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Update: The Implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access


Rafah was open daily during the reporting period for the standard nine hours. On 14 March four truckloads of furniture and handicrafts were exported via Rafah to Egypt, using the back-to-back system under the supervision of the EU BAM. No other truck loads have crossed since. No security incident on the Palestinian side of the crossing was reported. However, on 14 March, the EU BAM closed Rafah 75 minutes earlier than scheduled. The decision was taken jointly with the Palestinian border officials in reaction to the tense situation in the Gaza Strip due to the events in Jericho. The passages did not open continuously. Karni was open for limited imports on four days only. Exports were allowed on two days. 

Section of separation barrier around Jerusalem ruled illegal - near Sheikh Sa'ed


The Tel-Aviv Magistrate’s Court granted the appeal of residents of Sheikh sa’ed, in East Jerusalem , opposing the separation barrier, and cancelled the requisition orders that had been issued to build the barrier. The court’s appeals committee ruled that the planned route of the barrier would cause disproportionate harm to the daily lives of the residents, in part because it separates Sheik sa’ed from other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem . This is the first time that a court has voided a section of the separation barrier around Jerusalem . The appeal was filed by the Sheikh sa’ed Neighborhood Committee and five residents of the village, who were represented by attorney Ghiath Nasser. 

Wall mitigation: Implications for donors and implementing agencies operating in areas affected by the Separation Barrier


Perspectives within the international donor community on how to approach wall mitigation and address the implications of the ICJ Opinion are far from consistent. Some donors are strongly in favour of wall mitigation on humanitarian grounds, while others express serious concern regarding undertaking any form of wall mitigation initiative on political or legal grounds. Many donors, meanwhile, have not formulated a clear position. A new paper outlines recommendations that deal with how to approach wall mitigation in an effective and consistent manner and which is legally consistent with the ICJ Opinion; and the need for donors to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law. 

The Israeli election and the prospects for peace


Palestinians remain pessimistic that any newly elected government of Israel will increase prospects for peace. The Palestinians held their own election in January, and they voted in the Hamas party. Now observers are concerned that if Kadima, the party originally dreamed up by Ariel Sharon, is voted in, prospects for peace and a viable state will be set back, because of its policy of unilateral disengagement. Ali Abunimah is the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, an online news site that tells the story from the Palestinian perspective. He gave his response to Kadima policy of unilateral disengagement in an interview with Erica Vowles of The Wire. 

Fatah Chapter Closed: Creating a Palestinian National Congress


The current calls to emphasise the role of the PLO coming from Fatah and the other political factions cannot be very convincing to the Palestinian people. Fatah bears the bulk of responsibility in destroying the PLO and marginalizing it. Whichever the motives, Fatah and all Palestinians must recognise that trying to revive the PLO as it stands is not the answer. The structure and methodology is outdated. There is no other way but to build up a different political body to represent the Palestinians everywhere, writes Rifat Odeh Kassis. 

Rachel's Words Live On


On March 22, a congregation of ardent supporters gathered to commemorate Rachel’s life and spread her words at the Riverside Church, the very church Martin Luther King first spoke out against the war in Vietnam. This event came out of controversy. The critically acclaimed play My Name is Rachel Corrie was canceled by the New York Theater Workshop. Just weeks after the cartoon controversy and the mass trumpeting of free speech worldwide, Rachel Corrie was being silenced. The New York Theater Workshop attempted to crush her memory but her words live on. 

Palestinian refugees at Iraq-Jordan border receiving assistance


Palestinian refugees fleeing Iraq, who were refused entry into Jordan last week, are now receiving assistance from UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. On Sunday, Ehab Taym, one of 88 Palestinian refugees who recently fled Baghdad, speaking from the Iraqi side of the border, said that the IRCS and UNHCR-Amman had sent blankets, tents, food and water. After having been moved from the “No Man’s Land” border area to the Iraqi side of the frontier, Taym said they were now housed in 20 tents provided by the aid agencies. They now await their fate. About a week’s worth of humanitarian assistance in the form of food, mattresses and blankets was provided to the refugees on Thursday. 

Death threats cause panic in Baghdad's Palestinian refugee community


Panic has overtaken the Palestinian refugee community in Baghdad after more than one hundred families in the city have received death threats from groups calling them traitors. Many of the Palestinians, who have been living for years in Baghdad, are in a state of shock and panic and are taking the intimidation very seriously, UNHCR told journalists in Geneva on Friday. There are an estimated 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq, of whom 23,000 have been registered by UNHCR in Baghdad. The Palestinian refugees came to Iraq in three main waves - in 1948, in 1967 and in 1991. Palestinians have in the past few years faced evictions, threats and harassment. 

UNHCR increasingly concerned for Palestinians in Baghdad


UNHCR is increasingly concerned about the situation of Palestinians in Baghdad. On Thursday, we heard from the Palestinian community in Baghdad that reportedly over 100 families had received written death threats and that many are in a state of shock and panic. This panic may spread and lead to more Palestinians fleeing Baghdad. They are feeling increasingly trapped, and for security reasons many have stopped going to work and have taken their children out of school. While Iraqis are also affected by the general insecurity in Iraq, Palestinians feel especially vulnerable and targetted as they were perceived to have been treated favourably by the previous regime. 

UN food aid agency calls for permanent opening of crossing from Israel to Gaza


With the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip deteriorating and food and other supplies running short due to Israeli closures, the United Nations World Food Programme warned today that it was crucial for this week’s 48-hour opening of the Karni crossing point to become permanent. WFP, which provides food aid to some 160,000 Palestinians in Gaza, was able to bring in 16 containers, containing 300 tons of food, mainly beans and vegetable oil, but this was a very limited amount, agency spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume told a news briefing in Geneva. A further problem was that the Israeli authorities were not allowing WFP to bring out the empty containers, and the agency needed to fill them again and bring them back in. 

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