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Civilians must not be used to shield homes against military attacks


Palestinian armed groups must not endanger Palestinian civilians by encouraging them to gather in and around suspected militants’ homes targeted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Human Rights Watch said today. Calling civilians to a location that the opposing side has identified for attack is at worst human shielding, at best failing to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attack. Both are violations of international humanitarian law. According to media reports, on Saturday the IDF warned Mohammedweil Baroud, a commander in the Popular Resistance Committees, to leave his home in the Jabaliya refugee camp as they planned to destroy it. 

HRW retracts statement about "human shields"


16 December - We regret that our press release below (“OPT: Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks”) gave many readers the impression that we were criticizing civilians for engaging in nonviolent resistance. This was not our intention. It is not the policy of the organization to criticize non-violent resistance or any other form of peaceful protest, including civilians defending their homes. Rather, our focus is on the behavior of public officials and military commanders because they have responsibilities under international law to protect civilians. 

Who is Mohammad Dahlan?


Dahlan was a founding member of Shabiba, the youth association of Fatah, head of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza, cabinet minister, security advisor and legislator. During the 1990s he headed a force of 20,000 troops in Gaza. He has good relations with Israel, US and other foreign powers. Both Dahlan and his colleague in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, were implicted in financial scandals and human rights violations. Dahlan has a history in trying to curb Hamas. His troops were involved in one of the largest Palestinian arbitrary arrest campaign in recent history. Today, Dahlan has become the face of one side of Fatah as violence increased between Hamas and Fatah. 

There is still another way for Palestine


After months of anticipation, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction finally launched their attempted coup against the democratically-elected cabinet headed by the Hamas party and prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. Days of interfactional violence, following Abbas’ speech in which he threatened to call new elections (something most legal experts agree he does not have the authority to do), claimed at least seven lives. A shaky truce continued to be violated, and the events of the past week have provided a terrifying glimpse of what may yet await Palestinians if Abbas decides to continue on his disastrous path. 

Israel continues to deny entry despite assurances to EU


Despite assurances given to the EU presidency by Israeli authorities, foreigners continue to be barred from passing through Israeli-controlled access points when their destination is the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). “Arbitrary denials of entry and expulsions have not stopped. No transparent rules or mechanisms are in place so far. Palestinian families, vital service providers and businesses remain vulnerable to arbitrary denials of entry and residency. This is especially hard to accept at a time of major Christian and Muslim traditional festivities when families want to be together more then ever”, said Anita Abdullah, speaking for the Campaign for the Right of Entry to the oPt. 

Do America and Israel want the Middle East engulfed by civil war?


The era of the Middle East strongman, propped up by and enforcing Western policy, appears well and truly over. His power is being replaced with rule by civil war, apparently now the American administration’s favoured model across the region. Fratricidal fighting is threatening to engulf, or already engulfing, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq. Both Syria and Iran could soon be next, torn apart by attacks Israel is reportedly planning on behalf of the US. The reverberations would likely consume the region. 

PCHR Condemns Escalating Violence between Fatah and Hamas Movements


On Tuesday afternoon, 19 December 2006, the bodies of Mohammed al-Harazin and Mohammed Kassab of the Palestinian General Intelligence were brought to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The two victims were shot dead, but the circumstances of their killing have not been clear. Earlier, at approximately 12:00, the bodyguards of the spokesman of Ministry of Interior, Khaled Abu Hilal, opened fire at a supply vehicle belonging to the Palestinian Military Intelligence that passed near Abu Hilal’s house in al-Jalaa’ Street in the center of Gaza City. As a result, two members of the Military Intelligence were killed: Shadi Mohammed Dhaher, 25; and ‘Omar Nader al-Wehaidi, 22. Additionally, 7 bystanders, including two school children, were wounded. 

Holy Warriors Set Sights on Iran


OAKLAND, California (IPS) - Over the past 20 years, the U.S. Christian right has evolved into one of the most powerful grassroots organising forces within the Republican Party, and a host of Christian Zionists have taken a well-earned seat at the foreign policy table. At the same time, their support for Israel is not only growing — it is also becoming an influential political factor. Several prominent Christian right and conservative Jewish leaders have teamed up to found organisations that have provided millions of dollars to Israeli charities, lobbied in support of policies advanced by right wing leaders in Israel, opposed President George W. Bush’s so-called “Road Map” to peace in the Middle East, and have helped defray the costs of the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, among other activities. 

Neo-Cons Wanted Israel to Attack Syria


WASHINGTON (IPS) - Neo-conservative hawks in and outside the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush had hoped that Israel would attack Syria during last summer’s Lebanon war, according to a newly published interview with a prominent neo-conservative whose spouse is a top Middle East adviser in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Meyrav Wurmser, who is herself the director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute here, reportedly told Yitzhak Benhorin of the Ynet website that a successful attack by Israel on Damascus would have dealt a mortal blow to the insurgency in Iraq. 

Under an iron fist


Palestinians don’t want fresh elections in the occupied territories, but a free vote for a truly national ruling body. The elections that all Palestinians are demanding today (the millions under occupation and the millions in the refugee camps outside) are for the Palestine National Council, the parliament in exile, which is the national body that represents all Palestinians. The Palestinian people have indeed already spoken: for elections to the Palestine National Council, for lifting the economic boycott of a democratically elected authority; for liberty and to independence.