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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 August 2007



Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the

Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

August 2007

Monthly highlights
      • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and PA President Abbas. (1, 2 August)

      • Deputy PLC Speaker Khreisheh says he will resign to protest the prolonged failure of the PLC to convene. (19 August)

      • Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas meet in Jerusalem. (28 August)

      • Palestinian security organizations participate in a senior-level meeting with Israeli counterparts. (30 August)


1

IDF troops killed two Palestinian militants and wounded several others in a confrontation in the Gaza Strip. One belonged to Hamas and the other to the Popular Resistance Committees. The incident took place in the town of Beit Lahiya, in an area used by militants to launch rockets into southern Israel. (Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency)

The Department of National and International Relations of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said that 34 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces in July alone. Among the victims were two children and a prisoner. Five had been assassination targets and two had died at Israeli roadblocks while being transported to hospitals for treatment. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian family in Beit Safafa, in south-eastern Jerusalem, injuring five family members and a number of elderly relatives. Mohammad Ali Zawahra, whose family purchased the home in 1966, said that some “Eighty settlers attacked the house and told us to leave. When we refused, they attacked us with sticks, stones and bars.” He added that his 70-year-old mother sustained serious head wounds and his father had been severely beaten. Three of his brothers were also hospitalized. (Ma’an News Agency)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel to lay the groundwork for an international Middle East peace conference planned for the latter part of the year. Ms. Rice also said, “There is an active bilateral track now between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas. It is my intention to see what we can do to stimulate further progress on the bilateral track.” (AFP)

Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia indicated that his country may attend the Middle East peace conference proposed by US President George W. Bush. “When we get an invitation from the minister [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] to attend, when this takes place, we will study it and we will be keen to attend,” he said, adding “We are interested in a peace conference, one that deals with … the core issues”. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had said that they hoped many Arab countries would attend the meeting, including Saudi Arabia, which had no diplomatic relations with Israel. Ms. Rice, scheduled to be in Jerusalem for talks with Prime Minister Olmert, will also travel to the West Bank to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (BBC, Ha’aretz)

King Abdullah II of Jordan reiterated his support for PA President Abbas in his efforts to consolidate the national Palestinian institutions. (AP)

A Hamas official said that the Russian Federation had invited the organization to visit Moscow in the next few days. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it had no information on any planned visit by a Hamas delegation. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Hamas would be setting up a new intelligence service in the Gaza Strip, according to a Hamas spokesperson. The new security apparatus, called the Interior Security Force, would become operational within a few weeks and would be dedicated to maintaining security in the Gaza Strip. Its expansion to the West Bank would depend on any future agreement in the internal dialogue. The Preventive Security Service set up by Fatah remained operational in the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

2

Mohammad Orieb Ahmad, 17, was killed by Israeli forces near the Birzeit checkpoint, to the north of Ramallah. According to the victim’s uncle, he was shot while driving his car. (Ma’an News Agency)

Islamic Jihad leader Raed Abu al-Adass, 26, was found dead after an exchange of fire with Israeli troops in the old town of Nablus. Another Islamic Jihad member was reportedly arrested and a passer-by wounded in the clash. An IDF spokesman said that a “special unit operating in Nablus surrounded a building containing suspects and called on them to surrender”. When they saw a man flee the building, they fired at him. The IDF said that the two men “were following the orders of the Islamic Jihad in Syria and were linked to an attempt in March to carry out a suicide attack in Israel that was foiled after the arrest of a third member of the group in Tulkarm”. The troops found a number of pipe bombs, an M-16 automatic rifle and a pistol during the search of the building, the spokesman said. (AFP, Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA), Xinhua)

Two Israeli settlers from the “Mitzpe Yair” outpost near Hebron attacked a UN car. Three staff members of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), accompanied by a Ha’aretz reporter and a photographer, were driving in the South Hebron hills area after visiting the nearby town of Bir al Eid. The settlers claimed that the OCHA workers were trying to uproot the outpost’s olive trees. IDF sources said that they were investigating the attack. (Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli military forces withdrew from the Beit Lahiya area, in the north of the Gaza Strip, after a one-day incursion. During the 24-hour siege, two Palestinians were killed: one a member of the National Resistance Brigades, and the second from the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. Eight others, including a child, were injured. An eyewitness said that the Israeli forces had bulldozed large areas of agricultural land and farms and many houses had been ransacked. The soldiers arrested a number Palestinians in the process. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF invaded Jenin, broke into several houses, and arrested Majde Hamdeia, 25, and Mohammad Sa’aeed Abu Sefein, 27. Twenty-four Palestinians were arrested from across the West Bank in the morning. The leader of the Nafha Prisoners Association, Mohamad Bsharat, was also arrested in his home. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli authorities closed the gate that connected the village of Anin, near Jenin, to farmlands owned by Palestinians. The farmers had permission to use the gate to reach their properties but they had been told to obtain new permits, “as the old ones had been revoked”. (Ma’an News Agency)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed a Framework Agreement establishing a mechanism to move forward with President Bush’s pledge of an $80 million aid package for the rehabilitation of Palestinian security bodies. In a meeting with PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, Ms. Rice assured the Palestinian leaders that a US-sponsored Middle East conference this fall would be aimed at getting them closer to establishing an independent State. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said: “Rice did not come to establish a Palestinian State but to support one Palestinian side against another, in order to enhance and deepen the internal conflict and to support the Zionist entity”. (AP, DPA, Ma’an News Agency, Reuters)

US Secretary of State Rice called for a more intensive dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians on issues leading to the creation of a Palestinian State. “I will note that, again, Prime Minister Olmert had said that he is ready to discuss fundamental issues that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State … I think the desire to move towards a two-State solution seems to be there on both sides”, the Secretary of State said at a news conference with PA President Abbas. President Abbas said that he was ready to work with Israel on a “declaration of principles” as a step toward a full peace agreement. “Israeli-Palestinian talks would focus on implementing what was mentioned in the road map … Then we could end in a declaration of principles …The important thing here is that we reach results, and that we know the ceiling, but the stages of implementation can be agreed upon”, PA President Abbas said. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

In an AP interview in Damascus, Hamas Political Bureau Deputy Chief Moussa Abu Marzouk warned that the attempt to squeeze out Hamas would fail and that isolating the Gaza Strip would breed a dangerous, long-term bitterness between Gazans and PA President Abbas’ leadership. “I think if they expect peace to come through conferences that exclude Hamas, they are wrong … conferences cannot disregard the fact that Hamas is strongest on the Palestinian street level … I think the conference is a publicity stunt”. He also said that PA President Abbas was “betting on the Americans and Israelis and turning his back on his own people” by allowing the siege of Gaza to continue and rejecting any attempts to mediate a compromise between Hamas and Fatah. “Mahmoud Abbas is removing himself from the hearts and minds of Palestinians in Gaza and all Palestinians everywhere,” he said. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Member Nabil Sha’ath, who was in Indonesia as a special envoy for President Abbas, said after talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: “The President expressed concern for the grave situation of the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, as a result of the Israel siege and a result of pushing people toward starvation”. Mr. Sha’ath told reporters that the Indonesian President expressed his full support for Palestinian unity and the end to occupation. He added: “There is a lot to be done to produce national unity and national reconciliation and end the situation that has happened in Gaza … We are working hard to achieve that reintegration as soon as possible … Gaza and the West Bank are forever the two wings of the small beleaguered Palestinian nation that cannot be separated”. The Indonesian President’s spokesperson, Dino Patti Djalal, said, “The President promised to give humanitarian aid to Palestine, especially to Gaza, where conditions are very worrying because of shortages of medicine, clean water and public services”. (AFP, Reuters)

Foreign Ministers attending the 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Manila expressed concern over the situation in the Middle East and called for “substantial progress in the quest for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in that part of the world”. In a statement at the close of the Forum, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, who chaired the meeting, said that the ministers supported the commitment of the parties involved to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to lay the foundations for an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel, in peace and security, “as a step towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, consistent with the road map and UN Security Council resolutions”. (Xinhua)

Hamas had ordered a Gaza Strip television station to take a political affairs show off the air, in a move that the Palestinian Journalists’ Union called an attempt to suppress freedom of the press. (Reuters)

3

Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel injured two Sderot residents and caused damage, with two rockets hitting Sderot and the third striking a stable in a kibbutz. Local residents reportedly had been warned of the attack by an electronic alarm system and were able to take shelter. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli infantry, backed by armour, moved into the south of the Gaza Strip early in the day, occupying the former Rafah international airport and neighbouring houses. An IDF spokesman confirmed the report, calling it a “routine operation” against armed Palestinian groups in the area. (AFP)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) condemned an IDF incursion into an UNRWA school in the southern Gaza Strip, which had caused damage to the property. “This is a violation of our property and we expect the IDF to halt any operation that places in danger our staff and which damages our installations,” said John Ging, Director of the UNRWA office in Gaza. IDF soldiers and two tanks reportedly entered the compound of the Al Shouka Elementary Coeducational School and arrested two school guards. They then rounded up about 50 other people, about 15 of whom were held for several hours. (www.un.org/unrwa)

A high-ranking Hamas source was quoted as saying that intense consultations were being held between Hamas, Fatah, the Palestine People’s Party (PPP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian National Initiative over the formation of a second unity Government. Those who met reportedly included Ghazi Hamad from Hamas, Jibreel Rajoub from Fatah, Bassam Salihi from the Palestine People's Party, Abed ar Raheem Mallouh from the Popular Front and Mustafa Barghouthi, representing the Palestinian National Initiative, in addition to former minister of education, Nasser Addin Ash Shaer. They discussed establishing a national Government of independent figures. (Ma’an News Agency)

Unnamed Western officials said that senior PA officials had made clear to the US and the European Union (EU) that new parliamentary and presidential elections were unlikely to be held in the near future. (Reuters)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had appointed Michael Williams, a former BBC journalist and currently the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, to be his special envoy to the Middle East, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement. Mr. Williams will begin work in September, taking over from Michael Levy. (AFP, www.fco.gov.uk)

Heftsiba, one of Israel’s largest companies building settlements in the West Bank, was in danger of closing down due to an outstanding $200 million debt, according to media reports. The company, which specializes in constructing inexpensive accommodations for ultra-Orthodox families, now had to halt work on thousands of homes at the settlements of “Betar Ilit”, “Modi’in Ilit” and “Ma’aleh Adumim” in the West Bank, as well as at “Har Homa” in East Jerusalem. Fearing that their new homes might now be seized by creditors, some buyers had moved into unfinished apartments. In January 2006, Israel’s High Court of Justice, in response to a Peace Now petition, ordered a halt to work on 1,500 homes at “Modi’in Ilit”, ruling that Heftsiba had encroached on private Palestinian land in the nearby village of Bil’in and also doubled the number of homes it had been authorized to build. “What has happened to Heftsiba shows that those who steal land from Palestinians end up stealing from Israelis,” Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer told AFP. (AFP)

4

Two Islamic Jihad members were killed and 15 others were wounded when an Israeli aircraft hit a truck and a car in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, ambulance crews and residents said. The Israeli military said that the strike, which it described as a joint operation with the Shin Bet internal security service, had targeted a truck carrying a shipping container with an explosives-laden vehicle hidden inside. A military spokesperson said that the attack had foiled “an imminent terrorist strike on Israel.” (Reuters)

The military wing of the PFLP, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said that it had launched two home-made projectiles at the southern Israeli town of Sderot. (Ma’an News Agency)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his country was holding talks with Hamas in order to find solutions for the Middle East conflict, Israel Radio reported. “It is important to hold such talks and countries that do not do so are wrong,” he was quoted as saying. (Ha’aretz)

5

A 22-year-old Palestinian was run over and wounded by a settler’s car in Hebron. (Ma’an News Agency)

A senior Palestinian security official said that most gunmen with ties to Fatah had given up their weapons as part of an amnesty deal that sought to improve ties between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. Under the programme launched last month, more than 300 gunmen of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades had surrendered their weapons to Palestinian authorities and pledged to refrain from violence, said the official. (AP)

6

The Israeli Air Force targeted a group of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip that the IDF said had just fired two rockets at Israel. Israel Radio reported that a Qassam rocket had hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli forces conducted a military operation in the Beit Ilma refugee camp, north of Nablus, and arrested four Palestinians. (Ma’an News Agency)

Kamila Irahin Aqbaha, 75, died at a West Bank checkpoint, when Israeli soldiers refused to give permission for her to cross the checkpoint to get into an ambulance. The ambulance was also refused passage to pick her up. (Ma’an News Agency)

Abdur Ismael, 17, died at the Rafah crossing. The death toll among Gazans stranded at the crossing had now reached 32. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert met with PA President Abbas in Jericho. Following the meeting, Mr. Olmert said, “We discussed the fundamental issues which are the basis for the establishment of a Palestinian State. We have decided to expand the scope of the negotiations between us in order to advance the understanding between us and to formulate the framework that will allow us to move forward toward establishing a Palestinian State.” He refrained from presenting a timetable at the meeting, but declared that he had no intention to stall for time. “Our mutual goal is to realize the shared vision between us and Bush regarding the establishment of two States for two peoples who live side by side in security and peace. We want to achieve this as soon as possible.” During the meeting, Mr. Abbas requested the release of additional prisoners in the coming weeks, which Mr. Olmert vowed to consider. (Ha’aretz)

In a meeting with Israel’s President Shimon Peres, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that his country had severed all ties with Hamas established during the brief Palestinian Unity Government and that the Norwegian Government now dealt exclusively with PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. (Ha’aretz)

The Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa Barghouti, expressed his condemnation of the takeover by settlers of tracts of land belonging to the village of Artas, near Bethlehem. In a statement, Mr. Barghouti said, “Hundreds of settlers, under the protection of the army, seized territory in Khallat Cotton near Artas, attacking Palestinians as soldiers fired sound bombs and gas at them, at the same time as they were trying to deal with the settlers, to defend their land … This incident, which coincided with a meeting with President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert, confirms that Israel is using these meetings in order to cover their expansionist designs”. (Ma’an News Agency)

7

Hala Wael Abdalah, 7, and her brother, Islam, 9, were killed by an unexploded rocket in the An Nada area in the northern Gaza Strip. Eight other people, including children, were injured in the incident. According to a Palestinian source, the rocket had been launched by the Israelis; and according to another Palestinian source, it was a Palestinian home-made projectile, launched by one of the factions and targeting Israel. Hamas spokesman Ehab al-Ghsain said that an investigation was underway. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency, Reuters)

An Israeli driver was shot and seriously wounded in central Israel while travelling on a highway adjacent to the separation wall. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the shots came from the Palestinian territories and struck the driver in the chest. (AP, Ha’aretz, Ynetnews)

Palestinian armed fighters hurled bombs at an Israeli settler’s car near Dura village, west of Hebron. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces launched an incursion into Bal’a, in the Tulkarm area of the West Bank, ransacked several Palestinian homes and arrested three Palestinians. Israeli Radio said that Israeli forces had launched an arrest campaign in the West Bank and arrested 13 Palestinians in Nablus, Tulkarm and Ramallah. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli settlers set a Palestinian mosque on fire in the old city of Hebron and prevented fire services from reaching the blaze. A source from the fire services said, “When we reached the area, we were met by dozens of Israeli settlers who attacked us with stones and rocks”. The source added that Israeli soldiers refused to intervene. Fierce clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and settlers after Israeli forces attempted to evict the settlers from shops in a vegetable market, which they had started occupying six years ago. Israeli police forcibly removed the Israeli squatters. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ma’an News Agency)

Former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh warned of the consequences of the recent meetings between Israel and the PA, which he described as “an American trap that sought to close the Palestinian case for the sake of waging wars against Islamic States in the region. There are no political advantages to be gained from these meetings, and Israeli red lines still lie in front of us. Steadfastness, unity, and kinship are the major principles based on which Palestinian rights will be fulfilled”, Mr. Haniyeh said. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories issued an 82-page report criticizing Israel’s policy of using checkpoints and roadblocks to restrict the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank. B’Tselem said that the restrictions on Palestinians had been carried out by means of an interrelated system of barriers, which had fragmented the West Bank into six barely connected enclaves. The restrictions also had made getting to work difficult, therefore gravely affecting the economy and trade in the West Bank. The organization reported a 40 per cent drop in gross domestic product in the West Bank. (DPA, Ynetnews, Xinhua)

Former Prime Minister Haniyeh’s political adviser, Ahmed Youssef, said that secret talks had been going on between Fatah and Hamas. “There are efforts and initiatives to bridge the gap between Hamas and Fatah but these attempts remain behind closed doors … Abbas’ talks with the Russians have strengthened his convictions that dialogue is the only way to restore Gaza and reunite the Palestinian people”. (DPA, Xinhua)

PA President Abbas promised Palestinians that their lives would improve as a result of his talks the previous day with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert. “Many issues which affect the Palestinians in their day-to-day lives will be resolved”, President Abbas told Voice of Palestine radio in his first public comments on the meeting. Palestinian officials said that they had received assurances from Mr. Olmert that Israel would approve as early as next week the removal of hundreds of checkpoints, roadblocks and barriers. (Ha’aretz)

Aides to Israeli President Shimon Peres confirmed a Ha’aretz report that Prime Minister Olmert was examining a new framework for peace, in which Israel would propose transferring to the Palestinian State areas equivalent to 100 per cent of the Palestinian Territory in order to hold on to major West Bank settlements. The Israeli land would be meant to compensate for five per cent of the West Bank occupied by the settlement blocks. According to the aides, the proposal had been formulated while Mr. Peres was Vice-Premier, and presented to Mr. Olmert after he entered the President’s residence. However, the Prime Minister’s office had denied the existence of the proposal. (AP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

Hamas denounced the decision of West Bank-based Palestinian courts to sentence to prison 18 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and called for a boycott of Palestinian courts responsible for the sentencing. (Ma’an News Agency, Xinhua)

8

IDF troops operating in the Gaza Strip identified and killed two militants near the fence surrounding the Strip in the vicinity of the Al-Muntar (Karni) crossing, IDF sources said. Palestinian doctors confirmed that two men in Hamas uniforms were brought dead to a hospital. In the second incident, IDF soldiers opened fire at two armed men approaching the fence near the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing north of Karni, hitting one, the army said. Hamas said that one of its militants was killed and two others were wounded. (Ha’aretz)

PA President Abbas held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria, Egypt, where he updated President Mubarak on his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in Jericho on 6 August, his talks with US Secretary State Condoleezza Rice and his visit to Moscow. Mr. Abbas reiterated his conditions for talks with Hamas, stating that the situation in Gaza must be "returned to how it was before the coup". With regard to the peace conference called for by President Bush, Mr. Abbas expressed hope that he and Mr. Olmert would state their mutual principles involving commitments from both sides. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel must have a missile defence system in place before it could carry out a large-scale pullback in the West Bank, an official close to him said. Military experts said that it would take two and a half to seven years to develop a system that would protect Israel from the crude rockets Palestinian militants produce. Shlomo Brom, a reserves Brigadier General and senior researcher at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies said, “It could be six or seven years until such a system is ready. Thus Mr. Barak's demand is very problematic. It could put off an agreement with the Palestinians indefinitely." Knesset member Ephraim Sneh, who oversaw the system's development in his former capacity as Deputy Defence Minister, said that it would take only about two and half years to complete. He estimated that negotiation and implementation of a final peace deal would take at least another seven years. (AP)

About 800 Palestinians, stranded at the Rafah Crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border, had been transported from the Arish sports stadium in Egypt into the Gaza Strip through Israel and the Erez crossing, to the north of the Gaza Strip. Hani Jabbour, who was in charge of the operation for the Palestinians, said that the total number of returned Palestinians, excluding the 800, had now reached 5,000. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas said that Palestinian security forces had arrested three of its members the previous day. Those arrested were Mohammed Ashour and Mahmoud El-Helou in Jericho, and Jihad Daoud Shehada, the head of the Hamas press office in Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

Dozens of Palestinian doctors and nurses briefly stopped work in the Gaza Strip's main hospital to protest the dismissal of two Fatah-affiliated managers by Hamas. The hospital's public relations director, Goma Assaqa, who was affiliated with Fatah, was also fired. (Reuters)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel had petitioned the High Court of Justice over what it said were illegal police roadblocks that had been set up primarily in Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. At the roadblocks, residents had been ordered to pay immediately and in cash debts owed by them or their family members to the Israel Tax Authority and the National Insurance Institute. They had been threatened regularly with vehicle confiscation when they refuse to comply and had not been given the option to dispute these demands. The Association maintained that the authorities were thus implementing "methods of operation traditionally used by criminals on the black market”. (Ha’aretz)

9

IDF troops killed a Palestinian near the Kissufim crossing in the Gaza Strip overnight. According to media reports, the soldiers spotted a man crawling to the border fence. Suspecting that he was planting a bomb, the soldiers called on him to stop and shot in the air, but he continued moving and they fired at him. The IDF confirmed the killing, while Palestinian medics who found the body in the morning were quoted as saying that they found no weapons near his body. Mohammed Abu Sha’er, 24, thought to have been mentally disabled, had died from a bullet to the head, a Palestinian medical official said. (DPA, Xinhua)

IDF soldiers, stationed near the Karni commercial crossing, killed one Palestinian and moderately wounded another. Following the incident, Israeli forces entered the area and took up positions, preventing medical crews from evacuating the fatality, Mu’awia Hassanin, a spokesman for the paramedics, said. An IDF spokeswoman confirmed the incident to Xinhua, saying that the IDF soldiers spotted two Palestinians approaching the border fence and planting explosive devices. The soldiers then opened fire at the two and hit one of them. Israeli sappers arrived at the scene to try to detonate the bombs. (DPA, Xinhua)

An Israeli aircraft destroyed a control tower at Rafah airport in the southern Gaza Strip, residents and security officials said. There were no immediate reports of injuries. An IDF spokesman said that the military carried out an air strike against three armed militants in the airport. The Islamic Jihad said that three of its members were in the area, but left shortly before the strike. (International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), Reuters)

Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, said that Israeli technology would not be able to halt home-made rockets launched from Gaza at Israel. He said that although the rocket attacks of the Palestinian resistance were not causing severe damage or killings, still they cause the enemy to always panic and be anxious. “[Ehud] Barak’s statements show Israel’s failure to stop the rockets.” He added that the Palestinian rockets would continue and would deprive the enemy of sleep, even if they bring on the Patriots or sets off a pre-alert system on the borders with Gaza. (Xinhua)

The Israeli Civil Administration ordered the evacuation of four more stores in Hebron where settlers had been squatting for two years. The stores were located in the “triangle market”, not far from the wholesale market from which two Israeli families had been forcibly evacuated on 7 August. The evacuation order was issued following a petition by Peace Now, but would not take place immediately due to a settler appeal, which was to be heard in two weeks. (Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General, told a news conference in the Gaza Strip that the territory risked “becoming a virtually 100 per cent aid-dependent, closed-down and isolated community within a matter of months or weeks, if the present regime of closure continues”. “I call on all decision makers in Gaza, Ramallah and in Israel to reconsider the results of their decisions on the humanitarian situation, which is seriously deteriorating,” he said, adding that the window of opportunity for addressing the crisis was “small and fast closing”. (AP, Xinhua)

About 400 Palestinians, the last of more than 6,000 seeking to return home after being stranded in Egypt, crossed back into the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing, more than a week after Egypt began moving them out of Sinai, an Egyptian security source told Reuters. Some 30 Palestinians detained at El Arish airport remained in Egypt and had refused to return, fearing that they would be arrested while on their way through Israel, the source added. (Reuters)

The IDF indicted an officer involved in shooting a Palestinian in the West Bank on 26 July 2007. On that day, five soldiers shot an unarmed Palestinian who was carrying a spade, which the soldiers said they mistook for a gun. Investigation found that the indicted soldier left the wounded man on the ground without treating him, in violation of military orders. (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

The Hamas Executive Force in the Gaza Strip detained Dr. Juma’a al-Saqqa, the Fatah-affiliated Director of Public Relations at Gaza’s main hospital. Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for the Executive Force, said that the arrest was part of a criminal investigation and denied that it was politically motivated, but admitted that Bassem Na’im, former Health Minister in the Hamas-led PA Government, had filed a complaint against Dr. Al-Saqqa. Dr. Al-Saqqa’s colleagues at the hospital held a two-hour sit-in protest, his wife said. (AP, DPA)

Ynet reported that Hamas was creating a naval defence force in the Gaza Strip. Ihab al-Ghussein, a Hamas spokesman, told the press that it was reorganizing the navy service to “oversee the beach to prevent any troubles that may threaten the country’s security like drug smuggling.” Members of the Executive Force would join the navy force, along with the old members affiliated with Fatah, he added, also ruling out any future conflict between the new navy and the Palestinian militant groups which may stage marine attacks against Israeli army boats. (Xinhua, Ynetnews.com)

Saadi Karanz, a senior official with the PA Cabinet said that due to a “technical and human error,” the Government the previous day had transferred July salaries to 3,000 members of Hamas’ Executive Force in the Gaza Strip, and that about 1,000 of them had been able to withdraw the funds before the mistake was spotted the following day. The PA Finance Ministry ordered banks to cancel the deposits totalling $2.3 million. Mr. Karanz did not specify the amounts transferred, but an average monthly salary for a member of security forces ranged between NIS 1,500 and 2,500 shekels ($350 and $585). (AFP, AP)

Hamas denied that it had accepted an offer to give up its security headquarters in the Gaza Strip to Egypt which would then hand it over to PA President Abbas. “We did not see this proposal and Egypt cannot involve itself as a key and direct side in the Hamas-Fatah dispute,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters. (Xinhua)

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen offered to act as mediator in the current political crisis involving Hamas and Fatah. The leadership of both parties welcomed the initiative. In a meeting with Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal in Sana’a, President Saleh suggested resuming the dialogue between the two according to the Cairo Accord of 2005 and the Mecca Agreement of 2007. Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abed Al Rahman said that the condition for any dialogue with Hamas was that negotiations should include all factions. (Ma’an News Agency, www. Sabanews.net)

10

A Palestinian man was shot dead and killed in Jerusalem’s Old City after trying to seize a weapon from an Israeli security guard, police said. Nine bystanders were wounded. Security sources said that the man was approximately 20 years old and had no identification. (AP, BBC, Ha’aretz)

The IDF used bulldozers to uproot farmlands and demolish property in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, according to WAFA. The troops had been stationed at a military post near the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah. (IMEMC)

Two Palestinians and two Israeli policemen were injured during protests against the wall near the village of Bil’in, west of Ramallah. The Israeli military said that the two policemen were injured by stones hurled by demonstrators. Around 150 people, including Israelis and foreigners, took part in the protest – an event which has been occurring almost every Friday. Two Palestinians were also injured during a similar demonstration against the barrier in the Bethlehem area, witnesses said. (AFP)

Former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused Palestinian and regional sides of plotting to topple the Hamas regime and separate the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He also said that the US is conspiring against the Palestinian people in cooperation with regional and international forces. (Ma’an News Agency, Ynetnews)

Former PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that he did not want to establish a police state in the Gaza Strip. However, in an address at a mosque in Khan Yunis, he said that there was a need for “strong authority in order to enforce the law.” (AFP)

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called the idea of reaching a peace agreement anytime soon a “fantasy”, saying that Israel would not withdraw from the West Bank without a solution to rocket attacks, which would take three to five years. Such a delay was necessary for the army to develop anti-rocket weaponry systems, Mr. Barak said. He added that he would not approve the removal of roadblocks in the West Bank, despite assurances given this week by Prime Minister Olmert to PA President Abbas that some checkpoints would be removed. “What would determine the situation in the end is if Abu Mazen [Mr. Abbas] and [PA Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad are capable of implementing anything in the West Bank.” (AFP, Ma’an News Agency, Ynetnews)

“I don’t think those comments of reaching a peace deal anytime soon [being] a “fantasy”, are reflective of the views of the [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ehud Olmert] [or] of our understanding of Israeli policy,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. “I think we are very clear, though, where the Prime Minister is and where Israeli policy is going,” he told reporters. (AFP)

11

Unidentified assailants shot and seriously wounded Idris Ja’bari, the commander of the police force in the West Bank town of Halhoul. PA security sources said that the attackers fired dozens of bullets at Mr. Ja’bari outside his home. The Jerusalem Post’s sources blamed Hamas for the shooting, pointing out that Mr. Ja’bari had been responsible for the arrest of dozens of Hamas activists in the town in the past few weeks. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli forces raided Beit Mirsim village, south of Hebron, in search of Palestinian and international peace activists, who earlier had torn a hole in an electronic fence. (Ma’an News Agency)

At least 20 demonstrators were injured in clashes with members of the Hamas Executive Force in the northern Gaza Strip, sparked by the arrest of around 10 Fatah members and supporters, their relatives said. Members of the Executive Force waded in with batons and fired shots in the air when some 150 relatives – mostly women and children – of those rounded up staged protests outside Hamas offices in Beit Hanoun, witnesses said. They said that the arrests had occurred during a wedding celebration after guests began singing Fatah songs. “Four Fatah leaders were arrested not because of who they are, but for violating public security,” said Saber Khalifa, a spokesman for the Executive Force, without elaborating. He added that the men were being interrogated. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

“The initiative is before the Palestinian brethren so that they shoulder their responsibilities in healing the rift” between them, on the basis of proposals by President Ali Abdullah Saleh made on 9 August, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi was quoted as saying on the Yemeni defence ministry’s website. (AFP)

12

Israeli forces raided Nablus and its refugee camp, searching houses for Palestinian activists involved in attacks against the IDF. Four armed Palestinian groups jointly launched attacks against the invading Israeli troops, the factions said in separate statements. The military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said that they had jointly detonated a roadside bomb targeting an IDF jeep. The Hamas military wing and Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades of the PFLP detonated another bomb when an IDF patrol passed through al-Ain refugee camp in Nablus. In Tammun, in the West Bank, the IDF arrested five Islamic Jihad members in a pre-dawn raid, witnesses said. (Xinhua)

Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, said that Israel was not seriously trying to get Cpl. Shalit freed, adding that the Israeli Government could “do so much to end the case.” (Xinhua)

An international conference to discuss the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process is likely to be held in November, PA President Abbas said. The PA and Israel had recently resumed dialogue and “will try to resolve as much as possible ahead of the international conference,” Abbas added. (Xinhua)

“We must not exaggerate any expectations with respect to the meeting that will take place in November,” Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos (D.-Cal), told a press conference in Jerusalem during a tour of the Middle East. “While I understand that some people in the Administration would like to see great achievements in the next few months, great achievements will not be forthcoming.” While such a conference would be useful, time is too short to expect progress before US presidential elections in November 2008, Mr. Lantos said. (AP)

Hamas’ Executive Force had banned demonstrations or rallies without permission from the paramilitary group. Ehab al-Ghsain, Executive Force spokesman, said that rally organizers must seek a permit 48 hours before a gathering, “so we can prepare protection for participants”. (Reuters)

Palestinian hospital workers in Gaza began three days of work stoppages to protest the firing by Hamas of Fatah members from senior hospital posts after its takeover of the territory. Gaza hospitals personnel were stopping work between 10 a.m. and noon, except in emergency rooms, the physicians’ union said in a statement. “The protest is aimed against threats against doctors and all health care workers,” said the union. The organizers had demanded that “all people who had been fired or transferred go back to their jobs,” it said, and “… that all armed people be removed from inside medical facilities." “We ask that the health care system be kept free of politics,” responded Khalid Radi, a spokesman for the Hamas health minister. (AFP)

Some 120 leading Palestinian businessmen and academics, disillusioned with Fatah and Hamas, gathered in Ramallah over the weekend to discuss the formation of a new movement to run in the next PA election. PA officials welcomed the initiative, saying that President Abbas had given his blessing to the organizers. The group is led by billionaire Munib al-Masri of Nablus, who is not a member of any political faction. Other prominent businessmen who had joined the initiative include Mazen Sinokrot, Bassem Khoury, Muhammad Hirbawi, Maha Abu Shusheh and Said Kan’an. Hani al-Masri, a Palestinian columnist who serves as spokesman for the new group, said he and his associates were seeking to test the waters before making a final decision to run in the elections. (The Jerusalem Post)

13

Israeli troops arrested four Palestinians who slipped into Israel through the Gaza-Israel border fence, the IDF said. The infiltrators carried a grenade and a knife, but they did not try to use them when the soldiers detained them, the army said. It was not immediately clear why the Palestinians had infiltrated into Israel, the IDF said. (AP)

IDF forces detained 20 Palestinians after raiding their homes all over the West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. (Xinhua)

Fifteen Egyptian trucks carrying flour crossed into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom (Karim Abu Salim) crossing, Egypt's MENA news agency reported. (Xinhua)

The Palestinian State Information Services published a report, saying that Israel had shot dead 32 Palestinians and wounded 113 others in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during July 2007. The report also recorded 2,214 Israeli violations against the Palestinians during July alone, saying that “the Israeli forces had not stopped raids against defenceless people.” (Xinhua)

Israeli President Shimon Peres proposed a plan to release all Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails in return for a comprehensive Palestinian ceasefire agreement. Mr. Peres presented a time frame of five years for the staggered release of the prisoners. In exchange, Palestinian combatants would commit to the cessation of all military operations against Israeli targets. Under the heading “Prisoners for Peace”, Israeli newspapers said that the plan would be a pivotal deal between the PA and Israel. (Ma’an News Agency)

At noon, hours after the ban on unauthorized rallies was announced, Hamas forces cracked down on a demonstration held by a number of factions to protest the situation in the Gaza Strip. Buses arriving at the demonstration site in a main square were halted by Hamas guards who beat protesters, drove them away and confiscated Fatah flags. Nevertheless, about 300 protesters got past the militia cordon and demonstrated for about 20 minutes, chanting “We want freedom,” and “We want to raise our voice,” before dispersing. Equipment was confiscated from news photographers and cameramen seeking to cover the arrests, including an AP camera. They also entered the office of the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya and seized a video camera and a tape after journalists working for the station refused to hand over a recording of the events at the square. The Palestinian Journalists Union called on members to observe a three-day boycott of any events organized by the Hamas force to protest the treatment of the media. (AP, Reuters, Xinhua)

PLC member Sahar al-Qawasmeh of Fatah warned that “there will be a third intifada against Hamas and the Palestinian people do not accept being oppressed”. “There is awareness among the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip that rejects Hamas’ coup and the frequent violations against Fatah members,” Mr. Qawasmeh said in a press statement. (Xinhua)

Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement in Jerusalem regarding the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, in a meeting with visiting US Democratic congressmen, that Hamas "represents an ideology that does not serve the national interests of the Palestinians and torpedoes any chance to achieve a two-State solution. The dialogue with terrorist organizations will pull the rug out from under the feet of moderates," she said. (The Jerusalem Post)

Ran Curiel, Israel’s Ambassador to the EU, wrote a letter last week to European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering asking him not to provide space for the UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, to be held on 30 and 31 August. He said that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People co-hosting it had an anti-Israel record. Israeli officials said that Ambassador Curiel also wrote to a few dozen European Parliament members to complain about the planned conference. A spokesman for Mr. Pöttering said that the President was on leave and had no immediate comment, but stressed that Mr. Pöttering had not had a say in the decision to host the conference, which was made by the political parties. (AP, Reuters)

Britain and the international community’s refusal to speak to Hamas was doing more harm than good, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said in its report entitled “Global security: the Middle East”. “The Government should urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas,” the all-party group of members of Parliament said. Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, Zvi Heifetz, strongly criticized the report in a statement released by the Israeli mission in London. (Ha’aretz, Reuters, www.parliament.uk)

“We have to help the Hamas to develop,” Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said, according to Italian media sources. With a view to current developments in the Middle East he added, “With the Palestinians divided, with two Palestinian nations, there will never be peace.” At the same time, Mr. Prodi also made clear that he was supporting the present peace efforts between Israel and PA President Abbas in the West Bank. (DPA)

“We received [Italian Prime Minister] Prodi's statements with care and appreciation,” Hamas’ spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu Zuhri, said in a statement. “We hope that the calls to launch a dialogue with Hamas would find an echo and would lead to fruitful results,” he said. “We reiterate our concerns and readiness for an open dialogue with the West.” (DPA)

Japan agreed to contribute $4.3 million to UNRWA for its regular food aid programme, Jordanian media reported. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who was in Jordan on a visit, signed the agreement in Amman with UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi. Ryuji Iwasaki, press officer at the Japanese Embassy in Israel, also told Reuters that Japan would resume direct aid to the PA. "It is direct assistance... amounting to about $20 million that will be paid in eight installments," he said. (Reuters, (Xinhua)

Israel’s President Shimon Peres and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso agreed during talks in Jerusalem to concretize the Japan-proposed initiative, "Concept for creating the corridor for peace and prosperity," aiming to develop the West Bank to pave the way for peace in the Middle East. (Kyodo)

14

The IDF killed two Hamas militants and two civilians, including a 70-year-old woman, and wounded 20 Palestinians during operations in the south-eastern Gaza Strip, Hamas and Palestinian medical sources said. Israel’s Army Radio reported that troops were rounding up all local males above the age of 16 and interrogating them for information on militants. Some 100 people had been arrested. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency)

A Qassam rocket was fired from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel and landed in an open field in the western Negev. No one was hurt and no damage was caused. (Ha’aretz)

IDF troops arrested 13 “wanted” Palestinians in the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

Hamas said that the PA security services in Qalqilya in the northern West Bank had arrested 18 of its members. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas' Executive Force in the Gaza Strip said that it had summoned the Vice-President of the Islamic Bank, Saeb Sammor, after he had been accused of freezing the bank accounts of Executive Force members. (Ma’an News Agency)

In recent weeks, as part of its efforts to advance the diplomatic process between Israel and the PA, the IDF agreed to allow PA policemen to resume their routine law-enforcement activities in Area B of the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

The UK Government had blocked almost one third of British military exports to Israel in 2007, citing possible threats to regional stability and fears that the equipment might facilitate human rights violations. "There is evidence that the British Government's export control policy to Israel may have been tightened up," according to Parliament's 2007 Strategic Export Controls report. (The Jerusalem Post)

15

An Israeli civilian was lightly wounded after she was hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell that landed next to the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing on the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. Palestinians in Gaza fired at least five mortar shells at the area. The military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the shelling. (Ha’aretz)

IDF troops captured four Palestinians who had infiltrated Israel a day earlier from the Gaza Strip, close to the Kissufim border crossing. The four men, who claimed to be Fatah members fleeing persecution from Hamas, were being held for further questioning. A search of their belongings yielded a hand grenade and a number of knives. A Fatah official had said that Hamas was holding 120 Fatah members in Gaza Strip jails. Hamas had denied imprisoning Fatah members. (Ha’aretz)

IDF troops withdrew from Nablus after seizing two Palestinians, one of whom was allegedly a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian in Jericho and three others in Nablus and Ramallah. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA President Abbas was considering issuing a decree that would make several changes to electoral law, including requiring candidates in presidential and legislative elections “to respect the political programme of the PLO” and all previous agreements signed by the PA. Ahmad Daud, Director of President Abbas’ press office, said that Mr. Abbas had “held discussions with groups from the PLO on a draft of an electoral law, with the aim of publishing a presidential decree on the next elections. But his decree has not yet been published.” The changes proposed would effectively exclude Hamas from the elections. (AFP, Ha’aretz, www.albawaba.com)

PA President Abbas told a meeting of Palestinian trade unionists held in Amman: “When we talk about early elections, and we haven’t decided this yet, we speak about elections to be held in the West Bank and Gaza, not in the West Bank alone. … We refuse to divide our homeland. … We are willing to be patient and willing to endure the harm in order for the Gaza Strip to rejoin the other part of the homeland. … Then we hold early presidential and legislative elections.” (AP)

Members of the Gaza-based Palestinian Young Journalist Club told a news conference that leaders on both sides “must stop their infighting, listen to reason and resume their dialogue … We call on the leaders of Fatah and Hamas to exclude the children and their educational path from your internal differences and disputes." (Xinhua)

Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Aso announced a resumption of direct aid to the Palestinian Authority and discussed a Japanese-backed plan to boost Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation. Mr. Aso pledged $11 million in aid to the PA, and said Japan would also provide $9 million in humanitarian support for Palestinians, including those in Gaza. Mr. Aso later took part in a ministerial meeting in the West Bank city of Jericho with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib and several senior Palestinian officials. The participants later announced an initiative to build a joint agro-industrial park in the Jordan Valley, likely to be partly funded by Japan. Mr. Aso said he hoped such joint projects would support the peace process. (Reuters, www. mofa.go.jp)

16

Israeli naval forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the shores of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Since June 2006, Israeli naval forces had been denying Palestinian fishing boats access beyond two nautical miles off the Gaza coast. (IMEMC)

The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching a projectile at the Israeli town of Kfar Azza near the Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas forces arrested the Fatah-allied Palestinian Attorney-General, Ahmed Mughami, in the Gaza Strip. He was released a short while later after refusing to agree to resign his post, his office said. Witnesses said that Mr. Mughami and his bodyguard had been beaten before being forced out of the Attorney-General’s office in Gaza City. A human rights activist filming the incident was also arrested, witnesses said. Hamas said in a statement that Mr. Mughami had “smuggled very important and dangerous information” to an undisclosed location and had violated the law. (AP)

During a meeting with a US House of Representatives delegation headed by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Israeli Prime Minister Olmert declared that he had been meeting with PA President Abbas in order to “agree on principles regarding the core issues” that would lead to “the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside Israel, including borders, Jerusalem, refugees, exchanges of land, passageway between Gaza and the West Bank and the nature of the relations between Israel and the future Palestinian State.” Mr. Olmert told the delegation that he did not believe the agreement would be implemented immediately, but added that Mr. Abbas would be able to hold a referendum to approve it. “Abbas is the first Palestinian leader since the talks with the Palestinian leadership began who is interested in changing the reality,” Mr. Olmert was quoted as saying by those who attended the meeting. “He wants peace with Israel, but on his terms, which we do not accept.” During the talks, Mr. Olmert had told Mr. Abbas that Israel would not cooperate with him if a unity Government with Hamas was established. (Ynetnews)

Israeli Government sources said that Israel was working to promote an economic plan to complement the agreement of principles ahead of the regional conference later this year. One source said that the plan would provide an “economic horizon” with a number of future investment projects when the Palestinian State was declared. A senior official said that the plan’s goal was to “present the Palestinians with economic signposts along with the diplomatic signposts” to show what could be accomplished. The “strategic” projects Israel had suggested so far included infrastructure improvements, such as electricity and water, city planning in the West Bank and Gaza, rehabilitation of sewage systems and the establishment of a “peace corridor” in Jericho. Foreign Minister Livni had presented the plan to Quartet Representative Tony Blair. (Ha’aretz)

17

The IDF blew up a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip and arrested six “wanted” militants in the West Bank. The Gaza tunnel, uncovered two days ago, was 700 meters from the Gaza-Israel border, on the outskirts of Beit Lahiya. Intelligence sources believed that the tunnel was intended for infiltration into Israeli territory for a large-scale attack. The tunnel had been dug under greenhouses used to cultivate tomatoes. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants lightly wounded an IDF soldier when they threw an explosive device at his unit during a patrol in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. (Ha’aretz)

The Saraya Al-Quds, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, said in a statement that their group and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had clashed with Israeli military vehicles that entered the town of Qabatya, in the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for launching a home-made projectile at the Israeli side of the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. The Brigades said in a joint statement that the operation was in response to Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News Agency)

The IDF arrested six “wanted” Palestinians. According to Israeli military sources, three of the detained were from Ramallah and three from Hebron. (Ma’an News Agency)

During a meeting with Christoph Hozjenn, External Security Advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chief PA Negotiator Saeb Erakat called on the international community to make every possible effort to assist the Palestinian people in the face of serious economic conditions, especially in the stricken Gaza Strip, which was on the verge of economic collapse. Mr. Erakat said that he appreciated the assistance Germany had provided for the Palestinian people. (Ma’an News Agency)

Buthaina Duqmaq, a lawyer from the Mandela Institute, dealing with prisoners' affairs, said that Israeli prison administrations were tightening restrictions on both the Palestinians in Israeli jails and their relatives who try to visit them. He said that the Institute’s lawyers had made several visits to various prisons, where they had found that prisoners affiliated with Hamas and Fatah had been separated from each other. Extended family members had also been barred from visiting their relatives in prison. (Ma’an News Agency)

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas forces had collected weapons from a large, influential clan, Hamas spokesman Saber Khalifa said. Hamas had agreed to let the clan keep several weapons on the condition that in any future fighting they would be used against Israel and not against Palestinians. (AP)

Rafiq Mleiha, director of the Gaza Strip power station, told a news conference in Gaza City that the station had partially stopped supplying power to wide areas of the Gaza Strip "due to a shortage of fuel… Israeli troops ban Palestinian fuel trucks from approaching the borders between Gaza and Israel." (DPA)

18

An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian woman were wounded as the IDF raided the Al Ein and Balata refugee camps near Nablus. (DPA)

The IDF shot dead a young Palestinian near the Israel-Gaza Strip fence, Palestinian medics said. An IDF spokesman confirmed the incident, saying that the troops had killed the Palestinian and arrested two others after spotting a group of people planting a bomb. (Xinhua)

Hamas official Baha Tuffaha was kidnapped from his office in the Nablus municipal building by masked gunmen, witnesses said. (AFP)

Hamas reported that the PA Security Services had arrested 12 Hamas members in the West Bank. (Ma’an News Agency)

Former PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said: "The Palestinian leadership does not have the right to violate the rights of Palestinians in negotiations with Israel… especially concerning the right of return of the refugees." He reiterated that he favoured a lengthy truce with Israel if it withdrew from "all the territories occupied since 1967.” (AFP)

Israel would no longer prosecute 110 Palestinian militants who had pledged to renounce violence, PA Information and Justice Minister Riyad Maliki said. Sources at the Israeli Prime Minister's Office denied the report. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Former Prime Minister Haniyeh told representatives of foreign media that "instead of holding early legislative elections in the Palestinian territories, [PA President Abbas] should hold early elections for the Palestinian National Council that has never had any elections in ages." (Xinhua)

PA President Abbas had decided to dismiss civil servants linked to Hamas. "This decision was proposed three days ago by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and finalized on Friday by Mr. Abbas. It will remain in force as long as Hamas continues to control the Gaza Strip by force," a PA official said. He said that the decision affected civil servants appointed after February 2007. At a news conference, Ahmed Bahar of Hamas, acting Speaker of the PLC, called the firings illegal. (AFP)

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the Palestinian people had the right to resist the Israeli occupation in any way they found appropriate. (Ma’an News Agency)

19

Three Palestinian militants had been wounded in clashes with an Israeli undercover force near Khan Yunis, medical sources said. At least 10 Israeli tanks rolled into the region following the clashes. (Xinhua)

Militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Resistance Committees launched four mortar shells at the Karni and Nahal Oz commercial crossings near eastern Gaza City. (Xinhua)

Egyptian police in northern Sinai seized about 250 kg of explosives they suspected were destined for smuggling into the Gaza Strip, a security source said. (Reuters)

Fatah reported that unknown assailants had detonated an explosive device at the home of one of its leaders in the Gaza Strip, Majdi At Talla. (Ma’an News Agency)

The United States would soon begin training officers of the Palestinian Presidential Guard to better protect VIPs, the State Department announced. (www.state.gov)

The IDF reopened the Nahal Oz crossing allowing fuel shipments into the Gaza Strip, three days after closing the passage for unspecified security reasons, but the Israeli fuel supplier said that the EU had instructed it not to deliver new supplies to the Gaza Strip power plant because it would not guarantee payment. "I hope we will be able to restart tomorrow, but I do not have this as a guarantee," said Mario Mariani, Head of the Temporary International Mechanism in Jerusalem. “Following the closure of Nahal Oz, we decided to look into the whole setup of the programme from a security point of view and from a financial point of view," he said. PA Information and Justice Minister Riyad Maliki told reporters that the EU had ceased payment because Hamas had taken over the electric company and had started collecting the revenues and putting them in its pocket. In Gaza, Hamas' parliamentary bloc said in a statement: "President Abbas and the Fayyad Government are responsible for this criminal cut in electricity.” (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

King Abdullah II of Jordan discussed with visiting President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) René van der Linden the latest developments in the region, stressing the importance of EU support for the international conference on the Middle East proposed by President Bush. The PACE President is scheduled to travel to Israel from 20 to 22 August and the Occupied Palestinian Territory on 23 and 24 August with the aim of "encouraging opportunities presented by the current situation to achieve sustainable peace in the region and to promote inter-religious dialogue." (assembly.coe.int, Petra News Agency)

Deputy PLC Speaker Hassan Khreisheh said that he would resign to protest the prolonged failure of the PLC to convene. "It seems the homeland is divided between Hamas and Fatah and so the Council has no value at this time," he said. (Xinhua)

"There are no secret or open negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinian side," PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Al-Ayyam daily. He said that the meetings between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas "did not seriously or effectively deal with the final status issues," adding, "Israel is the obstacle. It insists on not beginning serious talks." However, he affirmed that Israel was interested in the upcoming international conference "to sit with the Arabs." "The contacts to hold the meeting [between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert] are underway but the time and the place have not been agreed upon," PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat told Voice of Palestine radio. (Xinhua)

Prime Minister Olmert called Egypt’s President Mubarak to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel Public Radio reported. The discussion focused on the possibility of reviving the Middle East peace process and on Mr. Olmert's contacts with PA President Abbas. (AFP)

20

Two Qassam rockets were fired into open fields in the western Negev in Israel. No one was injured. (Ha’aretz)

An Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip killed six Hamas militants, Hamas officials said. The IDF said that its aircraft had targeted a car carrying gunmen who had fired rockets into Israel earlier. (AP)

Fifteen Palestinians were arrested by the IDF in Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Ramallah and Hebron. (Ma’an News Agency)

The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching two home-made projectiles towards the southern Israeli town of Sderot and said that the operations had been carried out in retaliation for the killing of six members of Hamas by Israel. (Ma’an News Agency)

"We've been given to understand that Hamas plans to introduce taxes on electricity bills in the Gaza Strip... this would not allow us to continue paying for fuel," said EU Spokesperson Antonia Mochan. "We're ready to resume payments within hours once we have assurances that these taxes will not be introduced," she said. (AP)

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that any political agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was "meaningless if Hamas doesn't approve it." (Xinhua)

21

Israeli troops killed an armed activist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Nasser Mabruk, 38, near Nablus, Palestinian security officials said. (AFP)

An Israeli strike killed three members of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel. An Israeli army spokesman said that the military had “attacked and identified hitting three armed gunmen who were identified close to the security fence in the central Gaza Strip.” (AFP)

An Israeli undercover unit arrested a leader of the Islamic Jihad’s Saraya Al-Quds Brigades and three others in Qabatiya, south of Jenin. Also, Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians in the towns of Anabta and Kafr Rumman, east of Tulkarm. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinians in Gaza fired two Qassam rockets towards Israel. One rocket struck a vacant day care centre in Sderot, causing slight damage to the building. A woman living nearby suffered from shock. The second rocket landed near a gas station outside the city, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. (Ynetnews)

The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the National Resistance Brigades, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for launching two home-made projectiles towards the Sufa crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel. Hamas’ military wing said that it had launched 23 mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom crossing and Israeli military posts bordering the Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israeli troops killed two Palestinian children, aged 9 and 12, as they tried to collect Qassam rocket launchers. The children were killed by an IDF tank in the northern Gaza Strip. Another child was seriously wounded. The militants fled immediately after the launch and then sent the children to collect the launchers, according to sources. (BBC, Ha’aretz)

22

An Israeli aircraft attacked a group of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, killing one and wounding three others. A Hamas spokesperson said that the dead man was one of its military commanders, Yehia Habib. Israeli forces said that the men were attacked after they approached the border fence with Israel. (BBC, IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, was injured when Israeli soldiers attacked him during a dinner at the home of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In a statement, Sheikh Salah said: "We were having a meal on the roof of the Jerusalem Mufti, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein's house, when the Israeli soldiers attacked us using sonic bombs. I was hit in the elbow. I have been treated in the Al-Maqasid Hospital in East Jerusalem, but I am well now." Sheikh Salah, speaking on Al-Jazeera, said that he had asked the Israeli soldiers why they were attacking him. The soldiers told him it was not a dinner party but a meeting which was banned on security grounds. (Ma’an News Agency)

In a press statement, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that it had fired nine mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southeastern Gaza Strip. It was a response to the “frequent Israeli aggressive actions in the Gaza Strip,” it said. (Xinhua)

The Israeli army demolished an unfinished house belonging to a Palestinian civilian from Qarrawa Bani Hassan village to the west of Salfit in the West Bank, claiming that the owner did not have a valid construction license. The village mayor, Omar Rayyan, reported that a large force of Israeli army troops invaded the village in the early hours of the morning, then began razing the house. He said that the owner presented the necessary documents but the house was demolished nonetheless. (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

The Israeli army detained eight Palestinian fishermen and destroyed 15 fishing boats. (IMEMC)

A spokesperson for PA President Abbas condemned the escalating Israeli violence against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The spokesperson stressed that the Israeli Government was responsible for this escalation in violence, which aimed at causing a “reaction from the Palestinian factions so the circle of violence continues.” (Ma’an News Agency)

The EU, as agreed with the PA, had resumed payment for fuel shipments to the only power plant in the Gaza Strip on a provisional basis. Three fuel trucks crossed from Israel into the Gaza Strip at the Nahal Oz crossing and headed to the power plant. A senior Hamas leader denied that his group had any plans to tax electricity bills, the reason EU funding for electricity had been cut off a week earlier. (BBC)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced that his Government was to lay out a three-year plan of reform and development of the PA. He called on the ministries representing different sectors to “determine their priorities and needs by the end of the year to be studied and included in the plan … [which] would be financed by both the international donors’ aid and the Palestinian resources … would form a frame for the people’s priorities and will be a cornerstone for a society able to live.” “When the plan is finalized, it will apply to both the Gaza Strip and West Bank,” he added. (Xinhua)

Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abd Al-Rahman said that the Israeli Government was considering allowing a number of exiled political prisoners to return to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He said, “President Abbas has been told that the Israeli Government has initially agreed to the return of a number of Palestinian leaders to their homeland.” They were still negotiating the details of the return, yet efforts were ongoing to secure their return, he added. (Ma’an News Agency)

23

Five Palestinians, including three Hamas militants, were wounded during an Israeli air strike east of Khan Yunis, witnesses and medics said. Several Hamas militants had gone to confront the Israeli troops that had entered the southern Gaza Strip before dawn. An Israeli missile was fired at the militants and inflicted the casualties, the witnesses said, adding that the Israeli soldiers also stormed the area, broke into Palestinian homes and detained 10 people. Israeli Radio also reported that three Israeli soldiers were slightly injured in the West Bank when Palestinian militants ambushed them near the Ilma refugee camp in Nablus. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that a group of Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the Israeli army patrol in the suburbs of Nablus. Four groups claimed responsibility for the attack including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (Xinhua)

Seven “wanted” Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces in Ramallah and Hebron. (Ma’an News Agency)

Two Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in Sderot, bringing the total number of rockets fired on the city and the Negev area since the morning hours to eight. One of the rockets hit a house and two women suffered from shock. The Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility. (Ynetnews)

Israeli bulldozers started to demolish homes in Krebet Homsa in the Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. Israeli troops positioned along the border with the Gaza Strip opened heavy gunfire on Palestinian farmers in Beit Hanoun. No injuries were reported. Also, Israeli warships opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the shore of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and detained several fishermen. (IMEMC)

A Hamas member was killed and four other Palestinians were injured in an Israeli missile strike on the Gaza Strip, a Hamas spokesman said. Hamas said that an Israeli surface-to-surface missile had struck a group of its fighters from the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in the Zeitun quarter of Gaza City. An Israeli military spokesman denied that any Israeli attack had taken place. Witnesses earlier said that an Israeli aircraft had fired an air-to-ground missile. (AFP)

In a statement, PA President Abbas’ office called “baseless” the Israeli daily Ha’aretz report which indicated that Israel had offered the Palestinians a territorial link between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The report, citing unidentified Israeli Government officials, said that the ongoing secret talks were aimed at reaching the outlines of a peace deal before the upcoming US-sponsored regional conference. The statement said: "There is no secret channel and what was published about scenarios and expectations in some Israeli media is not true." It said that Mr. Abbas had made his positions clear in meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and to the media. "These talks have not reached a level of negotiations with details, as reported in Israeli newspapers," the statement said. (AP)

The first poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre since Hamas seized control in the Gaza Strip found that Palestinians prefer the Government of Salam Fayyad to the Hamas cabinet of Ismail Haniyeh. The poll also found that respondents blamed Hamas for the internal fighting and supported early elections, as called for by PA President Abbas. When asked to evaluate the performance of the Cabinets of Mr. Fayyad and Mr. Haniyeh, 46.5 per cent favoured Mr. Fayyad's, 24.4 per cent said that the situation had worsened under Mr. Fayyad and 22.8 per cent said that both cabinets were similar. The pollsters questioned 1,199 Palestinians between 16 and 20 August and gave a 3 per cent margin of error. (Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre)

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mashaal said that attempts at reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah were at a stalemate. The Jordanian daily newspaper Al-Ghad quoted Mr. Mashaal as saying, "The reconciliation efforts reached an impasse because the other side, Fatah, has closed all the doors and rejected all mediation by Palestinians or Arabs, including attempts by Fatah leaders." He added: "The US and the Israeli intervention impede the possibilities for conducting dialogue." According to Mr. Mashaal, another reason behind the failure of dialogue was "the standpoint of the Palestinian Presidency and its loyalists, whose behaviour has nothing to do with politics or with Palestinian national interests." Mr. Mashaal called for the restructuring of the Palestinian security services, saying they should be affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior and the PA rather than with political factions or warlords. Referring to PA President Abbas' refusal to engage in dialogue with Hamas until it returned the Gaza Strip to PA rule, Mr. Mashaal said, "We have not seized Gaza, and so it is not correct to be asked to return it. We only defended our legitimacy before a group of mutineers, who received support from the Americans and the Israelis." (Ma’an News Agency)

Hospital workers from the Tal As-Sultan Hospital in Rafah in the Gaza Strip held a sit-in strike on the hospital grounds in protest at what they described as Hamas’ interference in the appointment of practitioners. Dr. Omar An-Nasir, the director of public relations at the hospital, issued a statement saying, "The Executive Force has fired the administrative director of the hospital, Naji Abu Taha, as well as the director of mobile clinics, Dr. Walid Afana, and appointed less experienced doctors who are Hamas members, instead of them." (Ma’an News Agency)

In a Gaza situation report, OCHA said that 12 Palestinians, including two children, had been killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip in the last 72 hours. OCHA also said that the Al-Muntar (Karni) crossing, Gaza’s principle crossing point, remained closed, and basic humanitarian supplies had been delivered through the Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings. All exports from Gaza had been blocked since mid-June, and raw materials essential for business and industry had not been allowed to enter Gaza, preventing the production of basic supplies. (www.ochaopt.org)

24

Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for shelling the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon with a home-made rocket. (Ma’an News Agency)

Thousands of Palestinians loyal to PA President Abbas confronted gunmen from Hamas in the biggest protest against the group since it had seized power in Gaza in June. Crowds of members and supporters of Fatah marched in Gaza City while dozens hurled stones at a security complex commandeered by Hamas’ Executive Force during the violent takeover. Hamas gunmen fired at protestors and reporters, witnesses said, but no injuries were reported. Hamas security men reportedly detained three journalists, including an AFP photographer. Others beat up a Reuters cameraman and tried to arrest him until protestors freed him by force. Hamas security men also smashed another journalist’s television camera. (Reuters)

Israeli border police killed an 11-year-old Israeli-Arab boy from the Negev town of Rahat, who was visiting his mother’s family near Tulkarm, in the West Bank. Neighbours said that the boy was inside a house and was hit in the crossfire. An Islamic Jihad militant was killed in the raid and another was seriously injured. (Ha’aretz)

25

Two armed Palestinians were shot dead after they got past the security fence around the Gaza Strip and opened fire on an IDF post. Both belonged to the Popular Resistance Committees, reportedly carrying weapons and explosives. In an unrelated incident, two teenage boys, aged 15 and 16, were shot and killed close to an Israeli observation post near the town of Beit Lahiya. (BBC, Ha’aretz)

Three Islamic Jihad members were killed in Jenin by IDF and border police. One of the dead, Al Abu Al-Said, was a senior member. At least 20 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in the past week. (BBC, Ha’aretz)

26

An ill one-year-old Palestinian baby died in her father’s arms as they waited for four hours in hot weather to cross from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The father and the baby had arrived at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing at 8 a.m. to travel to the Yehelov Hospital near Tel Aviv. A spokesperson for the Israeli military liaison office with Gaza declined to comment. (AFP)

The Israel Air Force fired missiles in the northern Gaza Strip, and Hamas said that one of its rocket-launching squads from the Gaza Strip had been the target. (Ha’aretz)

Six Palestinian youths infiltrated Israel but were apprehended almost as soon as they climbed over the border wall. Their motives had not been immediately clear, but it appeared that they had wanted to look for work. (Ha’aretz)

A top Israeli intelligence official told the Israeli Cabinet that Hamas militants had smuggled 40 tons of weapons into the Gaza Strip since the group took over the area in June. Ahmad Yousef, a political adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, said that the Shin Bet’s assessments that the group had been intensifying efforts to undermine diplomatic dialogue between Israel and the PA through a series of spectacular terrorist attacks, were inaccurate. “There is no change in the Hamas position. Israel is threatening us and attacking us. We are only responding to provocations. But we do not intend to initiate any action, such as the resumption of suicide bombings,” he said. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Israel allowed 75 Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip for study or work abroad. This was the first large group of Palestinians with foreign permits allowed to leave. They passed through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing after lengthy Israeli security checks and were then bussed to a southern Israeli border crossing with Egypt some 140 kilometres away. More than 4,000 Palestinians with overseas work and study permits had been unable to leave the Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz)

The London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Knesset member Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur, had been involved in efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah. Hamas had been reportedly considering the initiative proposing that it hand back the Gaza Strip security compounds it had seized in June. (Ha’aretz)

27

IDF troops shot and killed a Palestinian near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The 43-year-old Palestinian was found, unarmed, along the fence south of the Al Muntar (Karni) crossing. Incidents of unarmed Palestinians approaching the fence had increased since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, presumably to look for work in Israel. Palestinian sources said that the man had been cultivating his land when he was killed. (AP, Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency)

A Palestinian opened fire at IDF troops in Nablus. The troops returned fire and hit the man, whose condition was not immediately clear. (Ha’aretz)

An Israeli soldier strayed into Jenin in the West Bank where he was picked up by PA security and handed back safely. A Palestinian security official said that the soldier was wearing a uniform but driving a civilian car. His vehicle was set on fire by angry civilians and his M-16 gun taken from inside the car, the security official said. (AFP)

Hamas said in a statement that the PA security services on 27 August arrested 11 Hamas loyalists from the West Bank cities of Tubas, Tulkarm, Tammun, Jenin, Al-Yamun and Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency)

Ran Curiel, the Israeli envoy to the EU, had sent a letter to European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering asking him to stop the conference of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, scheduled to open on 30 August in Brussels. “The President received the letter and has replied to the Knesset and the Israeli envoy, explaining to them … the conference was not patronized or supported by the European Parliament, which will only provide the space,” according to European Parliament spokesperson Feraghas O’Beara. Israel was disappointed by the EU decision, but would not take any other action to have the meeting called off, according to Sagi Karni, spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the EU. Meanwhile, some parliamentarians, including Polish lawmaker Boguslaw Sonik, were still trying to block the conference. (AP)

28

A Qassam rocket struck a home in Sderot lightly wounding one person. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, claimed responsibility for the strike. (Ha’aretz)

The IDF fired on an apparently mentally disabled man who wandered too close to the Israeli border with the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources said that 24-year-old Raed Rafati was injured by shrapnel from the artillery shell. Ash-Shifa'a Hospital personnel in Gaza City said that Mr. Rafati was still being held by Israeli troops and that ambulance staff had been prevented from reaching him. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinian gunmen set off two bombs in Gaza City at locations belonging to Hamas forces, causing damage but no casualties, local security officials said. Earlier, a Hamas gunman and eight armed members of a Gaza Strip clan had been wounded in a clash in Khan Yunis. (Reuters)

Four private clinics were shut down in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. A physician, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he and fellow doctors had been punished for exercising their right to strike. (Reuters)

In the latest in a series of talks aimed at defining an agenda for an upcoming international summit on Middle East peace, Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert and PA President Abbas met in Jerusalem where they discussed "fundamental issues", according to David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, such as how to achieve the two-State solution. Mr. Baker said before the meeting that the leaders would not discuss the issue of refugees, the division of Jerusalem or borders, but would centre on "the development of Palestinian governing institutions, bolstering Mr. Abbas' Government, and issues concerning Israelis and Palestinians living side by side." Mr. Abbas told Voice of Palestine radio as he headed into the talks: "If there is a clear framework including final status issues, we will welcome this and go to the conference". He pressed Israel to be more specific on how it plans to approach peace talks, saying that Mr. Olmert's proposed declaration of principles would not suffice. For its part, Hamas called the Abbas-Olmert meeting another attempt to isolate it. (Ha’aretz)

A senior Israeli Government official said: "[Prime Minister] Olmert and [President] Abbas discussed the framework agreement, which included core issues such as refugees and Jerusalem, with the aim of drawing up a memorandum which will be presented at the Washington Summit in November... Olmert told Abu Mazen [PA President Abbas] he wanted two or three meetings in the next few weeks to discuss the ideas before creating work teams that will formulate this memorandum." Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erakat told a news conference: "All the outstanding issues concerning final status negotiations need discussion. We have not reached the stage of details. We have not reached the stage of drafts." Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told a group of visiting US congressmen: “Not allowing refugees into Israel is a matter of principle which we must not compromise over.” (AFP)

At a meeting with representatives of local newspapers, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that PA Interior Minister Abdur Razzaq Mahmoud al-Yahya had decided to close 103 charitable societies for financial misconduct. Mr. Fayyad said that Mr. al-Yahya, with the cooperation of humanitarian organizations, had discovered that the charities had committed serious financial and administrative errors, which had contravened rules of charitable societies and the law. Mr. Fayyad urged the beneficiaries of the charities to go to the Ministry of Interior where they would receive compensation. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said in a statement that the decision was part of "the war launched by Messrs. Abbas and Fayyad on the movement's members and supporters as well as on establishments, including charitable societies”. (Ma’an News Agency)

Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry made a statement rejecting claims by Israel's Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter in statements to Israeli Radio the previous day that Egypt had been facilitating weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip for Hamas. He said that the claim revealed Israeli ignorance of the real situation and added that it was "a deliberate attempt to hold the Egyptian Government responsible for weapons smuggling activities from and into Gaza." (DPA)

The Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization had sent an aid package, including medicines and equipment worth some $353,000, to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Egyptian Red Crescent also sent 126 tons of sugar and 8.5 tons of medical supplies which were delivered into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing, MENA news agency reported. (Petra, Xinhua)

29

Israeli forces entered the northeast Gaza Strip and arrested 10 Palestinians in the Jabaliya refugee camp before withdrawing, witnesses and security sources said. (Xinhua)

In the northern West Bank, IDF vehicles rolled into Qalqilya in an arrest operation during which 30 Palestinians were wounded. Ten Palestinians were arrested in Nablus by the IDF; four explosive devices were thrown at the Israeli troops, who were not hurt. (Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency, The Jerusalem Post)

A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in an open field in the western Negev. No injuries or damage were reported. (Ynetnews)

Yahya Ramadan Ghazal, 12, and his cousin Mahmud Mussa Ghazal, 10, were killed by Israeli artillery fire in a field east of the Jabaliya refugee camp, witnesses and medical officials said. A 9-year-old girl, Sara Suleiman Ghazal, was critically wounded and later died in a hospital, while a fourth child suffered less serious injuries in the attack, the sources said. "We identified several suspicious looking people fiddling with rocket launchers before we fired. The army regrets terror organizations' cynical use of children," an IDF spokeswoman said. (DPA)

PA President Abbas' office announced that he would visit Jordan later in the day to brief the Jordanian leadership on the results of his meeting with Prime Minister Olmert. (Xinhua)

"The Palestinian citizens must realize that not everything reported in the media – according to which Israel will ease restrictions and create a new atmosphere – actually takes place," PA Prime Minister Fayyad said. "Israel did not carry out even one move it committed to in terms of the removal of checkpoints, the humiliation of our people at those checkpoints, not to mention the raids, assassinations and settlements." (Ynetnews)

"We proposed to release 450 prisoners for [IDF Cpl.] Shalit ... and since then, we have been trying to see who can be included in the list," Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon told Israel Public Radio. "Unfortunately, ever since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian mediators have no longer had contact with those who are holding Shalit," he said. Hamas spokesman Osama al-Mizayni said: "We reached a deal four months ago to return him to his parents ... but the [Israeli] Government cares neither about its people nor its soldiers." (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had authorized the payment of $1,500 in aid for each of the families who had lost their homes during the years of the intifada, Fatah PLC member Sahar Qawasmi said. (Ma’an News Agency)

Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected the petition filed by Palestinian villagers against the route of the separation wall near the settlement of “Alfei Menashe”, who said that the barrier would cause "proportionate harm" to their livelihoods. The court also rejected a petition by settlers who demanded that the route encroach on more Palestinian lands. (Ynetnews)

Israel was considering a Palestinian request for amnesty for 26 militants expelled in 2002 after a siege on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, sources in the Shin Bet security service said, adding that the case of each deported militant would be examined individually. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak wants to replace permanent checkpoints in the West Bank with mobile ones, to ease restrictions on Palestinian traffic. However, he believes that such a change could not be implemented immediately, as the IDF must first train a sufficient number of troops under the proposed system. (Ha’aretz)

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Williams briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question. (UN press release SC/9108)

PA President Abbas met with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who reiterated his support for the Palestinian call on Israel to discuss final status issues, such as borders, the future of Jerusalem and refugees to guarantee the success of the international conference proposed by President Bush. "If we go to the conference without a vision for a solution and without a declaration of principles, I don't believe the meeting will be fruitful," Mr. Abbas told Jordan Television. He said that the conference, which had been proposed by President Bush, "is still unclear on three scores" — the date, the participants and the agenda. (DPA, Petra, Xinhua)

The Public Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, a group of Israeli archaeologists, criticized the laying of an underground cable at Al-Haram Al-Sharif as "not archaeology, but destruction", saying digging the trench violated professional standards and could damage relics. Yusuf Natsheh, an antiquities official in the Waqf, said the criticism by the Israeli group was "politically motivated," and that the area would not be damaged. (AP)

The Russian Government sent two planes to Amman carrying humanitarian aid, including food and medicines, intended for the residents of the Gaza Strip. “Moscow presumes that the Palestinian population should not become hostage to the dangerous tension within and around the Palestinian National Authority,” the Foreign Ministry statement said. (www.mid.ru)

30

Two Israeli women were lightly wounded after a rocket fired by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from the Gaza Strip hit a house in Sderot. (Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

A group of 146 Palestinians travellers left the Gaza Strip, passing through the Erez crossing into Israel before being allowed into Egypt. (Xinhua)

US Security Coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton proposed a plan which called for five additional PA battalions to be deployed across the West Bank, according to a report published in Ha’aretz. (Ha’aretz)

In a message to the United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace which opened in Brussels, PA President Abbas said: "We hope that the conference called for by President George W. Bush will produce practical and palpable results to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and the creation of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital." (AP)

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar had denied Israeli press reports that he had met with intelligence officers from the EU in the Gaza Strip. "I have only met with deputies and representatives of the European embassies and consulates who come from Jerusalem to be briefed on the people's views," he told reporters in Gaza. (Xinhua)

The PA published a list of some 103 Palestinian NGOs which had been shut down under a decree issued by President Abbas. The NGOs were closed down for technical reasons, including the lack of proper registration, officials in Ramallah said. "This decision was coordinated with Israel and the US Administration and aims to weaken Hamas and uproot it," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters. (DPA)

All Palestinian security organizations participated, for the first time since 1994, in a senior-level meeting with their Israeli counterparts. The security coordination meeting took place in the Israeli army headquarters in “Beit El”, near Ramallah. Israeli participants included the commander of the Israeli unit in charge of the West Bank, Brig-Gen Noam Tivon and Brig-Gen Yoav Mordechai, in charge of military administration in the area. All the heads of the PA security organizations operating in the West Bank were present. The Palestinians asked the IDF to remove roadblocks, which they said would be an important gesture during the month of Ramadan. The Israeli officers promised to consider a variety of measures that would ease the difficulty of travel faced by the Palestinian population in the West Bank. The atmosphere between the two sides was reportedly good and Israeli officers again thanked their Palestinian counterparts for rescuing IDF Maj. Razi Revah, who had accidentally entered Jenin earlier in the week. (Ha’aretz)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released the Report on UNCTAD Assistance to the Palestinian People. It reported that “separation” had isolated Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from Arab regional and world markets, and institutionalized fragmentation inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory. With economic decline, it was estimated that the PA had lost nearly $1.2 billion in revenues from 2000 to 2005. (UNCTAD report TD/B/54/3)

The two-day United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, opened at the European Parliament in Brussels. In the opening session, statements were delivered by Angela Kane, Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Paul Badji, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations and Chairman of the Committee; Edward McMillan Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Leila Shahid, General Delegate of Palestine to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg and representative of Palestine on behalf of PA President Mahmoud Abbas; and Pierre Galand, Chairman of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine and Representative of the International Coordinating Network for Palestine. The opening session was followed by a plenary session on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and civil society response. (UN press release GA/PAL/1060)

31

An elite IDF paratrooper unit shot and seriously wounded a Palestinian militant in Nablus’ Old City. The militant, belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Another member of the same group was arrested in Jericho. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Two Qassam rockets, fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, struck open areas in the western Negev. There was no damage or injuries in either of the attacks. (Ha’aretz)

The Israeli army admitted that the three Palestinian children killed in the Gaza Strip earlier this week had nothing to do with militants and had been merely playing near the rocket launchers. The army expressed regret but held Palestinian militants responsible for firing rockets from inhabited areas. (AFP)

More than 10,000 Palestinians defied Hamas in the biggest protest in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the area in June. The protest turned violent when Hamas members began to forcefully disperse the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators and reporters. At least 13 protestors were injured at demonstrations in Gaza City and Rafah, as was a French journalist. The protestors, holding up Palestinian flags, gathered in a Gaza City public square for the main weekly prayers. Fatah party members had called for weekly payers to be held outside the mosques. They accused Hamas of violating civil liberties and of using mosques to spread political propaganda. (AFP, BBC, Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency, Ynetnews)

Former PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that education for all primary school children in the Gaza Strip would be free. He also announced that he was giving 2000 NIS ($500) to all new teachers. He said that he was determined to keep the education system free of political conflicts and therefore agreed to the one-day weekend proposed by President Abbas. The teachers' union had threatened to strike on the first day of the new school year in protest at having to work longer hours. (Ma’an News Agency)


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