied buildings and sites in Khan Younis, in Beit Lahiya and around Gaza City in the early hours. Hamas fired another couple of rockets at Israel on Saturday, a day after launching more than 30 of the missiles from Gaza, the Israeli military said. No damage or injuries were reported. Aid agencies say Gaza's 1.5 million residents are in urgent need of food and medical aid.

Diplomats are looking for progress from Saturday's talks in Egypt between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But Mr Abbas - who heads the secular Fatah movement, bitter rivals of Hamas - does not control Gaza, and analysts say he has little impact on the course of the conflict. Hamas, which took control of Gaza in June 2007, has also sent delegates to Cairo. Egypt negotiated the last ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, but this conflict has strained an already difficult relationship between Cairo and Hamas. Abbas and the Egyptians discussed the possible deployment of international forces along the Gaza-Egypt border under any ceasefire deal, but Abbas said they should be in Gaza itself, not along the border. Hamas is opposed to international forces. "There is a growing sense that the Egyptian-French plan is not going to work," a senior European diplomat said. European and Israeli diplomats said Egypt was objecting to proposals that foreign troops and technicians be stationed on its 15-km (9-mile) border with Gaza to prevent arms smuggling. Instead, diplomats said, Egypt was ready to accept technical assistance for its own forces on the border. Israel says the Egyptians have failed in the past to prevent Hamas building up an arsenal of hundreds of Soviet-designed Katyusha missiles.

About noon, on the ground, Israeli troops are reported to have moved closer to the edge of Gaza City, though they have yet to go into the most densely populated areas. Hamas has fired more rockets, around a dozen, at Israel the IDF said. Two Israelis were injured by the rockets in the Israeli town of Ashkelon. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged all sides to accept an Egyptian-brokered truce, after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. "If any party does not accept it [the truce], regrettably it will be the one bearing the responsibility, and if Israel doesn't want to accept, it will take the responsibility of perpetuating a waterfall of blood," Mr Abbas was quoted as saying. Hamas, meeting the Egyptians, said it needed more "details" regarding the peace plan. The anarchists suggest a simultaneous stop in the attacks, as neither Hamas nor Israel will take the first step.

Continuing a policy of recent days, Israel was due to cease operations between 13.00 and 16.00 local time to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed throughout Gaza. However responding to Hamas rocket fire, at least two tank shells hit northern Gaza immediately after the truce window opened. UN sources said Israel was also stepping up operations in the West Bank, detaining Palestinian suspects in rising numbers.

Phase three is coming. Israel has dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip warning residents that it is to escalate its military action. The leaflets indicate Israel will adopt new tactics in its battle with the Palestinian terrorists. Israel has attacked dozens of Hamas targets, including what it says were rocket-launching sites, weapons stores, and smuggling tunnels. Meanwhile, Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israeli towns. Medical staff in Gaza say more than 800 Palestinians have died during the two-week offensive. Leaflets and  phone messages in Arabic urged Gaza residents to keep away from sites linked to Hamas, saying that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were not targeting Gazans but "Hamas and the terrorists only". One phone message said "the third stage" of the operation would start soon. It is two weeks since air strikes on Gaza began, phase one. The ground attacks started a week ago, phase two. Phase three could see Israeli forces moving deeper into cities and refugee camps - that will involve new risks for Israeli soldiers and civilians in the Gaza Strip. The UN has continued aid deliveries in Gaza after suspending operations on Thursday when it said the driver of one of its lorries was killed by Israeli fire. The IDF said it was "100% certain" it did not attack the vehicle. If Hamas had about 15 000 terrorists initially, and 3/4 of the wounded (about 3 400), killed (about 820) and arrested (about 100?) Palestinians are terrorists, about 3240 are taken out, and Hamas still has about 12 000 (11760) terrorists to attack the Israelis.

Hamas militants fired 20 Grad long-range rockets into Israel on Saturday, injuring four civilians, according to an IDF spokesman. And the Hamas commander in charge of launching rockets into Israel from the Gaza City area was killed Saturday by Israeli ground fire, the IDF said in a statement. Amir Mansi was spotted firing a rocket Saturday from the Jabel Rise area, east of Gaza City, during a ground force operation, the IDF said. Israeli forces opened fire, killing Mansi and wounding two other Hamas operatives, who were captured, the Israelis said. Mansi was the leading Hamas authority on the Grad long-range missile-launching system, the IDF said. Grad rockets have allowed Hamas to reach farther into Israel than in previous attacks. The rockets carry more explosives than the more primitive Qassam rockets typically used by Hamas, and some can travel as far as 25 miles. The Israeli military said Mansi directed and actively fired dozens of rockets at Israel, killing and wounding Israeli civilians.

Israelis say their Gaza military operation, which started December 27, is targeting rocket-launching sites, Hamas infrastructure and the movement's leaders in an effort to stop militants from sending rockets into southern Israel. Thousands of leaflets dropped by Israeli planes fluttered over Gaza City while the three-hour lull -- the third this week -- was in place. Leaflets dropped along the Egyptian border warned residents to leave their houses because the Israeli military planned attacks in the area, Palestinian security forces said. According to a spokesman for the IDF, the leaflets say: "Two days ago, the IDF distributed leaflets in Rafah in which the residents were warned to evacuate their homes for their own safety. As they heeded the IDF instructions, the harming of residents in combat was avoided. Over the coming period, the IDF will continue to target tunnels, weapon caches and terrorist operatives with growing intensity. For your safety and that of your family, stay away from terrorist elements or places where weapons are stored or places where terrorist elements operate." Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said during a televised news conference Saturday night that his followers will consider any proposals to stop the violence if conditions are met: the Israelis stop their "aggression" and all crossings between Israel and Gaza are opened. "These are our just demands, and with an open mind we will interact with any initiative," Mashaal said.

The diplomacy appears to be moving slowly. Diplomats have suggested an international force to police Gaza's border with Egypt, and stop weapons being smuggled, but Cairo rejected this on Saturday. A senior Israeli official raised doubts about the proposal, saying Egypt's security forces might be better able to secure its boundary with Gaza and stop Hamas rearming. And speaking from exile in the Syrian capital Damascus, Hamas' leader said "any foreign troops would be considered as occupiers".  On Saturday, Hamas militants reportedly fired more than 30 rockets across the border, while Israel launched more than 70 attacks by air, land and sea. Tens of thousands of people attended rallies held across the US, Europe and the Middle East against the Israeli offensive on Saturday, many with severe ochlarchy: Hamas is also very ochlarchist...

11.01.2009: Heavy clashes on Gaza City's outskirts. Israel says it carried out more than 60 air strikes overnight on the Gaza Strip, as its cabinet prepares to discuss stepping up the offensive. The home of the head of Hamas' military wing was among the targets, Israel said. There are now reports of heavy clashes on Gaza City's outskirts. Gaza militants fired several rockets into Israel overnight, reports said. Israel's security cabinet is meeting to decide whether to push forces further into Gaza's densely populated areas. Israeli commanders are said to be getting impatient as the government ponders its next move. On Saturday night, Palestinian medics accused Israeli forces of firing white phosphorus shells at a village, a claim Israel strongly denied. The IDF said its air strikes into Sunday morning had targeted tunnels, weapons stores and a mosque that was allegedly used to store weapons. Its ground forces were involved in a "number of incidents", the IDF said. The strikes came hours after Israel dropped leaflets and left phone messages warning Gazans to stay away from areas used by Hamas and saying its operation would soon enter "phase three".  Hamas launched a barrage of rockets early on on Sunday, two of which struck 42 km (26 miles) inside southern Israel at the city of Beersheba, the IDF said. There were no reported casualties or damage.

Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured in southern Gaza, near the village of Khouza to the east of Khan Younis. Palestinian medics said many of the casualties were suffering from burns and gas inhalations - symptoms they said indicate exposure to white phosphorus. But IDF categorically denied the claims, saying all weapons used by Israel were legal. Although white phosphorus is legal in munitions, its use against civilians is banned under international law. New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorus in its current Gaza operations. IDF spokesman Capt Guy Spigelman said that Israel "categorically denied" using white phosphorus in Gaza, saying other "smoke bombs and flares" were being deployed. On Sunday Israel dropped new leaflets into Gaza and left phone messages warning Gazans to stay away from areas used by Hamas. In Cairo, talks between Hamas and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman were described by an unnamed intelligence official as "positive", the state news agency reported, without providing details

Israel is "nearing Gaza goals". Diplomacy is dead? "Israel is getting close to achieving the goals it set for itself," Olmert told his cabinet in Jerusalem, giving no timeframe for an end to a campaign launched with the declared aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks. "But patience, determination and effort are still needed to realize these goals in a manner that will change the security situation in the south," Olmert said, referring to Israeli towns where life has been seriously disrupted by rocket salvoes. On the usually quiet Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, shots were fired from Syria at Israeli army engineers working on the frontier fence, but no one was hurt and it was not immediately clear who was responsible, an IDF spokesman said. The Israeli army said reserve units were in place in Gaza, but this did not signal a "new push" against militants. In the evening Palestinian medics said 879 people have been killed during the 16-day conflict, and the death toll is increasing. Palestinian sources said 29 people were killed across Gaza on Sunday - 17 in Gaza City. Hamas fired more than 20 rockets on Sunday, slightly injuring three people. Referring to last week's UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire, Mr Olmert said "nobody should be allowed to decide for us if we are allowed to strike". After some forum shopping, both Hamas and Israel have rejected the UN resolution. Late on Sunday, an IDF spokesman said: "More and more have been incorporated into the operations. This is not to suggest that there is a big new push." Israel unleashed its Operation Cast Lead as a six-month truce between it and Hamas unravelled. Israel hopes the armed struggle will greatly reduce the number of missiles fired from Gaza onto Israeli towns, and also erode support for Hamas. The anarchists forecast that Hamas will capitulate in less than 14 days... If IDF follows the anarchists' strategic advice!

Hamas military wing begins to crack? A last chance for a ceasefire? Israeli troops pushed into a heavily populated area of Gaza City from the south on Sunday in fierce fighting, and senior Israeli officials said for the first time in the two-week-old war that they believed that the Hamas military wing was beginning to crack and that Hamas leaders inside Gaza were looking for a ceasefire. On Monday Egypt plans to convene negotiations aimed at a cease fire in Gaza, where the Israeli military assault to silence rocket fire and tunneling by Hamas and other militants opposed to Israel's existence has wrought extensive death and destruction. Nearly 900 people have been killed, according to Palestinian Health Ministry officials, by midnight. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, Israel has said. European diplomats involved in the Egypt negotiations said Sunday that the next 48 hours would be crucial for Israel to decide if a durable ceasefire can be achieved. The Israeli cabinet secretary, Oved Yehezkel, told reporters that in the cabinet meeting the heads of army intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, and of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, said, "It is the inclination within Hamas to agree to a ceasefire, given the harsh blow it received and given the absence of accomplishment on the ground." The Israelis said this view inside Gaza was a contrast to the "unyielding stands" of the exiled Hamas leadership in Damascus, Syria, in particular Khaled Meshal, the political director. But Hamas "is not expected to wave a white flag" and is reserving rockets and weaponry to fire at the end of the conflict, the intelligence chiefs said.

Another senior Israeli security official said that Israeli soldiers had "confirmed through their sights" the killing of 300 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters on the ground in Gaza, and that Hamas units were making mistakes and fighting without clear direction."I can say with a high level of confidence that for two days, what we have been hearing repeatedly is that Hamas inside Gaza is eager — eager — to achieve a ceasefire," said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's delicate nature. "This is as opposed to the leadership in Damascus that is willing to fight to the last Palestinian." The Israelis were clearly all pushing a concerted message, but no official provided details on how Israel supported its assertion. It was impossible to get a response from Hamas leaders in Gaza, because they were in hiding from Israeli military strikes. On Saturday, the Hamas political director in exile, Mr. Meshal, said in Damascus that Hamas would not consider a ceasefire until Israel ended the assault and opened all crossings into Gaza. He said that the ferocity of the Israeli campaign had crossed the line and called it a "holocaust," adding, "You have destroyed the last chance for negotiations."

Israel and the United States are trying to secure agreement on a deal brokered by Egypt that would mean a Hamas commitment to stop all rocket firing into Israel and an Egyptian commitment to block smuggling tunnels into Gaza, to stop the resupplying of Hamas with weaponry and cash. In return, Israel would agree to a ceasefire and the opening of its crossings into Gaza for goods and fuel and the opening of the Rafah crossing into Egypt, with European Union supervision. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and now an international envoy to the Palestinians, said in an interview that "the only way this is going to stop is if there is a genuine plan to end the smuggling into Gaza and a genuine plan to open the crossings." Mr. Blair will be in Cairo on Monday, as will a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official, Amos Gilad. A Hamas delegation is already in Cairo talking to the Egyptians through the intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman. If the Egyptian effort fails, Israeli officials said, the military is likely to go to a "third stage" of the war against Hamas in Gaza, with the reserve troops thrown into the battle. An expansion of the war would most likely mean Israeli troops moving into southern Gaza, to take a strip of land at least 500 yards wide inside Gaza at the Egyptian border. Israel has been bombing the area to try to destroy smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. The anarchists still hope for a durable ceasefire....

In response to growing criticism against its operation, Israel released footage on Sunday allegedly demonstrating its efforts to avoid harming Palestinian civilians. The IDF claims it shows an Israeli plane apparently tracking a Hamas vehicle and diverting a missile at the last moment to avoid a group of civilians.

12.01.2008: Israeli raids as reserves move in. Israel says its military pressure on Hamas is proving effective. Israeli planes have carried out fewer air strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight, as reserve units went into action on the ground. There were 12 air raids - compared with as many as 60 on previous nights. At least nine rockets or mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza on Monday morning. One on the town of Ashkelon, striking a house, and one on Kiryat Gat, but none of them caused casualties. The IDF denied stepping up a ground offensive against Hamas, despite renewed fierce fighting. Reports suggest diplomatic efforts between Egypt and Hamas in Cairo are progressing. After meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said elements were in place for a ceasefire agreement. "I am hopeful we can put an agreement together but it's going to have to be worked on very hard and it's got to be credible," he told journalists. At least five Palestinians including one militant were killed on Monday, bringing the total Palestinian death toll during the conflict to about 900, Palestinian medics said. Israel says 13 Israelis have died. There were reports of fierce fighting around Gaza City. Reservists were reported to be securing areas gained in the fighting, as regular troops continued their advance. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel's goals were "very minimalistic" and "purely defensive". "We refuse, we refuse to return to a reality in which the Israeli civilian population has to live in that constant fear of an incoming Hamas rocket," he said. Confirming the deployment of reserve soldiers, Mr Regev said reservists had been called up "a few days back" to augment Israeli forces. The IDF said some reservists were being used to refresh troops currently in action in Gaza, but that this did not yet constitute an escalation of the campaign. Brig Gen Avi Benayahu, ÌDF's chief spokesman, said thousands more - who are to comprise a new, expanded phase in the ground operation - were still in training and had not been deployed.

Israelis edge into urban Gaza. Israel says its military pressure on Hamas is proving effective. Israeli forces are moving slowly into Gaza's most densely populated areas as they continue air and ground attacks on Hamas terrorists. Some reservists are in action on the ground, but the army denied escalating the war to a "third phase" - an all-out push on Gaza City and other towns. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said Hamas's military machine was taking "serious punishment" and Israel was "advancing towards the end game". There were reports of fierce fighting around Gaza City about noon, although a daily three-hour truce to allow aid deliveries to Gaza was in place. 

About 160 trucks of humanitarian aid were let into the Palestinian territory through the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings. IDF spokeswoman Maj Avital Leibovich said troops were continuing their advance into urban areas. "Since the majority of the Hamas militants are pretty much in hiding in those places, mainly urban places, then we operate in those areas," she said. Reservists continued to secure areas gained in the fighting. Air strikes also continued through the day against 25 targets across the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said. In the afternoon nearly 30 rockets or mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza. Figures from Gaza for the number of people killed in fighting range from nine to 20. Palestinian medical sources said 908 people have been killed so far - of whom 277 are children. The UN secretary general hasonce more implored Israel and Palestinian militants to halt the fighting in Gaza immediately. Nearly 30 rockets or mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza on Monday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Palestinian militants will keep on feeling Israel's "iron fist" as long as Hamas fires rockets at Israel. But a senior Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, said the group was "approaching victory". One of Hamas' "Comical Alis"... Palestinian medical sources say 910 people have been killed in Gaza so far, of whom 292 were children and 75 were women. Israeli officials say 13 Israelis, including three civilians, have been killed, same number as earlier. Meanwhile reports suggest diplomatic efforts between Egypt and Hamas in Cairo are progressing.

13.01.2009: Early on Tuesday, the 18th day of the conflict, Israeli troops advanced in the southern and eastern suburbs of Gaza City, backed by artillery and helicopters. The western areas of the city came under shellfire from Israeli gunboats. IDF has denied a Hamas claim that it had destroyed two Israeli tanks. An army spokesman said that "more than 60 targets were targeted by IAF during the night". IAF is the Israeli Air Force. But the Israeli military announced a three-hour ceasefire starting at 0900 local time (0700 GMT) to allow aid lorries into Gaza. The head of the Red Cross accompanied a convoy of aid into Gaza during the three-hour ceasefire, during which witnesses said there was increased shelling. The truce also coincides with visits to the territory by UN officials. Also on Tuesday, an Israeli army patrol in the West Bank came under fire from inside Jordan, the army said. No-one was hurt in the incident and the patrol returned fire. Israeli forces tightened their hold on the outskirts of the city of Gaza and Israel's top general said "there is still work" ahead against Hamas in an 18-day-old offensive that has killed more than 910 Palestinians. The sounds of explosions and heavy machinegun fire echoed through the city of 500,000 after Israeli tanks drew nearer but did not enter its densely populated center, local residents said. Medical workers said 12 Palestinian gunmen, some of them members of the Islamist Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip, were killed in morning fighting.

In the afternoon Palestinian medical officials said at least 937 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and nearly 4,000 wounded since the offensive began. The health minister in Gaza's Hamas-run government said close to 400 of those were women and children. Israel is still preventing international journalists from entering Gaza, making it impossible independently to confirm casualty figures. Israel admits 13 deaths, ten of them soldiers, none today. Human rights group al-Mizan in Gaza said more than 90 000 people had fled their houses during the violence. About 31 000 of them were staying at UN-run schools in Gaza City, which are full, in Jabaliyah camp and Shati camp. The other 60 000 were staying with neighbors and relatives. Hamas, however, have kept up rocket attacks on Israel. About twenty rocket or mortar attacks have been launched from Gaza. No-one was hurt. Both Hamas and Israel are engaged in peace negotiations in Egypt, where also Turkey has joined in, but both Hamas and IDF are continuing the fighting.

In the evening Israeli troops have entered the suburbs of Gaza City and are engaged in street fighting with militants, reports say. Witnesses said Israeli special forces had advanced several hundred metres into several neighborhoods and that intense gunfire could be heard. Palestinian medical officials say that since the offensive began on 27 December, 971 people have been killed in Gaza - of whom 311 were children and 76 were women - and more than 4 400 people have been injured. According to IDF 7 mortars and 18 rockets were fired out of Gaza Tuesday, but no one was injured, and that Israeli air planes had carried out more than 50 air strikes since the morning. Israel's stated purpose for the offensive in Gaza is to stop the rocket attacks. Since 2001 more than 10 000 rockets and mortar fire have been sent from Gaza to Israel, according to a Norwegian pro Israeli group, in an article published in Aftenposten, one of the main Norwegian newspapers.

Israeli warplanes have continued pounding the southern Gaza town of Rafah as part of their offensive against Hamas. Israel admits 13 deaths, ten of them soldiers. On the diplomatic front, Egyptian-led efforts to reach a ceasefire continue in Cairo, where the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected on Wednesday. But Hamas seems determined to reject calls for any truce until Israel ends its offensive and pulls out of Gaza. As for Israel, it will not consider a ceasefire until Hamas ends its rocket attacks over the border, and the flow of weapons into Gaza is stopped. France, the EU, Norway and the Middle East envoy Tony Blair are planning a meeting in Paris on Thursday to discuss further assistance to Palestinian civilians caught up in the conflict.

The Anarchist International, with about 50 000 persons loosely associated to the network, demands the bloodshed must now stop, and calls for a durable peace agreement and ceasefire, with simultaneously stop in the attacks from both Hamas and Israel.

14.01.2009: In the morning: UN Secretary General  set for talks on Gaza. 50 000 anarchists support his peace efforts. Israel is continuing its military drive into Gaza as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon heads to Cairo in an effort to secure an end to 19 days of fighting. Mr Ban is scheduled to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as part of the most intensive diplomatic effort yet to end Israel's battle with Hamas. He will then visit Israel and the West Bank as well as other regional powers. There has been heavy fighting overnight, and rocket fire from Lebanon."Three rockets fired into Israel landed outside the city of Kiryat Shmona," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about Wednesday's incident in the Galilee. Security sources in Lebanon said five rockets were fired and two fell in Lebanon. Witnesses in south Lebanon said Israel responded with artillery fire. There were no immediate reports of casualties or further Israeli military action. Four rockets were fired on northern Israel from Lebanon last week, prompting fears of a widening of the conflict.

Israel's air force says it carried out 60 air strikes overnight, concentrating on smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt. Israeli troops have been engaging Hamas fighters on the streets in the suburbs of Gaza City, and there have been reports of heavy machine-gun fire. Mr Ban comes with a simple message: the fighting must stop, too many people have died. In his meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, as well as senior politicians in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, Mr Ban has said he will be encouraging initiatives to open border crossings and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza. But the UN chief is not scheduled to meet representatives of Hamas - which controls the Gaza Strip - and it is not clear whether he will go to Gaza itself during his week-long trip. Mr Mubarak has already held talks with Saudi King Abdullah amid reports Cairo is putting increasing pressure on Hamas leaders to accept a truce proposal. One idea being floated is for Turkish troops to be deployed along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip to prevent the smuggling of weapons. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri has said any ceasefire agreement would have to entail a halt to Israeli attacks, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the opening of border crossings to end the blockade of Gaza.

The Israeli foreign ministry has said there is no guarantee Hamas would respect any ceasefire agreement. Analysts say Israel may be holding back from all-out urban warfare in Gaza City, where intense street fighting could cause heavy casualties on both sides, which would be politically risky less than a month before Israel holds elections. However, Israeli media also reports a division within the government. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is said to favour a week-long ceasefire in Gaza to allow for the delivery of much needed supplies and to give politicians the breathing space to hammer out a long term truce. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he wants to press on with the military campaign for however long it takes. Nearly 1 000 Gazans have been killed and 4,400 have been injured, an since Israel's offensive on Gaza began on 27 December, according to Palestinian figures. Thirteen Israelis have died since 27 December, three of them civilians, Israel says, same number as before. A UN watchdog has accused Israel of showing a "manifest disrespect" for the protection of children in Gaza. More than 40% of those killed in Gaza were women or children, said the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, even though Israel had signed a UN protocol condemning attacks on places where children were likely to be present. It is impossible to independently confirm casualty figures as Israel still  refuses to allow international journalists to enter Gaza. Israel said it launched 60 air strikes on Gaza overnight.

About noon local time: Mr Ban has hold peace talks in Egypt. Israel however pursues its Gaza offensive. Fighting has intensified in the Gaza Strip between Israeli troops and Palestinian terrorists. Gaza residents have spoken of heavy machine-gun fire as Israeli troops clashed with Hamas gunmen near Gaza City. Israel had planned to send its chief negotiator, Amos Gilad, to Cairo, to meet with Mr Ban, but the trip was cancelled. Al-Qaeda and Osama bin-Laden have called for Jihad against Israel, in support of Hamas. The anarchists allied with the anti-terrorist coalition already in 2001...

In the evening the Ministry of Health in Gaza said 1 013 people have died in the conflict.More than 300 of the dead are said to be children, 76 are women and more than 4,500 people have been injured, of whom 1 600 are children and 678 are women. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including three civilians and one soldier from rockets fired from Gaza and nine soldiers killed in fighting in Gaza. It is still impossible to independently confirm casualty figures as Israel has refused to allow international journalists to enter Gaza. Egypt has been leading efforts to broker a ceasefire, that could include a new force of peacekeepers to prevent smuggling on its border with Gaza. After talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he hoped the Egyptian initiative would show results as soon as possible. "Soon as possible" may be a week or two realistically seen.

The UN secretary general is in Jordan on the next leg of a Middle East tour before visiting Israel, the West Bank and Syria. "The movement has presented a detailed vision to the Egyptian leadership so that it [Egypt] can continue its pursuit to end the aggression and lift the injustice on our people in the Gaza Strip," Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil said. These details concerned how to ensure that border crossings into Gaza could be re-opened under international supervision, he said, and would be presented to Israeli envoys visiting Cairo on Thursday. A senior Israeli defense official, Amos Gilad, is to travel to Cairo on Thursday, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. Earlier on Wednesday, other Hamas officials had said the Egyptian initiative had been positively received, but that more time was needed to discuss it. Hamas has said any ceasefire agreement would have to entail a halt to Israeli attacks, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the opening of border crossings to end the blockade of Gaza.

Israel will not agree to a deal that does not guarantee an end to Hamas's smuggling of weapons across the Egyptian border and the cessation of rocket attacks into southern Israel. For its part, Hamas refuses to accept an agreement that could in effect spell the beginning of the end for its military wing. Egypt and other key Arab states can put pressure on Hamas but the US remains unwilling to press Israel to make any concessions. As mentioned both Hamas and Israel rejected last week's UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. The Israeli offensive has provoked widespread international condemnation at the cost in civilian casualties.

On Wednesday, Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip and residents spoke of heavy machine-gun fire as Israeli troops fought Hamas gunmen near Gaza City. Humanitarian concerns have increased amid the fighting, although some aid is getting through to Gaza during daily three-hour lulls Israel has allowed to let in supplies. Confusion surrounds information that Hamas has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza. Initial reports that the armed group had given its backing to the truce have now been denied. It comes after 19 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli army continues to pound Hamas targets with the aim of destroying the militant group. As the bloodshed continues, efforts continue in Cairo to try to reach an agreement. So far, both sides have rejected proposals for a truce. As indicated above while Israel is demanding an end to rockets attacks on its territory and the flow of weapons to Hamas fighters, Hamas says there will be no ceasefire until Israel pulls out of Gaza.

The Anarchist International, with about 50 000 persons loosely associated to the network, agrees with Mr Ban that the fighting must stop, too many people have died, supports his peace efforts, and calls for a durable peace agreement and ceasefire, with simultaneously stop in the attacks from both Hamas and Israel.

15.01.2009: Gaza pounded amid push for truce. Israeli tanks have pushed deep into Gaza City, prompting fierce exchanges of  gunfire with fighters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The UN's relief agency, Unrwa, says part of its HQ in the city is on fire after being shelled by the Israelis. Speaking to reporters on the Israel-Gaza border, Unrwa spokesman Christopher Gunness said three of the agency's employees were hurt in the attack. He said the compound was hit by what Unrwa believed to be three white phosphorus shells, which are incendiary weapons used as a smoke screen. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed outrage at the attack, and said Israel had told him it was a grave mistake. United Nations has suspended its relief operations in Gaza after its headquarters came under Israeli fire.

After meeting the Israeli Foreign Minister in Tel Aviv, the UN Secretary General had this reaction to the strike on the UN offices in Gaza. "Today the UN compound in Gaza has been shelled again," he said. "I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to the defense minister and the foreign minister and demanded a full explanation. Defense Minister Barak said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously. He assured me that extra attention will be paid to the UN facilities and staff and that this should not be repeated." The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni did not mention the UN shelling, but gave a general defense of Israel's offensive. "Israel, a member state of the UN, is doing what a state needs to do in order to defend its citizens," she said. "This is an effective, successful military operation against terror. And Gaza is being controlled by a terrorist organisation that doesn't fight for the aspirations of the Palestinian people. It is not part of the peace process that Israel launched in Annapolis with the pragmatic leadership of the Palestinian authority." Mr Olmert met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and apologised for the attack, but said Palestinian fighters had been firing from the UN site. "It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologise for it," he said. "I don't think it should have happened and I'm very sorry."

Efforts to reach a truce continue, with Israel's head negotiator in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian ceasefire plan. Hamas said the talks had made progress. There is growing speculation that Egypt and Hamas are close to agreeing a deal for a 10-day ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group which governs Gaza. Long term, key uncertainties remain over a deal under which Gaza's borders would be opened and Israel's troops withdrawn from the coastal enclave. But in the short term, there is optimism: "The Egyptian initiative is the only initiative made available to us. We are working on all the points presented and made our remarks after negotiating with the Egyptians and we hope that it will end successfully," said a spokesman for Hamas after talks in Cairo.

IDF officials say they attacked 70 military targets overnight, including a mosque they say was being used to store weapons. The coastal enclave came under extremely heavy artillery fire from the east in the early hours, and that the skies were full of thick smoke. Israeli tanks seemed to be pushing closer to the heart of Gaza City, close to the Unrwa headquarters, and that there were reports of 21 people killed in fighting since the early hours. Witnesses said they saw soldiers on foot marching behind bulldozers and tanks. There have been reports of the troops meeting some resistance, but the army has clearly come in great strength and pushed quite quickly and easily into the city.

Reports say at least 15 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel since the early morning.  Speaking to the press after meeting Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv, Mr Ban repeated previous calls for an immediate ceasefire, and said the suffering in Gaza was a "dire humanitarian crisis" that had reached an "unbearable point". The UK Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown says the British government "utterly" condemns the attack on the UN headquarters in Gaza. Fierce criticism also came from the French foreign ministry. The Shurouq tower block in Gaza City, which houses the offices of the Reuters news agency and several other organisations, is hit by an explosion, injuring a journalist for the Abu Dhabi television channel.

Leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council are to meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss the crisis. The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, said the meeting was convened because of what he called Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. A boat carrying medical supplies to Gaza is surrounded by Israeli warships in international waters off Lebanon's southern coast and forced to return to Cyprus, according to charity Free Gaza.

Israel's chief negotiator, Amos Gilad, has arrived in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian ceasefire plan that could end the 20-day-old conflict. Egypt has been leading efforts to broker a ceasefire that could include a peacekeeping force being deployed along its border with Gaza to prevent the smuggling of weapons. Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil said his movement had presented Egyptian negotiators with a "detailed vision" of how to bring about a ceasefire. These details concerned how to ensure border crossings into Gaza could be re-opened under international supervision, he said, and would be presented to Israeli envoys visiting Cairo.

Hamas has said any ceasefire agreement would have to include a halt to Israeli attacks, the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the opening of border crossings to end the blockade of Gaza. Israel has said it will not agree to a deal that does not guarantee an end to Hamas's smuggling of weapons across the Egyptian border and the cessation of rocket attacks into southern Israel. However, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said there was "momentum" to the talks. "Ultimately we want to see a long-term sustainable quiet in the south, a quiet that's going to be based on the total absence of all hostile fire from Gaza into Israel, and an internationally supported mechanism that will prevent Hamas from rearming," Mr Regev said.

Egypt and other key Arab players can do some coaxing and arm-twisting with Hamas, but there is little pressure they can bring to bear upon Israel: only the US has that sort of influence. There have been mixed messages from Israel about whether the assault on Gaza could soon end or be stepped up. Some analysts believe the deadline could be next Tuesday's inauguration of Barack Obama, after which Israel may be reluctant to test the new US President's support for their increasingly criticised campaign. One Israeli soldier in Gaza said: "I'm against a ceasefire. We have to finish the job." Another said: "All of us are hoping for a true ceasefire so we don't have to return here in a few months. We want to finish this and return home safe and sound, and then to be sure this is finished for a good few years." Some more Palestinian rockets have today hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot, close to the border with Gaza, causing no injuries. Israeli troops and tanks moved closer into the heart of Gaza City, prompting fierce gun battles with fighters from Hamas.

One of the top Hamas leaders in Gaza has been killed in an air strike, Hamas and Israeli officials have said. Said Siyam, the Hamas interior minister, was killed in an air raid on his brother's home near Gaza City. As interior minister, Mr Siyam controlled thousands of Hamas security troops in Gaza and was said to be widely feared. His son and brother were also killed in the strike, along with two other Hamas officials - the interior ministry's security director Saleh Abu Sharkh and the local leader of the Hamas militia, Mahmoud Abu Watfah. Mr Siyam is one of the most senior Hamas leaders killed in the 20-day Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip. He became a member of the "collective leadership" of the terrorist group in 2004 after Sheikh Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantissi were assassinated by Israel.

On the diplomatic front, intensive efforts continue to try to reach a ceasefire agreement. Hamas has told Egypt it will only agree to a year-long renewable ceasefire if Israel pulls out its forces within a week and immediately reopens border crossings. Senior Israeli politicians were meeting on Thursday night to decide on their response to a plan being proposed by Egypt. An Israeli defense official earlier held talks in Cairo with mediators who have already met Hamas. The US Secretary of State has also reportedly told Israel that Washington could help prevent Hamas from rearming after a ceasefire. Israel has been demanding a halt of rocket attacks and an end to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Meanwhile, Israeli police say two rockets struck the southern Israeli town of Beersheva today. The Israeli death toll stands as before at 13. A total of 1 083 people in Gaza have now been killed since the Israeli operation began, Gaza's Ministry of Health said on Thursday - 70 higher than the previous day's figure. Nearly a third of the dead are children, Gaza medics said.

Israel has still refused to allow international journalists to enter Gaza, making it impossible to independently confirm casualty figures. The offensive has provoked widespread international condemnation at the cost in civilian casualties and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the coastal enclave. The anarchists demand a durable ceasefire as soon as possible! 'Durable' means at least 100 years. A one year ceasefire as suggested by Hamas must be rejected.

16.01.2009: In the morning: After three weeks of tank-shells and air strikes, as mentioned the Palestinian faction Hamas has said it is willing to agree to a year-long renewable truce if Israel withdraws its troops within a week and Gaza border crossings are opened immediately. After a day and a night of intense diplomatic effort, both sides appear to be edging closer to a ceasefire. Israel is to send its chief negotiator back to Cairo later today with what is thought to be its response to the proposal. Although Israel refuses to deal directly with Hamas, Egyptian mediators have been talking to both sides. Political analysts believe Israel has possibly set its own private deadline for a truce, that of Tuesday's installation of Barack Obama as US president. Israel is reluctant to test support from the new administration too soon. After meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is to travel to New York to finalise an accord designed to prevent Hamas re-arming. International opinion has been angered over Israel's actions with renewed calls for it to respect a UN resolution to implement a truce and to allow in humanitarian aid.

IDF officials said Israel attacked about 40 targets across Gaza overnight. IDF said the overnight attacks targeted smuggling tunnels, launching points, weaponry storages, two Hamas stations and a militants' training camp. Casualties at a hospital in Gaza City had to flee because of fire.An Israeli spokesman said he hoped the conflict was in its "final act". "The diplomacy now is in high gear... we want this to be over as soon as possible," Mark Regev said. "The minute we can be sure that the solution will not be a band aid, that after a few days of quiet we won't have more rockets on Israeli civilians, the minute we can understand that that situation will be a sustained peace, then we're going to go for it." Health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza say at least 1 105 Palestinians have been killed and 5 100 wounded since Israel launched an operation on 27 December to end rocket attacks on its territory. Thirteen Israelis - three of them civilians - have died, no new, while 233 soldiers have been wounded, the IDF says. IDF has closed all access to the West Bank for the next two days following a call by Hamas for Palestinians to observe what it called a day of wrath, by staging anti-Israeli protests at Friday prayers. There has been a similar call by the Palestinian Authority to the followers of the rival Palestinian faction, Fatah. The anarchists call for 14 days of wrath against the Hamas terrorists...

About noon Hamas rejects a ceasefire and says it will continue the fight until the Israeli offensive ends... The anarchists say that Hamas is a tough nut, but call for further peace negotiations... In the afternoon the Palestinian death toll has reaced 1 105, according to Palestinian medics... Later on also Israel rejects a ceasefire...

In the evening USA and Israel have signed a deal to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from Egypt. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said the agreement ultimately would contribute towards a "durable ceasefire." Israel has indicated that its military offensive is its final act and this so-called "memorandum of understanding" is thought to be a crucial step towards it agreeing to the terms of the Egyptian peace plan. Under the deal, Israeli officials say, the United States will lead a campaign with its NATO allies to intercept weapons shipments bound for Gaza from Iran and elsewhere. The UN says tunnels between Gaza and Egypt have become a vital lifeline because of Israel's tight blockade. Israeli ministers are set to vote on a unilateral ceasefire proposal at the weekend, Israeli officials say. The meeting, said to be scheduled for Saturday, comes amid increasing signs of progress on the diplomatic front. Hamas is said to have fired 15 rockets into Israel Friday. Meanwhile, talks have continued in Cairo between Israeli and Egyptian officials on reaching a ceasefire agreement. Hamas was also invited back to Cairo on Friday for more talks, an official told the al-Jazeera network. Health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza say at least 1 155 Palestinians have been killed and 5 015 wounded since Israel launched an operation on 27 December to end rocket attacks against its people.

17.01.2009: Israel's military has carried out 50 air strikes in Gaza overnight. In the morning it seems that Olmert, Barak and Livni are at last able to agree to put an end to the armed struggle in Gaza, with a lot of civilian losses, etc. A decision will be taken in the evening. They speak of a "unilateral" ceasefire. However unequal the parties, the fighting has to stop from two sides. And, it is not with the United States that Israel must come to an agreement. The anarchists say enough is enough, Israel and Hamas were parties in armed struggle and have to be parties to the ceasefire. One can not choose one's neighbors. The peace negotiations should continue.

Hamas said it would ignore any truce if its conditions were not met. A spokesman for the militant group, Osama Abu Hemdan, told AFP news agency: "As long as it [the IDF] remains in Gaza, resistance and confrontation will continue." Egypt has been mediating between Israel and Hamas in a bid to secure a truce. Ahead of the Israeli cabinet meeting, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israeli troops. Under the Egyptian proposal, fighting would stop immediately for 10 days and Israeli forces would remain in Gaza while the border crossings into the territory would remain closed. For its part, Egypt would, with international help, try to shut down weapons smuggling routes on its boundary with Gaza and discussions on opening the crossings would take place at a later date. Hamas insists any ceasefire must involve Israeli troops withdrawing from Gaza and an immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade. Hamas officials are expected to attend further talks on Saturday in Cairo. Israel's main objective in Operation Cast Lead is to end Gaza militants' ability to fire rockets at Israel and stop them smuggling through tunnels from Egypt.

In the evening Israel declares ceasefire in Gaza. Israel is to halt its three-week military offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said. He said Israel had achieved its aims and the unilateral ceasefire would start at 02.00 (24.00 GMT). But he said troops would remain in Gaza for now. A Hamas spokesman said it would not accept one Israeli soldier in Gaza. Nearly 1 200 Palestinians have been killed since the violence began on 27 December. Thirteen Israelis have died. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed relief at the ceasefire. "This should be the first step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza," he said. This should happen "as soon as possible", he added. The US said it expected all parties to cease hostilities immediately. The Israeli prime minister's announcement came in a televised address following a late-night cabinet meeting. Israel's "goals have been achieved, and even more", Mr Olmert said. Hamas was badly damaged both militarily and in terms of government infrastructure; rocket factories and dozens of smuggling tunnels had been destroyed, he said. But the success of the ceasefire depended on Hamas, he said. Troops would remain in Gaza for the time being and if Hamas held fire, the IDF would "consider pulling out of Gaza at a time that befits us". If militant rocket fire into Israel continued, Israel would respond with force, the Israeli leader added.

A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhum, condemned the move. Hamas could not "accept the presence of a single [Israeli] soldier in Gaza", he said. If Hamas is not involved then the ceasefire is agreed with whom? Israel must withdraw completely, lift its economic blockade of Gaza and open border crossings, the spokesman said. Hamas representatives have been taking part in talks in Cairo, brokered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, aimed at reaching a bilateral deal. Egypt will on Sunday host a summit, attended by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the UN chief as well as several EU leaders, aimed at securing a permanent truce. Minutes before Mr Olmert spoke, a rocket was fired from Gaza. The Israeli announcement came on the 22nd day of violence in Gaza. Overnight Israel carried out more than 50 air strikes on Gaza, as Hamas rocket fire from the territory continued. United Nations officials said two children, aged five and seven, were killed when Israeli tank fire hit a UN school where hundreds had taken shelter in the northern town of Beit Lahiya. Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), said an investigation was needed "to determine whether a war crime has been committed". An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said that Israel was waiting for more information on what happened.

18.01.2009: Hamas rockets threaten Gaza ceasefire. A volley of rockets, at least 18, has been fired into southern Israel from Gaza, hours after a unilateral Israeli ceasefire began. At least four rockets landed near the town of Sderot, with no reports of injuries. Israel launched an air strike on Gaza in response. The exchange puts an immediate strain on the ceasefire, which followed three weeks of fighting. Palestinian medics say at least 50 bodies have been pulled from the rubble since Israel halted its offensive. Israel says it will not set a timetable for withdrawing its troops, but Hamas said it would not accept any Israeli presence in Gaza. "We can't talk about a timetable for withdrawal until we know the ceasefire is holding," said the Israeli prime minister's spokesman, Mark Regev. "If there is a danger Hamas is going to deliberately torpedo the ceasefire, and we will have to reinitiate offensive actions against Hamas, for that reason we have to be reticent about withdrawing our forces," he said. The stopping of rocket-fire had been a chief aim of the armed struggle. Israeli troops killed a Palestinian near the southern Gazan town of Khan Younis on Sunday morning, reports from Gaza said. If confirmed, the death would be the first fatality since the ceasefire began. At least 1 300 Palestinians, according to Palestinian sources, and 13 Israelis have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on 27 December. Shortly before the rockets fell, Israeli troops briefly traded fire with Hamas militants in the north of the Gaza Strip after coming under attack, IDF officials said. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the latest attacks "again proved that the ceasefire is fragile and it has to be reassessed on a minute-by-minute basis".

International leaders are due in Egypt on today for a summit aimed at shoring up the ceasefire. Heads of state from across Europe will join Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-moon at Sharm El-Sheikh to give their backing to a permanent peace. Olmert warning:  The rockets were fired at about 09.00 (07.00 GMT), Israeli police said. Israeli aircraft struck the terrorists who launched the rockets from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the IDF said. Hours earlier, Prime Minister Olmert told the nation that Israel was halting its offensive whose goals "have been more than fully achieved". In a televised address, Mr Olmert warned militants in Gaza that if they "decide the blows they've been dealt are not sufficient and they are interested in continuing the fight, Israel will be prepared for such and feel free to continue to react with force". The ceasefire came into effect at 02.00 local time. Hamas has rejected the move, saying any continued Israeli presence in Gaza would be regarded as an act of war. "The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings and we will not accept any one Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price that it costs," Hamas spokesman Farzi Barhoum said, shortly before the ceasefire began. Mr Abbas said the ceasefire was "important and necessary but insufficient", and called for a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. Israel has begun pulling some of its troops out of the territory. But it says others will remain for now and strike back if Israel continues to come under attack. The US has welcomed the ceasefire, saying it "expects that all parties will cease attacks and hostile actions immediately". Secretary General Ban expressed relief, saying the ceasefire should be "the first step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza". Aid organisations have expressed concern that crossings into Gaza will not reopen fully unless Hamas is committed to a ceasefire. The anarchists say the question now is whether Hamas decides to lick its wounds and regroup - or whether it gambles on dragging Israel into a war of attrition, and call on Hamas to join the ceasefire.

Soon after Hamas announces ceasefire in Gaza. The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has announced an immediate ceasefire with Israel in Gaza, according to Hamas officials. The group said it would hold fire for one week so long as Israel withdrew all its forces from the Gaza Strip. The move comes hours after a unilateral Israeli ceasefire came into effect. The cessation of hostilities was put under strain by fresh rocket fire into Israel and an Israeli air strike on militants in Gaza. Hamas official Ayman Taha said that the ceasefire also applied to other militant groups. "Hamas and the factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw," he was reported as saying. The group said the ceasefire would be temporary unless Israel met its long-standing demands. These include an end to military action, lifting its 19-month blockade of the Gaza Strip and opening border crossings between Gaza and Israel. Hamas' leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal, will make an "important" announcement in Syria on Sunday afternoon regarding Israel's ceasefire.

Meanwhile, heads of state from across Europe are in Egypt in Sharm El Sheikh for a summit with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-moon to try to shore up the ceasefire. They will discuss how to make the ceasefire durable and respected by Hamas, how to get aid to Gaza and beginning the process of rebuilding there. The anarchists say with neither Israel or Hamas attending, there are questions about how much can be achieved and whether this will amount to more than a gigantic photo opportunity by those who want to help resolve the conflict. The anarchists demand that Hamas must agree to a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", not only a short term contract.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he wants Israeli troops to leave Gaza "as quickly as possible". Mr Olmert was speaking at a news conference with European leaders after first Israel, then Hamas declared unilateral ceasefires in Gaza. Some Israeli troops have already begun pulling out of the Gaza Strip, following a three-week offensive. Meanwhile, Ismail Haniya, the top Hamas leader in Gaza, said the Palestinians had won a great victory over Israel. "The enemy has failed to achieve its goals," he said in a speech broadcast on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV. The ceasefire in Gaza remains fragile. Palestinian militants fired about 20 rockets over the border after the Israeli ceasefire announcement, and Israel responded with an air attack. Surrounded by an array of European political leaders, some of whom were highly critical of Israel's tactics in the conflict with Hamas, the Israeli prime minister said his country was not interested in staying in the Gaza Strip. "We didn't set out to control Gaza, we don't want to remain in Gaza and we intend on leaving Gaza as quickly as possible," he said. The European leaders travelled to Israel to lend their support to the ceasefires. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the opening of the crossings into Gaza was important to "make possible a resumption of the talks that are necessary for a permanent peace". Earlier, Hamas said it would hold fire for a week to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip. "Our demand is the withdrawal of the enemy forces from the Gaza Strip within a week, along with the opening of all the crossings for the entry of humanitarian aid, food and other necessities for our people in the Gaza Strip," said Hamas' deputy chief in Syria, Moussa Abou Marzouk. The move came hours after a unilateral Israeli ceasefire came into effect.

Meanwhile journalists entered northern Gaza via the Erez crossing to gain independent access to the Strip from Israel. On the Israeli side of the border with Gaza Israeli helicopters and drones had been flying overhead and Israeli troops were on high alert. Many people are hoping that a ceasefire will last, but no-one on either side of the border will be surprised if the fighting starts up again. Palestinian medical sources say at least 95 bodies have been pulled from the rubble since Israel halted its offensive. Many of the 40 000 people who fled the town during the conflict, were returning to pick through the ruins of their homes. People are salvaging whatever they can,  even the broken bricks and corrugated iron are taken away on donkeys. Hamas is still very much in control of the town. They say their determination and ability to fight is undiminished.  Earlier on Sunday, heads of state from across Europe travelled to Egypt for a summit with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-moon to try to shore up the ceasefire. Speaking after the talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would be sending a team to assess the immediate humanitarian needs of the people in Gaza. "Within 10 days, I think we'll be able to make an assessment report and we will issue a humanitarian urgent, a humanitarian flash appeal." The anarchists say there are no winners in this conflict, but as mentioned demand a durable ceasefire.

19.01.2008: Scale of Gaza destruction emerges... The full scale of devastation in Gaza following Israel's three-week offensive is becoming clear, after both Israel and Hamas declared ceasefires. UN official John Ging said half a million people had been without water since the conflict began, and huge numbers of people were without power. Many people face shortages of food, medicine and fuel. Four thousand homes are ruined and tens of thousands of people are homeless. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said he expected border crossings to open for aid later on Monday. "We are going to see a massive volume of aid entering the Gaza Strip," he said. "Medicines, foodstuffs, energy, all will be reaching the Gaza Strip in the volume that is required and in an expeditious manner." Traffic jams are building up, as people try to get to Gaza City to reunite with friends and relatives, he says, while Hamas fighters stride confidently down the road with rifles slung across their shoulders.

Speaking at an Arab League summit in Kuwait, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for the formation of a national unity government in the Palestinian territories, along with simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections. The league is expected to discuss a proposal for a $2bn fund for reconstruction in Gaza. Saudi King Abdullah said his country would donate $1bn. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he wanted troops to leave as quickly as possible, and some have already left. The troops are pulling out fast. Anonymous Israeli officials, quoted by AP news agency, said the withdrawal would be completed before US President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday. Correspondents say Israeli leaders want to get off to a smooth start with the new administration in Washington.

Israel tried to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer said in a posting on the IDF Web site. "This was not a war against the Palestinians," he said. "It was an operation of self-defense against Hamas and related terror organizations. Unfortunately, this task was made extremely difficult by Hamas, as they made the choice to use civilians as human shields." "Israel began the offensive in response to rocket fire by Hamas militants after showing eight years of restraint" the officer said. The operation's goal, he said, "was to improve the security situation in southern Israel, and to facilitate peaceful living for the Israeli civilians living there. We asked ourselves how to accomplish this, and the answer was to hit Hamas hard, to strike the tunnels, the terrorists themselves, and all of their assets, in order to prevent them from committing war crimes by firing rockets that target our civilian population," the officer said. He said seven rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Sunday's ceasefire declaration. "We want to give this ceasefire a chance, but if Hamas chooses not to, we will utilize all of our means," he said.

Mr Ging, director of operations for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), said most important was how to get basic supplies into Gaza. "We have a big recovery operation ahead of us, reconstruction - none of it will be possible of course, on any scale, until we get crossing points open," he said. Unrwa was keen to reopen its schools, Mr Ging said, where 50000 people were sheltering. Tens of thousands have been made homeless by the bombardment. Big questions remain, such as who will police Gaza's southern border and how much power Hamas still has. More than 1 300 Palestinians died and about 5 400 others were wounded during Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza, the Web site of the Palestinian Authority's Central Bureau of Statistics said. Louay Shabana, head of the agency, said more than 22000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Shabana put the economic destruction at more than $1.9 billion. Israel has said 13 of its citizens, including 10 soldiers, were killed during the offensive, which started December 27. Palestinian medical sources say at least 95 bodies have been pulled from the rubble since Israel halted its offensive. The ceasefire in Gaza remains fragile, although no air strikes, rocket attacks or major clashes were reported overnight. The anarchists once more demand that Hamas must agree to a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", not only a short term contract.

Arab leaders have been meeting in Kuwait over the Gaza crisis. They agree a reconstruction fund of 2 billion US dollars is needed, but they are divided over the political reponse. There are regimes like Syria which support Palestinian militancy, i.e. terrorism. But there are more or less pro Western Arab governments who blamed Hamas for provoking Israel. The anarchists agree. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has as mentioned called for a national unity government of Palestinians which could pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas said once unified Palestinians can effectively call for the lifting of the Israeli blockade and the opening of crossings for supplies. But many observers believe a unified Palestinian regime is an elusive dream. Gaza has been run by Hamas, which has done its best to stamp out the influence of Fatah there through arrests, violence and terror. The West Bank has been run by Abbas's Fatah, movement which, in turn, has used force in an attempt to crush Hamas there. But the split between Gaza and the West Bank is not just about politics. There's a geographical divide between the West Bank and Gaza. There may be some sense of unity now – among the public, if not the politicians. But when the killing stops, some fear Gaza's trauma could ultimately push the people of the two territories further apart.

The AI, AIE and ICOT have today decided the following resolution! Gaza: End of fighting opens opportunity for real peace and justice!

"The cessation of fighting in Gaza opens a vital opportunity to build a just and lasting peace, which both Israel and Palestine must seize, in order to end the cycle of conflict and ensure justice for the Palestinian people. The international community must do its utmost to help ensure that this happens, and needs to mobilize a massive humanitarian and reconstruction effort for Gaza. Nothing can bring back the hundreds of completely innocent victims whose lives were taken from them. There is not a moment to lose in re-starting negotiations to achieve a just settlement to the conflict, to make sure that no more innocent lives are lost in the future. 

Urgent and large-scale humanitarian relief must be a priority for the international community, to help medical services cope with the thousands of wounded and enable people to begin to rebuild their shattered lives. Reconstruction of the thousands of destroyed and damaged buildings and other infrastructure needs to take place without delay, and the blockade of Gaza has to be lifted to allow its economy, already on its knees before the fighting, to develop.

United Nations Resolutions set out the principles for achieving a just and durable peace, with two sovereign and democratic countries living side by side. These Resolutions must now be implemented in full and with urgency. Guarantees of long-denied justice for Palestinians, and security for all in the region, will be critically important if real progress is to be made, and if the horrendous events of these last weeks of fighting are never to be repeated. The anarchists call on all libertarians, labor confederations, aid organizations and governments world wide, to send urgently needed help in solidarity with the Palestinian people, as opposed to the superiors."

20.01.2009: Rebuilding the Gaza Strip after Israel's three-week offensive will cost billions of dollars, the UN has warned. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been left homeless and 400,000 people still have no running water, it says. Reports say UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is travelling to Gaza on Tuesday to inspect the damage. A fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants is holding, allowing many Palestinians to return home to assess the damage. Parts of Gaza look as if they have been hit by a massive earthquake as Palestinians try to piece together the shattered fragments of their lives after three-weeks under Israeli assault. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, the infrastructure is in tatters and bodies, inaccessible during the fighting, are being recovered pushing the death toll even higher. Palestinians are still trying to come to terms with the scale of the devastation. Israel claims it has allowed trucks into the Gaza Strip carrying humanitarian aid and the Red Cross says 10 ambulances loaded with medical supplies crossed at the Kerem Shalom border. Mohammed Ishtayah, Director of Palestinian Council for Development and Construction says help is required urgently:"We need immediate money to accommodate the homeless people, one, and second important thing is: this money has to be fast. And third important issue: Israel has to lift the closure on Gaza." Arab governments, much criticized for their response to the plight of the Palestinians, are to discuss plans to set up a two billion euro package to help reconstruct the battered strip. Along with Arab governments Western donors are to send aid, but Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are already bickering over who should control the reconstruction.

Israel says it hopes to pull all its troops out of Gaza by the time Barack Obama is sworn in as US President. Thousands of Israeli troops have already left Gaza but large contingents remain close to the border on the Israeli side, ready to re-enter if violence reignites. EU Foreign Ministers plan to meet in Brussels to discuss humanitarian aid and Israel's demand for the prevention of weapons smuggling to Gaza.

Later the UN chief has visited the burned-out shell of a UN compound in Gaza and urged both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to achieve political reconciliation after what he said was the "heartbreaking" violence of the last three weeks. "The repeated violence felt by Palestinians and Israelis is a mark of collective political failure," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. Speaking less than three days after Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas each agreed to a ceas-fire to end three-weeks of intense fighting, Ban had strong words for both sides. "I have condemned from the outbreak of this conflict the excessive use of force by Israeli forces in Gaza. I view the rocket attacks into Israel as completely unacceptable. We need to restore basic respect for civilians," he said. He also called on Palestinian factions to unify under the framework of the Palestinian Authority. He described seeing "heartbreaking scenes" and said he was "deeply grieved by what I have seen today." Ban planned to travel next to Sderot, a city in southern Israel where civilians have been targeted by Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza for years.

While his trip through the region is aimed largely at pushing all players to avoid a resumption of the violence, it is also to push for an investigation into Israel's shelling of the UN compound. "I'm just appalled. I'm not able to describe how I am feeling having seen this site," he said, adding that he could smell the facility still burning. "It is an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations." Earlier, Ban met Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and expressed his relief that Israel had declared a ceasefire, according to the UN chief's spokesperson. Ban also stressed the importance of the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. Ban also told Olmert that the UN would continue to play a pivotal role in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, as well as in long-term recovery and reconstruction, the spokesperson said. He told Olmert he was visiting Gaza in solidarity with UN staff who had worked heroically, and to demonstrate his respect and concern for all Gazans who lost friends and families. Gaza's gross domestic product was slashed by 85 percent during the 22 days of war, and it could take a year for the economy to recover, it is said in a preliminary report. Ban later visited the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which has been one of the main targets of Palestinian rocket attacks in recent years. Mr Ban described the rockets as indiscriminate weapons and said the attacks by Hamas were violations of basic humanitarian law.

Who won the conflict? Israel as mentioned called a ceasefire on Saturday, and said it had met its aims. This is only partly true. Hamas, as mentioned, later declared its own truce with one of its leaders claiming a "great victory" over Israel and saying its ability to fire rockets had not been affected by the Israeli strikes. This is only partly true. The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Israel had "failed to achieve its goals". In a speech broadcast on Hamas TV station, he said: "God has granted us a great victory, not for one faction, or party, or area, but for our entire people." Hamas said it would hold fire for a week to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip. A spokesman for Hamas' military wing, Abu Ubaida, said its rocket capabilities had not been affected by the conflict. "We hereby stress that our rockets are being developed and are piling up, and that the enemy will receive more rockets and God willing, our rockets will hit more targets," he said in a news conference broadcast live on Hamas' al-Aqsa TV. Repeating the same half lie does not make it a truth. The loosers were the Palestinian civil population, and the winner was Egyptian diplomacy, supported by international pressure, the anarchists' included, i.e. if the fragile ceasefire holds. An Israeli government spokesman dismissed claims by Hamas that the group had emerged victorious after the three week offensive: "Our intelligence information is crystal clear, the Hamas military machine has sustained significant blows. Their leadership is in a state of shock and that probably explains some of their delusional language." said spokesperson Mark Regev. Repeating the same half lie does not make it a truth. Hamas' military wing is claiming fewer than 50 of its fighters were killed — hundreds fewer than Israel claims...

21.01.2009: Early on Wednesday, Israel said it had completed its troop pull-out from Gaza."The last soldier left the Gaza Strip this morning," an IDF spokesman told journalists: "However the army remains deployed all around the Gaza Strip to meet any eventuality."

The Israeli army is to investigate claims it used white phosphorus illegally during its three-week offensive in Gaza. White phosphorus is legal for making smokescreens on a battlefield. According to the international convention on the use of incendiary weapons, the substance should not be used where civilians are concentrated. In a statement, the Israeli army confirmed it would look into the allegations that it had misused the substance but said it "only uses weapons permitted by law". "In response to the claims of NGOs and claims in the foreign press relating to the use of phosphorus weapons, and in order to remove any ambiguity, an investigative team has been established in the Southern Command to look into the issue," the IDF said. In addition IDF is accused of usimg to so-called DIME bombs. DIME bombs are experimental weapons which produce small but massively-powerful explosions. In a third high-profile accusation, the International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating Arab claims that Israel used uranium-tipped shells during the assault. They are popular with the military because they easily penetrate tanks or armour, but critics say their residue is highly-toxic.

The anarchists urge Israel to fully open all crossings with Gaza to allow a free flow of goods, under international control to stop smuggling of weapons to Hamas. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes has also urged Israel to fully open all crossings with Gaza to allow a free flow of goods. The recent truce between Israel and Hamas terrorists does not include any deal on the opening of the crossings, which are tightly controlled by Israel. So far Israel has been allowing only basic humanitarian supplies - like food and medicine - into Gaza. At a news conference in New York on Tuesday, Mr Holmes said it was "absolutely critical" that building materials - like cement and pipes - were allowed into Gaza. "Otherwise, the reconstruction effort won't get off first base," he said. Mr Holmes, who is expected to visit Israel on Wednesday, also stressed that he would be pushing Israel to allow international aid organisation into Gaza. "In theory, they have permission. In practice, it's proving very difficult to get into Gaza."

After the withdrawal of Israeli tanks and soldiers, the people of Gaza have returned to find what's left of their homes. According to Palestinian figures, some 14 percent of Gaza's buildings and homes were destroyed or damaged during Israel's three-week assault. One man said: "We are looking for a place to live. This used to be our home. We have no one helping us; not the UN, not the government. Nobody is standing by us, and we are begging the UN, the Red Cross, anybody to give us a tent. But there is no-one." Many people had no choice but to flee when the fighting began, a conflict the UN says claimed the lives of some 1 300 Palestinians, half of them civilians. One woman said: "After 20 days we came back and found our house in ruins. We could not find matresses, flour, our sheep. Nothing. The whole house in ruins. Where should we go now? We ask them to build us a house." The cost of rebuilding is going to run into the hundreds of millions of euros, and Saudi Arabia and European countries have promised to help. However, the process is likely to be complicated, with Israel imposing conditions: it says it will only allow reconstruction managed by international organisations in cooperation with the UN, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, but not Hamas. Meanwhile, smuggling into Gaza from Egypt appears to be underway again. Israel said it destroyed most of the hundreds of tunnels it says were used to ship weapons into Gaza. But some Palestinians have been seen repairing some tunnels, and filling up from a fuel tanker with petrol said to have been brought in from Egypt.

22.01.2009: The political leader of Hamas has claimed that Israel failed to achieve its goals with its three week bombardment of Gaza. Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, said Hamas had withstood the onslaught, despite Israel's military superiority and determination. Speaking during a televised address, Meshaal also called on Western diplomats to open a dialogue with Hamas, which is on an international blacklist of terrorist groups. Western and Palestinian officials have said Israel is blocking cash transfers to Gaza by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank – undermining the ability of Mahmoud Abbas' administration to reassert its presence in the territory. The majority of Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza on Tuesday. Hamas officials and an Israeli envoy are set to meet for further talks in Cairo later today.

Rival factions trade accusations of spying, violence in Gaza. Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist. In the wake of an Israeli offensive aimed at crippling Hamas, Gaza's ruling party, Hamas is accusing rival Palestinian faction Fatah of spying for Israel. Omar Hassan, neighbor of fallen Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam, says spies helped Israelis locate Siam's home. In return, some are accusing Hamas of carrying out "punishment shootings" against suspects. "In this war, we arrested many spies and collaborators, and we will stay continuing to catch these spies and put them in jail and in court," Ehad al-Ghossain, Hamas' Interior Ministry spokesman has said. "Some factions wanted to help Israel, to kill Hamas and Hamas leaders, and were giving information to the Israelis." Fatah's power base is in the West Bank. It is locked in a power struggle with Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in January 2006 and wrested Gaza from Fatah in violent clashes in 2007. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president and leader of the Fatah party, is a United States ally but holds little sway in Gaza. Fatah denies spying on Hamas for Israel, and party leaders said Thursday that at least 175 of their members had been rounded up and tortured in recent days. The highest-ranking known casualty in the Israeli offensive may have been Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike January 15. Siam's neighbors said Fatah supporters may have pinpointed his location for Israel. "My brother and sister saw three or four spies, including a woman," neighbor Omar Hassan said. "The spies left, and then Said Siam's apartment was hit."

Meanwhile, at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, medical officials said injuries they have seen would be consistent with suspected spies being shot in the kneecaps, elbows, hands or feet as punishment. "We have seen severe arterial lesions at the level of the knee and at the level of the femoral artery in the thigh, and also some lesions at the level of the arm," international doctor Carlos Trotta said. He said he has treated at least six patients, including a woman, for gunshot wounds since the ceasefire with Israel was announced. Another medical source said the shots were fired from close range, and the victims have claimed that the injuries stemmed from punishment or a factional vendetta.Punishment shootings are a time-tested tactic used worldwide by guerrilla and militia groups, from Che Guevara in Cuba to the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland. They are meant not only to take revenge but to send a message to others. Two self-described Fatah loyalists were found heavily bandaged at a Gaza City safe house. One of their colleagues refused to say where or why they were injured but denied that they were spying. "They shot him at close range with a pistol," he said of one man. "His bones are shattered. They shot him point-blank in the foot. ... This was done by Hamas people." The other man, he said, was struck on his legs with a metal construction bar. "Four people were beating him," he said. A Hamas security source said the shootings occurred because renegade gunmen took the law into their own hands. And al-Ghossain said there was no official order within Hamas to carry out such shootings. "That's not us," al-Ghossain said. "Maybe some families who had problems in the past just wanted to shoot these people." This is probably a lie. The anarchists say no opposition to Hamas can speek freely in Gaza, and there is no freedom of association. But an underground opposition can be created. With international support and support from PLO etc., the Hamas rule may de done away with.

Cairo talks on ceasefire in Gaza. An Israeli envoy is due to hold talks in Egypt on how to achieve a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, following Israel's three-week offensive there. Amos Gilad will seek reassurances of tough action against Palestinian militants smuggling arms into Gaza. Egypt has acted as a mediator between Israel and Palestinian terrorists, including Hamas, during the three-week conflict in Gaza. Representatives from Hamas are expected for talks in Cairo on Sunday. As mentioned Israel unilaterally announced its ceasefire last Saturday and later withdrew its troops from Gaza. Hamas also declared its own week-long ceasefire which ends on Sunday. Now Cairo's challenge is to translate the current fragile truce into a mutual longer-term deal. Cairo's control of the Egypt-Gaza border means it may have something to offer to both Israel and Hamas. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday asked the European Union to held end the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, and got some positive response. At a meeting in Brussels, Ms Livni said this was essential to the creation of a lasting ceasefire. Hamas is demanding an immediate re-opening of Gaza's border crossings and lifting of an Israeli blockade. Israel intensified its blockade of the Palestinian enclave when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007. It has refused to fully open border crossings to allow desperately needed aid, goods and construction materials into Gaza. The United Nations and anarchists have urged Israel to fully open all crossings with Gaza to allow a free flow of goods to the Palestinian territory.

EU foreign ministers pressed Israel to lift its blockade on humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Following talks in Brussels with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni the union urged Israel to work towards a sustainable ceasefire and begin comprehensive talks with the Palestinians. The Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said: "We achieved the assurance from the Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that everything will be done from the Israeli side to have an effective humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip." Israel wants help to stop the flow of weapons to Hamas as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni explains: ""We achieved an understanding about the need to give an answer to the smuggling of weapons to the Gaza Strip – talking about durable and sustainable ceasefire means also a full cessation of smuggling of weapons and rearmament of Hamas in the future." An anti-Israeli demonstration greeted Livni, one of the architects of the three-week assault that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Meanwhile, Israel denied it had used depleted uranium during its offensive and said that could be verified by any future UN investigation.

Israeli warning on Gaza tunnels. Israel has warned of renewed military  strikes on Gaza if tunnels used for smuggling in goods from Egypt are reopened by Palestinians. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the situation could not return to how it was before Israel's 22-day offensive in Gaza, which ended last Sunday. But media reports say that some of the tunnels are already back in operation, with fuel being smuggled in. Destroying the network of tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was one of Israel's main aims when its offensive began in late December. The Israelis say the tunnels are used to smuggle weapons in to militants from Hamas, but the Palestinians argue that Israel's tight control of their borders means the tunnels are the only way they can get enough fuel and basic goods to survive. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that 150 tunnels had been destroyed during the Gaza assault. Before their offensive in Gaza was over, Israeli officials had said they had destroyed 60% to 70% of the tunnels. TV images on Wednesday showed a truck being filled with petrol, apparently smuggled in through a tunnel.

And on Thursday, one tunnel owner told Reuters: "Soon it will be operational, I will not bring drugs or weapons, I plan to use it to bring in what people need most - food and fuel, and that is very profitable." Israel bombed the tunnels heavily during its offensive, and Ms Livni was clear that Israel would not tolerate the resumption of smuggling. "Things must be clear - Israel reserves the right to react militarily against the tunnels once and for all," the AFP news agency quoted her as saying. "If we have to act, we will do so, we will exercise our right to legitimate defense, we will not leave our fate... to the Egyptians, nor to the Europeans nor to the Americans." Meanwhile, Palestinian medical workers in Gaza City said at least two people had been wounded in shelling by an Israeli gunboat. And diplomats gathered in Cairo were continuing their efforts to find a lasting ceasefire agreement for Gaza, with the issue of smuggling at the top of their agenda. Israel is expected to urge Egypt to put an end to the practice, while Hamas is likely to demand that Israel relaxes its control over Gaza's borders.

Five Palestinians, including two children, have been wounded by shots from an Israeli gunboat patrolling off the coast of Gaza. The IDF said the gunners fired at a fishing boat which had strayed off course. Other boats were hit, as was a house on the beach. Israel retains complete control of Gaza's land and sea borders, and its airspace. The IDF remains on full alert on the frontier with Gaza. The tanks and soldiers completed their withdrawal yesterday, but commanders say they are ready to go back in to Gaza if needed. Israel has, however, relaxed its blockade on humanitarian aid. Several trucks carrying food and medicine crossed into Gaza via the Karni checkpoint. The cost of the damage in Gaza is as mentioned put at about a billion euros. The EU and Saudi Arabia have pledged funds, and diplomatic efforts are underway to find a lasting peace. However, Israel repeated it will attack again if Hamas uses smugglers' tunnels to re-arm. And Israel is ready for a prisonner swap to liberate soldier Gilad Shalit, seized in Gaza in 2006. Israel believes Hamas was weakened enough by the fighting to allow such an exchange.

23.01.2009: UN shocked by Gaza destruction. The UN's humanitarian chief has said that the situation in Gaza after the three-week Israeli offensive against Hamas was worse than he anticipated. Sir John Holmes, who visited Gaza on Thursday, said he was shocked by "the systematic nature of the destruction". He said that the territory's economic activity had been set back by years, and that the scale of destruction would have "disturbing" repercussions for the people of Gaza. He described an industrial area where every building within a square kilometre had been levelled, by bulldozers and shells. He told of broken pipes pumping out raw sewage onto the streets. "I'm sure the Israelis would say that's because there were people there firing shells and rockets from there, or perhaps manufacturing them. But the nature of that destruction means that any kind of private economic activity in Gaza is set back by years or decades," he said. "That's very disturbing for the future of Gaza, for the future of the people of Gaza, who are forced to fall back on the public sector and indeed on Hamas, who control the public sector."

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is reported to have placed his justice minister in charge of defending Israel against any accusations of war crimes. Daniel Friedman will lead an inter-ministerial team to co-ordinate a legal defense for Israeli civilians and the IDF. Richard Falk - the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories - has said there was "a prima facie case" that Israel gravely breached the Geneva Conventions during its 22-day campaign. Israel responded by saying that Mr Falk's "bias against Israel was well known".

New US Middle East envoy to visit region soon. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell could be traveling to the region as early as next week, two Obama administration officials said. Former Sen. George Mitchell says that "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended." The schedule is still being planned, but initial stops include Jerusalem; Ramallah, West Bank; Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; and possibly Saudi Arabia as well as Europe. President Barack Obama on Thursday named Mitchell as his special envoy to the region. Obama said Mitchell will help implement a ceasefire between Israelis and Hamas and support anti-smuggling efforts to prevent the latter from rearming. But he added, "Lasting peace requires more than a long ceasefire, and that's why I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security." After he was officially named an envoy at a State Department ceremony Thursday, Mitchell said, "I don't underestimate the difficulty of this assignment." "The situation in the Middle East is volatile, complex and dangerous. But the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that danger and difficulty cannot cause the United States to turn away," he said.

Mitchell said that he believed Jewish and Palestinian states could live side by side and the conflict, even if centuries old, could end,  a lesson he learned during his negotiations in Northern Ireland as a peace broker for former President Clinton. "From my experience there, I formed the conviction that there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended," Mitchell said. "Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings." The challenges of working in the volatile region would not be new to the 75-year-old former Democratic senator from Maine. In 2000, Mitchell served on a commission that examined the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. In 2001, he wrote a report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror. The Mitchell Report was praised for its impartiality and became the basis of a so-called road map for later peace initiatives. By naming Mitchell as his personal envoy, Obama is sending a diplomatic heavyweight to the region. "He's neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian," Martin S. Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, told The New York Times. "He's, in a sense, neutral."
In recent days, Obama officials talked to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab diplomats about the choice, sources close to the administration and diplomats said.

24.01.2009: UN schools reopening. Schools in the Gaza Strip operated by the United Nations have reopened for the first time since the Israeli offensive against Hamas militants. About 200,000 Palestinian children were expected to return to class. In the later stages of the three-week conflict, many of the schools were used to shelter Palestinians whose homes were damaged or destroyed. It follows a decision by Israel on Friday to lift a ban on UN and foreign aid workers entering the Gaza Strip. The ban had been in place since early November, when tensions mounted between Israel and Hamas as the end of a six-month ceasefire approached. Aid agencies welcomed the lifting of the restrictions, but said the task ahead was "enormous", with vast amounts of building materials alone needed to help rebuild schools, hospitals, mosques, and homes. However, a group of 25 South African medical staff who arrived in Egypt with 84 tonnes of relief supplies for Gaza have complained that they are being held up by Egyptian security officers at the Rafah border crossing. The mission, which is supported by the South African government and the Council of Churches, is bringing medical equipment, generators and food. The leader of the group, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, told the BBC that one of the accompanying doctors had been detained at Rafah because he had once been arrested in Pakistan at the house of an al-Qaeda suspect. South Africa is seeking consular access to the doctor, Feroz Ganchi.

When the UN-run schools re-opened on Saturday morning, children were swapping stories of what they had seen and heard during the past month. Many had lost relatives, some had lost their homes, and in many classrooms there were empty desks.The Palestinian ministry of health estimates that more than 400 children were killed by the fighting and 1,800 wounded. It also says tens of thousands more may need urgent treatment for the psychological trauma they suffered during the conflict. Thirty of the UN's 200 schools were damaged during the conflict, and many more were used to house tens of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes. In one of the deadliest incidents, about 40 civilians were killed while sheltering at the al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Initially, Israel accused Hamas of firing from the school and using civilians as "human shields", but later blamed a stray Israeli mortar instead. The UN has called for an independent investigation. A humanitarian appeal was launched by a number of UK charities on Thursday to raise money for humanitarian aid in Gaza. 

Smuggling tunnels. Meanwhile the new US President, Barack Obama, has asked King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for his country's support in halting the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. Israel, which ended its 22-day offensive last Sunday, has warned of renewed military strikes on the Strip if smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border are reopened. Palestinians argue that Israel's tight control of their borders means the tunnels are the only way they can get enough basic supplies - food and fuel - to survive. Earlier, France announced that one of its warships had joined an international mission aimed at preventing arms smuggling, and was conducting surveillance from international waters in full co-operation with Egypt and Israel.

25.01.2009: Hamas set for Gaza truce talks. Members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas are due to meet Egyptian officials to discuss ways to shore up a fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. As mentioned Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared a temporary halt to fighting a week ago, shortly after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire. Representatives from the rival Fatah faction are also due in Egypt to restart reconciliation talks. Egypt has long acted as a go-between for Israel and the Palestinians. Israel refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, which it sees as a terrorist organisation. Egypt's state news agency says the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, will meet a delegation from Hamas, following his talks with an Israeli envoy in Cairo last Thursday. The aim is to stabilise the ceasefire by reaching a truce agreement. To satisfy Hamas, this would have to include plans to reopen Gaza's border crossings. Israel and Egypt enforced a border blockade after Hamas took over the territory by force in mid-2007. They have said they will only open the gates if Hamas accepts the deployment of border monitors as a way of halting weapons smuggling. The anarchists support this point of view.

Meanwhile in Brussels, European Union foreign ministers are to meet their Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian and Turkish counterparts to study ways to get wider Arab support for new Middle East peace moves. The ministers will also assess the state of the ceasefire in Gaza and look at ways to improve the flow of aid. President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, will travel to the region on Wednesday, officials said. Mr Mitchell plans to meet leaders in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, but diplomats ruled out direct contacts with Hamas officials. A Palestinian official who is close to the truce talks taking place in Cairo, said both Israel and Hamas would hold their fire as long as Egyptian mediation continued. Meanwhile in Gaza, schools and government ministries not destroyed in the bombing reopened on Saturday and international aid agencies jointly appealed for unhindered access to the Gaza Strip. "All of us here today call for unhindered and open access to Gaza, for people, for goods and for commerce," Tom Taurus of Save the Children told a news conference at Gaza's Shifa hospital. The anarchists support this point of view.

Any Israeli soldiers accused of war crimes in the Gaza Strip will be given state protection from prosecution overseas, the country's PM has said. Ehud Olmert said troops should know Israel would keep them safe after they acted to protect their country. Palestinians say 1 300 people died during the offensive, and UN officials want independent probes into whether war crimes were committed. Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation is in Egypt for talks on cementing a truce. Israel ended its military operation in Gaza on 18 January, and Hamas declared a ceasefire hours later. No formal framework for a lasting ceasefire has yet been agreed. As mentiond while Israel says it requires Hamas to end weapons smuggling into Gaza and rocket attacks on Israel, Hamas has demanded that Israel lift its economic blockade of the territory. In Israel, Prime Minister Olmert told a weekly cabinet meeting that soldiers who had put their lives on the line for their country need not fear prosecution for war crimes overseas. "The commanders and soldiers that were sent on the task in Gaza should know that they are safe from any tribunal and that the State of Israel will assist them in this issue and protect them as they protected us with their bodies during the military operation in Gaza," he said. Israel's military tactics have come under intense scrutiny as evidence has emerged of the high numbers of Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza. Among complaints made by human rights groups are accusations of indiscriminate firing and the use of white phosphorus shells in civilian areas. Israel has admitted using white phosphorus in Gaza but says it did not break international law in doing so. White phosphorus is legal for creating smokescreens in open battleground. But rights groups and journalists say it was used in crowded civilian areas. The weapon sticks to human skin and will burn through to the bone.

Truce talks. In Cairo, delegates from Hamas met Egyptian intelligence officials on Sunday as they sought to bolster the week-long calm in Gaza. Representatives from Fatah, the main rival Palestinian faction, were also due to attend the talks. The talks came as Hamas said it was beginning a programme of cash handouts to Palestinians in Gaza whose homes were damaged by the three weeks of Israeli bombardments. There was no word of the substance of discussions in Egypt with Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief who brokered a previous six-month truce between Israel and Hamas. Mr Suleiman held talks with an Israeli envoy on Thursday. In a statement, Egyptian state media said Hamas and Mr Suleiman discussed "Egyptian efforts to consolidate the ceasefire, reach a [permanent] truce, reopen Gaza crossings and resume Palestinian national dialogue". As mentioned Israel and Egypt closed their borders with Gaza when Hamas seized control of the territory in mid-2007.

26.01.2009: The EU has urged divided Palestinian groups to unite so that vital humanitarian aid can reach the people of Gaza. The bloc's 27 foreign ministers called on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to forge a unity government and pursue reconciliation in order find a lasting peace. Meeting in Brussels with Arab counterparts, EU ministers also demanded more be done to prevent Hamas smuggling weapons into the Gaza strip. "We have been seeking reassurance that the ceasefire will be maintained, that efforts to stop arms smuggling will be stepped up, crossings to Gaza should be open on a regular and predictable basis, and that a speedy return to negotiations will follow. We all agree too that a two-state solution remains the ultimate aim of all our efforts," said Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Israel, which ended its 22 day offensive on Gaza last week, refuses to open borders until Hamas stops smuggling. The anarchists support this point of view.

EU envoy lays Gaza blame on Hamas. A senior European Union official touring Gaza has blamed the ruling militant movement Hamas for the humanitarian crisis there. Humanitarian aid chief Louis Michel called the destruction left by Israel's offensive "abominable", but said Hamas bore "overwhelming responsibility". He said there would be no dialogue with the terrorist movement until it gave up violence and recognized Israel. He also announced emergency aid for Gaza worth more than US $70m. "It is abominable, indescribable," Mr Michel told reporters after touring some of the worst-hit places of Israel's 22-day assault. "At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas," he said. "I intentionally say this here - Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such." Mr Michel later visited the Israel town of Sderot, which has been target of Palestinian militant rocket fire, where he called on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and he accused both sides of failing to respect  international humanitarian law. "Please open the crossings, you have to broaden the range of products that you let in," he said. "We, the EU, condemn Qassam attacks and military options which target the civilian population. The former Belgian foreign minister insisted there would be no dialogue with Hamas, and its use of terrorism against Israeli civilians meant it was not a legitimate resistance movement.

Some aid agencies have expressed doubts about how effective a reconstruction drive in Gaza can be, without the involvement of Hamas, the people in charge there. Announcing the extra aid package, Mr Michel said people in the EU were sick of paying for the same infrastructure being destroyed over and over again in Israeli military action. The body is the main donor to the Palestinians, having given three billion euros since 2000, Mr Michel said. "Every year, we spend 600 to 700 million euros. Today we decided on a supplementary payment of 60 million euros." Separately, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he was heading to the Middle East to join international efforts to cement a permanent ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. He said he would spend a week in the region starting with meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Tuesday. Hamas wants an end of Israel's punishing blockade of Gaza. Israel, which will hold a general elections on 10 February, wants a long-term ceasefire and curbs on Hamas rearming. US envoy George Mitchell will leave on Monday for the region to bolster a truce in Gaza, respond to humanitarian problems and "reinvigorate the peace process," a spokesman said Monday. Mr Mitchell will "meet with senior officials to discuss the peace process and the situation in Gaza", a State Department spokesman said. In his first trip to the region in his new role, Mr Mitchell will visit Israel and the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, with European stops including Paris and London.

27.01.2009: Gaza ceasefire is breached. Israel soldier killed near Gaza. Palestinians activated an explosive device that detonated against an Israeli army patrol along the border just north of the Kissufim border crossing into Gaza about 8 a.m. Tuesday. An Israeli soldier is reported to have been killed and several others injured in the explosion. Palestinian residents reported the sound of gunfire and Israeli helicopters in the area. It is the first reported Israeli fatality since Israel and Hamas declared ceasefires on 18 January after a three-week Israeli offensive. Arab news channels said one Israeli soldier was killed and three injured in the incident. The IDF would not confirm the casualties until next of kin had been informed. One Palestinian was killed in the fighting, Palestinian medical officials said. The Palestinian was killed by Israeli helicopter fire east of Khan Yunis, near the border fence with Israel, about 90 minutes later.

Ceasefire negotiations. The clash is the most serious outbreak of violence since the Israeli operation against Gaza ended with independent declarations of ceasefire from Israel and Hamas more than a week ago. Egyptian mediators have been meeting separately with Israel and Hamas to negotiate a more permanent ceasefire between the two sides. US President Barack Obama has sent his newly-appointed Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, to the region to discuss the ceasefire efforts. As mentioned Hamas wants the border crossings into Gaza re-opened, including the Rafah crossing into Egypt, to end the Israeli blockade which has strangled the territory's economy, and Israel wants to stop the rocket fire and prevent the Hamas terrorists from re-arming via smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt.

Later Israel launches attacks in Gaza. Israel has carried out an air attack in the Gaza Strip and launched an incursion with tanks and bulldozers across the border. Palestinian sources say there has been fighting near Khan Younis in southern Gaza, with people fleeing their homes. It is the worst violence since Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza ended with both sides declaring ceasefires. In the afternoon there is heavy fighting going on in Khan Younis, south of the Kissufim crossing. Palestinian sources say 20 Israeli tanks and seven army bulldozers have made an incursion. Two people were also wounded in an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis. Hospital sources say one was a member of Hamas' Popular Resistance Committee who was on a motorbike at the time, and the other was a passer-by. Israel has closed border crossings into Gaza because of the attack on the patrol, Israeli officials said, stopping the flow of aid supplies to Gaza's 1.5 million residents. Aid agencies have been struggling to meet the urgent needs of tens of thousands of displaced, homeless and injured people in Gaza.

US visit. The fresh violence comes as US President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, arrives in the region to seek a more permanent truce. As mentioned he will hold talks with Egyptian officials, who have been mediating between Israel and Hamas, before travelling on to Jerusalem and Ramallah. In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US supported "Israel's right to self-defense". "The rocket barrages which are getting closer and closer to populated areas [in Israel] cannot go unanswered," she said in her first news conference at the State Department. As mentioned Israel and Hamas declared separate ceasefires on 17 and 18 January. As mentioned when Hamas called its ceasefire, it said Israel had one week to fully open all the crossings into Gaza, in order to end an 18-month blockade of the territory that has crippled its economy. Israel wants guarantees that Hamas militants will not re-arm via smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt. The anarchists call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond"...

28.01.2009: Israel hits Gaza tunnels as US envoy due. Israeli aircraft struck at tunnels used for smuggling goods and weapons on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Wednesday, hours before a US peace envoy was due to arrive in the Jewish state. Residents of the Gaza town of Rafah and Hamas security officials said some people began to flee their homes in panic as the aircraft struck three times before dawn. There was no initial word of casualties. An IDF spokesman confirmed that Israel had carried out air strikes on smuggling tunnels in the town of Rafah. The strike came as a response to Tuesday's attack by Gaza militants on an Israeli military vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb while patrolling the Gaza border, killing one soldier and wounding three others, the IDF spokesman said. An air strike shortly afterwards killed one Palestinian on a motorcycle whom the spokesman identified as the planner of the roadside bomb attack. The exchanges were the first major military developments since Hamas and Israel declared separate ceasefires earlier this month after Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said late on Tuesday that the killing of the man on the motorcycle was only an initial reaction and that Israel's full response was still to come, Israeli media websites reported.

Israel and Hamas are negotiating through Egyptian mediators on a longer-term truce. Hamas as mentioned wants Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel wants guarantees that Hamas will not again fire rockets at Israeli towns. Later on Wednesday, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel to take the first steps toward reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A former US senator and experienced mediator who helped end the Northern Ireland conflict, Mitchell began his regional tour in Cairo on Tuesday bearing a message from US President Barack Obama that the "moment is ripe" for peace talks. He will meet Israeli leaders on Wednesday afternoon and visit the West Bank on Thursday to talk to Palestinian leaders, but Western diplomats said he would not meet Hamas officials.

Obama has made clear the Middle East conflict is a high priority he wants to tackle early in his presidency and, in an interview with Al Arabiya satellite channel, said he had told Mitchell to "start by listening" and report back. "The moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table," he said. Obama assured Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert he would maintain Washington's commitment to Israel, but also praised King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for a Saudi-sponsored peace initiative offering Israel peace with the Arabs in exchange for withdrawal from Arab land occupied since 1967 and a just solution for Palestinian refugees. Israeli and Palestinian leaders set out their positions on Tuesday before Mitchell's arrival. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a candidate to succeed Olmert in a February 10 election, told Jewish leaders: "We need ... to achieve a peace treaty with the pragmatic Palestinians, with a legitimate Palestinian government which expresses the vision of two nation states ..."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said he would toughen his stance following Israel's 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip. He said he would tell Mitchell that Israel's Gaza offensive proved it was not intent on peacemaking. "Israel does not want peace, otherwise it would not have done this. We need to understand this and tell it to those coming from Europe and America. Israel wants to waste time to strengthen facts on the ground with settlements and the wall." Speaking after his meeting with Mr Mubarak, on his way to Israel, Mr Mitchell said it was of "critical importance that the ceasefire be extended and consolidated". Mr Obama's decision to send him to the Middle East less than a week after his inauguration was "clear and tangible evidence" of his commitment to building a lasting peace in the region, he said.

Hamas fires rocket into Israel - US urges stronger Gaza ceasefire. The new US envoy for the Middle East has said it is "critically" important to extend the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire. George Mitchell's first official visit to the region came a day after Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian militants in Gaza. He met Israeli PM Ehud Olmert on Wednesday. "The prime minister and I discussed the critical importance to consolidate the ceasefire including a cessation of hostilities, an end to smuggling and reopening of the crossings based on 2005 agreements," Mr Mitchell said. Hours afterwards, a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel, the first since the ceasefire 10 days ago. The rocket hit the Eshkol region in the western Negev, Israeli officials said. There were no injuries or damage. Mr Mitchell said his visit less than a week into a new US presidency showed the US commitment to peace. He began his trip with meetings on Wednesday in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak, who has been mediating between Israel and Hamas. "It is of critical importance that the ceasefire be extended and consolidated and we support Egypt's continuing efforts in that regard," said Mr Mitchell."The United States is committed to vigorously pursuing lasting peace and stability in the region." He is due to meet Mr Abbas, leader of the Palestinian faction Fatah, on Thursday as part of discussions on how to achieve a permanent peace between the two sides, but not meeting Hamas. He also touched on Israel's key concern, that weapons smuggling into Gaza be stopped, and underlined Hamas's demand - that Israel's crossings into Gaza be fully opened for trade as well as aid. But on the ground the situation remains tense. Israeli politicians are in bullish pre-election mood, threatening swift reprisals for attacks on their soldiers or citizens.

In a separate development, France summoned Israel's ambassador to complain after Israeli troops fired two warning shots at a convoy carrying French diplomats, as it was held for more than six hours at a Gaza border crossing. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told Israel's ambassador to Paris that the incident was "unacceptable" and demanded explanations, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond"...

29.01.2009: The ceasefire is dead. Palestinian terrorists have fired two rockets at Israel from Gaza. George Mitchell, the new US president's envoy to the Middle East, is to hold talks with Palestinian leaders amid continuing violence in the Gaza Strip. He is due to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but as mentioned not members of Hamas which controls Gaza. The US envoy has stressed Washington's commitment to pursuing a two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. But Palestinians are impatient to see talk translated into action after so many years of negotiations. They want to see the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank halted, and an end to Israeli incursions in Gaza. With the deep divisions among the Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, still unresolved, and with an Israeli election looming, few in the region believe that change will come soon. Mr Mitchell's arrival in Israel came a day after Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

As mentioned late on Wednesday a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel - the first since the ceasefire 10 days ago - hitting the Eshkol region in the western Negev without causing any reported injuries or structural damage. Shortly afterwards, an Israeli jet pounded targets along Gaza's southern frontier with Egypt, hitting a metal factory in an area containing tunnels through which Israel says militants smuggle arms. Another rocket was fired by militants early on Thursday, prompting correspondents to warn of a spiral of violence that could nullify each side's unilateral ceasefires that were announced on 17 and 18 January. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, Israel launched air strikes on southern Gaza and briefly sent in troops backed by tanks after a bomb attack on one of its patrols killed one soldier and wounded three. The violence was the most serious since both ceasefires were announced. Israel wants a long-term ceasefire and curbs on Hamas rearming; Hamas wants an end to Israel's punishing blockade of Gaza. As metioned more than 1,300 Palestinians, including 400 children, have been killed since Israel began its land, sea and air operations against Hamas terrorists on 27 December. Fourteen Israelis have died. The UN has launched an appeal for $613m to help people affected by Israel's offensive in Gaza. The ceasefire is dead. The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT outlined in B. An overview, below.

30.01.2009: US 'actively seeks' Mid-East deal. The US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has said Washington is committed to "actively and aggressively" seeking lasting peace. Mr Mitchell is as mentioned on a regional tour aimed at consolidating ceasefires declared by Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza. Earlier, Mr Mitchell met Israeli politicians and intelligence officials. These included Isaac Herzog, Israel's current welfare minister, and the leader of the opposition Likud party, Binyamin Netanyahu. Mr Netanyahu is the leading candidate to be Israel's next prime minister. Mr Mitchell has held previous talks with Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Later on Friday he is due to travel to the Jordanian capital, Amman. Mr Mitchell spoke at an United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) warehouse in front of pallets loaded with aid bound for Gaza. He announced that Mr Obama had earmarked the $20.3m for aid to Gaza on top of $40m allocated to humanitarian programmes there since hostilities broke out in late December.

"The United States remains committed to actively and aggressively seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbours," he said. "The tragic violence in Gaza and in south Israel offers a sobering reminder of the very serious and difficult challenges and, unfortunately, the setbacks that will come. It is important to consolidate a sustainable and durable ceasefire while addressing immediately humanitarian needs," he said. On Thursday Mr Mitchell met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Following the meeting he called for Israel to open the crossing points into Gaza and for the Palestinian Authority to participate in a border regime in Gaza that prevents, Hamas, the militant group that controls the territory, from rearming. Many see Mr Mitchell's presence as a sign that the US is re-engaging - but few expect to see much progress soon, as Israel is in an election campaign with the right-wing Likud ahead in the polls.

Hamas wants a new, islamist ultra-authoritarian fascist terrorist rule over all Palestinians. The Islamist Hamas group is calling for new leadership for Palestinians to replace the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) dominated by its arch-rival President Mahmoud Abbas and the factions loyal to him. Falsely claiming victory in the devastating 22-day armed struggle with Israel in which 100 Palestinians were killed for every Israeli who died, the militant group is reasserting control over the enclave and resuming its central political challenge to the moderate Abbas. Several thousand Hamas supporters rallied in Gaza on Friday in support of the call to abolish the PLO, made two days ago by the group's exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal. Meshaal advocates a new umbrella body to represent Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and in the diaspora. His proposal was echoed in similar statements to cheering crowds on Friday by a senior Hamas political leader, Khalil al-Hayya. In the first public appearance by a prominent Gaza Hamas leader since Israel's attacked on Dec 27, Hayya said the PLO was "dead," and sent to the "morgue" by those who founded it. "It is high time the Palestinian people have a new leadership. We are moving forward to shoulder the causes of refugees and Jerusalem. We will not cede our rights," he said. "It is high time our people see a new, wise leadership that upholds resistance and the rifle." Hamas, which rules 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, is pledged to continue fighting the state of Israel, which it does not recognize.

Western-backed Abbas, seeking to create a Palestinian state at peace with Israel, runs the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is home to 2.5 million Palestinians and also heads the PLO. He accused Meshaal of trying to "knock down a structure that was built 44 years ago." "If he wanted to bring down the temple he would not be able to do it because not one of the Palestinian people or others would stand with him," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah where his dominant Fatah faction is seated.  Fatah is the largest of the 11 factions which make up the PLO, which has signed a series of peace accords with Israel since 1993 aimed at establishing a Palestinian state. Abbas was leaving on Friday for visits to European capitals, seeking diplomatic help in securing a durable ceasefire in Gaza and post-war reconstruction for the enclave, as well as support for Egyptian mediators seeking to reconcile Fatah and Hamas."If Israel wants peace, it has to withdraw from the Arab and the Palestinian land which it occupied in 1967," Abbas said. "Then it will be recognized by 57 Arab and Islamic countries which offer their hands for a historic opportunity for peace. I think Israel should not miss this opportunity."

Hamas, by contrast, does not propose to recognize Israel at any point and is shunned by major powers engaged in the Middle East peace process for its refusal to renounce violence, i.e. terrorism. Meshaal, the group's top leader, lives in exile in Damascus. He and other leaders of the group had said Hamas could accept a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders, in return for a long-term truce with Israel. Meshaal now says factions allied to his group have already begun discussions over the formation of a "national steering committee" to represent Palestinians everywhere. "The PLO, in its current form, has become incapable of serving the Palestinian people and has become a tool to deepen divisions," he said in a speech in Qatar this week.
Hamas is the most powerful of the "rejectionist" front of Palestinian factions, which are based in Syria, and could aspire to dominate a new umbrella grouping. Failure to resolve differences over the PLO in 2007 was a major cause of the brief civil war that ended in Hamas's seizure of Gaza from the hands of security forces loyal to Abbas. Hamas, which is not a PLO faction, had in the past demanded that the highest Palestinian decision-making body be restructured in a way that allows its participation as well as that of Islamic Jihad, another militant group allied to Hamas which also advocates the elimination of the state of Israel. The anarchists declare that the Hamas' islamist ultra-authoritarian fascist terrorist rule in Gaza should be done away with, and of course not expanded, and call on  the Palestinian people to revolt against the Hamas rulers.

31.01.2009: Gaza rocket hits southern Israel. A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip has hit southern Israel, exploding near the city of Ashkelon, the IDF has said. No casualties were reported from the rocket, which landed in a field. It is one of several rocket attacks from the territory since Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared ceasefires. The ceasefires ended Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza, which was aimed at stopping rocket attacks on Israel. The ceasefires, independently declared by each side, have been violated several times. As mentioned an Israeli soldier was killed in a bomb attack on the Gaza border on Tuesday. Israel responded with air raids and a brief ground incursion by soldiers and tanks. Israel as mentioned wants the rocket attacks to end and wants to prevent militants in Gaza from being able to rearm. Hamas wants the border crossings into Gaza to be fully opened to end a 18-month blockade of Gaza which has wrecked its economy. US President Barack Obama has sent his Middle East envoy George Mitchell to the region to "vigorously" pursue Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He has arrived in Jordan after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert etc., Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He has no plans to meet leaders of Hamas, which the anarchists, Israel, the US and the European Union consider a terrorist group. The Egyptians have been leading efforts to broker a permanent ceasefire by holding separate talks with officials from Israel and Hamas.

Egypt to monitor Gaza smuggling tunnels. Egypt says it has begun to install cameras and motion sensors along the border with Gaza to try to stop weapons smuggling by Palestinian militants. Tighter surveillance of the tunnels is one of Israel's key conditions for a ceasefire. The tunnels were used to smuggle food and medicine, as well as arms. Israel bombed them, but when the fighting stopped some were still usable and others have been repaired. Egyptian security sources said the authorities had begun installing the equipment in the last few days along the 14km (8-mile) border with the help of American, French and German expertise. Sources said they hoped the equipment would detect any new tunnel-building activity in the area. The United States has pledged $32m in detention equipment and army engineers are providing technical assistance on the ground. The tunnels were one of Israel's main targets during its offensive. Hamas and many Palestinians say the tunnels are a vital source of basic necessities so long as Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt remain blocked.

01.02.2009: More rockets from Gaza. Israeli PM vows 'strong reaction' to latest Gaza attack. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised a "strong Israeli reaction" after Palestinian terrorists fired four rockets into southern Israel on Sunday. Olmert says his country will "act by new rules" if fighting resumes in southern Israel. "We will not go back to the rules of the game that the terror organizations tried to dictate in the past ... we will act by new rules that will ensure that we won't get dragged into a never-ending shooting along the southern border." Amid fresh rocket attacks by militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Israel's Prime Minister has threatened a "disproportionate" reponse. There were no casualties from today's rocket fire into Israel. Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, Ehud Olmert took a tough stance. He warned that Israeli response would be "harsh" and "disproportionate." The tense situation is also reflected at Gaza's Rafah crossing with Egypt where security has been tightened in an apparent bid to prevent smuggling to Hamas. The group was sending a delegation to mediator Egypt to discuss permanent ceasefire proposals.

The attacks were another breach in a tentative ceasefire which Israel and Hamas militants each declared unilaterally after a three-week Israeli military operation in Gaza which has left the territory still tense. The IDF said last week it would respond to any terror attacks "in accordance with decisions made by the Israeli government." Since the ceasefire began, militants have sporadically fired rockets into Israel. Israel has responded with airstrikes.

Israel hits Hamas Gaza target. The terrorists fired mortars at an Israeli village near the Gaza border, injuring two soldiers and a civilian. "We will not agree to return to the old rules of the game and we will act according to new rules that will guarantee that we are not dragged into an incessant tit-for-tat war that will not allow normal life in the south of the country," Mr Olmert said. "The situation... in recent days has increased in a manner that does not allow Israel not to retaliate in order to make sure that our position... is understood by those involved in the fire. "The response will come at the time, the place and the manner that we choose." His strong stance was echoed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak. In the evening Israeli aircrafts have bombed a Hamas security target in the central Gaza Strip, the terrorist group and Palestinian witnesses say. There were no reports of casualties after the strike late on Sunday. 

Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials are gathering in Cairo for talks aimed at reaching a new ceasefire. An adviser to Ismail Haniya, who heads the Hamas government in Gaza, said the group was waiting for Israel's response to a truce offer, transmitted by Egypt, adding that things were "moving in a positive direction". The Egyptians have been leading efforts to broker a new ceasefire by holding separate talks with officials from Israel and Hamas. But Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told journalists in Cairo that talks were impossible with anyone who rejected the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, PLO, in an apparent reference to Hamas's leadership. He also accused Hamas of putting Palestinian lives at risk. "They... have taken risks with the blood of Palestinians, with their fate, and dreams and aspirations for an independent Palestinian state," he said. Israel as mentioned wants the rocket attacks to end and wants to prevent militants in Gaza from being able to rearm. Hamas wants the border crossings into Gaza to be fully opened to end a 18-month blockade of Gaza which has wrecked its economy. The ceasefire is dead. The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT outlined in B. An overview, below.

02.02.2009: The negotiations for a durable ceasefire continues. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is meeting Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, as part of efforts to bring about a long term ceasefire in Gaza. Egypt has as mentioned been mediating between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, during the conflict in the coastal enclave. But Mr Abbas has accused Hamas of risking Palestinian lives and said its leaders must respect his authority. The latest talks follow an upsurge in violence, with Israel carrying out air strikes in response to rocket attacks. Cairo has been holding separate talks with Israeli officials and Palestinians from both Mr Abbas' Fatah party, which runs West Bank, and Hamas. Mr Mubarak wants to negotiate a permanent ceasefire which would bring an end to the smuggling of weapons under its borders into Gaza. This could lead to Gaza's borders being reopened after an 18-month Israeli blockade which has prevented all but the most basic humanitarian supplies from entering. Representatives from Hamas are also in Cairo, but Mr Abbas has as mentioned said talks were impossible with anyone who rejected the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, PLO, in an apparent reference to Hamas's leadership. There has been a rift between Fatah and Hamas since Hamas took control of Gaza by force in mid-2007. The talks come after Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas security target in Gaza City and tunnels used by the terrorist group along the border with Egypt. There were as mentioned no reports of casualties in Gaza following the attacks late on Sunday.

One killed in Israeli air strike. An Israeli air strike on a car in the southern Gaza Strip has killed a Palestinian and wounded at least three others, reports from Gaza say. The Israeli army said the raid, in the town of Rafah, had targeted gunmen who had fired two mortar bombs that landed in Israel. Reports say the militants were from the Popular Resistance Committee, a small terrorist organization in Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said Israel does not intend to launch another broad operation in Gaza Strip. "It is not our intention to have an Operation Cast Lead 2," Mr Barak said in an interview with YNet news website. His comments appeared to clash with statements by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Mr Olmert will step down after Israeli elections on 10 February, while Ms Livni of Kadima is one of the Labor leaders, Mr Barak's main rivals in the polls. Opinion polls forecast victory for right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud. On Sunday Palestinian terrorists fired about a dozen rockets and mortars into southern Israel, wounding two Israeli soldiers and a civilian. Mr Barak conceded that the attacks had not been launched by members of the Hamas movement which controls Gaza, but said it was incumbent on Hamas to stop attacks. Critics of Mr Barak, Mr Olmert and Ms Livni said the rocket fire is a blow to their stated aim to "change the rules" in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is as mentioned meeting Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, as part of efforts to bring about a long term ceasefire in Gaza. Representatives from Hamas are also in Cairo, but Mr Abbas has as mentioned said talks were impossible with anyone who rejected the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, PLO, which he leads. This follows a statement last week by the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, who said the PLO "expresses a state of impotence, abuse and is a tool to deepen divisions". Hamas has never been a member of the PLO. Mr Meshal is in Tehran, where Iranian state TV reported him thanking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Iran's support in what he falsely called the "victory of Gaza's people" in the conflict with Israel. Separately, on Monday the UN relief agency Unrwa said Israel had stopped a convoy of 10 trucks carrying paper and educational materials for its schools in Gaza from entering the Strip. Israel said Unrwa had not coordinated its attempt to bring in the supplies properly with the Israeli authorities.

A Hamas delegation will meet Egyptian mediators Tuesday for talks aimed at reaching a long-term ceasefire with Israel, a spokesman for the terrorist group said. The spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this will be the final round of talks and Hamas, which wants a one-year ceasefire in Gaza, will base its final decision on the outcome. Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, is hoping to forge a truce by Thursday. The Hamas delegation, which includes officials from its exiled leadership in Syria, will be briefed by the Egyptians about their separate meetings with the Israelis. Hamas and Israel do not negotiate directly. Abu Zuhri, who spoke from Damascus in an interview on Al-Jazeera television, again said the group would not negotiate the release of a captured Israeli soldier held in Gaza as part of a ceasefire deal. Sgt. Gilad Schalit was captured in 2006 by Hamas-allied militants. He also said talk of Hamas ending efforts to arm itself was out of the question. "We are a resistance movement and an occupied people and it is our right to possess weapons," Abu Zuhri said. The anarchists declare: "Hamas is a terrorist organization, not a legitimate resistance force, and Gaza is occupied by Hamas, not Israel".

Israel does not want any deal that gives Hamas a role in controlling Gaza border crossings out of concern that that would permit continued weapons smuggling. But putting the borders in the hands of Hamas' rivals in the Palestinian Authority will require a reconciliation deal between the divided Palestinian factions. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was in Cairo on Monday for talks with Egyptian mediators trying to reconcile the two sides. He then went on to Paris for talks with French leaders. On Sunday as mentioned, Abbas told reporters in Cairo that he would not hold reconciliation talks with Hamas unless it accepts his authority. Since Hamas' 2007 takeover of Gaza, Abbas and his government have been in control only of the West Bank. In Paris, Abbas met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who helped broker the Gaza ceasefire. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Abbas called for a "solution with Hamas in the framework of a government of national unity," but he rejected the militant group's call to create a new political structure to replace the PLO. Sarkozy also met Monday with Qatar's prime minister, whose Persian Gulf country has emerged as a regional mediator. Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani insisted Hamas should not be sidelined from peace efforts and Arab countries should not play favorites. Also on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Abbas' top 10 Arab allies, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are set to meet in Abu Dhabi to discuss Palestinian reconciliation and reducing Iranian influence in the region.

The ceasefire is dead. The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT outlined in B. An overview, below.

03.02.2009: Palestinian terrorists fired a long-range rocket from Gaza into southwestern Israel on Tuesday morning. It was the first such attack into the city of Ashkelon since the two sides declared a ceasefire, the IDF said. The missile fired from a Grad rocket launcher did not cause any injuries or damage in the coastal city, said a spokesman for the IDF. Rockets fired from a Grad have a longer range than the crude, home-made Qassams that Palestinian militants in Gaza fire more frequently. Terrorists have used Grads to strike farther into Israel. Ashkelon lies 12 miles (19 km) north of Gaza.

Israeli planes hit Gaza tunnels. Israeli planes have bombed smuggling tunnels on Gaza's border with Egypt, the IDF said. The raid came after the rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised a sustained effort to create a Palestinian state. Israel had warned of a harsh response to any further rocket fire from Gaza after the long-range Grad rocket hit Ashkelon on Tuesday. Other rockets and mortars have been launched from Gaza, however, and Israel has bombed targets in the narrow coastal territory. No casualties have been reported in either of the latest attacks. "I suggest Hamas doesn't fool around with us," said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "The air force is operating in Gaza as we speak. We promised calm in the south and we will keep our promise." Residents of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, said they received telephone calls from the IDF warning them to leave their homes ahead of the air raid. The town is the location of many of the tunnels used to smuggle goods, including weapons, into the Gaza Strip.

There has been no word on which group was behind Tuesday's rocket attack, but the Israeli prime minister's spokesman, Mark Regev, accused Hamas of trying to undermine the ceasefire. Ashkelon, a city of 122,000 people, is as mentioned12 km (7 miles) from northern Gaza. The city is out of range of the standard rockets and mortars fired by Palestinian terrorists. Factory-produced Grad rockets, which are smuggled into Gaza from neighboring Egypt, have a longer reach. Both Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell promised a long-term effort to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "This is the first of what will be an ongoing, high level of engagement," Mrs Clinton said of Mr Mitchell's trip."We want to send a clear message... that the United States is committed to this path and we are going to work as hard as we can over what period of time is required to try to help the parties make progress together."

04.02.2009: Hamas police seize aid for Gaza.. Hamas policemen have seized thousands of blankets and food parcels that were meant to be distributed to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, UN officials say. A UN spokesman said policemen raided a UN warehouse on Tuesday after officials refused to hand over the aid to a Hamas-controlled ministry. The UN said it was the first time its aid had been confiscated by Hamas. It condemned the action and demanded the goods be immediately returned. Hamas denied its men had taken any aid. UN spokesman Christopher Gunness said Hamas police took 3 500 blankets and over 400 food parcels. The Hamas Social Affairs Minister in Gaza, Ahmed al-Kurd, denied that members of the Islamist movement had removed aid from a UN building. However, he said his ministry was in dispute with the UN relief agency about how aid should be distributed. He accused the UN of giving aid to local groups with ties to Hamas opponents. "So what", the anarchists say.

About half the population in the Gaza Strip are dependent on UN food aid, since Israel imposed a blockade on the territory 19 months ago. Aid delivery became increasingly difficult during Israel's offensive against Hamas which began in late December. The UN said it has increased its food distribution to cover 900 000 of Gaza's population of 1.5 million. However, the UN, along with most of the Western world, does not deal directly with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced $600m (£417m) for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the programme would cover all Palestinian houses destroyed or damaged during Israel's 22-day offensive in December and January. "The amount of the project is $600 million. Most of it will come from donors," Mr Fayyad said in a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Palestinian Authority would contribute $50m of its own money to the to assist Gazans, he said. Further details would be announced later, he added. Initial Palestinian estimates said rebuilding would cost $2bn (£1.4bn) and take three to five years. Meanwhile Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, said he would push for a war-crimes investigation into Israel's attacks. "People who committed those crimes have to be held responsible so that these crimes cannot be repeated," he told reporters after a speech which garnered a standing ovation. "We are stretching out our hand for peace with Israel. But what was done is regretfully crimes of war."  He denounced Hamas' rocket attacks into Israel, but said "our doors are still open" for a unity government with the militant group. The ceasefire is dead. The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT outlined in B. An overview, below.

05.02.2009: Israel still dealing with international fallout.  More than two weeks after halting its main Gaza offensive, Israel is still dealing with the international fallout, including a very public spat with the leader of Turkey, a slew of war crimes allegations and broken ties with Venezuela, Bolivia and Qatar. It's not quite a major diplomatic crisis, but it is a serious public relations problem for Israel,  which once again finds itself on the defensive against an avalanche of accusations. Israel's defenders say the country was acting in self defense and charge that no other country would be singled out for the kind of criticism that has been slung in its direction since the beginning of the Gaza offensive on Dec. 27. The Foreign Ministry says Israel's important relationships are unharmed and predicts the international mood will pass. The three-week offensive, aimed at halting years of rocket fire at Israeli towns from Gaza, killed some 1,300 Palestinians, at least half of them civilians, according to Gaza health officials. The numbers are disputed, and probably a bit overestimated. Thirteen Israelis were killed, including three civilians.

Perhaps the most noteworthy outburst was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spat with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum, usually a refined get-together for the world's most powerful. "You kill people," Erdogan snapped at Peres, shortly after Peres offered an impassioned defense of the Israeli operation and shortly before Erdogan stormed off the stage. Despite hurried attempts at damage control from both sides, the flap has further disrupted the close alliance between the two countries. The hordes of Israeli package tourists who vacation in Turkey are reportedly staying home. The Davos incident came as a Spanish judge decided to open a war crimes investigation into a 2002 incident in which an Israeli F-16 killed a top Hamas mastermind in Gaza along with 14 other people, including nine children. Though it dealt with an earlier incident, the timing was clearly linked to the current violence. Hugo Chavez's Venezuela expelled the Israeli ambassador at the height of the fighting and Israel expelled the Venezuelan envoy in response. Bolivia couldn't expel the Israeli ambassador because it doesn't have one, but followed Chavez's lead by announcing it was cutting off ties.

The small Persian Gulf state of Qatar said it was freezing ties and closed Israel's representative office - a key Israeli foothold in the Arab world - while Qatar's fellow Arab League member Mauritania suspended relations, but let the Israeli ambassador stay. Syria called off the indirect peace talks it was holding with Israel through Turkish mediators. Those incidents followed weeks of protests in European capitals and across the Muslim world. The United Nations has called for investigations of Israel's shelling of several of the organization's compounds in Gaza, several rights groups have suggested Israel might be guilty of violating the rules of war and a group of US professors is trying to organize an academic boycott. The Palestinian Authority has now recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a move aimed at paving the way for a war crimes investigation, though Israel has not ratified the treaty that established the court and thus cannot be prosecuted. On the other hand, Israel's most important ally, the US, gave its backing, with both the outgoing president and his successor stressing Israel's right to defend itself. Street protests aside, most world governments made do with only careful criticism.

Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said Israel's key international alliances were unaffected and called the outpouring of anger "a temporary phenomenon." "We have come under some criticism from some countries more than from others, but basically everything can be handled within the normal framework of normal relations," he said. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, a professor of international relations at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, called the current climate a "crisis situation" attributable largely to an international double standard. "People are expecting from us to be more moral, more just, more nice in this kind of conflict and sometimes it's indeed very difficult," he said. He mentioned Russia's war in Chechnya and Turkey's war against Kurdish rebels as examples of conflicts that caused far higher civilian casualties but received less attention and criticism. Many Israelis were especially rankled by Erdogan's comments, both because Israelis generally regard Turkey as friendly and because of Turkey's own spotty human rights record. "It's a shame to look at how this prime minister behaves. He doesn't mention what he does to the Kurds," the Turkish-born Bar-Siman-Tov said.

The conflict between Turkey and Kurdish armed groups has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1980s, including thousands of civilians. Israel has been in this position before, most recently after its 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. That war ended inconclusively, with some 1,000 Lebanese and 159 Israelis dead, and drew similar condemnations of Israel's tactics and weaponry. Then, as now, Israel responded that it was attacked by guerrillas hiding among civilians and had no choice. The criticism this time resembles that of 2006  Israel receives vastly disproportionate attention worldwide even in normal times and in times of conflict it becomes accentuated. There has been a slight change in tone,  because this time, unlike in the Lebanon conflict, Israel is not seen to have failed.This time Israel is being portrayed as the nasty neighborhood bully, rather than as an incompetent monster. The Israeli navy intercepted a ship delivering 60 tons of supplies to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon on Thursday in the latest bid to defy Israel's blockade of the militant-held territory. This will probably increase the public relations problem for Israel a bit.

Hamas negotiators left Egypt without a long-term ceasefire with Israel on Thursday - but not before some members of the militant group's delegation were stopped at the Gaza border carrying millions in cash. The Hamas delegation walked away from the ceasefire talks because of disagreements over the blockage on Gaza and border security. Talks will continue at a later date. The money was later deposited in an account in Egypt by a Hamas member who stayed behind while the rest of the delegation was allowed to return to Gaza, the second security official said. He later returned to Gaza, the second official said. It was not clear what would happen to the money.

06.02.2009. The anarchists support the people of Gaza, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors in rank and/or income, i.e. the Hamas rulers, and call for revolt against Hamas. There will probably be no durable ceasefire and peace agreement as long as Hamas rules Gaza.

Hamas fires two rockets. Israeli aircraft fired several missiles in the Gaza Strip on Friday after two rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled territory landed in Israel, none of the attacks causing any injuries.

UN halts Gaza aid over thefts by Hamas. The UN aid agency in Gaza says it has suspended all aid shipments, accusing the Hamas government of seizing hundreds of tonnes of food supplies. Ten lorries carrying flour and rice were taken from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the UN's Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) said. Hamas admitted a "mistake" had been made and says it will return the goods. But Unrwa says deliveries will not restart until it has assurances that such seizures will not happen again. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Hamas must immediately release the seized aid shipments. He also called on Hamas "to refrain from interference with the provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza". The anarchists support mr Ban's demand. Gaza is facing a humanitarian crisis after Israel's recent three-week offensive. About half the population is dependent on UN food aid. Israel intensified a blockade on the territory 19 months ago when Hamas took over the territory. The lifting of the blockade is among Hamas' demands for agreeing a long-term truce with Israel. On Friday, the group's exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal, told a rally in Syria that Israel still had not given the necessary undertakings for such a truce.  Unrwa said the food had been imported from Egypt, and had been due to be collected by its staff at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza on Friday. "The food was taken away by trucks contracted by the ministry of social affairs," the agency said in a statement. It said aid deliveries would only be resumed if Hamas returned all the aid and provided "credible assurances" that it would not happen again.

It was the second incident in three days. On Tuesday, as mentioned, 3 500 blankets and more than 400 food parcels were seized at gunpoint from a distribution centre in Gaza, the UN said. The Hamas government's social affairs minister, Ahmed al Kurd, ordered "the aid to be returned to the agency if it turns out it is indeed its property", Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said. He said no Hamas or Unrwa representatives had been present at the crossing when drivers loaded up the aid supplies, and the drivers had assumed they belonged to the Hamas government. Although the UN, as an organization, does not negotiate with Hamas, its relief agency in Gaza has to have some contact with the faction for practical reasons. Earlier in the week, Mr Kurd warned Unrwa not to "become a political player in Gaza". He said all aid should be distributed through Hamas. But Hamas's rapid attempt to rectify the situation - at least once Unrwa announced its suspension of imports publicly - suggests it does understand how crucial the UN's aid work is. Hamas itself has given very limited financial assistance to some of the thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed in the Israeli offensive. The perception of many in the territory is that Hamas is only helping its own supporters. The UN has increased its food distribution in recent weeks to cover 900 000 of Gaza's population of 1.5 million following Israel's offensive against Hamas that began in December. The thefts by Hamas only confirm that its regime in Gaza is ochlarchical, ultra-authoritarian fascist, the anarchists say.

07.02.2009. Top Hamas strongman emerges from hiding.  Gaza's top strongman emerged Saturday from six weeks in hiding, leading a Hamas delegation to Egypt for ceasefire talks and reiterating the Islamic terrorrist group is "flexible" over who should lead reconstruction in the devastated territory. Hamas initially insisted it should supervise the spending. Mahmoud Zahar, who is one of Gaza's top two leaders, and three other Hamas officials crossed from Gaza into Egypt on Saturday, set for Cairo. Egypt is mediating indirect talks between Israel and Hamas to reach a durable truce. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh still has not appeared in public. The UN is putting together a detailed report on the damage. The report is to be presented to donor countries in Egypt on March 2. The conference is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for rebuilding Gaza. One of Israel's top goals in the Egypt-mediated contacts with Hamas is to win the return of Gilad Schalit, a tank crewman held by Hamas in Gaza since he was captured in a cross-border raid in June, 2006. Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return. In a television interview Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak answered "yes" when asked if Schalit's release had grown closer. "A supreme effort is being made to speed up the process," he told Channel 10 TV.

In Turkey, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for urgent humanitarian aid for Palestinians, saying Saturday that aid shipments so far met only one-fifth of the actual need. Abbas, who leads Fatah and runs a rival Palestinian administration in the West Bank, acknowledged the need to iron out differences between Palestinian political factions and go to elections to set up a consensus government that will hopefully be on peaceful terms with Israel. As mentioned in 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in fighting that drove out Fatah supporters. Israel's  armed struggle against Hamas in Gaza heightened tensions between the Islamic terrorist group and Fatah, even as Egypt and other Arab countries try to push them into reconciliation. "We don't want a government that will allow Israel to continue its siege," Abbas said in the Ankara during his European tour to seek support for a unity government."We're not asking Hamas to recognize Israel," said Abbas. "We expect this from the new government." The anarchists mainly support Abbas' efforts in this case.

08.02.2009: Two rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists struck southern Israel on Sunday, IDF said, even as Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers appeared to be moving closer to cementing a long-term ceasefire. The Gaza Strip's strongman was in Syria, consulting with his Hamas bosses about the truce talks, while Israel's defense minister warned Israelis they would have to pay a painful price as part of any deal. The flurry of activity came just two days before Israelis elect a new government expected to take a harder line in talks with Hamas. While Egypt has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire, sporadic violence has persisted. No injuries were reported from the rocket attacks, but one of the rockets landed on the Nir Am communal farm, and one car was set ablaze and several others were damaged by shrapnel, the IDF said. No group has so far taken responsibility for the attack. With Israeli elections approaching Tuesday, both sides appeared to be racing to reach some sort of arrangement. Polls show that Israel's next government would be much more hawkish than the current coalition, lending added urgency to seal a deal. Israel as mentioned wants militants to halt their attacks, end arms smuggling into Gaza and release an Israeli soldier Hamas has held captive for more than 2 1/2 years.

Hamas as mentioned wants an end to Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, which has severely restricted the movement of goods in and out of Gaza since Hamas seized power in June 2007. It also has demanded the release of more than 1 000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in return for the soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit. Hundreds of the prisoners have been involved in deadly attacks on Israel and their release would likely generate unease if not outright controversy. Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas' Gaza strongman, was in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Sunday to discuss truce prospects with the group's exiled leadership. Israel allowed Zahar, who had been in hiding since the Israeli offensive, to leave Gaza on Saturday. Speaking to reporters in Israel, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he was doing his utmost to bring Schalit home and warned that Israel would have to pay a "heavy" price. "We're not talking about hocus-pocus in which we roll the dice and get Gilad Schalit in return for a nice smile or a gesture," he said. "In the end, attached to it is a heavy and painful price that we'll have to decide on." In a separate radio interview, Barak said he did not think Schalit would be home in time for Israel's parliamentary election on Tuesday, but hoped he would be freed by the time the current government's tenure ends in several weeks. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried to lower expectations, saying media reports in recent days of an impending release were "overblown and damaging."

Torture by Hamas. In Gaza, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights demanded an investigation into the death of a man who appeared to have been tortured by Hamas. The man, 51-year-old Jamil Shakoura, was not believed to be affiliated with any opposition group. Rights groups frequently charge that Gaza's Hamas rulers use detentions and beatings to intimidate opponents. A Hamas official said the matter is under investigation.

The ceasefire is dead. The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT outlined in B. An overview, below. Also the anarchists urge the Israeli people to boycott the ultra fascist party of the racist and nationalist Avigdor Lieberman in the elections Tuesday.

09.02.2009: A Palestinian terrorist died in a clash with Israeli troops and Israeli aircraft attacked two targets in Gaza on Monday as mediators tried to broker a long-term ceasefire a day before Israel holds national elections. The militant group Islamic Jihad said in a statement that one of its fighters was killed overnight in an Israeli airstrike. The IDF said troops spotted an armed militant trying to cross the Gaza-Israel border late Sunday and opened fire, after which a bomb belt he was wearing detonated. Israeli aircraft struck two militant positions in the territory early Monday, in what the military said was retaliation for rocket fire from Gaza on Sunday. No injuries were reported in the aerial attacks.

Riad Malki, foreign minister in the Palestinian government based in the West Bank, charged Monday that Hamas was trying to influence the outcome of Tuesday's Israeli elections by continuing to fire rockets into southern Israel. Hamas doesn't want to see a pro-peace government elected because it would pursue a political deal with Abbas, and the Islamic militant group "wants instability in the region," Malki said during a visit to Poland. Abbas' government is "very much worried" that the rocket attacks might "really push Israeli public opinion and the voters to vote for an anti-peace government," he told reporters in Warsaw. The anarchists mainly agree with Riad Malky in this case. The ultra-fascists Hamas and Lieberman's party have common interests in instability in the region, and their influence should be minimized.

10.02.2009: UN official slams Israeli block of paper shipments. The top UN official in the Gaza Strip, John Ging, has criticized Israel for blocking shipments of paper to the Palestinian territory to print textbooks for a new human rights curriculum that will be taught to children there. "We're working together with the UN, and we've suggested that the books ... be made in the West Bank and shipped to Gaza," IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said. "We will not faciliate what Hamas wants to do," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said. "We will not give Hamas the opportunity to steal the materials." The UN as mentioned halted aid shipments last week after Hamas officials, who control Gaza, took thousands of UN blankets, food parcels and tons of rice and flour. Ging announced Monday that Hamas officials had returned the stolen cargo, and UN officials had lifted their freeze. "The return of every sack of flour and every blanket that was taken is now evidence in my mind of their realization and their seriousness in terms of the assurances that we have received from them that there will be no recurrence," he said. Ging said all Gaza crossing points were to be closed Tuesday because of elections in Israel, so shipments aren't expected to resume until Wednesday.

Amnesty International has accused Hamas militants in Gaza of kidnapping, killing and torturing fellow Palestinians they accuse of spying for Israel, the organization announced Tuesday.

Close race in Israel's election. The two front-runners in the race to govern Israel made last-minute appeals to voters as polls opened Tuesday in the general election whose outcome could determine the course of Mideast peace negotiations. Opinion polls for months have predicted a decisive victory for the hard-line Likud Party, headed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But new polls released over the weekend showed the Kadima Party, led by moderate Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is closing the gap. The anarchists mainly advocate the Israeli people to "hold their noses" and vote for Kadima. If necessary, "take some medicine against nausea". All of the parties are more or less bad, but look for the best among the bad lot!

11.02.2009: Israeli election results so far. With all of the civilian votes counted, Kadima won 28 seats, Likud 27 and Yisrael Beiteinu, Lieberman's party, 15. Labor, for decades Israel's ruling party, won just 13 seats. Overall, right-wing and religious parties won a total of 65 seats, compared to 55 for center-left and Arab parties. The tally did not include thousands of votes by soldiers, to be counted by Thursday evening. They could shift the final results by a seat or two. The inconclusive election results put Israel and the peace negotiations in limbo. It's up to Israeli President Shimon Peres to decide whether Livni or Netanyahu should have the first shot at forming a government. Peres will meet next week with party leaders to hear their recommendations and he expects to assign the task around Feb. 20, presidential spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch said. Whatever government is forged, it is unlikely to move quickly toward peace talks with the Palestinians and instead could find itself on a collision course with President Barack Obama, who has said he's making a Mideast peace deal a priority.

12.02.2009: Egypt cracks down on smugglers near Gaza. Egyptian police arrested 40 suspected smugglers and seized goods in a new crackdown on smuggling into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security official said. Hundreds of security forces have been deployed in and around the town of Rafah, located along Egypt's sensitive border with Gaza, the official said. Around $1 million in goods was seized, including food, television sets and kitchen appliances, but no weapons. Halting smuggling into Gaza is a key issue in negotiations for a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas that Egypt is trying to mediate. The crackdown started last weekend, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press. New checkpoints have also been set up along Rafah's entrances and exits, while about 1,000 police are patrolling narrow alleys and hillsides near Rafah, questioning residents and conducting searches. The smuggling of weapons and goods spiked after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, routing their Fatah rivals from the area, and Egypt and Israel imposed an economic blockade on the strip. Israel destroyed many underground tunnels during its Gaza offensive, launched in reprisal for Hamas rocket attacks on south Israel. However, some tunnels appeared to have been revived after the Israeli offensive ended in mid-January. Egypt's official news agency says officials from the militant Hamas group are talking with an Egyptian mediator about a long-term truce deal with Israel over the Gaza Strip. The MENA news agency says Hamas' strongman from Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, and deputy chief Moussa Abu Marzouk from the group's Damascus branch are taking part in the negotiations in the Egyptian capital. Israel temporarily eased its blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Thursday to allow Palestinian flower growers to export 25,000 blooms to Europe.

The deputy leader of Hamas said Thursday night that the Islamic militant group agreed to an 18-month truce with Israel for the Gaza Strip, the official Egyptian news agency reported. Moussa Abu Marzouk told MENA that Egypt's government, which has been mediating between Hamas and Israel, would announce the truce in two days after consulting with other Palestinian factions. In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said the Israeli government had no comment on the report. The anarchists say 18-month truce is not enough, and should be rejected by Israel.

13.02.2009: Gaza militants fire rockets into Israel. Early the IDF says Gaza militants have launched two rockets into Israel. The military says Friday's rockets hit near a communal farm and the town of Sderot. No one was injured. Sporadic violence has continued as Egyptian mediators try to hammer out a long-term arrangement between the sides. The military says more than 40 rockets have been launched since the offensive's end. Egypt's MENA news agency reported Thursday that the deputy leader of Hamas says the Islamic militant group has agreed to an 18-month truce with Israel. Moussa Abu Marzouk said the deal calls for Israel to reopen its border crossings into Gaza. Israeli officials as mentioned refused to comment. Later Israeli airplanes bombed a target in the Gaza Strip, critically wounding two Palestinian militants, according to medical workers and officials of the Hamas. Hours earlier, Gaza militants fired three rockets at Israel, causing no damage or injury. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the rockets, which struck near the Israeli town of Sderot.

The anarchists call for a durable peace deal. This may take some time to reach, but as long as the negotiations go on, there will probably be few terrorist attacks by Hamas and associates, and thus few responses from Israel. Thus, the anarchists call for continued peace talks, until a lasting peace agreement can be reached.

14.02.2009: Human rights groups question Hamas on extra-judicial killings. The day after Israeli tanks entered Gaza last month, masked Palestinians opened fire on the al-Najar family outside their home, killing the father and wounding 10 others, including two teenage girls and a 78-year-old grandmother. Ammar al-Najar, 25, a son of the victim, didn't know who the gunmen were but he said the family supports the Fatah movement and had trouble previously with Gaza's ruling Hamas group. "My father ... tried to talk to them, but they didn't talk. They just started shooting," he said. The men wore no identifying symbols, he said. International and Palestinian human rights organizations say there was a rash of shootings and beatings across Gaza during Israel's offensive, voicing suspicions the Islamic militants of Hamas used wartime chaos to target enemies, including activists from the rival Fatah. Among examples reported by the rights groups, gunmen dragged a man from a hospital bed and another from his grandfather's house, then shot them dead. A third died in a hospital from beating and gunshot wounds after men who said they were from Gaza security forces pulled him from his home. Two Gaza-based groups, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the Independent Commission on Human Rights, interviewed survivors and witnesses who said some attacks were carried out by members of Hamas' internal security service. Amnesty International went further, saying Hamas militiamen engaged in a "campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of 'collaborating' with Israel, as well as opponents and critics."

All three rights groups are urging Hamas leaders to investigate the allegations and prosecute those responsible. Hamas and Fatah engaged in months of clashes in Gaza before Hamas gunmen seized control of the territory after five days of street battles in June 2007. During the conflict, both sides committed killings and kidnappings, including throwing some victims off high-rise buildings. In the latest accusations of score-settling by Hamas during Israel's three-week offensive, Fatah says some of its members were slain, others shot in the arms or legs, and many placed under house arrest that prevented them from fleeing areas under Israeli attack. Hamas has denied any involvement by members of its security services but acknowledges that Hamas fighters targeted suspected informers for Israel."The government distinguishes between any violation of the law and actions taken by the resistance to protect itself from the danger of spies during wartime," said Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas administration. "The government confirms that it will show no mercy for collaborators who stab our people in the back, and they will be judged under the law."

A report from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights details 32 "extra-judicial" killings from the Dec. 27 start of the Israeli campaign to the end of January. It said 17 of the dead were among prisoners who fled Gaza's central prison after it was damaged by an Israeli airstrike Dec. 28. As inmates ran through the bombed-out walls, gunmen were seen grabbing some and their corpses were found later, the report said. Most of the 17 had been held as suspected collaborators and two for raping and murdering a child. The group said some of the 15 other people killed during that period were snatched from their homes by gunmen, some of whom claimed to be members of Hamas' internal security service. Some turned up dead soon after, while others were found injured and later died of wounds, it said.

Similar attacks have been reported since Israel halted its offensive Jan. 18. On Feb. 6, 51-year-old Jamil Shaqqura died in a hospital of wounds from beating and torture, a week after he was picked for interrogation by Hamas' internal security, the group said. Speaking at Shaqqura's funeral, Hamas parliament member Yunis al-Astal said internal security needed to be given stricter instructions. Hamas officials said they were investigating the case. Hamas also accepted responsibility for the killing of Hasan al-Hijazi, who was shot by three masked men Jan. 7. Hamas later issued a statement calling the killing a "mistake," the rights groups said. "What happened was that there was chaos, armed chaos," said Subhia Juma at the Independent Commission for Human Rights. Juma's group said gunmen - some masked, others in official uniforms - severely beat or shot at the legs of at least 116 people. The report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights mentioned "dozens" of such attacks. Fahmi Zaarir, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said that 14 Fatah members in Gaza were killed by Hamas during the Israeli offensive and that more than 160 were shot in the arms or legs or beaten. He said hundreds of Fatah members were put under house arrest, preventing some from fleeing from the Israeli advance to safer places. Some who tried to leave their homes were shot at, he said.

Mahmoud Qanan, 25, a Fatah youth leader, said armed men came to his house in the town of Khan Yunis on Jan. 3, confiscated his cell phone and told him he was under house arrest. "I could have gone to a place safer than my house, but I was scared to go out, that I'd get shot or kidnapped or punished," he said. Hamdi Shaqqura of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said his group could not conclusively determine who carried out the attacks, although some testimony pointed to Hamas gunmen. Amnesty International, however, said there was "no doubt" the wave of attacks was carried out by "Hamas forces and militias as they are the only ones who are allowed to operate with such a degree of freedom throughout Gaza."

Israel links truce with Hamas to soldier's release. Israel's outgoing prime minister on Saturday ruled out a long-term truce in Gaza without the release of an Israeli soldier held in the Hamas-ruled territory - a sign that a month of negotiations may have stalled. Egypt has as mentioned been mediating indirect ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas since Israel unilaterally halted its fierce three-week offensive in Gaza. Under an emerging truce deal, Israel would gradually ease its border blockade of Gaza, in exchange for a halt to weapons smuggling and attacks by Gaza militants. In parallel, Egypt also brokered talks on a prisoner swap - hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel in exchange for Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier seized by Hamas-allied militants in June 2006. Progress has been reported in those negotiations, with the remaining dispute apparently focusing on several prisoners involved in particularly bloody attacks on Israelis.

Hamas has sought to separate the truce deal from the prisoner swap. However, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday said the two were inextricably linked. "The position of the prime minister is that Israel will not reach any understandings regarding the calm (ceasefire) before the release of Gilad Schalit," said a statement by Olmert's office. In Gaza, Hamas officials also reported new snags. Hamas wants a ceasefire for 18 months, with the possibility of extending it. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum and Hamas legislator Salah Bardawil said Israel has renewed demands for an open-ended ceasefire. Barhoum said Hamas drafted its final version of a truce deal and presented it to Egypt. "Israel returned (it) to ask for an open-ended calm without a ceiling," he said, adding that Egypt is trying to bridge the gap. Egypt is also key to a third set of complex negotiations. Starting Feb. 22, it will host reconciliation talks between Hamas and the rival Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas wrested control of Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2007. In response, Abbas fired the Hamas-led government and set up a rival administration in the West Bank.

Hamas and Fatah officials held preparatory talks in Cairo in recent days. Both sides reported a positive atmosphere and said they talked about the fate of political activists held by Hamas in Gaza and by Fatah in the West Bank. Fatah negotiator Nabil Shaath said the two sides agreed to solve the prisoner issue. Asked if prisoners would be released, Shaath said: "Yes, I think we will start before the 22nd (of February)." Barhoum said Hamas prisoners held in the West Bank must be freed in coming days. Relations between Hamas and Abbas have deteriorated steadily since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006. Repeated reconciliation attempts have failed, and it was not clear whether the upcoming round will be successful.

15.02.2009: Israeli brinkmanship puts Gaza truce in peril. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is mounting a last-ditch effort to free a captured Israeli soldier by blocking an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in the Gaza Strip until Hamas agrees to release him. Western diplomats remain skeptical Olmert's brinkmanship can produce a breakthrough on a truce in the few weeks he has left in office. Hamas has no faith that Israel, which is about to change governments, will abide by commitments under the proposed ceasefire, mainly to keep Gaza's border crossings open, if captured soldier Gilad Shalit is freed. Wary of taking steps it believes would bestow legitimacy on Hamas, Israel has rebuffed a proposal under which the United Nations would monitor commitments on both sides, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

16.02.200: Israeli jets have bombed tunnels on Gaza's border with Egypt, after two rockets were fired at southern Israel. The IDF said the air attack targeted a tunnel used for smuggling arms into Gaza. A little-known militant group called Hezbollah Brigades Palestine claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks, which caused no casualties.

17.02.2009: Israel's Security Cabinet will consider a possible prisoner exchange with Hamas, freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for a soldier captured in June 2007, an Israeli official said Tuesday. The top-level meeting is set for Wednesday, said government spokesman Mark Regev. He said a decision also was expected on terms of a long-term truce in Gaza after Israel's bruising offensive there last month. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert repeated his new condition that the soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, must be freed. "We will negotiate his release first, and only then will we be willing to discuss things like the Gaza crossings and rebuilding the [Gaza] Strip," Olmert said during a tour of Jerusalem. Israel and Egypt as mentioned clamped a blockade on Gaza after Hamas overran the crowded sliver of territory in 2007, allowing in only humanitarian supplies. In Damascus, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal complained about Olmert's new condition. "There can be no truce unless the [Gaza] blockade is lifted and the crossings are opened. The truce issue should not be linked to the issue of prisoner Schalit," Mashaal told reporters in Damascus after meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. Olmert indicated that negotiations might take weeks. His term will end soon, when a new prime minister takes over. "Even if Schalit's case cannot be resolved while I am in office, the foundations we built will facilitate in his release," he said.

18.02.2009: Israel hits back. Palestinian officials in the Gaza Strip says Israeli planes have attacked smuggling tunnels around the Gaza-Egypt border and a disused Hamas security base near the town of Khan Younis. The Hamas base had already been largely reduced to rubble in previous attacks since the Jan. 18 end of Israel's land campaign in the strip, but this time a mosque left standing inside the compound was destroyed. Israel has launched sporadic attacks on smuggling tunnels and Hamas outposts since the offensive ended and Israel independently declared a truce. The IDF confirmed that aircraft carried out attacks early Wednesday. The IDF said aircraft hit seven tunnels and the Khan Younis base in response to the Palestinians firing 45 rockets and mortar shells since the Jan.18 ceasefire. Later in the morning a rocket fired from Gaza fell in open ground in southern Israel, police said. There were no reported casualties.

Israeli officials say the country's Security Cabinet has decided to keep the Gaza Strip's border crossings closed until an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, is freed. The decision is likely to set back Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza. The talks come in the wake of the harsh Israeli military offensive in Gaza that ended last month. Hamas has as mentioned been demanding that Israel end its blockade of Gaza as part of a ceasefire. It says the case of the soldier should be settled separately. But in Wednesday's meeting, the Israeli Cabinet ministers said they will not ease the economic pressure on Gaza until Sgt. Gilad Schalit comes home. The soldier was captured by Hamas militants nearly three years ago.

19.02.2009: US lawmakers traveled to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday, the first congressional delegation to enter the area since the Islamic militant group took power nearly two years ago. Democratic Reps. Brian Baird of Washington and Keith Ellison of Minnesota were in Gaza early Thursday, the US consulate said. Consulate spokeswoman Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm said the lawmakers would meet with UN officials. There were no plans for them to meet with Hamas, which the US shuns as a terrorist group. Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels along Gaza's southern border on Thursday, the IDF said. The airstrikes took place some 20 miles from where the lawmakers were visiting, and there were no reports of injuries. Visits by US officials to Gaza have been rare since Palestinian militants blew up an American diplomatic convoy in October 2003, killing three people, and no American representatives have gone since Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006. Since taking office last month, President Barack Obama has said he hopes to improve US relations with the Muslim world. As the first Muslim member of Congress, Ellison could play a key role in that mission.

Hamas official Ahmed Yousef welcomed the arrival of the Americans. "We highly appreciate the visit of any delegation that wants to find out the facts and see what has happened on the ground in Gaza," he said. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said he had no knowledge of the lawmakers' Gaza visit. The former presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, was also visiting Gaza with US congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison in the first such visit to the Hamas-run Strip since 2007. Hamas has sent a letter addressed to the US president via a US politician visiting Gaza, a senior UN official has said. UN relief agency chief Karen Abu Zayd told the letter had been received by the UN and passed on. She did not say if Senator John Kerry had accepted it, and there were no details about the letter's contents. As the head of the Senate Foreign Committee, Mr Kerry is a senior Democrat, but all three men are visiting Gaza in their capacity as lawmakers, not representatives of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Mr Kerry also visited the Israeli town of Sderot, a target of Palestinian rocket attacks, before entering Gaza. Standing in front of a pile of used rockets, Mr Kerry said that both he and President Obama believed that nobody should have to spend their lives in fear of attack. "I know that our president, President Obama, whom I support strongly, stood right here," he said, referring to a visit before the 2008 US election. "He was right here in front of these rockets. He came to Sderot as I have because we feel very deeply that no-one should live under this kind of threat, no children should be raised in that kind of fear. "We are sympathetic with the crisis that people face on a daily basis here in Israel, from those who choose no other path other than to use instruments of terror." Earlier he said: "[The visit] does not indicate any shift whatsoever with respect to Hamas... what it indicates is our effort to listen and to learn." Like Israel, the EU, the UN and the AI, the US government officials refuse to deal with the terrorist group.

20.01.2009: Netanyahu picked to form Israeli government. Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the conservative Likud Party, has been chosen to form Israel's next government, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced.  At a joint news conference with Peres, Netanyahu said he accepted the task and he is willing to work with the moderate parties of Labor, led by Ehud Barak, and Kadima, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. "We have different approaches in different areas, but we are all together in our desire to act for the good of the state," Netanyahu said. "We will be able to find the common ground to lead the state toward security, prosperity and peace." He said Israeli leaders need to unite as the country faces "great challenges," particularly from Iran, which he said "is developing nuclear weapons and poses the biggest threat to Israel since the war of independence." A UN report released this week found that Iran has enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon, but the uranium has not been enriched to make it weapons-grade. Iran consistently has denied the weapons allegations, calling them "baseless," and said that data that indicated otherwise was "fabricated." To become Israel's next prime minister, Netanyahu must form a coalition within six weeks, or the process will start all over. The decision comes after Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, said he would recommend Netanyahu for the post, but only if he promises to form a "broad-based" coalition government.

In last week's parliamentary elections, no single party won the minimum 61 seats needed to form a government. That means a government of two or more parties, or coalition government,  is inevitable.  The ruling Kadima Party won the most seats in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. But Kadima received just one more seat than Netanyahu's Likud Party. The strong showing of other right-wing parties,  including Yisrael Beytenu and the Orthodox Shas movement,  could give Netanyahu a better chance of forming a coalition government. Speaking to fellow Likud members Monday, Netanyahu expressed confidence that he has enough support to emerge as Israel's next prime minister. "I plan to form a government as soon as possible with our natural partners," the former Israeli prime minister said. "We have a government in our hands, but we want a broader one." He added that he will negotiate with other parties, including Kadima, "to form a broad national unity government." Livni took over as Kadima leader after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stepped down from the post amid corruption investigations. Livni's failure to assemble a ruling coalition at that time triggered last week's elections. Netanyahu, 59, is a former Israeli soldier who served in the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal. He was one of a dozen Israeli commandos who stormed a Belgian aircraft hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1972 and helped rescue 140 hostages.

After his stint as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, he served in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, then Likud Party leader, but resigned in 2005, saying he disagreed with Sharon's plan to remove Israeli troops and settlements from Gaza. Sharon left Likud and formed Kadima as a more centrist party. Netanyahu has supported the expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and has opposed making further territorial concessions in hope of ending the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has been reminding the public that he warned that Palestinian militants in Gaza could launch rockets at Israeli cities such as Ashkelon and Ashdod -- which has happened and led to Israel's recent military operation in Gaza. His Likud Party had a strong showing in last week's election, more than doubling the number of seats it holds in the Knesset. Netanhayu said that showing proves that voters have rejected Kadima's leadership, and he predicted right-leaning parties will be able to form a majority."With god's help, I shall head the coming government," he said. "I am sure that I can manage to put together a good, broad-based and stable government that will be able to deal with the security crisis and the economic crisis." The anarchists do not at all believe in god's help, but welcome a broad based government in Israel, that can work according to the anarchists' aim for the Middle East. Netanyahu has despite the right wing rethorics earlier showed a pragmatic, negotiation policy, and that will probably happen again.

21.02.2009: Rocket fire from Lebanon into Israel. A rocket fired from Lebanon has lightly wounded three people in northern Israel, the IDF says.
Lebanese security sources said that three rockets had been fired from southern Lebanon but two had landed inside Lebanese territory. Lebanese sources say that Israel then fired at least six artillery shells. Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese Prime Minister, denounced both attacks. No-one has claimed responsibility for the rocket firing.

22.02.2009: Three day opening of Gaza's Egyptian border. Egyptian authorities on Sunday started letting stranded students, third-country residents and medical patients leave Gaza through the usually closed border, a spokesman for Palestinian officials at the crossing said. Egypt has agreed to allow 500 students studying abroad and 500 other people with valid residency permits for Egypt or other countries to pass through the border crossing Sunday, Palestinian border spokesman Adel Zourab said. Another 800 medical cases were scheduled to cross on Monday, he said. Egypt as mentioned sealed the border after Islamic Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June 2007. It has occasionally opened the passage for limited periods. Israel has also blockaded its border crossings with Gaza, allowing in only a limited amount of humanitarian aid. Zourab, who represents the Hamas administration, said about 200 of the sick people might not be able to travel due to a delay in issuing them Palestinian passports by Hamas' rival, the West Bank-based government of President Mahmoud Abbas. The moderate Abbas government is backed by the West and recognized internationally, while Hamas is shunned as a terrorist organization by the US, European Union and Israel. Representatives of Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement are expected to hold reconciliation talks in Egypt on Wednesday.

Israeli coalition bargaining continues, as Gaza militants fire rocket. Israel's outgoing prime minister called on hard-line Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government quickly as coalition bargaining shifted into high gear Sunday. Opening the weekly meeting of his soon-to-be-dissolved Cabinet, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel needed a new government soon. Negotiators should "conduct things in an effective and fast way in order to establish, as quickly as possible, a government that will enjoy full authority and will be able to rule effectively," Olmert said. Olmert is a caretaker prime minister until Netanyahu can form a new ruling coalition. After having been entrusted with the task of forming a new government by President Shimon Peres on Friday, Netanyahu now has six weeks to do so. The question is whether he will form a narrow coalition with his hard-line allies or a broad centrist coalition with his rival, Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni. The two were slated to meet later Sunday. Netanyahu could form a narrow coalition with relative ease, giving him 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament. But that narrow margin would give his smaller coalition partners effective veto power over any decision, as they could bring down the government in a dispute. Such an alliance would also likely freeze peace talks and could clash with the US administration. Bringing in Livni would reduce international pressure on Israel and provide more stability but she has said she will enter the government only if Netanyahu agrees to a "rotation" arrangement whereby each would serve as prime minister for half of the government's four-year term. Netanyahu rejects that condition. And Livni supports the formation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, while Netanyahu does not.

One of Livni's party colleagues, Cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit, said Kadima would not join a government that would call off peace talks with the Palestinians. "We cannot be in a government that will not go for peace, because if we do so, Kadima could be deleted from the political map," Sheetrit said. Responding to the demands, Netanyahu called on Livni to enter talks without preconditions and said he planned to ask both Kadima and the centrist Labor Party to join him in the government. "Unity can be achieved by dialogue, not by dictates, not by arm-wrestling. That's what we will do today - we'll begin the effort to join hands, first with Kadima, and tomorrow with the Labor Party," Netanyahu said. Netanyahu spoke ahead of a meeting with visiting US Sen. Joe Lieberman, who said he believed that a Netanyahu-led government would enjoy good relations with Washington."Our enemies, unfortunately, are as common as the values and the interests that have united us for all these years," Lieberman told reporters. "I have no doubt that with Netanyahu's government here we will have good and positive relations."

Sen. Joe Lieberman also met with Avigdor Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party saw its support surge in the recent elections and is now the third-largest grouping in parliament. Lieberman's party ran on an anti-Arab platform and has drawn charges of racism, but is all but assured of an important role in the new Israeli government because of its newfound clout. With Israel between governments, sporadic violence is continuing along the Gaza border in the absence of a long-term truce with the radical Islamic Hamas, which rules there. Israel halted a military offensive in the territory on Jan. 18. Gaza militants fired a rocket into Israel early Sunday, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. There were no injuries.

23.02.2009: Rocket fired from Gaza into Israel. Israel launched an air strike on central Gaza on Monday after one of its patrols came under fire near the Kissufim border crossing, but there were no immediate reports of casualties on either side. A single rocket launched from Gaza also hit Israeli territory without causing injuries or damage, IDF said. The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is reportedly suspending his main negotiator at the talks mediated by Egypt on a lasting truce with Hamas in Gaza. Amos Gilad criticized Mr Olmert last week for what he called an inconsistent approach to the talks, which he described as insulting to the Egyptians.

The United States plans to offer more than $900 million to help rebuild Gaza after Israel's invasion and to strengthen the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, US officials said. The money, which needs US congressional approval, will be distributed through UN and other bodies and not via the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, said one official. The anarchists are warning about the corruption in the Palestinian Authority...

Amnesty International has called for a freeze on arms sales to Israel and Palestinian groups such as Hamas following the recent Gaza conflict. The human rights group said it had evidence both Israel and Hamas had used weapons sourced from overseas to carry out attacks on civilians. It called for the UN Security Council to impose an embargo on all parties. Both Israel and Hamas have rejected the conclusions of the report, in which Amnesty accuses each of war crimes. In the report, Israel is accused of illegal use of white phosphorus and other armaments supplied by the US in Gaza, while Hamas is condemned for launching unguided rockets into Israel. "Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets that had been smuggled in or made of components from abroad at civilian areas in Israel... In southern Israel ... the remains of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups were also recovered, the report said.  "Though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, such rocket firing also constitutes a war crime and caused several civilian deaths."  

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the BBC that Israel had used white phosphorus but not as an anti-personnel weapon. As mentioned the substance, which is used to lay smokescreens, is legal for use on open ground but its use in built-up areas where civilians are found is banned under international conventions. Mr Regev also accused Amnesty of basing its report on unsound data supplied by Hamas. Mr Regev defended Israeli military tactics in an interview for the BBC's Today programme. "We tried to be as surgical as humanly possible in a difficult combat situation," he said. The anarchists mean the evidence for Hamas' war crimes is clear, however traces of weapons used by the IDF are no evidence of war crimes, and interviews of the people of Gaza are no sound evidence, because they cannot speak freely because of likely repression and violent attacks by Hamas, if they speak the truth about Hamas' use of civilians as human shields, etc. Thus, there exists no sound evidence of Israeli war crimes so far. The anarchists however support an independent investigation of possible warcrimes by the IDF, but it must be based on sound evidence, which Amnesty International's report is not. A weapens embargo on Hamas is supported by the anarchists, but so far not a weapons embargo on Israel, because of lack of sound evidence of war crimes.

24.02.2009: Gunmen shot and wounded an Egyptian policeman guarding a warehouse of goods seized en route to tunnels near the Gaza border, security sources said on Tuesday. The 21-year-old policeman, named as Fathi Salman Mohamed, was taken to hospital in the border town of Rafah on Monday night with a wound in his right shoulder and is in a stable condition, they said. The gunmen escaped but police assume they are smugglers, who have attacked similar warehouses in the past, they said. The hundreds of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border were as mentioned among the targets in Israel's recent offensive against Gaza. Palestinians in the coastal enclave use them to smuggle in weapons and commercial goods, circumventing the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

25.02.2009: More rocket attacks from Gaza. Terrorists in Gaza launched two rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday and Israeli planes attacked smuggling tunnels as a stable truce between the two sides remained elusive. Israeli aircraft struck tunnels in the southern Gaza town of Rafah several hours later, the IDF said. There were no injuries reported in either the rocket attacks or the airstrike. Palestinians working in the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border evacuated before the strike after they saw Egyptian troops across the border pull back, presumably when they were warned by Israel, according to Hamas security officials. The rocket attacks and retaliatory airstrikes have become routine in the aftermath of Israel's three-week Gaza offensive. The rocket attacks have been claimed by smaller militant groups, not by Gaza's Hamas rulers, but Israel holds Hamas responsible as the ruling power in Gaza. A small faction calling itself Hezbollah Palestine took responsibility for Wednesday's attack in a statement sent to reporters in Gaza.

Donor meeting on Monday. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says he is seeking $2.8 billion in foreign aid for rebuilding Gaza Strip. The damage resulted from Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers that ended in mid-January. Representatives from dozens of donor countries are meeting in Egypt on Monday for a Gaza pledging conference. The United States is mentioned expected to give about $900 million. Initial assessments put the physical and economic damage at $2 billion. The reconstruction of Gaza is complicated by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory following Hamas' 2007 takeover. Aid officials say rebuilding is impossible without open borders. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the international donors conference in Egypt on Monday. Clinton is preparing to plunge into one of the toughest foreign policy issues facing the Obama administration - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with personal diplomacy aimed at blunting what Washington sees as malign Iranian influence in the region.

Rival Palestinian sides agree to release detainees.The rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah agreed Wednesday to release each other's loyalists from detention, seeking to lower tensions during reconciliation talks, officials said. A deal between the Islamic militants of Hamas who rule Gaza and the more moderate Fatah movement in charge of the West Bank is seen as key to moving ahead with Gaza's reconstruction.

26.02.2009: US envoy, Netanyahu to huddle on peace efforts. The special US envoy, George Mitchell, tasked with jump-starting flagging peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will huddle Thursday with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, a vocal opponent of the negotiations. The meeting will be the first between Netanyahu and Mitchell since Netanyahu was designated to lead Israel's next government. The Obama administration has dispatched Mitchell to the region for the second time in its first month, an indication of the new US president's determination to press a resolution of the decades-old conflict. Mitchell hopes to re-energize stalled talks, over the objections of Netanyahu, who thinks the latest round of US-backed negotiations was a waste of time and wants to promote Palestinian prosperity instead of Palestinian statehood. The anarchists demand that Netanyahu continues with the peace negotiations and work for a two independent countries solution.

27.02.2009: Benjamin Netanyahu failed to persuade his centrist rival, Tzipi Livni, to join him in a broad coalition Friday, increasing the likelihood that Israel's next government will be an alliance of hawks and hard-line religious parties opposed to substantial concessions for peace. However, Livni did not shut the door on any possibility of an agreement, and Netanyahu still has five weeks to cobble together a government.

Palestinians pledge era of unity. Leaders of the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have said they are entering a new era of reconciliation, after talks in Cairo. Delegations from each side, and other Palestinian groups, have agreed to set up committees to look at forming a unity government and holding elections. The committees are to finish their work by the end of March, said senior Fatah official Ahmed Qurei. On Wednesday both groups agreed to release detainees from the other side. In another confidence-building measure, they pledged to stop attacking each other in the media to foster goodwill between the two sides. Committees will also look at reforming the security services and merging Hamas into the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Liberation Organisation, PLO. The talks were held at the office in Cairo of the powerful Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. He said there was no option but for the reconciliation process to succeed. "We have no choice but to succeed and to move forward dramatically on the road to end division... You are responsible for your people," he told the delegates.

The Palestinian negotiating committees will next meet on 8 March to continue their work. About a dozen Palestinian groups are taking part in the national dialogue. Egypt is hosting an international reconstruction conference on 2 March at which as mentioned the Palestinians hope to raise US $ 2.8bn . Inter-factional fighting in Gaza came to a head in the summer of 2007 when Hamas fighters as mentioned ousted the pro-Fatah security forces and overthrew the Palestinian Authority control. As well as continued tension, both sides have been accused of conducting politically motivated arrests and the torture of rival faction members. Egypt revived the call for Palestinian reconciliation talks in November. However, Hamas withdrew from the talks, complaining that Fatah continued to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank. Efforts to secure a reconciliation have gained strength since Israel's three-week military offensive in Gaza which ended on 18 January. The Fatah and Hamas sides have fundamental differences over how to deal with Israel. While Fatah has renounced violence, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel. Hamas is prepared to accept a short-term truce but it reserves the right to fight Israel. The idea is to form an interim unity government that would prepare for new presidential and legislative elections and co-ordinate the rebuilding of Gaza. A previous unity agreement fell apart after Israel and its international backers refused to deal with Hamas, which as mentioned refuses to recognize Israel. Solving Fatah-Hamas differences is seen as an essential step if an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is to happen - although with Israel also at a political crossroads analysts say that could be a long way off. The US, Britain, the EU and the Anarchist International have made clear that they would rather see non-partisan technocrats in control of the Palestinian territories than a coalition which includes Hamas.

28.02.2009: More rockets fired from Gaza. Two rockets were fired Saturday morning from Gaza and landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, one of them hitting an educational institution and the other landing in an open area. Five rockets have landed in Israel since Friday, a spokesman for the IDF said. There have been no reports of casualties, the IDF continued. More than 100 rockets have been fired at Israel by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza since the two sides declared separate, tentative ceasefires in late January, the IDF said. 

01.03.2009: The ceasefire is dead. Israel will respond if rocket attacks from Gaza don't stop. Israel will hit back at Palestinian-controlled Gaza with a "sharp, painful and strong response" if rocket attacks do not stop, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday.Rocket fire from Gaza, which is run by the militant Hamas movement, was the main reason cited for Israel's three-week assault on the territory in December and January. But rocket attacks into Israel continue. Over the weekend Palestinians fired nine rockets into southern Israel. One of them as mentioned slammed into an empty school in the city of Ashkelon, causing extensive damage. Since the end of the military operation in Gaza, over 110 rockets have been fired into Israel, a spokeswoman for IDF said. "If the firing of rockets continues from Gaza, it will be answered with a sharp, painful and strong response," Olmert said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. The anarchists call on Hamas to stop all rocket attacks!

02.03.2009: International donors pledge $4.481 billion to Palestine, but shun Hamas. International donors pledged $4.481 billion on Monday to help the Palestinian economy and rebuild Gaza after Israel's three-week offensive, insisting their funds bypass the territory's Hamas rulers. Gulf Arab states, the United States and the European Commission made significant pledges. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told a news conference the pledges were new and would be paid over the next two years. The United Nations and aid agencies said rebuilding the coastal enclave was a daunting task so long as border crossings with battered Gaza remained closed. "The situation at the border crossings is intolerable. Aid workers do not have access. Essential commodities cannot get in," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told donors at a one-day conference on Gaza in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. "Our first and indispensable goal, therefore, is open crossings. By the same token, however, it is therefore essential to ensure that illegal weapons do not enter Gaza," he said. Israel and Hamas were not invited to the conference which Egypt had called for after the end of Israel's military offensive in Gaza in January. The Jewish state says it supports efforts to help Palestinians in the strip, but wants assurances the aid money would not reach Hamas militants. "We definitely don't want to see the goodwill of the international community exploited by Hamas and serve Hamas's extremist purposes," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The West shuns Hamas because it refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept peace deals with the Jewish state. The islamist fascist Hamas, which is holding talks to form a unity government with the rival Fatah group of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the boycott would undercut reconstruction efforts. "To bypass the legitimate Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip is a move in the wrong direction, and it deliberately undermines the reconstruction," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority had hoped to raise $2.78 billion at the event, including $1.33 billion for Gaza. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged $300 million for Gaza reconstruction and $600 million to support the authority's budget shortfalls, economic reforms and security and private sector projects run by the PA. She was adamant that none of the money, which has to be agreed by the US Congress, would go to Hamas. "We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure our funding is only used where and for whom it is intended and does not end up in the wrong hands," she said.  The European Commission pledged 440 million euros ($554.1 million) for Gaza and Palestinian Authority reforms, compared to 487 million euros in 2008. Gulf Arab states pledged about $1.65 billion and said their donations will go through a special mechanism launched on Sunday in the Saudi capital. Western diplomats said donors in 2007 had pledged $7.7 billion in aid over three years, but the Palestinians complained that only a fraction of that money was paid out on time. It also remains unclear whether Israel would open Gaza's border crossings to large quantities of supplies like cement and steel needed to rebuild. Israel refuses the entry of materials it says could be also used by militants to build rockets.

"Gaza should not actually be a prison with open skies," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said through an interpreter. Israel tightened its grip on Gaza's border crossings after Hamas took control in June 2007, and says it will closely manage Gaza reconstruction by requiring project-by-project approval and guarantees that projects will not benefit Hamas. Egypt, which also borders Gaza, refuses to open its Rafah crossing for normal traffic, rather than for limited access. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said aid needed to reach Gaza, be well spent and sustained. "Otherwise the saga of reconstruction and destruction will go on and on," he added. The anarchists mainly agree with Miliband.

03.03.2009: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised Tuesday to work with the incoming Israeli government, but delivered a clear message that could put her at odds with the country's next leader: Movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state is "inescapable." The anarchists agree!

04.03.2009: Israeli aircraft fire on Gaza smuggling tunnels. The IDF says its aircraft have fired upon three smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border. Wednesday's airstrikes were in response to rocket attacks on Israel the day before. Palestinian officials in Gaza say no one was injured. The IDF says Palestinians have fired more than 130 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel since Israel ended a three-week offensive against Gaza militants on Jan. 18.

Clinton reassures Abbas on Palestinian state. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met Palestinian President Mahmound Abbas amid concerns in the West Bank that Israel is backing away from a peace process intended to the creation of a Palestianian state. In their talks in Ramallah Clinton reassured Abbas that Washington remains committed to the so-called "two state" solution. But Israel may soon have a right-wing government opposed to such an outcome. The reconstruction of Gaza was also high on the agenda. Abbas wants the US to put more pressure on Israel to lift its blockade of the Strip. They say the clampdown is hampering efforts to rebuild in the aftermath of Israel's offensive there. Seperately, new criticism of US Middle East policy by the Iranian leadership is likely in dismay the White House. Tehran has said President Obama is following what it called the same "wrong path" as his predecessor in supporting Israel, refering to the country as a "cancerous state". The new US administration has signalled it wants to engage in diplomacy with Iran.

Hillary Clinton has criticized Israel over plans to demolish Palestinian homes in Arab East Jerusalem. After meeting Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, the US Secretary of State said a plan to tear down 80 properties was "unhelpful". She said Washington would take up the issue with Israel. Clinton said: "President Abbas is offering the Palestinian people the chance finally to fulfill the aspirations to be free, independent, prosperous and peaceful, flourishing in a state of your own. And the only way to achieve that goal is through negotiations. So all who believe in this comprehensive peace, we urge you to work with the Palestinian Authority, and with us, because we are determined to move forward." Clinton's visit comes as the Hamas group in Gaza tries to recover from Israel's 22-day offensive in December. The anarchists support a two independent countries' solution, but they should not be states, but anarchies. This may however take long time to achieve...

05.03.2009: Iran, Hamas and their supporters from 30 countries spent two days probing ways to provide assistance to the terrorist Palestinian group and promote "resistance against Israel" at an international gathering in Tehran, an Iranian lawmaker said Thursday. The anarchists take a clear stand against the ultra-authoritarian fascist systems of both Iran and Hamas.

06.03.2009: Hamas supports war crimes. Senior leaders of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah offered international support Friday to Sudan's president after he was charged with war crimes in Darfur, a sign that the bid to prosecute him could sharply radicalize his regime. For a third straight day, President Omar al-Bashir's supporters marched and vowed to defend him against what his government called a "colonial" conspiracy to overthrow him. Hundreds emerged from mosques after Friday prayers, chanting "jihad," or holy war, and shouting, "With our souls and blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for you, al-Bashir." After the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for al-Bashir, Sudan's government responded by expelling 13 of the largest aid organizations in Darfur. The UN human rights office said in Geneva that it was examining whether the expulsion could itself constitute a war crime. Khartoum's government is dominated by Islamic fundamentalists, it provided a base for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and it has long been close to Iran, Syria and Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas.

07.03.2009: Palestinian PM Fayyad submits resignation. The Palestinian prime minister submitted his resignation Saturday, a move that could help pave the way for an elusive power-sharing deal between Palestinian moderates and militants. Salam Fayyad was appointed prime minister by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007, in response to the violent takeover of Gaza by the Islamic terrorists. Fayyad's decision was meant as a confidence-building measure, ahead of the resumption of Palestinian reconciliation talks on Tuesday in Cairo. Negotiators from Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement are trying to form a transition government that is to prepare for presidential and legislative elections by January 2010. Abbas said Saturday that he hoped a transition government could be formed by the end of March, suggesting that power-sharing talks have moved into high gear, following failed attempts in the past. Fayyad's resignation "comes to enhance and support the national dialogue to reach a national unity government," Abbas said. Fayyad, 57, said he would step down after the formation of a new government, but no later than the end of March. However, Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh suggested that Abbas could reappoint Fayyad if power-sharing talks fail.

Hamas seemed dismissive Saturday, arguing that the Fayyad government had been unconstitutional from the start. "This government did not work for the sake of the Palestinians, it worked for its own agenda. This end was expected for a government that was illegal and unconstitutional," said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. Fayyad, a respected economist and a political independent, had won widespread international support as prime minister. He carried out government reforms, including making government spending more transparent and deploying Palestinian security forces in former militant strongholds in the West Bank. The support for the US-educated Fayyad translated into massive amounts of foreign aid for the Palestinians. In 2007, donor countries pledged $7.7 billion over three years for the Fayyad government. Last week, another pledging conference, convened in the wake of Israel's Gaza offensive, yielded $5.2 billion over two years.

It was not immediately clear whether the pledges would be affected by a change in the Palestinian government. Donors had said at the pledging conference that much of the aid would be funneled through the Fayyad government. Fayyad said in a statement on Saturday that he was hoping to pave the way for a unity government. "This step comes in the efforts to form a national conciliation government," Fayyad said. Hamas officials, meanwhile, suggested that in the event of a power-sharing deal, elections could be put off for several months, beyond January 2010, as the two sides try to improve their standing with voters. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal is informal and hasn't been raised in unity talks yes. The political split between Abbas and Hamas broke out into the open in January 2006 when Hamas won parliament elections, defeating Fatah which had dominated Palestinian politics for decades. Arab mediators repeatedly attempted to bridge the gaps, but failed, and Hamas as mentioned seized power by force in Gaza in 2007. In response, Abbas fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and replaced him with Fayyad, while Israel and Egypt responded by closing Gaza's borders. In 2008, Abbas conducted peace talks with Israel, but the negotiations ended without progress. The rival camps appear to have stronger reasons now than in the past to reach a power-sharing deal. A negotiated deal with Israel seems out of reach, particularly now that a right-wing government is about to be formed in Israel. Hamas, meanwhile, survived Israel's Gaza offensive, but has failed to get the border blockade lifted.

In other developments Saturday, a member of an Islamic Jihad rocket squad was killed and two others were wounded in northern Gaza in what a Palestinian medic said was an Israeli airstrike. However, the IDF said it did not carry out any operations in Gaza on Saturday. The Islamic Jihad squad was targeted as it fired rockets toward Israel, according to Palestinian health official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain and Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmed. The Israeli military confirmed that at least five rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel on Saturday, causing no injuries or damage. Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers as mentioned separately declared a ceasefire, after the Israeli offensive. However, talks on a durable truce have hit a snag, and rocket fire and airstrikes continue. Islamic Jihad, far smaller than Hamas, is most involved in rocket fire.

Protesters clash with police at Israel match in Sweden. Dozens of anti-Israel activists, clashed with police Saturday as they tried to storm a closed arena where Sweden and Israel were playing a Davis Cup tennis match. The activists hurled rocks and firecrackers at police vans as they tried to break through the barricades set up to keep protesters from the arena. Hundreds of riot police pushed them back using truncheons. There were no immediate reports of injuries. About twenty people were arrested. The clashes erupted after about 7 000 people gathered at a square in downtown Malmö to hear speeches condemning Israel's offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians. Organizers of the "stop the match" protest had said the demonstration would be peaceful, but extreme-left activists had vowed to disrupt the match, which is being played without fans in Malmö. Sweden's Left Party (with main tendency communism) leader Lars Ohly told the crowd that the European Union and the rest of the world should "boycott the racist regime in Israel." Also nazis, the so called "Blekinges autonoma nationalister", wearing black clothes, joined the protests. The protesters marched toward the Baltic Hall arena, where some of them attacked the police line with eggs, rocks and firecrackers. The doubles match between Sweden and Israel started as planned before about 300 special guests invited by the two countries' tennis federations. About 1 000 police from southern Sweden were deployed in Malmö to keep the protesters from entering the arena. The anarchists take a clear stand against such pro Hamas demonstrations, boycott of Israel and the ochlarchy.

08.03.2009: More rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli response. Hamas security officials say Israeli aircraft targeted a Gaza City warehouse in a nighttime airstrike. The officials say the warehouse was empty and no one was injured. The IDF confirms the strike, saying the target was used by militants as a weapons warehouse. The IDF says aircraft also struck two smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border. Palestinian militants launched a rocket and a mortar shell into Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries. Rocket fire by Gaza militants and Israeli retaliatory airstrikes have become nearly daily occurrences. Israel as mentioned halted a military offensive aimed at ending the rocket fire on Jan. 18, but sporadic violence persists as Egypt-mediated talks on a long-term truce have failed to yield results.

Palestinian leader seeks reconciliation with Hamas. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas says he's determined to form a power-sharing government with his Hamas rivals, despite their deep differences. Abbas' comments come a day after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad submitted his resignation. The move is meant to ease the formation of a new caretaker government to oversee new elections. In the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, Abbas said any new government must accept previous Palestinian obligations. That includes recognizing Israel, which Hamas refuses to do. Reconciliation talks are taking place in Egypt between Abbas' Fatah Party and Hamas.

09.03.2009: Shalit campaign. The parents of captured soldier Gilad Shalit have spent a first full night in a tent outside the Israeli PM's house to raise pressure on his government. They are escalating the campaign after Ehud Olmert said demonstrations calling for Mr Shalit's release by Palestinian militants in Gaza were unhelpful. Noam and Aviva Shalit are urging the outgoing PM to agree a prisoner swap. The Shalits fear a harder line cabinet led by PM-designate Benjamin Netanyahu might be less likely to do a deal. The couple began their protest in the early hours of Sunday. "We will stay as long as Gilad, who has been held for nearly 1,000 days, is not freed," Noam Shalit told Israeli army radio. Gilad Shalit was seized in June 2006 by Palestinian militants, including members of the Hamas group, in an raid into Israel that also left two Israeli soldiers dead. Egypt has been brokering talks to secure his release. Hamas are demanding the release of more than 400 of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. In February, the Israeli security cabinet stipulated the soldier must be released before Israel eased its comprehensive blockade of Gaza. Last week, the Israeli outgoing prime minister criticized public demonstrations calling for Gilad Shalit's release, claiming they encouraged Hamas to harden its position. Campaigners have accused the government of dragging its feet in the negotiations. "We will sit outside Olmert's house so that he sees us when he wakes up in the morning," Noam Shalit said on arriving at the tent on Sunday. Nothing has been heard from the Israeli conscript since June 2008, when a letter in his handwriting was delivered to the Carter Centre in Ramallah in the West Bank.

10.03.2009: Palestinian unity talks face low expectations. Divided over policy toward Israel and control of Gaza reconstruction aid, rival Palestinian factions face tough obstacles in unity talks due to open in Cairo on Tuesday. On the eve of the negotiations, slated to last 10 days, officials loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and the Hamas Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip were united in a singular message: chances for success are slim. Five committees were set to tackle issues at the heart of Palestinian reconciliation: formation of a unity government and restructuring the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to include Hamas, now a political and military powerhouse. Palestinian political analysts said Monday that Hamas agreed to the talks to try to overcome its isolation by the West over the group's refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace deals. Western-backed Abbas, the analysts said, was seeking to minimize inter-factional friction, aware Fatah could be weakened if peace talks with Israel went nowhere under what appears likely to be a new right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

"We must reach an agreement to form a government of reconciliation that will abide by the obligations of the PLO," Abbas told reporters on Sunday. He was referring to the organization's interim peace agreements that envisage the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel, a blueprint that Netanyahu has not accepted publicly. Hamas opposes the US-backed peace process, offering instead a long-term truce with Israel that falls short of recognition of the Jewish state. Izaat al-Rishq, who heads the Hamas negotiating team, said agreement on the government had to be accompanied by progress on all other tracks. "We will start discussions tomorrow about if the government would be one of national unity composed of technocrats, and the names of possible prime ministers, but all the other committees have to finish their work as well," Rishq said. A delegation of Hamas officials arrived in Cairo from Damascus on Saturday and was waiting for the rest of the team to cross into Egypt from Gaza, Rishq said.

Israel-Lebanon borders stable despite attacks. Southern Lebanon and northern Israel have experienced their longest period of stability in many years despite the violations of a 2006 cease-fire during the recent war in Gaza, the UN's special coordinator for Lebanon said Tuesday. The ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah militants "continues to hold" but much remains to be done to fully implement Security Council resolution 1701 that ended their 34-day conflict, including disarming Hezbollah and all other militias, Michael Williams told reporters after a closed-door briefing to the UN Security Council. In a report to the council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the firing of rockets from southern Lebanon toward Israel during the Gaza conflict as "serious violations" of the cease-fire resolution. The fact that Israel returned fire without prior warning to UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon is also "a cause of serious concern," he said. "On the positive side, the resolution has continued to ensure a cessation of hostilities between the parties and the longest period of stability that south Lebanon has known in decades," he said. "There is a stability on Israel's northern border which it has not known since the 1980s."

In other positive developments, Williams said the internal political situation in Lebanon in the run-up to June 7 general elections "remains good." He also cited the establishment of diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria, and moves toward reconciliation in the Arab world "which I think have an enormously positive effect on the situation on the ground in Lebanon." But Williams said "there are many other issues in 1701 where very little progress has been achieved." The resolution reiterates a call for the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, bans arms transfers to any group except the Lebanese armed forces, and urges the Lebanese government to secure its borders to prevent arms smuggling. Williams said the national dialogue in Lebanon under President Michel Suleiman "has had enormously beneficial effect on the country in enhancing national stability, but where the question of the disarmament of armed groups is making only slow process." He expressed hope that the government elected in June can move the issue forward. "It's difficult to take the weapons out of politics. it needs to be done. it needs to be a Lebanese-led process," Williams said.

Palestinian factions are trying to hammer out a power-sharing agreement. The anarchists support the efforts. Palestinian factions trying to hammer out a power-sharing agreement are struggling to reconcile their differences toward peace talks with Israel, a Hamas spokesman said Thursday. Fawzi Barhoum, the militant group's spokesman, said the disagreement is one of the key hurdles holding up the formation of a new unity government between Hamas and the more moderate Fatah faction. Egypt, which is mediating between rival Palestinian factions in the talks that began this week in Cairo, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah have repeatedly said that any new Palestinian government should accept previous peace agreements with Israel and Arabs' peace overtures to the Jewish state.

That would include recognizing Israel's right to exist - which Hamas rejects."We were not part of these agreements, and therefore, no one should expect us to endorse them," Barhoum told The Associated Press in Cairo. Egypt has set a Saturday deadline for the factions to produce an agreement and hopes to host a signing ceremony by the end of March. Several negotiators at the talks said Egypt's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will meet the delegates Thursday to try to reconcile their differences. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. They also said that Hamas and Fatah still disagree on other issues, such as setting a date for new presidential and legislative elections for all Palestinians.

"Time is not a sword hanging over our necks. What is important is what we achieve," Barhoum said. The Palestinian divide was as mentioned made worse after Hamas violent takeover of Gaza in 2007 that split Palestinian territory between the West Bank, controlled by the internationally backed Fatah, and the Gaza Strip, ruled by the widely shunned Hamas. Overcoming the distrust between them is key to moving ahead with reconstruction in Gaza after Israel's recent offensive there. Previous unity accords have collapsed in mistrust and infighting, but this time both sides appear to have a strong incentive to reach an accord.

Hamas is under pressure to mend fences with Fatah to help end the devastating blockade of Gaza imposed by Egypt and Israel and obtain foreign funding to rebuild Gaza. Fatah and Abbas, whose popularity took a beating due to his perceived lack of decisiveness during the Gaza war, need to find a way to blunt the challenges from Hamas. The delegates in Cairo are as mentioned working in five committees, deliberating specific issues - from forming a unity government, holding new elections, reforming the security services, carrying out confidence-building measures and finding a role for Hamas in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Other Palestinian factions are also present. The anarchists support the efforts to reach a power-sharing agreement.

13.03.2009: Israelis support the captured soldier's family. A protest tent set up outside the prime minister's home by the family of the captive Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit has become an unofficial pilgrimage site this week, attracting Cabinet ministers, Holocaust survivors and schoolchildren from across Israel. Posters and bumper stickers of Gilad Schalit decorate the tent, with a growing number of handwritten cards. The outpouring has drawn new attention to the soldier, who marks his 1,000th day in captivity next week and is at the center of efforts for a long-term ceasefire with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

14.02.2009: Bin Laden: Gaza offensive was a holocaust. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden called Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip a "holocaust" and lashed out at Arab governments that he said failed to stop the bloodshed in an audio recording broadcast Saturday. Bin Laden, whose message was released in excerpts on Al-Jazeera TV, called Arab leaders hypocrites and accused them of sacrificing the Palestinians in Gaza and collaborating with Israel. The three-week offensive, which ended on Jan. 18, killed about 1,300 Palestinians, according to Palestinian human rights groups. "It was clear that some of the Arab leaders have collaborated with the Crusader-Zionist alliance against our people, those whom America calls the moderate leaders," said bin Laden. "We must disown ourselves from all those" governments. He did not mention any governments by name in the brief excerpts, but Egypt, in particular, drew criticism during the offensive for not opening its border with Gaza to more aid shipments and humanitarian cases. Both Israel and Egypt have closed their borders with Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas violently seized control of the Palestinian territory in June 2007. The closure deepened economic hardship in the already impoverished strip, home to 1.4 million Palestinians.

It was bin Laden's second audio message on the Gaza offensive since January, when he urged Muslims to launch a jihad against Israel. It was not possible to verify the message's authenticity. A spokesman for Al-Jazeera refused to say how the network obtained the recording. The terror leader again urged Muslims to fight Israel. "The Gaza holocaust, amid this prolonged embargo, is an important historic event and a catastrophe that shows the necessity of distinguishing Muslims from hypocrites," he said. "It is not right that our situation after Gaza will be as it used to be before. There should be serious work and preparation for jihad to fulfill righteousness and defeat evil." Bin Laden called on faithful Muslims to support militants in Iraq and said that country should be used as a departure point for attacks on Israel. He suggested fighters use a route from Iraq through Jordan and into the West Bank. He said supporting fighters in Iraq was a "rare and precious chance" for ultimately taking control of Jerusalem. After taking control of Iraq, he said, fighters should then head to neighboring Jordan. "Jordan ... is the best and widest front, and from Jordan the second launching will be toward the West Bank and the borders will be forcibly opened," he said.

15.03.2009: Palestinian groups deadlocked over unity government. Rival Palestinian groups are bogged down in talks over the shape and agenda of a national unity government that is supposed to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections, delegates said on Sunday. Diplomats and analysts see the success of the Egyptian-sponsored talks as key to reuniting Palestinians after 21 months of schism between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the West Bank, where the Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas holds sway. Fatah and Hamas, the largest two Palestinian groups, differ fundamentally on how to deal with Israel. Hamas believes in armed struggle, though it is willing to consider a truce, while Abbas says negotiations with the Jewish state are the way to go. Participants said differences remained between Fatah and Hamas on whether the unity cabinet that would emerge from the talks be composed of political groups or non-partisan technocrats, as demanded by Western powers and Egypt. "It is a standstill on the issue of the government," said Walid al-Awad of the communist People's Party. He said there were also differences on the electoral law and the timing of the legislative and presidential elections.

The groups agreed on Feb. 26 to form five committees to also tackle issues such as the composition of security agencies in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The committees began their work on March 10. Awad said two committees discussing national reconciliation and the reform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) concluded their work on Saturday. The PLO, dominated by Abbas and the groups loyal to him, have represented the Palestinians since 1964 but the more recently created Islamist movements, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have never been part of it despite a 2005 agreement to bring them under its umbrella. In Gaza, Hamas official Taher al-Nono told Reuters: "There was progress in some issues last night. There is an optimism, a cautious optimism." "Still the issues of the government and elections remained (unresolved)," he said.

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman last week urged the groups to reach an agreement on forming a technocratic government within a few days. The West had shunned a previous unity government headed by Hamas after the Islamist group won parliamentary elections in 2006. Many Arabs and Palestinians said Western powers were punishing the Palestinians for their democratic choice. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said this month he intended to resign by the end of March to pave the way for the formation of a unity cabinet. Abbas, who appointed Fayyad after Hamas routed Fatah in Gaza in June 2007, asked him to remain in office until results emerged from the talks in Cairo. Wasil Abou Youssef, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Front, said a committee comprised of the heads of each delegation and Egyptian officials would meet on Sunday to discuss the unresolved issues of the government and elections. The new government is also expected to lead efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after Israel's three-week military offensive, which ended in January. Awad said his party has put forward a suggestion that the prime minister and six cabinet ministers - foreign affairs, interior, reconstruction, education, information and finance - be held by independent ministers. The remaining seats would be decided on political basis, he added.

16.03.2009: Israel's Olmert in last-ditch bid to free soldier. Envoys dispatched to Cairo by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ended two days of last-ditch talks on Monday to try to win freedom for a captured Israeli soldier, but it was unclear if a deal was in reach with Hamas. Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said the two high-level envoys were returning to Israel on Monday night to brief the prime minister on their indirect talks through Egyptian mediation with the Islamists who rule Gaza. Regev said Israel's cabinet will meet on Tuesday to consider how to proceed. Olmert has made freedom for Gilad Shalit, held by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip since 2006, a precondition for a wider truce with Hamas Islamists and the reopening of the enclave's borders to crucial reconstruction aid after Israel's recent offensive. Hamas has demanded, in exchange for Shalit, the release of some 450 Palestinian prisoners, including some convicted of attacks that killed Israelis, a prospect opponents of such an exchange have said would only encourage the group to try to seize more soldiers.

Olmert had initially scheduled a cabinet meeting for Monday to sum up the negotiations and weigh a possible agreement, but he postponed the session until Tuesday to give the two envoys, Yuval Diskin, head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, and negotiator Ofer Dekel more time to try to seal a deal."The government will be meeting tomorrow morning and the ministers will be briefed on the negotiations," Regev said. "If there is a need to take decisions, decisions can be taken." Olmert, who has come under mounting public pressure to bring Shalit home, is in the final days of a three-year term marked by a 2006 Lebanon war that many Israelis see as a failure and a 22-day Gaza campaign that ended in January without achieving a complete halt to cross-border rocket fire. Members of Olmert's outgoing administration have cautioned Hamas publicly that it might find a new government being formed by right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu less willing to deal on prisoners. Shalit, now 22, wasas mentioned captured in June 2006 by militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip and took him into the Hamas-ruled territory. Abu Ubaida, spokesman of Hamas's armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, said on Sunday that Israel wanted to exile some of the prisoners it has offered to release."We reject expulsion," he said. "There is no room for more flexibility in our position." Israel has carried out lopsided exchanges in the past, trading large numbers of Arab prisoners for its captured soldiers or their remains.

Israel hunts West Bank attackers. Israeli security forces are searching for the attackers believed to be behind the fatal shooting of two Israeli traffic policemen in the West Bank. The dying officers were found in their car in the Massua district of the Jordan Valley on Sunday evening. They are the first Israelis to die in a shooting attack in the West Bank since April of last year. A previously unknown group, named after a dead Lebanese Hezbollah leader, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Imad Mughniyeh Group, named after the man killed by a bomb in Damascus just over a year ago, made its claim in messages to foreign media. Israel denied any role in the Hezbollah commander's assassination. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the two policemen, David Rabinovitch, 42, and Yehezkel Remzarker, 50, had been shot at point blank range. One of the "main possibilities" was that the attackers staged a break down or mechanical problem with their car, and then opened fire as the police stopped to offer help, he said. He said it seems likely there were at least two attackers, because of the way both officers were shot at such close range.

The Yesha Council, which represents Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, blamed the attack on the policy of removal of some of the checkpoints that restrict Palestinian movements around the West Bank. A major checkpoint north-west of Nablus, in place since 2001, had been opened earlier in the day in response to a decrease in attacks originating from the town, the IDF said. Mr Rosenfeld said there seemed to be a "large possibility" that the attackers fled to one of the villages in the Nablus area, using a route which they previously would have been unable to use. He said a "nationalistic motive" appeared to have been behind Sunday's attack. The West Bank had become relatively peaceful before Sunday's attack as Palestinian police, trained and funded by the West, have become increasingly effective in clamping down on militants. Massua is located in the Jordan Valley, just south-east of the town of Nablus. The area is close to the Jordanian border and under Israeli security control. Anger has been running high among Palestinians since Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. The shooting also comes at a particularly sensitive time as Israel's government agonises over how many Palestinian militants it could release from prison in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, he adds. The Israeli intelligence services had also issued an alert saying there could be retaliation on the anniversary of the death of Imad Mughniyeh, on 12 February. However, it was thought that this would target Israeli businessmen or holidaymakers abroad.

The Haaretz newspaper says that a driver from the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar was seriously wounded when a gunman opened fire on his car on the highway near Ariel in January. Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967. It has settled more than 430,000 Jews in the occupied territories. All settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel and many anarchists and the ICOT dispute this. The Palestinian areas on the West Bank and Gaza should not be ethnically clean Arab land.

17.03.2009: Hamas members stopped from smuggling cash to Gaza. Two Hamas officials returning from Egypt were caught trying to cross the Gaza border Tuesday with nearly $850,000 stuffed into candy tins, an Egyptian security official said. Gaza's Hamas rulers are dependent on the smuggling of cash and goods to keep their government afloat because the coastal territory has been subject to an embargo since the Islamic militant group took control there in June 2007. The two Hamas members were in Egypt with a delegation taking part in reconciliation talks with rival Palestinian factions. The Egypt-mediated talks have so far failed to produce an agreement on the formation of a unity government that would include Hamas and the more moderate Fatah movement that it ousted from Gaza. In response to the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Israel and Egypt have as mentiond kept the territory's borders sealed to all but a trickle of aid and supplies. The Hamas officials stopped Tuesday were traveling in a bus carrying members of different Palestinian factions involved in the talks. A search of the bus at the border turned up tins of sweets stuffed with euro 454,000 and $260,000 in cash instead of candy, said an Egyptian security official. Under Egyptian law, it is illegal to leave the country with more than $10,000 in cash. Authorities also confiscated two generators, a night vision scope and mobile phones, the official said. Hamas will be allowed to deposit the money into an account in Egypt, but likely won't be able to access the funds from Gaza. Arab banks have generally refused to transfer money to Gaza for fear of running afoul of the United States, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization. The two men stopped Tuesday were not arrested and denied knowing what was in the candy tins, saying they were just told to carry the goods into Gaza by Hamas leaders in Egypt, the official said. There was no immediate comment from Hamas. In February, Hamas members were caught with suitcases containing $9 million and euro2 million in cash.

Israel rejects Hamas demands for soldier. A somber Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday blamed Hamas for deadlocked talks that failed to win freedom for the soldier held nearly three years in Gaza, declaring that Israel would not free all the prisoners demanded by the Islamic militants in exchange. In a statement broadcast live on Israeli TV and radio stations, Olmert said efforts would continue, but his tone indicated that there was no chance for a deal while he is premier. Benjamin Netanyahu is putting together Israel's next government, which is expected to be a hard-line team less sympathetic to Hamas demands. The failure of the prisoner swap talks could set off a chain reaction of negative developments. Israeli officials repeated Tuesday that a blockade on Gaza will not be lifted until the soldier is returned home. That would seriously impede reconstruction after Israel's bruising January offensive in Gaza and it could hamper efforts to cement a truce between Israel and Hamas, leaving the danger of another sudden escalation. The soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, 22, was as mentioned captured in a June 2006 cross-border raid by Hamas-linked militants who killed two other soldiers. His case has become an emotional touchstone for many Israelis. "Israel presented generous far reaching proposals to the other side that were supposed to bring about the release of Gilad," Olmert said. "These proposals were rejected. Others will not be handed over to the Hamas." "There are red lines," he declared. "We will not cross them." Hamas and Israel do not talk to each other directly - Hamas does not recognize the Jewish state and Israel considers Hamas a terror group - so the contacts were mediated by Egyptian officials. After Olmert spoke, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas had never changed its demands and was not concerned about the incoming Israeli government. "It is going to be no different, and no change and no compromise on our demands," he said. Israel is holding an estimated 8,000 Palestinian prisoners, and Hamas wants some 1,200 freed, including 450 who masterminded or were otherwise involved in suicide bombings and other deadly assaults.

Israel balked at approving the entire list and wanted to deport some of the more notorious prisoners, fearing they would resume their militant activity if they returned home, Israeli officials said. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Israel agreed to free 320 of the 450 prisoners. He said a deal could still be struck if Hamas presented a new list of 450. That would be most unlikely after a year of contacts, with Hamas saying it would not compromise. A message on a Hamas Web site Tuesday threatened abduction of more Israeli soldiers "to release our prisoners." Before Olmert spoke, Israel released two lists, giving examples of prisoners it was willing to free and of prisoners it refused to let go. Israel rejected a Hamas demand to free Abdallah Barghouti, 36, considered the Hamas master bombmaker. He was sentenced to 67 life terms for a string of attacks that killed 66 people and wounded more than 250, according to the government list. His wife, Saeda Barghouti, 36, confirmed that he joined Hamas as a bombmaker in 2000. She said she has been allowed to visit him only twice since he was arrested in 2003. Among the prisoners Israel was prepared to free, on condition that they be deported, was Walid Anjes, 28. He was convicted of delivering bombs to attackers who hit major targets, like the Hebrew University and a cafe across from the Jerusalem residence of the prime minister in 2002, killing dozens. Israeli critics of such a deal have warned that hardcore militants could return to violence, as has happened in the past. A disappointed Noam Schalit, father of the soldier, said after a briefing from Olmert, that he hoped the contacts would provide "a basis for the next government to continue the efforts." Israel TV broadcast Olmert's statement on a split screen with Olmert on one side and the soldier's parents watching on the other from their protest tent outside Olmert's residence.

18.03.2009: Israeli army uses PIs to spy on suspect dodgers. With more 18-year-old females claiming religious modesty as grounds for exemption from male-dominated military life, Israel's army is hiring investigators to spy on suspected draft evaders, catching them doing decidedly unreligious things."We need those girls," Lt. Col. Gil Ben Shaoul, deputy commander of Israel's military recruitment center, said. The army says the surveillance program began last year and has caught 520 young women, many who admitted they did not deserve the religious exemption and signed up for military service.

Hamas clings to their demands. An opening of Gaza's blockaded borders, access to billions of dollars in foreign aid, a popularity boost - Hamas would have much to gain by working out a prisoner swap with Israel and a power-sharing arrangement with its West Bank rivals. Instead, Gaza's Islamic terrorist rulers have been clinging to their demands and displaying a stubbornness that would seem irrational considering the enormous stakes. But Hamas apparently believes that time is on its side and that its adversaries - Israel, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the West - will eventually fold. The deadlock complicates the international community's plans for Gaza reconstruction. "We are not able to bring anything in for rebuilding Gaza until the case of the Israeli soldier Schalit is resolved, and that's what the Israelis are telling us," Karen Abu Zayd, who runs the major UN aid agency in Gaza, said Tuesday. Donor countries are ready to give billions of dollars to fix the war damage, including repairing or rebuilding 15,000 homes, but can't do so without open borders and won't give the money to Hamas. The purpose of the Palestinian unity talks is to form an interim government made up of both rival factions until new elections are held by January 2010. Such an arrangement would let funds start flowing, but would force Hamas to soften its opposition to Israel. And Hamas can't afford to compromise on its principles, especially with the possibility of elections in less than a year. Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction, in contrast to Fatah, which seeks a Palestinian state alongside Israel. An implicit recognition of Israel would also undercut Hamas' main argument in any election campaign that Fatah's 16 years of peace talks with Israel have been a waste of time. Hamas has shown that its stubbornness is not a negotiating tactic. If they wanted to compromise, they would have done it last year or the year before. It is a waiting game... Hamas is the bottleneck in the negotiations that will benefit the Palestinian and Israeli people, seen as class in contrast to the superiors in rank and/or income, the anarchists say: we support the Israeli and Palestinian people... we call on the Hamas-rulers to act with reason!

Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip for the second time in two months to allow medical aid and Palestinians to enter the coastal territory. Border official Ghazi Hamad says more than 40 trucks carrying medicine and mineral water have crossed into Gaza so far. He says 120 Palestinians who were stranded in Egypt were also able to cross. The border will remain open until Thursday. Egypt has largely kept the crossing closed since the Islamic militant group Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Egypt, which has waged its own battle with Islamic militants at home, is wary of Hamas' rule in the neighboring territory. About 350 Palestinian patients were also to cross from Gaza into Egypt Wednesday for treatment.

19.03.2009: Dispute over number of killed in the Gaza offensive. The final tally of Palestinians killed in Israel's recent war on Gaza's Hamas rulers is 1,417, including 926 civilians, according to a Palestinian human rights groups that published the names, ages and other information about the dead on its Web site Thursday. Israel disputed the findings by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), saying it believes the majority of the dead were combatants or legitimate targets, but offered no evidence. An Israeli think tank said its analysis of the PCHR's data suggests the number of civilians is lower than the rights group claims. The PCHR said in a statement that the large number of civilians among the dead is proof that Israeli troops "used excessive and random force through the entire period of aggression, violating the principle of distinction (between combatants and civilians)."

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev rejected the allegation. "Israel, during the military campaign, made every possible effort to target enemy combatants only," he said. The PCHR said its list, including determining the number of civilians, is based on thorough research. It said among the dead were 926 civilians, including 313 minors under the age of 18 and 116 women. The group counted 236 combatants and 255 members of the Hamas security forces. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after the war that more than 700 Hamas members were among the dead and Israel had their names. However, Israel has not released its own list of Palestinians killed, and hasn't said when it would do so. It remains unclear how the military, without access to Gaza, would compile a thorough list. Still, Regev said that "the overwhelming majority of casualties were Hamas operatives and others who were, under international law, legitimate targets."

Also Thursday, the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, an Israeli think tank, presented its own analysis of the PCHR data, based on preliminary lists, not the final one published Thursday. Researchers Yael Shahar and Don Radlauer said they did not dispute the final tally, since they have no access to Gaza, but they believe the number of dead combatants is higher. They said they found 314 confirmed combatants - 78 more than PCHR listed. Their figure is based on checking the PCHR's list against those claimed as dead fighters on Web sites of militant groups. The researchers also classified 518 of the dead as unknown, arguing that not enough information is available to put them in either category. They noted that about 80 percent in the group of unknowns were men, including many in their 20s. This gender and age distribution refutes allegations that Israeli forces targeted Palestinians randomly, the researchers said. "We are being accused of not aiming, of indiscriminate attacks, and the demographics clearly contradict that," said Radlauer.

Israel to probe reported abuse by soldiers in Gaza. Israel's military on Thursday ordered a criminal inquiry into its own soldiers' reports that some troops killed Palestinian civilians, including children, during the Gaza war by hastily opening fire, confident that relaxed rules of engagement would protect them. Speaking to Israel Radio, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel "has the most ethical army in the world" and reports of exceptions would be "checked carefully."

Palestinian reconciliation talks break up, no deal.  Egyptian-mediated talks between rival Palestinian factions broke down Thursday without a deal on a national unity government, in a major setback to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The failure of talks between rivals Hamas and Fatah also could deepen the divisions among Arab countries ahead of a crucial summit later this month in Qatar that US-allied Mideast heavyweights including Saudi Arabia had hoped would unite the fractured region. Thursday's failure to form a unity government came just two days after negotiations in Cairo between the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers and Israel over a prisoner swap ran aground. The deadlock in both negotiating tracks raised questions about plans by the international community to rebuild parts of Gaza, devastated in Israel's recent military offensive against Hamas. Gaza's borders have been virtually sealed since Hamas seized the territory by force in June 2007, and international aid groups have said reconstruction of the war damage is impossible without open borders. Israeli officials repeatedly have said the Gaza blockade would not be lifted until Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is freed. Gaza militants captured Schalit in a cross-border raid in 2006, and Egypt had been negotiating a prisoner swap deal - Schalit in exchange for 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israel. But no deal was reached by Tuesday's deadline. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said efforts would continue, but there appeared to be no chance for a deal before he leaves office by the end of the month. Olmert's designated successor, hardline leader Benjamin Netanyahu, is unlikely to go further than Olmert in making concessions to Hamas, particularly if he brings hawkish parties into his coalition, as expected.

This week's failures in both negotiating tracks will hamper efforts to reach a durable truce between Israel and Hamas, instead raising the likelihood of escalation along the Israel-Gaza border. The breakdown also comes less than two weeks before the Arab League summit in Qatar that is expected to be overshadowed by inter-Arab conflicts, including a sharp division on how to deal the Palestinian feud. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki blamed the failure of the talks on Arab's disunity. "It's very difficult for the Palestinian reconciliation to succeed with the ongoing Arab conflicts, he said. Zaki was apparently referring to Syria's and Iran's support for Hamas. Palestinian rivals were trying to agree on the terms of a joint coalition for an interim unity government that would set the stage for elections by January. The key sticking point was the program of the new government which should have outlined to what extent Hamas would abide by past accords with Israel. Negotiators for Fatah, which rules the West Bank, said the new government must commit to the program of the PLO, which recognized Israel in 1993. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, and only wants the new government to "respect" the PLO commitments. Earlier this week, Egyptian envoys sounded out US and European diplomats about whether they would be willing to accept something less than a commitment to the PLO agreements. Other hurdles were an agreement on rebuilding the Palestinian forces and enacting a new election law. After the break-up Thursday, Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum reiterated that his group will not agree to "commit" to the accords or recognize Israel. Samir Ghosheh, a negotiator for a tiny PLO faction, said Egyptian mediators told the Palestinian representatives on Thursday to pack their bags. The Egyptian hosts did not set a date for a new round, he said. Negotiations had begun last week. "I don't think there will be a resumption of talks unless there are clear indications that the problems will be solved," said Ghosheh. However, Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed said the talks will continue after the Arab summit on March 30.

20.03.2009: Netanyahu gets more time to form government. Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has got two more weeks to form a new government, as he tries to broaden his support by persuading moderates to join. With a month of coalition talks already behind him, Netanyahu can form a narrow alliance of hard-line parties. But he says he is hoping for a wider "unity" government that includes his more moderate rivals. Netanyahu met President Shimon Peres to request more time. Peres granted the request, giving Netanyahu until April 3. "I could have presented a government to you and the people of Israel by Sunday, a good government, but I chose to ask for the extension to make every effort to form a unity government," Netanyahu told Peres. He said a broad government was necessary to deal with the security and economic problems facing Israel.Since being tapped by Peres to form Israel's next government a month ago, Netanyahu has tried to persuade the centrist Kadima and Labor parties to join him in a broad coalition. etanyahu's Likud Party captured 27 seats, meaning it needs to bring in other partners to control a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

If no moderates join him, Netanyahu will be left with a slim coalition of hard-line and ultra-Orthodox parties. Such a coalition, with either 61 or 65 seats, would likely be unstable because junior partners would be able to bring down the government in any dispute. It would also be dominated by opponents to any significant concessions for a peace deal with the Palestinians, which could bring Israel into conflict with the international community and the Obama administration. Kadima's leader, Tzipi Livni, has refused to join because Netanyahu won't express support for the creation of a Palestinian state and because he rejected her demand to serve as prime minister for half of the government's term. But Netanyahu is still holding talks with the Labor Party, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Labor is slated to hold a meeting on Tuesday to vote on joining the government. Labor, which served as the country's ruling party for much of its history and was the movement behind the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians, lost support in the recent elections. In the Feb. 10 vote it was left with only 13 lawmakers. Barak favors joining the government, in which he would likely continue to serve as defense minister and other Labor lawmakers would be given ministerial positions. But many Labor lawmakers oppose the move, saying it would be a betrayal of the party's traditionally dovish values and could drive away more supporters. They charge Labor would serve as a fig leaf for a hard-line government and would have little impact on its policies. The anarchists prefer a wider "unity" government.

Peres sends greeting to Iran. The Israeli president Simon Peres sent a rare greeting to the people of Iran on Friday, praising what he called a great and ancient culture and saying they would be better off without their hard-line leadership. The greeting coincided with a video message sent by President Obama to Iran in which he said the US is prepared to end years of strained relations if Tehran tones down its bellicose rhetoric. Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, talked of the warm ties that once existed between the two countries under the pro-US shah, who was overthrown in 1979, and voiced hope that they could once again live in peace. "I turn to the noble Iranian nation in the name of the ancient Jewish nation and wish that it return to its rightful place among developed nations," he said.But in an interview accompanying the greeting, Peres took a tougher tone toward Iran's leaders, branding the leaders who came to power in the 1979 Islamic revolution "religious fanatics" and predicting that Iranians would eventually overthrow them. "I think the Iranian nation will topple these leaders. Leaders that do not serve the people will, in the end, the nation will get rid of them," Peres said in the interview.
"It's such a rich country with such a rich culture," he added. "On the one hand I look at Iran with admiration because of its history and on the other hand with sorrow because of what's happened to it."

Peres' blessing for the Persian Nowruz holiday was broadcast on the Farsi-language service of the Voice of Israel radio station. The station said the interview would air on Monday. The station claims to have several million listeners in Iran, though it was not immediately clear how many people had heard the message. Israel and Iran enjoyed close ties before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the US-backed shah and brought to power a clerical leadership hostile to the Jewish state. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and questioned whether the Holocaust occurred. Israel also accuses Iran of supporting hostile Arab militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, and says Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Peres took aim at Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial. "Since when is he an expert on the Jewish Holocaust? Was he at Auschwitz? What does he know? All day he makes speeches and speeches, but they are destroying the nation. They won't so quickly destroy us." In his aired greeting, Peres turned his focus to the Iranian people and offered a Nowruz blessing. "Our relations with the Iranian nation knew days of prosperity, even in modern times as we shared with you our experience in agriculture, industry, development of science and medicine and we developed with you the best relations possible," he said. "To our dismay, our diplomatic relations are at a low point flowing from the desires leading the current leaders of your land to act in every way possible against the state of Israel and its people, but I am confident that the day we are hoping for is not far, when the good neighborly relations and the cooperation will flourish in all fields for the welfare of our nations and for the betterment of our common future."

Peres spoke in Hebrew for most of the blessing, but then ended his address with a traditional Persian holiday greeting in Farsi: "May your Nowruz be a victory, and every day be Nowruz!" Meir Javedanfar, an independent Iranian-born analyst living in Israel, called Peres' statements "very significant." He said both Peres and Obama were aware that Iran is preparing to hold a presidential election and are hopeful that they can encourage voters to choose a new moderate leadership. "Iranian right-wingers thrive on demonizing the US and Israel," he said. "This is basically to counter that, with the hope that the people of Iran will vote against extremism." He said Peres also might be trying to encourage the people of Iran to embrace Obama's diplomatic overture. "We should try not to allow the provocative messages of Ahmadinejad to destroy the rapprochement," he said. Farnoush Ram, a broadcaster at the Israeli radio station, said Peres' predecessor, Iranian-born Moshe Katsav, had also sent Nowruz messages to Iran in the past, but this was the first blessing since Ahmadinejad took office.

A disturbing picture of the Israeli army's conduct in the Gaza war emerged Friday, as new witness accounts from Israeli troops described vandalism to Palestinian homes, humiliation of civilians and loose rules of engagement that resulted in unnecessary civilian deaths. The Israeli government has insisted it did all it could to prevent civilian casualties, but on Thursday, the army ordered a criminal inquiry into its own soldiers' reports that some troops killed civilians, including children, by hastily opening fire, confident that the relaxed rules of engagement would protect them. The heavy Palestinian civilian casualties and widespread destruction during the three-week war provoked international, including anarchist, outcry against Israel, which halted its fire on Jan. 18. The anarchists welcome the inquiry.

21.03.2009: Israel breaks up "Arab capital" events in Jerusalem. Israeli police dispersed crowds of Palestinians on Saturday as they held celebrations in East Jerusalem marking the Arab League's designation of the disputed city as the "capital of Arab culture" for 2009.

22.03.2009: Israel says car bomb defused at shopping mall. Israeli police said on Sunday they had defused a car bomb left at a shopping mall by suspected Palestinian militants. A small blast, possibly caused by a botched detonation, drew the attention of police to the parking area of the mall in the northern city of Haifa on Saturday night, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. They found a "large explosive" in the car and called in bomb disposal experts, said Rosenfeld, adding: "We believe it was an attempt to carry out a terrorist attack." Israeli media reported a little-known Palestinian armed faction called Liberators of the Galilee had claimed responsibility for planting the bomb. The group was quoted as saying it wanted to avenge Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and the recent Israeli military offensive in Gaza. The anarchists as mentioned take a clear stand against terrorism!

Israel, Hamas say talks on prisoner swap not over. Both Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers said Sunday that talks aimed at freeing an Israeli soldier held nearly three years by Palestinian militants are not over, despite last week's public breakdown of Egyptian-mediated contacts. Also, the exiled leader of Hamas said it's a "matter of time" before the Obama administration establishes contact with his group, according to an interview published Sunday.
Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said the government was trying to reach a deal with Hamas."The government of Israel is committed to achieving the release of Gilad Schalit. The work is ongoing," he said. He provided no further details. The head of Hamas' government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, also indicated a deal was still possible in an article published Sunday in the Hamas newspaper Al-Ray. Haniyeh blamed Israel for the breakdown in talks, but wrote, "Our people are still trying to renew the Egyptian-sponsored negotiations in order to reach a respectable prisoner exchange." Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was quoted by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica as saying that Olmert was trying to threaten Hamas with the specter of Netanyahu, who takes a harder line toward the Palestinians. "We know that he's putting on a little show," Mashaal said of Olmert. "But it makes no difference to us. He's the one who is in a hurry to bring home a success, without paying a price for it." Israel agreed to release hundreds of Hamas prisoners but balked at releasing some of the masterminds of suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israeli civilians. Also in the interview, Mashaal said President Barack Obama was using a "new language" toward the Mideast conflict, and it was only a "matter of time" before Washington opens contacts with Hamas, as it plans to do with the main Hamas sponsor, Iran. The US, along with the EU, Israel and the anarchists, list Hamas as a terror organization. A Hamas spokesman praised Saturday's failed attempt to explode a huge car bomb in a mall parking lot in the Israeli port city of Haifa, an attack that police say could have killed hundreds. Speaking before his Cabinet's weekly meeting Sunday, Olmert said preliminary information showed the Haifa car bomb was dispatched by "a serious terror infrastructure that worked in sophisticated ways to carry out a terror attack with mass casualties."

23.03.2009. Israel military condemns anti-Palestinian T-shirts. IDF condemned on Monday T-shirts worn by soldiers that depict scenes of violence against Palestinians as the army faces increasing domestic criticism over its conduct during the recent Gaza war.

Ultra-Orthodox party joins Netanyahu's coalition. Incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought a nationalist religious party into what is shaping up to be a narrow, hawkish coalition, taking a major step Monday toward securing the parliament majority he needs to form the government.As Netanyahu wrapped up the deal with the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, he also launched formal talks with the centrist Labor Party in hopes of moderating his emerging government. Adding Labor could provide stability and international credibility, but many Labor lawmakers oppose joining forces with Netanyahu. Netanyahu has been trying to put together a coalition since last month's parliamentary election. His Likud Party captured 27 seats, forcing him to bring in partners to control a majority in the 120-seat parliament. He has as mentioned until April 3 to put together a government.

With Shas on board, a total of 53 of legislators have agreed to enter the government's fold. Netanyahu, who hopes to build a broad coalition, is still negotiating with four other parties. Last week, Netanyahu initialed his first coalition agreement with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu. The deal tentatively gave the foreign minister's job to party leader Avigdor Lieberman, who has drawn accusations of racism for a plan that could require Arab citizens of Israel to sign loyalty oaths or lose their citizenship. Lieberman has also said there is no hope for peace with the Palestinians. Lieberman also favors redrawing Israel's borders to exclude Arab citizens. Shas' presence would help cement the coalition's tilt the right.

The party, which represents Jews of Middle Eastern descent, opposes giving up any part of Jerusalem as part of a future peace deal and doesn't even want the matter discussed in future peace talks. But Palestinians demand sovereignty over Arab parts of Jerusalem, where around 270,000 Palestinians live, and a peace treaty would be impossible without this demand being met. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and immediately annexed it. Shas will join the government in exchange for four Cabinet ministries and added social services allowances that are important to the party's lower-income constituency. The ministries include the all-important Housing Ministry, which is involved in West Bank settlement construction, and the Interior Ministry, which decides questions of Israeli citizenship.

Shas' spiritual leader is an octogenarian rabbi, Ovadiah Yosef, known as much for his sunglasses, turban and gold-embroidered robes as his sometimes outrageous statements. Hurricane Katrina, Yosef once claimed, was divine punishment for godlessness in New Orleans and US support for Israel's 2005 pullout from the Gaza Strip. Although Netanyahu takes a tough stand against territorial concessions to the Palestinians and Syria, he has been wooing moderate parties as well to give his government more stability and make it more palatable to the international community. A narrow government could hold him hostage to unrealistic demands. That is a lesson he learned during his first tenure as prime minister a decade ago, when his coalition fell apart over concessions he made to the Palestinians under US pressure. A hawkish government could also put him at loggerheads with the US, which is eager to promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that would entail the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu says the Palestinians are not ready for independence.

Because of that position, his most sought-after potential partner has spurned his overtures. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist Kadima Party, says she will only serve in a government committed to seeking a final peace agreement with the Palestinians. Netanyahu appears to be making more headway with Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Labor Party. After initially insisting he would go into the opposition, Barak planned to ask his party on Tuesday to team up with Netanyahu. Under a coalition agreement, Barak would be expected to retain his job and several other veteran party officials would be expected to receive other Cabinet jobs. But Barak, who authorized Labor negotiators to meet with the Likud on Monday, could face a mutiny when he puts a coalition agreement to a party vote on Tuesday. A significant bloc of party rebels objects to joining a Netanyahu-led government.

Bomb kills Lebanon PLO official. A roadside bomb in Lebanon has killed a senior Palestinian official and three others, said to be bodyguards, close to Mieh Mieh refugee camp near Sidon. Kamal Medhat, a member of the Fatah faction, was the deputy representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Lebanon. The bomb blew one car off the road and badly damaged another, scattering burning debris. There was no immediate indication of who may have been behind the attack. "It is not possible to speculate on who committed this crime," Osama Hamdan, a representative in Lebanon of the Palestinian group Hamas, told al-Manar television, which is backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah movement. Mr Hamdan added that Mr Medhat had played a role in helping to ease tensions among Palestinian groups. Lebanon's crowded and poorly developed camps, housing families expelled from what became Israel in 1948, are prone to violent unrest and insecurity. Two people were killed in a gun battle in Mieh Mieh camp on Saturday.

Unconfirmed reports say the PLO's chief representative in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, had also been due to visit the camp but was not hit by the blast. "The bomb was apparently hidden in a little shed on the side of the road and was detonated as Medhat's convoy drove by," a Lebanese army spokesman said. The force of the blast tore through the Mercedes in which Mr Medhat was travelling and threw the car into a nearby field, witnesses said. The bomb was planted under a manhole cover. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killing as an act of terrorism. "President Abbas condemns the terrorist crime that targeted Maj Gen Kamal Medhat," a statement issued by his office said. "He dedicated his life to serve his people and his cause." Initial reports of the attack said four people were killed along with the PLO official.

UN criticizes Israelis over Gaza. A UN human rights investigator, Richard Falk, has questioned the legality of Israel's Gaza incursion in a new report to the UN Human Rights Council. Many international organisations have raised concerns of war crimes during Israel's recent Gaza operation. Mr Falk has been highly critical of Israel in the past and Israel has repeated accusations that he is biased. It comes as an Israeli rights group criticized Israel for hitting medics and impeding medical evacuations. The IDF says it is investigating specific claims of abuses and did its utmost to protect civilians during a conflict in which militants operated from populated civilian areas. Israeli authorities denied entry to Mr Falk, a former Princeton University international law professor, last December, when he attempted to conduct his regular investigative mission to the Palestinian territories. Israel was angered by a series of comments he had made accusing it of war crimes and comparing its actions in Gaza to Nazi Germany in WWII. Because Mr Falk was unable to enter the Palestinian territories, his latest report focuses on the legality of Israel's January operation in Gaza in general, rather than in specific cases or claims that disproportionate force was used. Mr Falk said in order to determine if the war was legal, it was necessary to assess whether Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza.

"If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Mr Falk's report says. He also points to the fact that Gaza's borders were closed, so civilians were unable to flee the fighting. Mr Falk, who will present his findings at a news conference at 17:15 GMT, is calling for an independent inquiry to examine possible war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas. Further, he suggests that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is in violation of the Geneva Conventions and must be lifted. The report is certain to anger Israel, which has long complained of bias by Mr Falk. The UN Human Rights Council was formed by the UN General Assembly, as a successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights, which was widely criticised for the inclusion of countries such as Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and China with poor records on human rights.

Mr Falk's report comes amid mounting concerns that Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza. On Monday, the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights released a report saying Israel had violated international law and ethics codes during the Gaza operation. It accused Israeli forces of "attacks on medical personnel; damage to medical facilities and indiscriminate attacks on civilians not involved in the fighting". "Israel placed numerous obstacles in the course of the operation that impeded emergency medical evacuation of the sick and wounded and also caused families to be trapped for days without food, water and medications," the report said. The International Committee of the Red Cross has also said Israel failed to honour its obligation to treat civilians wounded in the conflict. Last week Amnesty International, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and prominent investigators who had worked in Kosovo, Darfur, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, called for a UN commission of inquiry into the actions of Israel and Hamas during the conflict. They said they had been "shocked to the core" by events in Gaza. Also last week, testimonies emerged from Israel soldiers describing cases where civilians were knowingly killed and questioning the rules of engagement during the conflict. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that the findings would be examined seriously, but said "I still say we have the most moral army in the world". The anarchists welcome an independent, unbiased, inquiry to examine possible war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas. Mr Falk seems to be biased...

24.03.2009: Netanyahu, Barak draft Israel coalition pact. Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu won Labor chief Ehud Barak's agreement on Tuesday to a political partnership that could help Israel's next government avoid friction with Washington on Middle East peace. Under the coalition deal with Barak, an administration led by Netanyahu's right-wing Likud would respect all of Israel's international agreements, a Labor Party negotiator said, a formula that includes accords envisaging Palestinian statehood. "We are talking about there being a peace process," said the negotiator, Shalom Simchon, giving details of the agreement. Netanyahu, who wants to shift the focus of stalled peace talks from territorial to economic issues, has shied away from declaring support for a two-state solution, the principle at the heart of US efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The coalition agreement awaited ratification later in the day by the Labor Party's executive. Barak, who is likely to retain his post as defense minister, faces strong opposition in the forum to joining forces with the hawkish Netanyahu. A harder line on Palestinian statehood and the formation of a narrow right-wing government without center-left Labor could put Netanyahu on a collision course with US President Barack Obama, who has pledged swift pursuit of a land-for-peace deal. "Netanyahu is trying in every way possible to demonstrate that he is changing direction," Isaac Herzog, a Labor cabinet minister, said about his courtship of Barak, who backs creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

With center-left Labor in his corner, Netanyahu would have a ruling majority of 66 seats in the 120-member parliament, a margin he could still widen before an April 3 deadline to form a government following Israel's February 10 election. A statement issued by Netanyahu's office said the agreement with Labor including understandings on economic and diplomatic issues, but it gave no further details. Herzog said the coalition pact represented a commitment to the Annapolis declaration and a US-backed peace "road map" charting a path to Palestinian statehood. At a conference in Annapolis, Maryland in 2007, Israel agreed to negotiate a peace treaty to further "the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

The Likud-Labor deal, Herzog said, also included a pledge to dismantle Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank built without government approval. The current Israeli government largely ignored its commitment to Washington to evacuate dozens of unauthorized outposts. It also continued to expand Jewish settlements in violation of the US-backed road map. On Monday, Netanyahu sealed a coalition deal with the Orthodox Jewish Shas party. He had already signed up the Yisrael Beitenu party led by ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman. But while enlisting those partners, Netanyahu made clear he preferred a broad-based coalition.

A sharp turn to the right within Israel's government could raise international concern already heightened by Netanyahu's promise to appoint Lieberman foreign minister. Netanyahu could significantly widen his parliamentary majority if the centrist Kadima party, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, changes its mind about going into opposition. Netanyahu has not met her demand for a commitment to Palestinian statehood and a rotation agreement that would make her prime minister for part of the next government's term. Labor, once the dominant force in Israeli politics, won only 13 seats in last month's election to 27 for Likud, 28 for Kadima, 15 for Yisrael Beitenu and 11 for Shas. The anarchists as mentioned prefer a broad based "unity" government in Israel, not a hawkish rightist government.

Later Tuesday Israel's Labor Party voted to join the incoming government of Benjamin Netanyahu, giving a centrist tone to the coalition that has looked hard-line up to now. Party secretary Eitan Cabel announced the results of the voting after a heated debate - 680 in favor and 507 against. "I'm happy that party delegates have decided to enter the government," Ofer Eini, head of the Histadrut labor union and a senior Labor Party operative, told Israel's Army Radio. But others chanted slogans like "Disgrace" after the announcement. The anarchists welcome the result.

Israeli police say Palestinian militants have fired a rocket into Israel from Gaza after several days of quiet. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the rocket landed near the city of Ashkelon, causing no casualties. No Palestinian group took responsibility for Tuesday's attack.

March of Israeli rightwing extremists through Arab town sets of clashes with police. Jewish rightwing extremists marched Tuesday through an Israeli-Arab town to demand residents show loyalty to Israel, setting off stone-throwing protests by Arab youths that police dispersed with stun grenades and tear gas. The clashes in the northern Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm came at a time of increasing tensions between Israel's Jewish majority and its Arab minority, and residents said the march was a provocation. The leader of the Israeli demonstrators, settler activist Baruch Marzel, has been involved in violent attacks against Palestinians. The anarchists condemn the rightwing extremists' march as well as the ochlarchy.

Palestinian unity talks to resume in April. Leaders of the Fatah movement say Egypt has invited rival Palestinian factions to Cairo for a new round of reconciliation talks starting April 1. Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed says power-sharing talks designed to produce a unity government will restart between his movement and the Islamic militant group Hamas. He says smaller factions will join the next day. The last round of Egyt-mediated talks broke down earlier this month amid disagreement on the unity government and Hamas' refusal to recognized Israel's right to exist. Hamas could not be immediately reached for comment.

25.03.2009: Netanyahu: Will push for Israel-Palestinian peace. Israel's incoming prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says his government will seek a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The comments appeared to be aimed at easing concerns that the hardline Netanyahu will try to freeze past peace efforts once he takes office. Netanyahu told a conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday that peace is an "enduring goal" for all Israeli governments, including his own. He says he will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority and work to develop their economy. He says the Palestinians must understand that his government will be a "partner for peace." As mentioned late Tuesday, the centrist Labor Party joined Netanyahu's emerging coalition, saying it would help moderate what would otherwise have been a narrow, hardline government. Facing the prospect of a clash with the Obama administration, Netanyahu has been trying to soften his hard-line image in recent days. Netanyahu says he will present his new government to parliament for approval next week. The parliamentary vote is expected to pass, clearing the way for Netanyahu to take office. He did not give an exact date for the vote. The Anarchist International and ICOT mark that the new Netanyahu government will push for Israel-Palestinian peace and hold all agreements with the Palestinians.

26.03.2009: Israel challenges Palestinian propaganda figures on Gaza dead. The IDF on Thursday disputed Palestinian claims that most of the people killed in the recent Gaza Strip war were civilians, claiming the "vast majority" of the dead were Hamas militants. Israel says the three-week offensive was aimed solely at Hamas militants, while Palestinians say hundreds of people were killed by an overwhelming show of force that showed little regard for civilians. Maj. Avital Leibovich, an army spokeswoman, said Thursday that the military had completed an investigation and determined that a total of 1,166 Palestinians were killed in the operation. It found that 709 were Hamas militants, while 295 were civilians, including 89 minors and 49 women. It was unclear whether another 162 men who died were militants or civilians. The figures clashed with numbers released last week by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which said 1,417 people were killed, including more than 900 civilians. Its toll included the names and ages of all of the dead.

The Israeli military said it also had a list of names, but the army did not provide it to reporters. The Palestinian center Thursday called the Israeli report "a deliberately manipulative attempt to distort the reality of the offensive and to disguise Israel's illegal actions." It said, for instance, that Israel wrongly classified 255 "noncombatant" police officers killed at the outset of the war as militants. The heavy civilian death toll caused an international outcry, a.o. from the Anarchist International and ICOT, and fueled calls from human rights groups, and AI and ICOT, for a war crimes investigation against Israel, but also Hamas. An Israeli military school's publication last week of soldiers' accounts of wanton destruction and slack rules of engagement that may have caused unnecessary civilian deaths, has added to the uproar. The military's report was unlikely to resolve the debate over the death toll, although Leibovich said the army's information was "checked, crisscrossed and double-checked with the different intelligence bodies in Israel." When asked to explain the discrepancy, she said "you have to ask your Palestinian sources" and acknowledged it was not a precise science."We are receiving different information from different sources, the majority of which is not based on hard evidence," she said. "I can tell you for a fact that our information is checked according to different intelligence organizations and Palestinian authorities and these are the right figures."

Israel as mentioned waged the war in Gaza in an attempt to weaken Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group, and halt persistent rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli border towns. Israel blames Hamas for the heavy civilian casualties, saying the group launches attacks from schools and residential areas and uses civilians as "human shields" to deter Israeli attacks. President Barack Obama's administration has as mentioned promised to become "vigorously engaged" in the search to end the Israeli-Arab conflict and has pledged $900 million to help rebuild homes and infrastructure destroyed in the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who harshly criticized his predecessor's' peace efforts and said the Palestinians were not ready for independence said Thursday he does not expect to face pressure from Obama due to the "deep and strong" ties between Israel and the United States. Netanyahu is as mentioned expected to present his center-right coalition to parliament next week. After signing a coalition pact with the center-left Labor Party Wednesday Netanyahu appeared to soften his previous stance, as mentioned pledging that his government would be a "partner for peace with the Palestinians."

At a White House press conference the day before, Obama described the current deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians as unsustainable. "It is critical for us to advance a two-state solution," he added. Asked by a reporter Thursday about Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu fielded the question by referring to the coalition agreement with Labor under which the new government would resume peace talks and commit itself to existing peace accords. It was not clear if that included the US-backed "road map" peace plan for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Both sides recommitted to the road map at a 2007 peace conference hosted by the United States. Egypt is still mediating talks between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner swap that would include the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, an Egyptian government official said Thursday. The Anarchist International, the Anarchist International Embassy and the ICOT declare the current deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians as unsustainable and demand that the peace negotiations must continue.

27.03.2009: Israel successfully tests anti-rocket system. Israel has successfully tested a high-tech system designed to protect civilians from rocket attacks by militant groups in Gaza and south Lebanon, the Defense Ministry said. Defense officials said Friday in the wake of the test that the Iron Dome system's development is on schedule and will likely meet its target date of 2010, when it is due to begin shooting down incoming rockets fired by Gaza militants.

28.03.2009: Israel disputes soldiers' accounts of Gaza abuses. Israel is pushing back against accusations of civilian abuse in the Gaza offensive, asserting that an overwhelming majority of its soldiers acted honorably and that the account of a killing of a woman and her two children appears to be an urban myth spread by troops who did not witness it. Officers are stepping forward, some at the urging of the top command, others on their own, offering numerous accounts of having held their fire out of concern for civilians, helping Palestinians in need and punishing improper soldier behavior.

29.03.2009: Israel: Militants have smuggled tons of weapons to Gaza. Palestinian militants have smuggled nearly 70 tons of explosives and bomb-making materials and other weapons into Gaza since Israel ended the offensive meant to choke off the arms flow, a senior Israeli defense official said Sunday. The weapons are coming in through Gaza's porous border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, despite improved Egyptian interdiction. The attacks from Gaza have dropped off considerably but have not stopped. A total of 185 rockets and mortars were fired since the Israeli offensive ended. But the threat of escalation remains, as the reports of continued smuggling suggest.

30.03.2009: Israeli president expresses optimism that Netanyahu government can achieve Middle East peace. Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed optimism Monday that his country's next government can achieve Mideast peace, even though the coalition will contain parties traditionally opposed to making concessions to the Palestinians. His comments appeared aimed a soothing both US and EU concern that the new government under Benjamin Netanyahu may abandon the concept of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel as the primary goal of a Western-backed "road map" to peace in the Middle East. Peres spoke on the eve of the swearing in of a new Israeli coalition government, including hawkish parties opposed to major concessions to the Palestinians, and after meeting with Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

Netanyahu has been a critic of past peace efforts that require Israeli concessions. But he recently pledged that his government - which includes the centrist Labor Party - will pursue peace with the Palestinians. Peres seized on that promise by expressing optimism that the new government will be fully committed to seeking a Middle East settlement. "They say, 'We shall continue the negotiations with the Palestinians,'" he told reporters. "They say, 'We shall negotiate with each one of our neighbors.' They say, 'Yes, we would like to develop the regional economic opportunities, and they say also, `We are going to see what can be done in terms of peace on regional level.' "And then they are saying also they are going to respect the previous government commitments. So I would think this is a very reasonable and promising beginning." An Israeli government statement on the visit quoted Peres as saying "the Israeli people want true peace between Israel and its neighbors, and the new government ... will be for peace." The Anarchist International, the Anarchist International Embassy and the ICOT demand that the peace negotiations must continue and soon give positive results.

31.03.2009: Israelis, Palestinians clash on Gaza border. Israeli forces attacked a group of Palestinian terrorists along the Gaza-Israel border early Tuesday, killing two gunmen and wounding three others. Troops spotted four terrorists planting explosive devices along the fence, and an Israeli soldier was wounded in an ensuing gunbattle, the IDF said. The troops called in an airstrike and struck the armed men, the military said, and later uncovered weapons that included grenades and an anti-tank missile. No Palestinian group claimed involvement in the clash. But Hamas sent a text message to reporters saying the group's fighters fired 18 mortar shells at Israeli troops in the vicinity of the clash. Palestinian militants also fired two rockets into Israel, both landing in open areas, the army said. Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, praised the army's quick response Tuesday. "Israeli soldiers are very alert," he said. "The soldiers responded quickly (and) there are two dead terrorists there."

Abbas' moderate Palestinian PM to remain in office. A Palestinian official says the prime minister appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas will remain in office despite an earlier announcement that he would step down. Salam Fayyad had resigned to pave the way for unity talks and set March 31 as his last day. But Azzam al-Ahmed of Abbas' Fatah Party says Fayyad and his government will only step down once a new Cabinet is formed. Power-sharing talks are expected to resume this week in Egypt between the Islamic militant Hamas and Abbas' Fatah. If the talks fail, officials say Fayyad will be asked to form a new government for the West Bank.

Olmert leaves office after unfulfilled promises. Ehud Olmert took office with bold promises of a broad withdrawal from the West Bank and a push for peace with the Palestinians. He goes home empty-handed, tainted by corruption scandals, remembered as the mastermind of two inconclusive wars, and with peace prospects as elusive as ever.

01.04.2009: Rival Palestinian factions resume unity talks. Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have resumed reconciliation talks aimed at producing a power-sharing government. The official MENA news agency says Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is leading the talks Wednesday in Cairo. Fatah's delegation is led by Ahmed Qurei and Nabil Shaath. The top Hamas negotiator is the militant group's deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Obama telephones Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. President Barack Obama says the US remains committed to Israel and its security. That's the message Obama delivered during a telephone call Wednesday to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's new prime minister. The White House says Obama told Netanyahu that he looks forward to working closely with him and the Israeli government on issues of mutual concern, including a peace agreement between the Arabs and Israelis. The president telephoned Netanyahu from London, where he traveled for the G-20 economic summit on Thursday. The new hard-line Israeli foreign minister delivered a scathing critique of Mideast peace efforts Wednesday, rejecting the past year of US-led negotiations and telling a room crowded with cringing diplomats that concessions to the Palestinians only invite war. Avigdor Lieberman's first speech since taking office, along with accusations by the moderate Palestinian president that the new Israeli government opposes peace, signaled tough times ahead for the Obama administration's regional diplomacy. "Whoever thinks that concessions ... will achieve something is wrong. He will bring pressures and more wars," Lieberman said. "What we have to explain to the world is that the list of priorities must change."

02.04.2009: An ax-wielding Palestinian militant went on a rampage Thursday in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, killing an Israeli 13-year-old and wounding a 7-year-old boy before fleeing the area. A murky militant group calling itself the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh claimed responsibility for the attack. The ultranationalist Lieberman has angered Palestinians and raised international concerns because of his hard-line positions on peace and an election campaign that was widely seen as racist. His comments on Wednesday signaled a difficult road ahead for President Barack Obama's Mideast policy, especially its push for a Palestinian state. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Lieberman early Thursday, according to Lieberman spokeswoman Irena Etinger. The conversation was conducted in a "good atmosphere," and the two agreed to meet as soon as possible, Etinger said. She would not say what issues were discussed. Israeli foreign minister Lieberman's "peace policy" cannot be taken seriously, the anarchists say: he will face the music from the anarchists, EU, USA, etc.

Fatah-Hamas unity talks suspended. The two biggest Palestinian factions say they have suspended reconciliation talks for three weeks. The talks in Cairo between rivals Fatah and Hamas, mediated by Egypt, were adjourned two weeks ago after they failed to agree on a unity government. Fatah and Hamas, which control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, had hoped to reach an agreement by the end of March. Policy, security and electoral arrangements remain areas of dispute. "There are new creative proposals and each movement needs to consult its leadership," senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Mr Shaath said the talks would resume between 21-26 April, without giving any further details. The largely secular Fatah runs Palestinian affairs in the West Bank while Hamas, an Islamist organisation, seized Gaza nearly two years ago. The US, EU and UN say they will not deal with Hamas unless it rejects violence and recognizes Israel.

Lieberman questioned over fraud. A day after he assumed his new job, controversial Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday endured more than seven hours of questioning by police in a long-standing probe over business dealings. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said National Fraud Investigation Unit officers queried Lieberman "under warning" on suspicion of bribery, money laundering, fraud, and breach of trust. "Under warning" means that anything he disclosed in the interview may be used as evidence if he is charged. The allegations include receiving a bribe via his daughter Michal's consulting firm. Lieberman denies the allegations and says they are motivated by politics. His daughter and lawyer also have been questioned by authorities. "This investigation is going on for 13 years. In today's investigation Lieberman cooperated and answered investigators' questions," Lieberman's spokeswoman Irena Etinger said.

03.04.2009: Israeli FM questioned again in bribery probe. For the second day in a row, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was questioned Friday by the Israeli National Fraud Investigation Unit. A police spokesman said Lieberman was questioned for five hours and faces more questioning...

UN appoints Gaza war-crimes team. The UN has appointed South African judge and former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone to lead a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip. Mr Goldstone will investigate alleged violations of international law during the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants. Martin Uhomoibhi, president of the UN Human Rights Council, said the mission would be independent and impartial. Israel calls the council biased and has previously refused to co-operate. Mr Goldstone will lead a four-member team, which also includes experts from Pakistan, Britain, and Ireland, in investigating "all violations of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the Israeli campaign in Gaza that ended on 18 January. "It's in the interest of the victims. It brings acknowledgment of what happened to them. It can assist the healing process," Mr Goldstone said. "I would hope it's in the interests of all the political actors, too."

The fact-finding mission, which will aim to provide clarity on the legality of the deaths and destruction, is due to start work in the region within weeks, the UN said. The council voted to set up the investigation into at a special meeting in January, after widespread allegations of war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza. However, the IDF says its operations in the Gaza Strip "were carried out in compliance with the rules of warfare under international law". It says it took "numerous measures to avoid causing harm to the civilian population". The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is widely accused of basing its forces within heavily populated areas, allegations it denies. The Israeli government has in the past refused to co-operate with UN human rights council investigations, including one led by archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is not clear whether Israel will co-operate with the new investigation."This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single out Israel for alleged crimes," said Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He said the council was a discredited body.

Mr Goldstone is a former UN chief prosecutor for war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He is also a former judge at the South African constitutional court. He is also on the board of governors at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Mr Goldstone said he was "shocked, as a Jew", to be invited to head the mission. "I've taken a deep interest in what happens in Israel. I'm associated with organisations that have worked in Israel. "And I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an even-handed and impartial manner." Impartial? Pakistan and human rights?... the anarchists ask.

04.04.2009: Woman fires on police station in southern Israel. A woman opened fire on a police station in southern Israel Saturday before officers shot back and killed her, in an apparent Palestinian militant attack. The shooting took place near the desert town of Beersheba, police spokesman Moshe Fintzy said. The woman fired at a paramilitary police post but did not hit anyone before she was gunned down, he said. Authorities have not yet identified the woman, but police said the shooting appeared to be a militant attack. If so it would mark the second attack of the week and pose an early test for the new, hard-line government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has promised a firm hand against Palestinian militants and lowered expectations on prospects for peace. Elsewhere in Gaza, terrorists fired at least two mortar shells toward Israel, the army and militants said. There were no reports of damage. Violence has been sporadic since Israel halted its assault on Gaza in late January that was meant to stop rocket attacks from the coastal territory at nearby Israeli communities. There are fears, however, that occasional attacks could develop into larger clashes between Israel and Palestinian militants.

05.04.2009: The anarchists again call for a new ceasefire, a durable ceasefire, "100 years and beyond", and a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT.

06.04.2009: Israel pledges to work with US for Mideast peace.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's administration pledged on Monday to work with the United States for Mideast peace, but pointedly avoided any reference to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks or President Barak Obama's goal of a Palestinian state. On Monday in Turkey, Obama said his administration would push for Palestinian state, underlining that Israel and the Palestinians agreed on that goal under the US-backed "road map" peace plan and during a 2007 conference in Annapolis, Maryland, that were supposed to revive the plan. "The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," Obama told the Turkish parliament. "That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of good will around the world. That is a goal that that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. And that is a goal that I will actively pursue as president."

At the Annapolis conference, Israel and the Palestinians jointly endorsed Palestinian statehood, but that appears to have changed with the entry of Netanyahu's new, hawkish government last week. Netanyahu's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has ridiculed the conference and said its conclusions are not binding on Israel. Netanyahu has not endorsed creation of a Palestinian state."Israel appreciates President Obama's commitment to Israel's security and to the pursuit of peace," said a brief statement released by Netanyahu's office after Obama's comments. "The government of Israel is committed to both of these goals and will formulate its policies in the near future so as to work closely with the United States," the statement said, without mentioning Annapolis or Palestinian statehood.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Obama's endorsement of a Palestinian state. "We hope that the Israeli government will understand that this is the only path to peace," he said. After meeting Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday, international peace envoy Tony Blair was uncharacteristically pessimistic. "There is a great deal of skepticism out there at the present time that we can make progress," Blair told reporters. "There's a lot of worry, hesitation and concern." Even so, Blair thought Netanyahu would come around to agreeing to a Palestinian state "if the right context can be created for peace."

Also Monday, Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups said they had evidence that Israeli troops attacked Palestinian medics and delayed the evacuation of wounded people during the January offensive in Gaza. Tel Aviv-based Physicians for Human Rights and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society said they had testimonies from 44 people in Gaza, gathered by five international medical experts, and they called for an independent investigation. It was the latest in a string of allegations by rights groups of Israeli violations during the Gaza operation meant to end Palestinian rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups from Gaza. Palestinians as mentioned say more than 1,400 people were killed during the operation, including more than 900 civilians. The Israeli military says the death toll was lower and that most of the dead were militants. No testimonies from Gaza given under Hamas' repression are sound evidence, the anarchists say. 

07.04.2009. Israeli police kill Palestinian at demolition site. Israeli police on Tuesday shot and killed a Palestinian who tried to run them over with his car as tractors nearby demolished a militant's home - sparking clashes between angry Arabs and heavily armed riot troops. It was the latest in a string of attacks by Palestinian drivers on Israeli targets in Jerusalem, feeding tensions between Jews and Arabs in the disputed city. The issue of sharing Jerusalem, with its holy sites, has stymied Israeli-Palestinian peace talks for years. In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert Wood criticized Israel's action. "Demolitions, evictions aren't helpful," he said, calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to avoid "taking steps (that are) divisive and that are going to increase tensions in the region." The anarchists agree with the USA in this case.

Israel tests system to shoot down Iranian missiles. Israel successfully tested an anti-missile system designed to protect the country against Iranian attack, the Defense Ministry said, perfecting technology developed in response to failures of similar systems during the 1991 Gulf War. The intercept of a dummy missile was the 17th test of the Arrow system, a US-Israeli joint venture. Israeli defense officials said the interceptor was an upgraded Arrow II, designed to counter Iran's Shahab ballistic missile.

Obama speech draws praise in Mideast. Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moallem praised President Barack Obama's address to the Arab and Islamic world in Turkey, and many Arabs were cheered by the American leader's promises to push for a Palestinian state. A spokesman for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, Taher Nunu, said in a statement Tuesday in Gaza that any change that would lead to justice for the Palestinian people would be welcome. However, Nunu said the real test of Obama's remarks and statements will be ending the "unfair bias in favor of the Zionist occupation." The Obama administration has said it seeks a dialogue with Syria - as well as with Syria's ally and Washington's biggest regional rival, Iran. Lebanese columnist Rajeh Khoury said Obama's visit to Turkey draws a "road map for the relationship between the West and Islam." Tareq Masarwah, a columnist in Jordan's Al-Rai newspaper, pointed to the significance of Obama's choosing Turkey - a mainly Muslim nation but with a strong secular tradition - as a nod to "moderate Islam." "Moderation is what we need to confront the extremism and the violence which has dominated Muslims the past three decades," Masarwah said. But, he said, "the sole bridge toward reconciliation is a Palestinian state." Though many Arabs were angered by the US invasion of Iraq and other American policies in the region, the biggest dispute they most often cite is the Palestinian issue, and what they see as Washington's bias toward Israel. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Obama's endorsement of a Palestinian state. "We hope that the Israeli government will understand that this is the only path to peace," he told The Associated Press. But Yehia Moussa, a lawmaker with the Hamas terrorist group, said "What's important is not that he talks nicely, but what he does on the ground." "Until now we haven't seen any positive actions on the Palestinian issue. He is repeating the same positions as Bush," Moussa said.

08.04.2209: Obama wins more praise from many Muslims. A "turning point," a "fresh breeze" - even a "light in the darkness." Arabs and Muslims have been charmed by President Barack Obama's first venture into the Islamic world. Obama's visit to Turkey this week was full of gestures calculated at showing he is a friend to Muslims, like his headliner sound bite that the U.S will never be "at war with Islam" and his mention of the Muslims in his family. Even throwaway lines like a comment that he had to wrap up a town-hall meeting with Turkish students "before the call to prayer" showed he was no stranger to Muslims' way of life. To many, the town-hall format for a meeting with students in Istanbul on Tuesday sent a significant message. The sight of a US president being questioned by Muslims was dramatically different from the perception many had of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. Bush was seen by many Arabs and Muslims as domineering and dictating US policy on the Islamic world.

"Obama is much better than Bush," Abed Taqoush, a 74-year-old flower shop owner in the Lebanese capital of Beirut said Wednesday. "Bush was a war criminal. Obama seems to be a man of peace." "I believe him," he said of Obama - a phrase echoed by many Wednesday. But Obama's charm also heightened expectations for a change in US policy in the Middle East, and many remain deeply skeptical that will happen. Nearly everyone across the region interviewed by The Associated Press said they wanted to see Washington push for the creation of a Palestinian state to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict. It was a reminder that while the "clash of civilizations" may exacerbate tensions, the heart of Arab and Muslim anger at the West is over policies, particularly the 2003 invasion of Iraq and what is seen as US favoritism toward Israel.

Many focused on Obama's promise that the US would work for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But there is also widespread concern Obama will not press the hard-line government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who so far has not expressed his support for a two-state solution. "I will believe him only when I see his troops leave Iraq and when I see him telling the Israelis that it's time for you to leave the Palestinian territories," said Tariq Hussein, 25, who was selling shoes and watching TV at his shop in Ramallah. "Other than that it's all a political maneuver." Arabs and Muslims have also been encouraged by Obama's plans for a US withdrawal from Iraq and the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, plus his calls for dialogue with top Mideast rivals Syria and Iran. Despite worries over policy, the Turkey trip did suggest that style and tone can at least open doors.

In mainly Muslim Malaysia, Sheema Abdul-Aziz said Obama seemed to be making a "sincere effort." "He understands the issues better, he has more familiarity with Islamic culture and society." said Abdul-Aziz, a 31-year-old environmental conservationist. Added Ikana Mardiastuti, who works at a research institute in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is the mother of a young boy: "For the Islamic world, these words are like a fresh breeze. I believe him." Libya's leader Moammer Gadhafi had a sort of backdoor praise. He described Obama as "light in the imperialist darkness," saying he was "not arrogant like most former American presidents." Even religious conservatives came away impressed. "The Islamic world should avail of this positive opportunity," said Sheik Nimaa Al-Abadi, a cleric at the influential Shiite seminary in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf. "The opening chapter of Obama in the Islamic world might be a real turning point."

In Saudi Arabia, a cleric who sits on a government committee for rehabilitating militants away from extremist ideology said Obama's outreach "will make it more difficult to recruit young Muslim men to carry out terrorist acts. They (militants) no longer have the argument to do so." "Obama has a charisma that is acceptable in the Muslim world and on top of it he is proving that he translates his words into deeds," said the sheik, Mohammed al-Nujaimi. In part, Obama's warm welcome reflected the almost rabid bitterness toward Bush, who on his final visit to Baghdad was pelted with shoes by an angry journalist. The journalist then became a hero across the Mideast. Bush had often emphasized outreach to Muslims and Arabs, and he was, after all, the first US president to openly endorse the idea of a Palestinian state.

But nothing dented the image of an arrogant, bellicose United States created by Guantanamo, images of prison abuse at Abu Ghraib and the bloodshed that reigned in Iraq after the US-led invasion. Bush was also seen as unquestioningly supportive of Israel. While Washington blamed Iran and militants for turmoil in Lebanon and Gaza, many in the region equally blamed Bush's stances. Still, even those calling Obama sincere are skeptical he can resolve the Mideast's many intractable problems. "It's nice to see and hear. But this region is a mess, and there are a lot of hardline adversaries still out there," said Riad Kahwaji, director of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. "The Middle East is like a long rope, with lots of knots to untie."

Meanwhile: Stone-throwing Israeli settlers and Palestinian villagers clashed near the site of an ax attack last week that killed a Jewish teenager, leaving at least eight Palestinians wounded.

09.04.2009: Sinn Fein head meets Hamas leader in Gaza. The leader of Irish Republican Army-linked Sinn Fein party met with the head of the internationally shunned Hamas government during a two-day visit to Gaza and said he plans to brief President Obama's special Mideast envoy about his contacts. Gerry Adams, a key player in Northern Ireland's peace process, met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh late Wednesday and planned more talks with officials of the Islamic militant group Thursday. Haniyeh's meeting with Adams, at an undisclosed location in Gaza City, was not announced ahead of time. TV footage from a local news outlet showed Adams sitting in an armchair next to Haniyeh. "We want to help. We support the Palestinian people," Adams said. Adams said Wednesday he met Obama's special Mideast envoy George Mitchell in Washington last month and told him of his plan to visit Gaza. He said he plans to "brief the Irish government, friends in the US, others I deal with internationally, and that would include Sen. Mitchell." Mitchell did not meet with Hamas officials during a visit to the region several months ago. Mitchell and Adams have known each other since the former US senator helped broker a Northern Ireland peace deal in the 1990s.

Sinn Fein is a political party linked to the Irish Republican Army - a group that, like Hamas, was labeled terrorist because of violent tactics used to battle Britain. But unlike Hamas, Sinn Fein engaged in negotiations that transformed it into a legitimate political player, recognized by Britain and local foes. Haniyeh welcomed Adams as "a man of rich political experience who faced circumstances in Ireland similar to what we face in Gaza." Hamas is widely shunned by the West. Some European politicians have called for dialogue with Hamas, but few Western politicians have met with Hamas officials. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the US, the European Union and the anarchists. The United States has said it will not deal with Hamas until it recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority - which Hamas has refused to do.

Adams called on all sides to the conflict to renounce violence and called for dialogue between all parties. A willingness to talk and compromise produced success in the case of Northern Ireland. Following the IRA's cease-fire in 1997, Sinn Fein joined in negotiations with other parties and the British and Irish governments, and is now the second-largest political party in Northern Ireland. Adams also visited the Israeli town of Sderot - a frequent target of Hamas rockets - before traveling to Gaza and said he found it "deeply saddening" to realize "the depth of the human tragedy" on both sides. He also said Gaza's border crossings - kept tightly closed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover - should be opened.

Meanwhile IDF's ethics chief says Israel fought fair in Gaza. Shermeister serves as the Israeli army's ethics watchdog at a time when the military is under international scrutiny for its behavior during its Gaza invasion. That puts him in the front line of a war of words that extend into the white-hot realm of "war crimes," "anti-Semitism," "atrocities" and "blood libel." But his job is made easier by the fact that most Israelis support his contention that they have nothing to be ashamed of. "I didn't see in the Gaza operation anything that can teach us or show us that something in the moral attitude of the IDF was ... changed or spoiled," Shermeister said at an officers' school in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. The three-week Gaza war has widened the gap between Israel's self-image and how it is perceived abroad. The wave of international criticism, and an imminent UN investigation, have deepened a sense here that Israel is being treated unfairly and held to impossible standards.

In Israel, debate about the Gaza offensive came late and quickly fizzled. Even as the full scope of destruction emerged, the military's conduct was not questioned in Israel. Most Israelis felt the war was a justified response to the missile campaign that has disrupted life in southern Israel and killed more than 20 people. While acknowledging that the crude, homemade Hamas missiles have nothing like the menace of an air-to-ground rocket, schoolchildren rushing to bomb shelters is something no government can tolerate on a long-term basis, they argue. The consensus has become that Hamas provoked the war by firing rockets, and then hid behind civilians when the counterattack came.

10.04.2009: Hezbollah confirms Egypt arrest. The leader of Lebanon's islamist terrorist Hezbollah movement has confirmed one of the group's members is among 49 men accused of planning attacks in Egypt. The Hezbollah member, Sami Shihab, had been trying to get military equipment into Gaza, Hassan Nasrallah said. But he denied his organization was seeking to destabilize Egypt and called the allegations "lies". Hezbollah supports Hamas. It has strongly criticized Egypt for failing to open its border with Gaza to relieve the Israeli-led blockade.

11.04.2009: Palestinians: Israel must back 2-state solution. The chief Palestinian negotiator says that Israel must declare its support for a two-state solution for peace talks to resume. Saeb Erekat says the international community must pressure Israel to abide by its previous commitments to a two-state solution, halt settlement activity and recognize past agreements signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The newly formed center-right Israeli government has so far sent mixed messages about how far it will commit to previous agreements and the two-state solution. Erekat said on Saturday that just as the international community boycotts militant group Hamas, because it doesn't recognize Israel, pressure must be put on the Jewish state to abide by its own commitments. The anarchists agree with Erekat in this case.

12.04.2009: Israeli, Palestinian leaders make first phone call. Israel's new prime minister spoke to the Palestinian president on Sunday for the first time since taking office, telling him that he seeks close cooperation to drive peace efforts forward. Talk of cooperation alone, however, is unlikely to satisfy the Palestinian leadership, which wants Israel's new government to make an unambiguous endorsement of the idea of an independent Palestinian state. While repeatedly saying he wants peace with the Palestinians, Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to support the internationally backed idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel since taking office as premier on March 31.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said there is no reason to negotiate if Netanyahu doesn't support a "two-state solution." Netanyahu's office said Sunday's conversation was initiated by Abbas, who called the Israeli leader to send him greetings for the Jewish Passover holiday. It added that Abbas said both sides must work for peace. Describing the conversation as "warm and friendly," Netanyahu's office said the Israeli leader recalled past talks and cooperation with Abbas and said he intended to maintain a similar relationship in the future. Netanyahu was also prime minister from 1996-99 and served as foreign minister from 2002-2003. Abbas' office said Sunday's call was a gesture of courtesy to the new Israeli prime minister and it lasted a few minutes. It said it was the first time the two men have spoken since Netanyahu took office.

During his campaign, Netanyahu said it was premature to talk of an independent Palestinian state. Instead, he offered the Palestinians "economic peace," a plan to build up their economy. Netanyahu's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has dismissed peace efforts by the previous US administration and says the previous Israeli government's endorsement of Palestinian statehood is not binding. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday that for peace talks to resume, Israel must declare its support for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Abbas is expected to visit Washington at the end of the month to discuss the stalled peace talks with President Barack Obama. This would be the first meeting between the two leaders since Obama's inauguration. Abbas' office said he was flying to Saudi Arabia Sunday for a brief meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, but officials would not divulge the subject of the talks. Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is to travel to the region starting Monday with stops in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and other countries.

13.04.2009: Gaza boat explodes in apparent attack, no injuries. An Palestinian fishing boat laden with hundreds of pounds of explosives blew up off the coast of Gaza Monday in what the IDF said was an attempt to attack a naval patrol in the area. Israeli tourist stabbed in Egyptian Red Sea resort. An Israeli tourist vacationing at an Egyptian Red Sea resort was stabbed in the face on Monday, authorities said. Israeli police said the attack was criminal and was not terrorism-related Last week, Israel issued a stern travel warning telling its citizens to stay out of the Sinai, citing new intelligence about plans to attack Israeli tourists.

14.04.2009: Palestinian police say they've uncovered explosives lab in West Bank mosque, arrested 8. Palestinian police say they have uncovered an explosives lab in a West Bank mosque. Police spokesman Adnan Damiri says eight suspects have been arrested since the discovery several days ago. West Bank police loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been going after the Islamic militant Hamas group for two years. Hamas as mentioned seized control of Gaza in 2007, and Abbas fears a repeat in the West Bank. Damiri said Tuesday that the lab had two bombs and was hidden under a mosque in the town of Qalqiliya. He wouldn't say which militant group ran the lab, but claimed it was part of attempts to topple Abbas' government. He provided no evidence. In Gaza, a Hamas spokesman denounced what he called political arrests in the West Bank.

15.04.2009: Israel balks at UN war crimes probe of Gaza conflict. Israel is unlikely to cooperate with a Gaza war crimes probe because it distrusts the UN agency sponsoring the investigation, an Israeli government official said Wednesday. Israel has long complained that the UN council is biased against Israel.

16.04.2009: Israel's Lieberman says new peace approach needed. Israel's foreign minister told the US Mideast envoy Thursday that wide-ranging concessions offered to Palestinians in the past resulted in wars and his country needs to find a new approach, the latest sign that the hard-line government and Washington are diverging on how to reach a settlement. "US policy favors - in respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a two-state solution which will have a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel," Mitchell told reporters at the end of his meeting with Lieberman in Jerusalem. The anarchists again reject Lieberman's policy and call for a general solution to the Israel-Palestine problem as suggested by AI, AIE and ICOT.

17.04.2009: USA for two-state solution. A Palestinian state alongside Israel is the only way to end the Mideast conflict, President Barack Obama's Mideast point man said Friday, sending a stern message to Israel's hardline leaders, who have expressed misgivings about a two-state solution. Envoy George Mitchell, in the region on his third trip since Obama took office in late January, suggested the US was eager to see quick progress after years of failed peace efforts.

18.04.2009: Clashes on the West Bank, Gaza border opening. A 16-year-old Palestinian was fatally shot by Israeli troops after throwing firebombs at the gate of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, Israeli officials said Saturday. The IDF said soldiers had fired warning shots before opening fire on a group of Palestinians hurling firebombs at the Beit El settlement. In other West Bank violence, a Palestinian man drove his Mercedes into two Israeli policemen checking motorists at a checkpoint outside Jerusalem on Saturday, Israeli police said. The driver was arrested after he told police he targeted the officers, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Rosenfeld said the attack was politically motivated, but did not elaborate. One officer was moderately hurt and the other was slightly injured, police said. The two attacks were the latest in a series of violent incidents in the West Bank. On Friday, a Palestinian man was killed after he was struck in the chest by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops dispersing a protest against Israel's West Bank separation barrier. A Palestinian man wielding a knife was also shot and killed Friday by Jewish settlers after he entered their West Bank settlement, the Israeli military said.

Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, officials announced that the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt would be open Saturday and Sunday to let medical patients leave the blockaded territory. Gazans began lining up at the border Saturday morning, and by midday the first passengers started crossing.

19.04.2009: Report: Hamas killed, maimed dozens of opponents. Hamas directed gunmen to eliminate political opponents and suspected collaborators under the cover of Israel's military offensive in Gaza, killing 32 people and wounding dozens in such attacks since December, an international human rights group said Monday. The New York-based Human Rights Watch urged Gaza's Hamas rulers to halt what it described as a pattern of arbitrary arrests, torture and summary executions by the Islamic militant group. Human Rights Watch portrayed the attacks as the worst outbreak of internal violence since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in June 2007 and expelled rivals in the more moderate Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who now controls only the West Bank. Such practices are aimed, in part, at quashing dissent in Gaza and make a mockery of Hamas' claim it upholds the law, the group said.

During the war, "Hamas authorities ... took extraordinary steps to control, intimidate, punish and at times eliminate their internal political rivals as well as persons suspected of collaborating with Israel," the report said. Eighteen Palestinians were killed by Hamas-linked gunmen during the three-week war, which ended Jan. 18, and 14 others were killed afterward, the report said. In addition, 49 Gazans were shot in the legs by masked gunmen between Dec. 28 and Jan. 31, and 73 had their arms or legs broken, the report said, citing a rights group linked to Abbas. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum dismissed the Human Rights Watch report as unbalanced. He said Hamas was willing to investigate any complaints, and denied the group is going after political opponents.

He said suspected collaborators with Israel who fled Gaza's central prison after it was destroyed in Israeli bombing raids in December were killed by relatives of people they had harmed, not by security forces. Other international and Palestinian human rights organizations have provided similar accounts of shootings and beatings. Fatah has also said 14 of its members in Gaza were killed by Hamas during the Israeli offensive and that more than 160 were shot in the arms or legs or beaten. Human Rights Watch said repressive measures are also on the rise in the Abbas-controlled West Bank.

Abbas' security forces have been cracking down on Hamas in the West Bank since the militants seized Gaza. Hamas detainees in West Bank prisons have complained of mistreatment, including beatings and being tied up in painful positions. In January and February, one detainee died in custody, and 31 complained of mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said. The report about the Gaza abuses is based on interviews with witnesses and victims, as well as reports by Palestinian human rights groups, Human Rights Watch said. It reviewed killings and shootings since Dec. 27, when Israel launched its Gaza offensive, meant to weaken Hamas and halt rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel.

Many of the assailants were members of Hamas' security forces, while others were masked men with suspected ties to Hamas or other militant groups, said Fred Abrahams, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. "Hamas is the undisputed political and security leader of Gaza, so even if there were gunmen from other groups (involved in attacks), they are operating with the approval of Hamas," he said. Hamas has begun investigations into four deaths, dismissing and detaining members of the security forces involved in two killings, said Bill Van Esveld, another Human Rights Watch researcher. "What we have not seen is accountability for (the killing of) collaborators and Fatah guys getting shot in the legs," he said. In a recent case under investigation, gunmen wearing headbands of Hamas' military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, reportedly opened fire Thursday on three cousins loyal to Abbas' Fatah movement in the Gaza town of Jebaliya. The three men were each hit by several bullets in the legs and remain hospitalized, the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said.

Excerpts from Iranian president's speech at UN. Excerpts from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN racism conference: "Following World War II, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine." "It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defend those racist perpetrators of genocide, while the awakened, conscious and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutalities and bombardments of civilians of Gaza."

"Ladies and gentlemen: What are the root causes of US attacks against Iraq, or invasion of Afghanistan? Was the motive behind the invasion of Iraq anything other than the arrogance of the then-US administration and the mounting pressures ... to expand their sphere of influence, seeking the interest of giant arms manufacturing companies, affecting another culture with thousands of years of historical background, eliminating potential and practical threats of Muslim countries against the Zionist regime? Or, to control and plunder energy resources of the Iraqi people. Why indeed were almost a million people killed and injured, and a few more millions were displaced and became homeless? Why indeed have the Iraqi people suffered enormous losses amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars? ... Wasn't the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then-US administration, in complicity with the arms manufacturing companies, and the owner of the world?"

"The United States and its allies not only have failed to contain the production of drugs in Afghanistan, but also the illicit cultivation of narcotics multiplied in the course of their presence. The basic question is what was the responsibility of the then-US administration and its allies? Did they represent countries of the world? Have they been mandated by them? Have they been authorized on behalf of the people of the world to interfere in all parts of the globe, and of course mostly in our region? Aren't these measures a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination, or infringement on the dignity and independence of nations?"

Ladies and gentlemen: Who is responsible for the current global economic crisis? Where did the crisis start from? From Africa? From Asia? Or was it first from the United States?"

"Dear friends, today, the human community is facing a kind of racism that has tarnished the image of humanity. In the beginning of the third millennium, the world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion, and abuses religious sentiment to hide their hatred and ugly faces. However, it is of great importance to bring into focus the political goals of some of the world's powers and those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world, and mobilize all their resources, economic and political influence, and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime, and maliciously to diminish to indignity and disgrace this regime."

20.04.2009: The anarchists condemn Hamas for killing 32 Palestinians and hurting several more on Gaza, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for calling Israel racist.

21.04.2009: Obama invites Mideast leaders for separate talks, but not Hamas.

22.04.2009: Human rights activists demanded an independent war crimes probe after IDF on Wednesday cleared itself of wrongdoing over civilian deaths in the Gaza war. Army commanders acknowledged "rare mishaps" during the three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers, including an airstrike that killed a family of 21. However, they said Israel did not violate international humanitarian law and that Hamas is to blame for civilian deaths, because it used Gazans as human shields. At least 1,100 people in Gaza were killed, according to counts by both sides. The IDF insisted that a majority of the war dead were militants, while the Palestinians said most were civilians. Israel launched the offensive Dec. 27 as mentioned to halt years of rocket fire on Israeli border towns. It unleashed unprecedented force in the small seaside strip, including more than 2,000 bombing raids and barrages of artillery and mortar shells, against Palestinian terrorists, who operated inside residential areas. Human rights groups say there is grave suspicion that both Israel and Hamas carelessly put civilians in harm's way - Hamas by using them as cover and Israel by using disproportionate force in densely populated Gaza. Since the war ended Jan. 18, calls have been mounting for a war crimes probe of both sides. A UN agency has appointed a widely respected former war crimes prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, to lead an investigation. However the proposed investigation team also includes a representative from Pakistan, that has a bad record regarding human rights, so team is probably biased. Israeli officials say it's very unlikely Israel will cooperate, alleging the UN agency is biased. Hamas, Gaza's sole ruler, said it would work with the investigator. If Israel has nothing to hide, it should cooperate with Goldstone, a coalition of Israeli human rights groups and the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. They also questioned the military's ability to investigate itself.

The military's findings "seem to be a cover-up for serious violations of international law," Human Rights Watch said, calling the findings an "insult to civilians" killed in the war. "It does not pass the smell-test," the group charged. However the so called "evidence" of Human Rights Watch regarding Israel is very likely manipulated by Hamas. No one speaking against Hamas in Gaza is safe from intimidation and Hamas has also killed several of its opponents, Palestinians, in Gaza. The IDF assigned five colonels to lead separate investigations into its most controversial actions, including attacks on and near UN and international facilities, shooting at medical workers and facilities, as well as the use of white phosphorous shells, a chemical agent that can cause horrific burns. The IDF said Israeli forces operated in line with international law throughout the fighting. It said the killing of civilians was unintentional - either a result of combat in crowded areas, with Hamas using civilians as human shields, or in rare cases because of human error. In one such case, an airstrike killed 21 members of the Daya family in Gaza City on Jan. 5, including 12 children, according to a Palestinian list of the war dead. The IDF said the target was a weapons factory next door. The IDF said what it described as unfortunate incidents, such as the shelling of the UN headquarters in Gaza City, were a result of urban combat, "particularly of the type that Hamas forced on the (Israeli) military, by choosing to fight from within the civilian population." It said UN facilities were not struck intentionally. The IDF alleged Hamas militants often took cover in ambulances or hospitals. Investigators noted that Gaza's prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, spent the war at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. Haniyeh did not appear in public during the war, and remained in hiding for weeks after the fighting ended, apparently fearing assassination.

Israel has promised legal and financial support for officers facing trial. In Norway, a group of  lawyers, with a marxist leftist bias, filed a war crimes complaint against 10 Israelis on Wednesday, including the former prime minister . In a statement, the lawyers claim that Olmert, Livni, Barak and seven Israel military officers shared responsibility for "massive terror attacks primarily directed at Gaza's population." Since the Gaza war, the political deadlock in the region has only hardened, as Hamas has tightened its grip on Gaza, and a hawkish government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected in Israel. The UN's Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, said Wednesday that the international community wants a Palestinian state established alongside Israel. "The problem is that the parties seem to be less ready and in a position to do what it takes to make peace," he said during a tour of Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Also Wednesday, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the powerful official handling indirect Israel-Hamas contacts over a ceasefire and prisoner exchange, met with leaders of Israel's new government for the first time. Relations between the two nations have been tense since Netanyahu took office March 31 because of his hard-line views toward the Palestinians. But Netanyahu's office said Suleiman invited the Israeli leader to visit Egypt.

23.04.2009: Obama: World's people must resist hatred, racism. President Barack Obama stood Thursday with Jewish leaders at a solemn Holocaust remembrance in a cavernous Capitol hall, proclaiming: "Never again." Obama warned against what he called the dangers of silence, saying that every day, somewhere in the world people must resist the urge to turn away from scenes of horror, hate, injustice and intolerance. Without naming names, he noted that some still deny the Holocaust. At the same time, Obama said that apathy in the face of such a mind-set must be fought at all times. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently caused a stir at a UN conference by accusing Israel of being a racist nation. Earlier in the ceremony, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel noted his disgust with Ahmadinejad's comments and thanked the Obama administration for boycotting the conference. The annual Holocaust Day of Remembrance event is organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

24.04.2009: Jordan's king says US leadership essential to Mideast peace, asks for quick movement. The United States will be the key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and both sides are already testing President Barack Obama's resolve, Jordan's King Abdullah II said Friday. Abdullah, who talked Mideast peace with Obama at the White House earlier in the week, said the United States should have a peace plan "for 2009 and beyond," in which negotiations produce clear and quick results. "Now is the time for the United States to lead," Abdullah said. He warned that time is running out to establish a viable independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. That is the goal all sides have embraced and the outline of a deal is clear, but it will take determination and a push from Washington to make it happen, Abdullah said. "The status quo is simply untenable," Abdullah said in an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The anarchists also mean the status quo is untenable.

25.04.2009: 5 Palestinians hospitalized after West Bank clash with masked Jewish settlers, Israeli army. Jewish settlers, Israeli troops and Palestinian villagers clashed with guns, rocks and tear gas, leaving five Palestinians hospitalized Saturday, hospital officials said. Israeli media said five settlers were lightly hurt, but gave no details. The confrontation erupted Friday evening near the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, one of the more militant in the West Bank, raising the prospect of further friction in the area. The incident began after Yitzhar residents saw several Palestinians walking toward the settlement and suspected they were trying to attack the settlement, the military said. Last year, an Israeli boy was stabbed and wounded in such an attack. Later, about two dozen settlers, some masked and armed, walked from Yitzhar toward the Palestinian village of Orif, firing bullets and throwing rocks, villagers said. Orif's mayor, Fawzi Shehadeh, said Palestinians threw rocks at the settlers. Shehadeh said Israeli army forces entered the village to try separate Palestinians from the Jewish settlers. He said Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel pellets. In all, five Palestinians remained hospitalized Saturday - three with gunshot wounds and two who were hit by rubber bullets, said Palestinian health official Khaled Saleh.

26.04.2009: Israel detains suspect in West Bank pickax attack. Israeli forces have detained a Palestinian man suspected of killing an Israeli child and wounded another during a rampage in a West Bank settlement early this month, authorities said Sunday. Authorities said the suspect, from a village next to the settlement, confessed to the killing and handed over a knife used in the attack. The assailant attacked a group of children in the Bat Ayin settlement with the knife and a pickax on April 2. A 13-year-old boy was killed, a 7-year-old was seriously wounded and a third boy escaped. The attacker fled the scene, leaving behind the small, red pickax. At the time of the attack, a murky Palestinian group claimed responsibility. But authorities discounted the claim and said Sunday that the suspect, Moussa Tayet, had no links to any organized militant groups.

Israeli military and police officials said, however, that Tayet, 26, meticulously planned the attack for weeks, picking up the weapons from a hiding place as he entered the settlement. They said he told investigators that the attack was religiously motivated. The attacker entered Bat Ayin, located between Jerusalem and the southern West Bank city of Hebron, unhindered. The religious settlers have refused to build a security fence around their community - standard practice in most settlements - saying it would be a sign of weakness. The Israeli army said Tayet was caught on April 14, but the arrest was only announced on Sunday because he was being interrogated.

The attack occurred a day after Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, took office. The leader of the hawkish Likud party has promised a firm hand against militants and lowered expectations on the prospects for peace. On Sunday, Netanyahu's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said there is no reason to begin negotiations on a final peace accord with the Palestinians, saying they "shouldn't be freed from their obligations" to rein in militants. Under the internationally backed "road map" peace plan of June 2002, Israel and the Palestinians were to embark on a three-phase process toward a final deal.

But the talks broke down because neither side met their obligations under the first stage: Israel did not halt settlement construction and the Palestinians did not clamp down on militants. When the talks resumed in 2007, in Annapolis, Maryland, the road map was the basis for negotiations, but the phased approach was jettisoned and the two sides went directly to negotiations on a final accord. Lieberman has rejected the Annapolis process. "I don't think it's right to immediately agree to negotiations on a final accord," Lieberman told Army Radio. "The political process must begin at the beginning, not the end." Netanyahu has resisted pressure to declare support for the creation of a Palestinian state, and Lieberman has said Israeli concessions have only brought more violence. The anarchists again demand a two independent countries' solution, Israel and Palestine, and preferably anarchies, not states.

27.04.2009: Abbas: Palestinians won't be pressured into peace talks if Israel keeps building settlements. Palestinians won't be pressured into resuming peace talks with Israel as long as construction in Jewish settlements continues, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday. Abbas said a complete construction freeze is a prerequisite for resuming talks. Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, supports settlement construction and has not committed to the idea of Palestinian statehood. In his speech Monday, Abbas said he would not give in to possible Israeli or international pressure on the Palestinians to resume negotiations even if settlement construction continues.

"For sure, we won't submit to pressures. For example, if they say `come and then we'll see, come.' No, we won't accept. Regarding the peace talks, this is our position, even if someone, if anyone in the world, says `you're wrong,'" he said. Abbas also rejected previous Israeli demands that Palestinians not only recognize the state of Israel - as Abbas and others have - but recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He said it's not his job to define the state of Israel. "Name yourself, it's not my business," he said. "All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don't accept."

In 1967, Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem - territories the Palestinians seek for their state. In previous talks, Israel has said it would like to keep some West Bank land. Abbas' comments drew an angry response from Israel. "This is more evidence that the Palestinians are not interested in true peace with Israel," said Ofer Akunis, a lawmaker in Netanyahu's Likud Party. Also Monday, Israeli activists said that a housing complex for Jews is under construction in the Palestinian neighborhood of Zawahra in east Jerusalem. The complex will eventually have at least 62 apartments in three buildings, each up to eight stories tall, said Daniel Seidemann, head of Ir Amim, a group campaigning for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence in the city.

Jerusalem municipal officials declined comment. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as their future capital, and the fate of the city is a key issue in any peace deal. Palestinians make up about one-third of Jerusalem's population of more than 750,000. Israel has systematically settled Israelis in east Jerusalem since the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians complain that Israeli housing policies are generally discriminatory, making it difficult for them to obtain building permits. Netanyahu says he opposes any division of the city. The anarchists are against an ethnic clean Arab Palestine.

Palestinian officials established formal ties on Monday with Venezuela and opened a diplomatic mission in the South American country. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki thanked President Hugo Chavez's national socialist right fascist government for its support during the recent Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, which prompted the Venezuelan leader to break off relations with Israel. Venezuelan-Palestinian relations have warmed as tensions have grown between Chavez's government and Israel. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the Palestinian cause is "like our own," while al-Malki praised Chavez as "the most popular leader in the Arab world," in part for his staunch support of Palestinians. The two officials signed a document formally establishing diplomatic relations, and a Palestinian Embassy in Caracas was inaugurated on Monday afternoon.

28.04.2009: Sick Gazans victims of Hamas-Fatah power struggle. Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in the Gaza Strip, unable to travel abroad for crucial treatment for cancer and other diseases, because of political infighting between Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and their Palestinian rivals. On March 22, Hamas officials took control of the Fatah-run medical committee, which referred about 1,000 patients a month with life-threatening illnesses to Israel and Egypt. Hamas officials said the committee was rife with corruption and needed reform. In response, the West Bank government, which funds medical treatment for Palestinians abroad, froze most patient transfers. Gaza patients cannot travel abroad without committee coordination because of a border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover. The two countries only recognize the West Bank administration as the legitimate Palestinian government. Rights activists say the political differences are jeopardizing people's lives. "They are playing with the lives of people and their pain. There's a complete absence of responsibility," said Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights, working with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, has managed to get 35 patients out of Gaza for treatment since the committee collapsed, said Ran Yarom of PHR. But the groups say they don't have the resources to do the committee's job.

Israel marks Memorial Day as peace remains elusive. Israelis put aside their many divisions Tuesday to remember more than 22,000 fallen soldiers and terror victims, mournfully aware that the strife that led to those deaths is far from over.

Barak: Netanyahu will bend on Palestinian state. Israel's defense minister said in an interview published Tuesday that he expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to the principle of Palestinian statehood - something the Israeli leader has balked at doing since taking office a month ago. Netanyahu is coming under increasing pressure from Washington to resume peacemaking with the Palestinians, a process designed ultimately to create a Palestinian state that would live alongside Israel peacefully within fixed borders. He has stepped back from his original plan to hold off on political negotiations while working with the Palestinians to improve their economy. But Netanyahu, who plans to visit the White House next month, has stopped short of endorsing a separate Palestinian state.

In an interview with the Haaretz daily, Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested that Netanyahu could relent. "I believe that during Netanyahu's visit to Washington, Israel must formulate how it intends to move forward, and that formula will not propose three states for eight peoples," Barak said. The prime minister's office would not comment. But an aide to the prime minister said a policy review was under way and should be completed around the time Netanyahu goes to Washington. The same official said there was "excellent coordination" between Netanyahu and his defense minister. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to publicly discuss emerging policy.

The Palestinians hope to set up a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war. Israel has annexed east Jerusalem, and some 230,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005. But the coastal territory is now controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, complicating potential peace efforts. Israel considers Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist, a terrorist group. In a reflection of the sensitivity of the situation, a Palestinian military court convicted a man of treason and sentenced him to death for selling West Bank land to an Israeli company.

Abbas routinely witholds the required approval of such sentences, however. Barak's centrist Labor Party, which supports Palestinian statehood, is the lone moderate voice in Netanyahu's government. But during his two years as defense minister in the preceding government of Ehud Olmert, Barak rebuffed Palestinian demands to halt settlement expansion or remove a significant number of Israeli roadblocks that encumber Palestinian movement in the West Bank. In a separate interview published Tuesday, Netanyahu's other top policy-making partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, denied that Jewish settlements in the West Bank were an obstacle to peacemaking, as Palestinians and the international community claim.

Lieberman also said Israel can't negotiate peace with the Palestinians until they dismantle militant groups and set up a proper justice system. The Palestinians committed to do so under the US-backed "road map" peace plan of June 2002 - which obliged Israel to halt all settlement construction. "To jump straight to the last paragraph and to concede on all of the Palestinian commitments to fight terror - it's a very strange approach," Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post daily. The official in the prime minister's office also said there was "excellent coordination" between Netanyahu and Lieberman. The anarchists again demand a two independent countries' solution, Israel and Palestine, and preferably anarchies, not states.

29.04.2009: Muslims are cool to pope's Holy Land pilgrimage. Nazareth - Israel - A banner across the main square in Jesus' boyhood town condemns those who insult Islam's Prophet Muhammad - a message by Muslim hard-liners for Pope Benedict XVI during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land next month. The pontiff may have to tread carefully with his visit to Nazareth. Many Muslims are still angry over a 2006 speech in which Benedict quoted a medieval text depicting the prophet as violent.

30.04.2009: Israel warns European Union to tone down its criticism of the new Israeli government. Israel warned the European Union on Thursday to tone down its criticism of the new Israeli government or risk forfeiting the bloc's role as broker in Mideast peace efforts. The warning came after EU's commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, this week criticized Israel's refusal to endorse a Palestinian state. She said an upgrade in Israeli-EU relations would depend on Israel's commitment to the "two-state solution." The Haaretz daily reported Thursday that Foreign Ministry official Rafi Barak has been calling European ambassadors in the country to tell them that public criticism of Israel could undermine Europe's influence here. The EU is one of four members of the so-called Quartet - the international body charged with promoting an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The other members are the US, Russia and the United Nations.

01.05.2009: UN seeks end to razing of homes in East Jerusalem. The United Nations is calling on Israel to freeze all pending demolition orders against Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in a new report that reflects growing international concern over developments in the contested city. The report also urges Israel to provide solutions to the housing crisis there. Scores of Palestinian-owned structures are demolished every year by the Israeli authorities on the grounds that they were built without the required permits. But many Palestinians say Israel limits construction to push them out of East Jerusalem, which they claim as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The report states that only 13 percent of East Jerusalem land is currently zoned by the Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction, and much of that is already built up, severely restricting the possibility of obtaining a permit. More than a third of East Jerusalem, meanwhile, has been expropriated for Israeli construction since 1967, according to the report, while 22 percent is zoned for green areas and public infrastructure and 30 percent remains "unplanned."

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war and then annexed it, after expanding the boundaries of the city into the West Bank. Israel claims sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, but the annexation has never been recognized by the United Nations or its member states. The report, by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, was to be published Friday. An advance copy was made available to The New York Times. Although the report was critical of Israeli policies, its tone was explanatory and it avoided defining political motivations on either side. During a recent tour of East Jerusalem, Robert H. Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, called for an immediate end to the demolitions, which he described as "not helpful," fueling tensions at a time when "the international community is trying to relaunch a results-oriented peace process."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also spoke out against threatened demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem during her visit to the region in March. Such activities, she said, are "not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the ‘road map,' " the United States-backed peace plan of 2003. A spokesman for Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, said Thursday that City Hall could not comment on the United Nations report without seeing it, but that Mr. Barkat was "committed to addressing the issue of affordable housing throughout the entirety of Jerusalem." In the coming weeks, the spokesman, Stephan Miller, said, Mr. Barkat will present his master plan for the city of Jerusalem "which will, of course, include plans to provide more affordable housing in eastern Jerusalem." Mr. Miller added that the mayor "will continue to uphold the rule of law and, as such, there will continue to be building demolitions if there is illegal construction." The United Nations report, in exploring the reasons for the demolitions, noted that the process of applying for a building permit in East Jerusalem was lengthy and costly and that there was no guarantee that one would be issued in the end. Even for building on land zoned for Palestinian construction, applicants must submit a detailed area plan.

Coming up with a detailed area plan — including allocating land for public use, like roads — is particularly difficult because of the unresolved land ownership disputes among Palestinian neighbors. The Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, which stood at about 66,000 in 1967, is now about 250,000. In addition, more than 195,000 Israelis live in Jewish developments — referred to as "neighborhoods" by the Israelis and as "settlements" by the United Nations — in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian population growth, coupled with the difficulty in obtaining building permits, has led to a situation in which at least 28 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been built in violation of Israeli zoning requirements, according to the United Nations report. At least 60,000 Palestinians are at risk of having their homes demolished as a result. One case highlighted in the report was that of Mahmoud Alayyan and his family, who live between the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Baher and the Israeli development of East Talpiot. The house was built in 1963. An extension was added, without a permit, in 1999. Mr. Alayyan said he was told by the Israeli municipal authorities in 2000 that he could not get retroactive approval for the extension because his home was in a designated green area.

This year, he was told that the entire house was slated for demolition to make way for the expansion of East Talpiot. His case is pending in court.
Another case that received attention during Mr. Serry's tour of East Jerusalem on April 22 was that of the Hdaidun family, whose home was demolished that day. By the United Nations' count, it was the 19th such demolition this year. (In 2008 there were some 93; demolitions reached an annual peak of 133 in 2004.) When Mr. Serry's party arrived at the site, Amar Salameh al-Hdaidun, 39; his wife, Samia; and their five young children, some in school uniforms, were gathered by the heap of rubble that was their home. Mr. Hdaidun said he and several neighbors had been going through a planning process for five years to try to change the zoning of their land from a designated green area to a residential area. He said they had spent some $45,000 on the plans, which were to be submitted by this July. A court order postponing demolition of the house expired in January, however, and Mr. Hdaidun did not apply for an extension. Mr. Serry, a Dutch diplomat, was visibly moved and expressed his sympathy to the family, whose furniture and other belongings were piled up nearby."I know how much Jerusalem is dear to many Israelis," Mr. Serry said. "But it is also dear to Palestinians."

02.05.2009: Israeli airstrike against Gaza tunnels kills 2. An Israeli airstrike against smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border killed two people Saturday, a Palestinian medical official said. Two bodies were pulled from the collapsed tunnels after the Israeli attack, said Dr. Moaiya Hassanain. The identity of the two men is unclear. The airstrikes came hours after Gaza militants fired two mortar shells at southern Israel, causing no damage. Israel-Gaza border violence dropped sharply after Israel conducted a three-week war on Gaza's Hamas rulers more than three months ago. However, the offensive only partially met the objectives of halting rocket fire and weapons smuggling. The Gaza-Egypt border tunnels are used to bring weapons as well as commercial goods into the blockaded territory. Israel routinely targets them to prevent smuggling.

03.05.2009: Israeli-run zones shield West Bank criminals. The international community considers the Palestinians' ability to handle internal security a prerequisite for independence. European countries gave $5.3 million last year to bolster Palestinian security forces, and the United States has given more than $160 million for that purpose since 2007. The European and US emphasis is on bolstering the strength of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against the militant Islamic movement Hamas and similar groups. Israel is constantly demanding Abbas' Palestinian Authority crack down on militants.
But Palestinian police also must fight common crime, and they say the jigsaw puzzle of security zones that cover the West Bank, dividing it between Israeli- and Palestinian-controlled areas, hampers their work. Israel occupied the territory in the 1967 Mideast war and maintains overall control, although international agreements have given the Palestinian Authority limited autonomy in some areas.

Palestinian police can only enter Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank with permission, which they say is often difficult or impossible to obtain, making these virtual black holes ideal hideouts for criminals. This can have dangerous - and sometimes deadly - consequences. Officers can't wear uniforms, carry guns or chase criminals on main roads that enter Israeli-controlled zones, making it easy for car thieves and drug dealers to escape, police said. Outlaws are also known to seek refuge in villages close to Israeli military installations or Jewish settlements, knowing Palestinians police won't be allowed in to arrest them."Lawbreakers know they can flee to places where there are settlers and we will not be allowed to go after them," said police spokesman Adnan Damiri.Last year, a gunbattle that grew out of a family feud next to an Israeli army base near Hebron lasted three days because police couldn't enter the area, said Hebron Police Chief Ramadan Awad. Seven people were killed in the fighting.

In the last two years, Palestinian police have deployed in towns like Jenin, Nablus and Hebron, reducing crime in areas they patrol, Palestinian and Western officials said. But this has pushed crime into areas where police are forbidden to enter, the officials said. Borders between the two are often unmarked, meaning that civilians - and criminals - can pass freely, while police cannot. No place better illustrates this than Hebron, where a heavily guarded, Israeli-controlled island, home to some 400 Jewish settlers, sits at the center of the West Bank's largest city, with a population of about 170,000.
Israeli army checkpoints block entry to the Jewish settlements, but 40,000 Palestinians live in the surrounding Israeli-controlled zone and can move freely in and out of it. Most of the border around the Israeli zone is unmarked, but police know where it is and don't cross it. Awad said he gets calls daily about rampant petty crime that he can do nothing about in the Palestinian part of the Israeli-controlled area.

More dangerous, however, are two armed gangs that operate inside the Israeli zone, he said. The larger one rustles livestock, deals drugs and steals cars, charging ransoms as high as $3,500 to return them, said Hassan Jabarin, Hebron's chief investigator. The police have reports of 22 such thefts last year, but Jabarin suspects many more were not reported. The gang's leader is wanted on four counts of armed robbery and four of attempted murder, one against a police officer, Jabarin said. He has also personally threatened the lives of Jabarin and Awad by phone, Jabarin said. He said police have been requesting permission for more than a year to enter the area where the gangs operate, which abuts a large Jewish settlement - to no avail. Police say the difficulty they have obtaining permission shows a lack of interest by Israel in catching criminals who prey on Palestinians. "Those who shoot at the settlers, they pick them up in half a minute," Jabarin said. "If they shoot at Palestinians, they never even ask about them or pursue them."

Israeli police declined to respond to several requests for information on specific cases. But spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said coordination with Palestinian police is strong and that authorities go after all criminals, regardless of ethnicity. "The law is the law," he said. Israeli security expert Shlomo Brom said Israel restricts Palestinian police in certain areas for fear of friction with Jewish settlers or Israeli soldiers, an apprehension that arose during the second Palestinian uprising."The same people who were on one hand in the Palestinian police, on the other hand were members of armed groups who were fighting Israel," he said. Residents of the Israeli-controlled zone of Hebron said they feel helpless since police can't come to their aid. One shopkeeper, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisal, said crime is common but few people even bother calling police. When asked if he was worried about his shop, he pulled a knife and an ax from under the counter."You feel alone," he said. "You just live here and take care of your family in any way you can."

04.05.2009: Israel dispatches envoys to soften hawkish image. Israel dispatched top officials to the US and Europe on Monday in a diplomatic offensive aimed at softening the hawkish image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government. The country's contentious foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told his Italian hosts that Netanyahu's government is committed to peace, while President Shimon Peres delivered the same message to Jewish leaders gathered in Washington. The two also emphasized Iran in an apparent attempt to downgrade the Palestinian issue. Both stressed that Iran is the main regional threat, dismissing Tehran's contention that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at making weapons. Netanyahu was expected to follow that lead in an address later Monday. Lieberman's goal is to show that he is not the anti-Arab racist often described in Arab and European media, a result of his harsh statements in the past.

05.05.2009: Netanyahu moots 'fresh' approach. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said he is willing to resume peace talks with the Palestinians without any delay or preconditions. Speaking to supporters in the US, he said political talks should be part of a "fresh" triple-track approach also covering economic and security issues. Netanyahu was addressing the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) by a satellite link-up."The political track means that we're prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay and without any preconditions, the sooner the better," Mr Netanyahu told Aipac delegates. "The security track means that we want to... strengthen the security apparatus of the Palestinians. This is something we believe in and something that I think we can advance in a joint effort. "The economic track means that we are prepared to work together to remove as many obstacles as we can to the advancement of the Palestinian economy." Until now, correspondents say Mr Netanyahu has remained tight-lipped about his plan for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Mr Netanyahu must accept a two-state solution and stop Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank if Israel wanted peace.

Iran and Syria back Palestinian terrorists. The leaders of Iran and Syria reaffirmed their support for "Palestinian resistance" on Tuesday, a defiant message to the US and its Mideast allies who are uneasy over Washington's efforts to forge closer ties with the hard-line government in Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was expected to meet with the chiefs of Hamas and other Damascus-based Palestinian radical groups during his visit to Syria, said Khaled Abdul-Majid of the Popular Struggle Front said. Iran is a strong supporter of militant Islamic groups in the region, including Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Syria comes as the US is trying to improve strained ties with the two longtime adversaries. But it could turn out to be another reminder of what a divisive role he plays on the world stage. In the past, Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and questioned the Holocaust. Sitting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad at a news conference, Ahmadinejad said his alliance with Iran's closest Arab friend was achieving "victories" in preventing "the big powers' offensive to dominate the region." "Syria and Iran have been from the very beginning united and in agreement to stand on the side of the Palestinian resistance," Ahmadinejad said. "They will continue to do so. We see that the resistance will continue until all occupied territories are liberated."

Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have been sending mixed messages in response to President Barack Obama's calls for dialogue with Iran - at times taking a moderate tone, only to fall back on a tough line. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is visiting the Middle East, said Tuesday the US is still waiting to see how the Iranians respond to Obama's outreach, but so far the rhetoric from Ahmadinejad has been "not very encouraging." Gates sought to reassure US Arab allies, who are worried that their rival Iran will be boosted by a US dialogue. He also said a "grand bargain" between Tehran and Washington was unlikely. There has been widespread speculation in the Middle East that the Obama administration would try to forge a "grand bargain" with Iran, in which Washington would press Israel for concessions in the peace process with the Palestinians in exchange for Tehran rolling back its nuclear program.

"The United States will be very open and transparent about these contacts, and we will keep our friends informed of what is going on so nobody gets surprised," Gates said at a news conference in Egypt before heading to the Saudi capital. The US overtures to Iran are raising concerns among Washington's Arab allies and Israel. Arab diplomats who met in Cairo Tuesday with Dennis Ross, the State Department's new special envoy who deals with Iran, said they voiced those concerns. "Some of what he heard was more than just grievances. They warned that Washington should be careful not to be so mild to Iran," said one diplomat who attended. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit expressed similar concerns on Monday. "Iran's behavior in the region is negative in many aspects and does not help in advancing security, stability and peace," the state-run Middle East News Agency quoted Aboul Gheit as telling Ross. Moderate Arab countries and strong US allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia are growing increasingly concerned that Iran is trying to spread its influence across the Middle East, with its support of Hamas, Hezbollah and other militant groups. That is creating tensions with other Arab states, such as Syria, who are allied with Iran.

Abdul-Majid said the meeting with the Palestinian factions is a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and what he called the "racist" steps it is taking, such as settlement expansion in areas where Palestinians want a future state. "It is a message to strengthen the coalition of resistance forces in the region," he said.

06.05.2009: Israel says it won't apologize for Gaza war. Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday called a UN investigation accusing Israel of recklessness during the war in Gaza "outrageous" and said the Jewish state will not apologize for defending its citizens against Hamas missile attacks. He conceded that the Israeli military made some mistakes - as all armies do during war. Nonetheless, Peres said he thinks chances for Mideast peace "were improved" following his meeting in Washington on Tuesday with President Barack Obama. "We're outraged because they didn't mention Hamas," he said. "If Hamas didn't shoot, there wouldn't be a single problem." Peres said the country didn't overstep in its use of white phosphorous, an incendiary substance whose use was criticized by the inquiry. He added that Israel never targeted civilians and made 250,000 phone calls to warn people he said were being used as "human shields" to leave their houses before Israeli attacks. Security Council diplomats said the UN report would be discussed by members during closed consultations on Thursday, when Libya was expected to circulate a draft resolution on its findings.

07.05.2009: Palestinians and anarchists give cool reception to Netanyahu plan. Palestinian officials on Thursday gave a cool reception to a new Israeli plan to develop the West Bank economy, saying the initiative "will make things worse" if it is not accompanied by negotiations aimed at reaching a final peace accord. The skepticism from the Palestinians came just over a week before the new Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, heads to Washington for talks. Netanyahu, who took office in late March, is still formulating his foreign policy and is expected to present his vision for Mideast peace when he meets President Barack Obama. Netanyahu has resisted international calls to endorse the goal of forming a Palestinian state on lands currently controlled by Israel. The "two-state solution" is a centerpiece of American policy in the region. Netanyahu has argued that the Palestinians are not ready for independence. Instead, he has called for "economic peace," a vaguely defined plan to boost the Palestinians' moribund economy to lay the groundwork for future peace talks. The anarchists, as the Palestinians, give a cool reception to Netanyahu's plan.

08.05.2009: Obama renewing sanctions on Syria to mark concerns. The Obama administration said Friday it is renewing economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria, even as two US envoys are in the Syrian capital exploring prospects for improved relations. In a letter to Congress, President Barack Obama said he was compelled to renew the penalties, which were first imposed by George W. Bush's administration four years ago as diplomatic contact dwindled. Washington has not had an ambassador in Damascus since Margaret Scobey was recalled in 2005. "The actions of the government of Syria in supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States," Obama said in the letter dated Thursday.

09.05.2009: Jordan: Official thanks pope for expressing regret. The top religious adviser to Jordan's king thanked Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday for expressing regret after a speech three years ago that many Muslims deemed insulting to Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed spoke after giving Benedict a tour of the biggest mosque in Amman, his second visit to a Muslim place of worship since becoming pope in 2005. Benedict is in Jordan on his first Middle East tour in which he hopes to improve strained ties with both Muslims and Jews. The pope angered many in the Muslim world in 2006 when he quoted a Medieval text that characterized some of Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith." Shortly after giving the speech, Benedict said he regretted the comments offended Muslims.

10.05.2009: Netanyahu on collision course with Obama and the anarchists over Jerusalem. The Obama administration promotes a Palestinian state with parts of Jerusalem as its capital. The anarchists promotes a Palestininan country with parts of Jerusalem as its capital. An official in prime minister Netanyahu's office has expressed: "Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for some 3,000 years and will remain the united capital of the State of Israel. Under Israeli sovereignty, for the first time in the history of Jerusalem, the different religious communities have enjoyed freedom of worship and the holy sites of all faiths have been protected." He continued: "The government will continue to develop Jerusalem, development that will benefit all of Jerusalem's diverse population and respect the different faiths and communities that together make Jerusalem such a special city." This policy seems to be on collision course with Obama and the anarchists.

11.05.2009: Israel seeks Egypt's support against extremists. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought Egypt's help Monday in building a coalition of Arab nations against Iran, framing the broader Middle East conflict as one in which moderates must band together to confront extremists. The Israeli leader spoke at a news conference beside Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after they met in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Mubarak avoided any mention of specific regional threats and said peace with the Palestinians would bring stability and reinforce cooperation in the region.

The catholic pope's speech at Israel's national Holocaust memorial attracted attention in Israel, with the parliament speaker accusing Benedict of glossing over the Nazi genocide. Critics, including anarchists, said the pope referred to the millions of victims, but would have liked him to say the six million Jews. They also wanted him to mention Germans or Nazis, specifically, as opposed to his more general reference to the perpetrators. Newspapers lambasted him for failing to apologize for what many in Israel see as Catholic indifference during World War II and the pope's own wartime actions - he served in the Hitler Youth corps and Nazi army - have also cast a shadow. "The pope spoke like a historian, as somebody observing from the sidelines, about things that shouldn't happen. But what can you do? He was part of them," said parliament speaker Reuven Rivlin. "Jews cannot ignore the fact that as a young German he served in Hitler's army that was an instrument of the extermination."

12.05.2009: Israel army questions two soldiers about Gaza looting. Israeli military police arrested two soldiers as part of an investigation of alleged looting during Israel's invasion of Gaza in January, the military said in a statement Tuesday. A newspaper said the two soldiers were suspected of stealing and using a stolen credit card. The statement said the military prosecution is investigating complaints from human rights groups and lawyers about behavior of Israeli forces during the operation, which was aimed at stopping daily rocket fire at Israel by Palestinian militants. The Vatican defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday as a man of strong anti-Nazi credentials.

13.05.2009: Israel's anxieties about Iran have intensified because of its nuclear enrichment programs under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who talks of erasing Israel from the map. Even as Israel deals with rocket fire from Palestinian areas, the idea that Iran could pulverize Israel with nuclear weapons is taking priority in strategic planning. And it could take priority when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees President Barack Obama at the White House next week.

14.05.2009: Jordan king: Israel must accept Palestinian state. Jordan's king pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to immediately commit to the establishment of a Palestinian state, as he pursues a sweeping resolution of the Muslim world's conflicts with Israel. Netanyahu made an unannounced, lightning visit to neighboring Jordan, as King Abdullah II and other regional leaders seek to lay the groundwork for restarting Israel-Arab peace efforts. Abdullah's lobbying has been in step with the Obama administration's efforts to link progress on Israel-Arab peacemaking to progress on curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. The US says moderate Arab states will not join a united front against Tehran unless Israel moves vigorously on peacemaking.

Netanyahu, however, argues that the threat from Iran and its regional proxies - Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip - must be confronted first, before any progress can be made in peacemaking. And while he has been trying to forge cooperation with moderate Arab nations to pursue that agenda, he has pointedly refused to endorse Palestinian statehood. Abdullah pressed Netanyahu in their meeting Thursday to "immediately declare his commitment to a two-state solution, acceptance of the Arab peace initiative and to take necessary steps to move forward toward a solution," according to a royal palace statement. It did not give Netanyahu's response, and a spokesman for the Israeli leader was not immediately available for comment.

The Arab peace initiative would offer Israel relations with the 23 Arab League members in exchange for its withdrawal from land it occupied in the 1967 war, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. Abdullah said there "is consensus in the international community that there is no alternative to the two-state solution." Netanyahu will likely hear a similar message when he meets President Barack Obama in Washington on Monday. Pope Benedict XVI, on his first visit to the Holy Land, has also delivered a powerful plea for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. He will meet the Israeli leader later Thursday in the biblical town of Nazareth.

Netanyahu's election this year has been ill-received in the Arab world because of his hard-line positions against yielding land captured in Middle East wars and his refusal to support Palestinian independence. On a visit to Egypt on Monday, Netanyahu sought help in building a coalition of Arab nations against Iran and said he hoped to renew peace talks with the Palestinians in the coming weeks. But he made no endorsement of Palestinian statehood. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not meet with Netanyahu until he agrees to pursue Palestinian independence and freeze construction in Jewish West Bank settlements, something Netanyahu has said he would not do. On Thursday, Abbas met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus to discuss Abdullah's new Mideast peace push. Abdullah traveled to Damascus earlier this week to promote his ideas to Assad.

Netanyahu says Iran's nuclear program is Israel's greatest threat and has hinted Israel might be willing to attack if international diplomatic pressure fails to stop Iran from enriching uranium - a process needed to produce bombs, but which is also used to produce fuel for power plants. Iran says its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, but Israel, the US and many other countries think Tehran is trying to develop atomic weapons. Israeli media have reported that Netanyahu has met with military commanders and is pleased with their preparations for a military strike. Vice President Joe Biden recently said Israeli military action in Iran would be "ill-advised" and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has reasoned it would not set back the Iranian program more than three years. An attack certainly would risk an Iranian reprisal against Israel - or American troops in the Middle East. Israeli aircraft destroyed Iraq's unfinished nuclear reactor in 1981, but a strike against Iran's program would be more complicated because Iranian facilities are scatted across a vast country and some are buried underground. Thus, the whole international community, including ICOT, AIE and AI, puts pressure on Israel to accept Palestinian independence soon.

15.05.2009: Syria: Israeli government not a good peace partner. Syria's president said Friday that his country is interested in resuming indirect peace talks with Israel but does not believe the new Israeli government makes a good negotiating partner. Syria has said it is willing to resume the talks mediated by Turkey as long as they focus on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. But Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he would not be willing to cede the territory Syria wants.

16.05.2009: Rival criticizes Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial. A reformist challenger to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized the hard-liner's denial of the Holocaust, saying it has served Israel's interests and pushed the country deeper into international isolation, a newspaper reported Saturday. Moderate cleric Mahdi Karroubi is one of two reformist candidates hoping to unseat Ahmadinejad in the June 12 presidential election. The former parliament speaker has said he would pursue a foreign policy of detente with the West and wouldn't mind meeting President Barack Obama if it would help Iran's national interests. "Ahmadinejad offered the greatest service to Israel by raising the Holocaust issue because the whole world stood to support Israel," Karroubi was quoted as saying by Etemad-e-Melli newspaper, which he controls. The Iranian president has repeatedly claimed the Holocaust is a myth and even sponsored an international conference in 2006 to debate whether the World War II genocide of Jews took place.

Ahmadinejad has also called for Israel's elimination, although his exact remarks have been disputed. Some translators say he has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Others say a better translation would be "vanish from the pages of time" - implying Israel would disappear on its own rather than be destroyed. The leading reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has similarly slammed Ahmadinejad for waging a fierce rhetorical battle with the international community, leaving Iran with few friends to help protect its interests. "Today, excluding a few friends we've had for a long time, we have no appropriate interaction with the international community and are subject to threats," Mousavi was quoted as saying by Aftab-e-Yazd newspaper.

Netanyahu may endorse Palestinian state on US trip. On the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's crucial visit to Washington, his defense minister suggested Saturday the Israeli leader might endorse a Palestinian state when he meets with President Barack Obama. That would be a significant shift for Netanyahu, who has made clear in the past that he does not think the Palestinians are ready to rule themselves. But that position has put him at odds with long-standing US policy that supports Palestinian statehood as the cornerstone of Mideast peace efforts. Senior White House officials said Obama's meeting with Netanyahu Monday is "part of his commitment that he's made since day one of the administration to pursue comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians." Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he thought an agreement with the Palestinians could be achieved within three years. "I think and believe that Netanyahu will tell Obama this government is prepared to go for a political process that will result in two peoples living side by side in peace and mutual respect," Barak told Channel 2 TV. However, he did not use the word state, leaving open other options for Netanyahu.

17.05.2009: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads into his first visit with President Barack Obama worried by US overtures to Iran and Syria and under pressure to support a Palestinian state. The two leaders, set to meet Monday at the White House, bring diverging policies on how to approach the Mideast conflict. Israel's president urged Syria Sunday to open direct peace talks, saying any gesture by the Damascus government would help clear the air between the two arch enemies. President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner whose office is largely ceremonial, also told reporters in Jordan that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would abide by a past Israeli government's commitment to a US-backed Mideast peace plan calling for a two-state solution to the conflict with Palestinians. Peres said some had suggested Syrian President Bashar Assad and Netanyahu meet and start talking directly.

18.05.2009:. Holocaust denial widespread among Israeli Arabs. More than 40 percent of Israel's Arab citizens say the Holocaust never happened, and barely one half think Israel has a right to exist, according to a survey published Monday. But the academic who directed it said the results were likely more statements of protest than belief. Sammy Smooha believes the numbers, which have shown a significant shift in the past few years, signal a rising frustration among minority Arabs in the Jewish state. He said the growing Holocaust denial is fueled by a belief that recognizing the World War II genocide, in which German Nazis and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews, gives justification to Israeli policies. "When they say 'there was no Holocaust,' they are protesting. They are saying 'I am not giving legitimacy to the Jewish state,'" said Smooha, a Haifa University sociologist. "It's an index of despair, frustration and protest." The survey found that 41 percent of respondents say the Holocaust never happened, up from 28 percent who said so in 2006 when the question was first asked. Holocaust denial is rampant among Palestinians and in Arab countries neighboring Israel. But Arabs in Israel have frequent contact with Jews and learn about the Holocaust in school. Smooha said the growing radicalization among Israeli Arabs is a result of the 2006 Lebanon War, the stalemate in peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the continued divide between Israel's Jewish and Arab populations. This has made it hard for Arabs to view Israeli Jews as victims. The anarchists condemn the widespread Holocoust denial among Israeli Arabs.

19.05.2009: Abbas swears in new Hamas-free government. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday swore in a new government comprised mainly of members of his Fatah Party, but without representation of his bitter rivals from the militant Islamic Hamas group. The move underlines the failure of attempts to bridge differences between the two movements, which have been negotiating to form a joint government that would reunite the West Bank and Gaza and open the way for renewed foreign aid. The government sworn in Tuesday will effectively only rule the West Bank. Nations and aid organizations have been dealing with Abbas, but Hamas and Gaza have been largely left out because the EU, US, AI and others plus Israel list Hamas as a terror organization. In Gaza, Hamas official Mushir al-Masri rejected the new Cabinet.

US officials press Israeli leader on Mideast peace. US officials and lawmakers pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to make peace with the Palestinians and halt construction of Jewish settlements, echoing President Barack Obama's blunt demands. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters Tuesday that she reiterated the US government's commitment to a two-state solution and its demand that Israel halt construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. After a morning meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Netanyahu glossed over differences between his stance and Obama's, saying that the US and Israel were working together to resume Mideast peacemaking and "bring other elements in the Arab world into the process." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who visits the White House next week, has said he would not resume negotiations unless Israel committed to a two-state solution and agreed to freeze settlements. His aides offered praise for Obama but were disappointed with Netanyahu's response. A key Palestinian official demanded Tuesday that President Barack Obama follow up his tough talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and force Israel to stop West Bank settlement construction and accept creation of a Palestinian state. Without action to reinforce Obama's words, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned the whole region could deteriorate into extremism and instability. That message was echoed by Netanyahu's political rivals in Israel, who stressed that peace was impossible without establishing a Palestinian state.

Tensions escalated late Tuesday when Israeli planes carried out at least seven airstrikes in Gaza, Palestinian security officials said. A hospital official said one person was wounded in the most intensive air operation in weeks. The officials said Israeli planes carried out four bombing runs on the Gaza-Egypt border, targeting smuggling tunnels that Israel says militants use to bring weapons, rockets and ammunition into the seaside territory. Later, the planes hit a metal workshop and a police post in Gaza City and a workshop in central Gaza, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. The airstrikes came several hours after militants in Gaza fired a rocket at a house in the Israeli town of Sderot, causing extensive damage but no causalities, said police. The violence was a concrete reminder of the instability in the region and the importance of the meeting between the US and Israeli leaders.

Israeli government officials downplayed the differences between Obama and Netanyahu, but the two disagreed publicly about the key issues in Mideast diplomacy - how to deal with Iran, how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the relationship between the two. Though the two professed friendship, the substance added up to the harshest public confrontation between an Israeli and American leader in nearly a decade, prompting Israeli commentators to warn of storm clouds on the horizon for the important relationship between the two countries. Despite US pressure, Netanyahu avoided committing to the idea of creating a Palestinian state and instead said the key to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was to halt Iran's nuclear program - a sequencing disputed by Obama. The US president said progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace would undercut extremists and help control Iran. He also said Israel must live up to its commitment under the internationally backed "road map" peace plan to freeze West Bank settlement construction. Erekat, who has been involved in various negotiation with Israel since 1991, welcomed Obama's remarks but said he must force Israel to act to "turn a new page for this region." Failing to follow through "would mean closing the peace chapter and pushing the region into the hands of extremists," Erekat said. Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, called the disagreements between Obama and Netanyahu "legitimate differences" and said he did not expect a crisis in relations with the US, Israel's closest and most important ally.

20.05.2009: Iran tests missile with range that can hit Israel. Iran test-fired a missile capable of striking Israel, US Mideast bases and Europe on Wednesday - a show of strength touted by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he battles for re-election next month against more moderate opponents.The US responded by saying Iran must choose between destabilizing the Middle East or accepting the dialogue offered by President Barack Obama. The US leader threatened earlier this week that Iran could face further international sanctions if it does not respond positively by year-end to US attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Israel said the test appeared to be Iran's response to a positive meeting on Monday between Obama and new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. US officials confirmed the launch and Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington that Iran is at a crossroads and must choose its course. "They can either continue on this path of continued destabilization in the region or they can decide that they want to pursue relationships with the counties in the region and the United States that are more normalized," said Whitman. "Our concerns are obviously based on nuclear ambitions and the implications that long- and medium-range missiles have with respect to that," he added.

Alex Vatanka, a senior Middle East analyst at Jane's Information Group, said the test "does not change the strategic equation" in the region because Iran has had the ballistic missile capability to hit Israel and much of the Middle East for more than a decade with its Shahab missiles. It was likely intended to send a message to the Obama administration that Iran cannot be bullied into talks and also to show the country's strength in hopes that would boost Ahmadinejad's popularity among voters in the June 12 election, Vatanka said. Iran says its missile program is merely for defense and its space program is for scientific and surveillance purposes. It maintains that its nuclear program is for civilian energy uses only. Tehran said the solid-fuel Sajjil-2 surface-to-surface missile has a range of about 1,200 miles. It is a new version of the Sajjil missile, which the country said it successfully tested late last year and has a similar range. Many analysts said the launch of the solid-fuel Sajjil was significant because such missiles are more accurate than liquid fuel missiles of similar range, such as Iran's Shahab-3.

"Defense Minister (Mostafa Mohammad Najjar) has informed me that the Sajjil-2 missile, which has very advanced technology, was launched from Semnan and it landed precisely on the target," state radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. He did not name any targets for the missile when he spoke during a visit to the city of Semnan, 125 miles east of the capital Tehran, where Iran's space program is centered. Italy said its foreign minister, Franco Frattini, canceled a planned trip to Iran on Wednesday because Ahmadinejad wanted to meet in Semnan rather than in Tehran. Najjar said the Sajjil-2 differs from the Sajjil missile because it "is equipped with a new navigation system as well as precise and sophisticated sensors," according to Iran's official news agency. Sajjil means "baked clay." It is a reference to a story in the Quran, Islam's holy book, in which birds sent by God drive off an enemy army attacking the holy city of Mecca by pelting them with stones of baked clay.

Two US officials confirmed the missile launch, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. "It appears the test was a success," one official said. "It appears they launched a medium-range missile." After the test, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that if Iran manages to produce nuclear weapons, it would "spark an arms race" in the Middle East. Iran's nuclear and missile programs have alarmed Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu pressed Obama to step up pressure on Tehran when the two met in Washington on Monday. Moshe Arens, a former Israeli defense minister who trained in the US as an aerospace engineer, said Wednesday's test was apparently part of Iran's broader quest to develop more advanced missiles and nuclear capability. "They're increasing their abilities to launch rockets of longer and longer range that go beyond Israel and into Europe and eventually will carry nuclear weapons," he said. "They're troublemakers and you have to deal with troublemakers."

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's elimination, and the Jewish state has not ruled out a military strike to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. The Israeli government has been skeptical of US overtures to Iran, which have received a mixed response from Ahmadinejad. Many Western experts have expressed skepticism about Iran's professed military achievements, saying the country provides no transparency to verify its claims. Most believe Iran does not yet have the technology to produce nuclear weapons, including warheads for long-range missiles. The US released an intelligence report about 18 months ago that said Iran abandoned a secret nuclear weapons program in 2003 under international pressure and has not restarted it. Israel and several other countries have disputed the finding. But many in the West at least agree that Iran is seeking to develop the capability to develop weapons at some point. A group of US and Russian scientists said in a report issued Tuesday that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that.

The study published by the nonpartisan EastWest Institute also said Iran is making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 2,200-pound nuclear warhead up to 1,200 miles "in perhaps six to eight years." After the testing of the Sajjil in November, a senior US military official said Washington believed Iran was testing the first stage of what would be a two-stage rocket. Multiple stages allow long-range missiles to use less fuel. The launch came just weeks before the vote that could influence Iran's response to the US outreach. Two of the three candidates approved by Iran's constitutional watchdog to run in the June election are reformists who favor improving ties with the West. The hard-line president has been criticized by his opponents and others for antagonizing the US and mismanaging the country's faltering economy. On Wednesday, the constitutional watchdog approved three candidates to challenge Ahmadinejad, setting up a showdown between reformists and hard-liners.

Charles Vick, a senior technical analyst for GlobalSecurity.org, analyzed photos and videotape of the launch released by Iran. "I'm not all that impressed," Vick said. "It's just another test that confirms they've got the system that was operational last summer."

21.05.2009: Israel removes West Bank settler outpost. Israeli police broke up an unauthorized settler outpost in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, bulldozing makeshift cabins, police said. About 40 members of paramilitary border police evacuated five settler families from a hilltop camp called Maoz Esther where they were living in wooden huts with sheet metal roofs. The camp was about 300 meters from the Jewish settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah. About three dozen settler adults and children were in the middle of a Torah lesson when the police arrived, they said. They were allowed to finish and then left as ordered. The evacuation was carried out a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from talks with US President Obama, who urged a halt to construction of settlements in order to revive stalled peace talks.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday told Jewish settler leaders that illegal outposts had to go. A statement quoted him as saying Israel "cannot compromise over enforcing the law." But Yariv Oppenheimer of the Peace Now movement said the evacuation was "just a public relations stunt" and added that "if they really want to deal with the problem of illegal outposts they should deal with the significant outposts." Half a million Jews live in the 100 "authorized" settlements built on West Bank land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, including Arab East Jerusalem. The World Court says they are illegal. The United States and Europe Union agree and regard them as obstacles to peace. Israel disputes this but acknowledges at least two dozen enclaves were built in recent years without approval. Israeli leaders have pledged for years to remove them, as promised under a US-backed peace "road map" that sets the goal of an Arab peace with Israel and a Palestinian state alongside it. Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said the government wanted the outposts "taken down through a process of dialogue." He could not say how long the process might take.

22.05.2009: Israeli troops crossed into Gaza and killed two Palestinian terrorists who were planting a bomb along the border fence before dawn Friday, the Israeli military said. Violence has largely abated along the tense frontier since Israel's devastating offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers early this year, but sporadic border violence and rocket fire have continued. Soldiers posted along the border spotted the two men planting a bomb near the fence and crossed into Gaza to engage them, the military said. The gunmen were killed in the ensuing firefight. The military says the men were carrying rifles, grenades and an improvised explosive device. Militants have often used such devices to target Israeli military patrols along the border, planting bombs under cover of darkness and detonating them later by remote control. Palestinian medics retrieved the bodies of the two men, who were in military uniform, according to Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Gaza Health Ministry. He gave their ages as 22 and 28. They belonged to the militant group Islamic Jihad, according to an announcement on the group's Web site. Hours later, militants detonated a bomb near an Israeli patrol jeep in a different section of the fence. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility in an e-mail sent to reporters. The military said there were no Israeli casualties in either incident. Most violent incidents in recent months have been claimed by small militant factions and not by Hamas, which might be trying to avoid provoking further Israeli retaliation.

23.205.2009: 7 arrested in connection to Cairo blast. Egyptian authorities have arrested seven people for being part of an al-Qaeda linked group accused of carrying out an attack on a famed Cairo bazaar that killed a French teenager, said the Interior Ministry Saturday. The ministry said the suspects were part of a group called the Palestinian Islamic Army, which is led by two Egyptian nationals, who remain at large outside the country. The arrested include two Palestinians, two Egyptians, a British-Egyptian, a Belgian-Tunisian and a French-Albanian woman, some of whom had entered Egypt as students. An Egyptian security official said members of the group would sneak into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border to receive special training and instructions in the Palestinian territory. One of the seven arrested confessed to performing the bombing last February at Cairo's Khan el-Khalili bazaar, but the official wouldn't identify him or her. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the group wanted to target other tourist sites in the country and oil installations in the western desert.

He said the organization was able to create weapons and explosive materials from leftover munitions recovered from the Sinai desert. Two women - one of whom was arrested - were responsible for transporting money to fund the organization's activities. The blast last February went off in the main square of the sprawling market, which was packed with tourists and Egyptians - including more than 40 high school students from the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. A government spokesman said the bomb was placed under a stone bench in a cafe where the French students were sitting in the square, next to one of Cairo's most revered shrines, the Hussein mosque. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which was the first against tourists in Egypt in three years. Islamic extremists have in the past attacked tourists in an attempt to hurt Egypt's biggest source of income.

Khan el-Khalili - a 650-year-old bazaar of narrow, winding alleys - is one of the top tourist attractions in Cairo, often crowded with foreigners shopping for souvenirs, hanging out in its cafes or visiting its numerous mosques and Islamic monuments. In April 2005, a suicide bomber in the market killed himself, two French citizens and an American. Several experts on Islamic militancy in Egypt said the attack in February may have been carried out in anger over Egypt's response to Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas in January and early February. During Israel's onslaught, Egypt came under heavy criticism around the Arab world for what some saw as its failure to help the Palestinians in Gaza. Egypt fought a long war with Islamist militants in the 1990s, culminating in a massacre of more than 50 tourists in Luxor in 1997. The militants were largely defeated, and there have been few attacks since in the Nile valley. But from 2004 to 2006, a string of bombings in Sharm el-Sheik and other resorts in the Sinai Peninsula killed 120 people.

24.05.2009: This article will no longer be updated daily, but only when something important happens.

27.05.2009: Netanyahu calls on Arab states to normalize ties. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged Arab countries to make immediate moves toward normalizing ties with Israel and said he would offer "concrete" steps toward peace with the Palestinians. Netanyahu made the plea during a debate in parliament that came as he tries to balance international pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians with internal calls from within his hardline coalition not to budge. "We are prepared to make, and we will make, concrete steps for peace with the Palestinians," he said. "We expect the Palestinians to make such concrete steps as well. And it would be good if Arab countries joined the peace effort and made concrete and symbolic steps toward normalization with Israel, not later, but now," Netanyahu said.

He mentioned cooperation in economic projects and agriculture but insisted any progress would depend on positive Palestinian actions. President Barack Obama supports the normalization idea, Netanyahu said, calling it a "new and refreshing" approach that "totally matches our views." Netanyahu, who was at the White House last week, also said that he and Obama agree the Iranian threat could create an opportunity to bring Arab countries together in a coalition of moderates, Netanyahu said. Israel considers Iran a serious danger because of its nuclear program, development of long-range missiles and frequent references by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Israel's destruction. Israel dismisses Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, charging that the Iranians are building nuclear weapons.

Obama has made clear that his administration supports the creation of a Palestinian state, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for a complete halt to construction in West Bank settlements. The US considers Israel's 121 settlements obstacles to peace, since they are built on territory claimed by the Palestinians. Netanyahu's policies clash with those of the US on both of those points, raising concerns of a looming rift with Washington. Netanyahu says he is willing to resume peace talks immediately, but has not said he supports the creation of a Palestinian state, a cornerstone of international Mideast peace efforts. Netanyahu also says existing settlements should continue to expand to accommodate "natural growth" in their populations. He also has ruled out ceding sovereignty in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state. Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it.

Senator Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania heading a Congressional delegation visiting Israel, said Wednesday that the administration's policy over the settlements is still being formulated. Though Obama called for a total construction freeze, Casey said, "I think there is a way to meet in the middle, and obviously the articulations and definitions are going to be important. It is too early to prejudge."

31.05.2009: Fatah fights Hamas. Six Palestinians killed. Six people have been killed in a West Bank clash between Hamas fighters and Palestinian policemen, officials say. Three policemen, two members of Hamas and another man were killed in a gun battle when police went to arrest the Hamas men in a dawn raid in Qalqilya. Officials said the police were loyal to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, of rival group Fatah. It is one of the worst clashes in the West Bank since Hamas seized control in the Gaza Strip in 2007. The owner of a home in which gunmen had been hiding was also killed, Palestinian security officials said, according to Reuters news agency. Fighting erupted when police went to arrest Mohammed al-Samman, the commander of Hamas's armed wing in the northern West Bank, reports said. Mr Samman and another Hamas man, had ignored calls to surrender, witnesses told Reuters. For nearly two years, Hamas has been in charge of the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the West Bank. During that time both sides have been accused by human rights groups and anarchists of abuses of power against rival supporters - including arbitrary arrests and even torture. But Fatah says this incident was simply a case of trying to enforce the law. That hasn't stopped it raising tensions. The two factions are supposed to be in a reconciliation process to end their deep split. But their talks seem to be going nowhere. Mistrust between them remains high. And the power struggle, which has been so damaging to Palestinian society (or "to the Palestinian cause" if you want to relate it to the peace process), looks set to continue.

Palestinian security forces spokesman Adnan Damiri said "thousands" of shots had been fired at Palestinian security forces during the battle. Hamas responded to the shooting with a statement from Gaza denouncing Mr Abbas's forces as "Zionist agents". "Their crackdown against and pursuit of wanted men with the help of the enemy [Israel] lays down the foundation for resistance" by Hamas, Reuters reported the group as saying. Fatah denied the Hamas claim, saying it was simply a case of trying to enforce the law. There are now fears of tit-for-tat arrest campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza, as has happened in the past, says the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Ramallah. Inter-factional fighting in Gaza came to a head in the summer of 2007 when Hamas fighters ousted the pro-Fatah security forces and overthrew Palestinian Authority control. As well as continued tension, both sides have been accused of conducting politically motivated arrests. Solving Fatah-Hamas differences is seen as an essential step if an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is to happen. Unlike the Fatah-dominated PLO, Hamas as mentioned refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and has waged a violent campaign against it for years. The anarchists support the less authoritarian Fatah's fight against the more authoritarian Hamas.

01.05.2009: UN rights team probes Israel's Gaza offensive. United Nations human rights investigators began work in the Gaza Strip on Monday to try to determine whether war crimes were committed during the offensive Israel launched in the Hamas-ruled territory last December. Israel said it would not cooperate with the four-member team, headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, which entered the Gaza Strip via Egypt."We have come here to see, to learn, to talk to people in all walks of life; ordinary people, governmental people, administrative people," Goldstone told reporters. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the Israeli government believed the committee had been told "to find Israel guilty even before the investigation begins".

The investigators plan to spend a week in the Gaza Strip. Goldstone said the group would probably visit again later in the month and submit a report in early August. International human rights groups and anarchists have called for a credible independent investigation of the conduct of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip, looking at the destruction of several residential areas and firing of artillery shells containing white phosphorous which can cause severe burns.
According to a Palestinian rights group, 1,417 people including 926 civilians were killed during Israel's Dec. 27-Jan. 18 offensive in the coastal enclave of 1.5 million people. Israel lost 10 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting, which it launched with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket fire by militants. It says 1,166 Palestinians were killed, 295 of them civilians. Israel says an internal probe by its armed forces last month found no evidence of serious misconduct by its troops. The anarchists doubt the UN rights team is unbiased.

04.06.2009: Hamas can 1. recognize Israel and join the peace process, or 2. continue with terrorism and lose in the long run. The anarchists urge Hamas to choose option 1. Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist. "The Palestinian administration must develop its capacity to manage, from the grassroots and upwards, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine. The Anarchist International, its embassy and ICOT do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements on the West Bank and outskirts of Jerusalem. It is time for these settlements to stop.As for Jerusalem itself it should be a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims.

10.06.2009: The anarchists push for prompt Mideast peace talks. The United States seeks a "prompt resumption and early conclusion" of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Washington's special Mideast envoy said after talks Wednesday with Palestinian leaders. The anarchists, the AI, AIE and ICOT, agree. Former Sen. George Mitchell did not give any timetable in his prepared statement to reporters after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah. However, the US is engaged in an unusually public spat with Israel over its retreat from commitments to negotiate Palestinian statehood and its insistence on expanding settlements on land the Palestinians claim for that state. "The only viable resolution to this conflict is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states," Mitchell said. "As President Obama said last week, America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own." The anarchists mean two independent countries that are anarchies are better than a two states' solution.

Americans, Europeans, Arabs,  and others [including anarchists] who seek to promote peace "all share an obligation to create the conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations," he said. In a landmark speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last week, Obama promised to work aggressively to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Following up on the speech, Mitchell has pressed on with Obama's demands both for a settlement freeze and an endorsement of the concept of a Palestinian state. Abbas gave Mitchell an itemized list of Israeli settlement expansion and Palestinian homes that Israel has recently demolished in east Jerusalem, the sector of the city the Palestinians claim for a future capital, senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said. In his meeting Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mitchell sought to allay Israeli fears over the growing rift, assuring Israel that the US commitment to Israeli security was "unshakable." It remains unclear whether Netanyahu will soften any of his positions in a policy speech he is scheduled to deliver on Sunday. Erekat declined to disclose whether Mitchell brought any indication to Abbas that Netanyahu had modified his stance. The US knows that when Israel "says it doesn't accept the two-state solution and doesn't want to freeze settlement expansion, that means it says 'no' to resuming negotiations," Erekat said. Mitchell's latest swing through the region is also set to include stops in Lebanon and Syria.

14.06.2009: Israeli prime minister says Israel would agree to a peace agreement with a "demilitarized Palestinian state." A small step in right direction but not enough, the anarchists say. The US has called Mr Netenyahu's stance an "important step forward". The EU said Mr Netanyahu's comments were a step in the right direction, but not enough to raise relations with Israel to a higher level. The Palestinians are more negative, but it may never the less be a starting point for peace negotiations. The anarchists call for an independent Palestinian country with anarchy.

25.06.2009: Israel reduces control of 4 West Bank towns - Hamas leader welcomes Obama's new Mideast approach. Both probably due to international pressure, from anarchists and others.

19.07.2009: Israel rejects US call to halt Jerusalem project. Israel on Sunday rejected a US demand to suspend a planned housing project in east Jerusalem, threatening to further complicate an unusually tense standoff with its strongest ally over settlement construction. Israeli officials said the country's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department over the weekend and told that a project made up of 20 apartments developed by an American millionaire should not go ahead. Speaking Sunday in New Delhi, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the administration was trying to reach an agreement with the Israelis on settlements. "The negotiations are intense. They are ongoing," she said. The anarchists call on Israel to halt the Jerusalem project and all new settlement building.

23.07.2009: Israel won: Hamas shifts from rockets to "culture war". Seven months after Israel started a fierce three-week military campaign here to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities, Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations. The aim is to build what leaders here call a "culture of resistance," the topic of a recent two-day conference. "Armed resistance is still important and legitimate, but we have a new emphasis on cultural resistance," noted Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader and former fighter. "The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break." The decision to suspend the use of the short-range Qassam rockets that for years have flown into Israel, often dozens a day, has been partly the result of popular pressure. Increasingly, people here are questioning the value of the rockets. How long Hamas will hold its fire and whether it will obtain longer-range missiles — which it says it is seeking — remain unclear. But the shift in policy is evident. In June, a total of two rockets were fired from Gaza, according to the Israeli military, one of the lowest monthly tallies since the firing began in 2002. In that tactical sense, the war was a victory for Israel and a loss for Hamas.

26.07.2009: Netanyahu: Israel wants 'understanding' with US. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he hopes to work out key policy disagreements with the US during a series of meetings this week with high-profile American envoys. Netanyahu is under heavy pressure to freeze construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - a demand he has so far resisted. Washington also is concerned that Israel may be planning an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. It wants time for President Barack Obama's offer of engagement to Iran to bear fruit. The US says continued Israeli construction on lands claimed by the Palestinians threatens to undermine future peace talks. Israel says some expansion must be permitted to accommodate the "natural growth" of settler families. Netanyahu also says Israel must keep building in east Jerusalem, which it captured and annexed in 1967 and sees as an integral part of its capital city. Nearly 300,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, in addition to 180,000 living in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of a future state. Encouraged by the tough US stance, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold peace talks with Netanyahu until settlement activity is frozen. While maintaining good ties with the US is considered a key Israeli interest, Netanyahu faces pressure from inside his coalition not to accede to the US demands. "What has to be made crystal clear is that there's no talk, no discussion, no negotiation over Jerusalem or what we do within the city," Cabinet minister Uzi Landau said Sunday. The Anarchist International is against an ethnic clean Arab Palestine, but by now there are enough Jewish settlements and there should be no further expansion.

The US has launched a new drive to kick-start Middle East peace talks, with visits to Israel, Syria and Egypt by special envoy George Mitchell. Other senior US officials are due to visit the region this week. The heightened activity comes at a time of strained relations between the US and Israel. The visits are part of a week-long high level diplomatic push by Washington to re-start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians which have been frozen for six months. The Anarchist International welcomes these efforts from the USA towards renewed peace negotiations.

13.08.2009: Fatah conference. As the long awaited conference of the Palestinian Fatah faction draws to a close, the election of the central committee has come under fire from a veteran who lost his seat. Claiming voting irregularities, the former Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie said the results would not be trusted. The election saw an influx of new, younger members onto the executive body. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said: "Thanks to God, our sixth Fatah Conference ended a dazzling success. Our unity is now stronger, our determination consolidated and we have greater trust in the future. It's a new start towards freedom and independence." But Ahmed Qurie claims there were too many ballot boxes; papers bearing the same handwriting and a 24-hour delay in announcing the result. He wants a review of the vote, but officials say it was fair and transparent. It is hoped the younger generation will help to bring Palestinian unity, and inject a new impetus into talks with Israel. One charismatic new committee member though, Marwan Barghouti, is serving life in an Israeli jail.

15.08.2009: Hamas crushes challenge by al-Qaeda-inspired group. Hamas crushed an al-Qaeda-inspired group in an hours-long standoff that came to a fiery end when a large explosion killed the radical Muslim group's leader inside his Gaza home on Saturday. The fighting was sparked by a rebellious sermon by the group's leader, and his dramatic death put an end to the greatest internal challenge to Hamas' rule since it took control of Gaza two years ago. In all, the fighting claimed 24 lives - including that of a senior Hamas official who Israel says masterminded the abduction of an Israeli soldier. It was the highest death toll in the territory since the Israel-Hamas fight earlier this year. The crackdown targeted Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, one of a number of small, shadowy groups that are even more radical than Hamas. The decisive confrontation, in which 95 group members were arrested, solidified Hamas' iron rule in Gaza. The radical groups have sought to expand the Palestinians' battle beyond Israel to include the Western World as well. And in Gaza they have tried to enforce a strict version of Islamic law to which Hamas has not agreed. They have also attacked Internet cafes and wedding parties over behavior they consider improper.

The crackdown highlights Hamas' desire to limit its struggle to the Palestinian cause and to distance itself from militants espousing al-Qaeda's ideology, though the United States, Israel and others consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The fighting broke out late Friday when Hamas security men surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on the Egyptian border where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah were holed up. Their leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa, provoked Hamas by declaring Gaza an "islamic emirate" during a Friday prayer sermon and warning its leaders against invading his mosque. The Hamas forces raided the mosque, setting off a fierce gunbattle. Flares lit up the sky and the sound of machine gun fire echoed throughout the night. Moussa escaped with some bodyguards to his home where another standoff ensued. Early Saturday, an explosion went off as Hamas was trying to convince Moussa to surrender, said Ihab Ghussein, a Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman. "The so-called Moussa has committed suicide ... killing a mediator who had been sent to him to persuade him and his followers to hand themselves over to the government," Ghussein said. It is unclear whether Moussa detonated the explosives vest he was wearing, or whether it was one of his bodyguards.

Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said 24 people were killed, including six Hamas police officers and an 11-year-old girl. At least 150 people were wounded, he said. Hamas confirmed one of its casualties was a high-ranking commander, Abu Jibril Shimali, whom Israel said orchestrated the capture three years ago of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who is still being held by Hamas. Jund Ansar Allah first came to public attention in June after it claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to attack Israel from Gaza on horseback. The group claims inspiration from al-Qaeda's ultraconservative brand of Islam, but no direct links have been confirmed. The group has been critical of Hamas for not imposing a more severe form of Islamic law and for maintaining a cease-fire with Israel for the past seven months.

Hamas says it does not impose its religious views on others, but only seeks to set a pious example for people to follow. Hamas also maintains that its struggle is against Israel only, while the radical splinter groups call for a global jihad against the entire Western world. "They are inspired by unbalanced ideologies and in the past they carried out a number of explosions targeting Internet cafes and wedding parties," said Ghussein, adding that the groups do not have any external ties. Israel has charged that terrorists with links to Osama bin Laden have infiltrated Gaza. Hamas has denied this, while trying to distance itself from the more radical groups. "All of this unacceptable behavior is rejected in our society. We are a Muslim community and we don't need sick-minded people to dictate their agenda on our people," said Hamas lawmaker Ismail al-Ashkar. This weekend's violence marked the most serious internal opposition Hamas has faced since it seized control of Gaza and ousted its rivals in the Fatah movement in a five-day civil war in June 2007. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are together supposed to make up a future Palestinian state, but the rival governments in the two territories - located on opposite sides of Israel - are complicating Palestinian efforts to gain independence. Fatah official Saeb Erekat was quick to comment on the developments, saying "Gaza is going down the drain in chaos and lawlessness." Also Saturday, Hamas said it was investigating the launching of 11 homemade rockets from Gaza into Egypt. Only five of the rockets detonated, injuring a young girl, according to Egyptian security forces.

18.08.2009: Israel quietly halts permits for new settlement building. Israel has quietly moved to halt new housing projects in the West Bank, Israeli government officials, peace activists and settlers said Tuesday, while the Israeli government outwardly  is rebuffing anarchist, US and other international pressure to stop construction in its settlements.

24.08.2009: Israel's Netanyahu brings balancing act to Europe. Benjamin Netanyahu's talks in Europe this week will force the Israeli leader to balance the demands of his right-leaning ruling coalition against an international front, including anarchists, opposed to Israeli settlements. He is likely to hear concerns about settlements from all three of the key people he is slated to meet: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the representative of Israel's closest ally, US Mideast envoy George Mitchell. Netanyahu began his 4-day European visit in London late Monday afternoon, and held a meeting with British newspaper editors Monday evening before his scheduled meeting with Brown on Tuesday. He will meet Mitchell in London on Wednesday before heading to Berlin. He is due to return to Israel Thursday. Ignoring the wishes of the broader international community will demand a diplomatic cost Israel can ill afford to pay, and both Israel and the US signaled Monday that they have made progress on a compromise on settlements.

But at home, Netanyahu's partners in an unruly governing coalition are pulling him in the opposite direction and are suspicious of any sign of compromise. Crossing them could unravel his hold on power. In recent weeks, some of Netanyahu's allies have done their best to nudge him rightward. A group of Cabinet ministers paid a supportive visit to an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank - even though Netanyahu has promised to remove such wildcat settlements - and called on the prime minister to ignore President Barack Obama's call to stop building homes for Jews on land the Palestinians want for an independent country. Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefetz said there was no expectation that the settlement issue would be resolved at Wednesday's meeting with Mitchell, perhaps the most important of Netanyahu's meetings this week. But Hefetz told reporters traveling with the prime minister that there was likely to be "certain progress."

That was echoed Monday in Washington, D.C., by State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, who said the sides were "getting closer" to a deal. "I don't want to go into the details of exactly why, but just to say that we are - we're hopeful that we can resume very soon," Kelly said, referring to the suspended Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The Palestinians say they will not resume talks before the Israelis freeze settlement construction. Hefetz said Israel's government believed talks could be resumed within two months. Israeli government officials say a compromise being discussed could see Israel freeze building except for 2,500 units currently under construction. They spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the talks between Israel and the US are secret. The number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank - home to some 2.5 million Palestinians - has more than doubled since the mid-1990s and now stands at around 300,000.

Netanyahu has shown some willingness to compromise since taking office in March, after winning an election on a hard-line platform. He endorsed the formation of a Palestinian state, a major reversal after years of opposing the idea, albeit with several conditions. And last week, Netanyahu's housing minister said Israel had temporarily stopped approving new building projects in the West Bank. Obama said after that announcement that he was "encouraged by some of the things I am seeing on the ground," an indication, perhaps, that the sides are getting close to a compromise. But the halt in approvals for new building was seen by Netanyahu's critics as little more than a maneuver. The settlement watchdog group Peace Now said Sunday that there had been no real slowdown in construction and that settlers could keep building indefinitely, using plans that have already been approved. Netanyahu has also taken steps to improve life for Palestinians in the West Bank. With the territory enjoying a period of calm, some Israeli military checkpoints have been lifted, permits for importing raw materials are being granted, and there are other signs that life there is assuming a semblance of normalcy.

Meanwhile three Palestinians and an Israeli were wounded Monday in violence on the Gaza-Israel border, according to officials from both sides. Israeli military said soldiers opened fire on a group of suspicious Palestinians across the border in northern Gaza. Palestinian Health Ministry official Moaiya Hassanain said two wounded men were brought to hospitals, and the military said another was taken to Israel for treatment. Later, Palestinians fired two mortar shells from Gaza, Israeli rescue services and the military said, slightly wounding a soldier. Border incidents between Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel have been relatively infrequent in recent weeks.

25.08.2009: Israeli airstrike on Gaza smuggling tunnel kills 3. An Israeli airstrike on a smuggling tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt killed three Palestinians inside and wounded seven on Tuesday in the deadliest Israeli attack on the volatile border area in months, a Palestinian Health Ministry official said. The Israeli military said the air force struck in retaliation for a mortar attack from Gaza Monday into southern Israel that lightly wounded an Israeli soldier. The Israeli government has pledged a military response to every attack. Fighting between Israel and Gaza militants has largely subsided since a fierce Israeli offensive in January, but Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight economic blockade of the coastal area to maintain pressure on the militant Hamas government. Later Tuesday, the Israeli military said soldiers shot and lightly wounded a Palestinian who crossed into Israel from Gaza near the sensitive Nahal Oz fuel depot. He was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. The depot has been attacked by Gaza militants in the past.

26.08.2009. Mitchell, Netanyahu say progress made at talks. The Obama administration's Mideast peace envoy and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say they have "made good progress" at talks aimed at restarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Mitchell has been trying to lay the groundwork for a resumption in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by pressing the two sides and Arab states to take confidence-building steps, but has yet to win agreement on those steps.

27.08.2009: Netanyahu in Berlin: Iran, settlements, Auschwitz. With memories of the Holocaust as their backdrop, the leaders of Israel and Germany spoke Thursday about the need to keep the Jewish state safe from threats like a nuclear-armed Iran. Chancellor Angela Merkel also underlined her country's desire to see Israel stop building its controversial settlements, telling reporters after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "time on this is short." Netanyahu's talks with Merkel in the German capital came a day after a rare sign of progress in bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, with both sides indicating a first meeting between their leaders was likely to take place within weeks. A meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which the officials said could happen in September at the UN General Assembly in New York, would be an important symbolic step toward resuming peace talks. "I hope that in a time frame of a month or two we can relaunch negotiations," Netanyahu said Thursday. "Let's just get on with it." But Netanyahu offered no indication that Israel would agree to a settlement freeze, the Palestinian condition for resuming the peace talks. Some 300,000 Israelis now live in West Bank settlements, besides 180,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim both areas. Among others, anarchists and USA have urged Israel to stop expanding the settlements.

A visit by an Israeli leader to Germany is never limited to current events. Between meetings with Merkel and the German foreign minister, Netanyahu was also visiting the Wannsee House, the site of a key 1942 meeting during which the Nazis formalized plans for the extermination of the Jews. Netanyahu also took possession of a set of blueprints of the notorious Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Accepting the blueprints from the editor of Bild, the German newspaper that obtained the plans after they surfaced in Berlin last year, Netanyahu drew a parallel between past and current events. "We cannot allow those who wish to perpetrate mass deaths, those who call for the destruction of the Jewish people or the Jewish state, to go unchallenged," Netanyahu said. "It is important for the leaders of other nations to realize that their own fate is imperiled by those who threaten our fate," he said.

Netanyahu didn't explicitly mention Iran, but it was a clear reference to that country's nuclear program, which Israel sees as a grave threat and wants blocked by stronger international sanctions. The 29 sketches of the death camp built in Nazi-occupied Poland date as far back as 1941. They include detailed blueprints for living barracks, delousing facilities and crematoria, including gas chambers, and are considered important for understanding the genesis of the Nazi genocide. The sketches are initialed by the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, and Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess. Germany and Israel today enjoy close ties, and Merkel underlined Germany's special commitment to Israel's existence, saying it was her country's obligation to "defend Israel always." Germany built the Israeli navy's three Dolphin-class submarines, which foreign press reports say can launch nuclear-tipped missiles. It is also building two more submarines and is in talks with Israel's military about supplying its fleet with several modern missile boats.

28.08.2009: Egypt's foreign minister says east Jerusalem must be included in a freeze of Israeli settlement activity before Middle East peace talks can restart. Ahmed Aboul-Gheit told reporters in Stockholm on Friday that Jerusalem is Arab "and it will continue to be so." He said the Arab world expects the area to be included in a moratorium on Israeli settlements. The Obama administration has hinted it may be backing down on its insistence that Israel halt all settlement activity as a condition for restarting peace talks with the Palestinians. US officials have however denied Israeli media reports that Washington has agreed to leave East Jerusalem out of the agreement and settle for a nine- to 12-month freeze in the West Bank.

30.08.2009: 2 bombs explode in Gaza compound, outside mosque. Two bombs went off near a mosque and inside Gaza's main security compound early Sunday in the latest violence to shake the troubled coastal territory, security officials said. No injuries were reported. The explosions appeared to be revenge attacks against Gaza's rulers, the Islamic militant group Hamas. Officials said they defused two more bombs hidden in the Ansar compound in Gaza City. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to reporters. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. However, a shadowy group loyal to al-Qaeda called Jund Ansar Allah - Soldiers of the Companions of God - has sworn to attack Hamas security compounds and mosques in retaliation for a deadly shootout earlier this month. Hamas interior ministry spokesman Ihab Ghussein said they were investigating the explosions. Also Sunday, an Israeli aircraft bombed a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip that military officials said could be used by militants to infiltrate Israel. A military spokeswoman said the tunnel was being dug about a mile from Gaza's border with Israel by organizations not connected to Hamas. She declined to give more information. Hamas' militant wing, the Qassam Brigades, have traditionally led Palestinian fighting against Israel.

31.08.2009: Top Hamas official says Holocaust "a lie," slams reported UN plan to study it in Gaza. A Hamas spiritual leader on Monday called teaching Palestinian children about the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews a "war crime," rejecting a suggestion that the UN might include the Holocaust in Gaza's school curriculum. A senior Israeli official said such statements should make the West think twice about ending its boycott of Hamas, in place since the group seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israeli officials called the comments as "obscene" and said they place Hamas in a pariah club of Holocaust deniers that includes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hamas spiritual leader Younis al-Astal lashed out after hearing that the UN Relief and Works Agency, the main UN body aiding Palestinian refugees, planned to introduce lessons about the Holocaust to Gaza students. Adding the Holocaust to the curriculum would amount to "marketing a lie and spreading it," al-Astal wrote in a statement.

"I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies," he wrote. A UN official said no decision has been made about introducing Holocaust education in Gaza. Many Palestinians are reluctant to acknowledge Jewish suffering, fearing it might diminish their own. Attitudes toward the Holocaust range from outright denial to challenging its scope. Hamas has been making overtures to the West, hoping to end a stifling blockade of Gaza. And the statements about the Holocaust by senior Hamas officials could undermine the group's attempt to present itself as pragmatic. The US, EU and anarchists list Hamas as a terror group, but there have been growing calls, particularly in Europe, to talk to the militants. Hamas control of Gaza is seen as a key obstacle to any Mideast peace deal.

Three teachers at UN schools said that according to the new program, basic information about the Holocaust was expected to be taught to eighth grade students as part of human rights classes. Two of the teachers said they were told about the lesson plan by colleagues involved in the new syllabus. Another teacher said he attended a recent meeting with education officials where he was told to try to teach the new syllabus without offending parents' sensibilities. All three said they had not received the syllabus for the human rights classes yet, even though the school year began in late August. They requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to reporters. UNRWA provides education, health care and welfare services to more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million people. Spokesman Chris Gunness said a final decision has not been made about the Holocaust course for Gaza schools.

"While the Holocaust is currently not included on the basis of age appropriateness, all elements (of the curriculum) remain under review and under evolution," he said. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also objected to including what he referred to as the "so-called Holocaust" in the lesson plan. "We think it's more important to teach Palestinians the crimes of the Israeli occupation," he said. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said countries contemplating ending their boycott of Hamas must "seriously reconsider" after the Hamas statements, which he described as "obscene." The Holocaust is not taught in West Bank schools, said an education ministry official in Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas' government.

Israelis have long complained that Palestinian textbooks present Israel only as an enemy, despite a series of interim peace deals. Also, they charge that maps in the books do not show Israel at all. Palestinians make similar charges about Israeli education. Recently Israel's education minister ordered a halt to using the accepted Arabic term "nakba," or catastrophe, to describe the results of the two-year war that followed Israel's creation, when about 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes. The UN runs 221 schools in Gaza for more than 200,000 students and is the largest independent agency in the territory, controlled by Hamas since a violent takeover in 2007. The West Bank, the other territory that is supposed to comprise a future Palestinian state, is controlled by Hamas' Western-backed rivals of the Fatah movement, led by President Mahmoud Abbas. Some 6 million Jews were killed in the Nazi campaign to wipe out European Jewry, and the urgent need to find a sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of survivors contributed to the creation of Israel after World War II.

Many Palestinians are reluctant to acknowledge the full extent of the Holocaust because they feel it provided legitimacy for Israel's establishment. A majority of Gaza's 1.4 million people are Palestinian refugees or their descendants. Some parents opposed the idea of their children learning about the Holocaust. "I don't want them teaching my children Jewish lies," Mohammed Silmi, 33, said Monday, after driving his son to a UN school in Gaza City on the back of a motorbike. "It will just be Zionist propaganda." Hamas' founding charter calls for Israel's destruction, though senior Hamas officials have recently said they would accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel as an interim stage to full Islamic control of the region. Hamas is frequently at loggerheads with the UN refugee agency, which it considers the only serious challenge to its control of Gaza. Over the summer, Hamas accused the UN of spreading "immorality" in summer camps for children, because it offered activities such as folk dancing and crafts.

01.09.2009: Hamas says two of its fighters have been killed in the Gaza Strip. The cause of the deaths remains unclear. Hamas initially said the men were killed in an Israeli airstrike, then said they had been shot and later said they were killed by Israeli tank fire. But the Israeli military says it wasn't involved. Last week, an Israeli airstrike on a smuggling tunnel killed three Palestinians. Israel said the men were sneaking weapons into Gaza from neighboring Egypt.

05.09.2009: US harshly rebukes Israel on settlement plans. Alarmed by Israeli plans to build new housing units in settlements and dimming prospects for American peace efforts, the Obama administration on Friday put out a rare and harsh public rebuke of its main Mideast ally. The White House said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement plans were "inconsistent" with commitments the Jewish state has made previously and harmful to US attempts to lay the groundwork for a resumption in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate."

Netanyahu's aides, speaking on condition of anonymity Friday because the plans have not been formally announced, said any Israeli settlement freeze would not halt building the new units and or block completion of some 2,500 others currently under construction. They also said the freeze would not include east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make their future capital. The unusually blunt White House criticism reflected the administration's growing frustration with Netanyahu, whose decision would approve hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements before considering even a temporary freeze in construction, as President Barack Obama has requested. The White House typically refrains from commenting on such moves until they are formally announced. But in this case, US officials said they acted because Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell had already been briefed on the Israeli plans earlier in the week.

Netanyahu's refusal to bend on the settlement issue despite repeated US appeals threatens to damage Obama's credibility in the Arab world. The administration is counting on Arab support for a resumption in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations but will not likely get it unless Netanyahu makes concessions on settlements. The Palestinians have said they will not sit down for talks unless there is a settlement freeze and Arab leaders have made similar demands.

06.09.2009: Israel approving new West Bank construction. Israel defied US pressure to halt construction in its West Bank settlements Sunday, with key leaders speaking out in support of the contentious enclaves and preparing to sign orders to allow building of hundreds of new housing units there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are expected to approve orders for about 500 new apartments Monday, said Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been finalized. The Israeli government announced its plans to build the new units Friday while also outlining the idea of a subsequent partial freeze in settlement construction - an apparent attempt by Netanyahu to balance demands from both his conservative base and the Obama administration, which has called on Israel to halt all settlement construction.

But Netanyahu risks angering both sides. The White House immediately criticized the new building as detrimental to achieving Mideast peace, while members of the prime minister's Likud Party opposed limiting settlement construction at all. "We were elected to fly the flag" of settlement, said Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom at a Likud gathering late Sunday. "We must not fly that flag at half staff." But other Israeli officials were more supportive. The head of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, Eli Yishai, spoke supportively of a "strategic pause" in construction. And Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called Netanyahu's move "well-conceived," adding that no agreement had been reached with Washington on a construction freeze.

If orders for the 500 new apartments are approved, they would be the first building permits issued since Netanyahu took office March 31, a kind of de facto slowdown that existed despite the prime minister's refusal to agree to Washington's demands to fully freeze settlement construction. Such tense relations between the two strategic allies were rare when George W. Bush was president and moderate Ehud Olmert was Israel's premier. But public recriminations between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu have become routine. Obama's envoy, George Mitchell, is expected in Israel at the end of this week or the beginning of next, according to Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. Mitchell has been the point man for the dispute over settlement construction.

Despite conflicting pressures, Netanyahu still hopes to work out a compromise deal that will satisfy the US and allow for resumption of peace negotiations. Israeli officials have suggested they might halt some building in the West Bank in exchange for overtures from the Arab world. Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of the militant Islamic Hamas, rejected that on Sunday in Cairo. "This is a very dangerous equation," Mashaal said. "We warn against any Arab rush toward normalization." As mentioned Hamas rules the Gaza Strip after overrunning it in 2007 and the Western-backed regime of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas controls the West Bank. Israel says a halt in construction would not apply to 2,500 units under construction or to east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim for the capital of a future state. Israel captured that sector of the city in 1967. Palestinian officials continue to insist that there can be no peace talks until all the settlement construction is stopped. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Sunday that the new construction "really undermines the efforts being exerted to revive the peace process." As mentioned about 300,000 Israelis live among about 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. An additional 180,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem neighborhoods built since Israel captured the area.

13.09.2009: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Lebanon on Sunday that Israel "will not hold back" when attacked and holds the Lebanese government responsible for any assault on his country. Netanyahu delivered the warning after two rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Friday. Israel responded immediately with artillery fire, and the exchange ratcheted up persisting tensions between the two countries. "We view this very gravely," Netanyahu told his Cabinet. "We will not hold back when Israeli territory comes under fire, and will not reconcile ourselves to missile fire or any other form of terror directed at Israeli citizens." It was not immediately known who fired the rockets Friday. But radical Palestinian factions in Lebanon have been blamed in four firings at Israel this year.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been tense since Israel mounted a monthlong war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in the summer of 2006. More than 1,200 people in Lebanon and 160 Israelis died in that conflict, which ended in a United Nations-brokered truce. On Sunday, Netanyahu put the onus of maintaining the cease-fire squarely on the shoulders of the Lebanese government. "We see it responsible for all these violations and hostilities directed at our territory that originate from Lebanese soil," he said. Hezbollah has a large rocket arsenal, but is not believed to have used them against Israel since the 2006 fighting. It has denied involvement in previous rocket attacks on Israel. But friction between Israel and Hezbollah has escalated as Lebanese politicians wrangle over the formation of a new government. The Hezbollah-led opposition would likely be a part of that cabinet.

In mid-July, a suspected Hezbollah arms depot exploded near the Israeli border. Israel said this was proof the group was rearming and stashing weapons in populated villages. Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper reported Sunday that the UN force in Lebanon, which was beefed up significantly after the war to monitor the border, had been warned of a possible attack 10 days earlier. The UN force relayed this information to the Lebanese army two days before the attack, the report said. A spokesman for the UN force, Milos Strugar, said an investigation under way "is pointing in the direction of some extremist groups." He did not elaborate.

The son of an Israeli astronaut who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster six years ago was killed Sunday when his F-16 warplane crashed on a routine training flight, the Israeli military said. The military identified the dead pilot as Capt. Asaf Ramon, son of Ilan Ramon, Israel's first and only astronaut. One of seven crew members killed when the Columbia exploded as it re-entered the atmosphere in 2003, Ilan Ramon is seen as a national hero in Israel, and radio and TV stations broke into their broadcasts Sunday to report the news of his son's death.

Israel: Differences with US over peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking before a key meeting with the White House Mideast envoy, said Sunday that differences remain with the US over resuming peacemaking with the Palestinians. Netanyahu delivered the assessment before flying to Cairo for talks with Egypt's president, a main mediator in efforts to restart peace talks, and ahead of a meeting with George Mitchell, the US envoy, later this week. The Obama administration, with Mitchell as the point man, has been pressing Israel to declare a halt to construction in its West Bank settlements. Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state and say they will not resume peace talks without a settlement freeze.

15.09.2009: War crimes? A United Nations report issued Tuesday says both Israel and the Palestinians committed actions amounting to war crimes during Israel's military incursion into Gaza from December 27 to January 18. Although the UN investigation found that Palestinian militants also committed war crimes, the overwhelming majority of the criticism in a summary of the 574-page report targets Israel. Israel "committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity," the report says. The findings were revealed by the head of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Richard Goldstone, a South African judge. Israel did not cooperate in the investigation. The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Israel "did not feel able to cooperate with the Fact Finding Mission because its mandate was clearly one-sided and ignored the thousands of Hamas missile attacks on civilians in southern Israel that made the Gaza Operation necessary." The report recommends that the UN Security Council require the government of Israel to launch appropriate independent investigations into the findings of the report within three months. The findings also recommend that the alleged Israeli war crimes be explored by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor. The findings also call on Palestinian leadership to investigate alleged war crimes, for militants to respect humanitarian law, and for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on humanitarian grounds.

17.09.2009: Netanyahu to world: Back Israeli self-defense. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected the UN report alleging Israeli war crimes in its Gaza war this year, warning world leaders that they and their anti-terror forces could be targets for similar charges. Netanyahu said Israeli forces were exercising their right to self-defense after rocket attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants against southern Israeli towns before and since Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. "They tell us to pull out, and after we do, and we exercise our right to self defense, they call us war criminals? I don't accept that," Netanyahu told Israel TV, speaking on the occasion of the Jewish New Year holiday, which begins Friday. The report of the UN commission, headed by South African justice Richard Goldstone, faulted Israel for civilian deaths in Gaza, saying it used disproportionate force in the offensive. About 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the three-week conflict. Israel charged that Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers were to blame, saying they placed rocket launchers and forces in crowded neighborhoods.

The UN report also called Hamas' firing of rockets at Israeli civilians a war crime. Netanyahu urged world leaders to support Israel's right to self-defense and reject the report's findings - including its conclusion that formal charges could be brought against Israeli soldiers, officers and leaders. "I'm going to tell world leaders, who also suffer from terrorism: It's not only our problem," Netanyahu said. "If they charge Israeli soldiers, officers, pilots and even leaders - they will charge you, too." Netanyahu said he would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza if it were demilitarized, as a way of "avoiding the next Goldstone report" on an Israeli operation against Palestinian militants.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he hoped the Goldstone report would not become an obstacle to renewing peace talks. He said the US has "concerns about the content of the report" but would not elaborate. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, reiterated US concern about what it calls the UN team's "unbalanced, one-sided and unacceptable" mandate. "Our view is that we need to be focused on the future. This is a time to work to cement progress towards the resumption of negotiations and their early and successful conclusion,," she said. The anarchists, i.e. ICOT, AI and AIE, mostly agree with USA in this matter.

President Barack Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, is scheduled to meet Netanyahu early Friday after extending his stay in the region by several days. Netanyahu said he discussed an "eight-point document of Israel's security needs" with Mitchell, but he did not give details. Netanyahu did not indicate he is giving in to the main US demand - a freeze of construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. "There is a slowdown in settlement construction, but not a freeze," he told Channel 10 TV. "There are 2,400 units being built, and their construction will continue." Mitchell is hoping to arrange a meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next week in New York, during the session of the UN General Assembly. Netanyahu said no meeting has been scheduled so far, but added, "I hope there will be one."

Abbas has said peace negotiations cannot resume until Israel halts all construction in the settlements, but Netanyahu said that issue should be settled in negotiations. "It is clear that the fate of settlements and borders and territory in Judea and Samaria will be determined," he said, using the biblical term for the West Bank. "But it can't be determined before we start." On Iran, Netanyahu repeated Israeli policy that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, but he would not be drawn about what Israel might do to prevent that. In the past, Israeli leaders have not taken military options off the table.

Also Thursday, Nasser al-Shaer, a Hamas political leader in the West Bank, was released from an Israeli prison after six months behind bars. Al-Shaer is among dozens of Hamas lawmakers Israel arrested as pressure to free an Israeli soldier held in Gaza for more than three years. At Israel's border with Gaza, the captive soldier's father was among a group that delivered a package for his son. It was handed to Palestinian activists in hope that the letters would reach the soldier, who has not been seen since his capture in June 2006. In return, the Israelis took supplies for Hamas prisoners in Israel. Sami Abeed, a Palestinian journalist who accepted the Israeli package, said it contained letters, fruit and drawings for the soldier. He said he did not know whether the goods would reach him.

18.09.2009: US Mideast envoy fails to bridge gaps. The United States' top Mideast envoy failed to bridge wide gaps between Israelis and Palestinians as he ended his most intensive attempt yet on Friday, raising questions over President Barack Obama's efforts to revive peacemaking. The deadlock could scuttle hopes for a meeting between Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next week in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The key disputes are over Israeli settlement expansion and whether peace talks should begin where they left off under Netanyahu's predecessors. Israel has balked at a US demand that it freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, war-won territory the Palestinians want for their state. Under a US-sponsored plan from 2003, Israel is required to freeze all such construction.

Instead, Netanyahu wants to continue building about 3,000 housing units, while offering to curtail other construction for a period of several months. Nearly half a million Israelis have moved to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast War, and Palestinians fear the growing settlements will make a viable state impossible. Abbas insists on a freeze, his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said after the Palestinian president met Friday with the US envoy, George Mitchell. "We once again reiterated that there are no middle ground solutions for settlements. A settlement freeze is a settlement freeze," Erekat said. The Palestinians also demand that negotiations resume on the same terms as previous rounds, led by Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert. This would include Israel's willingness to discuss all so-called core issues, including a partition of Jerusalem. Netanyahu has said Jerusalem is off-limits in negotiations, and his proposed settlement slowdown does not include the city.

Over four days, Mitchell met twice with Abbas and four times with Netanyahu, including twice on Friday before Mitchell left the region. A senior Israeli official said that wide gaps remained, but would not comment on the content of the meetings. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with Israeli briefing regulations. It appears unlikely, however, that Netanyahu would change his mind about settlement expansion. In recent days, his government announced bids for hundreds more homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and his hardline government rests on the support of Jewish settlers and their political allies. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the administration would keep pushing for a peace deal.

"I guarantee you that President Obama and I are very patient and very determined," she said in a speech to the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "We know that this is not an easy road for anyone to travel." However, she also indicated that the administration would not try to impose a solution. "We are going to do all we can to pursuade, cajole, encourage the parties themselves to make that agreement. The United States cannot make it. The Arab nations cannot make it. It is up to the Palestinians and Israelis," she said. "And to that end, we expect both sides, not just one side, but both sides to be actively engaged and willing to work towards that resolution."

In the meantime, a meeting between Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu in New York next week appears to be a long shot. The senior Israeli official said that for now, Netanyahu is set to fly to New York late Wednesday and deliver a speech the following day. If a trilateral session were to be arranged, the prime minister could leave for the US earlier, the official said, adding that a Netanyahu-Obama meeting was not on the agenda. Abbas, meanwhile, is conflicted about whether to meet with Netanyahu as a courtesy to Obama, said senior Palestinian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the deliberations. Several senior aides urged Abbas not to sit down with Netanyahu without having set the terms for negotiations, arguing that otherwise it would be seen as a sign of weakness and hurt his standing at home.

Abbas is locked in a power struggle with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving him only in control of the West Bank. Hamas has used lack of progress in negotiations to try to discredit Abbas. In the Gaza town of Beit Lahia, Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri told a rally Friday that negotiations are a waste of time. "The choice of negotiations has proven a failure, and it's time that Palestinian negotiators abandon this worthless and destructive tool and go back to holy war and resistance," al-Masri told a crowd. In other developments, the World Bank warned in a report Friday that donor countries will have to keep giving large amounts of aid to the Abbas government, unless Israel eases access of Palestinian goods to Israeli and world markets.

Senior representatives of the donor countries meet next week as part of the General Assembly and review their aid program to the Palestinians. Donor countries have given billions of dollars to the Palestinians since 1993, including $1.8 billion in 2008 and an expected $1.1 billion in 2009. However, the economy has been held back by Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement, imposed after the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in 2000. In recent months, Israel has eased some restrictions inside the West Bank, prompting modest economic growth. However, the West Bank and Gaza remain cut off from each other, and West Bank exports are hampered by slow movement at Israeli crossings. The Abbas government is still short of money, the bank said, citing a $400 million financing gap for this year.

20.09.2009: Obama has tough task in renewing Mideast talks. Barack Obama will try to get Mideast peacemaking back on track this week in a meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, hoping the weight of the US presidency can resolve a showdown over Israeli settlement construction and get the sides talking again after months of deadlock. For Obama, it's high-stakes diplomacy that relies on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as key to cracking other world problems. He'll be bringing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together in New York on Tuesday for their first encounter since Netanyahu took office in March. Obama faces a tough task. The Israelis and Palestinians have dug in deep to positions that have eluded compromise, despite multiple visits by Washington's special US envoy. Deep divisions among the Palestinians further complicate the process. And it's far from clear whether there is enough common ground between the hawkish Netanyahu and the weakened Abbas.

The Palestinians as mentioned hope to build a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital. Israel captured those territories in 1967. While Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Netanyahu has given little indication that he is ready to make territorial compromises in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that would be crucial to reaching an accord. After the meeting was announced Saturday, Netanyahu's office said he "warmly accepts" the invitation. A senior Israeli official said the meetings in New York were meant to lay the groundwork for negotiations but would not constitute a relaunch of talks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to articulate government policy on the record. Palestinian officials were traveling to New York on Sunday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

An administration official has said there would be no announcement after the meeting, and it's not clear what progress it might achieve toward renewing talks. Talks on the Palestinian side are being handled by Abbas and his moderate Palestinian Authority. The Islamic militant Hamas group that overran Gaza in 2007 is not a party to the negotiation process. In Gaza on Sunday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh castigated the new US administration and said he wouldn't recognize any accord. "Any signature will be invalid, and it won't bind the Palesitnian people to anything," he said in a sermon in Gaza City at the start of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Obama is eager to mend relations with the Muslim world, which frayed badly over the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows Washington's close alliance with Israel goes to the heart of Muslim anger toward the West. With this in mind, Obama has put heavy pressure on Israel to halt construction of settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Netanyahu has said he will slow construction, but refused to accept an absolute freeze. While the tough stance toward Israel has been welcomed in the Arab world, it also appears to have raised Palestinian expectations. Should Obama fail to wring significant concessions from Israel, his credibility could suffer among Muslims and Arabs. His public spat with Israel over the settlements has also strained relations with the Jewish state, where many wonder whether Obama is as committed to their safety as previous US leaders were.

Bolstered by Washington's stance, the Palestinians are showing new resolve on opposing settlement construction. Abbas has refused to begin negotiations without a settlement construction freeze. Abbas lost credibility among Palestinians after the latest round of peace talks with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert broke down last winter following Israel's bruising offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Obama plans to meet separately with Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly before bringing them together Tuesday for a three-way sitdown. The meeting had been in doubt after US envoy George Mitchell failed last week to bridge gaps between the two sides on the settlements.

As mentiond nearly half a million Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and the Palestinians fear their presence and continued growth undermines the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Israel annexed east Jerusalem, home to Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, in 1967, and Netanyahu says Israel is entitled to build in the area. However, neither the Palestinians nor the international community recognize this annexation. Netanyahu has agreed to consider a moratorium on new construction in the West Bank only - but says Israel will continue to build some 3,000 apartments already approved. All of this construction would defy an Israeli commitment under a 2003 peace blueprint to stop all settlement expansion. Netanyahu has offered to sit down with the Palestinians to negotiate, but they are distrustful of his intentions. The Israeli leader is a longtime patron of the settlements, and his government coalition relies heavily on settler allies.

Restarting formal negotiations after Tuesday's summit won't be easy. After more than 15 years of off-and-on peace talks, the Palestinians don't want to go back to Square One. They want talks to resume where they broke off under Olmert, who made the farthest-reaching proposal ever offered by an Israeli leader. The hawkish Netanyahu is unlikely to agree to such concessions. Since leaving office, Olmert has disclosed that he offered the Palestinians about 93.5 percent of the West Bank. He said he was willing to swap an additional 6.5 percent of Israeli territory for land on which major Jewish settlements stand and for a corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza. He also proposed international administration of east Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites and Israeli officials say he agreed to cede control of some traditionally Arab neighborhoods in the city's eastern sector. He also offered to repatriate to Israel a limited number of Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinians agreed to the concept of a territory swap, but sought more West Bank land. They also demanded Palestinian sovereignty over a disputed hilltop compound that is home to Islam's third-holiest site, the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, officials familiar with the talks say. The complex is also the site of the most sacred shrine in Judaism, the mount where the biblical Jewish temples stood. The Palestinians have not released their negotiating position on resolving the problem of Palestinian refugees who fled or were driven from homes in Israel in the war following the Jewish state's creation in 1948. Publicly they demand the return of all Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants - a stance Israel adamantly rejects on the assumption that Palestinians would ultimately outnumber Jews.

Israeli troops kill 2 Palestinians on Gaza border. A Palestinian Health Ministry official says Israeli forces have killed two Palestinian militants and wounded three in an incident along the Gaza border. Dr. Moaiya Hassanain said the men were hit by tank fire. The Israeli military said a border patrol fired at a group of Palestinians seen planting a bomb at the Gaza border fence Sunday. It did not elaborate. The militant Islamic Hamas said one of its fighters was among the dead, identifying him as Abed Hafiz al-Silawi, 21. While the smaller left wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine identified the other as 21-year-old Mahmoud Ahmed Naseer in a separate statement. Joint operations by the two groups are rare, but not unheard of.

21.09.2009: Aide: Netanyahu won't bend on settlements. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won't bend on his opposition to a settlement freeze when he meets the American and Palestinian leaders in New York, a top aide said Monday. The tough Israeli line could signal trouble for Tuesday's summit, where President Barack Obama is bringing together Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in hopes of relaunching peace talks. Israeli and Palestinian officials, feuding over the ongoing settlement construction in West Bank, have warned that no breakthroughs are expected. Abbas has refused to resume negotiations without an Israeli commitment to freeze construction in the West Bank, a call echoed by the US administration. The Palestinians say the meeting does not constitute negotiations. Netanyahu's media adviser, Nir Hefetz, said the prime minister would hold firm to his opposition to a settlement freeze.

22.09.2009: Obama urges Israeli, Palestinian sides to do more. Pressing for elusive Mideast peace, President Barack Obama on Tuesday challenged Israeli and Palestinians leaders to do more, saying it was time to "find a way forward." It was the president's most direct engagement yet on a problem that has vexed leaders for years. In a moment deep in symbolism but offering little expectation of any immediate breakthrough, Obama brought together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for their first three-way meeting. Obama's words as the meeting got under way showed frustration with the looming gap between the two sides as the US again tries to foster a deal. "Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations," Obama said. "It is time to move forward." Obama got specific with his expectations for both sides and outlined a timeline of steps for the coming weeks, eager to show momentum.

Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas spoke during a brief appearance before reporters as the meeting got under way. But after Obama's brief opening remarks, the president strode over to shake each of their hands. Then the two foes reluctantly shook hands as well, with dozens of cameras clicking to record the moment. The three-way sit-down began about an hour late, after Obama had met individually with both men. Obama said everyone has "worked tirelessly" but still not done enough. To Palestinians, he said they must build on progress on halting terrorism and "do more to stop incitement." As for Israelis, he praised their moves to increase Palestinians' freedom of movement and their discussions about restraining Jewish settlement-building in Palestinian territories - both top priorities of Palestinians. But, said Obama, Israeli officials "need to turn these discussions into real action."

Despite all the obstacles, Obama said, "We have to find a way forward." The meeting unfolded on the sidelines of UN General Assembly meetings in New York, where Obama engaged in personal diplomacy and addressed a high-level climate summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Obama's Mideast diplomacy efforts, although expectations were low for Tuesday's three-way meeting, it was seen as a crucial step for the president nonetheless. The Israeli-Palestinian sit-down wasn't announced until Saturday and comes with the two sides still far apart on what it would take to resume peace talks that broke off in 2008. US envoy George Mitchell failed last week to bridge the gap between the two sides on the issue of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory, putting the long hoped-for three-way meeting in doubt. Obama has asked Israel to freeze all settlement construction, a condition for Abbas to resume negotiations. But Israel has only committed to a partial halt. Still, the sides decided to go ahead, even though Obama is considered unlikely to resolve the settlement showdown and announce a relaunching of peace talks. "We have no grand expectations out of one meeting," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

But in a sign that pressure from Obama may yet produce progress, Netanyahu told reporters after the talks that there had been "general agreement that the peace process should resume as soon as possible with no preconditions." It was unclear how and when that might happen. Abbas, in his statement, said Palestinians had repeated their demand that Israel stop settlement construction and desire for Israel to turn over control of almost all of the territory Israel captured in 1967. With the sides locked into opposing positions, the New York meeting fell far short of the diplomatic coup White House aides had once hoped for.

23.09.2009: No meetings between Israelis, Palestinians planned. Israelis and Palestinians said Wednesday that their envoys would meet with US officials but not with each other, cementing the impression that a US-sponsored meeting between their leaders had fallen flat.

29.09.2009: A UN investigator defended a report Tuesday that accuses Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes during their conflict in Gaza, an allegation Israel condemns and claims is the result of bias against the Jewish state. US officials criticized the report that came down heavily on its longtime ally and indicated they would block moves to refer the findings to the powerful UN Security Council. "We disagree sharply with many of the report's assessments and its recommendations and believe it to be deeply flawed," US Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner said. The report's lead author, former South African judge Richard Goldstone, said he and his team were disappointed by the criticism and rejected any suggestion the findings in 575-page document were politically motivated.

The chief Palestinian negotiator on Tuesday played down expectations for President Barack Obama's latest attempt to restart peace talks, saying key differences with Israel make it difficult for negotiations to resume. The negotiator, Saeb Erekat, spoke ahead of talks in Washington this week with Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell. The former US senator is holding separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinians teams in hopes of reviving the long-stalled peace talks. Erekat reiterated the Palestinians' insistence that Israel stop all settlement construction in the West Bank, and stressed there would be no direct talks with the Israelis during this week's trip to Washington.

"There will not be Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in Washington," Erekat said. "There will be parallel American-Israeli negotiations and Palestinian-American negotiations." The talks in Washington are a follow to Obama's summit last week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New York. Obama urged the sides to move beyond the two main sticking points - continued Israeli settlement construction and the framework for resuming talks. Israel has agreed to slow building in the West Bank, captured by Israel in 1967, but has rejected a total halt to construction. Israel had pledged to stop settlement building in a 2003 US-backed peace plan, but has not done so, claiming that the Palestinians have not carried out their obligations. The Palestinians also want negotiations to begin where they left off under Netanyahu's more dovish predecessor, Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu says he is not obligated to any concessions that Olmert made.

30.09.2009: Fatah to Abbas: no talks without settlement freeze. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been told by his Fatah movement that he must not resume peace talks unless Israel freezes its settlement construction, a senior Fatah member said Wednesday. Fatah's position could help Abbas stand up to US pressure to return to talks with Israel.

05.10.2009: Abbas vs Hamas again. Hamas leaders on Monday launched an unprecedented attack against President Mahmoud Abbas, saying they no longer consider him a Palestinian after he agreed to suspend efforts to go after Israel for alleged war crimes in Gaza. The harsh verbal assault is likely to undermine attempts at reconciliation scheduled to conclude later this month between the Western-backed Abbas and his Islamic militant Hamas rivals, who control the Gaza Strip. A UN report as mentioned alleged that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the three-week offensive in Gaza, a charge both deny. The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva decided last week to put off a vote on the report for six months, rather than refer it to the UN General Assembly immediately for possible action. Abdullah Abdullah, a lawmaker in Abbas' Fatah movement, said Monday that the Palestinian diplomats had been urged by "certain friendly countries" to put off the vote.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, several hundred protesters marched in the central square, calling for the resignation of those who took the decision. "Listen, listen, Abbas, our people's blood is not spilled in vain," they chanted. In Jerusalem Monday, several dozen young Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli police near the main holy site in the Old City. Several arrests were made, police said. Tension has been high during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when thousands of worshippers crowd the holy site. Also, a Palestinian teenager stabbed a soldier at a checkpoint in the city, wounding him. The attacker was arrested, police said.

16.10.2009: Majority at UN rights council endorses Gaza war crimes report. The UN Human Rights Council voted Friday to endorse a report on last winter's Gaza conflict that calls on Israel and authorities in Gaza to carry out credible investigations into alleged abuses - or face possible referral to international war crimes prosecutors. The decision means that Israel could find itself facing a request at the UN Security Council to refer the case to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague - whose jurisdiction Israel does not accept. Although a US veto at the Security Council would be virtually assured, Friday's decision will keep attention on the report, compiled by an expert panel chaired by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. Israel bitterly denounced Friday's decision, with officials arguing that continuing the course of the Goldstone report would embolden terror groups around the world - with nations reluctant to fight them for fear of facing the same fate as Israel.

The Goldstone report recommends that the 15-member Security Council require both sides in the conflict to show within six months that they are carrying out independent and impartial investigations into alleged abuses. If they are not, the matter should then be referred to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, the report says.

Friday's decision to endorse this approach followed two days of debate. The Palestinian-backed resolution passed 25-6, with mostly developing countries in favor and the United States and five European countries - Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia and Ukraine - opposing. Eleven mostly European and African countries abstained, while Britain, France and three other members of the 47-nation body declined to vote. Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, were among those voting yes. In order to be adopted, a UN Security Council resolution must get nine yes votes, and no veto by a permanent member.

The US is likely to use its veto to block any call to get the International Criminal Court involved in the dispute or to take action against Israel. In Ramallah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed Friday's vote. "What is important now is to translate words into deeds in order to protect our people in the future from any new aggression," Nabil Abu Rdeneh said. Israel and the US called the Goldstone report "flawed" because it ignored Israel's right to defend its people from Palestinian rocket fire. They warned that the vote could jeopardize Middle East peace prospects. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the resolution "provides encouragement for terrorist organizations worldwide and undermines global peace." US diplomat Douglas M. Griffiths told the council that Washington was disappointed with the outcome of the vote. "We're focused on moving forward in the peace process and we feel that this is a distraction from that," Griffiths said.

18.10.2009: Israel rejects war crimes accusations. Israel's cabinet has angrily rejected charges that the Israeli defence Force committed war crimes during the Gaza conflict last winter. The UN Human Rights Council singled out the Jewish state for censure while endorsing a report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone condemning the actions of both Israeli troops and Hamas fighters. Israel's Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz said: "We will not accept it. The Jewish state has the right and the duty to defend its people against terrorism exactly like Russia and the United States and Turkey and any other sovereign state." The UN backed Goldstone's recommendation that the war crimes issue be referred to the International Criminal Court unless both sides conducted thorough investigations. The Goldstone report also criticized Israel for using white phosperous incendiary shells during the conflict and targeting several UN facilities, causing horrific burns injuries to civilians. Palestinians have been expressing their anger over a decision by their President, Mahmoud Abbas to approve a UN recommendation in Geneva two weeks ago to delay any action over the Goldstone report. A decision he has since reversed. His popularity plummeted as he was perceived to have bowed to US pressure.

22.10.2009: Obama's hopes dashed. President Barack Obama's hopes for a fast track to renewed Mideast peace talks were dashed Thursday when his chief diplomat reported few new steps by either Israelis or Palestinians toward negotiations. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Obama Thursday in the Oval Office to report little to no new progress in a status report he had asked for by mid-October.

04.11.2009: Clinton: US wants Israel settlement halt 'forever'. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended the US stance toward Israeli settlement building to worried Arab allies on Wednesday, saying Washington does not accept the legitimacy of the West Bank enclaves and wants to see their construction halted "forever." Still, she said an Israeli offer to restrain - but not halt - construction represents "positive movement forward" toward resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Clinton met for an hour with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a hastily arranged stopover in the Egyptian capital to soothe Arab concerns that Washington is backing off demands for an Israeli settlement halt.

Egypt appeared reassured by Clinton's visit, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for a resumption of negotiations. "The Egyptian vision is that we have to concentrate on the end game and we must not waste time adhering to this issue or that as a start for the negotiations," Aboul Gheit said at a press conference with Clinton. "The United States did not change its position that it rejects the settlement building," he said, but "the United States wanted the parties to start the talks." Aboard her plane after departing for the US, Clinton said she thought the Egyptian stopover was "productive, constructive." She said the apparent positive reaction from Egyptian officials showed "the value of consultation and listening and sharing ideas and hearing the other side and putting forward your views and explaining."

But Clinton has had to do a lot of explaining since last Saturday, when she stood with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and praised his offer to limit settlement construction without halting it. Clinton has since tried to clarify the remarks, saying that the Israeli offer does not got far enough. Still, she has indicated that the Palestinians should resume negotiations with Israel without a full settlement halt as they demand. On Wednesday, Clinton insisted "our policy on settlement has not changed." "We do not accept the legitimacy of settlement activity. Ending all settlement activity current and future would be preferable," she told reporters after talks with Mubarak. Of the Israeli offer, she said, "It is not what we would prefer because we would like to see everything ended forever." "But it is something that I think shows at least a positive movement forward toward final status issues being addressed," she said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is sticking to his refusal to resume negotiations until Israel stops building settlements. He rejected the Israeli plan to complete 3,000 housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and to continue to construct public buildings and other construction in east Jerusalem - a territory Palestinians hope will be their future capital. After Arab criticism of her comments in Jerusalem on the Israeli plan, Clinton delayed her return to Washington after attending an international conference in Marrakech, Morocco, and flew instead to Cairo. In a new twist Tuesday, Clinton made what appeared to be an inadvertent slip of the tongue in a television interview with the Al-Jazeera network, referring to the goal of "an Israeli capital in east Jerusalem."

It has not been US policy to favor including east Jerusalem in an Israeli capital; the Palestinians claim it as their capital, and the issue is one of the most important and delicate points that would have to be settled in any final peace deal between the two parties. In the Al-Jazeera interview, Clinton reiterated that Obama has clearly stated his desire for a halt to settlements. But she added that the Israeli offer of "restraint," to include an end to establishment of new settlements and other measures that limit settlement growth, might be close enough to the ultimate US and Palestinian goal to merit embracing in the near future. "It is nowhere near enough, but I think when you keep your eye on what we want to achieve, it is a better place to be than the alternative, which is unrestrained (growth)," she said.

Aboard her plane Wednesday as it flew toward a British refueling stop before returning to Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton insisted that "we have to figure out a way to get into the relaunch of negotiations." She acknowledged that "things have happened along the way" that have impeded progress. "But that doesn't take away from what the ultimate objective is, and that's what I think you heard from Aboul Gheit and what you heard from me."

Palestinians threaten Israel with 1-state solution. The Palestinians should give up seeking an independent state and pursue a single country in which they would enjoy equal rights with Israelis, the chief Palestinian negotiator in Mideast peace talks said Wednesday. The remark by Saeb Erekat was not a novel idea - prominent Palestinians, including past negotiators, have floated it before, usually when efforts to achieve a negotiated solution to the decades old-conflict with Israel are faltering as they are now. Barack Obama's push to restart the peace talks has faltered, largely due to disagreements over further construction of Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, lands the Palestinians want for their hoped-for state.

Some 500,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in settlements built by Israel since capturing the territories in 1967. Israel promised to halt all settlement activity in a 2003 peace plan, but construction has never stopped. Israel has rebuffed calls from the Obama administration to freeze all settlement construction, instead offering to limit it in the West Bank while retaining the right to continue building in Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not resume negotiations until all settlement construction stops.

As mentioned Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent much of this week seeking to clarify the American position. After upsetting Arab allies by calling Israel's proposed slowdown "unprecedented," she said in Cairo on Wednesday that Washington does not accept the legitimacy of West Bank settlements and wants to see their construction halted "forever."

Erekat's call for a one-state solution while speaking with reporters in Ramallah on Wednesday appeared to be a scare tactic, fed by frustration with the failure of peace talks to resume. Erekat said growing Jewish settlements are eating away at lands the Palestinians' want for their state. Therefore, Erekat said, Palestinians "should refocus their attention to the one-state solution, where Muslims, Jews and Christians can live as equals." In essence, the idea is that Palestinians should stop negotiations, declare Israel to be the sole governing power and demand that it treat all Palestinians under its control as equals - about 5.5 million Jews and roughly the same number of Arabs under one roof. Only a minority of Palestinians support the single-state idea, and most Israelis fiercely reject it, saying it would mean the death of Israel as a Jewish state. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment on the one-state proposal, saying Israel remains committed to the peace process.

05.11.2009: Abbas says he won't run in January election. The Palestinian president said Thursday he does not want to run for another term in the January elections, blaming a stalemate in Mideast peace talks on Israel and the United States. In a televised speech to the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas said he has told his "brothers" in the Fatah movement of his "desire not to run in the upcoming elections." But Abbas' careful wording left room for the possibility that he could be persuaded to change his mind, especially if he perceives the United States as backing his position on demanding an end to Israeli construction in West Bank settlements.

Abbas' tenuous internal political position would make it difficult for him to agree to peace talks without a settlement construction freeze. His Hamas rivals would likely jump on a capitulation to embarrass him. The Palestinian leader's decision, reported earlier in the day by his aides, had set off a flurry of calls from regional leaders, with the presidents of Egypt and Israel, the king of Jordan and Israel's defense minister all urging him change his mind. About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians say these settlements take up large chunks of their hoped-for state, undermining their dream of independence. Also, about 180,000 Israelis live in Jerusalem neighborhoods built around the eastern sector of the city, which Palestinians claim for their capital.

Abbas has threatened before not to run for re-election in the Jan. 24 balloting. In his speech Thursday evening, he said, "I have told my brothers in the (Fatah) executive committee and central committee of my desire not to run." He said at first, he was encouraged by the Obama administration's policy, but then "we were surprised by its embracing of the Israeli position." He said settlement construction must stop, but "Israel and especially its current government rejects this." Late last month, Abbas told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he would not run, but recanted after President Barack Obama called him and expressed his commitment to Mideast peacemaking, Abbas' aides said.

Iin the following days, Clinton sought to clarify the American position, first offering warm praise for Israel's offer to somewhat limit settlement construction in the West Bank, then as mentioned telling Arab leaders that the US wants to see this construction stopped "forever." After Abbas' speech Thursday, Clinton praised his leadership in working toward the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel. She ignored a question about whether she would try to persuade Abbas to stay on and said: "I look forward to working with President Abbas in any new capacity to help achieve this goal."

Abbas' decision aside, it is not clear that elections will be held at all. Abbas' West Bank government does not control the Gaza Strip, which the Islamic militant group Hamas seized in June 2007. Hamas has said it would not participate in elections. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas' reluctance to run for re-election was "a message of reproach to his friends, the Americans and the Israelis." "We advise him to ... face the Palestinian people and tell them frankly that the path of negotiations has failed. Halt negotiations with the occupation and take practical steps toward reconciliation."

06.11.2009: Israel rejects UN assembly vote on Gaza war. Israel on Friday rejected a UN General Assembly resolution urging an investigation into a report saying war crimes were committed in Gaza, and condemned the world body vote as "completely detached from realities". In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in response to Thursday's vote that Israel "maintains the right to self-defence", and would "continue to act to protect the lives of its citizens from the threat of international terrorism".
The resolution, endorsing a report on the Gaza war commissioned by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, was nonbinding and seen as unlikely to force either Israel or Islamist Hamas rulers in Gaza to investigate the findings. The resolution, approved by 114 countries with 18 opposed and 44 abstaining, followed Goldstone in calling on Israel and "the Palestinian side" to undertake within three months credible investigations into the report's charges.

09.11.2009: Obama, Netanyahu to meet as US peace effort flounders. President Barack Obama was due to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Monday amid floundering US efforts to jump-start stalled Middle East peace talks. Obama's drive to revive the peace process faced a setback last week. As mentioned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a pivotal partner in any negotiations, accused Washington of retreating from its demand for a freeze on settlements and threatened not to stand in elections in January. Such a move could force a postponement in peace talks for months to come. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced strong Arab criticism over the US stance on the settlement issue during a visit to the region last week. She insisted Washington still wanted a freeze on settlement construction but believed that resuming peace talks was the best way to curb them.

The anarchists declare: A. The question of freeze on settlements now may be a marginal matter. If peace is to be achieved in the coming years, why worry about another few houses in the settlements that will be dismantled anyway? So there will be a few settlers more to resettle. Big deal. B. However it may also be a policy according to the metaphor "We are negotiating the division of a pizza, and in the meantime, Israel is eating the pizza." The anarchists are strongly against B.

10.11.2009: White House - Israel talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded an unusually low-key US visit on Tuesday voicing confidence that his White House talks had helped secure Israel and promote peace efforts. Netanyahu, whose ties with Washington have been strained by Israeli settlement expansion on occupied West Bank land where Palestinians seek statehood, met US President Barack Obama with little notice and minimal media exposure on Monday evening. "It was a very focused and very positive conversation," he told reporters before departing. "This conversation dealt with the range of subjects that are important for the security of Israel, and for our joint efforts to advance peace." He did not elaborate, saying only: "I think this visit will turn out to have been very important." Mahmoud Abbas, the US-sponsored Palestinian president, has accused Washington of failing to press Israel strongly for a freeze on settlements as mandated by a 2003 peace "road map".

11.11.2009: No peace talks unless Israel halts settlements, Abbas and the anarchists say. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called again on Wednesday for a halt to Israeli settlement building before he would resume talks with Israel, accusing it of trying to scupper Palestinian statehood. The anarchists mostly agree, however an independent Palestine should be an anarchy - not a state.

12.11.2009: Abbas to accept Palestinian election delay. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will accept the recommendation of independent election experts on Thursday to postpone the vote he had scheduled for January, senior officials said. The Central Election Commission said it had advised Abbas to put off the election since the rival Hamas Islamist group ruling some 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had warned it would not allow them to vote.

15.11.2009: Palestinians aim to secure UN support for state. The Palestinians plan to go to the UN Security Council in an effort to secure international support for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, officials said on Sunday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against any "unilateral" moves by the Palestinians. Palestinians attributed the move to frustration at the lack of progress in peace talks with Israel, which have been stalled for a year. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said there was no time frame for the initiative, backed by Arab governments, to secure backing for the state with East Jerusalem as its capital. "When we are ready, we will go," he said. His remarks prompted a warning from Netanyahu, who said only peace negotiations with Israel would secure a Palestinian state. "There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel's side," Netanyahu said. Netanyahu, who was addressing a forum on the Middle East in Jerusalem, did not directly refer to the Palestinians' plan to take their quest for statehood to the UN Security Council.

Erekat said the Palestinians did not intend to declare independence but to seek international support to "preserve the two-state solution." "Israel should refrain from any unilateral steps on its part, because what they do today is nothing but unilateral steps," he added, listing West Bank settlement expansion among other Palestinian complaints. Despite months of diplomacy, the United States has failed to broker a resumption of talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli government led by Netanyahu, who on Sunday repeated his call for a swift resumption of the talks. Abbas has stuck by his demand for a total halt to Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank before any return to peace talks. He has resisted recent US pressure to resume negotiations right away. Head of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, Abbas aims to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in a 1967 war.

Mohammed Dahlan, a senior official in Abbas's Fatah faction, told reporters that the diplomatic initiative would be "a real test of the intentions of the international community." He added: "If the American administration does not agree, that will be another setback." Netanyahu reiterated his position that any future Palestinian state must be demilitarized and its borders must be monitored to prevent the smuggling of weapons. The United States, which had called for a freeze of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, eased the pressure on Israel in September by calling only for "restraint," a change of policy that frustrated the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership. In the event of failure at the Security Council, where the United States wields veto power, Dahlan said other options included a unilateral declaration of statehood and "popular, comprehensive resistance against settlement and the occupation." He did not spell out what that might entail. In the past two decades, the Palestinians have twice launched uprisings in the occupied territories. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who in June set a goal of establishing the institutions of a state within two years, said it was time for the international community to take responsibility for "the mission of ending the occupation." "This is the responsibility of the international community and when we talk about that and international law, of course we are talking about the United Nations," he said in Ramallah.

The one-sided establishment of a Palestinian state would contravene a key provision of the Oslo Interim Agreement, according to which: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status agreement." The Palestinians' move reflects growing frustration amongst Palestinians with a deadlock in peace efforts, but it is largely symbolic. The Palestinians already declared independence unilaterally in 1988. The move was recognized by dozens of countries but never implemented on the ground.

16.11.2009: Palestinians seek EU backing for drive to win UN recognition of independent country. The Palestinians asked the European Union on Monday to back their plan to have the UN Security Council recognize an independent Palestinian state without Israeli consent. The idea of seeking UN intervention has been gaining steam in the Arab world as the impasse in peacemaking drags on. The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967. "We will seek the support of all members of the international community," Saeb Erekat, a top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters in Ramallah. Besides the EU, they also plan to seek US approval, Erekat said. As mentioned, the plan appears to be largely symbolic, given that the US, Israel's chief ally, would likely veto such an initiative at the United Nations. It also would not remove the 500,000 Israelis living in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods. The move, however, reflects growing Palestinian frustration with the deadlock in peace efforts. Palestinian officials say they hope international endorsement would force Israel to recognize a future Palestine's borders based on the pre-1967 lines. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to nullify past accords with the Palestinians if they take any unilateral action. Several Cabinet allies threatened Monday that Israel would annex West Bank settlement blocs if the Palestinians take any one-side action.

17.11.2009: Anarchists, Palestinians, US, UK criticize Israeli Jerusalem plan. Israel moved Tuesday to approve a plan to build 900 more housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in the part of Jerusalem claimed by Palestinians, drawing harsh criticism from the United States. The Jerusalem district planning commission officially deposited the plan, opening it to comments, objections and appeals from the public. Jerusalem city spokesman Gidi Schmerling said final approval was "many months" away. Anarchists, Palestinians and Britain denounced the plan, but reaction from the US was especially sharp. A statement from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs criticized unilateral steps by Israel "that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations" and said the issue of Jerusalem "must be resolved through negotiations between the parties." He added, "The US also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes."

Responding to the White House statement, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said words from Washington are not enough. "There should be real American pressure on the Israelis to stop all these acts," he said. "Such acts prove that Israel does not want peace and does not want to revive the peace process." Britain also criticized the plan to expand the sprawling neighborhood of Gilo, where about 40,000 Israelis live. "The Foreign Secretary has been very clear that a credible deal involves Jerusalem as a shared capital," a British statement said. "Expanding settlements on occupied land in east Jerusalem makes that deal much harder. So this decision on Gilo is wrong and we oppose it."

Jerusalem and settlements are key sticking points in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it, but no other country recognized that move. About 180,000 Israelis live in neighborhoods built around east Jerusalem. Israel insists that east Jerusalem is part of Israel and rejects efforts to restrict building there. Palestinians consider the Jewish neighborhoods there as settlements. In a statement, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the plan. "This concerns a routine procedure of the district planning commission," the statement said. "The neighborhood of Gilo is an integral part of Jerusalem."

Abbas has demanded a halt to construction in Israel's West Bank settlements before peace negotiations can resume. Israel has rejected the demand, while pledging not to build new settlements. However, Israel does not include building in east Jerusalem in that category. In past peace negotiations that broke down without agreement, formulas have been raised to allow Israel to keep its new Jerusalem neighborhoods, while Palestinians would receive control of Arab sections of the city and land from Israel to compensate for the neighborhoods and West Bank settlements Israel would keep. A main conflict surrounds the key holy site in the Old City, where the Al Aqsa Mosque compound sits atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish Temples. Both sides claim sovereignty over the site.

18.11.2009: US President Barack Obama warned Israel on Wednesday its approval of new construction in a Jewish settlement could prove "very dangerous" by fuelling Palestinian anger and harming prospects for peace. Obama's criticism of a plan to build 900 new homes at Gilo near Jerusalem sent a strong signal of displeasure over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge that the holy city would be excluded from any settlement limits sought by Washington. Publication of an Israeli government planning commission's blueprint for Gilo on Tuesday also drew sharp rebukes from anarchists, Europe and the United Nations, as well as from Palestinians who said it added to their despair over establishing a viable state.

19.11.2009: Israeli air strikes in response to continued recent rocket firing into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes bombed two smuggling tunnels and a military training compound in the Gaza Strip Thursday, wounding three people, said officials in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the air strikes against the smuggling tunnels and said strikes had also been carried out against what she called two weapons manufacturing facilities near the Gaza town of Khan Younis. "The strikes are in response to continued recent rocket firing into Israel from the Gaza Strip. In the past month some 15 rockets have been fired into Israel," the spokeswoman said.

20.11.2998: Palestinians to set new date for elections. Palestinian officials announced Friday that a new date for parliamentary and presidential elections will be set next month now that President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to postpone the January vote, though the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers maintain they will boycott the voting. The elections were supposed to be a central component of an Egyptian-mediated effort to reconcile Abbas and his rivals in the Islamic militant group Hamas. Months of talks, however, have failed to produce a deal, and Abbas had decided to move ahead with elections anyway, angering Hamas. The militant group has controlled the Gaza Strip since seizing power from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2007, leaving the president at the head of a Western-backed government that controls only the West Bank.

The Palestinian Election Commission said last week that the Jan. 24 voting should be put off, saying that Hamas' opposition made it impossible for voting to take place in Gaza. Abbas said in an interview with BBC Arabic on Thursday that he has agreed to that recommendation. He said he still hopes to reconcile with Hamas so that voting can go forward in Gaza, as well as the West Bank and Arab areas of Jerusalem. The Election Commission said Friday it would meet in December to set a new date. Adding to uncertainty surrounding the voting, Abbas said in the BBC interview that he was standing by his decision not to seek another term as president. He announced at the beginning of the month that he planned to leave politics because he was frustrated over the 10-month stalemate in Israel-Palestinian peace efforts. His departure would throw peace efforts into turmoil, particularly if a Hamas candidate were to be elected president. Both Israel and the United States consider the group a terrorist organization and refuse to have any dealings with its politicians. "The decision not to run myself for elections is a final decision," Abbas said. "The issue doesn't depend on changing the circumstances that led me not to run for the upcoming elections, even if the circumstances changed or altered completely. As for me, I took my decision, I'm not running."

21.11.2009: Gaza militants agree to halt rocket fire. Hamas announced Saturday evening that it has reached an agreement with other militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets at southern Israeli towns to prevent retaliatory attacks. Hamas has mostly refrained from firing rockets since January 2009 when Israel ended a three week offensive in Gaza aimed at stopping almost daily militant attacks. Other Gaza militant groups have since continued with rocket attacks, but on a much smaller scale than before. Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad told reporters Saturday evening that all militant factions had now agreed to a cease fire. He said the agreement was designed to prevent Israeli retaliation attacks and provide stability for Gaza residents. The cease fire would make it easier for Gaza residents to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in last winter's fighting, he said. A rocket launched from Gaza exploded in southern Israel Saturday morning causing no injuries. A small militant faction affiliated with al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.

24.11.2009: Israeli air strikes in response to rocket firing into Israel from the Gaza Strip, despite the agreement to halt rocket fire. IDF says it has carried out three airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, targeting a weapons-manufacturing facility and weapons smuggling tunnels. The IDF says the aerial assaults early Tuesday came in response to two rockets Palestinian militants fired at southern Israel from Gaza a day earlier. No one was injured by the rocket fire. The rocket attacks violated an agreement over the weekend by militant factions in Gaza to halt them. Separately, Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers reported that two of the group's militants were killed when a rocket they were handling blew up prematurely.

25.11.2009: Israel proposes 10-month West Bank settlement halt. Israel on Wednesday proposed a 10-month halt to new construction in West Bank settlements as a step toward restarting Mideast peace negotiations. Washington welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer, but the Palestinians swiftly rejected it because it did not include a building freeze in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, the mainly Arab sector of the city they want as the capital of a future state. The Obama administration welcomed the Israeli decision, but coolly. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement saying the Israeli decision was a helpful move toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The administration's special envoy for Mideast peace, former Sen. George Mitchell, also welcomed the move but said it fell short of a full settlement freeze. "But it is more than any Israeli government has done before and can help movement toward agreement between the parties," he said, adding that he planned to return to the Mideast "in the near future" to resume his efforts to win agreement from the Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded a total halt to settlement construction before peace talks can resume, but the Obama team has struggled in dealing with that demand. On the one hand, the US rejects the legitimacy of Israeli settlements and has harshly criticized Israel's construction in east Jerusalem, but on the other, it wants the two sides to sit down and work out their differences. Netanyahu said the "far-reaching and painful step" was designed to "encourage resumption of peace talks with our Palestinian neighbors." He added: "Israel's government has made an important step toward peace today," Netanyahu said. "Let us make peace together." The freeze applies only to new housing, meaning about 3,000 units under construction can be finished. "We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life" in the settlements, Netanyahu said in a statement broadcast live from his office. About 300,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said there was nothing new in Netanyahu's announcement, pointing to the 3,000 new housing units under construction in the West Bank. "This is not a moratorium," he said. "Unfortunately, we hoped he would commit to a real settlement freeze so we can resume negotiations and he had a choice between settlements and peace and he chose settlements." Speaking a full day before Israel officially made its proposal, Abbas adviser Nabil Abu Rdeneh said the freeze would be unacceptable if it didn't include east Jerusalem. "Any Israeli offer that doesn't include Jerusalem will be rejected immediately," he said in a telephone interview from Argentina, where he was traveling with Abbas. "No Palestinian, no Arab can cross this line."

Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it, a step no nation has recognized. Trying to cement its claim, Israel built new quarters around east Jerusalem, where 180,000 Israelis now live. Palestinians denounce them as settlements, but Israel considers them neighborhoods. Israel committed to a total freeze in settlement construction in the West Bank in 2002, when it accepted the US-backed "road map" peace plan, which is still considered a viable blueprint. The plan, which sets up negotiations on the key issues of Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees after three stages of interim steps, got stuck in its first stage with disputes over settlements and Palestinian violence. The road map specifically ruled out even limited construction for "natural growth" of the kind Netanyahu exempted from the freeze he announced Wednesday. Until Wednesday, Netanyahu resisted declaring a freeze beyond his pledge not to build new settlements. Netanyahu and his backers support settlement construction in principle. He has said that peace talks must resume without preconditions, and issues like settlements should be discussed in negotiations.

The settlement construction issue briefly overshadowed tense, indirect negotiations between Israel and the militant Islamic Hamas rulers of Gaza over a deal under which a captured Israeli soldier will be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. After optimistic signs earlier in the week, it appeared Wednesday that a deal was at least a week away. On Wednesday, Hamas officials said the talks had hit a snag over some of the top militants the Islamic group wants freed and a deal is unlikely in the coming days. Khalil al-Haya, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, blamed Israel for the delay. He told a local news Web site that Israel "has not yet responded to the demands of the factions holding Gilad Schalit," the soldier captured in a 2006 cross-border raid by Palestinian militants, who killed two other soldiers. Israel is objecting to some of the names put forward by Hamas, a senior official of the militant group familiar with the negotiations said. He said the German mediator shuttling between the sides has presented an alternative list of names provided by Israel, and Hamas leaders were studying it. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing. Israeli officials, also speaking anonymously, said they did not expect a breakthrough in the coming days.

27.11.2009: Abbas says Israeli settlement freeze not enough. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dismissed an Israeli plan to halt new construction of West Bank settlements as insufficient on Friday, saying it won't be enough to restart peace talks. The Palestinian president said during his first visit to Venezuela that "we can't accept the current Israeli government's concept for the negotiations." Abbas said Wednesday's announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a 10-month halt to new construction in West Bank Jewish settlements "didn't bring anything new" because construction would continue in east Jerusalem and in the West Bank regardless of a freeze on new settlement building. Netanyahu's plan does not include a building freeze in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, a swath of the city the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state, and it would not apply to some 3,000 homes already under construction in the West Bank.

30.11.2009: The terrorist group Hezbollah to continue arming to fight Israel. Hezbollah's leader said Monday that the Lebanese militant group will improve its weapons capabilities to face off any Israeli threat and that armed struggle was the only way to regain Arab lands captured by the Jewish state. Hassan Nasrallah's remarks signaled the group has no intention of meeting a United Nations resolution requiring it to give up its weapons. That position that has generated division among the country's fractious political groups as well as concern in Israel, which says it is preparing to deploy a defense system to shoot down rockets from Lebanon. Nasrallah gave no details on the weapons plans, but Hezbollah has said it has tens of thousands of rockets. Israel's military says that since its 2006 war with the group, Hezbollah has tripled its prewar arsenal to more than 40,000 rockets, some of which can strike virtually anywhere in Israel - a dramatic improvement over the short-range missiles fired in 2006. Nasrallah said the buildup was necessary. "The continuation of Israeli threats against Lebanon ... force the resistance to seek more power in order to improve its capabilities," Nasrallah told reporters via video link from a secret location.

He has rarely appeared in public since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, fearing Israeli assassination. His comments came during a news conference to announce the group's new political manifesto, the second since Hezbollah was founded in 1982 to fight Israel's invading military. While the group remains determinedly anti-Israel, its manifesto showed some signs of moderation on the Lebanese political scene, where Hezbollah holds sway with two members in the Cabinet and 11 of parliament's 128 seats. The Shiite Muslim group's first manifesto in 1985 called for establishing an Islamic state in Lebanon, but the new manifesto did not mention an Islamic state and underscored the importance of coexistence among Lebanon's 18 religious sects. The UN resolution that ended the 2006 war calls on the group to disarm, but Hezbollah says it must keep its weapons to fight off any Israeli threat in the future. Israel's defense industry said last week it is close to deploying a system known as the Iron Dome that will use cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and shoot them down within seconds of their launch.

01.12.2009: Netanyahu: Settlement freeze only temporary. Israel's prime minister emphasized Tuesday that his 10-month freeze on new housing in the West Bank is a one-time measure that will not be extended. Palestinians had already rejected Benjamin Netanyahu's moratorium as inadequate, because it allows about 3,000 homes already under construction to be completed and does not include Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, claimed by Palestinians as their future capital. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded a comprehensive freeze before peace talks can resume. Also Tuesday, Israel sternly warned the European Union against adopting new language that endorses east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. Speaking outside Tel Aviv at nightfall after several minor clashes between government officials and angry settlers in the West Bank, Netanyahu sought to reassure the settlers, who have been among his main backers.

Referring to them as "our brothers and sisters" and calling them "an integral part of our people," he said the moratorium was meant to encourage a resumption of peace talks. He noted that the Cabinet decision imposing the 10-month halt is a one-time measure. "We will resume building at the end of the freeze," he pledged. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected Netanyahu's latest statement. "Netanyahu never stopped building settlements so nothing has changed," he said. The settlement dispute has become the centerpiece of efforts to restart Israel-Palestinian negotiations, frozen for nearly a year. Palestinians charge that expansion of the settlements eats away at the land and resources they claim for a state.

Netanyahu, who belongs to the ideological front that believes Israel has a claim to the West Bank for religious and security reasons, counters that the issue of settlements, like Jerusalem, borders and refugees, should be handled in peace negotiations, not as preconditions for talks. "The future of the settlements," he said Tuesday, "will be determined only in final status peace negotiations, and not one day sooner." The dispute over east Jerusalem - home to Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites - is the most intractable issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war, immediately annexed it and claims all of Jerusalem as its eternal capital. But the annexation has not been internationally recognized and it is not recognized by the Anarchist International.

06.12.2009: World Bank gives Palestinian Authority $64 million to help it prepare for independent country. The Palestinian Authority on Sunday signed an agreement with the World Bank and other donors for $64 million to help it prepare for statehood. World Bank official Shamshad Akhtar says the goal was to boost Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's plan to set up institutions for a state within two years, though talks with Israel are stalemated. The World Bank will administer the project, with part of the funding coming from Sweden, Denmark and the German development bank. A World Bank delegation visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip will also look for ways to ease entry of construction materials into Gaza. Last winter Israel launched a three-week military offensive there to stop daily rocket fire, causing widespread destruction. Israel refuses to let building materials into Gaza, fearing they would end up in the hands of Gaza's Hamas rulers. Preferably a Palestinian anarchy - not state - the anarchists repeat.

08.12.2009: EU: Jerusalem should be joint capital. European Union foreign ministers urged Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday to make Jerusalem their shared capital, prompting a swift, angry reaction from Israel. For their part Tuesday, the Palestinians announced a boycott of products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian Economics Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said the government has already confiscated $1 million worth of products, including foods, cosmetics and hardware, and that he hoped to remove all such goods from Palestinian store shelves next year. In Brussels, EU foreign ministers reiterated that the 27-member bloc would not recognize Israel's annexation of the eastern part of Jerusalem after it occupied it in the 1967 war. The ministers called for Israel to share Jerusalem as a capital with a future Palestinian state.

Although the EU has long opposed the annexation of east Jerusalem, the statement angered Israel and was sure to deepen Israel's sense that the Europeans favor Palestinian positions. President Barack Obama has been trying, so far in vain, to nudge the sides toward renewed peace talks. "The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties," said the ministerial statement. It was referring to the Mideast war in which Israeli forces captured east Jerusalem from the Jordanian army. "If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found (through negotiations) to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states," it said. The EU ministerial statement dropped an earlier Swedish draft resolution which explicitly stated that east Jerusalem - the disputed part of the holy city - should be the capital of a Palestinian state after Israel warned it would damage the bloc's ability to take part in any resumed peace talks as a negotiator.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry reacted immediately. "We regret that the European Union chose to adopt the text," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement. He said the statement "does not contribute" to promoting peace and ignores the Palestinians' refusal to resume talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to resume peace talks, which broke down a year ago, unless Israel halts all settlement construction. The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, welcomed Tuesday's EU statement. He said it gives Palestinians "a better sense of hope and possibility about tomorrow."

09.12.2009: About 10,000 West Bank settlers and their backers filled part of downtown Jerusalem Wednesday, listening to fiery speeches, dancing in circles and pledging to defy a building ban imposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The relatively large turnout on a cold, wintry night reflected support for increasingly fierce settler resistance to the government ban on most new housing. The ban is designed to encourage resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians. Settlers held signs and banners that read, "We will continue to build" and "stop Iran's nukes, not our homes." Netanyahu, a former ally, is widely perceived by the settlers to have caved in to American pressure.

14.12.2009: Obama and anarchists: UN resolutions in Lebanon must be enforced. President Barack Obama said Monday a UN resolution calling on Hezbollah to disarm must be enforced. The anarchists agree. Speaking to reporters following a private Oval Office meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Obama said that while there has been progress made in enforcing the resolution, that progress is incomplete. Hezbollah has continued to defy the UN resolution that ended its 2006 war with Israel and called on the group to disarm. Obama said he is particularly concerned about "the extensive arms that are smuggled into Lebanon that potentially serve as a threat to Israel." Hezbollah, which the US and the anarchists list as a terror group, has said it has thousands of rockets and missiles, some of which can reach deep into Israel. Obama said the US and Lebanon may not always agree on issues involving Israel, but both nations share "a commitment to resolve these issues through dialogue and negotiations, as opposed to through violence." The anarchists agree. Suleiman called on the United States to provide Lebanon military support. Though the US long has provided military assistance to Lebanon, it has not handed over sophisticated arms for fear they could end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

20.12.2009: Israel threatens to use force against settlers. Israeli authorities could soon use special commando units, unmanned spy planes and cellphone-jamming equipment to enforce a moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank, military officials said Sunday, deepening a showdown between the government and Jewish settlers. Enraged settlers leaders vowed to resist the plan, prompting Defense Minister Ehud Barak to warn that settlers would face the full wrath of the military if they continue to flout the 10-month construction slowdown. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the settlement slowdown last month in an attempt to restart peace talks with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians have rejected the plan because it allows for construction to proceed in 3,000 settlement homes already under construction in the West Bank and does not affect east Jerusalem, which Palestinians hope will be their capital. Nonetheless, settlers have repeatedly blocked inspectors and security forces trying to enter their communities to enforce the order. The resistance has grown increasingly violent.

The issue of settlements on lands the Palestinians claim for a future state is a key sticking point in Mideast peace efforts, with the Palestinians and anarchists demanding a halt to all settlement construction as a condition for returning to peace talks. US President Barack Obama made a similar demand shortly after taking office, but has since adopted a softer stance. The military plan calls for the deployment of unmanned spy drones to photograph illegal construction, and would create closed military zones to keep out protesters and reporters during demolitions of illegal buildings, according to a military memo leaked to Israeli media. The document said various units of the military would be used, including special forces, military police and even communication specialists to jam settler cell phone frequencies. The enforcement plan was drafted by the military's central command and most likely leaked by settler sympathizers within the army, according to military officials, though the army later said the plan was only a "first draft" for potential action.

The leak itself points to a growing concern among Israeli officials relating to insubordination. A number of nationalist soldiers have refused to obey orders to act against settlers. The government has jailed defiant servicemen, issued stern warnings to rebellious rabbis and expelled one pro-settler seminary from a program combining religious study and military service. It's also possible the authorities wanted the plan to be known, as it might help the government portray itself as willing to confront domestic opposition for the sake of peace. "All that is required of the settlers and their leaders is to carry out the government's decision regarding freezing new construction in the West Bank for this defined period and that will prevent the use of force and friction with the defense forces," Barak said at a political meeting. Settler leaders feel betrayed by Netanyahu, a former longtime ally. "Using special forces, jamming cell phones and banning journalists from the area is what you do when you are fighting an enemy," settler leader Dani Dayan told Israel's Army Radio. Settlers have frequently scuffled with government inspectors sent to enforce the building moratorium. A week ago, a female Israeli police officer was beaten by settlers opposing the ban. "We will protect the houses with our bodies if they come to destroy them," Arieh Eldad, a lawmaker from the hardline National Union party, told Israel Radio. About 300,000 settlers live in the West Bank, in addition to 180,000 Jewish Israelis living in east Jerusalem.

25.12.2009: Netanyahu asks rival Livni to join government. The Israeli prime minister has asked moderate opposition leader Tzipi Livni to join his government - a move that could boost efforts to restart negotiations with the Palestinians if she accepts or rip apart her rival party if she refuses. The offer, made late Thursday after a Cabinet meeting, came amid reports that Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to persuade lawmakers from Livni's Kadima party to bolt to his Likud. On Friday, one lawmaker announced she would join Likud if Livni rejected the offer. Livni did not turn down the offer. "I'm not closing the door," she said. If the offer is serious, Livni said, she wants to explore how far Netanyahu is willing to go in negotiations with the Palestinians. However, she also said she wouldn't be part of a maneuver to split Kadima, and earlier this week accused Netanyahu of trying to break up her party by courting its lawmakers.

29.12.2009: Israeli whistleblower Vanunu held. Israeli police have arrested Mordechai Vanunu, a technician who spent 18 years in prison for revealing details of Israel's clandestine nuclear programme. He is being held on suspicion that he met foreigners, violating conditions of his 2004 release from jail, police say. At a Jerusalem court hearing, Mr Vanunu was placed under house arrest for three days until the case proceeds. His lawyer said his arrest was because of his relationship with his Norwegian girlfriend, not for revealing secrets. "Vanunu was arrested [for] a relationship between a man and a woman, with a Norwegian citizen," Avigdor Feldman told reporters. "She is not interested in nuclear business - she's interested in Mordechai Vanunu [and he] is probably interested in her." But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Mr Vanunu had met "a number of foreigners", something he had been banned from doing.

From the data Mr Vanunu leaked to a UK newspaper in 1986, experts concluded that Israel had nuclear arms. Israel neither confirms nor denies this. After his release from prison in 2004, the Israeli authorities banned Mr Vanunu from speaking to foreign media and travelling abroad. They said he could divulge more classified information about Israel's Dimona nuclear plant, where he had worked before the arrest. Mr Vanunu - an anti-nuclear campaigner - has rejected the claim, saying he only wants to be free to leave Israel. In 2007, Mr Vanunu, a Jewish convert to Christianity, was sentenced to six months in prison for breaking the conditions of his parole. The anarchists call for release of Vanunu.

05.01.2009: Egypt's anti-smuggling Gaza border wall. A jackhammer pounded large steel beams side by side into the sandy soil on the Egyptian side of Gaza's border, putting in place an underground wall that could shift the balance of power in this volatile area. Once completed, the steel barrier would cut off blockaded Gaza's last lifeline and - by slicing through hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the nine-mile (14-kilometer) Gaza-Egypt border - could increase pressure on the territory's Hamas rulers to moderate. The Islamic militants have so far shown little willingness to compromise in power-sharing talks with their Western-backed rivals or in negotiations on a prisoner swap with Israel. Their hold on Gaza is at least partly dependent on supplies and cash coming through the tunnels. On Monday, workers operated huge machines just behind the Egyptian border line, offering a rare glimpse at what the wall is made of.

A drill pierced holes in the soil, a crane lifted steel beams into position and a jackhammer drove them into the ground as several workers could be seen welding. Egyptian troops in four armored personnel carriers with mounted machine guns guarded the crew. In the past, shots were fired several times from Gaza at the workers, though no one has been hurt. Hamas guards watched from a nearby position, some shouting insults at an Egyptian soldier who poked his head out of his armored vehicle. Hamas leaders are furious about the border wall and are seeking to rally Arab and Muslim public opinion against Egypt. On Sunday, demonstrators marched outside Egyptian embassies in Jordan and Lebanon, holding posters showing Egypt's president with Israel's Star of David on his forehead.

Hamas has also marshaled Muslim scholars who decreed that the barrier is "haram," or religiously forbidden. The scholars were responding to a statement by Al-Azhar University, Egypt's prestigious Islamic seat of theology, which reached the opposite conclusion last week. Gaza's borders have been virtually sealed since June 2006 when Hamas-allied militants captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. The blockade by Israel and Egypt intensified a year later when Hamas overran Gaza, seizing the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The blockade has evoked intense international criticism, but Israel justifies it by claiming that supplies to Gaza could end up in the hands of violent militants. In response to the stifling closure, Gazans dramatically expanded smuggling from Egypt to bring in commercial goods, along with weapons and cash for Hamas. Today, nearly 400 tunnels run under Gaza's border with Egypt, employing 15,000 people and bringing in $1 million in goods a day, said Issa Nashar, the Hamas mayor of the Gaza border town of Rafah. The municipality supplies electricity and levies $2,500 in taxes per tunnel, he said. Large white tents mark the tunnel entrances on the Gaza side.

06.01.2010: Israel: Trade union centre Histadrut to allow migrant workers full membership. A decision taken by the main Israeli labor confederation Histadrut to allow migrant workers membership, is a significant step towards ensuring an end to exploitation and helping ensure full respect for their rights at work.  The December 28 decision by the national trade union centre removes an anomaly whereby only citizens and residents of Israel were entitled to join and to stand for election positions within the Histadrut. To date, most of Histadrut's activities in support of migrant workers have been conducted via a special office in the Tel Aviv Regional Labour Council, as well as political lobbying and support for legal cases. Migrant labor accounts for some 7% of Israel's labor force, and maltreatment of these workers is prevalent, in particular in the agriculture sector where poor working and living conditions, long working hours, sub-minimum wages and other forms of exploitation have been documented. Alongside workers from Eastern Europe and various Asian countries, tens of thousands of Palestinians work for Israeli employers as documented or undocumented migrants. At the June 2009 International Labor Conference, the ILO called on the Israeli government to ensure that migrant workers have the same rights as Israeli citizens in law and in practice, as well as in social security provision. While the impacts of Israel's blockade of Gaza and continued occupation of the West Bank on Palestinians are well known internationally, the plight of migrant workers inside Israel, whether from Palestine or elsewhere, has received little international attention. Histadrut's decision can only help to improve their situation and we welcome it, the International Workers of the World declared.

12.01.2010: Israel has denied any involvement in a suspected attack on the northern Gaza Strip which has left three Hamas militants dead. The ruling Palestinian Islamist faction says three of its gunmen were killed in an explosion last night near the town of Beit Hanoun. But Israel says it has not carried out any military action in the area, although on Sunday it vowed a "powerful response" to increasing attacks from the territory. The incident comes a day after Israel unveiled an anti-rocket system due to be deployed outside the Gaza Strip by June. Last year, missile attacks from Gaza sparked an Israeli offensive. Some critics claim the Iron Dome interceptor system is far from being the best choice to counter the Palestinian rocket threat. Security analyst, Dr Reuven Pedhazur says: "One missile of Iron Dome will cost 100,000 dollars and a Qassam (rocket) costs about 5 to 10 dollars. So what the Palestinians have to do is just accumulate more and more Qassams… because there is a limit to the number of missiles that Israel can buy." But Israel says the cost of a one-day war against Hamas is higher than the cost of 10,000 interceptor missiles, making the system an economic solution.

21.01.2010: President Barack Obama says his administration overestimated its ability to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to resume meaningful peace talks. Obama says both parties have been unwilling to make the bold gestures needed to move the process forward. If the US had anticipated that earlier, Obama says he might not have raised his expectations so high. Obama says the US will continue to work toward a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty. His remarks came in an interview with Time Magazine published Thursday.

22.01.2010: President Barack Obama's Mideast envoy failed Friday to lure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas back to peace talks with Israel, as Abbas stuck to his insistence that an Israeli settlement freeze come first. The three-hour meeting between Abbas and Washington's envoy, George Mitchell, came a day after Time magazine published an interview with Obama in which the president acknowledged he may have overestimated his ability to revive negotiations. Mitchell, who also held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to leave the region over the weekend. The envoy has said Obama remains committed to trying to broker a Mideast deal, but it's unclear what he could try next. Abbas has said repeatedly he will not resume negotiations without a complete Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. The Obama administration initially demanded such a freeze as well, but relented when Netanyahu resisted.

Netanyahu instead agreed to a 10-month slowdown in West Bank construction. But Netanyahu insists he will not relinquish any part of Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek the city's eastern sector as their future capital. Netanyahu says he is willing to resume talks immediately and contends the Palestinians have set unreasonable preconditions. Talks broke down between Abbas and Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, in December 2008. However, Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said the onus is on Israel, not the Palestinians. "When we say a settlement freeze that includes Jerusalem, that is not a Palestinian condition," he said. "That is rather an Israeli obligation, and the same thing is applicable to our demand to have negotiations resume where we left them in December 2008."

Abbas and Olmert held talks for more than a year. The content of those talks was kept secret and no agreement was made public. Abbas aides have said resuming talks is pointless as long as Netanyahu refuses to pick up where Abbas and Olmert left off. Erekat said Mitchell appealed to Abbas to resume negotiations immediately but the Palestinians disagreed and asked Washington "to have the Netanyahu government drop its conditions." A statement released later from the prime minister's office said Netanyahu "stresses again that Israel does not place any preconditions on entering negotiations. The prime minister calls on the leaders of the Palestinian Authority to stop wasting time on talking about how to enter negotiations and sit down for negotiations instead." The Palestinians fear that Washington's failure to get Israel to halt settlement construction bodes ill for its ability as a broker once far tougher issues such as a partition of Jerusalem are on the table.

Abbas is also concerned his personal standing - under constant assault from his militant rivals in Hamas - will erode further if he returns to talks while settlements keep expanding. Nearly half a million Israelis have moved to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since Israel captured the territories from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. With settlements chipping away at Palestinian-claimed territory, setting up a Palestinian state would be increasingly difficult. Earlier this week, Netanyahu added a new complication by saying he would seek an Israeli presence in a prospective Palestinian state to prevent the smuggling of missiles and other weapons. Mitchell started his latest mission Thursday, meeting with Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. Despite the gloom, the envoy said Thursday that Obama still hopes to see a Palestinian state alongside Israel in peace. "We will pursue (that) until we achieve that objective," Mitchell said Thursday.

In his interview with Time, Obama seemed pessimistic. "I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn't produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high," Obama said.

24.01.2010: Al-Qaeda tape claims bomb attempt on Christmas Day. Terrorism. The images on Christmas Day of a Delta airlines plane on the runway at Detroit were flashed around the world. That was after a botched attempt to bomb the plane. The jet had flown from Amsterdam. Now al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility on a recorded taped message, with a chilling warning to the United States. "This is a message from Osama Bin Laden to Obama. America will not have security as long as Palestine doesn't. It is unfair you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly. Our attacks will continue as long as you support Israel. America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine," the voice said. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempting to blow up the plane. The bomb hidden in his underwear failed to explode. He said he was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen. Security at airports has now been stepped up. The authenticity of this latest tape has not been verified. America has yet to respond while an Israeli government official dismissed it, saying terrorists always look for absurd excuses for their despicable deeds.

19.02.2010: Hamas: Suspects in Dubai killing include Fatah men. Hamas claimed Friday that two ex-officers from the rival Fatah organization were involved in the assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai, and Fatah shot back by insinuating Hamas members were the ones who collaborated with the killers. The slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury Dubai hotel room last month has widely been blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency but it also has sparked bitter recriminations among the rival Palestinian factions, which have long competed for influence in the Palestinian territories. Dubai police unveiled 11 suspects - 10 men and one woman - who apparently traveled to Dubai on European passports with real names and authentic data, but possibly altered photos.

Dubai also said police had two Palestinians in custody for alleged involvement in the murder of al-Mabhouh, whose body was found on Jan. 20. The two were arrested in Jordan shortly after the killing, then sent back to Dubai. A Hamas Web site, the Palestine Information Center, said those two men were former Fatah security officers and current employees of a senior Fatah official, who was not identified. Dubai authorities have not identified the two Palestinians and would not comment Friday. Hamas stopped short of accusing Fatah of collaborating with the Mossad, however. Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas' leadership in Damascus, said on Friday that Hamas is "not accusing any party" other than Israel, though he said the agents might have used "small collaborators for logistic issues."

The Hamas Web site identifies the two men as Anwar Shheibar and Ahmad Hassanain. It says they served in Fatah's security services in Gaza, fled the territory in 2006, and currently work for a construction company owned by a high-ranking Fatah official, Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan denied any connection to the men or to the killing, telling the Kuwait-based paper Gulf News in an interview published Friday that Hamas was "following mirages created by Israel." A Fatah spokesman also denied the charge. "Hamas is trying by these accusations to cover up the security flaws in the first lines of its leadership," said Adnan Damiri, a spokesman for Palestinian security forces in the Fatah-ruled West Bank. "Hamas is the only one to know the movement of Al-Mabhouh, and from there the information went to the Israelis."

Officials of the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah said the two men are former members of Fatah who later joined Hamas security forces in Gaza. They said the men were sent to Dubai on Hamas business last month but had no further details. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been given permission to comment publicly. Israel has refused to comment on accusations it was behind the killing, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying Wednesday that "Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies." Hamas and Fatah have been trading accusations over the affair for days, but Friday's allegations were the first time names were used. Each side has made attempts to tone down the rhetoric - perhaps to avoid destroying prospects for reconciliation between the rivals who control separate territories on opposite sides of Israel. As mentioned the Western-backed Fatah and the Islamic militant Hamas fought a bloody civil war in 2007 that left Hamas in charge of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. Palestinians hope to establish a state in both areas.

03.03.2010: Meeting in Cairo, foreign ministers from the Arab League have endorsed preliminary talks between Israelis and Palestinians – in the hope they lead to offical peace negotiations getting underway. It is a last-ditch attempt according to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who said: "Despite the lack of conviction in the seriousness of the Israeli side's desire to achieve a just peace, the committee sees it fit to give indirect talks a chance, as a final attempt." This gives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the political support he needs to agree to the US-plan for the so-called indirect talks. They have faltered so far on the issues of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the control of East Jerusalem. Plans to destroy Palestinians homes in favour of an archeological park in Arab East Jerusalem have been put on hold after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened.

08.03.2010: Indirect talks? The Anarchist International, ICOT and the Anarchist International Embassy once more call for real peace talks, and mean proximity talks can be a first step in this direction. Israel authorized the construction of new apartments in the West Bank despite a pledge to slow down settlement building, the government disclosed Monday - enraging the Palestinians just as the US vice president Joe Biden landed in Israel to push new peace talks. Word of the construction of 112 new apartments in the Beitar Illit settlement and their possible complication of the talks came amid a flurry of activity by the US to try to salvage peacemaking. The Palestinians agreed Sunday to hold indirect talks with Israel, a first achievement for the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts here.

Later: The political chess game that is Arab-Israeli relations is closer to getting underway again. The White House says both sides have agreed to indirect peace talks brokered by US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell. "I've just come now from a meeting with Senator Mitchell and we are trying to advance, and I believe we will succeed in advancing, the diplomatic process but this is not a game, it's the real thing, and it depends on providing real security,# said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Tel Aviv and expectations are high that he will announce a date for a formal start for the so-called proximity talks.

The two sides will not be in the same room together for the preliminary talks. Instead, George Mitchell will shuttle between the two. "If the price that we pay for saying yes to Mitchell will be more settlements and more incursions and more dictates, then there is a big question mark over the possibility of continuing. We condemn this Israeli action and we call on the US to stop such Israeli actions to give peace a chance," said chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat. The construction of 112 new homes in the occupied West Bank, which Israel says is not in breach of a partial freeze, was announced last year. The Anarchist International, ICOT and the Anarchist International Embassy once more call for real peace talks, and mean proximity talks can be a first step in this direction.

10.03.2010: AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the Israeli government's decision to build some 1,600 new settlement homes on Palestinian land next to Jerusalem, just two days after the Palestinian Authority had announced its willingness to hold proximity talks with Israel using US mediation. This latest announcement by the government of Israel is a major setback for the prospects of renewed dialogue between Palestine and Israel, all the more so since it came immediately after an important move from the Palestinian side which we still hope can help kick-start the peace process.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will travel to the region later this month, has strongly criticized the Israeli move, pointing out that settlements are "illegal under international law", and that settlement activity "undermines any movement towards a viable peace process". AI, ICOT and AIE agree with Ban Ki-moon.

Biden attacks new Israeli settlement plan. The United States has launched a rare verbal attack on Israel over its plan to build more than 1,600 homes on occupied land. In a statement issued after he arrived 90 minutes late for dinner with the Israeli President, the US Vice President Joe Biden condemned the move, saying it "undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel."

Israel announced the new settlements would go up in Ramat Shlomo, a part of East Jerusalem Palestinians claim for a future capital. The Palestinian Authority's spokesman said the timing showed peace was not a priority for Israel. "The proposal is another indicator that the priority for the Israeli government is to consolidate the illegal occupation," said Ghassan Khatib. Israel's refusal to stop settlement building has been a major obstacle to a resumption of the talks. It also puts Biden in an uncomfortable position ahead of discussions with Palestinian leaders.

14.03.2010: Israel's Prime Minister has, for the first time publicly, voiced regret for the timing of the announcement of a Jewish settlement plan which has strained ties with Washington and threatened the revival of Middle East peace talks. However, Benjamin Netanyahu has given no indication that he will meet Palestinian demands to cancel the project for 1600 new homes."This is an unfortunate incident, which was carried out in all innocence, but it was offensive and of course should not have happened." Netanyahu told his cabinet. It is not yet clear whether the comments will help smooth relations with Washington after the settlement announcement made waves. The planned construction is in an area of the West Bank that Israel has annexed to Jerusalem. Palestinians fear building on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war will deny them a viable state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

15.03.2010: Netanyahu: Jerusalem building doesn't hurt Arabs. The anarchists condemn the building plans, and call for 100% halt in Israeli settlements. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Jewish building in east Jerusalem does not hurt the city's Palestinian residents. Speaking to Israel's parliament, Netanyahu said the construction of homes for Jews in the city's eastern sector "in no way" hurts Palestinians. Israel drew angry reactions from the Anarchist International, ICOT and the Anarchist International Embassy as well as USA and the Palestinians by announcing the construction of 1,600 units in an east Jerusalem neighborhood during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden last week. The decision has sparked the worst feud between Israel and the US in recent memory. In his speech, Netanyahu gave no indication he would cancel the project or limit construction in east Jerusalem. The anarchists, AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the building plans, and call for 100% halt of new building in Israeli settlements.

The US is pressing Israel to scrap the contentious east Jerusalem building project whose approval has touched off the most serious diplomatic feud with Washington in years, American and Israeli officials said Monday. Tensions in the city at the center of the spat were high, with police out in large numbers in Jerusalem's volatile Old City in expectation of renewed clashes and Palestinian shopkeepers shuttering their stores for several hours to protest Israel's actions in the city. Top US officials have lined up in recent days to condemn the Israeli plan. The project was as mentioned announced during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the region last week, badly embarrassing the USA and complicating its efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Obama administration officials said Washington wants the project canceled, though there have been talks with Israeli officials about alternative steps. Speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made, the officials said whatever Israel does must be a significant step to restore confidence and move peace efforts ahead. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev refused to comment Monday. But Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because no official decision has been made public, said Washington wants the construction project canceled.

Meanwhile, one week after the head of the Israeli Shin Bet threatened to aggravate the repression of the Palestinian popular struggle, a large military force raided the villages of Bil'in and Ni'ilin at 3.30am. The sole purpose of the raids was to post decrees designating the lands between the Wall and the built up area of the villages as closed military zones between 8am to 8pm every Friday for a period of half a year. The decrees, which came into effect already on February 17th, were signed by the recently appointed commander of the Israeli Central Command, Avi Mizrahi, himself. Closed military zone orders are usually signed by a brigade commander, a much lower rank. AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the raid and repression. Sources: PSCC and AIIS.

17.03.2010: Israel has lifted West Bank closure in force since March, 13. At least 3.000 security forces are on alert, particularly in Jerusalem east section fearing renewed outbreak of violence. After many days of disputes and strong pressure by AI, ICOT and AIE, US politicians and pro-Israeli organizations, the US administration has tuned down pressure. Dispute is as mentioned centered on Israeli government announcement about construction of 1.600 houses in the Arab section of East Jerusalem. Despite Washington pressure, it is believed that the Israeli government could not do much at this point. On the one hand, if the Israeli prime-minister withdraws plans recently announced, he will most likely face domestic political problems and on the other hand no one knows how peace negotiations can be carried out. As mentioned on their part, Palestinians call for a halt to the new Israeli settlement plan before the resumption of negotiations.

18.03.2010: Palestinian rocket kills worker of kibbutz in Israel, first such death since Gaza war. Kibbutz is mentioned by Noam Chomsky and the Anarchists International as anarchistic. This is thus a direct attack on anarchism. The AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the terrorist attack, the murder of the Kibbutz worker, and the direct attack on anarchism. A rocket fired by Gaza militants smashed into a greenhouse in an Israeli border village Thursday, killing a Thai worker in the first such death since Israel's massive offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza more than a year ago. The launch defied a long-standing ban by the Hamas on such attacks and highlighted the growing challenge to the Islamic militant group from more radical rivals, including al-Qaeda-inspired firebrands. The rocket also raised the specter of Israeli retaliation and further conflagration at a time of renewed international focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Major Mideast mediators - among them US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - were to meet Friday in Moscow to seek a way forward after the row over Israel's building plan derailed plans to start indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Ashton visited Gaza on Thursday, the first senior diplomat to set foot in the blockaded territory in more than a year. Half an hour after her convoy of white SUVs entered Gaza through a heavily fortified Israeli crossing, the rocket was fired into an Israeli communal farm, a kibbutz, on the Gaza border. It slammed into a greenhouse, scattering potted tomato plants in all directions. The dead man was identified as a foreign worker in his 30s from Thailand. Thousands of foreign laborers in Israel have taken on menial jobs that used to be filled by Gaza residents until a decade ago, when unrest prompted Israel to restrict Palestinian movement.

"Israel will not allow terrorism and Palestinian terrorists to continue their attacks and to kill Israelis," Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, said during a tour of the attack site. Later, Israeli tanks fired several shells into Gaza, causing no damage or injuries, according to witnesses. The military had no comment. Ayalon said Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel over the past eight years, arguing that Thursday's incident was proof that Israel had good reason to launch its war on Gaza in December 2008. Some 1,400 Palestinians were as mentioned killed during the three-week ground and air offensive, including hundreds of civilians. Thirteen Israelis also were killed. Israel has rejected allegations by UN investigators and human rights groups that both sides committed war crimes. Ayalon said the rocket attack showed how "absurd" the criticism against Israel was.

Ashton said she was "extremely shocked" by the rocket attack and Ban, who is due in Gaza over the weekend, said acts of "terror and violence against civilians are totally unacceptable." Israel held Hamas responsible for Thursday's attack, even though Hamas opponents claimed responsibility. One claim came from Ansar al-Sunna, one of several al-Qaeda-inspired groups that have sprung up in Gaza in recent years, espousing global holy war. These groups, known as Jihadi Salafis, consider Hamas too pragmatic but are not believed to have actual links to al-Qaeda and have limited firepower. They have emerged as a growing irritant to Gaza's rulers, who have tried to maintain an informal truce with Israel since the end of the Gaza war. Rocket fire from Gaza dropped sharply after the war, with most attacks claimed by Salafis. Hamas security forces have rounded up dozens of Salafis in recent months.

A second claim of responsibility came from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the remnants of a violent offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction. In recent days, Hamas has issued fiery statements, urging Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to launch a new uprising over Israel's actions in Jerusalem. Yet it has refrained from firing rockets in Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum portrayed Thursday's deadly attack as a result of "the recent escalation against our people and our holy places." Since the end of the war, Hamas has largely avoided provoking Israel in an attempt to win international support for lifting a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized Gaza in 2007.

Ashton's visit to Gaza illustrated Hamas' efforts to win over the international community, even as it continues to be shunned by the West and the Anarchist International, ICOT and the Anarchist International Embassy as a terror organization. Bearded Hamas policemen blocked traffic at major intersections to allow Ashton's convoy to get through, but kept out of sight as she visited a UN girls' school, a UN food distribution center and a center for disabled Gazans. She had no direct contact with Hamas.

Ashton toured Gaza to get a firsthand look at the hardships caused by the war and the border blockade."What we have been saying to the Israelis for a long time is that we need to allow aid into this region, to be able to support the economy to grow for people," she said at the girls' school. Gaza's 1.5 million people have become increasingly dependent on foreign aid. Europe spends some 500 million euros ($688 million) a year - or half its annual aid to the Palestinians - to help keep Gaza afloat. The AI, ICOT and AIE condemn the terrorist attack, the murder of the Kibbutz worker, and the direct attack on anarchism.

26.03.2010: Two Israeli soldiers have been killed and there are reports of two Palestinian fatalities on the border with Gaza. Eyewitnesses say a rocket was fired at an Israeli patrol from the Palestinian town of Khan Younis, and a firefight ensued. Israeli helicopters and tanks returned fire. Other sources say the patrol entered Gaza and was hit by a bomb, followed by a fusillade. Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, has claimed responsibility for the action, which it called a "defensive" measure. Other sources say the firefight followed an attempt to capture Israeli soldiers. Earlier in the day a large explosion was reported at Kissoufim, a former border crossing into Israel, and Israeli tank fire seriously injured one man. Gaza has been tense all day. Demonstrations were held to call on Arab leaders meeting in Libya at the weekend to protect Jerusalem, where a number of new Israeli homes have recently been announced. But Islam's third holiest place, the Al Aqsa mosque, was calm for Friday prayers, the first for a month Israel has allowed without any age restriction on worshippers.

28.03.2010: Arab leaders renew support for peace efforts. The anarchists, The AI, ICOT and AIE, back the Arab leaders' renewed support for peace efforts. Arab leaders on Sunday renewed their support for Mideast peace efforts, rejecting pressure from Syria and Libya on the Palestinians to abandon talks with Israel and resume armed resistance. The Arab League's backing for the land for peace initiative with Israel comes despite its firm opposition to Israeli plans for new Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem, land Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state. "The Arab peace initiative is a serious move. If we withdraw it, what will be the Arab stance after that," Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told reporters after the summit's closing session. But the calls from Damascus and Tripoli to quit peace efforts reflected the depth of frustration and anger over the stalled peace process and continued Israeli construction in areas claimed by the Palestinians, particularly east Jerusalem.

Syrian President Bashar Assad urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from a US-supported peace strategy and take up arms against Israel, according to two delegates who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. They said Assad also urged Arab countries to halt any contacts with Israel, though only Egypt and Jordan have peace deals with the Jewish state. "The price of resistance is not higher than the price of peace," one delegate quoted Assad as telling Abbas. Summit host Moammar Gadhafi of Libya warned that his nation will withdraw support for the peace initiative launched at a 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut. Senior Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh swiftly dismissed the pressure. "Let us be realistic. We will not follow those who have special agendas," he told Al-Jazeera television. "We are ready for any Arab option. If they want to go to war let them declare that and mobilize their armies and their people and we will follow suit."

But the wrangling reflects deep division among Arabs over how to deal with the stalled Mideast talks. Arabs blame the sides' failure to return to the negotiating table on Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. Earlier this month, Arab nations opened the door for Abbas to enter four months of indirect, American-brokered peace talks with Israel. But they later threatened to withdraw support for the negotiations after Israel announced plans for new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, the part of the city Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state. Speaking at the summit Saturday, Abbas urged Mideast peace brokers to push Israel to stop settlement construction, and he vowed that the Palestinians will not sign any peace deal with Israel without the Jewish state ending its "occupation" of east Jerusalem.

He accused Netanyahu's government of trying to create a de facto situation in Jerusalem that would torpedo any future peace settlement. The Palestinians are also asking Arab nations for millions of dollars in funding for Palestinians living in east Jerusalem. A day after proposing Arab states directly engage Iran over its growing influence and disputed nuclear program, Moussa said some nations had reservations about an open a dialogue with Tehran. "Iran is not an enemy. Iran is a brotherly country. Let us sit and put every thing on the table and reach an agreement for the sake of peace and stability," he said. Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who attended the summit, immediately endorsed Moussa's proposal, along with Syria and Iraq. But delegates said both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two key U.S allies, rejected the idea.

The summit registered a higher than usual number of no-shows from Arab leaders. Eight heads of state stayed away, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Recent Arab summits have been marred by disagreements among Arab leaders, divided between pro-Western rulers and more radical regimes. The divisions tend to water down joint Arab positions. The anarchists, The AI, ICOT and AIE, back the Arab leaders' renewed support for peace efforts.

02.04.2010: Hamas signals it wants to keep Gaza quiet. Gaza's Hamas rulers indicated Friday they were trying to keep attacks on Israel in check, in an apparent attempt to keep a recent spate of violence from spiraling into open conflict. Hamas made this known just hours after Israeli aircraft pounded multiple targets in the territory in response to the latest rocket attack on southern Israel. Three Palestinian children were wounded in one of the Israeli airstrikes, Gaza health official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain said. A statement released by the Hamas government after the aerial attacks accused Israel of an "escalation" against Gaza. But the Hamas government also said it was "making contact with the factions to safeguard internal agreement."

Hamas has never explicitly criticized attacks against Israel, though top officials have said such attacks don't serve Palestinian interests right now. Friday's statement signaled the Islamic group was pushing to get the territory's other militant groups to honor this policy. As mentioned last year, Israel conducted a devastating military offensive in Gaza after years of rocket attacks. Since then, Hamas has tried to avoid provoking sweeping Israeli military action and has not claimed responsibility for any rockets for more than a year. But a string of recent Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes have ratcheted up tensions. In March, Gaza militants fired nearly 20 rockets and mortars at Israel, about half the more than 40 fired overall since the beginning of the year, according to the IDF's count. Israel has retaliated with strikes on 28 sites in Gaza since Jan. 1, the IDF said.

Most of the recent terrorist attacks have been claimed by groups considered more radical than Hamas who accuse Gaza's ruling movement of going soft on its main rallying cry of armed confrontation with Israel. The militant group's leadership is eager to avoid being held responsible for increased suffering in Gaza, where 80 percent of the population relies on UN food handouts for basic sustenance. Gazans have been unable to rebuild the large swaths of the territory that were damaged or destroyed during the Israeli offensive because an Israeli and Egyptian blockade keeps out building materials.

Israel, for its part, has an interest in keeping tensions in check so its southern communities can live peacefully. New violence in Gaza could also intensify world criticism of Israel as it tries to fend off war crimes allegations linked to its Gaza offensive and to ease friction with the Obama administration over settlement construction. Hamas, did, however, get involved in gunbattles with Israeli forces last week that were the fiercest since the Gaza war ended in January 2009. Two soldiers and three Palestinians were killed in those clashes, including one whose body was discovered on Friday. One of the Palestinians was a civilian; the Islamic Jihad militant group said the other two were members of its organization.

Hamas officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not articulating official policy, said the group did not mean to get involved in last week's fighting, but found itself forced to do so once the shooting started in order to maintain its standing in Gaza. Israel holds Hamas solely responsible for maintaining peace in the Gaza Strip. In a statement Friday, the military vowed "to operate firmly against anyone who uses terror against it." Britain expressed concern over what it called the "escalation of violence" and in a statement from the Foreign Office called on all sides "to show restraint." Clashes also broke out between Israeli security forces and protesters at several West Bank flashpoints on Friday. In the village of Nebi Salah, security forces fired rubber bullets at demonstrators who threw rocks at them, the IDF said. Israeli media reported that two protesters were hurt.

08.05.2010: Palestinian approval opens door to Mideast talks. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) approved indirect talks with Israel, clearing the way for the first negotiations in 18 months and giving a boost to US peace diplomacy. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell will conduct the talks by shuttling between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. Mitchell has spent more than a year shuttling between the leaders to revive the peace process that began in the early 1990s and has produced rounds of talks but no settlement. There have been no negotiations since December, 2008, when Israel launched an offensive in Gaza.

The United States has sought to revive the peace process, calling the conflict a "vital national security interest." But many doubt whether the latest US effort can succeed where years of diplomacy have failed. Indirect talks are a far cry from the face-to-face negotiations of the past. Netanyahu welcomed the resumption of peace talks. "Israel's position was and remains that the talks ought to be conducted without preconditions and should quickly lead to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

Speaking after Mitchell met Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians wanted to build on past negotiations. "We do not want to begin from zero," he said. "We believe the time is not for negotiations but decisions," he said, adding that an initial four months of indirect talks would focus on the issues of the borders of a future Palestinian state and security. In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley welcomed the PLO's decision as "an important and welcome step." Erekat said Mitchell would make a statement on Sunday including details on when the talks would start. Mitchell is due to meet Abbas again on Sunday before departing, he added.

Mitchell proposed the indirect format as a way to break an impasse over Jewish settlement construction on Israeli-occupied land where the Palestinians aim to establish a state alongside Israel. The PLO executive gave the green light in March, but the US initiative was derailed when Israel announced plans for new homes in occupied areas of Jerusalem -- a move that infuriated the Palestinians and the United States. The PLO's latest decision was taken partly due to US guarantees "regarding settlement activity, its danger and the need for it to stop," senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said after the body gave its approval. "The United States will take a firm political position on any provocations that influence the path of the political process and the negotiations," he said.

Israeli officials have denied speculation that Netanyahu, who has faced unusually harsh US criticism, has promised to shelve building projects in East Jerusalem. Israel annexed the eastern half of the city as part of its capital after capturing it, with surrounding West Bank land, in the 1967 Middle East war. World powers have never recognized the move. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they hope to found in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under US pressure, Netanyahu announced in November a 10-month settlement building freeze in the West Bank, but it was not enough to draw Abbas back to negotiations. Israeli leaders have said the Palestinians can raise core issues in the indirect talks, but only direct negotiations can resolve them.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that if both sides are willing to make brave decisions, "it will be possible to get to direct negotiations and a breakthrough toward an agreement." However, Barak represents the most pragmatic wing of the Israeli government, and Netanyahu's ultranationalist coalition partners are expected to try to torpedo any progress in negotiations. Abbas received a reminder of his own domestic problems Saturday when Hamas quickly denounced the PLO's approval of indirect talks as a "stab in the back of our people." The Islamic militant group said negotiations will be futile and only provide cover to Israel to build more settlements.

Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007, ousting forces loyal to Abbas, and the rift between the terrorists and the Western-backed Abbas have only deepened since. Hamas has said in the past it would accept any peace deal negotiated by Abbas, provided it is approved in a referendum. However, it is not clear whether that promise still stands. Hamas control of Gaza is a key obstacle to any deal, with Israel saying it cannot make concessions as long as Iranian-backed militants control a large part of what would be a Palestinian state. Abbas and his foreign backers have not come up with a plan for reclaiming Gaza. The ICOT, AIE and AI welcome the Palestinian approval that opens the door to Mideast talks, and call for a just solution as soon as possible!

19.05.2010: Proximity talks. US envoy George Mitchell has met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah – the political capital of the West Bank. It is the first time the two have got together since indirect peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians began earlier this month. After the meeting, Mitchell headed to east Jerusalem, where Palestinian officials gave him their take on the situation on the ground. Mitchell plans to shuttle between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Washington as part of the so-called proximity talks launched on May the 9th. He met Israeli Defence Secretary Ehud Barak on Tuesday and has plans for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday. The proximity talks initiative collapsed within days in March when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 settler homes in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians eventually re-agreed to take part after the US promised the project would be frozen. The anarchists, The AI, ICOT and AIE, back the talks.

31.05.2010: Hamas-supporters killed. Anarchist criticism. Netanyahu: Israel regrets the loss of life. Flotilla raid was self defense. Israel is facing growing international criticism after its forces stormed a convoy of Gaza-bound aid ships, killing several Hamas-supporters. Six ships carrying some 10,000 tonnes of aid had been due to arrive today but Israeli forces boarded the flotilla overnight, clashing with its about 700-strong mainly Hamas-supporting activists. Israel had repeatedly warned that the convoy would be intercepted if it tried to breach the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is considered necessary to stop arms supplies from reaching Hamas. Israeli military officials claim the Hamas-supporting activists responded violently by brandishing knives, axes and at least two guns. At least 9 people are reported killed.

Most of the casualties were reported to be Turkish nationals on the Mavi Marmara passenger ferry, which was one of three ships provided by Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), a Turkish aid organization that is supported by Turkey's ruling AKP party but is banned in Israel, which accuses it of links to Hamas and al-Qaeda. The other ships were organized by the "Free Gaza Movement", an international coalition of mainly leftist and Hamas-supporting activist groups. All the vessels were towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod. IHH, which played a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation. Besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements. IHH is a member of the "Union of Good", an umbrella organization of more than 50 Islamic funds and foundations around the globe, which channels money into the terrorist and fascist Hamas institutions.

Both Israel and Egypt declared they were willing to deliver the humanitarian aid as usual via trucks to the people of Gaza, but the Hamas terrorist-supporters on the ships declined the offer. The dawn raid has been widely criticized by the international community, including the anarchists, ICOT, AIE and AI, the European Union and the United Nations. The anarchists and others call for an independent investigation into the matter. Israel however as indicated above claims the killings were proportionate in self defense. The majority of the Hamas-supporters were Turkish nationals and Israel is now advising its citizens against travelling to Turkey. Turkey, meanwhile, has recalled its ambassador to Israel. Ankara has traditionally been Israel's closest Muslim ally but relations soured after the Turkish government criticized Israel's military offensive on Gaza in December 2008.

Netanyahu: Flotilla raid was self defense. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says commandos who raided a Gaza aid flotilla, killing nine and injuring dozens of others, were under attack and acting in self defense. Netanyahu spoke after a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Israeli leader was cutting short his visit in Canada Monday and canceling a visit planned Tuesday with US President Barack Obama in Washington so that he could return home. Netanyahu says Israel wanted to check the cargo to ensure it contained no weapons. He says this was done successfully with five ships, but the sixth did not cooperate. He says hundreds of people on board that ship beat, clubbed and stabbed soldiers, and there was a report of gunfire. He says that forced soldiers to attack.

Israel regrets the loss of life. In his first public comments on the incident, according to BBC, Netanyahu said Israel "regrets" the loss of life in the raid: "We told the flotilla of ships and said, you can take all your cargo, put it in our port of Ashdod and we'll just ferret out, if there are any war materials and the rest will go through. We succeeded doing this peacefully with five of the six ships. The sixth ship, the largest, which had hundreds of people on it, not only did not co-operate in this effort, peacefully, they deliberately attacked the first soldiers that came on the ship. "They were mobbed. They were clubbed, they were beaten, stabbed. There was even a report of gunfire and our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives or they would have been killed."

Later on Monday the event was discussed at the UN. Israel's deputy UN ambassador Daniel Carmon said "this flotilla was anything but a humanitarian mission." Some activists have "terrorist history" and its organizers support radical Islamic networks such as Hamas, which controls Gaza and refuses to recognize Israel's existence, he said. Carmon defended the legality of Israel's blockade and the boarding of the ships - which refused repeated calls to send their cargo through Israel - as "a preventive measure" to counter the illegal attempt to break the blockade. He called the results "tragic and unfortunate."

US deputy ambassador to UN Alejandro Wolff, made no mention of an independent international probe, saying: "We expect a credible and transparent investigation and strongly urge the Israeli government to investigate the incident fully." Wolff said the United States, Israel's closest ally, "is deeply disturbed by the recent violence and regrets the tragic loss of life," considers the situation in Gaza "untenable" and will continue to urge Israel to expand the scope and type of goods allowed into the territory to meet humanitarian needs.

President Barack Obama voiced "deep regret" over Monday's deadly Israeli commando raids. At the US State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "Ultimately, this incident underscores the need to move ahead quickly with negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive peace in the region." The United States, backed by the anarchists, ICOT, AIE and AI, has been trying to restart direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, but progress toward this achievement has lagged severely in recent months.

UN Security Council resolution. After more than 10 hours of closed-door talks that gave rise to conflicting interpretations, the UN Security Council called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." It also condemned "those acts which resulted in the loss of ... civilians and many wounded." The use of the word "acts" instead of "act" -- the term preferred by Turkey -- suggested that activists who attacked the Israeli boarding party also bore some responsibility. The anarchists, ICOT, AIE and AI, mainly agree with the criticism from the UN Security Council in this case. As a preliminary research result, the anarchists mean IDF could have used less lethal weapons. ICOT, AIE and AI also call for a quick release of the detained activists, and more information from Israel. The Israeli defense corps, IDF, could learn a bit from Antimilitarism - an anarchist approach in this connection.

Later on Tuesday BBC reported: "Israel seized more than 670 people with the ships and deported 50 on Tuesday. The Israeli cabinet later announced that all those still being held would be deported within 48 hours." AP reported: Israel, Egypt ease Gaza blockade. Israel and Egypt signaled a temporary easing of the Gaza Strip blockade Tuesday. Egypt said it was freely opening its border with Gaza for the first time in more than a year to allow in humanitarian aid, while an Israeli official said there is an "ongoing dialogue" with the international community on how to expand the amount of goods entering the area.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Washington would support an Israeli investigation of the raid, but said it must be "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent", as called for by the UN.

Terrorist rocket attack from Gaza. Renewed violence broke out in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, with five suspected Palestinian terrorists killed by Israeli fire. Two Palestinian gunmen were shot dead after crossing the border in the south of the territory, an IDF spokesman said. Three more people died in an Israeli strike in the north of Gaza, according to Gaza's emergency services. Israel said it had carried out an air strike after two rockets were fired from Gaza. [Updated 01.06.2010]

02.06.2010: Attempted lynching by Hamas-supporters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Iran continues to smuggle weapons into Gaza and Hamas -- which controls the territory -- continues to arm itself. Speaking of the boat where the violence occurred, Netanyahu said: "That was not a love boat. That was a boat of hatred. It was not a peaceful flotilla." "The soldiers who boarded the ship were attacked by clubs, batons and knives. They had the weapons kidnapped from them and shot at them," he said, calling the behavior of the people on the one ship where violence occurred an attempted lynching. The commando raid that led to the deaths of nine people and the wounding of many more early Monday continues to focus much of the world's attention.

The Gaza issue is spurring both security alarms and moral consternation among many Israelis, who see themselves as between a rock and a hard place when it comes to how to approach the issues in that territory. The Israeli government is concerned that lifting the blockade will help replenish terrorist groups intent on staging attacks against Israelis. At the same time, many Israelis are disturbed by the dire living conditions in Gaza. The Israeli state attorney general's office, in a response to the Israeli Supreme Court on two petitions regarding the flotilla, defended the Israeli actions on Wednesday.

It said the "Hamas terrorist organization" controls Gaza and is intent on deliberately assaulting civilians. As a result, Israel has been intent on thwarting the infiltration of weapons and ordnance from tunnels between Egypt and Gaza and has imposed a naval blockade on Gaza to stop the weapons smuggling. "The blockade is not intended to harm residents of the [Gaza] Strip. It is designed to prevent direct and free access to the Gaza Strip, not via Israel, in order to thwart, minimize, block and hinder the Gaza Strip from becoming a giant arsenal for the terrorist organizations to use in deliberately targeting Israelis in the framework of murderous terrorist actions that have been perpetrated over the years," the office said.

After Monday's incident, the Israeli government detained around 600 flotilla passengers and held them at the Beer Sheva prison. On Wednesday, all foreign detainees left the prison amid the international uproar over the raid, and they were taken to Ben Gurion Airport, where they headed home. Four Israeli Arab activists on the flotilla, however, remain in Israeli custody; a judge on Monday night remanded them till June 8. Three Turkish planes departed Tel Aviv on Wednesday carrying wounded activists to Ankara for treatment, Turkish government officials in Israel said.

The anarchists, the Anarchist International, AI, The Anarchist International Embassy, AIE, and the International Conference On Terrorism, ICOT, as well as the Obama administration consider Israel's blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel's security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area. Israel's deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza."There is no question that we need a new approach to Gaza," said one US official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy shift is still in the early stages. He was reflecting a broadly held view in the upper reaches of the US administration.

Israel would insist that any approach take into account three factors: 1. Israel's security; 2. the need to prevent any benefit to Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza; and 3. the four-year-old captivity of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas, Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit. The anarchists mainly agree that these three factors must be taken into account. Since the botched raid that killed nine activists on Monday, the Israeli government has said that the blockade was necessary to protect Israel against the infiltration into Gaza of weapons and fighters sponsored by Iran. If there were no blockade in place, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Israeli television on Wednesday evening, it would mean "an Iranian port in Gaza." He added, "Israel will continue to maintain its right to defend itself."

But the American officials said they believed that even Mr. Netanyahu understood that a new approach was needed. Yet Mr. Netanyahu has resisted anarchist and American pressure in the past. The anarchist, the AI, AIE and ICOT, as well as the Obama administration, initially demanded a complete freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but Israel so far has only agreed to a 10-month partial freeze. The anarchists continue with actions for a complete freeze. US pressure on Israel however carries domestic political risks for Mr. Obama, given the passion of its supporters in the United States. Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza five years ago and built the makings of an international border. But after the ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas, which rejects Israel's existence, won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, Israel cut back on the amount of goods permitted into Gaza. When Sergeant Shalit was seized in a raid in June of that year, commerce was further reduced.

A year later, Hamas as mentioned drove the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority entirely out of Gaza in four days of street battles, leading Israel to cut off all shipments in and out except basic food, humanitarian aid and urgent medical supplies. The ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas declines to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence or accept previous accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The diplomatic group known as the Quartet, made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, has said that until Hamas meets those requirements, the Quartet will not deal with it. But the world powers have grown increasingly disillusioned with the blockade, saying that it has created far too much suffering in Gaza and serves as a symbol not only of Israel's treatment of Palestinians but of how the West is seen in relation to the Palestinians.

"Gaza has become the symbol in the Arab world of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and we have to change that," the senior American official said. "We need to remove the impulse for the flotillas. The Israelis also realize this is not sustainable." At a meeting of the Quartet a year ago in Italy, for example, the group asserted that the current situation was not sustainable and called for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian aid within Gaza, as well as the reopening of crossing points. But Obama administration officials made it clear that the deaths had given a new urgency to changing the policy.

Anarchist and other international pressure against the blockade continued to grow on Wednesday: Turkey, which withdrew its ambassador to Israel after the raid, said full restoration of diplomatic ties was contingent on an end to the blockade. The new British prime minister, David Cameron, also called for an end to the blockade, criticizing the raid as "completely unacceptable." In Israel, officials say there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza because the Defense Ministry makes sure that enough food and medicine reach the population. But international aid groups assert that real malnutrition is growing to about 10 percent and that problems with medical and sanitation supplies are rising perilously because of the Israeli and Egyptian embargoes.

In recent months, Israel has permitted increased — although still quite limited — movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza. One Israeli official said that under Mr. Netanyahu there had been a 20 percent increase in goods, including some limited building materials under third-party supervision so that Hamas would not get hold of them. But Israel remains adamant, saying that if cement and steel were allowed to pass in any serious amount, they would end up in Hamas missiles and other weapons that would be aimed at Israel. Discussion in Israel this week has largely focused on the details of the seizure of the ship where the deaths occurred rather than on the broader question of whether the blockade is good policy.

03.06.2010: Demonstration tomorrow supported by anarchists: Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis, including anarchists, will demonstrate tomorrow to mark 43 years of occupation near Route 443 and other places Friday, June 4th. Dozens of Israeli anti-occupation organizations will join the Palestinian Popular Committees for a demonstration marking 43 years of occupation tomorrow. A.o.t. the protesters will denounce the killing at the ship Mavi Marmara and call to end the siege over Gaza. The road Route 443 has been closed for years for Palestinian vehicles. Following the High Court ruling on Route 443, a small section of the road was opened last week for Palestinian traffic, but is still nearly useless for the villagers, as access to Ramallah from it is disallowed, turning it into a highway to nowhere for Palestinians. The demonstrators will also call for increased freedom of movement for Palestinians. The anarchists, the AI, AIE and ICOT, support the demonstration, as long as it is a) a direct action, i.e. without ochlarchy, and b) is within the framework for an anarchist solution, i.e. a solution in the interest of the people in Israel and Palestine, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors in rank and/or income, including to do away with the terrorist ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas rule in Gaza.

04-05.06.2010: Ochlarchist demonstrations Friday in Palestine, with youths throwing stones at security forces. The anarchists condemn the ochlarchy. No anarchists were involved in the ochlarchy.

The left-leaning Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reports 04.06.2010: Day marked by W. Bank, J'lem protests. 7-meter ship held up in Bil'in; hundreds demonstrate near Route 443. High tensions were recorded in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday in the wake of Monday's IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara , which sparked protests all around the world. Hundreds of Palestinians and left-wing activists protested near Route 443, with youths hurling rocks at security forces. In Jerusalem, a protest march was held after Friday morning prayers. Though police boosted their presence in the city in anticipation of violence, they allowed the march to proceed on the condition that it did not turn riotous.

Hundreds attended the weekly protest over the security fence in Bil'in, where several demonstrators held up a seven-meter-long model of a ship. A number of arrests were made during the day. The entrance to Jerusalem's Temple Mount for participation in Friday prayers was restricted to men aged over 40 and possessing Israeli citizenship and women in hopes of averting more violence. Jerusalem police reinforced their presence along major thoroughfares in Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and throughout the Old City.

There have been past incidences of rock-throwing by Muslim youths and worshipers after Friday prayers at times of tension between Israel and the Palestinians. In March, rocks were hurled down at Jews praying at the Western Wall. When police tried to disperse these rioters, severe and violent clashes with the locals erupted. When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement incorporating the Cave of the Patriarch's in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem onto Israel's list of national heritage sites in March, rock-throwing spilled over into Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter, and various parts of the West Bank.

1. Ochlarchy (mob rule broadly defined) and anarchy, 2. ochlarchists and anarchists, and 3. ochlarchical and anarchistic, are opposites. The demonstrations Friday in Palestine were plagued by ochlarchy, with youths throwing stones at security forces. The anarchists condemn the ochlarchy. No anarchists were involved in the ochlarchy. The anarchists work against ochlarchy in demonstrations, alone and with allies, but they were all too few to stop it this time. See also the note of 03.06.2010. Ochlarchy does not work. If a rally most likely will end up in ochlarchy, it is better to find other ways to demonstrate, i.e. a demonstration with dignity - not ochlarchy. By the way, anarchists are found in the middle and upwards on the economic-political map, they are not "left-wing activists".

Later 05.06.2010 CNN reports: Israeli commandos seize aid boat headed for Gaza. Israeli naval commandos seized an Irish-owned aid ship headed for Gaza Saturday morning, officials said. The Israel military said it boarded the ship by sea with the compliance of the crew 35 kilometers (22 miles) off the Gaza coast. The ship was being towed to Ashdod, Israel, where its cargo will be offloaded and screened, the military said. No helicopters were used, the military said. Free Gaza movement spokeswoman Mary Hughes said the passengers of the MV Rachel Corrie were unharmed. "This is unacceptable to be happening in international waters," she said.

Earlier Saturday, the Israeli military said it had warned the ship's crew not to try and break its naval blockade of Gaza. A crew member on board who spoke to CNN Saturday before the ship was boarded said three Israeli ships were following the MV Rachel Corrie, a cargo ship bound for Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade. "You are approaching an area of hostilities which is under a naval blockade," the Israeli Navy said via radio transmission, according to a statement from the Israeli military. "The Gaza area, coastal region and Gaza Harbor are closed to all maritime traffic. The Israeli government supports delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and invites you to enter the Ashdod port."

The ship's approach came five days after violence erupted when Israeli forces boarded another ship attempting to break the Israeli blockade, leading to the deaths of nine people on board. Israel had offered to unload the vessel's cargo in Ashdod, screen the material and deliver it to Gaza, but passengers aboard the ship rejected that offer, according to a statement from Micheal Martin, Ireland's minister for foreign affairs.

The 19 people aboard the vessel -- which is owned by the Free Gaza Movement -- include activists and crew members who were determined to reach Gaza, passengers told CNN Friday. "We're not prepared to turn around," said Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, who is aboard the ship. "We are prepared to go straight to Gaza." "We will stay within the international waters," said Maguire. "If Israel refuses that we get into Gaza and insists on boarding our boat, then we will sit down as non-violent activists. We will be very peaceful. We will not resist the Israeli navy coming aboard, arresting us and taking us by force to [the Israeli port city of ] Ashdod, but we will not turn around. We will keep going."

Organizers said the ship was carrying 550 tons of cement to help rebuild schools, homes and other buildings destroyed in Gaza. Maguire said the ship was also carrying "tons" of writing materials donated by [the Anarchy of] Norway, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment -- including wheelchairs donated by Scotland -- and toys. Former Assistant UN Secretary-General Denis Halliday, also aboard the Rachel Corrie, said Thursday the passengers had no plans to confront the Israelis. "We will stand back and show we are harmless and unarmed -- we will put up no resistance," he said. "We're not going to make any silly mistakes." Israel said its naval blockade is in place to stop weaponry from reaching militants in Gaza intent on attacking Israel.

"If, as is their stated intention, the Israeli government intercepts the Rachel Corrie, the government demands that it demonstrate every restraint," said Martin. He called on Israel to lift its blockade. In Monday's incident, nine Turkish citizens were killed after violence erupted on one of six ships in a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. A number of other people were wounded. Israel said the passengers initiated the attack; the passengers said it was the troops who initiated it. The violence has sparked official and grassroots rage in governments and streets inside and outside the Middle East.

At a weekly anti-Israeli wall protest in the West Bank village of Bil'in, demonstrators flashed peace signs and waved Turkish flags as they marched beside a protest boat on wheels, which they said was a symbol of solidarity with those killed on the Gaza flotilla. Israel's military responded with tear gas and took control of the land-locked boat. The boat was eventually released. Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Thursday that the incident "left an irreparable and deep scar" in once-close Turkish-Israeli ties. At the United Nations, the Security Council called for an inquiry into the flotilla raid and the Human Rights Council voted for a probe, but Israel said it alone -- and not an international entity -- should be investigating.

The Israel Defense Forces military advocate general said Israel's interception of the flotilla was legal because international law allows a country to stop a vessel in international waters if it attempts to breach a naval blockade -- even before such a blockade is breached. "We're just hopeful the Israelis will let us make a small gesture for the people of Palestine," Halliday said Thursday. "Because we believe Monday was a gross error." He added that Monday's confrontation resulted from "faults on both sides," saying the effort on the Rachel Corrie is a "different ball game." The MV Rachel Corrie was named for a 23-year-old American woman who was killed in Gaza in 2003 while attempting to keep IDF forces from bulldozing the home of a Palestinian.

Later CNN reported: "For the second time this week, Israeli naval commandos seized aid headed for Gaza, but Saturday's action had a peaceful ending."

06.06.2010: Turkish group IHH releases photos of Israeli soldiers. IHH released photos on Sunday of Israeli commandos wounded in the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound ship. Several of the images, taken by an unidentified person or people aboard the ship Mavi Marmara, show an Israeli soldier surrounded by people aboard the Turkish-flagged vessel. The photos were released by the Turkish activist group, which is outlawed in Israel. According to IHH, the Israeli soldiers were hurt while storming the ship in confrontations with activists aboard, and were later returned to other Israeli troops who boarded the ship. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the series of images "shows that our boarding party in fact did face deadly violence from the hardcore Islamist activists on the boat from the fundamentalist IHH movement."

Osman Atalay, a senior IHH official, said the soldiers were in the first group of commandos that boarded the ship. He said the images show activists "intervening" or "tending" to the injured soldiers. Bulent Yildirim, who heads the IHH, has said people on the ship attacked Israeli soldiers "with chairs and iron bars in self-defense." He has not commented on the use of slingshots but has insisted there were no weapons on board the ship, whose cargo he says was inspected by Turkish authorities.

Euronews reports: Israel likely to reject international inquiry. Israel looks set to reject a proposal for an international inquiry into last week's deadly raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has suggested a panel including representatives from Turkey – nine of whose nationals were shot dead – as well as Israel and the United States. But Israel's US ambassador and at least one government minister have said no. I think that Israel can investigate all events by itself," said the Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz. "We always check ourselves that we want to know whether… something went wrong and if so, how to fix it. I think that Israel can do it, we do not need any international help in doing it."

Seven pro-Palestinian activists have arrived in Jordan after being deported by Israel. The six Malaysians and one Cuban were detained yesterday while trying to sail another aid ship to Gaza. Israeli forces intercepted the Rachel Corrie in international waters and boarded the ship without resistance. "Obviously the world knows now that we cannot send the aid to Gaza," said Malaysian activist Ahmed Faiz Al Azumo. "We failed in that mission. But as for now we want the whole world, citizens of the world, community of the world to stand up, speak up. Stop the embargo, stop the siege."

Among the other four activists being deported is former Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire. The Free Gaza movement which organised the attempts to break the Israeli blockade has vowed to send further aid shipments. In what is likely to be seen in Israel as a provocative move, reports from Iran say its forces are ready to escort them.

CNN reports: Israel: Seized aid ship's passengers being deported. All 19 passengers and crew members of the Rachel Corrie have signed deportation papers and will leave the country Sunday, an Israeli interior ministry spokesman said. Seven were deported into Jordan on Sunday, along with one person who was injured in the Israeli seizure of another ship trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. The Free Gaza Movement, which organized the flotilla, said it had not been able to speak to anyone who had been aboard the Rachel Corrie. Spokeswoman Greta Berlin said Israeli authorities had taken their phones away. Israeli authorities did not immediately comment on the claim.

The cargo ship Rachel Corrie, loaded with humanitarian aid, had been heading for Palestinian-controlled Gaza on Saturday when naval commandos seized it -- the second such shipment to be blocked in recent days. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is now an international envoy for the Middle East conflict, said Israel has "a complete right and indeed a duty to protect itself against weapons or arms or other material that can be used for destructive purposes." But, he said, Israel had to "distinguish between that and checking the material that comes in." The international community has to ensure that the people of Gaza have hope, help and "some prospect for the future," he said.

"If they become completely isolated ... the danger is that extremism grows," he said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Asked directly if the blockade of Gaza should end, he said, "everyone" is calling for "a change in policy there." Saturday's Israeli seizure of the Rachel Corrie had a peaceful ending, and Israeli officials said they expected the deportation process to go smoothly. "I don't think any of these people will resist deportation," Palmor said Saturday. "The scenario is either you agree to be deported or you claim that you have a right to stay. I don't believe any of these people will petition a judge to allow them to stay. They did not show any resistance on the boat."

The Israeli military said it boarded the Irish-owned MV Rachel Corrie by sea with the compliance of the crew, 35 kilometers (22 miles) off the Gaza coast. The group on board included six Malysians, one Cuban, one Briton, six Filipino nationals and five Irish nationals, according to Israel's interior ministry. Those deported on Sunday included all the Malaysians and the Cuban. An Indonesian who was injured in the storming of the Mavi Marmara was also in the group. The seizure of the Rachel Corrie contrasted with drama in international waters on Monday, when nine Turkish citizens were killed after violence erupted on the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships in a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. A number of other people were wounded.

Israel said the passengers initiated the attack; the passengers blamed the troops. That incident drew widespread condemnation and cast a spotlight on the dynamics of the Gaza crisis. Israel said its naval blockade is in place to stop weaponry from reaching militants in Gaza intent on attacking Israel. But many people are incensed that the three-year blockade -- imposed after Hamas took over Gaza -- has deepened poverty in the Palestinian territory. According to the United Nations, 80 percent of Gaza's population depends on food aid. The voyage of the Rachel Corrie on the heels of the raid put the international community on edge until the events unfolded peacefully on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel "used the exact same procedure" aboard the Rachel Corrie as it did on the Mavi Marmara. At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu said the group aboard the Mavi Marmara was primed for a fight with the Israeli military. "According to the information currently in our possession, this group boarded separately in a different city, organized separately, equipped itself separately and went on deck under different procedures," he said. "In effect, they underwent no checks. The clear intent of this hostile group was to initiate a violent clash with IDF soldiers."

Free Gaza Movement spokeswoman Mary Hughes sharply criticized Israel's seizure of the ship. "This is unacceptable to be happening in international waters," she said. Reflecting the sentiment of many across the world, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was pleased the incident was "resolved peacefully," but he renewed his stance that Israel needs to lift its closure of Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement, which owns the vessel, said the ship was carrying 550 tons of cement to help rebuild schools, homes and other buildings destroyed in Gaza. Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, who was aboard the ship, said Friday that the Rachel Corrie was also carrying "tons" of writing materials donated by Norway, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment -- including wheelchairs donated by Scotland -- and toys.

As for the Monday violence, it continues to spark official and grassroots rage in governments and streets inside and outside the Middle East and led to even further deterioration between Israel and Turkey, the one-time close allies who have grown apart over the Gaza crisis. In Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, thousands took to the streets to protest Israel's actions in Gaza. Protests were also staged in London, England and Paris, France. At the United Nations, the Security Council called for an inquiry into the flotilla raid and the Human Rights Council voted for a probe, but Israel said it alone -- and not an international entity -- should be investigating.

The Israel Defense Forces military advocate general said Israel's interception of the flotilla was legal because international law allows a country to stop a vessel in international waters if it attempts to breach a naval blockade -- even before such a blockade is breached. The MV Rachel Corrie was named for a 23-year-old American woman who was killed in Gaza in 2003 while attempting to keep the Israeli military from bulldozing the home of a Palestinian.

07.06.2010: CNN reports: Iran Red Crescent to send aid to Gaza. Iran's Red Crescent Society will try to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza by sending food and medical supplies to the besieged Palestinian territory, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday. Red Crescent official Abdul Rauf Adibzadeh said one shipment of relief goods will arrive in Gaza via Egypt by the end of the week, Iranian media reported. The aid group is also preparing to send two relief ships to the coast of Gaza, including a hospital ship with doctors, nurses and operating rooms and another vessel with more relief goods like food and medication, the IRNA and Mehr news agencies reported.

Israel stopped a convoy of six ships trying to deliver aid to Gaza last week in defiance of an Israeli blockade, killing at least nine people in the course of boarding one of the vessels. Adibzadeh said there is a possibility that Iranian Red Crescent ships may be attacked but added that, despite the danger, if the Iranian authorities approve, the shipments will be sent to Gaza. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the Iranian ships will be part of a new aid flotilla organized by several Islamic countries, though he declined to say which countries are involved. He called it "strictly a humanitarian effort for the people of Gaza." "We are preparing two ships to head for Gaza that will provide humanitarian aid," Mehmanparast said. "Their departure depends on how soon we coordinate with other countries that are also sending aid ships. The process of organizing the operation is under way."

Separately, a "Jewish boat" is planning to try to reach Gaza, two pro-Palestinian European Jewish groups announced Monday. "Our purpose is to call an end to the siege of Gaza, to this illegal collective punishment of the whole civilian population," Edith Lutz said on behalf of European Jews for a Just Peace in the Near East and Jews for Justice for Palestinians. The group is not saying when the boat is sailing or where it is leaving from "in order to avoid sabotage," Lutz said. Israeli commandos intercepted the first convoy at sea May 31 and stormed the largest vessel, the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara. The ships were carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, organizers said. The Palestinian territory has been blockaded by Israel since its takeover by the Islamic movement Hamas in 2007. The deadly raid sparked international condemnation.

US Vice President Joe Biden avoided mentioning the issue directly when he spoke after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt on Monday. He said that the present situation "is unsustainable for all sides" and that the Israelis and Palestinians needed to "move to direct negotiations as soon as possible that will result in an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and to a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel and a Palestinian state living in peace and security." The UN Security Council has called for an inquiry into the flotilla raid, and the UN Human Rights Council has condemned the assault and voted to launch an investigation. Israeli officials have defended the legality of the raid, criticizing those aboard the Mavi Marmara for attacking the boarding party and insisting that they can handle the investigation themselves.

Associated Press reports: Egypt: Gaza blockade a failure, border stays open. An Egyptian security official declared the blockade of Gaza a failure Monday and said his country will keep its border with the Palestinian territory open indefinitely. Keeping that crossing point open long term would ease the blockade imposed by Israel three years ago to isolate and punish Gaza's Hamas rulers. It also restores a link to the outside the world for some of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians. Egypt opened its border with Gaza soon after Israel's deadly raid on an international flotilla of activists trying to break the blockade a week ago. Israel has not publicly protested the Egyptian move, but officials declined to comment Monday.

In another escalation of the tension off Gaza's shores, Israeli naval forces shot and killed four men wearing wet suits off the coast on Monday, and the militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades said they were members of its marine unit training for a mission. Vice President Joe Biden said Monday the US is closely consulting with Egypt and other allies to find new ways to "address the humanitarian, economic, security, and political aspects of the situation in Gaza." He issued the statement after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. Egypt's measures up to now constitute an incremental change rather than a radically different approach to the border closure. It appeared aimed, in part, at defusing some of the anger in the Arab and Muslim world over Egypt's role in maintaining the blockade.

09.06.2010: Obama calls for new approach on Gaza blockade. President Barack Obama called on Wednesday for sharply limiting Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip in the wake of the botched Israeli naval raid that's straining US and Israeli relations with allies around the world, and the White House announced a $400 million aid package for Gaza and the West Bank. "The situation in Gaza is unsustainable," Obama said as he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office. He said the attention of the world is on the problem because of the "tragedy" of the Israeli raid that killed nine people trying to bring in supplies. Obama called for narrowly tailoring Israel's broad blockade on goods entering the Gaza Strip so that arms are kept out, but not items needed for the Palestinians' daily life and economic development.

"The key here is making sure that Israel's security needs are met but that the needs of people in Gaza are also met," said Obama. "So if we can get a new conceptual framework ... it seems to me that we should be able to take what has been a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually, directly improved." The approach marked a shift although it stopped well short of meeting international calls for an end to the 3-year-old blockade, which Israel says is needed to keep arms away from the militant Hamas movement that controls Gaza. Critics say the blockade is ineffective and causes undue suffering. Obama said the US would discuss the new approach with European leaders, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas welcomed the $400 million aid package, which will go for things like creating jobs and improving access to drinking water, but called for going farther on the blockade. "We also see the need to lift the Israeli siege of the Palestinian people, the need to open all the crossings and the need to let building material and humanitarian material and all the necessities go into the Palestinian people," said Abbas, whose actual influence over Gaza is slight, since his forces were routed when Hamas took over the area in 2007. He and his more moderate Fatah movement lead the West Bank, the other Palestinian territory in Israel. Israel's ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, said Israel was open to suggestions that would address the needs of the Palestinian people along with Israel's security requirements, but he defended the blockade as "essential for not only Israel's security, Egypt's security, but it's essential for the peace process."

Oren bridled at the notion of letting through goods such as building materials. "We know that Hamas is going to take these materials and not use them to build schools, they're going to use them to build military bunkers. So we are reluctant to let those things through," Oren said in an interview with the Associated Press. Wednesday's meeting between Obama and Abbas came as Israel announced it would allow potato chips, cookies, spices and other previously banned food items into the Gaza Strip, a step Oren said was meant in a spirit of cooperation. Critics denounced the move as insignificant, and a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the gesture was not worth commenting on. "Yes, we have allowed some chocolate and other snacks through today, but Hamas has rejected them," Oren said. "They rejected our chocolate."

It's been a little more than a week since Israel's deadly May 31 raid on a flotilla hoping to break the blockade on Gaza. Nine men in the flotilla were killed, including eight Turks and a Turkish American. Israel says its soldiers opened fire only after being attacked while the flotilla activists accuse Israel of using unnecessary violence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been scheduled to visit the White House June 1 but canceled the visit to deal with the crisis. His visit is being rescheduled, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday it could happen by the end of this month. The Abbas visit, scheduled before the flotilla raid, had been expected to focus on peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, now proceeding with US envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two parties. The eventual goal is to move to direct talks.

Despite the uproar over the flotilla raid, Obama said he anticipated significant progress could be made, if both sides try to ensure a conducive environment. For the Israelis, Obama said, that means curbing settlement activity and recognizing progress on security on the part of the Palestinians. "On the Palestinian side, I was very frank with President Abbas that we have to continue to make more progress on both security as well as incitement issues," Obama said. Abbas responded to that when he spoke. "I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we're not doing that," Abbas said. "What we care about is to live in coexistence with Israel in order to bring about the independent Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and stability." A State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said the $400 million aid package represented specific allocations of money that had already been budgeted for the Palestinians, some of it fulfilling a $900 million commitment Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made last year. Projects announced Wednesday included $240 million for mortgage assistance in the West Bank and $10 million to build five new schools in Gaza.

13.06.2010: Israel's blockade of Gaza must end, says the Arab world's top diplomat. ICOT, AIE and AI call for an anarchist solution. Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, is visiting the Gaza Strip two weeks after Israeli marines killed nine Turkish activists who were trying to break the blockade by delivering aid directly to Gaza. Moussa's presence is also a sign that hardline Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, is being brought in from the diplomatic wilderness. Moussa said: "This blockade which we are all here to confront must be lifted and must be broken and the Arab League's decision is very clear in this regard." Israel began the blockade three years ago to prevent weapons reaching Hamas and other terrorist factions in Gaza. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists humanitarian aid can pass into the Strip and that his government was still discussing ways of allowing this to happen more effectively. Egypt had closed its border with Gaza in support of the blockade but as mentioned above reopened its Rafah crossing in the wake of the Israeli assault on the aid flotilla. Even the United States, Israel's closest ally, has called the blockade "unsustainable."

ICOT, AIE and AI call for an anarchist solution, as briefly outlined in chapter VIII. B. "An overview" at IJA 4 (31) i.e. a solution in the interest of the people in Israel and Palestine, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors in rank and/or income, including to do away with the terrorist ultra-authoritarian fascist Hamas rule in Gaza. See also the reports of 31.05.2010-09.06.2010 for more information about an anarchist policy for Gaza, etc.

Obama backs Israel's inquiry into flotilla raid. The White House backs Israel's inquiry into its deadly raid last month on a flotilla trying to break a blockade against Gaza, saying the independent public commission is "an important step forward." Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says Israel's panel can meet the standard of a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation." On Sunday, Israel announced a three-person commission to investigate the May 31 raid, which left nine people dead. The panel will be headed by a judge, with two international observers, Lord William David Trimble of Ireland, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate; and retired Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin, the former chief military prosecutor in Canada.

17.06.2010: Israel loosens chokehold on Gaza after anarchist and other pressure. An Israeli decision Thursday to ease its blockade of Gaza under intense anarchist and other, also international, pressure, could spell the beginning of the end of the chokehold that has hurt ordinary Gazans far more than their militant Hamas rulers. The order to allow in all foods and some desperately needed construction materials brought calls for Israel to go much further and did little to quell the global outcry over the deadly flotilla raid that tried to bust the embargo. With a naval blockade in place and Israel giving no indication it will lift a ban on Gaza exports, Palestinians dismissed the move as cosmetic. Yet the announcement was an unmistakable sign of Israeli leaders' extreme discomfort with the damage the bloody May 31 flotilla raid has done to their country's international standing - and an indication the blockade's days may be numbered.

24.06.2010: Jewish dance group stoned in Hanover, Germany. The anarchists condemn the anti-Semitic attack. German police are investigating the stoning of a Jewish dance group trying to perform on the street in the city of Hanover. Youths reportedly shouted "Juden Raus" (Jews Out) as they attacked the dancers of the Chaverim ("Friends" in Hebrew) dance troupe last weekend. Police said several Muslim immigrant youths were among the attackers and two youths were being questioned. Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Die Welt newspaper that anti-Semitic feelings were widespread in both far-right and Muslim communities in the country. "It particularly saddens me that those anti-Semitic views can already be seen with such vehemence among children and youths," she said. The anarchists condemn the anti-Semitic attack.

12.07.2010: Israeli report says flawed intelligence, planning led to botched raid on Gaza flotilla. Flawed intelligence-gathering and planning led to Israel's botched and deadly raid on a Gaza-bound protest flotilla, with security forces underestimating the potential for violence, said the official report released Monday. The report concluded that intelligence-gathering was deficient and that various intelligence units did not communicate properly with each other. It criticized the operation's planners for not having a backup plan in the event of violence. The report, however, praised the commandos who took part in the operation, saying they were justified in opening fire and killing nine after being confronted by violent pro-Palestinian activists on board one of the ships. It did not recommend any dismissals, though it is possible that some senior officers will be ousted or demoted in an ensuing shake-up.

Israel's naval blockade on the territory, meant to keep weapons from reaching Hamas militants, remains in place. Later this week the blockade will be challenged again, this time by a Libyan protest ship. In a statement, the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, said the inquiry did not reveal failures or negligence, but "brings up mistakes which must be corrected for future incidents." Military officials briefing reporters said that as a result of the lessons from the botched raid and the inquiry, the navy will be able stop such ships in the future. However, if the activists on board attack soldiers with the intention of being killed themselves, that might well happen. The officials made the observation after playing footage that he said showed passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara saying they wanted to die as martyrs. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were going beyond the findings of the inquiry.

13.07.2010: Israel: Gaza aid ship diverts to Egypt. Aid provided by an organization named after the ultra-authoritarian ruler of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi. A Libyan boat carrying supplies for Gaza was sailing toward Egypt late Tuesday instead of trying to run a naval blockade of the Palestinian territory, IDF officials said, apparently defusing a potential confrontation on the high seas. The Israelis said the ship captain informed the Israeli navy ships tailing him that he was heading for the Egyptian port of El-Arish. Even so, they said Israeli naval vessels would continue to accompany the Libyan ship, because a last-minute course change could point the ship toward Gaza. El Arish is in the Egyptian Sinai desert next to Gaza.

The Israeli officials spoke late Tuesday on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made. Just before midnight, the ship's crew said they were stuck because of engine trouble. In a recording played on Israel Radio, a crew member said he did not know how long it would take to repair the main engine and resume their journey. The latest challenge to the blockade came a day after IDF admitted mistakes in the May 31 confrontation aboard a Turkish ship that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead and brought a wave of world criticism that forced the Jewish state to ease restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled territory.

Earlier the IDF confirmed that it made contact with the Libyan vessel and said "the navy has begun preparing to stop the ship." Organizers said they were ordered to divert to el-Arish. The Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which is organizing the mission, said the Moldovan-flagged Amalthea, left Greece on Saturday carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies. The foundation is headed by the son of Gadhafi, and is named after his father, the ultra-authoritarian ruler of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi..

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev repeated a standing offer earlier Tuesday, inviting the activists to sail to the Israeli port of Ashdod and unload the supplies there. On Monday Egyptian officials said if the Libyan ship docked at El Arish, Egypt would transfer its supplies to Gaza. The latest encounter came less than two months after Israeli commandos clashed with protesters aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara. Several other aid ships have been commandeered without incident and towed to Ashdod. Israel dismisses the need for ships to bring aid to Gaza. Israel responded to international, included anarchists, pressure over the bloody May 31 raid by easing the movement of goods through land crossings. It canceled its list of a few permitted humanitarian items and replaced it with the opposite - a list of banned items, mostly weapons and products that can be used for military purposes - allowing in all the rest.

But it maintained the naval blockade, imposed after Hamas overran the Palestinian territory in June 2007. Israel insists the naval blockade on Gaza is vital to keep rockets, missiles, explosives and other weapons out of the hands of the Islamic terrorist group, which is sworn to the destruction of Israel and has dispatched suicide bombers who have killed hundreds of Israelis. The Gaza blockade and the flotillas challenging it have already caused Israel serious diplomatic damage, putting it on the defensive against demands for inquiries, criticism for its role in the plight of Gaza and underlining a growing rift with Turkey, once one of its few allies in the Muslim world. On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara will keep pushing for an international inquiry into the Israeli raid on May 31. Israel says its commandos were defending themselves after being attacked by pro-Palestinian activists, and has resisted calls for a UN-led inquiry into the raid. Activists on board the ship have said they acted in self-defense after Israeli troops landed on their ship.

Findings released Monday from an IDF-commissioned report found that flawed intelligence-gathering and planning led to the botched May 31 raid but also said the commandos were justified in opening fire and killing nine after being confronted by violent pro-Palestinian activists on board one of the ships. Israel also has appointed a civilian inquiry with a mandate limited to investigating the legality of the operation. Two international observers have been attached to the civilian commission, which is led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court judge. In a development related to the May 31 raid, Israel's parliament on Tuesday voted to remove privileges from an Arab member, Hanin Zoabi, who was on board one of the other ships in the Turkish flotilla. She will not be allowed to leave the country, have a diplomatic passport or get her legal fees covered by the parliament.

14.07.2010: Gadhafi ship reaches Egypt. The Libyan aid ship blocked by Israeli missile ships from steaming to Gaza reached an Egyptian port Wednesday, bringing an end to the latest challenge to Israel's naval embargo of the Palestinian territory.

01.08.2010: Israel warns Hamas after rocket fire. Israel's prime minister issued a stern warning Sunday to Gaza's Hamas rulers after a weekend of rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory on Israeli communities. Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet that Israel holds the Islamic militant group responsible for the rare flare-up in violence and would retaliate for any attack against its people. "I see the Hamas as directly responsible for any attack that comes from the Gaza Strip toward the state of Israel and the international community should see it this way as well," Netanyahu said. "Israel reserves the right to defend its citizens and we will continue to use all means to protect the people of Israel and the children of Israel."

The attacks caused damage but no injuries. No Palestinian group took responsibility for the attacks. Israel responded with a series of airstrikes on militant targets in Gaza, including one that killed a senior commander of the Hamas military wing. Years of rocket fire from Gaza has largely subsided since Israel launched a fierce offensive in the Palestinian territory in December 2008. The three-week war dramatically reduced the number of rockets hitting Israel, but devastated the densely populated and impoverished Palestinian territory and drew international crticism from anarchists and others. Most of the rocket fire since has been carried out by smaller militant groups that do not necessarily accept Hamas' authority. Hamas has largely refrained from launching attacks, apparently because of concerns about Israeli retaliation.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Netanyahu of trying to "invent pretexts for new attacks" on Hamas. "Netanyahu and his government bear all the consequences of this escalation," he said. The violence came shortly after the Arab League authorized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to enter into direct peace talks with Israel, a notion that Gaza militants abhor. The league endorsed the idea after President Barack Obama warned Abbas in a letter that US-Palestinian relations might suffer if the Palestinian leader refused to resume direct negotiations. Negotiations between Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, and Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, broke off over the Gaza war. Indirect, US-mediated talks were launched in May.

"I think the international community, at least an important part of it, and of course the United States, expects the Palestinian Authority to put aside all the excuses and arguments and all the conditions and get into direct peace talks," Netanyahu said. "I call on Abu Mazen to take a brave decision to start peace talks with Israel. I hope that he will respond to my call and to the call of many in the international community." Abbas insists he will only negotiate if Israel commits to freezing all settlement construction. Palestinians are wary of resuming talks with Netanyahu without agreeing first on an agenda, a timetable and a framework. Netanyahu has refused to be pinned down and make concessions ahead of talks. Netanyahu has put in place a partial 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank that is due to expire in late September.

02.08.2010: Rockets hit Israeli resort of Eilat and Jordan's Aqaba. Police in Israel say at least five rockets have been fired at the southern Israeli tourist resort of Eilat from the Sinai desert in Egypt. One was reported to have struck the nearby Jordanian port of Aqaba, injuring four civilians. There were no casualties in Eilat. Two rockets landed in the sea, an Israeli regional police commander said. Egypt has denied that its territory was used to launch the apparent attack, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo. An Egyptian official said his country had a heavy security presence in the Sinai peninsula, particularly close to the border, and that no suspicious activity had been reported anywhere in the area. However, the Egyptian denial will be viewed sceptically by those who know the area, our correspondent says.

The government is in dispute, and sometimes conflict, with the Bedouin who live there. The Bedouin use their local knowledge to engage in widespread smuggling and are suspected of having helped those who carried out previous attacks in the area, he says. Eilat Mayor Meir Itzhak Halevi told Israel Radio there was no sign any of the rockets had hit inside Eilat's city limits. Israeli media and police reported that some of the rockets fell into the Red Sea and others in open spaces. Eilat, which is a popular tourist resort, has largely been spared from rocket and other attacks.In April, rockets were fired toward Eilat and Aqaba from Egypt's Sinai peninsula, an area from which Islamist militants have operated in the past. No-one was injured in that attack and the source of the firing was never established.

Eilat was hit in January 2007 by a suicide bomber, killing three people. Israel has recently warned of increased militant activity in the Sinai peninsula and has advised its citizens against travelling there, says the BBC's Wyre Davies in Jerusalem. In Jordan, Interior Minister Nayef Qadai told the AFP news agency: "A Grad rocket fell in the street in Aqaba, near to the Intercontinental hotel, destroying two cars and injuring four people, one of them seriously." Two of the wounded were taxi drivers and one of their cars was destroyed, witness Mohammad Shudeifat, who was on his way to work in the area when the blast struck, told the Associated Press news agency.

Earlier on Monday, a large explosion at the Gaza home of a senior Hamas commander injured more than 20 people. Israel has denied any involvement. Hamas sources told the BBC the blast hit the home of Alaa al-Danaf. He reportedly survived the blast unharmed but his brother Abed was injured. The explosion destroyed the house and badly damaged several nearby houses. On Friday and Saturday night, Israeli planes launched air strikes against Hamas positions in Gaza, killing one person. Israeli said this was in retaliation for an earlier attack from within the Palestinian territory when a rocket landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, without causing serious casualties.

03.08.2010: Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire Tuesday in a fierce border battle that killed a senior Israeli officer, two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist - underlining how easily tensions can re-ignite along the frontier where Israel and Hezbollah fought a war four years ago.

20.08.2010: Israel, Palestinians to talk 02.09.2010. Anarchist comment. New York Times' analysis.

Israel, Palestinians to talk 02.09.2010. Plunging into the Mideast peacemaker's role that has defeated so many US leaders, President Barack Obama on Friday invited Israel and the Palestinians to try anew in face-to-face talks for an agreement to establish an independent Palestinian state and secure peace for Israel. Negotiations shelved two years ago will resume Sept. 2 in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. Obama's aim: a deal in a year's time on the toughest issues that have sunk previous negotiations, including the borders of a new Palestinian state and the fate of disputed Jerusalem, claimed as a holy capital by both peoples. Under the agreement, Obama will hold separate discussions with Netanyahu and Abbas on Sept. 1 and then host a dinner, which will also be attended by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II.

After a nearly two-year hiatus in face-to-face negotiations, the planned talks bring the two sides back to where they were when the last direct talks began in November 2007, near the end of the Bush administration. Those talks broke down after Israel's 2008 military operation in Gaza, followed by Netanyahu's election last year on a much tougher platform than his predecessor. Soon after Clinton's announcement the terrorist Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, which along with the West Bank is supposed to be part of an eventual Palestinian state, rejected the talks, saying they were based on empty promises. On the other side there is the fascist Lieberman-fraction in the Israeli government...

Anarchist comment. The anarchists, the Anarchist International, AI/IFA, the Anarchist International Embassy, AIE, and ICOT, declare in a joint statement: "We -- AI/IFA, AIE and ICOT --, a) welcome face-to-face talks, the anarchists have many times called for direct negotiations, but b) the present economic and political/administrative environment, including the terrorist Hamas and the fascist Lieberman fraction, indicates c) it may be very difficult to achieve a solution with two independent countries, preferably anarchies and not states, within a years time. Obama is very likely as usual over-optimistic! The anarchists call for continued direct negotations in a longer, more realistic, time perspective!"

New York Times' analysis: In Mideast talks, scant hopes from the beginning. The American invitation on Friday to the Israelis and Palestinians to start direct peace talks in two weeks in Washington was immediately accepted by both governments. But just below the surface there was an almost audible shrug. There is little confidence — close to none — on either side that the Obama administration's goal of reaching a comprehensive deal in one year can be met. Instead, there is a resigned fatalism in the air. Most analysts view the talks as pairing the unwilling with the unable — a strong right-wing Israeli coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with no desire to reach an agreement against a relatively moderate Palestinian leadership that is too weak and divided to do so.

"These direct negotiations are the option of the crippled and the helpless," remarked Zakaria al-Qaq, vice president of Al Quds University and a Palestinian moderate, when asked his view of the development. "It is an act of self-deception that will lead nowhere." And Nahum Barnea, Israel 's pre-eminent political columnist, said in a phone interview: "Most Israelis have decided that nothing is going to come out of it, that it will have no bearing on their lives. So why should they care?" That such a dismissive tone comes not from the known rejectionists — the Islamists of Hamas who rule in Gaza and the leadership of the Israeli settler community in the West Bank — but from mainstream thinkers is telling of the mood.

Some Israelis who have spent their professional lives on peace talks with the Palestinians were upset by the fear that failed talks could prove worse than no talks. Yossi Beilin , for example, who left politics in 2008 after years as a leftist member of Parliament and government minister, said Friday that the Obama administration was wrong to set a one-year goal without consequences. "I think this is a huge mistake by the US administration," he said by telephone. "There is not a chance in the world that in a year — or two or three — peace can be achieved. The gap between the sides is too big. Netanyahu did not come to power to divide Jerusalem or find a solution to the Palestinian refugees."

The Obama administration says that while talks may be risky, the current drift is even riskier, and the only possible way forward is to put the leaders of the two sides together with American help. Yet on the Palestinian side, not even the leadership is enthusiastic. Mahmoud Abbas , the Palestinian president, has spent the past year and a half resisting the entreaties of Mr. Netanyahu to sit down together without preconditions. Mr. Abbas said repeatedly that years of such direct talks had led to no deal, only to the slow but steady loss of the West Bank to Israeli settlements. He was hoping that the Obama administration would impose a solution, which he imagined would push Israel to yield more land and authority to him than the Netanyahu government favored.

That is why the Palestinians wanted only indirect talks brokered by the Americans . But Mr. Abbas failed to obtain what he sought, and the administration pushed him toward direct talks. He has agreed only from a position of weakness, he and others say. "Abbas is naked before his whole community," observed Mahdi Abdul Hadi, chairman of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs , an independent research institute in East Jerusalem. "Everyone knows that this Israeli government is not going to deliver anything." Most Palestinians — and many on the Israeli left — argue that there are now too many Israeli settlements in the West Bank for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state to arise there. Settlement growth has continued despite a construction moratorium announced by Mr. Netanyahu.

Moreover, support for many of the settlements remains relatively strong in Israel. In other words, if this view holds, the Israelis have closed out any serious option of a two-state solution. So the talks are useless. The Israeli perspective focuses on Palestinian failures that have led to the current deadlock. As most Israelis see it, twice in the past decade their governments made generous offers to the Palestinian leadership that were rejected or ignored, evidence that peaceful coexistence was not the other side's goal. The first offer was in 2000 from then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Yasir Arafat at Camp David. Within two months, a Palestinian uprising broke out, leading to blood on the streets. The second was less than two years ago, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered even more to Mr. Abbas. Nothing came of that either.

What happened in Gaza over the past five years has also created intense Israeli disillusionment. Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers and the result was a victory for Hamas, which rejects Israel's existence, and thousands of rockets shot at Israeli communities from Gaza. The gap of mutual antagonism between Hamas and the Fatah -dominated Palestinian Authority grows monthly. As a result, although most polls still show Israelis favoring a two-state solution , there is skepticism, even widespread cynicism, about Palestinian intentions and any prospect for a successful, peace-oriented state of Palestine.

The big issues that the sides will face in the talks are the same ones that have divided them for years — the future of Israeli settlements in areas conquered in the 1967 war, the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, the fate of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 creation of Israel and the status of Jerusalem. Despite the intractable nature of those problems thus far, there are those who believe in the coming talks. Dore Gold, a former diplomat who has left public service but is closely associated with Mr. Netanyahu, said the negotiations "can be important as long as Israel's red lines are not crossed. Creative ideas need to emerge that will address the fundamental needs of both sides."

The lines he considers red are the need to keep Jerusalem united and under Israeli sovereignty and preserving Israeli control of the area in the West Bank along the Jordan border to prevent any flow of weapons in. Both positions have been completely rejected by Palestinians thus far. Haim Assa, who served as a close political consultant to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s and continues to advise centrist Israeli leaders, said that even though the talks were between the Israelis and Palestinians, the power of success was with the Americans. "The main player is the United States," he said. "All the cards are in its hands. When the US leaves Iraq it will want to put together a coalition of Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians. These talks are central to that happening. If they push and take it seriously, they can do it." Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Khaled Abu-Akr from Ramallah, West Bank.

31.08.2010: Hamas kills 4 Israelis on eve of peace talks. Palestinian gunmen opened fire Tuesday on an Israeli car in the West Bank and killed four passengers on the eve of a new round of Mideast peace talks in Washington. The Islamic terrorist group Hamas claimed responsibility. The Anarchist International, AI/IFA, the Anarchist International Embass, AIE, and ICOT condemn the terrorist attack.

01.09.2010: The anarchists, AI/IFA, AIE and ICOT welcome the peace talks in USA. Struggling to break decades of hostility, President Barack Obama convened a new round of Mideast peace talks Wednesday and told Israeli and Palestinian leaders they faced a fleeting chance to settle deep differences. "This moment of opportunity may not soon come again," Obama said at the White House before hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the first face-to-face peace talks in nearly two years. "They cannot afford to let it slip away." In a carefully arranged series of talks designed to lay the final groundwork for negotiations, Obama met separately with Netanyahu and Abbas as well as with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Later they all gathered for dinner, a private prelude to Thursday's scheduled start of formal negotiations at the State Department. See also anarchist comment 20.08.2010.

02.09.2010: Hamas among intractable issues in Mideast talks. More talks for Israel, Palestinians. To relaunch Middle East peace talks on Thursday, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and their American mediators quietly agreed to push aside the question of Hamas - the Islamic terrorist group that controls one of the two Palestinian territories and rejects negotiations. But Hamas let it be known with its bullets that it would not be left out of the equation - the terrorists as mentioned killed four Israelis and wounded two others in a pair of attacks on the eve of the new talks. The bloodshed was a reminder that Hamas is now on the list of intractable issues that have stymied decades of Mideast negotiations. There can be no peace without Hamas, but there is no solution so far for bringing the Iranian-backed terror group into the process.

"The attacks were meant to tell (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas he is not the one who decides the fate of the Palestinians," declared Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, adding that the group deserves a place in national decision-making because it won parliamentary elections in 2006. "Hamas will never agree to be ignored and isolated, and it can reshuffle the cards," he said. Hamas is firmly in control of the Gaza Strip, one of the two territories that are supposed to be part of a future Palestinian state. It wields virtual veto power over any agreement and has given no indication it would be willing to accept a deal with Israel reached by Abbas, who runs a rival government in the West Bank.

The more moderate Abbas met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday for the first peace talks in two years, hosted by President Barack Obama. Abbas and Netanyahu are far apart on issues that have eluded a solution for decades, including the borders of a Palestinian state, the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees and the most explosive issue, the competing claims to the holy city of Jerusalem. But if they can somehow work out these differences, Hamas would be needed to implement any deal. The Palestinians seek the West Bank and Gaza - located on opposite sides of Israel - for their future independent country, with east Jerusalem as its capital. For now, the Palestinians appear to be unified on one issue: There can be no peace that leaves the 1.5 million people of Gaza out.

Abbas has rejected any suggestion of a partial solution granting independence only to the West Bank and its 2.4 million Palestinians. This would be perceived by the Palestinian public as a massive sellout and sign of weakness. Hamas would paint Abbas as a traitor. "Any result and outcome of these talks does not commit us and does not commit our people. It only commits Abbas himself," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. Abbas has repeatedly said he will present any peace deal to a national referendum, a vote that would include the people of Gaza. A vote in favor of peace would put heavy pressure on Hamas to accept the will of the Palestinian people. So if Abbas will not go it alone, the quandary is how to bring Hamas into the fold.

Hamas, founded two decades ago as a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, has repeatedly played the role of spoiler in Mideast peace efforts over the years. A series of Hamas suicide bombings in the mid-1990s helped derail peace negotiations at the time. The group also killed hundreds of Israelis during the second Palestinian uprising last decade - a time of heavy fighting in which Israel killed Hamas' spiritual leader and dozens of other top commanders. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians also died in the fighting. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas stepped up rocket attacks on southern Israel, helping fuel years of violence. After the 2006 election, a unity government formed with Abbas' Fatah movement collapsed into civil war, resulting in Hamas' takeover of Gaza the following year.

In fiery speeches ahead of the launch of peace talks, Hamas leaders repeatedly rejected compromise with Israel and condemned Abbas for seeking peace. Yet behind the public rhetoric, the enigmatic group has also shown itself to be remarkably pragmatic. In its short-lived power-sharing agreement with Abbas, it agreed to let the moderate president handle negotiations with Israel, as long as he presented any deal to a national referendum. While refusing to recognize the Jewish state's right to exist, Hamas has largely honored a cease-fire since the devastating Israeli military offensive ended early last year. Hamas forces have even blocked smaller militant groups from staging attacks, and this week, commanders ordered their forces to hold fire when Israeli tanks were conducting exercises along the Gaza border. Hamas leaders frequently speak of long-term truces with Israel that could last decades.

Hamas is also eager to win legitimacy in the Arab world. The reaction of key Arab players - including Syria, which hosts Hamas headquarters in Damascus, as well as Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and Egypt - could perhaps greatly influence Hamas' behavior. Beyond condemnations of this week's shootings, neither Israeli, American or Palestinian officials in Abbas' delegation have said much about Hamas, reflecting the international community's inability to find a way to work with the Islamic militants. Abbas condemned the attacks by the Islamic militants and his forces have arrested more than 250 Hamas activists in the West Bank.

Asked about Hamas on Thursday, White House Mideast envoy George Mitchell said: "We do not expect Hamas to play a role in this immediate process." He added, however, that the US would welcome Hamas' "full participation" if it complies "with the basic requirements of democracy and nonviolence that are a prerequisite to engage in these serious types of discussions." Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor agreed the Islamic militants have no role to play for now. "Hamas does not fit into the process," he said, adding that although the sides hope to reach an agreement in a year, implementing it would have to be gradual. "Very efficient measures will be needed by all parties involved before an eventual peace agreement can be extended to Gaza," he said.

In a series of interviews with the Associated Press, top Hamas officials voiced great skepticism over the new peace talks, but signaled they have no intention of scuttling the negotiations, at least for now. "You want to go? OK, go. We have no objection," said Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas' top leader in Gaza, referring to Thursday's gathering in Washington. He confidently predicted the talks would fail, saying Abbas is "wasting time." Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Palestinians have been torn between the two governments. Hamas now has tens of thousands of armed fighters in Gaza and a sizable arsenal of rockets and mortar shells at its disposal. Neither a three-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza nor Israel's fierce military offensive last year put a dent in Hamas' control.

Israel and the international community including the anarchists at large, shun Hamas as a terrorist group and would have to make a tough decision to engage with the militants. The group has long coveted international recognition. But it has refused to accept international including anarchists' calls to renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist. "Our resistance is continuous," Zahar said... Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged Thursday in a cordial first round of talks to keep meeting at regular intervals, aiming to nail down a framework for overcoming deep disputes and achieving lasting peace within a year.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to rise above the suspicion and skepticism that has blocked peace efforts for decades. "By being here today, you each have taken an important step toward freeing your peoples from the shackles of a history we cannot change," she said. The eventual aim is the creation of a sovereign, independent Palestinian country [preferably an anarchy and not a state], beside a secure Israel [also preferably an anarchy].

Thursday's results, in the first face-to-face peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in nearly two years, were modest - and acknowledged as such by all sides. There was no detailed negotiation on any substantive issue, according to George Mitchell, the administration's special envoy for Mideast peace, who held months of preparatory talks and was a participant in most of the day's discussions. Netanyahu and Abbas will meet again on Sept. 14 and 15 in the Middle East, probably at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, with Clinton and Mitchell attending. The two also agreed to meet roughly every two weeks after that - sometimes with US officials present, other times not.

Mitchell offered no timeline for agreeing on the initial framework, which he said was to be "less than a full-fledged treaty" but more detailed than a statement of principles. A major obstacle is looming: Israel's moratorium on Jewish settlement construction in the disputed West Bank is due to expire Sept. 26. The Palestinians have said that unless the freeze is extended, the fledgling peace talks will collapse in short order. In his public remarks Thursday, Netanyahu made no reference to an extension; Abbas called for an end to settlement expansion, but he raised the matter in the context of both sides living up to commitments, including a Palestinian pledge to end all incitement of violence against Israelis.

But that's not entirely under Abbas' control. Gunmen from the militant Palestinian Hamas movement as mentioned killed four Israeli residents of a West Bank settlement on Tuesday. And, on Wednesday, hours before the leaders had dinner with President Barack Obama and Clinton at the White House, Hamas gunmen wounded two Israelis as they drove in another part of the West Bank. Hamas as mentioned rejected the talks and stepped up its rhetoric as the ceremony in Washington began. "These talks are not legitimate because the Palestinian people did not give any mandate to Mahmoud Abbas and his team to negotiate on behalf of our people," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman. "Therefore, any result and outcome of these talks does not commit us and does not commit our people, it only commits Abbas himself."

In Washington, the atmosphere was mostly upbeat. In his opening remarks, Netanyahu at one point turned to Abbas and said, "I see in you a partner for peace. Together, we can lead our people to a historic future that can put an end to claims and to conflict." Abbas struck an optimistic tone, too: "We're not starting from scratch," he said, noting that all the central issues in dispute are well known. Both cautioned, however, that hard decisions lay ahead. When the two leaders had finished their introductory remarks, they shook hands, a smiling Clinton seated between them. In a plea for both sides to compromise, Clinton said the Obama administration has no illusions about a quick breakthrough. "We've been here before, and we know how difficult the road ahead will be," she said. "There undoubtedly will be obstacles and setbacks. Those who oppose the cause of peace will try in every way possible to sabotage this process, as we have already seen this week."

Mitchell declined to detail exactly what the framework agreement would include but said it would lay out the main compromises necessary to get to a full peace treaty. "Our goal is to resolve all of the core issues within one year, and the parties themselves have suggested and agreed that the logical way to proceed, to tackle them, is to try to reach a framework agreement first," he told reporters as Abbas and Netanyahu remained in a one-on-one session that completed the day's talks. On Wednesday as mentioned, Abbas and Netanyahu met separately with Obama at the White House. The compromises the two sides seek would involve the thorniest issues that have dogged the parties for decades: the borders of an eventual Palestinian country, the political status of Jerusalem, West Bank settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and security.

"I know the decision to sit at this table was not easy," said Clinton, who with Mitchell has been working to relaunch talks stalled for 20 months. "We understand the suspicion and skepticism that so many feel borne out of years of conflict and frustrated hopes." Flanked by Abbas and Netanyahu at the head of a U-shaped table in the State Department's ornate Benjamin Franklin room, Clinton said the Obama administration was committed to an agreement. She stressed, though, that the heavy lifting must be done by Netanyahu and Abbas with support from the international community, particularly the Arab and Israeli publics. Netanyahu and Abbas vowed to work together but each outlined concessions required from the other.

Netanyahu said to Abbas: "Together we can lead our people to a historic future that can put an end to claims and to conflict. Now this will not be easy. A true peace, a lasting peace would be achieved only with mutual and painful concessions from both sides." Abbas called on Israel to end Jewish settlements in the West Bank and other areas that the Palestinians want to be part off their own state. Netanyahu insisted that any agreement must ensure Israel's security as a Jewish state. "We do know how hard are the hurdles and obstacles we face during these negotiations - negotiations that within a year should result in an agreement that will bring peace," Abbas said.

16.09.2010: Israel's settlements key to peace talk progress. Two days of Mideast peace talks appear to have brought Israel and the Palestinians closer to a deal that would allow those talks to continue, but even if the negotiations move forward far more difficult issues lay ahead. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak suggested a compromise over Israel's plan to lift its partial ban on construction on the West Bank later this month, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he sees no alternative to continuing negotiations in search of peace with Israel.

Abbas had said previously that the talks could not survive if the Israeli building restrictions were lifted as planned. "We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts," Abbas said Thursday, speaking through an interpreter in Ramallah, where the headquarters of the Palestinian National Authority is located. It was unclear from Abbas' remarks whether he was signaling that the Palestinians would remain committed to the talks even if Israel does not extend the limits on building.

03.10.2010: No talks unless Israel halts settlements, PLO says. Direct talks with Israel will not resume unless it halts the building of Jewish settlements on occupied land, the Palestinian leadership said on Saturday. US-backed peace talks, launched a month ago in Washington, were plunged into crisis this week by the end of a 10-month Israeli moratorium on new settlement building in the West Bank. Israel has said it will not extend the freeze. "The resumption of talks requires tangible steps, the first of them a freeze on settlements," Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestine Liberation Organisation ( PLO ) official, said after a meeting of the body's executive committee in Ramallah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have held three rounds of face-to-face negotiations since September 2. "The Palestinian leadership holds Israel responsible for obstructing the negotiations," said Abed Rabbo. Abbas, head of the PLO , chaired the meeting. US envoy George Mitchell, who met Arab League head Amr Moussa and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo on Saturday, said the United States remained committed to a two-state solution despite challenges. "Peace in the region and an independent and viable state for the Palestinian people will be realistically achieved through direct negotiations," Mitchell told reporters. "This is a difficult process … We know there have been and will be many more obstacles, but we must work to overcome the challenges and we are doing so," he said.

Asked about possible options to resolve the impasse, Moussa said there were solutions but declined to elaborate ahead of an Arab League summit in Libya on Oct 8. Netanyahu called on Abbas to continue negotiating. "Just one month ago the Palestinians entered direct peace talks, without preconditions, after my government made a series of unilateral gestures to get the talks moving," Netanyahu said in a statement after the PLO decision. "I hope now they will not turn their backs on peace and continue the talks in order to reach a framework agreement in a year," he said. The end of the settlement freeze had been flagged as an early stumbling block facing US President Barack Obama's attempt to reach a Middle East peace deal within a year. Israel imposed the freeze under US pressure.

Abbas had said he would pull out of direct talks if Israel did not extend the freeze. The PLO statement said the Palestinians would discuss their next steps with the Arab League's peace process committee at the summit in Libya. "The Palestinian calculation is that the Americans will continue their efforts to try to bring about a formula that may be acceptable to the Palestinian side," said George Giacaman, a political scientist at Birzeit University near Ramallah. "I would not say that the process has ended. The American administration will continue pursuing the matter."

Biblical past. Palestinians say the growth of the settlements, on land Israel has occupied since 1967, will render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the stated goal of the peace talks. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT agree: An ethnic clean Arab Palestine is not a part of the anarchist framework, but there are more than enough Jewish settlements already to avoid this. We demand full stop of new settlements!

About 500,000 Jews have settled on territory where the Palestinians hope to establish their state with East Jerusalem as its capital. To Israel, the West Bank is "Judea and Samaria," where the Jews trace their biblical past. Netanyahu, whose coalition government is dominated by pro-settlement parties including his own Likud, has said he would not extend the moratorium that expired on Monday. An official quoted Netanyahu on Friday as saying it had not been easy to freeze construction for the past 10 months and that he had lived up to his commitments to the Palestinians, the United States and the international community. "Now I expect the Palestinians to show some flexibility," Netanyahu was quoted as saying. "Everyone knows that measured and restrained building in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will have no influence on the peace map." Mitchell shuttled between Abbas and Netanyahu for two days this week. The two sides agreed to keep talking via Mitchell, the way they had communicated before beginning the direct talks. The anarchists declare: Keep talking!

11.10.210: Israeli PM offers conditional settlements freeze. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said for the first time that he would extend the settlement restrictions in the West Bank - if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish national homeland. The idea, while innocuous to Israel's supporters, is widely seen as undermining the rights of Arab Israelis, and was immediately rejected by the Palestinians. But it could signal that Netanyahu is willing to bend and save a US-led peace effort in exchange for a different concession. The expiration of Israel's 10-month moratorium on new settlement building two weeks ago thrust the month-old US-led peace negotiations with the Palestinians into crisis. The Palestinians are refusing to continue negotiating with Israel as long as settlement building continues, but Netanyahu has insisted the curb on construction was a one-time gesture.

The US administration has been scrambling for weeks to find a creative way out of the quagmire and satisfy both sides and has put heavy pressure on Netanyahu to extend the slowdown, while offering a slew of incentives. In a policy speech marking a new session of parliament, Netanyahu offered his own formula to move forward. "If the Palestinian leadership would say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, I will be willing to convene my government and ask for an additional suspension," he said, in a speech that was heckled by some lawmakers. "As the Palestinian expect that we will recognize a Palestinian state as their national homeland, we are entitled to expect that they will recognize Israel as our national homeland," he said.

Netanyahu has made similar demands in the past, though he has never explicitly linked it to the settlement issue. On Sunday, Netanyahu's Cabinet passed a bill that would require non-Jewish immigrants to pledge allegiance to the "Jewish and democratic" state of Israel in order to receive citizenship. The move is widely seen as undermining the rights of Israel's Arabs who make up a fifth of Israel's 7.5 million people. The Palestinians also refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state, saying it violates the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees scattered around the world. Instead, they say it is sufficient that they recognize Israel's right to exist. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the idea was "unacceptable" and accused Netanyahu of "playing games" in his address and said he saw no connection between Jewish settlements and Israel's national character. "I don't see a relevance between his obligations under international law and him trying to define the nature of Israel," he said. "I hope he will stop playing these games and will start the peace process by stopping settlements."

Some 300,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, in addition to nearly 200,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim both areas, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as parts of a future independent state and say that continued Israeli settlement construction sends a message that Israel is not serious about reaching peace. Netanyahu counters that the Palestinians - by demanding a complete settlement freeze - are imposing preconditions that should be sorted out in the course of direct negotiations. He said his demand was no such condition. "But there is no doubt that such a step by the Palestinians would be a confidence building measure that will open a new horizon of trust and faith among large portions of Israeli society who in light of events of the past decade have lost their faith in the Palestinians to end the conflict," he said.

Arab lawmakers heckled Netanyahu throughout his address. "This is a ridiculous proposal!" yelled Ahmad Tibi. Right-wing lawmakers also heckled the suggestion that the moratorium could be extended. It remains unclear whether Netanyahu proposed it knowing it would be rejected, or whether the offer signals a true willingness to break the deadlock - perhaps in exchange for another incentive, from either the Palestinians or Americans. Netanyahu has been under heavy international, including anarchist, pressure to renew the settlement slowdown. US mediators have been offering Israel a series of vague assurances and incentives on the security and diplomatic fronts to get Israel to extend its settlement moratorium.

Netanyahu, who leads a pro-settler coalition of religious and nationalist parties, has resisted the calls thus far, but has signaled he is open to a compromise. Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian negotiator lashed out at the United States for trying to mollify Israel with incentives. "It's strange how the violator, who hadn't fulfilled his commitments, is given rewards and guarantees to lure him to implement what must be implemented," Nabil Shaath said. Since Israel's 10-month moratorium on new building starts expired on Sept. 26, peace talks have stalled less than a month after they were launched at the White House. Over the weekend, the 22-member Arab League gave the Palestinians another month to reach a compromise.

The Arab Leauge is the main fascist organization of today, with four moderate fascist systems, and eighteen totalitarian fascist systems, with more than 67% authoritarian degree. The regime of the Palestinian authority is one of the eighteen totalitarian fascist systems. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT demand a significant movement in libertarian direction of the regime of the Palestinian authority, as a necessary condition for an independent Palestinian country.

16.10.2010: Palestinians weighing alternatives to peace talks. The Palestinians will study alternatives to peace talks with Israel in the coming days, a top PLO official said Saturday, after Israel gave the green light to build 238 new houses for Jews on war-won land Palestinians seek for their state. However, it's unlikely the Palestinians will take any dramatic steps before Nov. 2 midterm elections in the US, since Arab leaders have already promised the Obama administration more time - until a few days after the vote - to try to relaunch negotiations. Saturday's statements seemed intended mainly as a new warning that Washington's peace efforts are in trouble. The negotiations, launched by the US in early September, quickly broke down over Israel's refusal to extend a limited curb on construction in West Bank settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.

Israel's 10-month moratorium on new housing starts in the West Bank expired Sept. 26. Israel never formally declared building restrictions in east Jerusalem, though an informal freeze was believed to have been in effect for several months. However, Israel announced on Thursday plans to build 238 more homes for Jews in east Jerusalem, sought by the Palestinians as a future capital. The Palestinians sharply criticized the move. Both the US and Russia said in separate statements that they were disappointed by Israel's announcement and that the new construction plans run counter to efforts to rescue the negotiations. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT agree with Russia and USA in this matter.

15.11.2010: Netanyahu tries to shore up support for US proposal to halt West Bank settlement building. Anarchist comment. Despite seemingly premature congratulations from President Barack Obama, Israel's prime minister was scrambling Monday to secure enough Cabinet votes to pass a US proposal to halt West Bank settlement construction for 90 days, aimed at restarting peace talks with the Palestinians. Benjamin Netanyahu is under heavy pressure to move forward with the plan, which could lead to critical negotiations on Israel's final borders with a future Palestine. Although Israeli officials say the plan includes an unprecedented gift of 20 stealth warplanes to Israel, Netanyahu faces opposition from hard-liners inside his coalition government who oppose limits on settlement construction in principle and fear it will create pressure for further concessions.

Palestinians didn't embrace the plan either, since the proposed building freeze wouldn't include east Jerusalem, their hoped-for capital, and Israel would be rewarded for what they see as a minimal gesture. It appeared increasingly unlikely, however, that both sides, wary of upsetting Obama, would risk turning down the package. Officials said Netanyahu's 15-member Security Cabinet - a grouping of senior Cabinet ministers - would soon meet to vote on the proposal, possibly as early as Wednesday. The measure appeared poised to squeak through 7-6, with two ministers abstaining. Opponents were gearing up as well. Yuli Edelstein, a Cabinet minister from Netanyahu's Likud Party, convened a group of hard-line lawmakers and settler leaders to battle the proposal.

"We have 48 hours to operate," Edelstein said. "Any decision made by Israel is a one-way decision, and we have no way out." Adding pressure on the Israeli leader, Obama commended Netanyahu late Sunday for considering the slowdown. "It's not easy for him to do, but I think its a signal that he is serious," he said. In another sign of difficulties in the process, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday that Obama's September deadline for a peace accord may not be realistic. He said the administration still believes a deal can be reached in a "reasonable period of time." He did not elaborate. The US has been working for more than a month to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which opened with great fanfare at the White House in early September but broke down weeks later with the expiration of a 10-month Israeli slowdown on settlement construction.

The Palestinians say they cannot return to the negotiating table now that Israel has resumed settlement construction. They say it is a sign of bad faith if Israel insists on building on captured territories that the Palestinians claim for their future state. Netanyahu has said the issue of Jewish settlements should be determined in negotiations. Israeli officials disclosed initial details of the US compromise on Sunday, saying that Netanyahu had worked it out during a seven-hour meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York last week. The highlights include giving Israel a gift of 20 F-35 stealth jets, worth about $3 billion - in addition to 20 of the next-generation warplanes Israel has already ordered for purchase. It would mark the first time the US has given warplanes to Israel without payment, defense officials and diplomats said.

Also in the deal are American guarantees that the US would veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. With the Palestinians threatening to take their case to the UN if peace talks fail, this protection could be critical for Israel down the road. While the US routinely vetoes resolutions critical of Israel, American vetoes are not automatic, and some Israelis were uncertain Obama would back it at the Security Council. Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor told Israel's Channel 10 TV on Monday that US veto protection against unilateral Palestinian UN initiatives would last for a year. In return, Israel would halt most construction in the West Bank for 90 days, with the understanding that both sides would use the time to set their future border. A border deal would presumably make the settlement dispute moot, since Israel could resume construction on all territory it expects to keep while halting building in areas on the Palestinian side.

While Netanyahu has said little publicly, both Israeli and American officials say he supports the compromise and is trying to win Cabinet approval. In a statement late Monday, Netanyahu said, "We are trying to resume negotiations with our Palestinian neighbors and promote peace accords with the rest of the Arab countries." In Paris, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the emerging deal. He noted that the warplanes, expected to be capable of reaching Iran undetected by radar, would help Israel maintain its "qualitative edge." The Americans "fully understand that when Israel makes the concessions related to the peace agreement, it exposes itself to higher security risks. Here America can come to support us in deploying against the challenges of the future," Barak told reporters during an international gathering of Socialist leaders.

Israel considers its regional enemy Iran an existential threat because it is convinced Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's denials. Some 300,000 Israelis now live in West Bank settlements, in addition to nearly 200,000 others in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim both areas, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, for a future state. Settler leaders and their parliament supporters say Israel must retain these territories, citing security grounds and religious claims to what they say is land promised to the Jews in the Bible. Support for that position among Israelis has been dropping steadily over the years, and polls show that more than half are prepared to relinquish control of much of the West Bank for peace. The Palestinians are expected to formulate a response to the American proposal in consultation with the Arab League.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said they wanted to get the proposal first hand from the Americans before responding. "Once we see it, we will meet and have a response," he said. The Palestinians have reacted coolly so far, alarmed that the building freeze wouldn't apply to east Jerusalem. A diplomat familiar with the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details, said that hundreds of apartments already under construction would be exempt from the freeze. He said the freeze would apply to construction begun after Sept. 26, when the earlier Israeli building freeze expired. That would mean that hundreds of other homes under construction and allowed under the earlier freeze could be completed. Another Palestinian negotiator, Nabil Shaath, questioned the wisdom of giving the Israelis so much in return for so little. "We think he does not deserve any gifts. What is needed from Netanyahu is to stop settlement activities," he said.

Anarchist comment. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT once more declare: An ethnic clean Arab Palestine is not a part of the anarchist framework, but there are more than enough Jewish settlements already to avoid this. We demand full stop of new settlements!

02.01.2011: Israeli PM wants nonstop talks with Palestinians. Anarchist comment. Israel's prime minister said Sunday that he's ready to sit down with the Palestinian president for continuous one-on-one talks until they reach a peace deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued his statement on Sunday in an apparent bid to breathe life into stalled Mideast peace making. Talks broke down in late September, just three weeks after they were launched at the White House, following the expiration of a limited Israeli freeze on settlement construction. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Israel must halt all settlement construction on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians before talks can resume. The anarchists agree. Netanyahu has refused, but says he is ready to discuss all "core" issues with Abbas. Those include setting the final borders between Israel and a future Palestine, determining the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees and resolving the competing claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.

Over the weekend Abbas said he believed a peace deal could be reached within two months if Netanyahu showed "good will." He suggested that Netanyahu adopt the positions of his more dovish predecessor, Ehud Olmert. "We were close to an agreement," Abbas said. "The Palestinian position is clear to the Israelis and the Israeli position presented by Olmert is clear to us." Olmert has said he offered the Palestinians virtually all of the West Bank and parts of east Jerusalem - captured areas claimed by the Palestinians for their state - before negotiations broke down in late 2008. Netanyahu, who leads a more hardline coalition government, has given little indication that he is prepared to make similar concessions. But in response to Abbas' comments, Netanyahu said "he is ready to immediately sit down with Abu Mazen for continuous direct, one on one, negotiations until white smoke wafts" - an allusion to the Roman Catholic Church's method of signaling the choice of a new pope. "If Abu Mazen agrees to my proposal that of directly discussing all the core issues, we will know very quickly if we can reach an agreement," he said.

Also Sunday, the IDF said it was investigating the death of a Palestinian woman overcome by tear gas fired by soldiers at a West Bank protest. Contradictory accounts were given of the circumstances surrounding the death Saturday of the 36-year-old protester, Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, a day after she inhaled the gas at the weekly demonstration against Israel's West Bank separation barrier in the village of Bilin. Tear gas is meant to be a non-lethal crowd control method and is used routinely by Israeli troops at protests. But doctors say the gas can kill on rare occasions if a victim has a pre-existing condition. Mohammed Abu Rahmeh, a relative of the woman, said she had suffered from asthma since she was a child. Rateb Abu Rahmeh, a doctor and a spokesman for the Bilin protesters, said she had a "weak immune system." However her parents said she was healthy and did not have asthma. Dr. Mohammed Eideh, who treated Abu Rahmeh in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, said she died of "respiratory failure and then cardiac arrest" caused by tear gas inhalation. He said he did not know if she had a pre-existing condition. Another doctor said she was initially released from hospital, later collapsed, was readmitted and then died. Eideh said she had not been released.

Israel began building the separation barrier in 2002 during a wave of suicide attacks carried out by Palestinians who crossed into Israel from the West Bank. But Palestinians call it a land grab because the barrier takes up some land in the West Bank rather than in Israel proper.

Anarchist comment. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT once more declare: An ethnic clean Arab Palestine is not a part of the anarchist framework, but there are more than enough Jewish settlements already to avoid this. We demand full stop of new settlements! The AI, AIE and ICOT once more declare a general support for "Anarchists against the wall", the wall must not grab Palestinian land and should be removed in the long run. However the anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn all forms ochlarchy related to the activities of AATW, if any.

09.01.2011: Israeli bulldozers have demolished a hotel in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for homes for Jewish settlers. The anarchists condemn the demolition. Peace talks between between the two sides have collapsed over Israel's refusal to halt building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. Israeli bulldozers have demolished part of a hotel in East Jerusalem to make way for 20 homes for Jewish settlers. The destruction of the Shepherd Hotel has angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership said Israel was destroying any chance of returning to peace. The US called the demolition a "disturbing development". In a statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the demolition "undermines peace efforts to achieve the two state-solution". "In particular, this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem," she said.

Adnan al-Husseini, Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, said it was the latest in a line of demolitions of historic buildings and accused Israel of "trying to erase any Palestinian identity" from the city. Israeli officials said the demolition had been carried out legally and defended its decision. "This is something that every country does in its own domain without the necessity to give any report to any other government," said the minister for national infrastructure, Uzi Landau. As mentioned, nearly 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn the demolition.

13.03.2011: Israeli go-ahead for more settlements on the occupied West Bank. The anarchists condemn the move. A day after a jewish famiy was murdered by a Palestinian, the Israeli government has given the go-ahead for more settlements on the occupied West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special meeting to approve the move, after declaring that the killings will not affect plans to build more homes for Jews on the West Bank. The security forces are still searching for the killer,who stabbed the family to death after breaking into their house in the settlement of Itamar, near the Palestinian city of Nablus. The victims included two children aged 11 and 4, as well as a 3 month old baby. No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the Hamas islamist terrorists said they offered full support to actions taken against settlers. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn the Israeli move and the Palestinian's killing.

19.03.2011: Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars into Israel. The anarchists condemn the Hamas' terrorist attack. Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired dozens of missiles into southern Israel in what appears to be their heaviest such barrage in two years. About 50 mortars were fired - two Israelis were hurt, Israel says. Israeli tanks later shelled targets in the coastal strip, wounding at least five people, Palestinian officials say. The islamist terrorist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, said it fired some of the mortars. Three days ago an Israeli air strike killed two of its members. This seems to be an escalation - both in terms of the number of rockets fired from Gaza and the fact that Hamas said it was responsible. Hamas's military wing said it launched dozens of rockets. Hamas and Israel have largely halted hostilities since the end of the Gaza war in January 2009, but skirmishes often break out around the border area. Although members of Hamas's military wing rarely carry out attacks, the Israeli military says it holds the group responsible for all militant activity in the Gaza Strip. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn the Hamas' terrorist attack.

22.03.2011: At least eight Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip in the deadliest day of conflict in the enclave for months. Palestinian medics said three youths playing football, including a child of 12, died along with an adult relative when Israeli shells struck a house. Israel says it was responding to mortar fire and expressed regret for any civilian casualties. Elsewhere in Gaza, four militants from the Islamic Jihad group were killed in an air strike. Israel claims they had been preparing a rocket attack. Gaza's rulers Hamas have vowed a tough response. Tension has risen on the Israeli-Gaza border in the past few weeks. The Israeli military says more than 130 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel this year from Gaza, around 60 of them since Saturday.

23.03.2011: Dozens of casualties in Jerusalem blast. Tension increases between Israel and Gaza. One woman has been killed and dozens of people wounded after an explosion ripped through Jerusalem. A cabinet minister said the blast was caused by a bomb hidden in a bag. The bomb was tied to a telephone pole near the city's central bus station. The force of the explosion blew out the windows of two crowded buses, one of which was heading towards a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. At least 31 people are reported wounded. A spokesman for Israel's embassy in Washington initially reported via Twitter that it was a suicide bombing but retracted his statement soon after. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but Palestinian terrorists are suspected. A woman died in the blast. Some of those hurt are in a serious condition. Nearby roads have been sealed off and a search was under way for any additional devices. Israel's Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed a trip to Russia. Bombings have been rare in Jerusalem in recent  years but tensions have risen in recent days in the Gaza Strip. Eight Palestinians, including children, were killed there yesterday in Israeli air raids.

Tension increases between Israel and Gaza. Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza have struck two Israeli towns, injuring one resident. The militant group Islamic Jihad said it carried out the attacks on Beersheeba and Ashdod, in revenge for what it called "Zionist massacres" against its people. Colonel Eitan Yitzhak of the Israeli army said one person was hit by shrapnel and several were suffering from shock. "“We are in a period of escalation," he said. "We consider this attack here as yet another attempt to disrupt everyday life in Israel," he said. Israeli helicopters responded to the rocket attacks by firing missiles at targets in Gaza. Warplanes are also reported to have launched air strikes. The tense situation has been described by Israel's vice premier Silvan Shalom as being similar to the run-up to Israel's war in Gaza two years ago.

There were strong feelings as the funerals were held in Gaza for three members of Islamic Jihad killed by Israeli strikes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who said earlier he regretted Tuesday's killing of Palestinian civilians – now took a tougher line. Israel, he said, was determined to strike at the terrorists and stop their attacks. The past ten days have seen growing tension, ever since Israel responded to the stabbing to death of a Jewish family by vowing to build more settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian analysts have linked the growing violence to moves to heal the rift between Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and Hamas. There are plenty who oppose the Palestinian President's offer to meet the Islamist group in its feifdom of Gaza. There were scuffles at a recent rally in Gaza calling for unity. Israel and elements within Hamas have their own reasons for fearing Palestinian reconciliation – which some say could explain the recent escalation in violence. This report will be updated.

24.03.2011: Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a new wave of rockets that landed deep inside Israel Thursday, defying Israeli retaliatory attacks and threats. As the violence threatened to escalate the day after a deadly Jerusalem bombing, Israel got a boost from the visiting US defense chief, who said no country could tolerate the "repugnant" attacks on its soil. Police said Gaza militants fired 10 rockets and mortars toward Israel Thursday, including two rockets that exploded north of the city of Ashdod, a main Mediterranean port city about 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Gaza - a first since Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers reached an unofficial truce following a three-week war that ended in January 2009. Israeli airstrikes hit a number of Gaza targets in retaliation throughout the day.

03.04.2011: Israel says the Gaza Goldstone report must go into the "dustbin". Israel has called on the UN to cancel a report that said it committed war crimes during its offensive in Gaza in late 2008. This after the author of the report said he may have been wrong. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "I call on the UN to nullify the Goldstone report. There is no greater absurdity. It's time to throw this report to the dustbin of history." In a Washington Post column published on Friday, South African jurist Richard Goldstone said: "If a had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document." Goldstone chaired a fact finding mission that produced a report to the UN in 2009. It found that both Israel and the Islamist group Hamas were guilty of war crimes. Goldstone suggested in his essay that had Israel cooperated with him when he was preparing the report, it could have shown that civilians were not deliberately targeted "as a matter of policy". Hamas has dismissed Goldstone's comments. Since 24.03.2011 there have been tensions between Israel and Gaza, with several terrorist attacks by Hamas and counter-attacks by Israel.

28.04.201: Palestinian leader downplays fears over Hamas deal. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, greeted the unity deal with caution. The moderate Palestinian president played down concerns that his emerging alliance with the militant Hamas will undermine peace negotiations with Israel, insisting Thursday that he will retain control over foreign policy and remain committed to resolving the conflict. President Mahmoud Abbas' pro-Western Fatah Party and the rival Hamas said Wednesday they had reached the outlines of a deal to end a four-year-old rift that has left the Palestinians with two rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel and the international community gave a cool reception to the reconciliation plan, which would make Hamas a partner in a unity government.

Abbas said if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him and asked to resume peace talks, "I would do so immediately," as long as Israel fulfilled his demand to stop all construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories. Despite his pledges, the unity plan reflects Abbas' dissatisfaction with US-backed peace efforts, which broke down in September, just three weeks after their launch when an Israeli settlement construction freeze expired. Abbas says there is no point in talking peace while Israel builds homes on occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians, and he has made no secret about his unhappiness with Washington's inability to halt settlement activity. Israel counters that the settlement issue should be discussed in negotiations instead of being made a precondition.

The division between Abbas' Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Iranian-backed Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has been a major obstacle to the Palestinian goal of establishing an independent state in the two areas. The new plan calls for the factions to form a caretaker government to prepare the way for presidential and legislative elections next year. But the involvement of Hamas, a group that has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, has raised speculation that Abbas has given up on US-led peace efforts with Israel. Speaking in the city of Ramallah, his West Bank headquarters, Abbas tried to ease such concerns. He said the unity government's duties would be limited to elections and helping to rebuild the Gaza Strip after a devastating war with Israel two years ago. Relations with Israel would be handled by Abbas' Palestine Liberation Organization. "Politics is for the PLO and its chairman, which is me, and the government will work according to my policy," Abbas said during a meeting with Israeli peace activists.

He stressed that there would be no Hamas representatives in the new government. "These people will be independent, technocrats, not affiliated with any factions, neither Fatah nor Hamas," he said. In another gesture to Israel, he also signaled there would be no release of Hamas prisoners being held on weapons charges. The unity plan appears to be influenced by the unrest and calls for freedom sweeping through the Mideast. The Palestinian rift is deeply unpopular with the public, and both the West Bank and Gaza have experienced street protests recently with youths urging the sides to reconcile. Hamas, in particular, has been jolted by the mass demonstrations in Syria, which hosts the headquarters and exiled leadership of the militant group.

With a breakdown in peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians have been campaigning to get the United Nations to recognize Palestinian statehood in September, with or without a peace deal. A unified Palestinian front would help rally international support for the initiative. But Abbas is taking a huge risk by engaging Hamas. Israel, the US and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group, and Abbas could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in Western aid if the group is formally part of a government. His prime minister, US-educated economist Salam Fayyad, is widely respected in the West and has been the main reason the international community has funneled so much money into his state-building effort in the West Bank. Losing Fayyad could put that money in jeopardy.

Abbas said it was "too early to tell" what would happen with Fayyad. Israel could also impose sanctions on the Palestinians if Abbas follows through with the unity plan. For example, Israel might cut off security cooperation between its army and Abbas' forces that has helped reduce violence in the West Bank in recent years. Israel boycotted a previous Palestinian unity government, which collapsed in 2007 amid disagreements over whether to seek peace with Israel. That ultimately led to the Palestinian civil war that resulted in Hamas' takeover of Gaza. Israeli leaders across the political spectrum have harshly condemned Abbas' overtures to Hamas.

Netanyahu has said Abbas must choose "between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas." President Shimon Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, called Abbas' move a "grave mistake," and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that Hamas "terrorists" would take over the West Bank. Israel's opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, urged the international community to put heavy pressure on the Palestinians to ensure the new government renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist. Hamas refused to endorse these international conditions during the previous unity government, and its leaders have said this week they will not make peace with Israel. The US has already said the new Palestinian government must accept the international demands, and France followed suit on Thursday. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, greeted the unity deal with caution.

02.05.2011: Gaza Hamas leader condemns US killing of Osama bin Laden. Anarchist comment. ITUC and Palestine May Day. The leader of the militant Hamas government in the Gaza Strip condemned the United States on Monday for killing al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the operation marked "the continuation of the American oppression and shedding of blood of muslims and Arabs." "Despite the difference in opinions and agenda between us and them, we condemn the assassination of a muslim and Arab warrior and we pray to God that his soul rests in peace," Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza.

The Palestinian terrorists of Hamas insist they have no ties to al-Qaeda and that their violent struggle is directed solely against Israel, not the West at large. Extremist splinter groups in Gaza claim they are inspired by al-Qaeda and world jihad and are considered rivals to Hamas. Even so, Palestinian leaders often criticize the US for what they see as its pro-Israel bias. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were among the few places in the world where public celebrations took place after the al-Qaeda attacks on the US on Sept. 11, 2001.

In contrast to Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, congratulated the United States for killing bin Laden. "I view this as a major and mega landmark event marking the end of a person who clearly was involved in acts of terror and destruction. This would mark a beginning of an end of a very dark era," he said. The Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, is dominated by the Fatah movement, which is set to sign a unity deal with Hamas in Cairo on Wednesday. The plan seeks to end a four-year rift that has produced rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza. Anarchist comment at IJA 4 (31).

ITUC and Palestine May Day. May Day: Arab workers demands for jobs and rights echo reform movement across the region, ITUC reports in a press release sent to the IWW and AI/IFA secretariate 02.05.2011. Egypt celebrations violently attacked by Mubarak thugs. Tens of thousands of people across the Arab world have demonstrated to demand decent jobs, social justice and an end to repression on May Day. At trade union rallies across the region, from Iraq in the east to Mauritania in the west, workers from all walks of life added new momentum to the groundswell for democracy and workers' rights following the fall of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. Some 77 national trade union centres and sectoral trade unions across the region have also signed an "Arab Countries Declaration for Democracy and Social Justice", DTUACDSJ - May Day 2011, adding even further pressure to change to the Arab Spring movement.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow joined Palestinian workers and their families at the Palestinian trade union centre PGFTU's march and rally in Ramallah, to support their demand for a minimum wage, social protection, labour law reform and the setting up of labor courts to tackle exploitation. "These matters are crucial to the development of a viable and vibrant economy, and action on these must go hand in hand with the building of a free, independent and sovereign State [i.e. in the meaning of country, hopefully not State in the meaning of x-archy, where x can be anything, but not 'an'] of Palestine," she said. "This May Day, workers across the world have taken heart from the courage of working people in the Arab countries, and I feel immensely privileged to be able to share in this moment with my Palestinian colleagues."

In Cairo's Tahrir Square, a peaceful rally was violently attacked by thugs believed to be from the Mubarak regime's discredited official "trade union" ETUF.  Despite being pelted with stones and bottles, the workers from the new independent union EFITU carried on with their rally, with the crowd swelling to some 50,000 marchers. ITUC Deputy General Secretary Jaap Wienen who took part in the rally said "Despite the disgraceful aggression by the ETUF and the failure of the authorities to properly protect the peaceful assembly, the tens of thousands of workers refused to be intimidated. This provocation only reinforces the determination of the international trade union movement to supporting every way possible the completion of the fundamental transformation which lies at the heart of the Egyptian [so far just an embryo-] revolution. We will stand with our sisters and brothers in the new Egyptian trade union movement in their campaign for full respect for fundamental rights for working people"  The ITUC, with the Public Services International, which also took part in the rally, released an official statement condemning the violence and reiterating support for the EFITU, see May Day 2011 - Egypt Statement.

Elsewhere in the Arab world on May Day, according to reports already received by the ITUC:

-  in Morocco, thousands of people joined events organized by the three ITUC affiliates to celebrate May Day in Casablanca and Rabat, calling strongly for reinforced social dialogue, which is more important than ever given the demand, especially from young people, for better wages and social protection;

-  in Tunis, the ITUC Tunisian affiliate UGTT celebrated the central role played by the union movement in the success of the [so far only an embryo-] revolution, re-stated its total commitment to the building of a new society without injustice and repression, and stressed the need for an economy which ensures decent jobs for young people. It also called for urgent reform of the country's labor laws;

- The Mauritania trade unions organized an impressive march in the capital Nouakchott involving thousands workers from the formal and informal economies, giving top priority to ending the exploitation of migrant workers, many of whom took part in the event. The high cost of living, anti-democratic and anti-social legislation and the need for social protection and decent work were also prominent in their demands.

- To see the fotos of the May Day in Irak and the first post revolution May Day in Egypt as well as other fotos of May day in the Arab Wold, please go this link (which will be updated during the day): Flicker - ITUC's photo collection - Mayday 2011 in the Arab world. The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 151 countries and territories and has 305 national affiliates.

04.05.2011: Palestinians end four-year rift at Cairo ceremony. Anarchist comments. Palestinian leaders formally ended a four-year rift between the secular Fatah and islamist Hamas groups at a ceremony in Egypt Wednesday, a reconciliation they see as crucial to their drive for an independent state. Israel, which in 1967 captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians seek statehood, decried the deal as a blow to prospects for peace. "We announce to Palestinians that we turn forever the black page of division," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah's leader, said in his opening address. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to London: "What happened today in Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism."

Hamas, whose founding charter calls for Israel's destruction, as mentioned seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah forces in a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007. It has opposed Abbas's quest for a negotiated peace with the Jewish state. There were US reservations about the Cairo ceremony. "It's important now that Palestinians ensure implementation of that agreement in a way that advances the prospects of peace rather than undermines them," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "We'll wait and see what this looks like in real and practical terms... We still don't know what, if any changes, there will be at the governmental level," he said. Toner said the United States would look at the formation of any new Palestinian government before taking steps on future aid. He said the United States continued to believe that Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, reject violence and abide by interim peace agreements if it wants to play a meaningful role in the political process. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, agree with Mark Toner in this issue.

In what appeared a sign of lingering friction, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal did not share the podium with Abbas and the ceremony was delayed briefly over where he would sit. Against expectations, neither signed the unity document. Hamas leaders will meet Abbas next week, possibly in Cairo, to start work on implementing the accord, deputy Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said after the ceremony. In his speech to the gathering, Meshaal said Hamas sought a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza devoid of any Israeli settlers and without "giving up a single inch of land" or the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Challenging Israel to peace, Meshaal offered to work with Abbas and Egypt on a new strategy to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict but said he did not believe Israel was ready for peace.

"We have given peace since Madrid till now 20 years, and I say we are ready to agree among us Palestinians and with Arab support to give an additional chance," Meshaal said, referring to the 1991 international Middle East peace conference that launched Israeli-Arab peace talks. "But, dear brothers, because Israel does not respect us, and because Israel has rejected all our initiatives and because Israel deliberately rejects Palestinian rights, rejects Fatah members as well as Hamas...it wants the land, security and claims to want peace," he said. Hamas has stated before that it would accept as an interim solution in the form of a state in all of the territory Israel captured in the 1967 war, along with a long-term ceasefire.

Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005. It has kept up settlement activity in the much larger West Bank. The unity deal calls for forming an interim government to run the West Bank, where Abbas is based, and the Gaza Strip, and prepare for long-overdue parliamentary and presidential elections within a year. In his speech, Abbas repeated his call for a halt to Jewish settlement construction as a condition for resuming peace talks with Israel that began in September but fizzled after the Jewish state refused to extend a limited building moratorium. Abbas is widely expected, in the absence of peace talks, to ask the UN General Assembly in September to recognize a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel and the United States oppose such a move. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, mostly agree with Israel and USA in this case.

"The state of Palestine must be born this year," Abbas said. Palestinians view reconciliation as an essential step toward presenting a common front at the United Nations and a reflection of a deep-seated public desire to end the internal schism amid popular revolts that have swept the Arab world, i.e. the Arab spring. But the deal presents potential diplomatic problems for Abbas's aid-dependent Palestinian Authority. Much of the West and the anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, shun Hamas over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.

02.07.2011: Greece arrests Gaza-bound boat captain. Greek authorities have arrested the captain of a boat that is part of a Gaza-bound flotilla [a.o.t. with a prominent representative from the Norwegian communist party Rødt (marxist-leninist)], trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, officials said Saturday. The 60-year-old captain, John Klusmire, was being held at Piraeus police headquarters and will remain there until a court hearing Tuesday. Greece's coast guard said Klusmire, captain of "The Audacity of Hope," faces charges of trying to leave port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat's passengers. The boat was carrying 36 passengers, four crew and about 10 members of the media. Its attempt to sail Friday night from the port of Perama, near Athens, was thwarted by coast guard speedboats. On the same day, Greece had announced it was banning vessels heading to Gaza from leaving Greek ports.

In Jerusalem, Israel has denied claims it sabotaged ships trying to breach its sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Activists have most likely falsely accused Israel of damaging two ships docked in Turkey and Greece that were part of the flotilla attempting to reach the Palestinian territory. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the sabotage charges as "ridiculous," calling them "sad conspiracy theories." Selcuk Unal, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said authorities had determined that there was no act of sabotage on an Irish vessel in the flotilla that docked in the Turkish port of Gocek on the Aegean Sea. Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to stop weapons reaching the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza. Some activists describe the blockade as a form of incarceration for the Palestinians. Nine activists on a Turkish boat were, as mentioned above, killed last year in an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla.

In a statement, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators - the US, UN, EU and Russia - said it remained concerned about the difficult conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza, but noted "a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials" entering Gaza over the last year. It urged those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza to do so through "established channels," which include Israeli and Egyptian crossings. The Quartet "urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation," the statement said. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT, mostly agree with the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators - the US, UN, EU and Russia, in this case.

10.08.2011: In Israel protests, a surprise Arab-inspired taste. Israelis, living in an island of relative freedom and comfort and surrounded by countries they generally view with disdain, are not accustomed to taking their cues from Arabs. So the idea that the eruption of a mass movement protesting Israel's corrosive social inequality could have been influenced - even inspired - by the Mideast's Arab Spring revolts, for many Israelis, just doesn't compute. But the traces of influence were there as a quarter million Israelis, including anarchists, took to the streets last weekend to protest a stratospheric cost of living, poor public services and one of the highest income gaps in the developed world. Chants echoed those that rang out in the streets of Arab capitals, and tent protest camps on the style of those in Cairo's Tahrir Square have arisen in the streets of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

Both movements also shared a dramatic suddenness: Much like Arabs had for decades seemed resigned to dictatorships, Israelis had taken economic divisions as a fact of life, until each decided they had had enough. The Israelis aren't calling for a major regime change, and their country already has a semi-democracy. But some Israelis embrace the connection and even find a pleasant surprise in the thought that, despite decades of hostility and distrust, the Mideast antagonists share similar hopes for a better life. "It's definitely not an accident," said Iddo Felsenthal, a 27-year-old school teacher and protester. "I personally hope that it would lead to a better understanding between Arabs and Jews." Felsenthal was sitting in Jerusalem's downtown Independence Park, where protesters camped in some 30 tents. Men and women sat in the shade. Some scrawled signs. A man worshipped among them, swaying as he recited prayers. A dog pestered protesters to toss him a ball. Children played on the grass. A slogan, "The tent city is just the beginning," was emblazoned in Hebrew on a large sheet.

It would hardly seem strange that Israelis would be affected, if even subconsciously, by what is going on in the Arab world. But in fact their country is deeply isolated from its neighbors, and by decades of enmity and violence. The wider public who dove into the moment in recent days may not feel inspired by the Arab Spring, but some of those who initially organized Israel's protests acknowledge the influence, in some cases citing also Spain - where young people have been protesting rampant joblessness for months, in some cases erecting tent camps and scuffling with police. "People saw that other people managed to leave their houses and demand their rights. People here were quite desperate - but quiet and even numb," said protest leader Stav Shaffir. "But in Spain ... and the Arab countries - to demand their rights and cope with violence and challenges was of course a great inspiration," she said.

In Cairo's Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands demonstrated until President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, the signature chant was, "The people demand the fall of the regime." The same cadence is in the Israelis' chant, "The people want social justice." One sign in the Tel Aviv demonstration Saturday scrawled the Arabic word and anti-Mubarak slogan, "Irhal" - "Leave." Underneath, the protester wrote in Hebrew, "Egypt - it's here." There are other similarities. In both countries, the middle class is in the front of the struggles. They share communal solidarity: in impoverished Egypt, volunteers distributed food to demonstrators. In Israel, some protest tents have kitchen volunteers who cook and serve three meals a day. Both began with a single grievance.

Israel's social justice movement began with a tent encampment on an upscale boulevard in Tel Aviv last month, protesting high housing prices for purchase and rental. It quickly spread, attracting supporters from Israel's squeezed and exhausted middle class: high prices, an eroding health system, expensive child care, high taxes, overcrowded schools and wages that often do not match increasingly ambitious expectations. Three weeks later, protest tents dot most Israeli cities. There's music and mingling singles along with evening meetings and political discussions. Social justice is a basic anarchist principle.

The weekly focus is Saturday night, when protesters organize mass demonstrations. Police estimate that in cities across Israel, at least 250,000 demonstrated last Saturday night, headed by a colorful gathering in downtown Tel Aviv that filled streets as protesters were serenaded by top Israeli pop icons. Responding to the demonstrators, the government formed a panel of economic and social experts who will recommend ways to improve living standards. It is set to meet for the first time on Sunday. Even protesters who see regional inspiration draw sharp distinctions.

They note that Israel is a [semi-]democracy, despite its flaws. Government forces are not attacking demonstrators. The chant of "revolution" is mostly ballot-box saber-rattling. Protesters demand social justice, a velvet revolution, real democracy. Conditions unique to Israel also fostered momentum. The country has been relatively free of Palestinian attacks for several years. That quiet has allowed Israelis to focus on social and economic problems, instead of security matters, traditionally the country's chief concern. "The water we were sinking in reached our noses," said unemployed 49-year-old Amnon Tsur, who lives with his mother. To Ayala Levy, a 45-year-old mother of four, social desperation is part of the spark, but she also points to a Jewish tradition of communal solidarity and dismisses any influence from the Arab Spring. "You need more than inspiration to leave your own home and live in a tent," she said. (Sources: AP and AIIS)

19.08.2011: Rockets, airstrikes follow attack on Israel. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn the terrorist attack. Gaza terrorists launched barrages of rockets deep into Israel early Friday and Israeli aircraft struck targets in the Palestinian territory in the aftermath of the deadliest attack against Israelis in three years. 18.08.2011 gunmen who appear to have originated in Gaza and crossed into southern Israel through the Egyptian desert ambushed civilian vehicles traveling on a remote road, killing eight people. Six were civilians, and two were members of Israeli security forces responding to the incursion. Thursday's attack signaled a new danger for Israel from its border with the Sinai Peninsula, long quiet under the rule of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. He was deposed in February, and the desert of the Sinai Peninsula - always restive and controlled largely by Bedouin tribes - has become increasingly lawless. The sudden spike in violence threatened to upset the already frayed ties between Israel and Egypt and escalate the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The anarchists, AI, AIE and ICOT condemn the terrorist attack.

21.08.2011: Israel-Gaza violence threatens protest movement. Security has traditionally trumped all other concerns in Israel. Now some social activists fear a sudden spike of violence with the Palestinians could overwhelm a spontaneous and surprisingly strong summer-long revolt against the country's high cost of living and rank and income differences, and for social justice. A deadly ambush that killed eight Israelis, and subsequent Israeli airstrikes and rocket barrages from Gaza over the weekend, have abruptly shifted the country's attention away from the economic-political protests that were coalescing into a serious threat to the government. Now the security situation is the center of attention again.

The question is whether things will ever shift back to the brief period marked by heightened awareness of social ills, but also near-giddiness over the prospect that Israel might become a "normal" country where social economic-political matters, not military needs, can take center stage. For once the focus was high prices and rank and income differences and social justice, not Palestinians, rockets and airstrikes.

Thousands of Israeli erected protest tents in city centers and hundreds of thousands took to the streets, anarchists and others, in mass demonstrations that became a weekly Saturday night ritual this summer, sending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrambling to find solutions and keep his government together. This Saturday, however, with cities in southern Israel under fire, organizers called off plans for a mass protest and made do with a subdued vigil of several thousand people in Tel Aviv. A man in the southern city of Beersheba, where a large protest was held a week ago, was killed by a rocket earlier in the day.

Stav Shaffir, one of the protest movement's main spokespersons, said Sunday that protesters in several of the movement's tent encampments in southern cities were forced to seek cover in bomb shelters. Given this, she said, it was only natural to maintain a low profile while guns were roaring. But she insisted the attacks would not derail the protests. "The rockets are a short term danger," she said. "The disintegration of a society is a long-term threat ... we have to keep going. We can't let the security situation erode us from within."

Adar Stern, another spokesperson, in Beersheba, said the local protesters have moved their tents close to bomb shelters but have no plans to go home. The protesters will not allow the government "to say that because of this we can't make changes and that we need a budget only for security," Stern told Israel's Channel 2 TV. The protests, which began after a relative lull in Israeli-Palestinian violence, initially targeted soaring housing prices, but quickly evolved into a sweeping expression of rage against a wide array of economic-political issues, including the cost of food, gasoline and education, the country's spending priorities and a seemingly inexorable shift to American-style capitalism, combined with statism, i.e. more populism.

Israel emerged from the global financial crisis relatively unscathed. The economy has enjoyed rapid growth, and unemployment is at its lowest point in decades. The country's economic strength has come at a cost: the ranks of the working poor have grown dramatically as wealth has become concentrated among a sliver of society, symbolized for many by a tiny group of increasingly high-profile, high ranking, tycoons. In less than a month, the protests ballooned from a few tents in Tel Aviv into a nationwide phenomenon. Despite the violence, the demonstrators are still calling for a million-person march in 50 cities across the country on Sept. 3.

However, Israeli history indicates that social welfare concerns often get swept aside when violence flares up, particularly if the protesters make demands that could come at the expense of funding for the military. But this protest could be different and could stay afloat even with the violence. Roni Barak, 52, who works at a food stand in Jerusalem's open-air market, said the impact of the attacks would be strong but fleeting. "Of course the security situation will take attention away from the protests," said Barak. "When something happens, the nation unites around it." But the protests, he said, "won't go away." (Sources: AP and AIIS)

03.09.2011: Israelis turn out for largest economic-political protest. More than 400,000 Israelis poured into streets in cities across the country Saturday night, Israeli media estimated, in a show of strength behind a social protest movement that has rocked the country for two months. The demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and elsewhere for social justice, an anarchist basic principle, and a.o.t. against Israel's high cost of living, its housing crisis and distorted distribution of wealth, marked the high point - so far - of a summer-long grass-roots protest movement that has ballooned from a few tents in Tel Aviv to a nationwide phenomenon that has delivered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government its most serious domestic crisis.

Israeli media said the turnout in Tel Aviv was more than 300,000, and more than 100,000 demonstrated in other cities. Israel's police did not give an estimate. Taken together, the numbers put the Saturday demonstrations among the largest in Israel's history, and the other large ones were over strictly political issues like Mideast peacemaking, not social ills. The protest movement and its slogan of "the people demand social justice" have thrust Israel's economic-political issues to the top of the country's agenda and brought thousands into the streets each week. In Tel Aviv, protest leader Itzik Shmuli called the gathering a historic moment. "The new Israelis have a dream and it is very simple: we want to build our home in Israel," Shmuli shouted. "We will not stop this protest until you, Mr. Prime Minister, give us real solutions."

Saturday marked the eighth week in a row protesters have taken to the streets. "I've had enough of always working and never advancing. You have to work several jobs just to survive. All the burden is on the middle class," said Sharon Riwkes, a 30-year-old clinical psychology resident in Tel Aviv. In response to the summer-long protests, Netanyahu has appointed a committee to address the demands. The demonstrators - a loose coalition of anarchists, university students, social activists and disenchanted youngsters - have rejected all the reforms offered by the government and have pledged to continue protesting. The protests have included representatives of all segments of society, with the exception of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Many Israelis are concerned about the growing influence of an expanding community where most of its men study scripture and live on government handouts.

A brief flare-up between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza deflected attention from the protests, but the large turnout Saturday indicated the focus has returned. Israel emerged from the global financial crisis relatively unscathed. The economy is enjoying rapid growth, and unemployment is at its lowest in decades at around 5 1/2 percent. Even so, statistics show the ranks of the working poor have grown dramatically as wealth has increasingly become concentrated among a small group of top ranking tycoons. The middle class has specifically been hit hard, with high taxes and salaries that have not kept pace with rising consumer prices. In recent months, the country has experienced protests against the high price of gasoline and cottage cheese - a staple of the Israeli diet - and seen lengthy strikes by social workers and doctors over low pay and working conditions. "There is a chance here to change the face of Israel," parliamentary opposition leader Tzipi Livni told Israel's Channel 2 TV. (Sources: AP and AIIS)

05.09.2011: Sweden earmarks $630,000 to protect its Jews from hate crimes. Sweden has earmarked 4 million kronor ($630,000) to boost security for the country's small Jewish minority. The move comes after criticism at home and internationally that Sweden needs to do more to protect Jews from anti-Semitic hate crimes. Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag says if no extra security measures are taken "there is a risk that people don't dare visit synagogues in Sweden." Sweden saw a surge in reported hate crimes against Jews - including harassment, violence and vandalism - in the wake of Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2009. Many Swedish Jews say they've experienced growing hostility in recent years, especially in the southern city of Malmö, which has a fast-growing muslim population. An estimated 20,000 Jews live in Sweden.

23.09.2011. Palestinians submit request for UN membership. Israel: The Palestinians want a state without peace. The Palestinian leader took his people's quest for independence to the heart of world diplomacy on Friday, hoping to galvanize their flagging statehood campaign by seeking UN recognition of Palestine and sidestepping negotiations that have foundered for nearly two decades under the weight of inflexibility, violence and failure of will. The bid to recognize a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem - submitted against the will of a US administration that had pressured President Mahmoud Abbas to drop it - laid bare the deep sense of exasperation the Palestinians feel after 44 years of Israeli occupation. International reservations about the move have had the effect of reenergizing international efforts to seek a negotiated settlement.

After Abbas submitted his formal application, international mediators called on Israelis and Palestinians to return to long-stalled negotiations and reach an agreement no later than next year. The "Quartet" - the US, European Union, UN and Russia - urged both parties to draw up an agenda for peace talks within a month and produce comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the proposal "represents the firm conviction of the international community that a just and lasting peace can only come through negotiations between the parties." But similar plans have failed to produce a peace agreement in the past, and it was how the two sides could bridge their huge differences and resume talks.

The Quartet statement was radically different from what diplomats had been hoping to draft since it became clear that Abbas would not back down. US and European officials had been trying to craft a statement that would itself outline parameters of the negotiations, including a reference to borders being based on the 1967 lines and affirm Israel's identity as a Jewish state. Instead, the Quartet focused on proposing deadlines for steps the two sides should take. World sympathy for the Palestinian cause was evident from the thunderous applause that greeted Abbas as he mounted the dais in the General Assembly hall to deliver a speech that laid out his grievances against the Israeli occupation and why he felt compelled to take his appeal directly to the United Nations. In a scathing denunciation of Israel's settlement policy, Abbas declared that negotiations with Israel "will be meaningless" as long as it continues building on lands the Palestinians claim for that state. Invoking what would be a nightmare for Israel, he went so far as to warn that his government could collapse if the construction persists.

"This policy is responsible for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process," said Abbas, who has refused to negotiate until the construction stops. "This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence." The speech papered over any Palestinian culpability for the negotiations stalemate, deadly violence against Israel and the internal rift that has produced dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza. Some members of the Israeli delegation  walked out of the hall as Abbas approached the podium.

Abbas declared himself willing to immediately return to the bargaining table, but with longstanding conditions attached: Israel must first stop building on lands the Palestinians claim for their future state and agree to negotiate borders based on lines it held before capturing the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967. Israel rejects those conditions and has defied international pressure to freeze settlement construction. And it has staked out bargaining positions that are extremely distant from anything the Palestinians would accept.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the General Assembly shortly after Abbas, said his country was "willing to make painful compromises" in its quest for peace, but also warned the Palestinians want "a state without peace". While Palestinians "should live in a free state of their own," he said, "they should be "ready for compromise" and "start taking Israel's security concerns seriously." Netanyahu opposes negotiations based on 1967 lines, saying a return to those frontiers would expose Israel's heartland to rocket fire from the West Bank. He argued that rocket fire on Israel from evacuated territory in south Lebanon and Gaza showed that territorial compromise would not automatically resolve the conflict.

Talks for all intents and purposes broke down nearly three years ago after Israel went to war in Gaza and prepared to hold national elections that propelled Netanyahu to power for a second time. A last round, backed by the US, was launched a year ago, with the ambitious aim of producing a framework accord for a peace deal. But it broke down just three weeks later after an Israeli settlement construction slowdown expired. The statehood bid would not deliver any immediate changes on the ground: Israel would remain an occupying force in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and continue to restrict access to Gaza, ruled by Palestinian Hamas militants.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon referred the statehood request to the Security Council, where US opposition is expected to shoot it down. The US and Israel have also been pressuring Council members to either vote against the plan or abstain when it comes up for a vote. The vote would require the support of nine of the Council's 15 members to pass, but even if the Palestinians could line up that backing, a US veto is assured. The Security Council will meet on Monday to examine the Palestinian membership request. The Palestinians have said that in the absence of a positive outcome in the Council, they will turn to the General Assembly, which would be expected to approve a lesser status upgrade from permanent observer to nonmember observer state. While more modest, this option would be valuable to the Palestinians because of the implicit recognition that negotiations would be based on lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967. It would also give the Palestinians access to international judicial bodies such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which Israel fears would target them unfairly.

Hanging heavy in the air was the threat of renewed violence over frustrated Palestinian aspirations, in spite of Abbas' vow - perceived by Israeli security officials as genuine - to prevent Palestinian violence. The death on Friday of 35-year-old Issam Badram, in gunfire that erupted after rampaging Jewish settlers destroyed trees in a Palestinian grove, was the type of incident that both Palestinians and Israelis had feared would spark widespread violence. It was not clear how serious Abbas was about his very public threat to dissolve his limited self-rule government, born of the landmark accords Israel and the Palestinians signed in the 1990s. Dissolution would put 150,000 Palestinians out of work and cause utter chaos. Israel, which is skeptical of such talk, would be saddled with the welfare and policing of 2.5 million unwanted Palestinian subjects.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Friday that he was reaching out to the Palestinian people but cautioned that peace could not be won with a UN resolution. "I extend my hand to the Palestinian people," he told the 193-nation assembly, shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for full UN membership to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon despite Israeli and US objections. "The truth is that Israel wants peace, the truth is that I want peace," he said, adding that "we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions." "The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state," he said. Netanyahu added that if there was such a peace, "Israel will not be the last state to welcome a Palestinian state into the United Nations. We will be the first."

02.12.2011: US and anarchists: Israel, Palestinians must restart direct talks. The US says Israel and the Palestinians must start direct talks before there can be any negotiation on borders and security as part of a two-state peace deal. The sides are supposed to present plans by late January as part of a US-backed mediation effort. But they should already have been engaged in face-to-face talks since October. Those haven't happened yet. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday the US and other Mideast mediators were pressing Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Only then can they work on the parameters of a deal establishing an independent Palestine and ending six decades of conflict. Toner rejected an Israeli report suggesting the Palestinians delivered their proposal on borders and security to mediators, who passed it on to Israel.

Panetta laments growing Israeli 'isolation'. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on Israel Friday to "reach out and mend fences" with Turkey, Egypt and other security partners in the Middle East, saying he is troubled by the Jewish state's growing isolation in the volatile region. He also urged Israeli leaders to do more to restart peace talks with the Palestinians and underscored President Barack Obama's determination to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He called Iran "a very grave threat to all of us" and said any Iranian disruption of the free flow of commerce through the Persian Gulf is a "redline" for the US In a speech at a Brookings Institution forum, Panetta said that while Israel is not solely responsible for its isolation, it could more actively attempt to reverse the trend.

"For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability - countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan," he said. "This is not impossible. If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. And that is exactly why Israel should pursue them." Panetta, who made his first visit to Israel as Pentagon chief in October, said it is in the interests of Israel as well as Turkey - which is a NATO ally of the United States - to reconcile. He said he would take that message to Ankara when he visits there in two weeks.

He urged the Israelis to address its concerns about Egypt's political revolution through increased communication and cooperation with Egyptian authorities, "not by stepping away from them." Addressing an issue that is in the primary domain of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Panetta urged Israel to "lean forward" to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Peace talks have been moribund for more than a year. "Rather than undermining the Palestinian Authority, it is in Israel's interests to strengthen it by ... continuing to transfer Palestinian tax revenues and pursuing other avenues of cooperation," he said.

Panetta spoke starkly of the challenge of Iran's nuclear ambitions. "No greater threat exists to the security and prosperity of the Middle East than a nuclear-armed Iran," he said, adding that Obama has not ruled out using military force to stop Iran from going nuclear. In a question-and-answer session with his audience after his speech, Panetta was asked what Israel should do to get peace talks back on track. "Just get to the damned table," Panetta replied.

In response to questions about Iran, Panetta also laid out in detail his thinking on the arguments against an Israeli or US military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. He said such an attack would "at best" delay Iran's nuclear program by one or two years. Among the unintended consequences, he said, would be an increase in regional support for Iran and the likelihood of Iranian retaliation against US forces and bases in the Mideast. It also would have harmful economic consequences and could lead to military escalation, he said. "We have to be careful about the unintended consequences" of an Israeli or US attack, he said. The anarchists, the ICOT, AIE and AI, mostly agree with USA in these matters.

15.12.2011: The Anarchy of Iceland recognizes Palestine. Össur Skarphéðinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, and Dr. Riad Malki, the Foreign Minister of Palestine, today formally confirmed the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Iceland and Palestine. The Icelandic Foreign Minister presented to Dr. Malki a diplomatic note stating that as resolved with the Parliamentary Resolution of 29 November 2011 the cabinet of Iceland has, as of 15 December 2011, recognized Palestine as an independent and sovereign state, i.e. country, within the pre-1967 Six Day War borders. At a press conference the Icelandic Foreign Minister said that with this recognition the cabinet of Iceland follows through on its previous pledges of support for the Palestinian struggle for independence. The minister thanked Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, for the broad support it showed the Palestinian cause and said it was important that the Parliamentary Resolution was passed unopposed. He said the recognition of Palestine was a matter of justice and reiterated Icelandic support for Palestinian membership of the United Nations.

Dr. Malki said the relationship between Iceland and Palestine is unique and conveyed to the cabintet of Iceland, Parliament and the Icelandic people the deep appreciation of his president and of the Palestinian people. He said Iceland's decision was important as Palestine is now recognized for the first time by a Western and Northern European country. Dr. Malki said he expects this to have an influence on other states, i.e. countries, to follow in Iceland's footsteps, which in turn would have positive implications on the peace and security of the region as a whole. He added that 130 states, i.e. countries, now recognize Palestine which encourages them to move forward in building an independent and democratic state, i.e. country. Dr. Malki said the timing of the Parliamentary decision on November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, was a meaningful gesture that would remain firmly in the memory of his people.

12.03.2012: Israel-Gaza violence. Israeli war planes struck at the Gaza Strip and Palestinians fired more rockets against southern Israel on Monday in a fourth day of hostilities in which 23 Palestinians have been killed. Eighteen of the Palestinians killed since fighting flared in the Hamas-controlled enclave last Friday were militants and five civilians, according to medical officials. At least 74 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and eight people in Israel have been wounded. The Palestinian attacks against Israel disrupted normal life in the south and forced many schools to close on Sunday and Monday. Alerts to residents of southern towns to take shelter from incoming rockets punctuated radio programs.

Islamic Jihad and the PRC, armed groups largely independent of Islamist Hamas, have said they fired most of the scores of rockets launched at Israel since Friday. Some experts in Gaza believe Hamas had provided some smaller groups with ammunition but avoided direct participation out of concern Israel would step up its attacks in the enclave. Hamas is also eager to avoid any long-term military campaign as it struggles to adapt to political upheaval in Arab countries such as Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, and in Syria, where the group has abandoned its traditional headquarters.

The violence drew condemnation from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, who called for restraint. Washington - Israel's principle ally - and the United Nations expressed concern at the violence. "Once again civilians are paying a terrible price," Ban told the UN Security Council. He denounced rocket attacks on Israel as "unacceptable" and urged Israel to "exercise maximum restraint." The anarchists, AIE, ICOT and AI/IFA, mostly agree with Ban in this case. In her remarks to the council, Clinton condemned the rocket fire at Israel and urged both sides to restore calm. But she did not specifically mention the Israeli air strikes nor the dozens of Palestinian casualties. France and Russia also both appealed for an end to the fighting and stressed the need to avoid civilian suffering.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby issued a statement in Cairo condemning the Israeli raids and urged the Security Council to step in and "stop the aggression." Gaza, home to 1.7 million people, was under Israeli occupation from 1967 until 2005 and remains under blockade. Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007 and is fighting for an independent Palestinian state but has shunned the stalled peace process supervised by international powers and refuses to recognize the Jewish state. Islamic Jihad is less influential than Hamas but shares the same ideology, which advocates Israel's ultimate destruction.

13.03.2012: Israel-Gaza truce taking hold. An Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip began to take hold on Tuesday after four days of violence in which 25 Palestinians were killed and 200 rockets were fired at Israel. The number of Palestinian rocket attacks dropped sharply after the ceasefire went into effect overnight, and no major towns in southern Israel were targeted. The Israeli military said six projectiles had hit, causing no casualties, and that there had been no Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip. Previous ceasefire deals after earlier rounds of fighting have often got off to a slow start, with guns gradually falling silent within a day or two. A senior Egyptian security official in Cairo told Reuters by phone that both sides had agreed "to end the current operations", with Israel agreeing to "stop assassinations". and an overall deal "to begin a comprehensive and mutual (period of) calm". The truce agreement followed appeals from the United States, the United Nations, anarchists, France, the European Union and the Arab League - for both sides to exercise restraint.

Gaza's Hamas Islamist leadership has kept out of the fighting and seemed eager to avoid a larger conflict with Israel. "We expect this ceasefire to continue but we cannot be sure so our forces...are ready to continue if it will end up being necessary," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, visiting southern Israel, told reporters. "It was quite a successful round," he said, citing the deaths of 20 militants among the 25 Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks and what he termed the "impressively effective" Iron Dome rocket interception system. The anti-missile batteries destroyed dozens of incoming rockets, but the barrages disrupted normal life for more than a million Israelis in the south, forcing schools to close and people to run for cover when sirens sounded.

"If Israel is committed to the agreement, we also will be committed to it," said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad which, along with the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), was most active in the fighting. Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defense official, said Israel would feel free to take "pre-emptive action" if Israeli lives were in danger. But, he told Army Radio, if "there is quiet on their part, there will be quiet on our part".

The worst flare-up of violence along the restive frontier in months began on Friday after Israel killed a senior militant it accused of plotting to attack Israel from Egyptian territory. Israel said Gaza militants had fired about 200 rockets at its southern towns and cities from Gaza since then. Eight Israelis were injured by the rockets. At least 80 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were wounded in Israeli attacks. But while Israel was keen to bar rocket fire, there seemed to be little public enthusiasm for waging a longer military campaign reminiscent of a 2008-2009 offensive in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. Gaza, home to 1.7 million people, was under Israeli occupation from 1967 until 2005 and remains under blockade. Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it from West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. It has shunned the stalled peace process supervised by international powers and refuses to recognize Israel. Violent flare-ups have been frequent between Israel and Gaza's militant factions in the past few years, in most cases lasting no longer than a week. The last conflagration of this intensity was in August after a cross-border attack launched from Egypt killed eight people in Israel and Israel struck back killing 15 Gaza gunmen. Sources: Reuters and AIIS.

15.11.2012: Hamas rocket kills 3 Israelis, wider war looms. The anarchists, the ICOT, AIE and AI, declare Hamas bears principle responsibility for the current crisis in Gaza and southern Israel, as attacks continue from both sides. The anarchists deeply regrets the loss of civilian life in the conflict and calls for Hamas to cease the terrorist rocket attacks.

18.11.2012: A "serious" effort to work toward Middle East peace "starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel's territory," U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday 18.11.2012. The anarchists, the ICOT, AIE and AI, agree. Rocket attacks into Israel were the "precipitating event" for the fighting under way now, Obama said. The anarchists agree. "We are actively working with all the parties in the region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further escalation of violence in the region," Obama continued. The anarchists agree and support these efforts. The United States, a number of European countries and the anarchists have put the brunt of the blame for the current crisis on Hamas, saying Israel has a right to protect itself. The fascist Arab and Muslim nations, meanwhile, wrongly have accused Israel of being the aggressor. Sources: CNN and AIIS.

19.11.2012: Israel and Hamas must heed the call of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a truce, and the international community must step up pressure to stop the carnage. Israel’s air and sea bombardment of over 1,300 sites in Gaza has so far left 87 dead and over 700 wounded. The Israeli government has threatened to invade Gaza unless Hamas stops the firing of rockets into Israel, where more than 800 rocket attacks have so far killed three and wounded some 50 people. “The world has been shocked by the attacks on Gaza. The UN and the governments with real influence in the region must put the maximum possible pressure for an end to the killing of innocent civilians. For too long, major powers have sat by and tolerated the Israeli government’s policy of refusing to negotiate a just and lasting two-state settlement and the Hamas refusal to even recognise Israel’s right to exist. The status quo of political paralysis, continuing denial of fundamental justice to Palestinians, armed provocation and reaction, and the constant threat to peace for all people in the region will only be transformed if the international community is prepared to act decisively in the interests of peace and justice,” declared the anarchists, the ICOT, AIE and AI.

20.11.2012: The anarchists, the ICOT, AIE and AI, had an international direct action with the parole "Call for truce Israel and Gaza", based on the resolutions of 15.11., 18.11. and 19.11.2012.

21.11.2012: Terrorist bombattack complicates truce-negotiations. Truce into effect at 19:00 GMT. In Tel Aviv, a bomb exploded on a bus around noon Wednesday 21.11.2012 injuring passengers as it passed by army headquarters, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Hamas is most likely responsible for this terrorist attack, and it complicates the truce-negotiations. According to BBC announcements on mosque loudspeakers in Gaza say Hamas carried out the attack. The Egyptian foreign minister has announced that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will come into effect at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday. It will be the details that will determine whether this is just a pause in hostilities, or something that leads to a lasting solution. At least 142 people have died in Gaza since the Israeli airstrikes began, according to the Ministry of the Interior in Gaza. Another 1,180 have been injured, the ministry said. In Israel, five people have died and 94 have been wounded, according to authorities. Source: AIIS.

29.11.2012: The United Nations General Assembly endorsed an upgraded status for the Palestinian Authority, despite opposition from the United States and Israel. The resolution elevates the authority's status from "nonmember observer entity" to "nonmember observer state," the same category as the Vatican. Palestinians hope it will provide new leverage in their dealings with Israel.

19.07.2013: The long-dormant Middle East peace efforts got new life on Friday. An agreement has been reached that "establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between" Palestinians and Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Amman, Jordan. "This is a significant and welcome step forward," Kerry said.

20.07.2013: Israel says it will release a number of Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement made with US Secretary of State John Kerry to resume peace talks.

29.07.2013: Obama hails Mid-East talks, warning of 'hard choices'. US President Barack Obama has welcomed Middle East peace talks due to begin in Washington later, but cautioned that "hard choices" lie ahead. He spoke after US Secretary of State John Kerry named Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, as the lead negotiator. The talks, stalled since 2010, follow six visits to the Middle East in the last five months by Mr Kerry. The meeting was confirmed hours after Israel approved the release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners. The move, which split the Israeli cabinet, is to take place in stages over several months. The initial talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives are scheduled begin on Monday evening and continue on Tuesday, said the state department.

30.07.2013: Middle East peace talks have resumed after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators dined in Washington DC with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr Kerry said it was a "very, very special" moment, as they broke the traditional Muslim fast for Ramadan.

13.08.2013: Illegal settlements. Jerusalem's municipality has approved 942 new illegal settlement units in the Occupied East Jerusalem, a local official said, on the eve of the scheduled resumption of talks with the Palestinians. The units are in addition to the 1,200 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday 11.08.2013, in a move that has angered the Palestinians and drawn criticism from the international community and anarchists. On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the recent flap over illegal Israeli settlement announcements likely would not derail talks, which are scheduled to resume this week.

Kerry, on a trip to Colombia, sought to neutralise the atmosphere in the Middle East, noting that the settlement plans were "to some degree expected," and calling for both sides to resolve their major issues. "We have known that there was going to be a continuation of some building in certain places, and I think the Palestinians understand that," the chief US diplomat said in Bogota. Palestinians denounced the settlement plan, which both Washington and the European Union said was illegal and detrimental to peace efforts. The Secretary of State urged Palestinians "not to react adversely" to Israel's announcement of new illegal settlement buildings, stressing the need to return to the negotiating table. The last talks in 2010 broke down on the issue of illegal settlements, which are illegal under international law.

30.06.2014. Missing teenagers found dead. The three Israeli teenagers who went missing earlier this month in the West Bank have been found dead. An Israeli military spokesman said their bodies were found in a pit near the town of Halhul, north of Hebron. Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both aged 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach were last seen at a junction near Hebron as they hitchhiked home. Israel had accused Hamas of abducting the three teens, which the Palestinian militant group repeatedly denied. The teenagers' families have been informed, the military said. More information is expected to be released after an emergency cabinet meeting. The Israeli military has set up blockades and closed down whole areas around Halhul, which is just a few kilometres from where the teenagers were last seen. The anarchists condemn the killings.

The disappearance of the three Jewish seminary students sparked a huge search operation in Palestinian towns and cities. More than 400 Palestinians have been arrested, while five Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops. Earlier, Israeli television showed large numbers of Israeli security forces personnel deployed around Halhul. There have been reports of clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the area. Last week, the Israeli military identified two men from Hebron as its main suspects and said they were associated with Hamas, leading Hamas to again deny that it had anything to do with the teenagers' disappearance. The case has put serious strain on relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the incident is a consequence of "the partnership" between Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The two signed a reconciliation deal in April after years of division and formed a unity government earlier this month.

01.07.2014. Israel launched more than 30 air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Israel has vowed retribution against Hamas, the militant Palestinian group it accuses of the kidnap and murder of three teenagers. The bodies of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were found on Monday evening, after they had been missing for more than a fortnight. Israel PM Benyamin Netanyahu said: "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay." Hamas denies any involvement. Israel launched more than 30 air strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight. The strikes came in response to 18 rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza since Sunday night, the Israeli military said. Israeli troops also flooded into the Palestinian town of Halhul. The bodies were found under a pile of rocks near the town. An Israeli official said it appeared the teenagers were shot soon after their abduction. Israel named two suspects as Ayoub al-Kawasma and Abu Aisheh. The Israeli military said it set off explosives while raiding the homes of both.

02.07.2014. Clashes break out between Palestinian youths and Israeli riot police after the body of a Palestinian teenager kidnapped in East Jerusalem is found. The anarchists condemn the killing.

06.07.2014. Israeli aircraft attacked 10 sites used by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in response to persistent rocket strikes from the enclave, the Israeli military said. A number of Jewish suspects have been arrested over the murder of Palestinian 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdair, whose death sparked days of violent protests.

07.07.2014. Three people, Jewish extremists, have confessed to murdering a Palestinian teenager whose death sparked riots in occupied East Jerusalem, the AP news agency and Israeli media have said. Senior Hamas leaders have threatened revenge against Israel after air raids in the Gaza Strip killed nine people, the single highest death toll since the 2012 cross-border war.

08.07.2014. Israel carries out more air strikes on the Gaza Strip, following a volley of rockets fired on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. The Israeli Cabinet today authorized the military to call up 40,000 reserve troops as Israel prepared to expand its operation against Hamas in Gaza. During an offensive in Gaza in November 2012, 30,000 reservists were called up. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the Israeli security operation against Hamas "will probably not end within several days." Israel blames Hamas for the recent abduction and killings of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. A Palestinian teen was as mentioned killed in Jerusalem, and Israeli police said there's a "strong indication" it was a revenge attack.

11.07.2014. The death toll from Israeli air strikes on Gaza has risen to 100, Palestinian sources say. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes since launching its operation on Tuesday 08.07.2014 to stop rocket fire from Gaza. Militants there continue to fire on Israel, causing damage and injuries. Israel says "dozens of terrorists" are among the dead. The US earlier offered to help with a truce in a call to Israel's PM. The anarchists support a truce.

12.07.2014. Palestinian deaths are continuing to mount as Israel and militants in Gaza traded fresh rounds of rocket and missile-fire on Saturday.

15.07.2014. Israel has accepted a Egyptian proposal for a truce in the conflict in Gaza. Hamas, which controls Gaza, has not formally responded. But its armed wing has rejected the plan as a "surrender". The proposal urges a ceasefire starting imminently, followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides. Palestinian officials say at least 192 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes launched eight days ago to stop militants firing rockets into Israel. The UN estimates that over three-quarters of these were civilians. An estimated 1,400 Palestinians have been injured. At least four Israelis have been seriously injured since the violence flared, but no-one has been killed. Later Israel resumed air strikes in the Gaza Strip, six hours after agreeing to an Egyptian-proposed truce that failed to halt Hamas rocket attacks. The Israeli military said that since the ceasefire deal was to have gone into effect, Hamas had fired 123 rockets at Israel. A 38-year-old Israeli man was killed by a mortar shell fired from Gaza near the northern border with Israel, reports said.

17.07.2014. Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas have both agreed to respect a five-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip after nine days of fighting. The Israeli military said it would stop firing from 10:00 to 15:00 (07:00-12:00 GMT) on Thursday to allow residents in Gaza to stock up on supplies. A Hamas spokesman later confirmed the group would also halt attacks. The anarchists support the ceasefire. Later Palestinian militants have fired at least three mortars from Gaza at Israel during a humanitarian ceasefire, Israeli security forces say.

18.07.2014. The Israeli military launched a ground operation into Gaza late Thursday and called an extra 18,000 reservists into the conflict with Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered the ground action to destroy tunnels from Gaza into Israeli territory, according to a statement from Netanyahu's media adviser. Thirteen Hamas militants used a tunnel earlier Thursday 17.07.2014 to launch an attempted attack in Sufa, near an Israeli kibbutz, but were stopped by Israeli soldiers.

20.07.2014. Thirteen Israeli troops were killed overnight in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said today. It was Israel's biggest death toll in the current fighting, bringing the total killed to 18 soldiers and two civilians. The IDF did not immediately give details. Hamas said it lured Israeli tanks into a Gaza field in which it had hidden improvised explosive devices, and "destroyed the force completely." Among Palestinians, the death toll has soared past 400. According to UN about 70 % were civilians.

Tel Aviv (CNN) -- CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv Sunday.

Blitzer: Your exit strategy from Gaza, what is it?

Netanyahu: Sustainable quiet. I mean we didn't seek this escalation, Hamas forced it on us. They started rocketing our cities, steadily increasing the fire. I called for de-escalation, they refused. I accepted an Egyptian cease fire proposal backed up by the Arab League and the U.N., they refused. I accepted a humanitarian lull proposed by the United Nations, they refused. We'll stop our operations when we can bring back quiet to our people.

Blitzer: Some of your Cabinet members think that the only way to do that is to reoccupy Gaza, which you evacuated and gave it up back in 2005. Do you support reoccupying Gaza?

Netanyahu: Well, I support taking whatever action is necessary to stop this insane situation. Just imagine. I mean, imagine what Israel is going through. Imagine that 75% of the U.S. population is under rocket fire, and they have to be in bomb shelters within 60 to 90 seconds. So, I'm not just talking about New York. New York, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Miami, you name it. That's impossible, you can't live like that. So I think we have to bring back, restore reasonable, sustained quiet and security, and we'll take whatever action is necessary to achieve that. 

Blitzer: But that includes possibly reoccupying Gaza? Because a lot of your military planners are afraid of what they would call a quagmire, a dangerous quagmire.

Netanyahu: Nobody wants to go to excessive military lengths, but what is happening here is excessive. They're not only targeting our cities, they're deliberately firing thousands of rockets. They've already fired 2,000 rockets on our cities in the past few days on our cities. You can imagine this. It's not only that, and they've wanted to kill as many of our 6 million Israelis who are targeted as they could. They haven't succeeded, not for lack of trying. It's because we've developed with American help, and I appreciate the help that President Obama and the U.S. Congress have given us to develop these Iron Dome fantastic systems, but some of the missiles perforate, and they hit our schools. So, we have to stop that, but in addition to the rockets, they've got now terror tunnels that they build in Palestinian homes in Gaza, they penetrate underground into Israeli territory, terrorists pop up there, try to murder civilians, kidnap Israelis, as they did with Gilad Shalit, so we're taking action right now to neutralize those tunnels, and we'll continue the action as long as is necessary.

Blitzer: You see these painful pictures, though, of these Palestinian children, and these refugees thousands of them fleeing their homes. It's a horrendous sight what's going on right now, if you look at the images, heart wrenching. What goes through your mind when you see that? 

Netanyahu: I'm very sad. When I see that I'm very sad. We're sad for every civilian casualty. They're not intended. This is the difference between us. The Hamas deliberately target civilians and deliberately hides behind civilians. They embed their rocketeers their rocket caches, their other weaponry from which they fire, which they use to fire on us, in civilian areas. What choice do we have? We have to protect ourselves. We try to target the rocketeers, we do, and all civilian casualties are unintended by us but actually intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use, I mean it's gruesome, they use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.

Blitzer: And the argument that your critics make is that you're overreacting right now, over killing.

Netanyahu: Well look, I want to say this. There are very few examples in history of countries that have been rocketed on this scale. If you look at our response, it's actually very measured and trying to be as pinpointed as we can. But I think when people say that, I appreciate the support we've received from President Obama and many world leaders for Israel's right to self-defense, but others are saying, yeah you have the right to self-defense, as long as you don't exercise it. What can a country do? What would you do? What would the people of the United States do if your cities were rocketed now, 2,000 rockets falling in American cities, you know, people would say in the United States, obliterate the people. We don't want to obliterate them. We don't want to, we don't have any battle with the Palestinians in Gaza.

Blitzer: But it is brutal there, now.

Netanyahu: It's very difficult because Hamas is using them, Palestinians, as human shields. We develop anti-missile systems to protect, we use anti-missile systems to protect our civilians. They use their civilians to protect their missiles. That's the difference. So, against such a cynical, brutal, heartless enemy, we try to minimize civilian casualties, we try to target the military targets, and unfortunately there are civilian casualties which we regret and we don't seek. They all fall on the responsibility of Hamas.

Blitzer: The President, President Obama urged the other day to all of the parties to return to the cease fire that was received in November 2012. Are you accepting his proposal, go back to that cease fire?

Netanyahu: I already did, I already did.  

Blitzer: If Hamas were to say to you right now "We accept the cease fire," would Israel withdraw its forces from Gaza?

Netanyahu: That was the Egyptian proposal, which we accepted and they refused.

Blitzer: If they accepted now, is it too late?

Netanyahu: I don't know, I don't want to speak about it being too late. I think the first thing is cessation of hostilities but then we'd have to --

Blitzer: Would Israel withdraw its forces as part of a cessation of hostilities?

Netanyahu: Well, first we'd have to deal with this tunnel business because we're not leaving those tunnels --

Blitzer: So, you would stay until those tunnels are destroyed?

Netanyahu: We're doing that right now, as we speak. 

Blitzer: How long is that going to take?

Netanyahu: It's being done fairly quickly. But I think the important thing right now is not to begin to put terms, the important thing right now is to end the hostilities, and we get into a situation where we have a sustainable cease fire. That means beginning to discuss the demilitarization of Gaza. Gaza, under all the previous agreements, should have been demilitarized. Instead of being demilitarized it became basically an Iranian-financed and equipped fortress of terror, with thousands and thousands of rockets and other weapons being smuggled and developed in it. That has to stop, those tunnels have to be shut down.

Blitzer: I've been here in Israel now for what, 10, 11 days, and many Israeli friends have said to me they are deeply concerned about what they see in this rise of tiny, but very violent and dangerous Jewish extremism. And as we saw that with that murder of that young Palestinian boy in the aftermath of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed. How concerned are you about this? Because that police report that came out on the murder of that Palestinian, you read that, that was awful.

Netanyahu: Well, you know, here's the difference. We don't glorify these killers. We apprehended them three days after that tragic killing, immediately put them in custody, we're putting them on trial. They'll serve a good chunk of their lives in jail. That's what we do with the killers. We don't name public squares after them. We don't glorify them. We don't educate our people, our children in suicide kindergarten camps, happens in the Palestinian side, and you should see what Hamas is educating them to. No peace, no two- state solution, nothing. Just jihad. More and more violence, more and more murder, more and more bloodshed. This is not our way. We have, I think a society is tested not by the extreme fringes of that society, but how it takes care of them. We take care of those extreme fringes, we basically isolate them and ostracize them, and punish them. I think what you see in Palestinian society, but especially in Gaza, is that these people are lionized. And the worst thing that I see, the worst thing, is that they use their children, they use, they don't give any thought about them. I mean, the Hamas leaders are divided into two -- those  who are in underground bunkers in Gaza, they don't care, let the people there, you know, with the rocketeers and with the attack tunnels, let them die as Israel tries to surgically take them out. But they're safe underground, the military leaders. And then they've got the political leaders. This guy Khaled Mashaal, he's roaming around, five star hotel suites in the Gulf states, he's having the time of his life, while he's deliberately putting his people as fodder for this horrible terrorist war that they're conducting against us. So, this has to stop, and I think many people in Gaza understand that Hamas is destroying Gaza, destroying their lives. They've taken tons, not tons, tens of thousands of tons of concrete that we enabled them to bring in to Gaza to build skyscrapers, to build schools, to build hospitals. You know what they did with that, Wolf? They put 700 tons of concrete into each one of these terror attack tunnels to penetrate Israel. Now we've discovered dozens of them, so you're talking about tens of thousands of tons of concrete, instead of going for the benefit of the schools, the population, going for terrorism against Israel. I think the international community has to, once this is put in place, we really have to undertake a program to demilitarize Gaza and to change the situation because it is unacceptable. What makes it unacceptable is Hamas and Islamic jihad. These people are the worst terrorist, genocidal terrorists. They call for the destruction of Israel, and they call for the killing of every Jew wherever they can find them.

Blitzer: We're out of time, but one final question on Iran. Now that the U.S., the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany, they've agreed to a four-month extension, allowing these talks with Iran and its nuclear program to continue. Does that mean a unilateral Israeli military strike, potentially, is off the table over the next four months?

Netanyahu: Now you know I never talk about what Israel will do or not do, but I think what is important is there wasn't a bad deal, because there's no deal. And no deal is better than a bad deal. We'll see what the extension produces. I think a good deal is what was achieved with Syria. There, under the threat of U.S. military action and with a joint effort by President Obama and President Putin, Syria removed its chemicals and the capability to make chemical weapons. They didn't just keep it in place, freeze it, and put it under a lock and put an inspector on it. They actually dismantled and removed. That's not what Iran is holding out for. Iran wants to keep its capability and say "We'll put in a lock under and you can inspect it." But the whole idea for them is that at a certain point, they break the lock. The inspector will even say they broke the lock. It will take them a few weeks to put together the wherewithal for a nuclear bomb. That's a bad deal. Don't make that deal. Because if you think the Middle East is bad now, with ISIS, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, and with Iran, wait til Iran, one of the, the preeminent terrorist state of our time, has nuclear weapons. Then I would say the world goes into a tailspin. Don't let it happen.

22.07.2014. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Israel and the Palestinians to "stop fighting" and "start talking" to end the conflict in Gaza. He was speaking in Israel as diplomatic efforts intensified. More than 600 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed in the past 14 days of fighting, officials say. The anarchists once more call for a truce. At a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Ban urged Israel to exercise "maximum restraint", adding that "military action will not increase Israeli security in the longer term". He called on the Palestinians to pursue a policy of "no violence, recognition of Israel and respect for previous agreements". Replying to Mr Ban's opening comments, Mr Netanyahu asked: "What grievance can we resolve for Hamas? Their grievance is that we exist."

Plenty of Israelis are uncomfortable with Gaza's high civilian death toll. But a clear majority continues to support a military operation designed to limit Hamas's ability to fire rockets into Israel, and to infiltrate Israeli territory. The extent of the cross-border tunnel network dug by Hamas has been a big shock for some. And Israelis want the threat removed. Most ordinary Palestinians are weary and afraid. They sorely want an end to this fighting but many also insist conditions for a ceasefire must be met - including easing the tight border restrictions imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt.

26.07.2014. Hamas and Israel have agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire on Saturday 26.07.2014, officials say. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel would comply, according to a U.S. official traveling with Kerry. Palestinian Parliament member Mustafa Barghouti said Hamas also agreed. Later Israel extends a truce in Gaza until 21:00 GMT, but there is no response from Hamas and three mortars from Gaza hit Israel, the army says.

27.07.2014. Israel has accepted a UN request for a 24-hour ceasefire in Gaza, but warns the army will act if the pause is breached by Palestinian militants. Hamas says it rejects the terms of the truce and continues to send rockets towards Israel. Later on Sunday 27.07.2014 both IDF and Hamas continue the fight. Even later Palestinian militant group Hamas has declared a 24-hour ceasefire after Israel ended an earlier truce amid continuing rocket fire from Gaza. A spokesman for Hamas said its ceasefire would start from 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT). However Hamas continued to send rockets towards Israel, breaking their declared truce, and Israel continues the fight. More than 1,000 Palestinians and 46 Israelis have been killed.

29.07.2014. Hamas continues the rocket attacks on Israel. Gaza sees one of its heaviest nights of bombardment, by air, sea and land, after Israel's prime minister warns of a long conflict ahead.

31.07.2014. Destroying Hamas' terrorist tunnels. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that Israel would complete its goal of destroying Hamas' network of tunnels with or without a cease-fire. He said before a Cabinet meeting that this was just the first phase of the demilitarization of Gaza.

04.08.2014. Israel and Palestinian groups including Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian truce in Gaza, officials and Egyptian mediators say. The ceasefire will start at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) on Tuesday 05.08.2014. On Monday Israel held its own seven-hour "humanitarian window" in Gaza but then resumed its military operations. Health officials in Gaza say more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed in the four-week conflict, which has also claimed 67 Israeli lives. A Thai national working in Israel was also killed. There have been several truces called during the conflict but few have lasted, with each side accusing the other of violations.

08.08.2014. Israel reported rocket fire from Gaza on Friday as the three-day Gaza cease-fire came to an end without an agreement to extend it. More than 10 rockets were fired at Israel after the 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. Friday (1 a.m. ET), the Israel Defense Forces said. Hamas, the Islamic militant group that holds power in Gaza, said that Palestinian officials at talks in Cairo hadn't agreed to extend the truce but would continue negotiations.

10.08.2014. Israel and Palestinian factions have agreed to a fresh 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza conflict. Egypt brokered a similar truce last week, but fighting resumed after the three-day window ended. It is hoped the latest ceasefire, due to begin at 21:00 GMT, will enable negotiators to agree on a longer truce.

14.08.2014. Israel and the Palestinians have begun a fresh five-day ceasefire in Gaza, agreed at the end of a three-day truce. As the ceasefire was announced, Israel launched air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

18.08.2014. The Gaza ceasefire has been extended for a further 24 hours after talks in Cairo, Palestinian and Israeli officials have told. The previous ceasefire came into effect last Wednesday, but was due to expire at midnight (21:00 GMT) on Monday.

19.08.2014. Rockets fired from Gaza. Israel responds. In what appeared to be a new flare-up of violence Tuesday afternoon, three rockets fired from Gaza hit the Beer Sheva area in southern Israel, the Israeli military said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF to respond to the rockets, a senior Israeli official told. An IDF statement shortly afterward said strikes were being carried out against targets in Gaza. The war continues.

21.08.2014. A top Hamas official said members of his militant group kidnapped three Israeli teenagers whose deaths in June provoked a spiral of violence that led to the war in Gaza, the first acknowledgement of the movement's involvement.

26.08.2014. A truce has been reached to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza, all sides said today. Palestinian and Egyptian officials announced the deal. A senior Israeli government official said Israel "once again" accepted Egypt's proposed ceasefire. Throughout the conflict, Israel has openly accepted Egypt's ceasefire proposals and slammed Hamas for not doing so. At least 2,140 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. The Israeli authorities say 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed, along with three Israeli civilians and a Thai national.

04.11.2014. A letter written by a non - Jewish Scottish professor to his students who voted to boycott Israel.

It's a response from Dr. Denis MacEoin, a non-Jewish professor, to the motion put forward by The Edinburgh Student's Association to boycott all things Israeli, in which they claim Israel is under an apartheid regime. Denis is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs and was a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Here's his letter to the students:

TO: The Committee Edinburgh University Student Association.

May I be permitted to say a few words to members of the EUSA?  I am an Edinburgh graduate (MA 1975) who studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History in Buccleuch Place under William Montgomery Watt and Laurence Elwell Sutton, two of Britain 's great Middle East experts in their day.  I later went on to do a PhD at Cambridge and to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. Naturally, I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field. I say all that to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs and that, for that reason, I am shocked and disheartened by the EUSA-motion and vote.

I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel. That is not my opinion, that is fact that can be tested against reality by any Edinburgh student, should he or she choose to visit Israel to see for themselves. Let me spell this out, since I have the impression that those members of EUSA who voted for this motion are absolutely clueless in matters concerning Israel, and that they are, in all likelihood, the victims of extremely biased propaganda coming from the anti-Israel lobby.

Being anti-Israel is not in itself objectionable. But I'm not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel.  I'm speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out. Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a "Nazi" state.  In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor? Where are the Israeli concentration camps? The einzatsgruppen? The SS? The Nuremberg Laws? The Final Solution? None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews, more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for.

It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere). Where? When? No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves. But calling Jews Nazis and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.

Likewise apartheid. For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled how things were in South Africa under the apartheid regime. Unfortunately for those who believe this, a weekend in any part of Israel would be enough to show how ridiculous the claim is.

That a body of university students actually fell for this and voted on it is a sad comment on the state of modern education. The most obvious focus for apartheid would be the country's 20% Arab population. Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians; Baha'is, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world center; Ahmadi Muslims, severely persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere, are kept safe by Israel; the holy places of all religions are protected under a specific Israeli law. Arabs form 20% of the university population (an exact echo of their percentage in the general population).

In Iran, the Bahai's (the largest religious minority) are forbidden to study in any university or to run their own universities: why aren't your members boycotting Iran? Arabs in Israel can go anywhere they want, unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. They use public transport, they eat in restaurants, they go to swimming pools, they use libraries, they go to cinemas alongside Jews - something no blacks were able to do in South Africa.

Israeli hospitals not only treat Jews and Arabs, they also treat Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank. On the same wards, in the same operating theatres.

In Israel, women have the same rights as men: there is no gender apartheid. Gay men and women face no restrictions, and Palestinian gays often escape into Israel, knowing they may be killed at home.

It seems bizarre to me that LGBT groups call for a boycott of Israel and say nothing about countries like Iran, where gay men are hanged or stoned to death. That illustrates a Mindset that beggars belief.

Intelligent students thinking it's better to be silent about regimes that kill gay people, but good to condemn the only country in the Middle East that rescues and protects gay people. Is that supposed to be a sick joke?

University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak.

I do not object to well-documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it's clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens.

Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest). Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world's freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Bahai's...  Need I go on?

The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott. I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. Ask for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument.

They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930's (which, sadly, there was not), don't you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it?

Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play.  Please tell me that this makes sense. I have given you some of the evidence. It's up to you to find out more.

Yours sincerely,

Denis MacEoin

11.12.2015. Deadly clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians. The West Bank has suffered another day of violence with at least three Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces. In Hebron a 22-year-old man was shot dead. His sister had been killed the previous month after pulling knife on an Israeli soldier. Dozens of people were injured in the clashes according to medical sources. Clashes also erupted near Ramallah in Silwad, and in Bethlehem, where police were bombarded with stones. Clashes also erupted on the Gaza border, where one man was killed and at least five injured after stoning police. One of the worst attacks followed the unrest in Hebron, when a man was shot dead after he tried to ram into an Israeli checkpoint in his car. The surrounding area has become a focal point for protests in this latest outbreak of unrest which has now lasted more than two months, costing 20 Jewish, and more than 110 Palestinian lives.

23.12.2016. The United States allowed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction to be adopted. The Security Council approved the resolution with 14 votes and the US abstaining. The abstention came in defiance of pressure to veto from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in alliance with President-elect Donald Trump. An Israeli official told CNN that his country approached the Trump team after it felt that it had failed to persuade the Obama administration to veto. Defying convention for a president-elect, Trump on Thursday put out a statement opposing the resolution. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi also spoke with Trump by phone about the vote, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the call and an aide to Trump. The UN resolution calls on Israel to "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem." It had been delayed by Egypt on Thursday. The AIE and the AI support this UN-resolution.

08.01.2017. Four Israeli officer cadets have been killed in Jerusalem by a Palestinian man who rammed a lorry into them, in what police say was a terrorist attack. Three women and one man, all in their twenties, were killed and at least 13 more were wounded, police said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacker, who was shot dead by soldiers, was a suspected supporter of so-called Islamic State. Israel's police chief Roni Alsheich said the attacker, who has been identified by police, was a Palestinian from East Jerusalem. The Palestinian militant group Hamas praised the attacker, according to the Associated Press. Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou called it a "heroic" act and encouraged other Palestinians to "escalate the resistance". Before this latest incident, 35 Israelis had been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October 2015. More than 200 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

07.02.2017. Israel's parliament has passed a controversial law retroactively legalising almost 4,000 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Under the legislation, the Palestinian landowners will be given financial compensation or alternative land. The Palestinian president called the law "an aggression against our people". Israel's attorney-general has said it is unconstitutional and that he will not defend it in the Supreme Court. The Anarchist International is against this law.

Some of the ochlarchical, terrorist activities of Hamas since 2001 are documented by the anarchists, search for Hamas in http://www.anarchy.no/antiterrorism1.html and http://www.anarchy.no/ija431.html .

Resolution from the ICOT, AIE and AI

Back to the International Conference of Terrorism's main page, click on http://www.anarchy.no/ija431.html.