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Pro-Israeli editors seek to influence Al-Jazeera International English Satellite TV


When the Qatar-based pan-Arab Al-Jazeera Satellite Television announced two years ago plans to launch Al-Jazeera International (AJI), many people around the world hoped the new satellite channel would provide a genuine alternative to the notoriously biased western media, which often operates under Zionist influence. The new channel, the launching of which has been postponed several times, will provide both regional and global perspective to a potential audience of hundreds of millions of English speakers. AJI has already attracted a number of luminaries in the world of TV broadcasting. 

Thousands in south lose income


At the start of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Basma Restaurant in southern Lebanon was transformed into a place of refuge for those displaced by fighting, according to its owner Fadi Ali Basma. “We thought we were safe here, so we opened the restaurant doors to almost 100 people to take refuge while fighting and bombing raged further south,” Basma said. On 17 July, however, five days after fighting began, Israel carried out two air strikes on the restaurant, which lies between the southern port city of Tyre, 80km south of Beirut, and Bint Jbeil, a further 30km south-east of Tyre. One side of the building was destroyed. 

Hezbollah criticises Amnesty report accusing it of war crimes


A Hezbollah member of parliament has criticised a report by Amnesty International that said the armed wing of the Lebanese political party committed a “serious violation of humanitarian law” in its recent conflict with Israel. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah was quoted by the BBC as saying the London-based rights group should analyse the number of civilians killed on each side, before accusing Hezbollah of war crimes. The Amnesty report concluded that Hezbollah had violated the 1949 Geneva Convention by deliberately targeting civilians when it fired thousands of Katyusha rockets loaded with ball bearings at urban areas in northern Israel. 

Amnesty International: Hizbullah's deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians


Hizbullah committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes, in its deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians during the recent conflict, according to a briefing published today by Amnesty International. Combined with the organisation’s earlier publication on Israel’s targeting of Lebanese civilian infrastructure, the latest findings make clear the urgent need for the UN to establish a full and impartial investigation into violations committed by both sides in the conflict. 

Human Rights Watch: Don't Fire on Gaza Medics


Israeli security forces launched attacks that harmed Palestinian medical emergency personnel and damaged ambulances on at least six different occasions in the Gaza Strip between May 30 and July 20, Human Rights Watch said today. Five of the incidents occurred during Israel’s military operations in Gaza that began on June 28, and three of them during the IDF military operation around the Maghazi Refugee Camp that began on July 18. In all of the incidents, the emergency medical personnel said they were responding to Palestinian casualties caused by earlier military activity but had waited for IDF shooting or shelling to stop before attempting to recover casualties. 

Intensified Aid And Urgent Action Needed To Avert Palestinian Economic Collapse


The economy of the occupied Palestinian territory is on the verge of collapse, a new UNCTAD report warns. Dwindling donor support has left the Palestinian Authority (PA) in a perilous financial position and UNCTAD projections indicate that per capita income for 2006 will be half pre-2000 levels, unemployment will affect half the Palestinian workforce by the end of the year, and two out of three Palestinian households will fall below the poverty level. The report cautions that even under a more positive scenario of increased aid, greater mobility, and the resumption of Israeli transfers of tax revenues to the PA, the Palestinian economy is unlikely to achieve sustained growth. 

"We don't want more Palestinians here!"


Yesterday I came to Aqaba, Jordan, and today I went to the border at 8 am. I was nervous, but at the same time I felt good, doing something that I had been anticipating for a long time. I crossed the Jordanian border without any problem, only 15 minutes later I picked up my bag again and started walking to the Palestinian side which is controlled by Israel. Two armed guys were waiting there and asked me for my passport. They look each other and asked me “Where are you from?” despite that one of them had my Chilean passport in his hand. After that I went to the questioning room, and two other officers were there and asked me the normal questions — well, normal by Israeli standards. 

Dissecting Israel's freeze on visas


Israel is implementing an undeclared policy of denying foreign nationals entry/re-entry into the oPt in order to achieve the following political objectives: to isolate Palestinians, to continue its control over demographics in favor of the Jewish population, and to punish Palestinians personally and developmentally because of the January election results. Israel’s security claims regarding this policy are false. In many cases, this policy amounts to deportation. Many of those now being denied entry are, in fact, residents of the oPT (for family or work reasons). 

Lifting of blockade brings hope to Beirut


For the past five days, since Israel lifted its nearly two-month-old naval and air blockade on Lebanon, Beirut’s residents have been anxious to see signs that the country’s deteriorating economy is recovering. However, given the plethora of problems the 34-day war in July and August brought, the mood in Lebanon’s capital is a mix of hope and indifference. “No doubt, the fact that the blockade has been lifted is a good thing,” said taxi driver Fadi Saab. “But I think it will take some time before things will actually improve, because the effects of the war were so overreaching.” 

Poverty drives children to work at checkpoints


Six months of a crippling international embargo on the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) has brought its economy to a virtual standstill. As a result, children are being driven increasingly to find work to help support their families. “After my father became jobless, I joined my friends to work at the checkpoint in order to support my 11-member family,” said Subhi Abdullah 16, referring to his unofficial job at al-Hawawer Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron. While plans were announced on Monday for a Palestinian unity government that could meet conditions to have the embargo lifted, ordinary Palestinians continue to suffer.