Al Jazeera

Israeli-Palestinian truce put to test

After a bloody day that saw 10 Palestinians killed, the fragile five-month Israeli-Palestinian truce seems to be in danger of unraveling. But analysts on both sides say this is simply a game of chicken weeks before Israel’s planned Gaza disengagement. Analysts say the violence is only intended to test the limits of the fragile truce. Sharon does not want to be seen as evacuating under fire, and Palestinian factions want the disengagement to appear as a victory. In the end, analysts say, it is in neither side’s interest to officially abandon the ceasefire before disengagement. Both sides are pushing it to the very edge. Israel’s mass of forces will not lightly decide to go in.” 

Hamas: "We are committed to ceasefire"

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance group, Hamas, says it remains committed to observing the ceasefire, despite the assassination by Israel of at least eight of its resistance cadres. Israeli warplanes on Friday carried out two pinpoint missile attacks on two Palestinian vehicles in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing at least eight Hamas resistance activists. “We are still committed to the ceasefire. We are not interested in any escalation. However, if Israel continues these acts of extrajudicial executions of our people, then we will most certainly defend ourselves,” said Hasan Yousuf, Hamas’s spokesman in the West Bank. 

Palestinian boy shot dead, demonstrations mark one year ICJ ruling

A Palestinian boy was shot dead by an Israeli security guard in the West Bank, officials and witnesses said. Fifteen-year-old Muheeb Ahmad Assi was pronounced dead at the scene after being shot by an Israeli security guard, according to Mohammad Hawani of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah. Hawani said Assi died of a bullet wound to his chest. Witnesses said clashes broke out between Assi’s group of friends and an Israeli security guard near a part of the Wall in the village of Beit Lakiya, where he lived. The guard shot at them with live ammunition, and Assi was hit. Palestinians were not allowed near the teen until over an hour had passed, by which point the Assi had bled to death, medics said. 

Fatah meet a damp squib

Despite its high-profile, the Fatah central committee meeting in Amman earlier this week seems to have failed to resolve the internal crises and divisions afflicting the movement. Veteran Fatah leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Fatah chief Farouq Qaddumi voiced satisfaction at the decisions adopted by the movement’s top brass, especially an invitation to Hamas to join a possible government of national unity. The top Fatah leadership also reasserted its rejection of the concept of a state with interim borders as proposed by some in Israel and the US

Israeli activist bridges worlds

“You can’t just come storming in here,” barks Neta Golan to foreign activists who walk casually into her kitchen during their lunch break. “This is someone’s house you know - there’s a kitchen in the other apartment,” she tells them. “They don’t understand it’s rude to just barge into someone’s home here - they have a lot to learn,” says Golan about the internationals who have come to help support Palestinians in non-violent resistance. Just another day in cultural training for Golan and the ISM, during which the 34-year-old Israeli activist explains to foreign volunteers when they can snap pictures, how to behave in people’s homes and how to respect local Palestinians. 

Israel accused of covering up murders

The Israeli human rights organisation, B’tselem, has accused the Israeli occupation army of whitewashing the murders of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians. The organisation, which monitors Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories, described Monday’s conviction of an Israeli soldier for the killing of British photographer and activist Tom Hurndall as an “exception than the norm”. “It is obvious that the prosecution and conviction of Tom Hurndall’s killer represents the exception, not the norm, as it is amply clear that the Israeli army refrains from investigating most cases involving the killing of Palestinians civilians by the Israeli army,” said a report released by B’tselem on Monday. 

Outrage greets Israeli military chief

The appointment of Dan Halutz as the Israeli military’s new Chief of Staff has infuriated many Palestinians who consider the former Commander of the Israeli Air Force a criminal. During his tenure as Air Force Commander between 2000-2004, Halutz approved and oversaw operations that caused the death of many Palestinian civilians, including numerous children. In July 2002, Halutz ordered the Israeli air force to drop a one-tonne bomb on a Gaza apartment complex, killing 14 civilians, including at least 10 children. Halutz took over as the 18th Chief of Staff on Wednesday. 

Jewish state idea mired in confusion

Since the collapse of the Oslo accords nearly five years ago, Israeli leaders have been demanding that the Palestinian Authority recognise Israel as a Jewish state in any prospective settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, have even used the concept of “state of the Jewish people”, with the connotation that Israel belongs not only to its citizens, but to Jews all over the world, including potential future converts. The idea, Israeli academics and intellectuals say, occupies “centre-stage” in Israel’s Zionist collective thinking. 

Hamas: EU, US want to talk

Hamas says it is being approached by European representatives seeking dialogue on the resistance movement’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Under heavy Israeli and American pressure, Hamas, including its political wing, was placed on the EU list of terrorist groups two years ago. The US had classified Hamas as a “terrorist group” several years earlier, citing resistance attacks, including suicide bombings, by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, against Israeli civilian and military targets. However, the growing popularity of Hamas, which found expression in recent elections in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has prompted European policy planners to have second thoughts. 

Israeli road signs get activist makeover

Israelis driving along Highway 505 in the West Bank have been greeted with an unexpected sight. Signs that usually guide them to settlements instead on Saturday reminded them of the illegality of the construction on confiscated West Bank land. A sign pointing to Ariel, the largest settlement in the northern West Bank, built on land belonging to the Palestinian villagers of Salfit, now marks the way in Hebrew, Arabic and English to “stolen land”. Another sign that indicates the distance to Ariel from an Israeli checkpoint 12km away reminds drivers of the ongoing occupation and of the separation wall being built around Palestinian towns.