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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 October 2006



Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the

Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

October 2006

Monthly highlights
    • Talks over formation of a PA national unity government break down. (4, 10 October)

1

Hamas security forces, attempting to stop demonstrations staged by unpaid Palestinian Authority (PA) civil servants and security officials, ordered the protesters to disperse and then opened fire at them, who in turn responded by shooting in the air, protesters said. Fighting then broke out in northern Gaza, where a gunbattle erupted between Hamas forces and national security forces loyal to Fatah. The clashes then spread to the Parliament building in Gaza City, then to an area near the President's residence. The street battles killed a total of four people, including a member of President Mahmoud Abbas' presidential guard and a 15-year-old boy, according to Dr. Baker Abu Safia, director of Gaza's Shifa Hospital. Two other people were killed in related violence, and at least 75 people were injured, hospital officials said. A seventh person, a member of the Preventive Security force, was killed a day earlier when the car in which he was traveling came under fire from unknown gunmen, security officials said. An eighth person, a Fatah supporter, was killed after thousands of Fatah protesters in the Bureij refugee camp marched to the house of a local Hamas leader and a grenade was thrown into the crowd, setting off a nighttime gunfight, Fatah officials said. Hamas officials said that the crowd had attacked the house. In response to the violence, Fatah protesters in Ramallah marched to the Cabinet building, pelting it with stones, breaking in and setting the second floor and a second building in the compound on fire. Forced out by the flames and smoke, the militants moved to the nearby Education Ministry and torched the minister's car. They then trashed the offices of a Hamas newspaper. In Nablus, dozens of Fatah-allied gunmen fired in the air and closed a major road with burning tires. Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas Government, said that the violence was "regrettable" but the Hamas force had acted with restraint when it was attacked. (AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

PA President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for calm after gunbattles between Hamas security forces and members of the national security forces loyal to Fatah which left eight Palestinians dead in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abbas also said that he was ready to renew stalled negotiations with Hamas over a national unity government. "These confrontations have crossed the red line, which we have avoided crossing for four decades", Mr. Abbas said in a speech broadcast on Palestine TV. Mr. Abbas condemned the violence "in the strongest terms", and ordered an official investigation into the fighting. In an interview with the Qatar-based Aljazeera television station broadcast on the same day, Mr. Abbas said that he was ready to negotiate a national unity government with Hamas to avoid crossing the "red line" into Palestinian civil war. PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also urged Palestinians to end internal violence. (Ha’aretz)

The PA Interior Ministry ordered Hamas forces to "redeploy" to their former positions, conforming to an earlier demand by PA President Abbas, after a series of inter-Palestinian clashes. Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hillal told reporters, "Interior Minister Said Siyam has responded to the demand from the president and decided to redeploy the executive force to the former positions". (AFP)

Husam Ghayyad, 20, died of critical wounds he had sustained the day before when an Israeli warplane raided the Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Medical sources said that Mr. Ghayyad was critically wounded overnight in an Israeli air strike at a group of Palestinians in the al-Salam neighbourhood, south of Rafah. (WAFA)

The IDF wounded four Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Tubas. Medical sources at Hebron Governmental Hospital said that Israeli troops had attacked Labeb al-Fakhouri, 23, and Aybak al-Rajbi, 18, in the old town, while Majed Zeyab, 20, had been wounded by a metal rubber-coated bullet in the abdomen in the Jabal Joher area, south-east of Hebron. In Tubas, the IDF entered the town, opened fire randomly at Palestinians’ houses and wounded Fadi Abu 'Arra of Aqaba town. The IDF also arrested two Palestinians in Hebron, security sources said. The arrest took place when the IDF launched a wide search campaign in Dura town, south of Hebron. (WAFA)

Israeli tanks and bulldozers rolled into several areas of the northern Gaza Strip, reaching Beit Hanoun in the north-east and Beit Lahia in the north-west, Palestinian security sources and residents said. The tanks moved amid airborne machine gunfire cover, but no casualties were reported among the Palestinians who live in makeshift houses near the border. The residents reported that tanks had taken up positions on hills in the area while bulldozers began working on the ground, for what seemed to be a search for tunnels, according to security sources. (Xinhua)

The Palestinian Prisoners Society reported that female Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli Al-Jalama Prison had started an open hunger strike nine days earlier, protesting their miserable situation in the prison. (WAFA)

In Cairo, President Hosni Mubarak discussed the Middle East situation, including the internal clashes among Palestinians, with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II. According to the Egyptian Middle East News Agency, Mr. Mubarak's spokesman, Suleiman Awad, said, "Mr. Mubarak expressed regret for Sunday's [1 October] clashes in Gaza between the ruling Hamas movement and groups loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas." (AP, Ha’aretz)

IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, said that the Israeli military had been considering a broader ground offensive in the Gaza Strip to try to stop Palestinian militants from firing home-made rockets into Israel. Asked in an Israel Radio interview about the ongoing Qassam rocket fire, Mr. Halutz said that the military was deliberating the possibility of a "deeper, more ongoing, ground offensive", adding "we have to find military means to reduce the Qassam fire". (AP)

2

Gaza remained tense after being the centre of violence the day before that had killed eight people, with many shops closed out of fear of renewed attacks. Despite appeals for calm from PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Haniyeh, militants in Gaza torched the Agricultural Ministry, and a group of students in Beit Hanoun stoned the house of a Hamas Minister until his bodyguards chased them away by firing in the air. In the northern West Bank town of Nablus, Fatah militants shot at Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer's bodyguards as they rode in a Government car, injuring two of them, Mr. Shaer said. Hospital officials said that a Fatah militant had been also injured in the fighting. At Gaza City's main hospital, a 20-minute gunbattle erupted when the family of one of those killed the previous day arrived to retrieve his body. (Ha’aretz)

Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip returned to their normal posts after a day of internal violence. In Ramallah, Fatah enforced a general strike, closing shops and private schools. For its part, the Hamas-led Cabinet ordered all Ministries closed to protest the Fatah attacks on Government buildings. Fatah militants also released Samir Birawi, a Hamas official in the Finance Ministry they had briefly detained, telling him his abduction was intended to send Hamas a message to end the Gaza violence, Hamas officials said. (Ha’aretz)

Kuwait will be donating US$1 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Cabinet said Monday. The money was to help Palestinians meet their daily needs during the holy month of Ramadan, and to "ease their suffering in the difficult circumstances they are facing", the Kuwait News Agency quoted a Cabinet statement as saying. (AP)

3

An Israeli aircraft hit a workshop in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian boy and wounding his brother. According to witnesses, an Israeli helicopter fired two missiles at a metal workshop, destroying it and killing one Palestinian who was close to the workshop. (WAFA, Xinhua)

IDF missiles struck a car carrying Islamic Jihad militants in Beit Hanoun and wounded two of them, Palestinian witnesses and medics said. Another missile hit a nearby vehicle and wounded three members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. An Israeli jet destroyed a house in Khan Yunis, whose occupant belonged to the armed wing of Hamas. No casualties were reported. (Ha’aretz)

Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said that it held Hamas officials responsible for deaths during recent clashes between members of both groups. An Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades statement said: “We in Al-Aqsa announce … to execute the head of the sedition, Khaled Mashaal, Said Siyam and Youssef Al-Zahhar, and we will execute this ruling so those … people can be made an example. Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council members accused the group of “pouring oil to the fire.” At least 12 Palestinians had been killed and more than 100 wounded in two days of fighting between Hamas and Fatah. (BBC, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Fatah members forced the closure of several schools throughout the central Gaza Strip, telling children and teachers to leave and saying the education process must be stopped. They also blocked a major intersection in central Gaza, burning tires and garbage dumpsters and shooting in the air. (Ha’aretz)

Members of Hamas promised that they would not let “mutiny and attempted revolution” succeed. A senior Hamas leader said that the movement, which had won a majority in the January 2006 elections, would not relinquish control of the Government. He said, “we will remain in power, at least for the next four years until the end of our term….” (Ynetnews)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Cairo as part of a five-day diplomatic tour of the Middle East during which she was expected to visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Ms. Rice appealed for an end to fighting among Palestinian factions and said that she was looking for ways to strengthen PA President Abbas. “We talked about how to help [PA President Abbas] in terms of a Palestinian Government and a Palestinian Authority that is fully committed to the Quartet principles”, Ms. Rice said at a joint conference with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. She was expected to travel to Ramallah the next day for an afternoon meeting with President Abbas, followed by a meeting with PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo and Fatah legislator Mohammed Dahlan. At the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, Ms. Rice was scheduled to meet with Hanan Ashrawi and Mustafa Barghouti. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Ha’aretz, www.state.gov)

According to a report in Ha’aretz, Qatari Foreign Minister, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, presented an outline of an agreement to serve as the basis of the Palestinian unity government to PA President Abbas and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal. (Ha’aretz)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed his regret over the violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, saying that infighting hurt not only the livelihood of the Palestinians, but the future of a political settlement of their cause. He said: “These regrettable developments will shed their light on the meetings that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to hold in the region.” He also denied reports claiming that Egypt and Jordan were against having PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh lead the next Palestinian national unity government. He also blamed the captors of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for obstructing the swap deal by always backing off at the final moments of the agreement. Mr. Aboul Gheit held talks with Ms. Rice on the latest developments in the Middle East. (MENA, Xinhua)

The Fatah movement was tied with Hamas in voter support, according to a poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center between 19 and 22 September. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. (AP, Ha’aretz)

More than 3,500 housing units were currently being built in West Bank settlements, compared to 4,144 units built during the same time last year, according to Peace Now’s biannual report. In addition, the construction of two roads – the “Tekoa-Jerusalem” road and the “Ma’aleh Adumim-Jericho” road (in the section east of “Kfar Adumim”) – had recently been resumed. The housing construction was mainly taking place in the settlement blocks of “Beitar Ilit”, “Ma’aleh Adumim”, “Modi’in Ilit”, and “Alfei Menashe.” As many as 31 unauthorized posts were being expanded, according to the report. Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said that while the public’s attention had been focused on the fighting, “the settlers continued expanding the outposts and building in them.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Palestine refugees in Lebanon, who used to receive money from the PA, have seen their payments stop after the international economic embargo was imposed on the PA. Around 400,000 Palestinians were registered with UNRWA as refugees in Lebanon, the majority of them housed in 12 camps. (Aljazeera)

4

Masked gunmen shot dead senior Hamas member Mohammed Ouda in the West Bank town of Qalqilya and fled the scene, witnesses said. The IDF denied involvement. (Bahrain News Agency, Xinhua)

The IDF arrested three Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqilya. (WAFA)

Masked gunmen broke into the Gaza City offices of the Palestinian cellular phone company, Jawal, and destroyed two transmitting stations in the Gaza Strip. (AP)

Yasser Ashur Abu Atim and Mohammed Zaqzuq, both members of Saraya al-Quds, the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, were killed when their car was struck by at least one missile from an Israeli aircraft. An IDF spokesman confirmed that the Air Force had struck the vehicle on the road between Khan Yunis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Unidentified gunmen fired at the home of a Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council member in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Yunis al-Astal was not hurt in the shooting, but one of his bodyguards was wounded. (Reuters)

A PA official announced that the Rafah Terminal had opened for one day in both directions. (WAFA, Xinhua)

An Israeli policeman killed a Palestinian at a checkpoint in Jaffa, saying that during an identity check, Iyad Abu Raiyeh, 29, had tried to take his gun and it had discharged during the struggle, killing the Palestinian. However, the policeman was placed under house arrest after having admitted during questioning that Mr. Abu Raiyeh had not attacked him. Earlier, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that during an ID check “at the flea market in Jaffa aimed at locating Palestinians who are in the area illegally, a Palestinian tried to grab a policeman’s gun and the gun accidentally fired, mortally wounding him.” The victim’s brother, Murad Abu Raiyeh, disputed the police version, telling AFP that Iyad was working on a construction site in Jaffa when police came for an identification check. “They demanded that the workers lie on the ground before opening fire at my brother”, he said, adding, “it is a murder committed in cold blood.” (AFP)

PA President Abbas said that talks over the national dialogue had broken down, stating that an agreement announced on 11 September "is now over, and we have to start from square one.” “My constitutional powers, granted by the Basic Law, will be used at the appropriate time”, President Abbas told a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Bahrain Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa in Ramallah. “It is very necessary that we increase our efforts to end this crisis, and reach a solution toward forming a new Government”, he added. Sheikh Khalid affirmed the firm position of Bahrain towards the Palestinian issue and the rights of the Palestinian people, stressing that the both sides were reviewing means of pushing forward the peace process. “Hamas warns against any attempt to carry out a coup. The alternatives will be painful”, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan stated. (Bahrain News Agency, Reuters, WAFA)

A fuel shortage spread across the West Bank, causing long lines of angry drivers at gas stations and affecting the supplies of cooking oil. PA Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer said the shortage stemmed from a disagreement with the Israeli company Dor Alon that provided fuel to the PA, adding, “we want to make a new agreement with a new Israeli company, one with better conditions.” When Dor Alon refused to lower its prices, the PA stopped paying. Ha’aretz quoted Dor Alon’s director as saying the PA Government had demanded changes in the contract that his company had declined. The stoppage also involved mounting debts, PA officials said. (AP)

A month-long strike by PA Government workers over unpaid salaries virtually halted the flow of goods across the Karni commercial crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a PA official said. (Reuters)

Israeli Government spokeswoman Miri Eisen, speaking at a news conference hosted by the Foreign Press Association, said, “the issue of illegal outposts is one this Government is committed to. The illegal outposts will be removed.” Ms. Eisen also said that Israeli priorities regarding the West Bank “realignment” had “changed” after the recent war in Lebanon. (AP)

US Secretary of State Rice, speaking after meeting with PA President Abbas, stressed the US concern over the humanitarian conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and said that efforts would be made to ease the movement of goods through the Karni cargo crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel and of people through the Rafah crossing on the Gaza border with Egypt. She also expressed the hope that it would not be “very long” before the Palestinian and Israeli leaders meet. After her subsequent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, his office said in a statement that the Karni crossing would be reopened soon. The statement added that there had been discussion about Palestinian customs and tax revenues frozen by Israel and that Israel would present proposals for using the funds for humanitarian assistance, such as aid to hospitals and the supply of medicines. Mr. Olmert ruled out a release of Palestinian prisoners before Cpl. Gilad Shalit was freed, the statement said. (Ha’aretz, The Chicago Tribune, www.pmo.gov.il, www.state.gov)

After the meeting with US Secretary of State Rice, PA President Abbas said that there would be no more talks with Hamas over forming a national coalition government. Prime Minister Haniyeh rejected any time limit on further coalition talks and said Hamas considered dialogue the only way to resolve differences. He also accused Ms. Rice of trying to “rearrange” the Middle East to suit American and Israeli interests. (The Chicago Tribune, Xinhua)

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was "unwelcome" in the Palestinian areas. Ms. Rice's visit to the West Bank and Israel is "a US attempt to support Israel, not to revive the stalled Middle East peace process as she claims”, he told reporters in Gaza City. (DPA)

"What Israel has to do is set the international agenda, certainly on the Israeli-Palestinian issue” Israel’s Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit told Israel Radio. Israel, Mr. Sheetrit said, should tell the Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, “let's talk about your initiative”. (Reuters)

Some 135 former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign and Defence Ministers, congressional leaders and heads of international organizations signed a statement calling for an international conference to address the Arab-Israeli conflict, international support for a Palestinian national unity government, with an end to the political and financial boycott of the PA; talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, including on the final status issues, to be mediated or sponsored by the Quartet and reinforced by participation of the Arab League and key regional countries, who would also initiate talks on the outstanding issues among Israel, Syria and Lebanon. (International Crisis Group)

A letter to Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz, dated 29 September and signed by US Security Coordinator Keith W. Dayton and European Union Border Assistance Mission (EU BAM) Rafah chief Pietro Pistolese, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, said that the continued closure of the Rafah crossing “could well” prompt EU member States to “seriously question the desirability of maintaining” their monitoring mission there. The EU Middle East envoy, Marc Otte, reportedly arrived in Israel to discuss the issue. A European official was quoted by Reuters as saying that pulling the monitors out of Rafah was one option being looked at as the current agreement for the crossing was to expire in November. Other options include relocating the monitors from southern Israel to Egypt. (AP, Reuters)

US Security Coordinator Keith W. Dayton, in a briefing for donors, said the US was proposing to expand the presidential guard for PA President Abbas to 6,000 men from the current 3,500. Gen. Dayton was in talks with Mr. Abbas to reduce the number of overlapping PA security services in order to create a single national police force on the model of Italy’s carabinieri. Gen. Dayton also proposed a project to cost an additional $25.5 million that would include building a modern security centre for checking and scanning trucks on the Palestinian side of the Karni crossing, with the goal of allowing up to 400 trucks a day to leave Gaza with exports. The Americans hope to put the new procedures into effect by early November, in time for the harvest and the planned exports through Israel to European markets. The US also hoped that the enhanced presidential guards, who are already deployed at the Rafah Terminal, would staff Karni in addition to some 90 foreign monitors. (AP, The New York Times, Reuters)

US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes, speaking to journalists during a visit to the Arab Institute in Paris, said she regretted that US efforts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory went largely unrecognized in the media. “While I recognize that sometimes the coverage tends to portray the situation in a little different term, I feel that the United States and President Bush don’t always get much credit for the support that we provide to the Palestinian people. Sometimes you don’t hear about this when you’re in the region and you’re listening to the coverage in the region. I meet people who don’t really know those facts.” Ms. Hughes stressed that “we are the largest single country that assists them, and the President went before the United Nations and committed our country to supporting a Palestinian State.” (AFP)

5

Israeli forces shot dead a member of the Islamic Jihad in the southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that the Israeli troops had opened fire at Yussef Qablan, 22 (21, according to AP), when he was approaching the security fence in eastern Khan Yunis near the border with Israel. Medical sources confirmed the killing, saying that the IDF did not allow Palestinian ambulances to the scene. Earlier in the day, Saraya al-Quds, the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, claimed responsibility for launching two rockets at Sderot in southern Israel. (AP, Reuters, Xinhua)

Muhamed Suleiman Atiyya, a member of Fatah, was killed by unknown gunmen in Rafah, in southern Gaza. Shortly afterwards, a Hamas member of the Interior Ministry security service was injured when unknown men threw two hand grenades outside the Tel Sultan Hospital also in Rafah. In the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahia, Hamas members shot and wounded three Hamas members. (AFP, Reuters, WAFA)

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades announced that they launched one home-made projectile into the Israeli city of Sderot. In a statement, the Brigades said that the launching operation was in response to the repeated Israeli assassination operations against Palestinian resistance fighters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to their ongoing aggressions against the Palestinian people. (Ma’an News Agency)

Jerusalem police clashed with some 300 Palestinians, who tried to break through a roadblock in south Jerusalem, attempting to make their way towards the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City. Jerusalem police increased its presence throughout East Jerusalem and the Old City in preparation for the second Friday of Ramadan prayers. Meanwhile, a week-long general closure was imposed on the Occupied Palestinian Territory prior to the Jewish Sukkot holiday. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post, Xinhua)

Hamas issued a statement saying, “President Abu Mazen (Abbas) and certain circles in Fatah are responsible for the refusal to form a unity government on the basis of the National Reconciliation Document and are imposing new conditions corresponding to American and international conditions rejected by the nation.” “We remind the President that we have open options to deal with the ongoing crisis, but we prefer the national option, which is in harmony with our national unity”, the statement added. (AFP, AP, Xinhua)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat termed the visit by US Secretary of State Rice as positive, while Maher Meqdad, Fatah spokesman in Gaza, described the American role in the region as “negative” and noted that “the American role was responsible for the deterioration in the Palestinian situation.” Jamil al-Majdalawi, a Palestinian Legislative Council member from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that Ms. Rice had repeated “the same conditions to extort our people, leadership and factions and force them to recognize Israel and meet the so-called international demands.” Khader Habib, spokesman from the Islamic Jihad, said “we don’t trust America or its projects.” Tayseer Khaled, a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, called on Ms. Rice and the US Administration to stop interfering in the Palestinians’ internal affairs and to let them tackle their differences by peaceful means instead of by exerting pressure on them. (AFP, AP, Xinhua)

“A high-ranking Egyptian security delegation is in Gaza and is contacting the various Palestinian groups to try to stop the bloodshed”, Egyptian President Mubarak said in an interview with Mustafa Bakri, the editor of the Al-Usbu’a weekly, extracts from which, to be published on 8 October, were carried by MENA. “Egypt made a great effort to achieve the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, but this effort was thwarted by Palestinian disagreements”, Mr. Mubarak said, adding, “Palestinian efforts could lead to new elections for the Legislative Council as a way out of the current crisis.” (AFP, AP)

“The Rafah Terminal is open today from 8:00 am (0600 GMT) until 4:00 pm”, for a second day in a row, Maria Telleria, a spokeswoman for EU monitors, told AFP. “It will likely also be open on Saturday and Sunday”, she said, adding that 1,770 people had passed through the crossing on 4 October, when Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz ordered the border to reopen for Ramadan. (AFP)

US Secretary of State Rice, meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem, said that she believed the international economic boycott of the Hamas-led PA Government was effective and should be maintained. (Xinhua)

PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Marc Otté. Mr. Otté stressed the importance of freedom of movement, affirming that efforts were being made to open the Rafah crossing. (WAFA)

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz, speaking after meeting US Secretary of State Rice, said that he supported the opening of the Al-Muntar (Karni) crossing point (closed since 15 August) to improve humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. “I plan to help implement the Dayton plan in building the Palestinian crossing adjacent to Israel’s “Karni” [Al-Muntar] crossing”, Mr. Peretz said. “I certainly see strengthening Abu Mazen as part of the process as part of creating the possibility to renew dialogue with the Palestinians.” (AFP, AP)

In a statement, after US Secretary of State Rice left Jerusalem to continue a regional tour, the State Department said that Israel had agreed to open the Rafah crossing at “regular intervals” during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but had not specify what those intervals would be or how long they would last. “We are encouraged by this decision, the first step towards restoration of normal operations at the crossing”, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters travelling with Ms. Rice. (AP, Reuters)

Syrian President Bashar Assad and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani discussed in a meeting the Palestinian dialogue and the necessity for Palestinian national unity, Syria’s official news agency reported. (AP, DPA)

6

The IDF arrested five Palestinians during an incursion in Tulkarm; another four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; three in Nablus, as well as 16 across the West Bank. Israeli soldiers invaded the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank and bulldozed one of the main streets of the camp causing damage to the street, in addition to walls and doors of several shops. (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

In Hebron, a heavily armed group of settlers overtook the Halhoul Mosque and began performing religious services. The Mayor of Halhoul, Ziyad Abu Yousef, said that this action was not new. “Unfortunately, settlers are storming mosques with soldiers to guard them”. (IMEMC)

An explosion caused the collapse of a tunnel in the Gaza-Egypt border, trapping five Palestinians, and killing two. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said that the explosion was not caused by an Israeli air strike. (AFP, AP, Ynetnews)

Former Fatah Security Minister Mohamed Dahlan accused Hamas of assassinating Fatah rivals. Mr. Dahlan said: “When Abu Mazen and Hamas actually finish their soap opera of them, they are going to find out there’s nothing left to talk about. (Israel) will have taken all the territory and land they want to take.” He also said: “This is the first time in about 15 years there was such a regional and international meeting with the presence of the Palestinians and there is no Palestinian leader talking about this issue.” (The Financial Times)

Hamas spokesperson Ismail Radwan demanded that PA President Abbas resume talks over a national unity government. (IMEMC)

The Israeli fuel company Paz Oil Co. said that it had reached an agreement to supply gasoline to the Palestinians, the first major business transaction between an Israeli firm and Hamas. “This is the first formal agreement the current Government has signed with an Israeli company”, said PA Deputy Finance Minister Ismail Mahfouz. (AP, Xinhua)

Senior Hamas official Ahmed Yousef said that the deal over the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilat Shalit would be solved before the end of Ramadan. Mr. Yousef told the Kuwaiti Daily A-Rai Al-Ram that the deal would allow Mr. Shalit to be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. (Ha’aretz)

Tens of thousands of Hamas members crammed into Gaza City’s Yarmuk Stadium in a show of support for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh after PA President Abbas had threatened during the week to dissolve the Administration. (Ha’aretz, Ma’an News Agency)

7

A Palestinian news photographer was shot and seriously wounded by a stray bullet from local protesters as he stood at the window of his home in downtown Ramallah, Palestinian security officials said. Officials identified the man as freelance photographer Osama Awwad, 29. (AP)

Four Egyptians trying to cross into the Gaza Strip through a tunnel were taken into custody, Egyptian police said. In the West Bank village of Kaffin, IDF soldiers at a lookout post opened fire on a group of Palestinians approaching the separation wall, wounding one of them. In Nablus, Palestinians opened fire and threw an explosive device at IDF troops operating in the area. In the northern Gaza Strip, a roadside bomb exploded near an IDF vehicle. The vehicle was damaged but there were no casualties. In Jenin, Israeli security forces arrested two Islamic Jihad members. (Ha’aretz, WAFA)

IDF forces prevented Palestinian farmers from going to their fields near Tulkarm in the West Bank. Sources said that soldiers had opened fire at Palestinians on their way to their farms. (WAFA)

The Chairman of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Azzam al-Ahmed, called for new PA elections “… we must turn again to the people”, he said. “Any country whose government reaches a dead end calls for early parliamentary elections. Those who trust themselves do not fear the people”, he added. (Ha’aretz)

8

Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian during a fierce gunbattle in the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank. Osama Talad, 21, participated in an ambush on Israeli troops, according to Nasser Abu Ali, a leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Mr. Talad was killed and six others were wounded. (AP, Ha’aretz)

A Palestinian man, identified as Ahmed Yousef Tarawi, 25, was shot and killed near Nablus, as he was on his way to break the Ramadan fast with family, according to relatives. Sources said that Mr. Tarawi was walking with his wife on a path off limits to Palestinians when soldiers fired a singled bullet to his head, killing him. The IDF said that it was unaware of any shooting incident in the area and its forces had not opened fire. (Ha’aretz)

IDF soldiers beat two Palestinian brothers at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus. Three brothers, Nadel, Nida and Ahmed Shatiyeh, were arrested by security forces in their home in Salem. Following an interrogation, two were transferred to a holding cell in Hawara where they were to be released. This was where they were beaten and blindfolded by soldiers. Activist Zakariya Asade said that the brothers were not able to get up after they had been beaten. Mr. Asade called an ambulance which took the brothers to a Nablus hospital. The third brother remained in custody. (Ha’aretz)

Five people, including three Israelis, a Palestinian and a woman foreign activist, were arrested as activists and Palestinian farmers scuffled with police at a checkpoint near Jerusalem. This occurred during a protest over restrictions on the export of Palestinian produce. (Ha’aretz)

Striking Palestinian Government employees threatened to expand the strike to include petrol workers which could freeze distribution of fuel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to Ahmed Assaf, a member of the Public Sector Employees Union. (AFP)

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Abdelelah Al-Khatib and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, Alvaro de Soto, held talks in Amman on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Al-Khatib pledged Jordan’s part to help find a solution to the conflict. (Xinhua)

Palestinian academics, politicians and public figures, with no particular political affiliation, announced an initiative calling for a transitional government of technocrats should the national unity government talks fail. Over 50 prominent Palestinians signed on “The Appeal” which would be forwarded to PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Haniyeh. (AFP)

9

An Israeli aircraft fired a rocket at a group of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding five other civilians, witnesses said. An eyewitness said that an Israeli reconnaissance drone flew over the area and then fired one missile at a group of militants, but missed and hit the four civilians instead. The boy’s father was in critical condition. The army said that it had attacked “a man who came to collect a launcher” after a rocket had been fired at Israel. (BBC, DPA)

The Israeli military targeted a house of a Hamas member in the southern Gaza Strip, causing no casualties, according to security sources. The house in the Khan Yunis refugee camp was destroyed in the air strike, but its residents were not in the building at that time. An Israeli spokesperson confirmed the air strike, adding that residents were warned to leave the place before the raid. (AFP)

IDF forces entered Jenin and Nablus, wounding a Palestinian woman and arresting three others. The injured woman was hit by shrapnel. (WAFA)

The IDF killed 23-year-old Mahmoud Abu Nasser and wounded five other Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip. At the same time, IDF soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian at the Hawara checkpoint outside of Nablus when, according to the IDF, he ran toward the soldiers and allegedly tried to attack them with a knife. Palestinian witnesses said that the man, Mohammed Saadeh, 20, a Palestinian policeman, ran towards a car at the checkpoint when he was shot by three soldiers. (Ha’aretz)

Two Palestinians were wounded in a clash with Israeli troops in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, the Israeli army and witnesses said. "For the last several days units have been operating in the northern Gaza Strip to block the launch of rockets. Two armed men were spotted and were attacked”, an Israeli army spokesman said. (AFP)

Aides to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to hold another meeting next week. Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat said that he held a meeting with Mr. Olmert’s foreign policy adviser Shalom Turgeman and chief of staff Yoram Turbowicz as part of preparations for the summit. The next meeting will be held after Sukkot, the Jewish holiday. (The Jerusalem Post, Xinhua)

Israeli senior legislator Uri Ariel of the National Union Party visited the area of the Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount), drawing angry warnings that the visit to the compound, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, could spark violence. Mr. Ariel said that the time had come for Jews to stop praying at the Western Wall and begin praying “where they’re supposed to.” Police sources said that they would remain deployed in the area throughout the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani held separate meetings with PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. Mr. Al-Thani offered the Palestinian leaders a six-point plan aimed at solving the ongoing internal conflict in the Palestinian territories and renewing ties between the international community and the Hamas party. After the meeting, Mr. Abbas told reporters, "the Qatari initiative has not failed”, and said that the process of finding a solution to the crisis was ongoing. Mr. Abbas said: "The dialogue began on the basis of the Qatari mediation... Nothing has failed. We are on the path and therefore it cannot be said that something failed." Palestinian politicians said that the proposals included forming a "technocratic government" and a meeting between Mr. Abbas and Hamas Political Bureau Chief, Khaled Mashaal. Izzat Mohammad Rishq, a high-level Hamas member, said: "There is a Qatari initiative on the table to narrow Palestinian differences. We cannot discuss the details, but Hamas is committed to a national unity government". PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that the new proposal "does not violate national Palestinian principles”, suggesting that Hamas was prepared to accept the Qatari initiative. Mr. Al-Zahhar told the Palestinian news agency Ramtan that senior Syrian officials had also participated in discussions of the Qatari proposal. The chair of Fatah's parliamentary faction, Azzam Al-Ahmed, said that Mr. Abbas was committed to the six-point document that was agreed upon with Qatar. "Abbas declared that a week ago, and he does not intend to change his position”, Mr. Ahmed said. "We are waiting for an answer from Hamas." (Ha’aretz)

10

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian who infiltrated into Israel south of the Al-Muntar (Karni) crossing, an IDF spokesman said. The troops found a bomb belt on his body, which was later removed by Palestinian ambulance personnel. Palestinian security sources could not immediately confirm the report. (AP, DPA)

A missile strike by the Israeli Air Force failed to hit its target, an Islamic Jihad member, missing the vehicle he was driving in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli Army spokesman confirmed the air strike on a Palestinian militant, but did not give any more details. (DPA)

A missile fired from an Israeli “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV) at a Hamas base near Gaza City wounded at least one member the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. An IDF spokeswoman said that there had been “an air strike against a terrorist involved in attacks on our forces.” (Reuters)

Israeli troops arrested eight Palestinians, including six brothers of the Al-Bardadi family, during an incursion into Ramallah. In the northern West Bank, two Palestinians found carrying explosives had been arrested at a checkpoint, Israeli military sources said. (AFP)

Amin Sufi, 21, was killed by Israeli fire in the city of Rafah, hospital officials said. (AFP)

The Hamas-led Cabinet said that talks with PA President Abbas on forming a unity government had stalled on recognition of Israel and renouncing the "resistance". Cabinet Spokesman Ghazi Hamad told a news conference that PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had spelt out his position during talks the previous day with the visiting Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani. "We are facing problems, especially on two points, to renounce what is called terrorism and the second about the States”, Mr. Hamad said, adding that Hamas would not recognize Israel but said that the Government was willing to see a Palestinian State created on land occupied since 1967. "We are not ready to bestow on Israel wanton legality at a time when the occupation in the Palestinian territories continues”, he said. (AFP)

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Palestinians would lose a chance for peace if they continued infighting, Al-Ahram newspaper reported. Mr. Aboul Gheit said: "The Palestinian situation is marred by sharp divisions and battling; it is a misery and shameful for any Arab and any Palestinian". He said: "The Palestinian Prime Minister rejects this initiative; then why doesn't he search for another one?" He said that the first step for reviving the peace process would be the release of Gilad Shalit, the captured Israeli soldier, in exchange for Israel freeing 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. But, he said, that would not be accomplished without "an internal Palestinian reconciliation." He also said that during the last visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region, the United States formulated a new version of the Road Map in which Washington would present its vision of an independent Palestinian State, after which it would invite all other parties to hold negotiations based on this vision. (AP)

Jose de Venecia Jr., Speaker of the Philippines House of Representatives, and visiting Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik agreed on the need to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process. Mr. De Venecia echoed a proposal he had presented at the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana in September 2006 that called for “focused and non-stop negotiations among the parties intimately concerned to settle the Israeli-Palestine problem once and for all.” (The Philippine Star)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem underlined Syrian support to the Qatari efforts regarding the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, the SANA reported. Mr. Muallem made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani. (Xinhua)

The Qatari six-point plan, presented by the Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, appeared to end in failure. The Foreign Minister left the Occupied Palestinian Territory early in the day. Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the PA Government, said that Hamas was not ready to recognize Israel or give up its armed struggle against Israel. “We differentiate between resistance and terrorism”, he said, adding that Hamas was ready to continue the negotiations: “The way is not blocked.” PA Information Minister Youssef Rizka of Hamas said that the US was to blame for dismissing a separate Palestinian plan that would establish a Palestinian State but not explicitly recognize Israel. The document had been a basis for Hamas-Fatah talks. Mohammed Nazal, a member of Hamas’ exiled leadership, said later that Hamas only asked for amendments to the Qatari proposal, but did not reject it outright. (AP)

11

Israeli soldiers operating in the al-Ein refugee camp in Nablus in the northern West Bank shot and killed Abdullah Mansour, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Mr. Mansour was at a window of his house when a single bullet struck him in the head, his relatives said. The IDF said that in the course of an overnight arrest raid, soldiers had been fired upon and, having identified a man laying an explosive, had opened fire and killed him. (AFP, AP)

An Israeli air strike early in the morning hit a Gaza house belonging to Nidal Farhat, a senior Hamas member and the son of a Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council member Mariam Farhat, better known as Umm Nidal. Palestinian security officials said that the house had been unoccupied at the time, and no casualties were reported. Residents were warned in advance of the attack. “There was an air strike on a weapons storage and manufacturing facility”, an IDF spokeswoman said. (AP, Reuters, Xinhua)

In the West Bank, 19 Palestinians wanted by Israeli security services were detained overnight, the IDF said. (AFP)

The US Consulate in East Jerusalem was looking into a report that Ansar Al-Suna, a previously unknown Palestinian group, had kidnapped an American student in Nablus. The group faxed a copy of Michael Phillips’ passport and his student ID card to security officials in the West Bank. The student was later freed in Nablus and was accompanied by militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who said they had freed him. (AFP, Reuters)

The number of Israeli military roadblocks in the West Bank grew by nearly 40 per cent in the past year, part of an increasingly sophisticated lockdown that disrupted all aspects of Palestinian life, according to a new report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem. The placement of these checkpoints and unmanned physical obstacles means the West Bank is increasingly being carved up into separate parts, with travel between them becoming more and more difficult, said David Shearer, head of the Office. He also said there were 528 checkpoints and obstacles in the West Bank, up from 326 in August 2005. “We are seeing a continuing closing down, locking down of Palestinian areas”, Mr. Shearer further said. "Since [the height of the intifada] it’s become much more systematic, much more sophisticated in terms of monitoring Palestinian movement and closing Palestinian movement. The West Bank, for example, is effectively being chopped up into three big areas ... and there are pockets within those areas where people also can’t move.” Capt. Adam Avidan, spokesman for the IDF Civil Administration in the West Bank, said in a statement that Israel tried “as much as possible to preserve the Palestinians' way of life and to avoid hurting innocent civilians in its war against terrorism.” (AP)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at a dinner hosted by organized by the American Task Force on Palestine, said: “The Palestinian people deserve a better life, a life that is rooted in liberty, democracy, uncompromised by violence and terrorism, unburdened by corruption and misrule and forever free of the daily humiliation of occupation.” She reiterated the US commitment to the goal of a Palestinian State where the people lived in peace alongside Israel. (Reuters)

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva that the frustration of Palestinians would grow and lead to more extremism unless border crossings were opened to allow the flow of goods between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. “It cannot continue like it is now without a social explosion that will hurt everybody, including Israeli security”. He said that the 750,000 youths in Gaza were particularly hard hit by the border closure and the increasing humanitarian crisis, as they “feel they have no hope, no future, and of course that will not lead to less extremism, it will lead to more extremism, so it has to change.” (AP)

The European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin said that around 60,000 more Palestinians, defined as “social hardship cases”, would receive social allowances through the temporary international mechanism, bringing the total to 160,000 recipients. Despite a freeze on direct aid to the PA Government, Ms. Udwin said that the EU had now sent €651 million ($817 million) in aid of one sort or another to the Occupied Palestinian Territory since Hamas came to power, more than its usual annual contribution of around half a billion euros. “Europe is acting in a very constructive manner right now to avoid the crisis that is threatening the people” there, she said. “Commission funds, in the community budget, are starting to run out”, Ms. Udwin warned, adding that “for social allowances we are now in a period where [EU] member States pay.” (AFP)

Disputes over a Palestinian prisoner release are holding up a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and PA President Abbas, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat said. Earlier in the day, Israeli Government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said that she expected the two men to hold talks “toward the end of November”, after a likely Mr. Olmert trip to Washington. However, Mr. Erakat said it was “premature to talk about dates for the meeting.... What we’re trying to do at our level is to make sure that they meet, and meet successfully.” (AP)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat told Voice of Palestine radio that the Hamas-led Government must recognize Israel for the benefit of the people. “Since Hamas won the Parliament, it should ask its 24 ministers in the Parliament to recognize Israel to save the Palestinian people from destruction and damnation”, he said. Mr. Erakat also highly commended statements made by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who called on PA Prime Minister Haniyeh to “find a solution for his own if he doesn’t accept the Arab Peace Initiative.” (Xinhua)

King Abdullah of Jordan told Reuters in an interview at the royal palace in Amman, “I really think that by the first half of 2007 we might wake up to the reality and realize that the two-State solution is no longer attainable, and then what?” He called upon the Palestinian people to put aside internal differences and face other challenges, citing what he described as a growing right-wing camp in Israel pursuing an uncompromising “fortress Israel” mindset rather than “integration in the region”. “A lot is at stake today and if we fail now, we risk pushing Palestinian aspirations so far behind that it will take a long time to bring us back to where we want to be, and in the process, risk the future of Palestine”, King Abdullah added. (Reuters)

Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to PA Prime Minister Haniyeh, said in a statement: “The Egyptian good offices became a political need to protect our national project as the Palestinian people are still sinking under occupation and face mighty international pressure since the formation of the Hamas-led Government.” “The time has come for an expanded meeting in Cairo between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah ... to discuss new attempts or to finalize what has been previously accepted”, he said. (AFP, DPA)

An investigative report to be aired on Italian television today raises the possibility that Israel had used an experimental weapon in the Gaza Strip in recent months, causing especially serious physical injuries, such as amputated limbs and severe burns. The weapon is similar to one developed by the US military called DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive),which causes a powerful and lethal blast within a relatively small radius to achieve “low collateral damage”. (Ha’aretz, www.globalsecurity.org)

12

Palestinian militants launched four Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel that fell in and around Sderot, causing no injuries or damage. (Ynetnews)

During an IDF offensive near Khan Yunis, four Hamas militants and a 14-year-old boy were killed by a rocket fired from an Israeli drone, witnesses said. Six Palestinians were also wounded, doctors said. (DPA)

IDF forces arrested 12 “wanted” Palestinians in Nablus, Tulkarm, Bethlehem, Hebron and north-west of Ramallah in the West Bank. During the arrest operation in Nablus, the IDF spotted and shot a Palestinian gunman, the IDF said. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for detonating six roadside bombs when an IDF patrol passed through the streets of the West Bank city of Nablus. (Ma’an News Agency, www.idf.il, Ynetnews)

An Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a building in the crowded Shajaiyeh section of Gaza City, killing three Palestinians, including a 10-year-old girl. The others killed were the girl’s father, a Hamas militant, and the brother of the owner of the targeted house. The IDF said that the owner of the house, Ashraf Farawana, was a Hamas leader involved in attacks against Israel and supplying weapons to Hamas militants. Seven people were wounded, including children, doctors said. Shortly after the strike, Palestinians fired a rocket from Gaza at the Israeli town of Sderot, which struck an electricity pylon, leaving parts of the town without electricity and slightly injuring two people. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. (AP)

The IDF detained 200 Palestinians in Al Faraheen village, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. (www.imemc.org)

Israeli police arrested 10 youths from the “Hashmonaim” settlement suspected of attacking and beating local Palestinians harvesting olives. (Ha’aretz)

Four Palestinians were slightly wounded when armed men attacked and set on fire a union-run radio station linked to Fatah in the north of Gaza City, witnesses and medical officials said. The assailants lobbed a hand grenade at the station’s main entrance before asking those inside to leave the building and setting it on fire. (AFP)

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz ordered senior IDF officials to speed up the evacuation of “illegal” settlement outposts from the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal accused Israel of refusing to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captured IDF soldier in an interview with the Al-Hayat newspaper, saying Hamas wanted the release of 1,000 detainees, including women and children, and that Israel had “refused the principle of an exchange.” He accused Prime Minister Olmert of "hindering the agreement." “We have said that we will not submit to the Quartet's conditions because they are unjust in principle and we refuse to pin our destiny on the conditions of the enemy”, he stated. “There is an entity whose name is Israel, yes, but I am not interested in recognizing it”, said Mr. Mashaal. “We will deal with agreements that have been signed … according to the interests of the Palestinian people”, he said. “If they serve the interests of my people, I will implement them.” He also accused unnamed PA officials of preparing a coup against Hamas, and warned that Hamas would act forcefully to prevent any attempt to push forward elections in the PA. (The Jerusalem Post, www.albawaba.com)

The Department of Ambulance and Emergency of the PA Ministry of Health said in a report that 290 Palestinian civilians had been killed as a result of Israel’s “Operation Summer Rain”, aimed at freeing the Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian groups. Of the 290 killed, 135 were children and 35 were women, according to the report. The number of those injured was 4,350, 750 of whom have been permanently disabled, and 1,700 are children. (www.imemc.org)

An Israeli group, Physicians for Human Rights, said in a report that Israel’s domestic intelligence service routinely blocked sick Palestinians’ access to essential medical treatment in Israel. The group said that in some cases, the Shin Bet internal security agency had used the promise of an entry permit as bait to recruit collaborators, and wielded a veto over the issue of permits and had a policy of automatically classifying Palestinians as dangerous. (AP)

United Nations OCHA said in its latest update that not only had there not been any significant improvement in Palestinian movement in recent months but the number of Israeli checkpoints and other obstacles had actually increased. “The closure system is a primary cause of the humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip... It restricts Palestinian access not only to basic services such as health and education, but divides communities from their land and one another, places of work and sites of religious worship”, OCHA said. As of 20 September, the West Bank closure system comprised 528 checkpoints and physical obstacles – an increase of almost 2 per cent on the 518 obstacles reported in June, an 11 per cent rise since the start of 2006, and almost 40 per cent since August 2005, when the total was 376. (UN News Centre)

13

An Israeli aircraft attacked a car in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three Hamas militants, including a local commander. Five people were wounded, medics said. The army had confirmed the strike, saying that the occupants had been on their way to fire home-made rockets at Israel. In the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli troops shot dead a 29-year-old woman outside her house in the village of Abassan, Palestinian hospital officials said. The army said that it had no information about a woman being shot. Instead, it reported killing an armed militant and wounding another in the same area around the same time. (AFP, AP)

The IDF arrested 18 “wanted” members of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad in Ramallah and Bethlehem, Israeli sources reported. (Ma’an News Agency)

Three home-made rockets, fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, wounded three Israeli civilians in Sderot in southern Israel. (AP)

Hundreds of Palestinians rioted outside Jerusalem to protest restrictions on Palestinian entry to Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Temple Mount) for Friday prayers, hurling rocks and bottles at Border Police officers manning the Atarot and A-Ram checkpoints north of Jerusalem and two checkpoints south of Jerusalem. The police dispersed the Palestinians with rubber bullets, batons and stun grenades. There were no reports of injuries. (Ha’aretz)

Some 15 Palestinians were wounded in clashes between rival factions in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. In addition, Fatah members kidnapped two Hamas members. According to Palestinian sources, 13 out of the 15 wounded were unarmed civilians. The clashes began several hours after the assassination of Majd Abu-Drabia, the commander of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Beit Lahia. (Ynetnews)

The IDF set up a makeshift detention centre next to Israel’s border with Gaza to interrogate Palestinians detained in the latest incursions, an IDF spokeswoman said. She could not say how many Palestinians had been detained so far, but said that the army hoped to prevent rocket fire during the weeklong Jewish Sukkot holiday, or Feast of Tabernacles, which ends on 15 October. Photos published by the Ynet website showed soldiers guarding a group of blindfolded, handcuffed Palestinians, their hair covered with desert dust. One soldier held a water bottle to a detainee’s mouth. (AP)

US President George W. Bush waived provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987 that prohibited the PLO from having an official presence in Washington, thereby extending for six months permission for the PLO to maintain an office there. “I hereby determine and certify that it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the provisions”, Mr. Bush wrote in a memorandum to Secretary of State Rice. President Clinton was the first to waive the restriction in 1993, and it had been waived continually since then. (AP, www.whitehouse.gov)

According to a Hamas website, Iran had promised to provide assistance to the security forces of the PA Government. The promise came during a visit to Tehran by PA Interior Minister Said Siyam, accompanied by four of his advisers and the head of Hamas’ 3,500-member militia, which began on 10 October. (AP)

14

Six Palestinians were killed and 15 others wounded during an Israeli raid on the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF said that the clashes had begun when Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli bulldozer. The eyewitnesses said that IDF forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, had entered the Izbet Abed Rabbo area east of the Jabalya refugee camp shortly before midnight, prompting an exchange of fire with Palestinians in the area. Israeli aircraft then fired three rockets at a house where Palestinian gunmen were at the time, killing four and wounding nine, eyewitnesses and medics said. Two more Palestinians were killed in the firefight. At least three of the killed men were reportedly members of the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. (AFP, AP, DPA, The New York Times, Reuters)

Two Palestinians were killed and two more wounded when an Israeli drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Zaitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City. All four were identified as members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. An IDF spokeswoman told AFP: “An air raid was launched by the army against a vehicle transporting terrorist activists in Gaza City.” Another Israeli official said the men had launched rocket attacks at Israel. (AFP, AP)

An Israeli airplane destroyed a Palestinian house in al-Sallam neighbourhood of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip before dawn. No injuries were reported. An IDF officer reportedly telephoned the owner of the three-story house, Hamdi al-Ashshi, and ordered him to evacuate his house 15 minutes before it was targeted. (AP, Reuters, Xinhua)

PA Interior Minister Said Siyam and his Syrian counterpart, Bassam Abdel Majid, held talks in Damascus on “police training”, Syrian Arab News Agency reported. (AFP)

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met with Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Damascus to discuss the conflict between Hamas and Fatah, forming a Palestinian unity government and prisoner exchange, Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan said in a telephone interview. Other Hamas leaders also participated in the talks. (AP, DPA)

Several dozen Israeli armoured vehicles and bulldozers, backed by aircraft, made an incursion into the northern Gaza Strip, entering 2 km into Beit Hanoun. The IDF reportedly closed off the southern entrance to the town and blocked the main road linking the north and south of the territory. (AFP)

15

Israeli border guards arrested 3,230 illegal Palestinian residents in Israel over the weekend, Ynetnews reported. (Xinhua)

During a Cabinet meeting, senior Israeli military officials said that they believed Hamas had smuggled anti-aircraft weapons into Gaza for the first time. (AP)

“We offered to meet with Abu Mazen, but apparently he is not interested”, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert was quoted as telling a meeting of Kadima MKs. “He is conditioning a meeting on the release of prisoners and we will not release any prisoners until Gilad Shalit is released.” On the same day, Palestinian Legislative Council member Saeb Erakat said on the issue: “The efforts to schedule a meeting are still ongoing, and both sides are determined to ensure a successful meeting.” (AP)

King Abdullah II of Jordan met PA President Abbas who arrived in Amman for a two-day visit, Petra reported. During the talks, King Abdullah warned Mr. Abbas that inter-Palestinian tensions would have negative repercussions on the Palestinian cause of establishing an independent State and stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to rearrange the Palestinian internal scene and achieving national unity. “Regretfully, the differences are still there”, Mr. Abbas said after the meeting, adding: “Efforts for forming a national unity government are still present.” (AP, Xinhua)

In a press release, PA Minister of Refugees Atef Adwan accused the Jordanian Government of making a deal with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to transfer 280 Palestinian refugees, who had fled violence in Iraq, to Canada. The Palestinians are currently stuck on the Jordanian-Iraqi border. Mr. Adwan wondered why Jordan was able to allow 600,000 Iraqis in but not 280 Palestinians. He appealed to PA President Abbas to intervene and ask Jordan not to displace the Palestinian refugees, fearing that this step could lead to the transfer of Palestinian refugees to third countries and the end of their right of return to Palestine. The Jordanian Government, which boycotts the Hamas-led Government, ignored appeals sent by the PA Cabinet not to go ahead with the deal, said Mr. Adwan. (Xinhua)

16

The IDF carried out a raid in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip against Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. There were no injuries. A missile fired by the army destroyed the electricity generator, and the town was deprived of electricity. (AFP)

Israeli aircraft fired missiles in the northern Gaza Strip at what the IDF said had been Palestinian rocket launchers. No one was reported hurt. (AP)

Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians in Nablus and another two in Bethlehem. (WAFA)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired at least two Qassam rockets at Israel’s western Negev, one of which landed next to a house in Sderot, slightly wounding a woman in the leg. Seven others were treated for shock. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli settlers added 10 new outposts to the “Karmel” settlement, south-east of Hebron. (WAFA)

Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that it would teach the IDF a “lesson it will not forget” should it expand an offensive in the Gaza Strip, adding that it had the “means and arms necessary to confront the Zionist enemy with all our force if it proceeds with military operations in the Gaza Strip”. (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told the Knesset at the opening of its winter session: “Abu Mazen [PA President Abbas] is a legitimate partner. We maintain ongoing contact with him and his people, and I am willing to meet with him immediately to discuss ways to move forward according to the sequence of the Road Map and the phases therein.” (www.pmo.gov.il)

A Palestinian lawyer asked a Gaza court to order PA President Abbas to dismiss the PA Government, saying that Hamas bore responsibility for the lack of security in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, noting particularly the deaths of nine Palestinians in intra-Palestinian clashes earlier this month. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the lawsuit, brought by Wasim Abu Rass, a Fatah supporter, was politically motivated. Mr. Abu Rass said the court would convene on 21 October to hear his petition, which also calls on Mr. Abbas to use his presidential powers and dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council. (Reuters)

17

Israeli forces stormed Tubas, north-east of Nablus, and wounded four Palestinians. Also, Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians in Hebron, one in Bethlehem and two in Jenin. (WAFA)

The IDF said that its forces had shot an armed Palestinian in the northern Gaza Strip. (www.idf.il)

Israeli troops shot and killed four Palestinians in clashes in the West Bank. An 18-year-old member of Islamic Jihad was killed during a gunbattle with Israeli troops in Qabatiya, south of Jenin, the group said. According to the IDF, one of its patrols was on an arrest raid when it was fired upon by two militants. Troops returned fire hitting one of the men. In another incident, a Palestinian was killed and a teenager seriously wounded by army gunfire in Qabatiya, Palestinian security officials said. They said that the two had been throwing stones at the army jeeps. The IDF said that soldiers had fired at rock-throwers, killing one, who was on Israel’s wanted list. Later, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and his cousin were killed by Israeli undercover soldiers in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, Palestinian doctors and security officials said. The IDF said that a special unit had fired at an armed Palestinian in a car, killing him and a passenger. (AFP, AP)

The IDF said that it had discovered a tunnel used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. (www.idf.il)

PA President Abbas said that efforts to arrange a summit with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert were being hindered by the issue of Palestinian prisoners. “Everything has stopped because Israel is linking the release of prisoners to the release of Gilad Shalit”, Mr. Abbas said. (Reuters)

PA President Abbas promoted the idea of a cabinet of technocrats as a way to ease Western sanctions. President Abbas addressed reporters in Ramallah and said that it should be “considered seriously.” He also said: “In the near future, we need to reach options that will allow us to get out of this crisis as soon as possible… If there is no constitutional text, I will go to the people and hold a referendum.” (AP, Reuters)

EU foreign ministers endorsed plans to send High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) Javier Solana to the Middle East to assess efforts to revive the Middle East peace process. Officials said that Mr. Solana would visit Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, and meet with PA President Abbas during his trip the following week. The EU foreign ministers reiterated calls that Hamas form a unity government with Fatah, and called on “all Palestinian factions to end their internal strife” and resume coalition talks. “We are ready to normalize relations as soon as there is a government we can work with”, said External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. (AP)

Saudi King Abdullah and Jordanian King Abdullah II met in Mecca to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue and the crisis in Iraq. (AFP)

18

The IDF attacked Palestinian worshippers with tear gas as they tried to reach Jerusalem to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. (IMEMC)

Sawsan Abu Turki, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman, was assaulted by Israeli soldiers while trying to cross a checkpoint in Bethlehem to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Ms. Turki said that she was beaten with gun butts and clubs during the four-hour interrogation. The IDF arrested 18 Palestinians in Jenin and Nablus. (IMEMC, WAFA)

Israeli troops killed four Palestinians in the Rafah camp in the Gaza Strip: Ashraf al-Muasher, 26; Mohammed Abu Arar, 23; Zahir Tanani, 31; and Ghazi Abu Dahrouj, 21. Mr. Al-Muasher was allegedly one of the abductors of the IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. According to an Israeli military source, “since Shalit’s kidnapping, more than 250 terrorists have been killed…. This pressure will continue and will even get stronger.” IDF sources also said that the army had plans to expand the operation. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Ma’an News Agency, Reuters, The Washington Post, Xinhua, Ynetnews)

Palestinian women took to the streets in Ramallah to protest the continued fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The marchers urged PA President Abbas to find a solution on the coalition government, called upon both parties to stop internal fighting and to act logically. The march was part of a larger campaign initiated by women called “For the Sake of Palestine”. More actions were planned for the future. Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdurahman received a letter signed by the women’s societies, in which they stressed their position in regard to the internal fighting and the formation of the government of national unity. (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

Hamas urged the international community to take practical moves to stop the Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said in a statement, “The Palestinian Government strongly condemns the Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories and calls on the international community and the UN to stop the Israeli aggression and protect Palestinian civilians.” (Reuters, Xinhua)

Hamas Cabinet Spokesman Ghazi Hamad said Hamas’ position was moving closer to an agreement regarding the formation of a national unity government comprised of professional and experts from the whole Palestinian spectrum. “The new government will include experts, professionals and highly qualified Palestinians who will be accepted at a national and international level”. He also said that Arab and international mediations were currently taking place in an attempt to present “a balanced vision between Hamas and Fatah.” (Ma’an News Agency)

The US has addressed the growing issue of Palestinian-Americans barred from entering the Occupied Palestinian Territory. State Department officials called Israel’s restrictions “hard to understand.” Sam Bahour, a well-known Palestinian-American businessman, was given one month to abandon his businesses and leave the West Bank after living there for 13 years. (IMEMC)

Senior faculty members of Israel’s universities sent a letter to Defence Minister Amir Peretz asking him to lift restrictions barring Palestinian students from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from studying in Israel. The professors condemned “the sweeping ban” on entry for Palestinian students, and argued that each Palestinian student’s case should be examined individually. The letter stressed that students deemed not dangerous to Israel should be permitted to study in the country’s universities and colleges. (The Jerusalem Post)

The PLO was waiting for a response from factions on the option of forming an interim technocrat government before an agreement on a unity government, said Salah Raat, a senior PLO member, in an interview with Voice of Palestine. (Xinhua)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert: “The only way to break out of the vicious circle of violence is to end mutual accusations, free the hostages and resume peaceful negotiations.” (www.kremlin.ru)

19

An Israeli driver was moderately wounded when his bread-delivery truck came under fire on the road that connects the West Bank settlements of “Peduel” and “Alei Zahav”. The 20-year-old driver was shot in the thigh but was able to keep driving until he reached “Peduel”, where he was evacuated to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli authorities allowed 50 trucks of food aid and medicine to enter the Gaza Strip through the “Sufa” crossing. (Ma'an News Agency)

Nine men accused of smuggling weapons into Jordan for Hamas were released from prison on orders from King Abdullah II as part of an Eid Al-Fitr amnesty. (AP)

PA President Abbas said: “We will take key decisions concerning setting up a Government that is committed to Arab and international law in order to lift the siege imposed on our people and to ease their suffering.” (AP, Reuters)

The Palestinians are nearing their "moment of truth”, Prime Minister Olmert said. “Either Abu Mazen [PA President Abbas] takes bold steps, or we all lose any remaining hope”, he added. (AFP)

In an interview with Ha’aretz, senior Israeli Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said that Israel should hold permanent peace negotiations with Arab States based on the Saudi initiative. Mr. Sheetrit also said that Israel should agree to negotiate over the Golan Heights if Syria halted its support of terrorism. Mr. Sheetrit outlined his proposal in place of Olmert's convergence plan. (Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Government was negotiating a deal with West Bank settlers that would see a large number of unauthorized settlement outposts made permanent, settlers and security officials said. The deal, which would legalize most of the 100 outposts in the West Bank, move a smaller number and evacuate entirely only a handful, was being worked out by settler leaders and Defence Minister Amir Peretz, according to Emily Amrussi, a spokeswoman for the settlers. (AP)

After meeting with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel accepted many of Egypt's ideas on how to conduct negotiations over the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, being held by a Palestinian group. "We are looking forward to and we have accepted the framework that has been crystallized by the Egyptians”, Mr. Ben-Eliezer said. According to the proposal, the Palestinian group would free the soldier in return for an Israeli commitment to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners at a future date. (Ha’aretz)

PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahhar dismissed proposals to form a technocrat government of professionals instead of a unity government. He said that all Palestinian national factions preferred a unity government based on the Prisoners' Document. (Xinhua)

The Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion conducted a poll showing 65.2 per cent of Palestinians in favour of the dissolution of the Hamas Executive Force in the Gaza Strip; 35.3 per cent in favour of forming a national unity government on the basis of the national dialogue charter; 61.8 per cent oppose the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority; while 52.7 per cent oppose the Palestinian Government's refusal of the Quartet conditions. (http://www.pcpo.ps/polls.htm)

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Alvaro de Soto briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. (UN Press Release SC/8855)

Speaking before the Security Council, Israel's Permanent Representative Dan Gillerman alleged that Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal had received $50 million from Iran to thwart the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Iran’s representative rejected the allegations. (UN Press Release SC/8855)

Turkey had sent humanitarian aid worth $1 million to the Palestinians, Turkey’s Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. (Xinhua)

20

PA Prime Minister Haniyeh escaped unhurt when his motorcade came under gunfire in Gaza City. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinians fired six rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, causing no casualties or property damage, the IDF said. (Ha’aretz)

The IDF arrested four “wanted” Palestinians in Hebron and Ramallah. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinian gunmen fired at IDF troops in Nablus. No injuries were sustained. (Ha’aretz)

Three Bedouins were arrested by Egyptian police for trying to smuggle some 200 crates of weapons into the Gaza Strip. (AP)

Hundreds of IDF soldiers are operating some 4 km inside the Gaza Strip near Rafah looking for tunnels allegedly used to smuggle arms from Egypt. An IDF spokeswoman confirmed the incursion was the deepest inside the Gaza Strip since the 2005 disengagement. Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel Public Radio: “I told President Mubarak that the arms smuggling via the tunnels and by sea is continuing in large quantities.” (AFP)

PA Prime Minister Haniyeh said: “We are in favour of the setting up of a unity government based on the National Reconciliation Document…. If they imagine that we can belong to a government that recognizes the legitimacy of the occupation and abandons the resistance, they will be waiting a long time”. “Even if the Prime Minister and the Government were sacked, no government that will be formed will have the confidence of parliament without ... the Change and Reform [Hamas] bloc”, Mr. Haniyeh told worshippers at a mosque in Gaza City. (AFP, Reuters)

"We [Hamas and Fatah] have agreed to end all displays of armed violence, tension, provocation and accusations in the media and on the political scene”, Fatah spokesman Maher Miqdad said. The agreement followed Egyptian-mediated talks between the factions in Gaza City. (AFP)

The Hamas-led PA Government had agreed to form a technocrat government comprised of professionals and qualified people on the condition that this government had a clear political platform that was agreed upon by the factions, Salah al-Bardawil, Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council faction speaker, said. He added that the new government's reference point should be the National Reconciliation Document. (Ma'an News Agency)

“We will never recognize Israel, and the end of the Zionists will be like the end of the Crusaders, Persians and British who left here”, PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said in a speech in Khan Yunis. “If we can establish a State in the 1967 borders, we will do so, but that does not mean we will give up our right to a centimetre of the land of Palestine”, he said. (Ha’aretz)

Some 74 per cent of the 102 unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank are at least partly built on private Palestinian land, according to a survey by the Peace Now settlement monitoring team. (Ha’aretz)

The Sheikh Mohammed Ben-Rashed Al-Maktum Institute, a United Arab Emirates charitable agency, was to begin building a pharmacy in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus at a total cost of $750,000. (Ma'an News Agency)

21

IDF soldiers shot dead a 50-year-old Palestinian during an operation in of Khan Yunis. (DPA)

Ahmed Yousef, a senior aide to PA Prime Minister Haniyeh, said: “Qatar amended its six-point initiative and it may present it again to Hamas leadership directly after Eid Al-Fitr.” (Xinhua)

PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said: "We consider doubling the number of the auxiliary forces members, and we consider establishing another auxiliary force in the West Bank in order to prevent assaults on our ministers and establishments.” Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdurahman said the forces were illegal and should be broken up. (Xinhua)

In a meeting with PA Prime Minister Haniyeh, prominent Palestinians urged him to consider a Cabinet made up of professionals to end the deadlock with Fatah over the formation of a national unity government. (Reuters)

PA President Abbas has brought security commander Ismail Jaber out of retirement. He will take command of all the West Bank security forces, except the three branches under the control of the PA Interior Ministry. (AP)

“Demanding that Hamas fully accepts the Quartet's conditions, such as recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting all existing agreements with Israel is unrealistic at the present stage”, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told KUNA news agency. Hamas could “move gradually towards accepting these conditions”, he said. (KUNA, www.mid.ru, Xinhua)

22

Masked gunmen killed Mohammed Shahadeh, the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Fatah blamed Hamas for the attack and ordered its forces across the Gaza Strip to go on alert, Fatah officials said. (Reuters)

PA security officers demanding overdue salaries blocked the main Gaza Strip intersections and forced shopkeepers to close their stores. (AP)

One Palestinian was killed and 15 were wounded in a battle with Israeli forces in Tammun in the northern West Bank during an operation to arrest an Islamic Jihad militant. (AP, Ma’an News Agency)

Prime Minister Olmert and PA President Abbas agreed during a phone conversation to continue their efforts to prepare for a future meeting, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's office said. (Xinhua)

Prime Minister Olmert told a weekly Cabinet meeting: “There is no change in the principles laid down by the Quartet and Russia”, an official who took part in the meeting said. Several ministers said the IDF should recapture the Salah al-Din ("Philadelphi") corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to prevent arms smuggling. Mr. Olmert is to convene the political-security Cabinet this week to discuss Israel's response to the firing of Qassam rockets and weapons smuggling. (AP, Ha’aretz)

23

At least 7 Palestinians were killed and 30 were injured by IDF soldiers in Beit Hanoun. Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Abir said the target appeared to be Ata Shinbari, who led the group's rocket-launching branch. He vowed revenge for Mr. Shimbari's death. "This is the calm before the storm”, he told a news conference. PA President Abbas condemned the operation as a “loathsome massacre.” (Ha’aretz, WAFA)

A Qassam rocket landed near a western Negev IDF base. No casualties or damage were reported. (Ha’aretz)

The death toll from Israel’s offensive in Gaza rose to eight when a Palestinian died of his wounds the next day. (AP)

Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal was in Saudi Arabia for talks with Government officials on the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. He was also expected to visit Qatar. (The Jerusalem Post)

PA President Abbas ordered more than 20,000 security personnel, including Fatah-affiliated paramilitaries and police, to be deployed in the Gaza Strip during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Ha’aretz reported. Several PA security forces commanders confirmed the order existed. (Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

Shaul Mofaz, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Transportation Minister, met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns in Washington. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Mofaz commented on reports that PA Interior Minister Said Siyam had been promised vehicles and other help from Iran during a visit to Tehran. Mr. Mofaz said Iran’s promised assistance to PA security forces reflected an increasing danger to Israel and other countries in the Middle East. (AP)

The Erez checkpoint on Gaza’s northern tip opened briefly for Eid al-Fitr to allow Palestinian families, separated by the Israel-Gaza divide, to reunite for two or three days. (AFP)

24

The IDF pulled out from “Philadelphi route” bordering the southern Gaza Strip after a week-long military operation to uncover arms-smuggling tunnels, Israel Army Radio reported. In the course of “Operation Squeezed Fruit”, which the army said marked its deepest incursion into Gaza since the withdrawal, the IDF troops had reportedly discovered 15 tunnels dug under the border. An IDF spokesman said, however, that Israeli forces operating in the north of the Strip would “continue their mission until new orders.” (AFP, Xinhua)

Three home-made rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip. Two of them landed in Sderot, damaging two vehicles and causing a number of residents to go into shock. The Israeli Air Force responded by firing two missiles at rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip. (Xinhua)

Palestinian gunmen kidnapped Emilio Morenatti, 37, a Spanish photographer working for AP in the Gaza Strip. He was heading out of his apartment to an AP car when four gunmen grabbed him, put him in another vehicle and drove away, the AP said, citing one of its drivers who witnessed the incident. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Mr. Morenatti, from Jerez, Spain, had been working for the news agency in Jerusalem since 2005. PA Prime Minister Haniyeh condemned the kidnapping and vowed his Government would “try to resolve this as soon as possible so the journalist will return to his family and friends”. Mr. Morenatti was released 15 hours later unharmed. He said the kidnappers held him in a small room, where he was kept for about four hours during which he was visited by masked men, and then taken to another location: “They put a bag on my head and they dressed me up as a woman, as a woman in a long veil.” (EFE, Reuters)

PA President Abbas paid a brief visit to King Abdullah II of Jordan. Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit attended the meeting discussing efforts to form a national unity government. (AP)

An Israeli defence establishment secret study revealed “rampant illegal construction” in dozens of West Bank settlements, in many cases on privately owned Palestinian properties, Ha’aretz reported. The report, the result of a two-year investigation, was presented to two successive Israeli Defence Ministers but was not released to the public. In addition, several people involved in the investigation were asked to sign non-disclosure forms. Ha’aretz quoted “security sources familiar with the study” as describing it as “political and diplomatic dynamite” which was not being released in order to avoid a confrontation with the US. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos told a parliamentary panel in Madrid: “I don’t think the Road Map is the best path to get out of the stagnation. I don’t think it is in condition now to resurrect the Middle East peace process, nor do I think small confidence-building measures can work.” He also said that Europe had a historic opportunity to take the lead in promoting a fresh approach to the Middle East conflict, and negotiations should include Syria and take into account the Iranian nuclear dispute. “It is necessary that this diplomatic initiative be led by the EU, not with small, gradual steps, but with a major initiative that has great scope”, Mr. Moratinos said. “Everyone agrees that sooner or later there will be a peace conference.” (AP)

Touring of the Israel-Gaza border, Defence Minister Amir Peretz, said that the IDF would carry out more military operations in the Gaza Strip to prevent Palestinian rocket attacks and arms smuggling from Egypt. “We have no intention of reoccupying the Gaza Strip”, Mr. Peretz said, adding, “We will do everything necessary to ensure that Gaza does not turn into south Lebanon.” (AP, Xinhua)

Delivering the University of Maryland’s “Sadat lecture for peace”, Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that conflicts like those in the Middle East “cannot be solved through military force”, and called for a new broad approach focusing on human security rather than state security. “A solution to this [Israel-Palestinian] conflict is within our grasp, provided that the conditions are created to enable this solution to come into being”, he said. The central elements of a solution have long been known, so involved parties should try a new tact by beginning with the blueprint of a settlement and then “work backward towards the details of implementation”, Mr. ElBaradei also said. (Reuters)

25

Israeli settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. Ibrahim Salah said that about 30 family members had been tending to their field west of Nablus when some 50 settlers descended on the area wielding rocks and metal bars, and some holding guns. He said that his son Basel, 31, was hit in the head by a metal bar and taken to a hospital. Witnesses said that four others were lightly wounded. Israeli troops arrived shortly after the incident and dispersed the crowd, evacuating Mr. Salah to a hospital in an army jeep, the IDF said. The incident occurred near the “Havat Gilad” outpost. Lt. Adam Avidan, the spokesman for the IDF Civil Administration, said that this year preparations were made to protect Palestinian villagers during the olive harvest, including visits to potential areas of conflict and coordination with village representatives regarding the dates and locations of the harvest. (AP, The Chicago Tribune)

Israeli military sources reported that Defence Minister Amir Peretz did not intend to evacuate the unauthorized settlement outposts in the Occupied West Bank, but only to demolish 86 structures, half of them built on Palestinian property. (IMEMC)

EU High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana began a six-day tour of the Middle East aimed at promoting the EU peace efforts there. Mr. Solana will hold talks in Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. His first stop was Jerusalem. (AFP, AP)

The head of Hamas Political Bureau Khalid Mashaal was expected to arrive in Egypt in the coming days to discuss the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit and efforts to bring Fatah and Hamas closer together. Hamas leaders were reportedly going to agree to form a national unity government for one year, to be followed by early presidential and legislative elections. (Ma’an News Agency)

PA Minister of Education Nasser Al-Shaer urged Arab leaders to help rescue the education system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, after a two months’ loss of schooling. He called on them to provide the needed financial support to address the problem, which was affecting more than a million students. (IMEMC)

Executive Force members were recruiting young Palestinians of all political factions from villages and towns around Bethlehem. A source told Ma’an News Agency: “What is happening is nothing more than the formation of small units for the protection of senior political figures and ministers who fear they may be exposed by unknown parties…. The composition of an Executive Force is not done in secret but is announced publicly through the Ministry of the Interior.” (IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency)

26

The IDF killed Lami Hamdan Abu Lahiya, 22, a member of the PA security forces, and Suhail Abdul-Razzaq Almajdalawi, 35, a farmer working in his field, near Khan Yunis, and seriously injured two others. PA security sources said that more than 20 tanks had invaded the area at dawn under cover of heavy machine gunfire and helicopter overflights. The IDF also arrested one Palestinian in the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, and attacked Palestinian houses. (AP, AFP, IMEMC, Ma’an News Agency, Reuters, Ynetnews.)

Various military factions in the Gaza Strip fired projectiles and mortars at Israeli targets. The Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for firing a home-made rocket at an Israeli armed personnel carrier in the Faraheen area east of Khan Yunis. Meanwhile, the Al-Nasser Salah ad-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for bombarding the Sufa crossing, south of Khan Yunis, with two "Nassir-2" missiles. In a statement, the Brigades said that this operation had come in response to the killing of one of their leaders, Atta al-Shinbari, from Beit Hanoun, and the continued Israeli escalations on the Gaza Strip. In the north of the Gaza Strip, the Saraya Al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for shelling a group of Israeli vehicles near the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel with three home-made mortar rockets. They also said they had shot at an Israeli soldier east of Beit Hanoun. (Ma'an News Agency)

The Shin Bet foiled an attempt to smuggle six kgs of TNT from the Gaza Strip through the Al-Muntar (Karni) crossing to the West Bank. (AP, Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

IDF planes flew over the northern Gaza Strip and dropped leaflets, accusing Palestinian militant groups of being responsible for the sufferings of the people. “Terrorists take advantage of you and use you as human shield and they are responsible for continuing the suffering of the Palestinian people… The Israeli army is operating in your area to thwart terror attacks that irresponsible members plan to carry out from your residential area”, it said. (Xinhua)

Hamas Cabinet Spokesman Ghazi Hamad denied that Hamas would accept the establishment of a national unity government comprised of professionals that would not include Hamas. “The only choice that has been agreed upon … is a national unity government which brings together personalities and skills from Fatah and Hamas, in addition to independent personalities. Apart from this suggestion, which has received a national consensus, there is no intention to form a government excluding Hamas”, he said. (Ma’an News Agency)

EU High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana met Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Tel Aviv and said that as far as Europe was concerned, the Road Map still existed and should be implemented by both sides. He added that he was concerned after one of the Israeli ministers had said that outposts and settlements would not be touched. Mr. Solana told Ms. Livni that Israel must remove all settlement outposts in the Occupied West Bank and do its part to advance the Road Map. He also said that he hoped the Rafah crossing would be reopened on a regular basis, saying: “We hope to have in a few days or weeks – we hope days – a response on a renewal of our [EU monitors] presence in Rafah.” Ms. Livni said that things on the ground must be changed in order to bolster PA President Abbas and convey a message to the Palestinian people that a change can take place, “but all this cannot happen while Hamas controls their lives.” Mr. Solana also met with PA President Abbas in Ramallah later during the day. The two discussed the formation of a national unity government. (AP, AFP, IMEMC, Ha’aretz, Ynetnews, WAFA)

The Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the residents of several Palestinian villages against the route of the separation wall. The segment, 6 kms long, had been built around the settlements of “Immanu’el”, “Ma’ale Shomron” and “Karnei Shomron”, on land which belongs to Palestinian villages. (Ynetnews)

An EU official said that PA Interior Minister Said Muhammad Siyam had personally carried $2 million into the Gaza Strip, but there was little the EU monitors at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing could do. Mr. Siyam registered the money with officials at the crossing as required by law. (AP, Ha’aretz, Ynetnews)

Israeli prison officials announced that they would transfer all Palestinians arrested at the “Huwwara” checkpoint in Nablus to a prison inside the Israeli settlement of “Kedumim”. (IMEMC)

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a 53-page report, which said that Israel was violating the right of the Palestinians to visit relatives held in Israeli jails, transferring the detainees out of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and placing restrictions on the visits. The report said that moving most of the 9,000 Palestinian prisoners out the Occupied Palestinian Territory was already a violation of international law. “The vast majority of Palestinian prisoners are held in prisons inside Israel, and not in the occupied West Bank, in contravention of International Humanitarian Law”, Communications Director Sarit Michaeli told AFP. (AP, AFP, Reuters)

27

Three Palestinians were killed in IDF raids in the northern West Bank, medics and relatives of the victims said. In the refugee camp of Al Faraa, Saadi Subuh, 23, and Mustafa Abu Zalat, 17, were shot and killed. Mr. Abu Zalat's uncle said his nephew might have been throwing stones at army jeeps. The IDF said that it had opened fire on Palestinians who approached troops with a handgun and an axe. An IDF spokesperson said that the gunman was killed, and the man with the axe was wounded in the leg and taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. In the village of Yamoun, Ahmed Abul Hassan, 28, was shot and killed as he stood on the roof of his home. Relatives said that he had gone up to watch the army raid and was hit by a bullet to the head. Two of Mr. Abul Hassan's brothers were wounded, the family said. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli aircraft bombarded a home in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip at dawn. The house, which the IDF claimed had been used as an ammunition store, belonged to a Hamas member. (Ma’an News Agency)

The Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for launching a number of home-made Qassam rockets towards Israel’s Al-Majdal power station in Ashkelon. (Ma’an News Agency)

During a stop at the Askar refugee camp in the West Bank, EU High Representative for CFSP Solana urged Palestinian leaders to move with urgency to form a new government, warning that the plight of the Palestinians was worsening. Mr. Solana said that international sanctions against the Hamas-led Government had taken a heavy toll on ordinary Palestinians. "The problem is now that the political solution may arrive too late. Things may get too bad that it will be difficult to recuperate. We have to reverse the situation”, he said. (AP)

Palestinian officials said that PA President Abbas would dissolve the Hamas-led Government within two weeks if the group did not agree to form a governing coalition with Fatah. Mr. Abbas told EU High Representative for CFSP Solana that he would replace the Cabinet with an apolitical panel of professionals, according to the officials. (AP)

A senior Hamas official in Damascus demanded that Israel release Palestinian prisoners at the same time that Hamas freed detained Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, as part of a proposed prisoner exchange, Al Hayat reported. According to the report, Hamas was awaiting an Israeli response to the proposed deal. The paper quoted the senior Hamas source as saying that the group expected Israel to be flexible on the timing of Mr. Shalit's release and that of the Palestinian prisoners. Commenting on this proposal, Israeli sources said that "Israel can live with such a deal." (Ha’aretz)

During the Mediterranean Forum (FOROMED) two-day meeting, which opened in Alicante in southeast Spain and attended by ministers from 11 States, Spain was expected to propose hosting a new peace conference on the Middle East, similar to that held in Madrid in 1991. The forum is a consultative body associated with the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean process, a framework for political, economic and social relations in the region. A declaration was due to be issued at the end of the meeting, to be attended by Foreign Ministers or their deputies from Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Tunisia. Libya has observer status. Spainish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who was presiding over the meeting, told his country's Parliament earlier this week that the Road Map was no longer adequate and that a major initiative, of the type of the 1991 Madrid conference, now appeared necessary, adding that it was still too early to say where or in what framework a new conference might be held. But he made clear Spain would again be a candidate to host it. (AFP)

Israel may soon use "smart" bombs on the narrow border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, known as the Salah al-Din (Philadelphi) corridor, to destroy tunnels used to smuggle weapons into the Palestinian territory, Ma'ariv, the Israeli newspaper reported. The newspaper said precision-guided weapons would be used to penetrate deep underground in the hope of destroying the tunnel network. (Reuters)

Khaled Mashaal, Hamas Political Bureau Chief, was slated to meet with senior Egyptian officials in Cairo the following day to discuss a deal for the release of detained Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Sources involved in the talks described the meeting as "critical”, adding that if Mr. Mashaal really came to Cairo to attend the session, he would probably accept the proposed deal. (Ha’aretz)

The Spokesman for the Secretary-General announced the publication of the report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 on the Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (UN News Centre)

28

A Palestinian woman, Ni’mah Udwan, died of wounds sustained during an Israeli invasion into Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on 23 October. Seven Palestinians were injured during the invasion. (Ma’an News Agency, WAFA)

Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians in Ramallah: Rami Al-Barghothi, the director of the Ministry of Interior office in Ramallah, Ala’ Rimawi, adviser to the Minister for Women’s Affairs, and Mazin Rimawi, the director of the Hamas office. (Ma’an News Agency)

Palestinians fired two Qassam rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported. (Ha’aretz)

Diplomats attending the Mediterranean Forum in Alicante, Spain, called for a multilateral approach to resolving the Middle East conflict, proposing an urgent revision of the Road Map process and an international conference to end what it called the current state of stagnation. “The time has come for a new effort aimed at solving the problems that lie at the heart of the Middle East crisis”, the diplomats said in a document titled the “Declaration of Alicante.” “The Middle East is facing its worst crisis in years following the war in Lebanon and ongoing violence in the occupied territories.… The existing international peace plans and initiatives on the Middle East have reached a state of stagnation, with far-reaching consequences in a wider region fuelling new challenges to global peace and security”, they said. (AP)

PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat said that the gross domestic product of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had dropped from $4.04 (€3.2) billion to $2.9 (€2.3) billion in the past year, a decline of 28 per cent. Investments dropped by 60 per cent, from $1 billion to $400 million in the same period, Mr. Erakat added. (AP)

The Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization said an aid convoy comprising eight trucks laden with 75 tons of canned meat donated by the Charity Committee in Bahrain had been sent to the Palestinian territories. (Petra)

29

A 30-year-old Palestinian, Musa Abu Sneina who was trying to steal equipment from the unused Gaza airport, was shot and killed, Palestinian security officials said. The security officials blamed the IDF for the killing, but the army said it had no forces in the area and had no reports of a shooting incident there. (AP)

Israeli soldiers, backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, swept into the Al-Jalazun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, randomly fired at homes, and arrested 20 Palestinians after conducting a door-to-door search. (WAFA)

A Qassam rocket, fired from the northern Gaza Strip, landed on a sheep farm in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Some of the sheep were injured and several people were treated for shock. A few minutes later, two other rockets landed near greenhouses in a Western Negev community. No injuries were reported. (Ynetnews)

Israel’s public television reported that a group of Israeli negotiators met secretly with representatives of Hamas in London earlier in the month. The meeting was organized by an intermediary for the former British intelligence officer Alistair Crook, the report said. The Israelis who took part in the talks described the Fatah Party as a “has-been” and said that it was necessary to engage in dialogue with Hamas. For their part, Hamas representatives urged Israel to send amenable Israeli politicians, such as former minister Yossi Beilin, to hold talks with Hamas in order to end its “international isolation.” During the discussions, the Hamas representatives refused to recognize the Jewish State as demanded by Israel and the West, while proposing a “truce of 20 or 30 years”, according to the report. Among the Israelis who participated in the talks were Yair Hirschfeld, an academic who was one of the main negotiators for the 1993 Oslo accords, and Reserve General Shlomo Brom, who is currently a researcher at Tel Aviv University. Ahmed Yussef, a close advisor to PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, was among the Hamas representatives. (AFP)

Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Hassan Younes said that Egyptian engineers had started operating on trial a key Gaza power plant after the completion of the first stage, according to the official news agency MENA. Five new transformers had been installed by Egyptian engineers to restore 75 per cent of the power plant’s total electrical output, Mr. Younes said, adding that the second stage would be put into operation in mid-November. (Xinhua)

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A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open field south of the Israeli town of Ashkelon. No injuries were reported. (Ynetnews)

Israeli forces arrested seven Palestinians in the West Bank: a policeman in Jenin, two Palestinians in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, three in Dura and Bani Na’im near Hebron, and a 19-year-old in Bethlehem. (WAFA)

Palestinian gunmen abducted a Spanish aid worker in Khan Yunis in the central Gaza Strip. The hostage was identified by colleagues as Roberto Vila, a 34-year-old aid worker with the Cooperation Assembly for Peace, a Spanish charity group. (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert was quoted as telling the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that Israel planned to expand its military offensive in the Gaza Strip and would decide soon on what kind of operation it would conduct. (AP)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he would consider allowing PA President Abbas to beef up his loyalist forces with troops stationed in Jordan. Palestinian officials said last week that Mr. Abbas wanted to bring in the Jordan-based Badr Brigade ahead of a possible showdown with Hamas. Mr. Olmert was quoted as telling the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee: “If the addition of a military force will not hurt our security, then this will be considered favourably.” He did not mention the Badr force by name. (The Jerusalem Post)

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy leader of Hamas’ political bureau in Syria, said that a Hamas delegation from Syria would travel to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials about a possible prisoner swap in exchange for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. He added that the delegation would be headed by Imad al-Alami, Hamas’ representative in Syria, who would meet with the Egyptian chief of intelligence, Omar Suleiman, to talk about the soldier and the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. Mr. Abu Marzouk said Hamas’ political leader Khaled Mashaal would not be attending the talks. (AP)

A 12-member delegation from the European Parliament had ended a visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory after holding several meetings with political and economic personalities, and representatives of civil society. The group was headed by Luisa Morgantini, the head of the Development Committee in the European Parliament. Ms. Morgantini affirmed in a press conference held in Gaza City the previous day that the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip had turned it into a big prison. She said that the European Parliament recognizes the Palestinian Parliament, which was elected democratically to represent the Palestinians. She said that the European Parliament adopted a decision to demand the release of the Palestinian Legislators, Ministers and members of the local councils who were abducted. She said that Israel should release all Palestinian prisoners. (www.maannews.net)

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Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip during a gunbattle with armed Palestinians in the village of Khouza, along the Gaza-Israel borders, security officials said. The three killed Palestinians belonged to the military wing of Hamas, Hamas spokesman Abu Obeidah said. (AP)

The IDF arrested four Palestinians, including two policemen, in the West Bank cities of Tubas, Jenin and Hebron, security sources and witnesses said. (WAFA)

An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian were wounded in an exchange of fire near Ramallah. The soldier was patrolling near the settlement of “Dolev”, an IDF spokesman said. The Palestinian was wounded in a subsequent fire fight with militants who attacked an Israeli checkpoint, Palestinian medics said. (AFP)

A delegation of Hamas leaders was in Cairo where they met with senior Egyptian officials, including Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, to hold talks on prisoner exchange with Israel. The delegation, headed by Imad al-Alami, the group’s representative in Syria, also included PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and Hamas Spokesman Mushir al-Masri. “If the soldier [Cpl. Gilad Shalit] is released, this would open the way for a resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis”, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters. “The other issue is how to put the Palestinian house in order”, he added. “There was nothing new. It was not what was expected, nor what is required”, said an official on condition of anonymity. (AFP, Ynetnews.com)

PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel of attempting to isolate the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Mr. Haniyeh said in a statement that Israel planned to reoccupy part of the Gaza Strip to separate it from Egypt. The Prime Minister made the remarks when reports said that Israel would reoccupy Rafah city and the adjacent border with Egypt in an effort to prevent arms smuggling from Egypt to Palestinian militant groups. He urged the international community to "stop Israeli aggression and its plans to reoccupy the Gaza Strip." (Xinhua)

IDF GOC Southern Command Yoav Glant told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that Hamas could feasibly establish a military division of some 10,000 soldiers with an operational force similar to Hezbollah's if it continued to strengthen at its current pace. Mr. Glant said that Hamas could bolster its forces to include anti-tank divisions and commandos, and could gain access to advanced weapons systems as well as night-vision apparatus. He informed the Knesset that the IDF was preparing to weaken Hamas' efforts, but the plan must first be approved at the political level, adding that Hamas was currently in its first phase of force building and did not yet have these advanced capabilities or a hierarchical system of divisions and brigades. (Ha’aretz)

In a statement to WAFA, the Head of the Presidential Council, Rafik al-Husseini, said that the World Bank had provided a grant of $3.3 million, to Palestinian universities including: Najah National University in Nablus, the Islamic University and Al-Azhar University in Gaza, Bir Zeit University, the University of Jerusalem, Palestine Polytechnic University, Hebron University, Al-Quds Open University and the University of Bethlehem. (WAFA)

Working with an Israeli human rights group, Shayma al-Naji, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, and her nine colleagues, petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to allow them to travel to the West Bank to complete their studies. Miss al-Naji was studying physiotherapy, an occupation much needed in Gaza owing to the high rate of disability. Seeking to meet the need for physiotherapists, the West Bank's Bethlehem University awarded scholarships in 2003 to 10 Gazans, including Ms. al-Naji, to study occupational therapy in a four-year course. With Israel’s security and travel restrictions after the Hamas-led Palestinian Government took office, Ms. al-Naji and her nine colleague’s requests to travel were turned down. Many others have been discouraged from applying to study in West Bank universities, which had a wider selection of courses and higher standards than Gaza universities. At a court hearing, lawyers said that Israel should do away with the blanket travel ban on Palestinian students and evaluate each case individually. It was not known when the court would rule on the case. But a similar dispute, involving a West Bank resident who wanted to pursue a doctorate in chemistry at Israel's Hebrew University, had stretched on for months without a decision. (AP)

The US administration had undertaken efforts to arm and train the Presidential Guard of PA President Abbas. US Security Coordinator in the Occupied Palstinian Territory, Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, appeared before representatives of the Quartet in London the week before and presented them with a programme for bolstering the Palestinian Presidential Guard. The programme called for Egyptian, British and Jordanian instructors to train President Abbas’ guards. Palestinian sources said that the training of a "Special Presidential Guard" had started already a month before, under the guidance of an American military instructor. The training had been taking place in Jericho, at a compound near the InterContinental Hotel, involving 400 men from Force 17, an elite Fatah force assigned for the protection of the President of the Palestinian Authority. (Ha’aretz)

“We could see the [2002] Saudi initiative as the basis for negotiation. This does not mean that we are adopting the Saudi initiative, but it can serve as a basis”, Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz said at an academic conference at Tel Aviv University. (AP)

“The Office of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Ministry have begun making the contacts and the necessary preparations for a tour of Arab and Muslim countries”, PA Prime Minister Haniyeh’s aide, Mohammed Madhun, said, adding that the trip could begin in the middle of November. It would include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Qatar, Lebanon and Iran. (AFP)

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the Egypt-Gaza Strip border was under full control of the Egyptian border guard and police forces from one side and the PA from the other. Asked about reports that Israel planned to shell the Salah al-Din (“Philadelphi”) area because there were tunnels for smuggling weapons, he said: “We cannot accept such a shelling and such an act would be totally against the international law.” (Xinhua)


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