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Division for Palestinian Rights
Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
MONTHLY MEDIA MONITORING REVIEW
July 2004

1

An IDF ambush killed five Palestinian militants near the “Netzarim” settlement, south of Gaza City, in the evening, Israel Radioreported. The militants were waylaid as they were making their way to the settlement. It was unclear whether they planned to infiltrate the settlement or whether they intended to open fire on Israeli vehicles driving between the settlement and the Karni crossing point. The soldiers initially killed one of the militants and then spotted four others, who were killed in the ensuing gunfight which lasted several hours and reached the outskirts of nearby Gaza City. A sixth Palestinian was wounded in the clash and three others were arrested. (AFP, AP, DPA)

Israeli forces with tanks in search of smuggling tunnels shot dead a nine-year-old child, Omar Zara’an or Mohammed Abu Zreihan, as he was playing football in the Rafah refugee camp. (AFP, Reuters)

In the northern Gaza Strip, medics said they had received the body of Ismail Nabhan, 26, a member of Hamas, who had been shot dead in a gunfight with troops in the Jabalya refugee camp. The IDF said Mr. Nabhan was killed after he and another gunman had opened fire on an Israeli position. (AFP)

Six Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, when Israeli troops mounted a brief incursion into Gaza City, which ended late in the evening. Medics said the six Palestinians wounded by Israeli gunfire in the city’s Zeitoun neighbourhood included a cameraman for Palestinian TV. Earlier, Hamas claimed that gunmen from its military wing had surrounded an Israeli special forces unit inside a residential building in Zeitoun. The army would not comment on the incident. Israeli helicopters fired rockets at Beit Hanoun wounding at least seven people, witnesses reported. (AFP, UPI)

An IDF force of at least 20 jeeps and 5 tanks supported by 2 helicopters, moved into Jericho at around 5 am and detained more than 30 suspects, accusing the PA of allowing the town to become a “shelter for terrorists”. The operation continued for about five hours, when all entrances were sealed off and a curfew was imposed. The sporadic gunfire could be heard throughout the morning as troops searched through houses. Four injuries were reported. (AFP, AP)

Residents of the village of Khallet an-Nu’man near East Jerusalem filed an appeal with Israel’s High Court of Justice in which they demanded a change to the separation barrier’s route to be on the PA side of the structure. ( Ma’ariv)

Ann Petter, 44, a New York City graphic designer and an International Solidarity Movement member, arrived at Israel’s international airport in Tel Aviv on 23 June, said her lawyer, Yael Berda. She refused a police request to return to the United States and was being held at the airport pending a court hearing on her petition to have the order rescinded. The police had determined that Ms. Petter was a threat to Israel’s security and had denied her entry, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said. Ms. Berda said Petter planned on taking part in a march this month to protest Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. (AP)

An eight-meter-high copy of the Israeli West Bank barrier was erected at the opening of an annual international music festival in Roskilde, near Copenhagen. The Danish humanitarian organization, Dan Church Aid, raised the wall bearing the inscription: “Make Peace, not Walls” near the festival’s main stage. (AFP)

Israel’s High Court of Justice froze the construction of the part of the separation barrier that Israel was building on the southeastern edge of East Jerusalem that had been occupied and expanded in June 1967. The three-judge Israeli panel issued a restraining order that suspended construction on the barrier near “Har Homa,” a large Israeli settlement that had been established over the past few years. A petition was submitted to the court by Palestinian residents from the nearby village of Nuaman. The judges said the Israeli Government needed to balance security concerns with the needs of the Palestinians, who complained that the fence would run between their villages and their farmland. (Ha’aretz, The Mercury News)

Prime Minister Sharon’s Bureau said the High Court of Justice ruling had been discussed. Mr. Sharon was expected to honour the court’s decision and instruct the Defence Ministry to plan an alternative route. Justice Minister Yosef Lapid had already called for moving the fence toward the Green Line, Ha’aretz reported. Mr. Sharon told officials that the construction of the barrier must advance quickly and that problematic areas had to be rerouted to meet the Court’s demands. In response, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz requested army planners the same day to review nearly all the 680-km route. Security officials said that the 25 per cent of the barrier already built and judicially unchallenged would not be affected. Shiri Eden, an adviser to Mr. Mofaz, said a team including engineers, archaeologists and lawyers would review about 500 km of the barrier's route. Mr. Sharon was also quoted as saying, “in areas where we cannot compromise on security, we do not make concessions, but in places where we can, we need to do as little damage as possible to the Palestinians’ way of life, and we can move the fence a little closer to the Green Line.” Hassan Abu Libdeh, the PA Cabinet Secretary, said that any route cutting into the West Bank was unacceptable. “We will not accept the wall as long as it takes even a few centimetres of Palestinian territory,” he said. (AP, Ha’aretz, UPI)

A member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was given four life sentences by a military court for his involvement in a series of deadly anti-Israeli attacks, an IDF source said. Othman Yunes, 27, from Nablus, was convicted of organizing an attack two years ago in the nearby “Itamar” settlement. Five Israelis, including three children and their mother, were killed in the attack as was the assailant. Mr. Yunes was also found guilty of supplying explosives used in five suicide attacks in Israel. (AFP)

Ha’aretzreported that the Israeli list of 28 outposts given to the US included 16 which were in the process of receiving Government approval. A senior Government official declined to comment on the report, but confirmed that the list had been handed to US officials. Paul Patin, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, criticized Israel, saying: “you can’t create an illegal outpost one day and subsequently declare that it’s legal.” (AP)

2

In Gaza, three Palestinians were killed by the IDF in three separate incidents, while a 15-year-old Palestinian boy died of wounds he had sustained on 1 July when he was among a group of Palestinians protesting against the Israeli raid. In southern Gaza, Mohammed Ahmed Karayyem, 45 or 55, was killed near the “Gush Katif” settlement block, while Yussef Al-Arja, 25, was shot in Rafah by an Israeli tank. Israeli military sources confirmed they “hit” a Palestinian who was walking toward the “Netzer Hazani” settlement, while Khan Yunis residents said that Mr. Krayyem was mentally disabled. Residents in Gaza’s Rafah refugee camp said Mr. Al-Arja was a scrap dealer and was picking through rubble in the Brazil neighbourhood near the border when he was shot. In Beit Hanoun, Mohammed Deifallah, 21, was killed inside his house, and Hamzi Abush, 15, died of his wounds. The IDF had closed some four km of the Salah ad-Din road that links Beit Hanoun to the “Erez” crossing. (AFP, Reuters, Xinhua)

Hamad Rafiq Abdel Razek, 42, was killed by members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in a public square in the village of Qabatiya. During two days of interrogations, Abdel Razek admitted spying for Israel since 1989. PA officials said Israel’s control of the West Bank limited their ability to maintain law and order, leaving the task to local Palestinian groups. (AP)

The IDF said in a statement that it had foiled an attack planned to be launched in Jerusalem. In Ramallah, the IDF had arrested overnight three Palestinians, members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. One of the detained Palestinians, Motaz Qrini, 16, had a 12-kg explosive belt which was seized by the IDF. (AFP, Yediot Aharonot)

Palestinian militants fired several Qassam rockets into and around the southern Israeli town of Sderot, sending two people into shock, an army spokesman said. Two of the rockets damaged a building, while a third landed in a field just outside the town. (AFP)

Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Special Middle East Coordinator under President Bill Clinton, Dennis Ross, said in an article published in The Washington Post that Egypt had demonstrated an unprecedented sincere and firm readiness to play an intensive leading role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said Egypt’s plan was logical but difficult, especially when it came to overcoming difficulties from both Israelis and Palestinians. (The Washington Post)

Human Rights Watch said the Qassam rockets attack from the Gaza Strip that killed a 49-year-old man and a 4-year-old boy in the nearby Israeli town of Sderot constituted a clear breach of international humanitarian law; similarly they could not justify strikes against civilians, referring to recent IDF raids on Gaza. (www.hrw.org)

Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said his Government would not accept an International Court of Justice ruling on the legal consequences of the barrier and pressed for US support to block any UN action against Israel. Following a meeting at the White House with US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, he said Israel could deal with this issue by itself and “We can’t accept any external involvement from the International Court of Justice.” He told reporters that the ICJ was not the place that this issue should be discussed. It should be discussed between the Israelis and the Palestinians with other “members that are involved in the peace process”. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Sharon, who owns a ranch in Israel’s southern Negev desert, said he felt for Palestinian landowners affected by the West Bank barrier. “I don’t know how many of you are farmers,” Ma’arivquoted the Prime Minister as telling senior security and legal officials late 1 July at a meeting to discuss a new route for Israel’s barrier. “It is very hard when one harms these groves. People invested hard work and sweat here. People invested all of their lives in these groves”, Mr. Sharon was reported to have said. (AFP)

3

IDF soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian about 100 metres from the fence of the “Har Brakha” settlement near Nablus, after he opened fire on the troops, Ha’aretzreported. A Kalashnikov rifle was found near the body. In other incidents, three Palestinians, including two youths, were killed during clashes with Israeli troops in Gaza and in the West Bank. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

Ishaq Abu Taleb, 16, was killed when an Israeli helicopter fired at dozens of young men on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun. Earlier the same day, Israeli troops shot dead a 9-year-old child, Ehab Shattat, 20 meters from his home in Beit Hanoun. Palestinian witnesses said that the IDF operation in the town was continuing for the sixth day, adding that helicopters had fired intensively at the residents. (Ha’aretz, DPA)

Mahmoud Alahwani, 19, was killed when Israeli troops opened fire during clashes with stone throwing youths in the Balata refugee camp. He had just returned from visiting the grave of his younger brother, Salah, 17, who had been killed some 18 days earlier. The military said both brothers were armed at the time they were shot and that Mahmoud had tried to plant an explosive device. (AP)

Yussuf Nasrallah, 19, died from injuries he sustained during a major Israeli raid on Gaza City’s Zeitoun district in mid-May, medical sources at Shifa hospital said. (AFP)

East Jerusalemites, as well as some officials and notables, erected a tent and started an open-ended hunger strike. MK Azmi Bishara said he had begun the hunger strike to protest Israel’s construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank and around Jerusalem. “I want to draw world public opinion and the attention of the Arab world to the crime which is being committed by building the wall, particularly in Jerusalem,” Mr. Bishara said by telephone from the village of Ar-Ram, north of Jerusalem. “I am doing this to tell the world, and the Arab and Israeli public opinion about the serious damage and dreadful suffering it is causing for hundreds and thousands of people.” Mr. Bishara, who has undergone a kidney transplant, said he would continue the strike “for as long as I physically can” and for that reason would not attend any Knesset sessions during July. (AFP, Xinhua)

PA Cabinet Chief of Staff Hassan Abu Lebda said the PA had a full security plan in place to take over the Gaza Strip once Israel withdrew and to re-establish the security situation that existed before the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000. He told Voice of Palestinethat different Palestinian national and Islamic factions had been involved in coordinating the plan, which would be implemented within five weeks. Within that time, the Palestinian police and security forces would redeploy throughout the Gaza Strip in any area evacuated by the IDF, he said. (DPA)

4

Rifat Abu Amra, 28, was killed when an Israeli bullet passed through his neck and lodged in his head while he was walking through the streets of the Rafah refugee camp. (AFP)

In Jerusalem, Israeli paramilitary border police killed a Palestinian after chasing his vehicle on the suspicion that it was carrying Palestinians without entry permits, a police spokesman said. The 22-year-old was driving a stolen vehicle when plainclothes border guards ordered him to stop. The man refused and lightly injured one of the guards with his car before losing control of the vehicle. He got out and tried to escape on foot, but was shot and fatally wounded when the border guards opened fire. The man died in hospital. (AFP)

Hassan Mansour, an 18-year-old from the southern Gaza village of Zawayda, was shot and killed by Israeli troops while with a group of friends on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun. His death brought the total number of the Palestinian fatalities for the day to eight, including three people from Beit Hanoun, two from Nablus, a worker from Hebron and two from Gaza. (DPA, UPI)

Palestinian gunmen opened fire at an Israeli car near the village of Yabed, west of Jenin, shortly after dawn, killing the 49-year-old settler and lightly wounding his wife. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. (Reuters, Xinhua)

Three Palestinians were lightly wounded when Israeli helicopters fired three missiles at a metal workshop in the Jabaliya refugee camp, north of Gaza City. Three others were lightly wounded when three missiles were fired on another metal workshop in Gaza City. The blast also damaged a nearby electric transformer, plunging part of the city into darkness, residents said. (AP, DPA)

The IDF was investigating a soldier for allegedly beating and humiliating a Palestinian at a West Bank checkpoint, a military spokeswoman said, after an army education unit captured the event on film. Israel Radioreported that the unit filmed the unidentified soldier beating, kicking and humiliating a Palestinian at the Hawwara checkpoint near Nablus in the presence of his wife and two children. The army said military police had begun an investigation on 29 June into the incident that occurred about six months earlier. It gave no other details. (AP)

5

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian and wounded another in a shootout in Jenin. Two other militants were shot and wounded in separate confrontations in the city, an Israeli source told Reuters.The dead gunman was identified as Khaled al-Hawi, 25, of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. (AFP, Reuters)

Alaa al-Shaer, 14, died from his wounds in hospital after being shot by Israeli troops near his home in Khan Yunis. According to Xinhua,Hanna al Sha’er, 4, from the Brazil neighbourhood, died at the Palestinian-run European Hospital in Rafah from her wounds inflicted by Israeli gunfire a week earlier. (AFP, Reuters, Xinhua)

PFLP said in a leaflet that its rocket unit had fired several “Mustafa” rockets at the “Neveh Dekalim” settlement west of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, and another one at the “Gadid” settlement. (Xinhua)

The IDF destroyed the house belonging to the family of Taer Ramadan, an Islamic Jihad member killed in an abortive suicide attack on the “Brakha” settlement the day before. The two-storey home in the village of Tell, south west of Nablus, was destroyed in a controlled explosion at dawn. (AFP)

6

Four Palestinians and an Israeli Marine Commando unit officer were killed during an operation at a refugee camp near Nablus. Three Israeli soldiers were also wounded, one seriously, during the operation. Two of the four Palestinians killed in Nablus were armed, while the other two, including a university lecturer, were civilians, Palestinian security and hospital sources said. The Palestinian casualties were Yamin Faraj, 25 (27), the local head of the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the PFLP military wing, his lieutenant Amjad Arar or Imleitat, Prof. Khaled Salah, 52 (50) and his son Mohammed, 15 (16). The Israeli officer was named as Capt. Moran Vardi, 25. Omar Jaber, 25, told AFPthat Amjad Arar, his neighbour, was executed by Israeli troops after he had been hit in the legs. (AFP, Chicago Tribune)

Two armed Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the southern Gaza Strip, IDF and Palestinian sources said. One of the men, Amar Al-Jadba, 21, was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the other, Ibrahim Rafiq Abed El-Hadi, 19, a member of Al-Quds Brigades. Israeli sources said that the men were killed after opening fire and throwing grenades near the “Kissufim” crossing. A joint statement by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Al-Quds Brigades announced the death of their respective members. (AFP)

A 15-year-old Palestinian child was killed in the Khan Yunis refugee camp by Israeli tank fire, Palestinian officials said. (AP)

Wahel al-Raishi, a 26-year-old member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was killed in Nablus when his automatic rifle blew up. The explosion, which took place on a road in the Balata refugee camp, also slightly injured two other Palestinians. An Israeli military source said that the militant was “probably killed by accident as he handled an explosive charge”. (AFP, AP)

Israeli troops, backed by 30 tanks and a bulldozer, entered Rafah near the border with Egypt, demolishing three Palestinian houses in the Brazil neighbourhood amid intensive and random shootings, Palestinian security sources said. The Israeli forces also injured a Palestinian. (Xinhua)

Dozens of Palestinian prisoners rioted in a high security prison in northern Israel where some 800 Palestinian detainees were being held. The Palestinian Prisoners Club said the prisoners protested their miserable living conditions and demanded humane treatment and an immediate end to their daily humiliations at the hands of the guards. The prisoners were complaining about overcrowding, lack of medical attention and, in particular, about the daily searches of the prisoners, including being forced to take off their clothes. Some 20 prisoners were injured and several were placed in solitary confinement. “The disturbance, whose cause is still unknown, has been brought under control,” prison service spokeswoman Sharon Gutman said. “The prisoners have returned to their cells,” she added. The elite squad was called in after the regular guards lost control at the prison, said Radio Israel. At least two wardens were reported injured at the Gilboa prison housing about 800 Palestinian detainees, added the Radio. An extensive search then uncovered pitchers with either boiling oil or boiling water in each cell, leading the prison authorities to conclude that the riot had been prepared in advance and was intended to be on a far larger scale than transpired. (AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Times)

Secretary of State Powell told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister Shalom in Washington, D.C., that he had “explained to the Minister that we have some disappointment in the rate at which outposts have been removed, and the Minister gave me assurances they are hard at work on that. We will be exchanging more information on that subject,” he said, speaking alongside Mr. Shalom at a press conference. Mr. Shalom sought the next day to play down the criticism, telling Israeli Public Radio: “I met with Mr. Powell for over an hour, and the question of the settlements was only briefly raised at the end of the discussion”. Mr. Powell’s remarks “came after your reporter repeatedly asked him the question, until he finally succeeded in prying out that answer,” he added. (AFP)

The PA opened an investigation into accusations that Palestinian companies had sold cement for the construction of Israeli settlements and the West Bank separation barrier, officials said. A PLC committee discovered in June that four companies, one of them owned by a PA Cabinet Minister, were involved in diverting cement shipments to Israeli construction companies. (AP)

In a follow-up to the 24 June meeting in Egypt, the Quartet met at the UN office in Jerusalem to discuss Israel’s planned pullout from the Gaza Strip. David Satterfield, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Russia’s Middle East envoy Alexander Kalugin, EU representative Marc Otte and UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen discussed the plan. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

PA Minister for Negotiation Affairs Saeb Erakat criticized “an acceleration” of Israeli military operations just as members of the Quartet were meeting in Jerusalem to discuss the state of the peace process. “This acceleration will result in the destruction of all the efforts of the international community to restart the peace process,” he said. (AFP)

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei began his visit to Israel late in the day to try to persuade the Government of Israel to open up its nuclear programme. Mr. ElBaradei was to meet senior Israeli officials, possibly including Prime Minister Sharon. IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said it would be partly a “routine visit,” but added that Mr. ElBaradei intended “to promote the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”. (Reuters)

Fatah in the Gaza Strip proceeded with elections that began on 26 May and were expected to go on for several more weeks. So far, the vast majority of elected members were supporters of Mr. Mohammed Dahlan. PA President Arafat ordered a halt to the electoral process last weekend, but elections went on in the Rimal area. According to the organizers, more than 95 per cent of eligible voters took part in the elections. The large turnout encouraged organizers to go on with the elections. A senior Fatah source said that they wanted “to encourage Fatah in Gaza, the West Bank and the Diaspora to follow our lead and hold internal elections, so that we can elect a new Fatah Central Committee. The last time a Central Committee was elected was 16 years ago”. (Ha’aretz)

A joint survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and Dr. Yaakov Shamir of Hebrew University found that Palestinian support for Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan had plummeted from 73 per cent in February to 34 per cent. Those findings contrasted the view in Israel, where 66 per cent of the population supported the plan. The poll, which questioned 1,320 Palestinians in person and 502 Israelis by telephone, found that 59 per cent of Palestinians feared an outbreak of fighting among the Palestinian groups in Gaza after the withdrawal, even though the same percentage believed that the Palestinian Authority would ultimately gain control. Moreover, 90 per cent believed that Hamas should be part of the post-withdrawal government in Gaza, and 64 per cent supported Egyptian security involvement in Gaza. Support for reform of the Palestinian security services was very high, with some 81 per cent of Palestinians favouring that they be controlled by the Cabinet, and 87 per cent supporting the appointment of a strong interior minister. Some 60 per cent of Palestinians favoured stationing an armed international force along the Egypt-Gaza border following the withdrawal, and 61 per cent favoured stationing such a force in the evacuated settlements until Israel and the PA came to an agreement. The poll also showed that the Islamic groups continued to gain strength in Palestinian society at the expense of Fatah. Some 28 per cent of Palestinians said they would vote for Hamas or Islamic Jihad in free elections, compared to 26 per cent who would support Fatah candidates, 17 per cent would vote for independents and 9 per cent would support clan representatives. In Gaza, support for the Islamic movements was especially strong, at 32 per cent, compared to 23 per cent for Fatah. But 54 per cent of Palestinians said they would vote for Mr. Arafat for president. (Ha’aretz)

7

Israeli undercover troops shot and killed Essam (Haitham, according to AP)Mahamid, 27, a prominent member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Nablus. He was reportedly shot near the Ebad Al-Rahman Mosque in the Balata refugee camp, and the Israeli troops barred ambulances and paramedics from reaching him. Palestinian sources said the troops patrolling the camp had opened fire at a man with a semi-automatic rifle, killing him. (AP, DPA, UPI, Xinhua)

In the first such strike since 30 May, Israeli helicopters fired two missiles at a car in Gaza City. Three men inside, all members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, jumped out of the car before the missiles hit it and escaped injury. Medics said three bystanders were injured by shrapnel, including a 5-year-old boy and two men, aged 62 and 35. The IDF did not comment. (AP, DPA, UPI)

Several hours after withdrawing from the Brazil neighbourhood of the Rafah refugee camp, the IDF raided the eastern area of Deir El-Balah in the Gaza Strip and forced about 15 residents to evacuate the area before demolishing their houses. Israeli forces continued for the tenth day their large-scale military operation in Beit Hanoun, where a large area of Palestinian-owned agricultural land and animal farms had been destroyed. Earlier in the day, the IDF also raided Tulkarm. (Xinhua)

The IDF started a widespread land-razing operation near the Al-Kafam roadblock on the Wadi An-Nar Road linking the southern and northern areas of the West Bank. The IDF announced the confiscation of 5,000 dunums (570 hectares) of Palestinian land in the area to expand the roadblock and turn it into a permanent checkpoint separating Jerusalem from the surrounding cities and towns. (Xinhua)

Four Quartet envoys met PA Prime Minister Qureia in Ramallah in the afternoon. “They stressed the need to carry out security reform, that this is the key to everything,” PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said. An unnamed Western diplomat also said, “If this [reform] is not done, there will be no international support and no funding from the international community”. Mr. Qureia, who also met separately with US envoy David Satterfield, told reporters that the meeting had focused on reform of the Palestinian security forces. “They said the disengagement from Gaza is an opportunity that should not be wasted and we did not object to that. It could be an opportunity, but there are also risks involved, particularly if Israel continues with building settlements and the separation wall. … We spoke a lot about the wall. We told them there can be no hope for peace while the wall is still on the ground. This wall is being built in order to take more of our land and not for security reasons. We told them that we are awaiting the verdict of the Court in the Hague ... which we hope will be a just decision. We will then go to the United Nations and the whole world. We will not stay silent about the wall.” (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Israeli Government officials refused to meet the Quartet representatives visiting the region, saying that the time for working with the Quartet had not yet arrived and expressing concern that European policies might hurt Israeli interests. Christina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, said the Israelis had called off a scheduled meeting. “The Quartet is in the immediate future not going to meet the Israeli representatives, as had been foreseen,” she said, adding that she did not know why the Israelis had called off the talks. She stressed that the G-8 summit in June 2004 had decided to send Quartet representatives to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss how the Gaza pullout could advance the road map. Prime Minister Sharon’s spokesman, Asaf Shariv, denied that the Government had refused to meet the Quartet team. He said that Israel first wanted to talk to a White House delegation arriving this week before discussing the withdrawal plan with others. “We did not refuse to meet with them. ... There were no plans to meet them from the beginning,” Mr. Shariv said. “We have a very respected American delegation coming out this week and we will discuss these issues with them.” (AP, Xinhua)

PLC Speaker Rawhi Fatouh told Al-Hayat Al-Jadidatalks were under way with different factions to halt rocket attacks against Israel in exchange for an IDF pullout from Beit Hanoun. “I participated in these talks and stressed the importance of agreeing on our resistance tools that could spare us from human or material losses,” he said. “Israel must first evacuate Beit Hanoun, which has been occupied by the Israeli Army for the past 10 days, and remove all its military checkpoints and roadblocks as a gesture of good intention in order to halt rocket attacks from the Strip.” Mr. Fatouh said there was international pressure to oblige both sides to spare civilians the violence. (Xinhua)

Khader Habib, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad, said meetings were being held between his movement and the PA security services on a possible Israeli evacuation. “These meetings aim at formulating a vision about the post-Israeli evacuation phase in the Gaza Strip”, but they were “not serious”, Mr. Habib said in a statement to the press. (Xinhua)

On the eve of the ICJ Advisory Opinion, Israeli legal expert Natan Lerner, an analyst at Herzliya Interdisciplinary Centre, said he believed it could go three ways: “The Court will either decide it is not competent to deal with this subject, or it could take a similar decision to the Israeli Supreme Court, saying that every State has the right to take measures in its own territory but not in occupied territory. Or it could be even more extreme and say that the whole thing is illegal.” Hatem Abdel Qader, a PLC member taking part in a hunger strike, said: “We want to take it to the Security Council, but if the Americans use the veto, we will transfer it to the General Assembly”. A senior Palestinian legal official also stated that, given that Israel had already made it clear it would not respect the Advisory Opinion, the ball was now firmly in the Member States’ court: “We will be looking at how Member States actually respond to the Court’s advice and what they are actually going to do. Is the international community going to let Israel once again get away with not applying the law, or is the international community finally going to get serious and understand it has obligations in this conflict as well? That is a question for the Member States.” Foreign Minister Shalom said the same day, “all the American leaders, whether in Government or Congress, have told us that they support the security fence. We are in agreement with the Americans on the fact that the ruling should not be used as a propaganda tool by the Palestinians.” (AFP, AP)

The West Bank will host its first international film festival with organizers hoping to encourage Palestinians to make movies about life and love away from the conflict with Israel. “To document the struggle is important. We are suffering. But I think Palestinians are bored with conflict stories with political messages. That is not filmmaking, that is propaganda”, Adam Zuabi, the festival’s director, said. The six-day festival will begin on 8 July in Ramallah’s new cultural centre, a gleaming three-story $7.5-million building inaugurated on 5 July, and show 80 films from Brazil, France, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Tunisia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Zuabi said Israeli filmmakers had not been invited because of the conflict, saying: “When emotions are running so high on the Palestinian side, it would be completely counterproductive.” The festival will host 60 young Palestinian filmmakers, 30 from the West Bank and 30 from abroad, Mr. Zoabi said. Some will present their films, and others will participate in workshops on scriptwriting, directing and camera work. A workshop on making cartoons will be held in the nearby Al-Amari refugee camp. (AP, Reuters)

Eleven leading Palestinians, including Fatah and DFLP members, and an Israeli activist joined MK Azmi Bishara in a hunger strike. The Palestinians also included the Archimandrite Attallah Hanna, a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church, and Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, chief judge of the Islamic court. (BBC; see 3 July)

8

Israeli troops backed by helicopters and armoured bulldozers battled Palestinians in the town of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. At least seven (nine according to Ha’aretz)Palestinians were killed, including the local commander of Hamas, according to Palestinian and army sources. Medical sources named seven victims, including a woman, as: Ms. Jamila Hamad, Messrs. Hamed Abu Oda, Ahmed Zanin, Naim Al-Kafarnah, Nasr Abu Harbid, Zuhir Abu Harbid, and Nabedh Abu Oda. Medical sources said at least five victims were civilians. Other witnesses said two of the dead were affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Palestinian security officials said Mr. Abu Oda was an activist in Hamas and he was killed in an exchange of fire, which came after Palestinian fighters ambushed troops during the raid. An IDF spokesman said Palestinians opened fire at Israeli soldiers which had been operating in the area since 28 June. Armoured Israeli bulldozers also destroyed dozens of olive and orange trees and razed land along the eastern side of the town. At least 20 Palestinians were injured. Palestinian medical sources said Israeli soldiers prevented paramedics from evacuating the victims, holding three ambulances carrying the wounded. PA President Arafat condemned the incursion. He urged the Quartet to act immediately to end the operation. (AFP, Albawaba.com, AP, BBC, DPA, Ha’aretz)

At least five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old girl, and two Israeli soldiers, were wounded when Israeli forces raided houses in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Medical sources said the girl was critically wounded by live gunshot in the right arm, resulting in severe bleeding. Witnesses said seven Israeli tanks and three bulldozers, under a cover of helicopters, had moved from the “Neveh Dekalim” settlement and opened fire on Palestinian houses. An IDF spokesman said the operation had been aimed at destroying abandoned buildings used by Palestinian militants to fire mortars and other weapons at IDF troops. Israeli bulldozers partially or completely destroyed 30 houses in the Barabkha area, west of the refugee camp. PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said, “we condemn this and hold the Israeli Government fully responsible”. (AFP, Albawaba.com, AP, Ha’aretz)

A Palestinian anti-tank missile hit an IDF jeep patrolling the “Morag” settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. The jeep burst into flames, injuring the four soldiers inside. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. IDF forces found an explosive device near Rafah and detonated it. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli troops raided the offices of two West Bank charitable organizations, closed two facilities and arrested eight Palestinians. Troops raided the Qalqilya offices of a charity organization reportedly linked to Hamas, confiscating computers, files and literature. The IDF confirmed the raid, saying in a statement, “The sealing of the following illegal institutes is part of a continued effort to act against financial sources and the central infrastructure of terrorist organizations, in an attempt to prevent such funding from being used as the main power sources of terrorist activities”. The statement said troops had closed down the Quran Wasunna Association in Qalqilya and the Zaka Committee in Jenin. The army also seized equipment from the Orphans Welfare Association in Bethlehem. (AFP)

Around 15 jeeps entered the village of Beit Furiq, east of Nablus, and dynamited the house of Amjad Arar, the PFLP member shot dead earlier in the week. In Ramallah, 10 Israeli jeeps surrounded PA President Arafat’s HQ and set up several checkpoints in the area. The IDF said the eight Palestinians arrested across the West Bank included a Hamas militant suspected of taking car bomb material into Israel. (AFP)

Speaking at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said he did not believe reports that the day before Quartet envoys had told PA Prime Minister Qureia to act soon on reform or risk losing aid, as the world had run out of patience with PA President Arafat’s “empty promises” of reform. Mr. Maher said the mediators should be fed up with Israel rather than the Palestinians for its destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure. “I do not think the Quartet said this … I do not think it is feasible [to cut aid to the Palestinians].” He added that the EU had funded the airport and seaport in Gaza, and Israel had destroyed them. He also said that the imprisonment of Mr. Arafat at his Ramallah HQ was illegal and urged the Quartet to act to end this. Ha’aretzreported that UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen had shunned PA President Arafat for a year. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Qassam rockets fell next to the Garvin crossing in the northern Negev causing no injuries, and on an Israeli industrial zone in Sderot where one building was damaged. Near Rafah, the IDF safely detonated an explosive device. (Ha’aretz)

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for an attack on an IDF patrol jeep near the “Morag” settlement in Gaza. (Ha’aretz)

9

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled it had jurisdiction to advise on the legality of Israel’s West Bank barrier. The ruling found that the barrier violated international law and ordered Israel to dismantle the structure and compensate Palestinians. The reading of the ruling by the Court’s President, Shi Jiuyong, lasted several hours. The Court acknowledged Israel’s duty to protect its citizens, but said it must do so within the law. “The construction of the wall along the route chosen and its associated regime are contrary to international law,” the ruling said. “The Court is not convinced that the construction of the wall along the route chosen was the only means to safeguard the interests of Israel against the peril it invoked as justification.” Moreover, “The Court is of the view that the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring an end to the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall.” (AFP, AP, BBC, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Senior Adviser to PA President Arafat, said that Palestinians would seek UN sanctions against Israel after the ICJ ruling today. “The next step is to approach the UN General Assembly and Security Council to adopt resolutions that will isolate and punish Israel. As of today Israel should be viewed as an outlaw state,” he said. Palestinian officials had declined comment before the ruling was announced with PA President Arafat saying on 8 July, “we put tremendous faith in this Court.” PA Prime Minister Qureia called the ruling a historic decision, saying, “this is an historic day and a historic decision. The international high court decided clearly today that this racist wall is illegal to the core and Israel should stop building it and take down what has already been built of this wall. We welcome this decision.” (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Following the ICJ ruling Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jonathan Peled said, “the International Court in The Hague has no authority to deal with disputes between Israel and the Palestinians,” adding that the Advisory Opinion failed to address the essence of the problem and the very reason for building the fence: “Palestinian terror. If there were no terror, there would be no fence”, Mr. Peled said. At the same time, Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid told Israeli Army Radio,“we will abide by the ruling of our own High Court and not the panel in The Hague with judges from the European Union who are suspected of not being particularly disposed toward Israel”. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

The Spokesman of the Secretary-General issued the following statement:

(UN News Service)

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said the ICJ was not the appropriate forum to resolve what was a political issue. “This is an issue that should be resolved through the process that has been put in place, specifically the road map,” he said. European Commission Spokesman Jean Christophe Filori said the EU continued to call on Israel “to remove the barrier from inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem”. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marwan Muasher welcomed the ICJ ruling, Jordanian TV reported. Mr. Muasher said in a statement. “The ICJ ruling that was adopted by a wide majority of 14 judges out of 15 represents a large legal, ethical and political weight which Israel cannot ignore,” he also said. “The decision indicates that the tribunal has accepted all Jordanian arguments and rejected all pretexts cited by Israel, which alleged the construction of the wall was a strategic requirement necessitated by security considerations.” (DPA, Xinhua)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) welcomed the ICJ ruling on Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. The UN “must take the required measures to ensure implementation of the Court’s ruling, which demands Israel’s removal of the wall”, Secretary-General Abdulrahman al-Attiyah told AFP. The ruling was “important from a legal point of view, mainly because it asks Israel to abolish the wall”, he said. (AFP)

“We do not think there is a need for General Assembly action at this point”, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said after the ICJ ruling. “We think the efforts of the parties ought to be placed on seizing the opportunity that can be created for progress on the road map.” (Reuters)

US church leaders that work together through Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) appealed to their Government to support the ICJ Advisory Opinion on Israel’s separation barrier. (US Newswire)

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said the ruling by the ICJ would do nothing to remove Israel’s West Bank barrier. “Americans will be waiting there [in the UN] with a ready veto,” he said at dinner for Hezbollah-supported winners of municipal elections. “What will remove the barrier in occupied Palestine is the intention, will, jihad and resistance of Palestinians and the [Arab] nation,” Sheikh Nasrallah said. (AP)

Israeli authorities prevented 350 Palestinians from entering Gaza. The Palestinians were camping on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing. Among the stranded Palestinians are women and children returning home for the summer from a number of Arab and other countries, MENAsaid. The Egyptian Red Crescent Society was said to be temporarily caring for them, providing sheets, mattresses, food and medical care. (AFP)

Two Palestinians were killed by IDF soldiers in the West Bank, Israel Radioreported. One was shot near the “Karnei Shomron” settlement after he refused orders to stop his car. In Hebron, soldiers and police officers searching for wanted Palestinians shot and wounded an armed Palestinian belonging to the so-called “Tanzim”, who was brought to an Israeli hospital where he died from his wounds. (Ha’aretz)

A Palestinian man attacked an IDF liaison officers’ post near Beit Hanoun today, Israel Radio reported. After being asked to open his bag, the man pulled out a Kalashnikov rifle and opened fire. He also threw a grenade at the post. The officer, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, was not hurt in the attack, but the gunman escaped. (Ha’aretz)

Two Qassam rockets were fired at the western Negev, with no injuries, Israel Radio reported. (Ha’aretz)

During the night, Palestinians fired an anti-tank rocket at an IDF post near “Neveh Dekalim” settlement, and troops discovered an explosive device in Rafah. There were no injuries in either incident. (Ha’aretz)

Two dozen Palestinians suspended a six-day hunger strike. Speaking on behalf of the striking Palestinians, Sarhan Salaymeh, mayor of Ar-Ram, which would be gravely affected by the wall being built around Jerusalem, said: “In light of the very positive ICJ ruling, the hunger strikers have decided to suspend their strike and look for other more comprehensive steps to continue their protest against the construction of the wall”. (DPA)

10

Four Palestinians were killed as a result of a car explosion near the “Netzarim” settlement in the central Gaza Strip. Palestinian security sources said three armed men – Hassan Abu Dalal, Mohammed Abu Zur and Mahmud Abu Namus, all aged around 20 – were killed when their car blew up. The three belonged to the Nasser Salah Al-Din Brigades, an armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). A Hamas member, Mahmud Nasser, was also killed as he was passing on a motorbike. Medics said another three people were wounded, one of them seriously. There was confusion over the cause of the blast. The Palestinian security sources initially said the car took a direct hit from an Israeli tank, but local residents said it was a rocket fired by an Israeli helicopter. Tanks and helicopters were in the general area of the blast in al-Zahra, on the outskirts of Gaza City not far from “Netzarim”. An IDF spokesman denied any Israeli fire in the sector at the time of the incident, saying the blast was probably caused by one of the militants accidentally detonating an explosive device they were transporting. A spokesman for the PRC said the car was booby-trapped and the bomb was detonated by remote control from an Israeli helicopter overhead. (AFP, AP)

Hanen Udeh Abu Samahdana, 16 (15, according to IMEMC) died from her wounds. Medical sources told IMEMC she had been hit in the chest by Israeli tank fire several days earlier while she was in her home in the Shabura district of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF could not confirm the incident. A medical source in Gaza told IMEMC that Mohammad Joha, an ambulance driver, had been critically wounded by large-calibre bullets apparently fired from a tank. Separately, in Beit Hanoun, three women were injured and pinned down under Israeli gunfire that kept residents from helping them, according to Palestinian residents and medical workers. They were hospitalized later, two with moderate injuries and one critically hurt. Six-month pregnant Latifa Abu Amsha, 26, was one of the women wounded when troops opened fire on them as they went out to shop, medics and witnesses said. Hospital director Mahmud al-Assali said she was suffering from internal bleeding and a broken leg. (AFP, AP, DPA, IMEMC)

PA Prime Minister Qureia told EU Envoy Marc Otte that the Palestinians wanted EU support at the UN and hoped the US would not “sabotage our efforts”, according to participants in the meeting. “Now, it is the responsibility of the international community, it is the responsibility of the UN, to put [in place] a mechanism to commit Israel to this decision,” Mr. Qureia told reporters after the meeting. Mr. Otte, standing by his side, noted past EU objections to the barrier, adding, “We have to look carefully at what the Court says and what the consequences are”. As to the General Assembly, “we have to see how things happen”, he said. (AP)

PA President Arafat, speaking at a graduation ceremony for Palestinian officers at his Ramallah HQ, said “the ruling of the Court in the Hague demonstrates that the entire world is on the side of the Palestinian people against this wall. No one can impose this wall of apartheid on us, and its dismantlement is unavoidable. The Berlin Wall collapsed and the Sharon Wall will follow". (AFP)

“Malaysia calls upon the United Nations to urgently consider further action required to bring to an end the illegal situation,” Foreign Minister Syed Hamid said. “The international community ... expects Israel, as the occupying Power, to respect the decision of the Court.” (AP, www.kln.gov.my)

New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff said in a statement that Israel must heed the ICJ and stop building the West Bank wall. While Israel had a valid right to protect its people from suicide bombings, the construction of any wall should be on its legal 1967 border, he said. “A combination of the wall built deep into occupied territory and the continued building of Israeli settlements on land it does not have rights to under international law makes Israel’s action look like de facto annexation.” Mr. Goff said the wall was a barrier to the concept of a two-state solution and to implementing the road map which New Zealand supported. (DPA, www.mft.govt.nz)

Iran welcomed the ICJ ruling, IRNAreported. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi said Iran “welcomed and supported this historic move as a step for implementing the Fourth Geneva Convention”, reflecting “the opposition of world society to the illegal expansionist policies by the Zionist regime [Israel] and its main and only supporter, the United States”. (DPA, www.mfa.gov.ir)

11

A 19-year-old female IDF soldier was killed and 31 others wounded in a bomb blast near a bus stop in Tel Aviv at the start of the morning rush hour. Ma’ayan Naim was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility, saying the attack was in revenge for IDF operations in Nablus. “This says that we can reach every place, even when there is a fence,” a Brigades spokesman said. Tel Aviv police Chief Yossi Sedbon said the bombing was not carried out by a suicide bomber. A 2-kg bomb filled with sharp pieces of metal was planted in bushes on the side of the rod and detonated as a bus pulled up at a stop near Tel Aviv’s central bus station. (AFP, AP, Ma’ariv)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman of the Secretary-General in which SG Kofi Annan, in Bangkok, strongly condemned the attack in Tel Aviv:

(SG/SM/9416)

UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen, in New York reportedly to discuss the ICJ decision, condemned the attack in Tel Aviv “in the strongest terms”, a spokesperson said, adding “he urges the Palestinian Authority to deploy all its efforts to put an end to terror.” (AP)

“We condemn this act as we always condemn these acts,” PA President Arafat said, referring to the attack in Tel Aviv. “You know who is behind these acts,” he told reporters at his Ramallah HQ. “Europe knows it, the Americans know it, the Israelis know it.” (AFP)

The PA Cabinet decided to delay their request for a UN Security Council resolution against Israel’s West Bank barrier until after the US presidential elections in November 2004. “We decided that it was not wise now to go to the Security Council because we do not want to incite the Americans, especially during the election campaign, and its better to wait until after the elections. In the meantime, we will take the issue to the General Assembly”, an unnamed minister said after a meeting chaired by PA President Arafat. Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Abu Annaja said a legal committee would be formed to discuss the Palestinians’ next move. “In principle we will first go to the General Assembly. There is no rush to go to the Security Council because we do not need to encourage and invite vetoes against the ruling.” (AFP)

Israel “absolutely rejects” the ICJ ruling on the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank, Prime Minister Sharon said. He told the Israeli Cabinet at its weekly session in Jerusalem that the ruling was a “slap in the face” for “Israel’s right to battle terrorism”. “Israel rejects the unilateral decision that was based only on political reasons,” Mr. Sharon said. He ordered construction to continue and vowed “to fight using all diplomatic and legal means” against the ruling, according to a statement issued by his office. (AP, DPA)

“The [ICJ] ruling is a great victory and the strongest decision in favour of the Palestinian question because it was based on international legitimacy and international law,” the new Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters at Cairo airport. (AP)

Jamie Spector, 32, a Jewish-American social worker from San Francisco, was denied entry to Israel because of her affiliation with the International Solidarity Movement. She arrived in Israel on 10 July to protest the West Bank separation barrier and has been held in detention since defying the order to leave, her lawyer, Yael Berda, said. Tova Ellinson, spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior, said officials acted in accordance with a security recommendation and refused to comment further. Huwaida Arraf, an American-born Palestinian woman and co-founder of the ISM, said that more than 10 members of the group had been refused entry into Israel in the past month. Two other ISM activists were in the same detention centre as Ms. Spector. However, refusing Ms. Spector’s entry was different, Ms. Berda said. “This is a special case,” she said. “It is very difficult for Israel to ban Jews from entering the country. It means that the courts will look differently on her.” “I am very sorry that the Israeli Government is denying me entry into the country where I have so many family and friends,” Ms. Spector said. “I am committed to non-violent actions and also to protest the illegal apartheid wall.” (AP)

12

Israeli troops destroyed at least 30 Palestinian-owned buildings on the outskirts of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. An IDF spokeswoman said that a force operated on the outskirts of the town overnight following an increase in mortar fire and infiltration attempts into nearby Israeli settlements in the past weeks. She said the force tore down a number of houses and ruins that were used as cover by militants for shooting at Israeli targets. A 72-year-old Palestinian man who lived alone and was confined to a wheelchair was buried under the rubble, his family said. Mahmoud Khalaf Allah (Halfalla) had refused to heed calls to evacuate his house, Nasser hospital said. Neighbours found his body under the rubble in the morning. Doctors said he had died of a heart attack. (AFP, AP)

PA Prime Minister Qureia said municipal elections, which were due to begin in August 2004 in Jericho, would be delayed until November while the PLC introduced changes to the election law. PA Local Affairs Minister Jamal al-Shobaki said the law needed to be clarified on whether mayors would be elected directly or by city councils. “These are important procedural issues,” he said, adding that amendments would also give women more opportunity to participate in municipal government. The PLC had been pressing the leadership for a municipal vote to replace mayors appointed by the PA and put to rest allegations of corruption in city halls. The elections, the first since the PA took control in 1994, would cover 127 municipalities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and take a year to complete. Mr. Qureia said that general elections, last held in 1996, would have to await an Israeli troop withdrawal from positions seized after the intifada started in September 2000, but that voter registration would start on 4 September. (Reuters)

Senior American and Israeli officials agreed to begin negotiations to define the boundaries within which Israel would be permitted to continue constructing settlements in the West Bank. The US Administration is establishing a team of experts expected to begin work on the issue in several weeks after receiving relevant data from Israel. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

EU Foreign Ministers gathered in Brussels for a two-day meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Among other things, they were to discuss the aftermath of the ICJ ruling. Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, who chaired the meeting, said the only solution to the conflict was through the road map. “To us this is an illegal wall, but this will be solved not by a court judgment but by a political process,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. (AP)

Thomas Steg, the spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said the ICJ ruling showed the position of international law regarding the wall and fence being built by Israel around the West Bank. “The advisory decision of the court has no legally binding impact and no immediate legal consequences,” he said at a government news briefing. Mr. Steg said that while the Court’s ruling carried what he termed “weight”, the German Government was convinced that the fate of the barrier and its controversial route could only be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. “It is not a question that can be resolved through a legal process,” said Mr. Steg, who underlined that Israel had the right to defend its citizens. “The conflict can only be resolved through negotiations” and a resolution could only come if the Palestinians had their own state and Israel was able to live within secure borders. (DPA)

Jordan demanded that Israel implement the ICJ ruling to stop the construction of its West Bank barrier. “[Prime Minister] Sharon’s position is unacceptable”, government spokeswoman Asma Khodr told a news conference, referring to Mr. Sharon’s order the previous day to continue the construction, adding that Jordan would “follow up on the issue, and we demand that Israel implement” the ruling. (AFP)

Part of the hotel that hosted the inaugural meeting of the PLO is to be turned into a new Israeli border police station, Ma’arivreported. The Seven Arches Hotel at the summit of the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, is the site of the first Palestine National Council conference in 1964. Israeli police now plan to rent a wing of the hotel to reinforce security in East Jerusalem, occupied and expanded in 1967. (AFP)

Arab states called for an emergency session of the UN General Assembly to be held on 16 July to take up a draft resolution stipulating that Israel comply with the ICJ ruling that its West Bank security barrier was illegal and must be dismantled. The draft resolution also called on the UN Secretary-General to prepare a register of damages incurred on Palestinian land and individuals by Israel’s barrier. (Reuters)

State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said that the chances of establishing a Palestinian State in 2005 were decreasing because of the failure of the PA to put an end to terror attacks, continued violence and difficulties in resuming negotiations between the two sides. Mr. Boucher was responding to a question about whether possible new Israeli elections and the ICJ ruling on the separation barrier might make the deadline for the Palestinian State harder to reach. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

13

The IDF continued a major military operation in Beit Hanoun for the fifteenth day. Witnesses said the IDF continued firing randomly on Palestinians’ homes, inflicting serious material losses and bulldozing hundreds of dunums of Palestinian-owned land, uprooting trees and demolishing greenhouses. Palestinian sources reported that the IDF-imposed closures and tight curfew had caused severe shortages of potable water, food and medicine. So far, the operations in Beit Hanoun had claimed 20 Palestinian lives. (Xinhua)

Nu’man Tahayna, 38, was killed in Jenin when the IDF engaged in clashes with Palestinians, medics said. Palestinian security sources and an AFPreporter said Israeli armoured vehicles raided Jenin earlier in the day where troops stormed into the Jordanian Hospital and several other buildings. An IDF spokeswoman confirmed the action. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Defence Ministry began a review of the separation barrier routing following the Israeli Supreme Court ruling of 30 June that the barrier’s current path violated the rights of 35,000 Palestinians living near Jerusalem. Yediot Aharonotsaid it had obtained a copy of new guidelines, which stipulated that the wall would have to be built on land at least one kilometre away from the nearest Palestinian house. The paper reportedly added that Central Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky had said, “any irregular situation in which the fence needs to run less than one kilometre distance from a Palestinian home must be approved personally. … The security establishment has also decided that no barrier will be built that separates Palestinian farmers from their fields and, therefore, no gates for agricultural crossing will be built in any of the future sections of the separation fence”. The daily added that it was not clear how the new guidelines would impact on sections that have already been built. (AFP, AP)

PA Labour Minister Ghassan Khatib, commenting on the Israeli decision to re-route part of its West Bank barrier, said, “the only way to end this problem is to move the wall to the Green Line or forget about it altogether. As long as this wall is on Palestinian land, it will remain, to some extent, harmful to the Palestinians. If Israelis feel there is the need for a wall, we have no argument with that, but they have to put it on their territory.” (The Jerusalem Times)

Prime Minister Sharon told visiting US Envoys Steve Hadley and Elliott Abrams Israel intended to dismantle settlement outposts in the West Bank as soon as possible. The US envoys were to hold talks with Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter and National Security Adviser Giora Eiland to discuss the disengagement plan, implementation of Israel’s promise to evacuate settlement outposts and freeze construction in West Bank settlements, and coordinating activity in the wake of last week’s ICJ ruling. The US envoys had met PA Prime Minister Qureia the previous day. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli officials said settlers had been carrying out a “population operation” to bring new residents to outposts. Last week, they re-settled the “Ein Horon” outpost, which was the Israeli Government’s list given to American authorities two weeks ago as already evacuated. (Ha’aretz)

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen, briefed the Security Council. (S/PV.5002)

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ communiqué claimed they had fired two missiles at an IDF watchtower adjacent to the “Netzarim” and “Ganei Tal” settlements west of Khan Yunis. (The Palestine Information Centre)

The IDF gave three Palestinian families orders to demolish their houses, as well as four other structures, saying they were too close to the separation barrier. Taiseer Amarneh, head of the village council in Aqqaba, northeast of Nablus, said that a military force accompanied representatives of the so-called “Higher Construction Council” that delivered the orders. (IMEMC)

A petition by Palestinian residents of the al-Qarara village in the Gaza Strip against the appropriation of land for construction of the security barrier near the “Kissufim” road was turned down by Israel’s High Court of Justice. According to Israeli Broadcasting Authority,the ruling also cancelled a freeze order on construction in the area. (The Jerusalem Post)

A settler from “Maon Farm” (“Havat Ma’on”) outpost in the West Bank was arrested on suspicion of setting fire to Palestinian crops south of Hebron. Israeli police were also investigating an official complaint from Palestinian residents of nearby Khirbat at-Tawna that “Maon Farm” settlers tried to poison their water by throwing chicken corpses down their wells. Fatma Khader, 65, a resident of the village, said she saw four Israeli settlers around the well early in the morning. After they left, she said, she sent her son to see what they had done, and he discovered six chicken carcasses in the well. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Industry, Trade, and Labour Minister, Ehud Olmert, finalized a deal, which still had to be signed, he had reached in Brussels with EU to label Israeli products from the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Under the agreement, products will be stamped with a mark that designates both the country and the city or town of origin. (The Jerusalem Post)

14

An Israeli helicopter fired two (three, according to witnesses quoted by Reutersand DPA)rockets at the Zaitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City overnight, destroying a workshop, with no casualties reported. “The Israeli Air Force attacked weaponry workshops, all in the same structure ... used by Hamas terrorists and other terrorist organizations to produce a variety of weapons, especially Qassam rockets”, an IDF spokesman said in Jerusalem. The witnesses said that the predawn attack was the third missile attack against this particular metal workshop. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip said that Israeli troops had withdrawn from an area near the “Kissufim” checkpoint where they had been operating since dawn the previous day. Five houses had been made uninhabitable and dozens of dunums of land ( 1 dunum = 1,000 sq.m.) had been destroyed by army bulldozers. The IDF said the operation had been launched after a number of recent attacks against settlers in the region. (AFP)

A 16-truck UNRWA convoy came under fire as it was delivering 370 tons of food to Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. An UNRWA statement said that as the convoy stopped to survey a citrus grove bulldozed by the IDF, “firing appeared to come from an [IDF] armoured personnel carrier in the direction of the convoy”. Israeli military sources denied that the convoy had been deliberately targeted, saying that soldiers in the area, who knew of the convoy’s movements, had come under attack from Palestinian gunmen and returned fire. UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen and agency personnel with him took cover in a nearby home. “After further coordination with the Israeli military liaison office and a wait of 30 minutes, the convoy was able to leave the area”, the UNRWA statement said. “The situation was extremely dangerous,” said local UNRWA spokesman Abu Hasna, adding that incessant firing was “everywhere”. (DPA)

Two Israeli settlers were lightly wounded by shots fired at their car near the “Ariel” settlement in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers established four checkpoints at the northern entrance of Ramallah. (IMEMC)

The IDF demolished the family homes of two Palestinians suspected of involvement in deadly attacks. One house in Ramallah had been home to Jidan Ramadan, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The second house, in Jenin, was home to Islamic Jihad activist Hussam Abed, suspected of involvement in a suicide attack in Israel in 2003. The two buildings had housed more than 20 people, according to witnesses. Two more house demolitions were reported by IMEMC. A house belonging to Zeidan Mohareb was dynamited in the Umm Al-Sharayet neighbourhood south of Al-Bireh, near Ramallah. A house of Adnan Tawfiq Ayed, a father of two detainees, was destroyed in the village of Dan, west of Jenin. (AFP, IMEMC)

The PA said UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Terje Rød-Larsen was “not welcome” in Palestinian areas following his Security Council briefing the previous day, in which he had said that Mr. Arafat was giving “only nominal and partial support” to Egyptian efforts to promote reform of the Palestinian security organizations. He also said the Palestinian leadership was making “no progress” reining in militant organizations and reforming the PA. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an adviser to Mr. Arafat, described Mr. Larsen’s statements as “unjust, “unbalanced, unfair and not precise” and said the criticism was “worthless because Larsen himself is worthless”. Israeli media reported earlier in the month that Mr. Larsen had been boycotting Mr. Arafat since July 2003. (AFP, DPA)

Egypt’s Presidency warned again that Cairo would not send security experts to the Gaza Strip unless Israel halted its policy of killing Palestinian militants and ceased its air strikes. Presidential spokesman Maged Abdul Fatah, quoted by MENA,said Egypt aimed at helping Palestinians meet their obligations under the road map. The objective was to help the Palestinians reorganize their structures in a way that would allow the establishment of a government capable of leading a state and asserting control over the Palestinian territories, he said. But “the increase in Israel’s attacks and assassinations of Palestinian activists gives the wrong impression that there is an agreement between Egypt and Israel to finish off the intifada,” said Mr. Fatah. “The agreement was to help the Palestinian Authority control the security situation, and Egypt will not send security instructors to Gaza if Israel pursues the policy of aerial bombardments. There should be guarantees from Israel that it will not attack the Palestinians and that the safety and security of the Egyptian instructors would be guaranteed,” he added. (AFP)

Germany pledged €78 million ($97 million) in aid to help the PA improve water supply and sewage systems, a statement said. “Water scarcity in the region is a big challenge. German development aid is making efforts through cooperation with all in the region to defuse t his conflict potential,” said the statement. Germany has long made water and sewage treatment a focal point of its development aid projects. (DPA)

The following is a statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General:

(UN press release SG/SM/9420)

Permanent Observer for Palestine to the UN Nasser Al-Kidwa and a delegation from the Arab Group met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast to voice their unhappiness with Mr. Rød-Larsen’s briefing at the Security Council. The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine issued a six-point press release which concluded that the briefing was “completely unacceptable” and that statements that had been made in this regard “should be understood in a political sense and not a legal one.” The entire issue would be “raised in an appropriate manner with the Secretary-General.” (AFP, AP)

15

On 15 July, a member of Israel’s security service killed a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber and arrested three militants accused of plotting an attack in central Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office said. The would-be bomber, Wassim Jalad, was supposed to blow up the Kaffit coffee shop in the German Colony neighbourhood on 11 July, the statement said. For an unknown reason, Mr. Jalad – armed with a rifle and an explosives belt – turned back and went home to Hebron. Suspected accomplices, arrested three days later, told Shin Bet interrogators that Mr. Jalad was supposed to shoot the cafe’s security guard, then blow himself up among the diners, according to the statement. The accomplices, all from Hamas, gave investigators Mr. Jalad’s name. On 15 July, a Shin Bet force found Mr. Jalad in a relative’s house and killed him in a gun battle. (AP)

Israeli soldiers shot and killed Malek Nasser ad-Din, 35, a leader of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in the Hawaz neighbourhood in Hebron. A large IDF unit surrounded the house Mr. Nasser ad-Din was in and ordered all residents to leave. A gun battle ensued between the soldiers and Mr. Nasser ad-Din that went on for more than one hour. Earlier in the day, soldiers wounded four Palestinians in Hebron, Palestinian medical sources said, adding that the injured men had sustained severe fractures and bruises all over their bodies after being clubbed and beaten by Israeli soldiers. Witnesses also said Israeli soldiers raided several villages in the Hebron area and arrested five Palestinians: Haitham Awwad, 20; Yasser Hrezat, 37; Mohammed Abu Rajab; Awwad al-Jendy, 42; and Yosry Shalash, 17; leading them all to an undisclosed location. (AFP, Albawaba.com, DPA)

Eighteen Palestinians, including two young women, were arrested by the IDF in the West Bank. The two women, aged 18 and 22, members of the Fatah movement, were detained in the Jenin refugee camp during a military incursion. The others were arrested in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The arrests brought to four the number of women arrested in Jenin in the past few days. (AFP, AP)

Five Palestinian men were briefly detained by an undercover IDF unit in a barbershop in Tulkarm after opening fire inside the salon. Twenty army jeeps raided the town soon after the arrest and were met by stone-throwers. An IDF spokesman said, “A search and arrest activity went on in Tulkarm. Some people were questioned but in the end no one was arrested.” Three Palestinians were reportedly injured. Medical sources at the Thabet Hospital in Tulkarm said Rafiq Damiry, 23, had been shot in the shoulder while two others sustained bruises from severe beating by Israeli soldiers. Israeli troops also arrested four Palestinians in the Al-Jenan neighbourhood of Al-Bireh, Palestinian security sources said. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for attacking Israeli military targets in the Gaza Strip. The Brigades said, in a leaflet, that its members had fired rockets against Beit Hanoun and the settlement of “Neveh Dekalim” in southern Gaza. No injuries were reported. (Xinhua)

PA Minister of Local Government Jamal Shobaki said the Palestinian side had contacted the Secretary-General asking for information on Mr. Rød-Larsen’s recent statement. He said it was not “for the Palestinians’ sake to amplify these statements at this moment, but we must focus on the ICJ decision about the illegality of the separation wall.” (Xinhua)

A statement from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades called for a boycott of Mr. Rød-Larsen. “We do not give him permission to enter any Palestinian territory,” the statement said. The Palestinian Popular Party also condemned Mr. Rød-Larsen’s statement as “totally disregarding the Israeli massacres and other breaches carried out against Palestinians”. (AFP, AP, Xinhua)

Israel would spend $11.1 million to change completed portions of the separation barrier, building new roads, underpasses and tunnels to try to ease Palestinian conditions, according to Defence Ministry officials. Officials further said, on condition of anonymity, that there were no plans to remove existing portions of the wall. Instead, Israel would build new roads and underpasses to facilitate Palestinian travel. They did not say when the changes would be completed. A new road that would run under the wall would lead to the elimination of a checkpoint, officials added. (AP)

The UNDP issued its 2004 Human Development Report which ranked the Occupied Palestinian Territory at 102 out of 177 countries in its human development index. The index was based on life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools and per capita GDP. (hdr.undp.org, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

PA President Arafat, speaking after meeting Arab and other foreign diplomats at his Ramallah HQ, stressed the need to translate the ICJ ruling on the wall into political actions on the ground. He appealed to the entire world to carry out the ruling, push the peace process forward and provide the Palestinian people with protection. (Albawaba.com)

In a speech at the commencement ceremony of the National Security College broadcast on Israeli Public Radio,Prime Minister Sharon said: “We will not be able to preserve the Jewish and democratic character of the State if we continue to rule over one million Palestinians. We cannot ignore demographic concerns. Whoever believes that we can hold on to ‘Netzarim’ and ‘Maale Adumim’ will end up losing both.” (AFP, www.pmo.gov.il)

Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom met with the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee to discuss its work in support of disengagement and the rehabilitation effort in the Gaza Strip. It was his second meeting with the group, the first one having taken place in Rome in December 2003. Participants included: US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer; UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen; the Ambassador of Norway and head of the AHLC, Mona Juul; EU Ambassador Giancarlo Chevallard; Ambassador of the Netherlqnds, Bob Hiensch; and a representative of the World Bank. (IMRA, www.mfa.gov.il)

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Shavit Mattias, Associate Attorney-General for International Affairs and adviser on international law and treaties in the Israeli Justice Ministry, said that Israel could not ignore the ICJ ruling. “We are not making light of the Hague opinion,” Ms. Mattias said in an interview with Ma’ariv.“There are a lot of legal rulings that must be given the utmost attention despite all the criticism of the decision. The court in the Hague is considered the supreme legal authority in the international community, and it and its opinions cannot be disregarded. Israel will have to give all its attention to the opinion and norms that were determined for international law and human rights. The Supreme Court also addressed these issues in its ruling, and we will work to implement everything the Supreme Court decided.” Israel could suffer severe economic setbacks if it failed to heed the ICJ, she said. “The economy is global today. If our laws do not match international norms, the big industries will choose to invest in countries that have brought themselves into line, because they will have economic security.” On 12 July, Ms. Mattias was assigned to lead a team to advise the Government on the consequences of the ICJ advisory opinion. The team includes members of the defence establishment and Justice and Foreign Affairs Ministries and is due to complete its work in a few weeks. (AP, Israel Line)

Israeli Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra said the wall should be turned into a "must-see" attraction to help visitors understand the country’s security problems. “The security fence needs to be added to tour routes for incoming tourists. He added that he expected 1.4 million foreign visitors in 2004. (AFP, Reuters)

The UN General Assembly discussed measures to end Israel’s construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared it illegal. (UN News Centre, UN press release GA/10246)

A group of Palestinian militants kidnapped Palestinian general security chief, Ghazi Jabali, head of liaison office Khaled Abu Olla and four French aid workers from Eléctriciens sans frontières. Following PA President Arafat’s intervention, all the hostages were released unharmed by the next morning. (AFP, AP, Xinhua)

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Yasser Tantawi, 21, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Nablus’ Balata refugee camp. He was killed when troops opened fire on a group of Palestinians throwing stones at a unit raiding the camp. An IDF spokeswoman said that troops had returned fire after coming under attack during a routine patrol. “We identified a man with a Kalashnikov and we know that we hit him,” she said, adding that three explosive devices had been thrown at the forces. (AFP, DPA)

The IDF opened heavy fire on Palestinian houses in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, injuring an eight-year-old Palestinian girl, Khulud Masri. Palestinian sources added that the IDF had razed more than 20 Palestinian houses and demolished four cement factories in the Al-Seka area. Eyad Nasser, ICRC spokesman, said earlier that the ICRC was trying to supply food and medicine to Beit Hanoun, which had been under tight Israeli blockade for the nineteenth day running. (Xinhua)

The Israel Army closed the Beit Hanoun (“Eretz”) crossing, barring journalists, foreigners and Israeli citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israeli sources said the closure was due to the kidnappings there. (Xinhua)

The Palestinian Security Council headed by PA President Arafat declared a state of emergency in the Gaza Strip after a wave of kidnappings there. The Council called for increased protection around PA facilities and cancelled all leave for security officials. (AP)

A statement from his office said Prime Minister Qureia had resigned in a leadership shakeup that also saw two senior officials replaced in PA President Arafat’s overhaul of the PA security forces, following stepped-up demands for reform. After two days Musa Arafat the Head of the General Security Service, Abdel Razzaq al-Majeida was reinstated. “There is a crisis. There is a state of chaos in the security situation,” Mr. Qureia said after announcing his resignation during a Cabinet meeting in Ramallah. A statement from his office said he had resigned “because of a series of internal and external issues that developed in the recent period” and specifically cited the deteriorating security situation in Gaza. Mr. Qureia sent his resignation letter to Mr. Arafat through an aide before the Cabinet meeting. The latter, however, refused to accept it and drew a giant “X” over the paper, a Palestinian official said. Nevertheless, Mr. Qureia said he would not withdraw the resignation, according to Minister of Local Government Jamal Shobaki. The Cabinet planned to reconvene on 19 July to continue deliberations. (AP)

Jordanian Government spokeswoman Asma Khader stated that her country “sees the need to resolve all Palestinian issues and problems internally in a way that serves the interests of the Palestinian people and prevents more suffering.” Ms. Khader also welcomed PA President Arafat’s decision to unify the Palestinian security services into three, noting that that action had been an international demand. (UPI)

Hamas Political Bureau member Mohammad Nazzal issued a statement in Beirut denouncing the abduction of two Palestinian security officials and four Frenchmen in Gaza the previous day. He said it was “impossible to understand three kidnapping incidents in one day” and accused the PA of responsibility for the deteriorating security conditions in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Nazzal said those behind the abductions were “either affiliated with the security services or with Fatah”. He further insisted that the “message from these operations is negative, regardless of the motives of their perpetrators, for they agree with the image that the enemies are trying to portray in that the Palestinian people are unable to contain their own security and that the withdrawal of the Zionist occupation from the Strip will lead to chaos and inter-Palestinian fighting.” Mr. Nazzal urged the Palestinian leadership to take serious steps to end its internal struggles and to “remove corrupt and suspicious elements from positions of responsibility”. (AP, Xinhua)

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Messrs. Arafat and Qureia met and approved a series of steps to bring more than a dozen disparate security services into three branches under a more unified command. The consolidated services would remain under PA President Arafat’s control. (AP)

Jamil Al-Faramawi, 17, was shot by Israeli forces near the border between Rafah and Egypt. Israeli authorities allowed a Palestinian ambulance team to collect the body only the next day. (AFP)

At least three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics said. The sources said an older Palestinian woman was injured in Deir Al-Ballah as Israeli soldiers stationed at the “Gush Katif” settlement opened fire at some Palestinian-owned houses in the neighbourhood of al-Berka, a statement from the Palestinian General Security Service said, adding that the woman had been shot in the shoulder and severe damage had been caused to the houses. Israeli forces also carried out an incursion into the As-Sallam neighbourhood of Rafah, wounding one Palestinian. A third Palestinian was injured by Israeli gunfire in Khan Yunis. (Xinhua)

Alia Abdul Rahman Manna’, 55, a woman from the village of Bazaria near Nablus, died after inhaling gas fired by the IDF. Her family was unable to take her to a hospital because of the shooting and the military presence in the area. (IMEMC)

The IDF closed the Rafah terminal on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Salem Dardouna, chief of Palestinian terminals and crossings, told reporters that the shut down of the terminal “was sudden and without any warning,” adding that the Israeli side had just informed the Palestinians that the terminal would be shut down until further notice. Witnesses said hundreds of Palestinian passengers were stuck on both sides of the terminal. (Xinhua)

Egypt’s Intelligence Chief Gen. Omer Suleiman announced the postponement of his planned visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Israeli Radioreported. Egyptian sources quoted by the radio said Mr. Suleiman’s visit was delayed “because Israel is not responding positively to the Egyptian demands regarding the withdrawal plan from Gaza”. A meeting of representatives from different Palestinian factions scheduled to be held in Cairo had also been postponed, the radio said. (Xinhua)

Dozens of Palestinian gunmen shot their way into the office of the Palestinian intelligence service and burned down the one-story building, witnesses said. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades carried out the attack to protest PA President Arafat’s appointment of his intelligence chief and nephew, Musa Arafat, as the new head of the PA General Security Service. The group said Musa Arafat was "corrupt", and they demanded “real” reforms. (AFP, AP)

Palestinians launched a Qassam rocket that landed in an open field in the western Negev in Israel. No injuries or damage were reported. A 16-year-old Palestinian was arrested while planting an explosive device near an IDF base, near the village of Awarte south of Nablus. (www.idf.il)

Israeli settlements slated for evacuation have grown rapidly since Prime Minister Sharon announced in December 2003 that he planned to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements, according to Interior Ministry documents obtained by AP.Settler leaders acknowledged they were trying to enlist new residents who would resist the announced pullout. The documents show the number of Gaza Strip settlers has grown by 4.3 per cent (338 people) since December, while in the six months before, the growth was 1.5 per cent (120 people). One of the four West Bank settlements, “Sa-Nur”, grew by 82 per cent (31 people) compared to 36 per cent growth in the six months before December 2004. The corresponding figures for “Netzarim” were 11 and 2 per cent, and for “Kfar Darom” 16 and 5 per cent. In comparison, the “Ariel” settlement grew by only 0.1 per cent, or 23 people, in the past six months. Gaza Strip settler spokesman Eran Sternberg said the Government was preventing his people from filling government-subsidized apartments in the settlements. If current negotiations do not lead to the opening of the units, Mr. Sternberg said, the settlers might move in anyway. Asaf Shariv, Mr. Sharon’s spokesman, denied the growth will make it more difficult for the Government to dismantle the settlements. He insisted that dozens of settlers called daily to inquire about beginning the process of voluntary evacuation: “When we get to the evacuation, the number of residents that will be there will be lower by half because people will leave voluntarily for money”. (AP)

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Two Palestinians were killed inside a house in Seida, near Tulkarm, during a shoot-out with Israeli troops. An Israeli military source said an IDF officer was seriously wounded after gunfire erupted from a house surrounded by troops who were seeking to arrest “wanted terrorists”. The Palestinians were named as Saher Ajjaj from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Basil Abu Shihab of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. The killings took place during a major incursion by a dozen Israeli military vehicles and a bulldozer, backed by two helicopter gunships. (AFP)

A four-year-old Palestinian girl shot by Israeli troops in Rafah on 8 July died in the European hospital in Khan Yunis. According to IMEMC,Warda Mohammad Abdeen, 4, was wounded in the neck when soldiers at a post near the “Gadid” settlement fired at the Batn as-Samin area. (AFP, IMEMC)

An explosion destroyed a house at the Shati (Beach) Refugee Camp near Gaza City, wounding three Palestinians. Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), accused the Israeli Navy of firing a missile at the house used by Abed (Abu Yussef) Quka, the northern Gaza leader of PRC military wing, the Salah ad-Din Brigades. The IDF had no immediate comment. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Jordanian soldiers shot dead three gunmen and arrested a fourth in what Asma Khader, a Government spokesperson, termed a successful interdiction of an infiltration attempt into Israel. The alleged infiltrators opened fire on Jordanian troops in the north of the Jordan Valley. Ms. Khader said that the identity of the four men and the size of the group had not been determined yet. (DPA)

“Every cloud has a silver lining”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfaxduring a meeting with President Putin. “We think the current crisis in the Palestinian territories will lead to reforms that could allow international negotiators to more actively push the Palestinians and the Israelis for the establishment of a Palestinian State.” (AFP)

PA President Arafat announced that Abdel Razzaq al-Majeida would now take overall responsibility for general security in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, reversing his original appointment of Musa Arafat to the post that had sparked protests. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades dismissed the reappointment, saying: “we stress that this decision is another attempt to fool people and is a way of circumventing reforms and change on the part of the national administration.” (AFP)

Palestinian officials, while confident of UN adoption of a resolution pressuring Israel to tear down the West Bank separation barrier, were likely again to delay a vote until 20 July in hopes of winning EU support. A vote had been expected on 16 July, but was put off until 19 July and now was expected to be delayed by another day to give Arab and EU diplomats more time to try to reach agreement on changes sought by the EU, Palestinian diplomat Feda Abdelhady-Nasser said. “It is very likely we will not have a vote today because we are not in agreement,” she said, adding that Arab and EU delegations had met twice over the weekend and were to meet again in the morning in search of a compromise acceptable to both. (Reuters)

PA Prime Minister Qureia made an appeal to PA President Arafat to reform the security forces, and said he stood by his decision last week to resign. Mr. Arafat had rejected Mr. Qureia’s resignation. “It is time to reactivate all our security branches based on the correct principles. It is now time to appoint the right man to the right position,” Mr. Qureia’ said. He called on Gazans and Palestinian security forces to end the violence. “Enough, enough, enough,” he said, adding that only Israel would benefit from the internal conflict. He announced that a delegation of 11 Cabinet ministers would go to Gaza to mediate among the security, political and militant leaders to try to restore calm. (AP)

Hundreds of members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades marched in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp in Gaza, chanting “Yes, to real reform, No to changing faces.” (AP)

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the PA was facing a “serious crisis,” which, he said, may hamper the peace process with Israel. In a press encounter, he was asked whether he was concerned that PA President Arafat might actually survive this particular crisis, and whether he thought it would be a good thing for the Palestinians that Mr. Arafat did or did not survive. Mr. Annan said: “I think that is an issue for the Palestinians to decide. But what is important is that they are facing a serious situation, a serious crisis, and they have to take steps and measures to bring it under control because without that, it is going to be very difficult to see any progress in the way forward. So I think it is important that they tackle this issue seriously. It is a serious crisis with the Prime Minister at the centre of it, and I think that PA President Arafat should really take the time to listen to the Prime Minister and other members of his leadership, and take the necessary steps to bring the situation under control, and to work with the Egyptians and the Jordanians and the international community to reform his security apparatus.” (AP, DPA, UN News Centre)

The report from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), presented to ECOSOC (A/59/89-E/2004/21) was to be unveiled by ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy in Beirut. The report, covering the period January 2003 through February 2004, said that economic and living conditions were getting worse for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem as a result of an Israeli occupation. Two million Palestinians were living on less than $2.1 a day, a poverty rate of 63 per cent, in mid-2003. By March 2003, 42 per cent of families were destitute and dependent on humanitarian assistance. “The present review period demonstrates mounting economic and social damage under military occupation,” the report said. “Most economic and social data show marked deterioration of living conditions for the Palestinian people, including new forms of dispossession and destruction of private and public assets of all kinds.” Refugees, women and children bore the brunt of Israeli measures, the ESCWA report said. Malnutrition was on the rise. Israeli restrictions regularly impeded humanitarian services to Palestinian territories. ESCWA said that Israel had intensified the use of extra-judicial killings of Palestinians suspected of armed attacks against Israelis. Extra-judicial killings or attempts killed 349 Palestinians between October 2000 and March 2004, including 137 bystanders. Between December 2002 and December 2003, ESCWA said, 785 Palestinians had been killed and 5,130 injuries recorded. Since September 2000, 512 Palestinian children had been killed. In the same period, 946 Israelis had been killed or injured. About 8,000 Palestinians remained in Israeli prisons and detention centres, where hundreds were subjected to torture or inhumane treatment. Unemployment stood at 26 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2003, but had reached 70 percent in some areas. Food consumption was down by 86 per cent. “Humanitarian assistance is not sufficient to ensure a sustainable life with dignity and rights for the Palestinian civilians under occupation,” the report said. “The sustainable option for addressing the current economic and social deprivation lies in lifting the occupation of the Palestinian territory, as well as the Syrian Golan.” (UN press releases ECOSOC/6132 and ECOSOC/6136)

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Fifteen Palestinians were wounded when Israeli soldiers opened fire during an operation to demolish some 16 “illegally built structures” in Barta’a, near Jenin. Hundreds of youths threw stones at several dozen armoured vehicles and bulldozers during the raid. According to an IDF spokesman, the soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Two border policemen were reportedly injured. Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction in the afternoon preventing the destruction of two of the structures. According to Talia Somech, the spokeswoman for the IDF Civil Administration in the West Bank, the court order related to an empty two-story building and a hairdressing salon in an industrial site that was also inhabited. She said that by the end of the day 11 buildings had been demolished. Elsewhere in the West Bank, 11 Palestinians wanted by the Israeli security services were arrested overnight. (AFP, IMEMC, The Jerusalem Post)

UNRWA spokesman Paul McCann said the Agency was pulling 20 international staff out of Gaza to avoid being caught in crossfire between Palestinians and the IDF. He said recent unrest in Gaza had not helped security, but the main focus of concern was an Israeli tank deployed near the Beit Haboun (Erez) crossing point used by UNRWA staff. “The tank is attracting fire from Palestinian groups. It is now a flash point.” (Reuters)

A PA Cabinet meeting attended by PA President Arafat and PA Prime Minister Qureia was held for hours at the muqataa.Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said that Mr. Qureia told Mr. Arafat he would stay on in his post, but only temporarily in a caretaker capacity. Mr. Arafat had insisted on rejecting Mr. Qureia’s resignation. Mr. Erakat added that Mr. Qureia was still deadlocked with Mr. Arafat to cede him powers to launch meaningful reforms. (AP, Reuters)

A statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry pledged, “The Russian Federation will continue to vigorously work until the crisis facing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is resolved and talks between Israel and the Palestinians are resumed in compliance with the road map.” The statement came after a plane sent by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry delivered 14.8 tons of medicines and medical equipment to the Palestinians in order to relief the suffering of the Palestinian population. (Xinhua)

Israel's High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction preventing the IDF from demolishing a two-storey factory in the village of Bartaa, close to the Green Line. The injunction was issued after the factory owner filed a petition. Earlier in the day, eight Palestinians and a Border Police officer were wounded in clashes in Bartaa over building demolitions slated to clear the area for construction of the separation barrier. The IDF "Civil Administration", which was involved in the demolitions, said the houses had been built without legal permits. Palestinians said that eight people were wounded, one seriously, when the IDF fired tear gas and rubber bullets at residents of the West Bank section of the village, which is split between the West Bank and Israel’s Wadi Ara region. A border policeman was lightly hurt. At least four unoccupied buildings were demolished late in the morning. Palestinian merchants were reported to be removing their goods from the area ahead of the demolition. (Ha’aretz)

Turkey and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation and trade. The agreement, signed by Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen and Palestinian Economy Minister Maher Al-Masri, lifted customs duties and overlapping duties on imports of industrial products. It also foresaw cooperation in many sectors and Turkish technical assistance to Palestinians. “What we want to do is to open up the Turkish market to the Palestinians, to acquire the inputs we need from the Palestinian market and to provide the Palestinians with the products and services they need,” Mr. Tuzmen told reporters. Bilateral trade between Turkey and the Palestinian Authority stood at $6.7 million, 6.2 million of which constituted Turkish exports. (AFP)

The IDF raided the Balata Refugee Camp east of Nablus in late afternoon. A group of 25 Palestinian and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists stood in the street leading to the Al-Quds road from where the army was coming, trying to stop it, in coordination with the local committee of the camp. In Nablus, eight Palestinians were wounded by Israeli troops. (IMEMC)

Former PA Information Minister Nabil Amr was shot twice in the leg outside his home in Ramallah after returning from a TV interview in which he criticized corruption and abuse of power in the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minster Qureia’s office issued a statement the next day saying that the shooting had been aimed “at silencing people and assassinating freedom of opinion and expression”. The statement said the attack on Mr. Amr “was an additional sign of the dangers of the paralysis of the security forces responsible for internal security in the Ministry of Interior and lawlessness and absence of the rule of law”. This paralysis, the statement went on, “has made the Government unable to stop the deterioration and therefore led to the resignation of the Prime Minister”. Mr. Amr was also attacked two years ago when he suggested establishing a collective Palestinian leadership ready to fill any power vacuum when the IDF besieged PA President Arafat in his Ramallah HQ. (DPA)

US Secretary of State Powell told reporters at the State Department: “it is up to the Palestinian people and Palestinian leaders to see how they want to move forward”. Describing the situation in Gaza as chaotic, he said: “all we can do is to follow it and see how the Palestinians resolve this problem.” (AP)

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, speaking at a Congressional hearing on the road map, commented on the investigation to find the killers of three American security guards attacked in the Gaza Strip in 2003. “There has been no satisfactory resolution of this case. We can only conclude that there has been a political decision taken by the Chairman [Arafat] to block further progress in this investigation”, he said. (Reuters)

Gen. Jibril Rajoub, PA President Arafat’s national security adviser, said in Cairo: “Egypt will welcome the intra-Palestinian dialogue in September. Egypt is ready to restart a dialogue in Cairo at the soonest available opportunity.” Gen. Rajoub said he had met during his visit with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and President Hosni Mubarak’s chief adviser, Osama al-Baz. (AFP)

The UN General Assembly took action on Israel’s construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared it illegal in response to a GA request. The Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/ES-10/15 with 150 votes in favour, six against (US, Israel, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau), and 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Canada, El Salvador, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Uganda, Uruguay and Vanuatu). The resolution demanded that Israel comply with the ICJ advisory opinion. The vote was originally scheduled to take place on 19 July but was delayed in an attempt to produce a draft acceptable to the EU, the US and several other UN members. (AP, DPA, UN News Centre,UN press release GA/10248)

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PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said the GA resolution was “a major victory for Palestinian diplomacy and the Palestinian people”. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior advisor to PA President Arafat, said the PA would push for sanctions to be imposed if Israel did not comply with the resolution. The Permanent Observer for Palestine at the UN, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said the ICJ advisory opinion and the GA resolution could be “the most important” UN action since the 1947 partition resolution. “It is an advisory opinion, that is true, but the Court identified the legal obligations of Israel, the occupying Power, as well as the legal obligations on Member States as a whole,” he said. “This can be only binding on everybody.” (AFP, AP)

Israel vowed to continue building its West Bank barrier despite the GA vote. “We have every right to defend ourselves and are determined to construct this fence”, Dore Gold, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, told AFP. The Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, Dan Gillerman, denounced the “one-sided and counter-productive” resolution and said that construction would continue in compliance with international law as decided by Israel’s Supreme Court. “Thank God that the fate of Israel and of the Jewish people is not decided in this hall”, he said. “It is simply outrageous to respond with such vigour to a measure that saves lives and respond with such casual indifference and apathy to the ongoing campaign of Palestinian terrorism that takes lives. This is not justice but a perversion of justice. Israel is particularly disappointed by the European stand”, an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement said. “The willingness of the EU to fall in with the Palestinian position, together with its desire to reach a European consensus at the price of descending to the lowest common denominator, raises doubts as to the ability of the EU to contribute anything constructive to the diplomatic process.” Foreign Ministry Director-General Yoav Biran summoned ambassadors from the EU, Britain and the Netherlands to protest the EU stance. (AFP, AP, Reuters)

US Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham called the GA resolution “unbalanced” and said it “politicizes” the ICJ advisory opinion and “diverts attention” from President Bush’s two-States vision, which could only be achieved if both sides followed the road map. (AP)

The Russian Federation said it was happy with the “constructive and balanced” condemnation by the UN General Assembly of Israel’s West Bank barrier. Russia, which voted for the resolution, said it gave “a strong signal to both sides” to resume talks and would help restart the peace process. “Russia has repeatedly stated that both Israel and the Palestinians have to avert unilateral steps” in trying to resolve the conflict, said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (AFP,www.mid.ru)

France expressed satisfaction at the passage of GA resolution A/RES/ES-10/15, hailing in particular the EU common approval. “We are pleased with the adoption of this resolution, which illustrates the effectiveness of the negotiation process among the Europeans,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hervé Ladsous told reporters. The talks “allowed for the text to be amended in a way that reflected the Europeans’ wishes,” the spokesman noted. He said France deemed it “necessary that the text underline the need for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to respect international humanitarian law and reaffirm the international community’s condemnation of terrorism”. (AFP)

“The international community could launch discussions to impose sanctions against Israel and force it to abide by international resolutions,” state-run Radio Damascus said, adding, “[Israel’s reaction] shows once again how much they defy international law.” Egypt said the GA vote was a “clear message from the international community that it rejects Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people and its violation of international law and legitimacy”. “The resolution provides an opportunity for the United Nations to look into measures to dismantle the wall,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said. Jordan also hailed the vote, with Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher highlighting the fact that the overwhelming majority of UN members had backed the resolution, particularly the newly enlarged EU. (AFP)

Switzerland welcomed GA resolution A/RES/ES-10/15, Swiss Radio International (SRI) reported. At a press conference in Bern, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey described the GA vote as “balanced”. Ms. Calmy-Rey told reporters that her country was “ready to accept” the UN mandate for Switzerland to examine the possibility of convening a meeting of the signatories to the Geneva Conventions. “This request from the UN is proof of the international community’s confidence in Switzerland. Switzerland has been mandated twice in the past to organize such a conference ...in 1999 and 2001, and on both occasions Israel and the United States were absent,” the Foreign Minister told SRI,adding that she was “relieved” that the new UN mandate did not put Switzerland under any obligation to host another conference. “We will decide how to carry out this mandate, what talks we will hold and what kind of report we will submit to the UN,” she said, adding that the Swiss Government would consult with all the parties involved before submitting a report to the GA. (www.swissinfo.org, Xinhua)

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that Australia, one of six nations that opposed the GA resolution, did not approve of the barrier’s path and said the ICJ was not the right place to raise the issue. “We believe that taking this matter of the security barrier to the International Court of Justice was the wrong decision,” he said. “The second thing is that Israel must find ways of defending itself against terrorists and it is not reasonable to tell the Israelis that they cannot erect a security barrier to protect the people of Israel from suicide-homicide bombers,” he added. (DPA)

A report to the PLC said that the PA Government had failed to implement its programme or shoulder its responsibility in controlling the internal situation and had completely failed to tackle the lawlessness in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Committee that prepared the report was formed on 7 July amid signs of increasing tensions in the Gaza Strip. The PLC session, in which some 50 of the 88 PLC members participated, began with the Speaker, Rawhi Fattouh, condemning the shooting of former Minister Nabil Amr, one of the report’s authors. Marwan Kanafani, head of the PLC Political Committee, read the report that called for “PA President Arafat to accept the resignation of the current Government and form a new Government”. The report was approved in a vote by a show of hands, with deputies based in the Gaza Strip linked up by video. Mr. Fattouh told AFPthat 52 deputies were recorded as present in the session, with four voting against the report and another four abstaining. The Council gave overwhelming approval to a resolution urging PA President Arafat to accept the Prime Minister’s resignation. The lawmakers voted 43 to 4 for a non-binding measure that also called on Mr. Arafat to form a new Government that would have greater control over the security forces and the authority to introduce political changes and combat corruption. The same evening, Mr. Arafat signed a decree consolidating approximately a dozen Palestinian security agencies into three, a senior aide, Jibril Rajoub, told Reuters.(AFP, DPA, The New York Times, Reuters)

Hamas issued a statement in Damascus saying that Khaled Mashaal had spoken on the telephone with PA President Arafat and former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to stress “the state of concern the Palestinian people and all who love them are experiencing from taking up weapons and force to handle internal problems”. “The continuation of this course is dangerous to the Palestinian people and their just cause”, Mr. Mashaal warned, and called for the need for “a wise leadership handling to get out of this turmoil and for resorting to dialogue as a means to solve differences between” Palestinians. (AP)

Egyptian presidential spokesman Maged Abdul Fatah told reporters: “we have called for unifying the Palestinian security organs and for the Prime Minister to be given authority over those organs that are parallel to that of the President of the Palestinian National Authority. Egypt does not aim to isolate anybody or give anybody more authority than the other”, he said, but stressed that it was necessary to empower the Prime Minister and enable him to supervise the various security organizations. “We want to see that the Palestinian Prime Minister has a role in supervising the security organs,” Mr. Fatah said, adding that finally that was something for the Palestinians themselves to decide. (AFP)

The IDF raided Salfit and arrested one resident. Seven other Palestinians were arrested elsewhere in the West Bank. Palestinians fired Qassam rockets at a kibbutz in the western Negev, damaging a house. Shots and shells were also fired at the “Neve Dekalim” and “Gush Katif” settlements in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said a rocket had been spotted 150 meters east of an IDF post along the Israeli-Egyptian border, near a structure in Rafah. IDF forces fired at the rocket, which exploded as a result. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC, www.idf.il)

Citing a decrease in terrorist attacks, Israel asked the US to lift a four-year-old travel advisory warning US citizens against visiting Israel. The request came last week in talks with US envoys Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams, both members of the National Security Council, said officials from both countries. The US refused to lift the advisory, saying that despite a relative lull, intelligence data showed that Palestinian militants were still motivated to attempt more attacks. (AP)

An Israeli team headed by National Security Council Chairman Giora Eiland and Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Economic Affairs Yossi Gal met with World Bank representatives to discuss the disengagement plan, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The team also included officials from the Finance; Justice; and Industry, Trade and Employment Ministries, as well as from Israel’s Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. In the meeting, the first of its kind, it was agreed to establish four joint working groups, expected to begin work within two weeks, to advance the economic aspects of the plan. They will deal with the following issues: trade and crossings; the transfer of Israeli assets in the Gaza Strip; the establishment and operation of industrial zones; and the improvement of transportation infrastructure in the West Bank. It was also agreed that a joint working plan would be submitted to the donor conference due to meet in New York in September. (IMRA, www.mfa.gov.il)

An Israeli court decided that Ann Petter, a New York City graphic designer and an ISM member, be allowed to enter Israel, with a set of limitations. Ms. Petter, 44, arrived at Israel’s international airport in Tel Aviv on 23 June, said her lawyer, Yael Berda. She refused a police request to return to the US and had been held at the airport pending a court hearing on her petition to have the order rescinded. Police had determined that Ms. Petter was a threat to Israel’s security and had denied her entry, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said. Ms. Berda said that Ms. Petter planned to take part in a march to protest Israel’s West Bank separation barrier, but now she would not be allowed to be within one kilometre of the barrier, and was not authorized to participate in demonstrations that could result in violence. (AP)

The IDF's "Civil Administration" said in a report that it had approved the transfer of 220 caravans to West Bank settlements in the first six months of 2004, but it later discovered that 70 caravans had been moved to settlement outposts, Ha’aretz reported. Sources told the paper that the settlers had lied to officials about the whereabouts of the caravans. (DPA)

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a news conference: “I really hope that, as difficult and as complicated as the crisis is in Palestine, that they will exploit this crisis positively and move ahead and really come up with some other reform structures which are required, particularly in the security area.” He said the best outcome would be to put the security sector “under one head and empower the Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior to really take charge of the security apparatus and come up with other reforms that will allow the Cabinet to work as a Cabinet under the Prime Minister.” “I hope PA President Arafat will see the need, in supporting this sort of reform at this stage, to be able to move the process forward,” he said, adding that if the necessary reforms were initiated, it would help international efforts to implement the road map. Mr. Annan said the last time he had spoken to Mr. Arafat “was about six weeks or two months ago”, but that the deputies to UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen, who was on vacation, had been “in daily touch” with the Palestinians. Mr. Annan called the ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice on the West Bank barrier “a courageous and a bold decision which has said a lot for the Israeli judiciary system”, and which showed that “one cannot say that the International Court was entirely wrong” in its advisory opinion. “I think [Israel] should heed and pay attention to the Court’s decision,” Mr. Annan said. “Even though it is not enforceable, it has some moral bearing on what they do.” (AP,UN Press Release SG/SM/9427)

Fadel Alshouli, Head of Tribal Affairs Department at the Nablus Governate, was kidnapped, Anan Ateeri, an aide to the Governor, said. He was seized by militants and taken to the Balata Refugee Camp outside Nablus, then released unharmed after two hours. Governor Mahmoud Aloul contacted the kidnappers to secure Mr. Alshouli’s release, Mr. Ateeri said. It was not clear if the kidnappers made any concrete demands or whether the abduction was a form of protest. Asked why the kidnapping had taken place, Mr. Aloul said: “this is part of the chaos that we are living in”, and declined further comment. No group immediately claimed responsibility. (AP)

Swiss observers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory said they had witnessed human rights abuses against Palestinians of all ages and called on the international community to increase its presence there to protect the population. “I have learnt just how powerless the people living there feel. Their only defence is not to flee but to stay in the area,” said Hansueli Gerber, a retired minister. The six observers, who just returned to Switzerland after a three-month mission to the region, told a press conference in Bern that they felt “powerless” in the face of events such as the building of the West Bank barrier, Swiss Radio International reported. The observers were part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel launched by the World Council of Churches in 2002. So far, 115 observers from 30 churches and 10 countries have taken part. Peace Watch Switzerland, a human rights NGO, coordinates the Swiss observers who have been visiting the area for two years. The Swiss Foreign Ministry had given 50,000 Swiss francs (US$40,000) in funding to the project this year as part of its commitment to the promotion of peace by civilians and work on human rights. (www.swissinfo.org, Xinhua)

The organization of the Fourth National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, scheduled for 15-17 October at Duke University, prompted more than 1,200 people to sign a petition asking President Richard Brodhead to ban the meeting. Diana Appelbaum, an activist with the Boston Israel Action Committee, is leading an Internet-based petition drive against the Palestine Solidarity Movement. Fayyad Sbaihat, a spokesman for the conference organizers, said the group connected student organizations across the country. “We use peaceful and economic methods to exert pressure on the Israeli Government,” Mr. Sbaihat said. “We are trying to organize to get universities to divest in companies such as Caterpillar, involved with the Israeli Army.” He said that DukeDivest had reserved conference space on campus, but Duke officials said they had no such reservation. “We do not know any more than what [the Solidarity Movement] put on their website,” said John Burness, Duke’s senior vice president of public affairs and government relations. “We have received some protest already indicating this group is seen as a front for terrorists. We do not know if that is true or not.” (AP, www.palestineconference.com)

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Israeli troops found two smuggling tunnels under buildings in Rafah during a two-day operation during which Palestinian security sources said that 10 houses had either been totally or partially destroyed. Seventeen cross-border tunnels have been discovered since the start of the year, the IDF said. A metal workshop in Khan Yunis was destroyed by two rockets fired by an Israeli helicopter. There were no reports of casualties. An IDF spokesman said that the workshop had been targeted as it had been used to manufacture weapons for Hamas. The large explosion which followed the air strike of the IDF “proved the presence of a large amount of explosives”, the spokesman added. (AFP)

“PA President Arafat expressed his readiness to give [the Prime Minister] full authority to reshuffle his Cabinet in the way that he sees fit and give the Government full ... authority over the internal security services,” PLC member Imad Fallouji said. The revelation came as the Council backed away from a strike threat. The PLC formed a committee of 14 lawmakers that was to present Mr. Arafat with a list of demands, including allowing the Council to participate in the reform of the corruption-ridden security services. (AP)

“Our primary task now is to fight against corruption and corrupt people in the same way that we are struggling against the Israeli enemy,” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement. The statement again criticized Musa Arafat and his West Bank counterpart, Ismail Jaber, saying that they regarded the Palestinian people as a “cash cow”. “We do not like taking the law into our hands, but ... the leadership is neglecting our plight and suffering.” It also called on PA President Arafat, “the symbol of our struggle, to seriously and immediately go after those who are corrupt”. (AFP)

Hamas issued a statement calling on the Palestinian, Arab and foreign press to support the Palestinian cause and focus on Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip instead of internal Palestinian disputes. “The town of Beit Hanoun is calling on you for help to activate your media role and unveil the occupation’s terror by intensifying reports and media investigations about these practices against Palestinians,” the statement said, calling for a “media Jihad”. (Xinhua)

“I find myself challenged to convince the Israeli people that the European Union is a partner we can trust,” Foreign Minister Shalom told a news conference after meeting EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana in Tel Aviv. Mr. Solana said the EU had made clear long ago its opposition to the West Bank barrier because it cut through occupied territory: “From the very beginning we have been against that. It is not a surprise to anybody.” He further said EU backing of the GA resolution reflected a position that decisions of international organisations like the ICJ should be heeded. Mr. Solana said the EU fully supported Israel’s right to self-defence, adding, “We respect the right of every country to construct a fence on its own territory”, but a route “through occupied territory” was not compatible with international law. When asked about the possible departure of PA Prime Minister Qureia, Mr. Solana said, “If that happens, we will have to rethink a lot of things”, including EU support for PA President Arafat. (Reuters)

The US and Egypt are pushing to hold a Middle East peace conference, with officials saying that the conference was at the early planning stages and that there were obstacles to overcome before the details could be finalized. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said the proposal to hold a peace conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in October 2004 had first been raised by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman during a visit to Israel in June 2004. “I do not think that since then the Palestinians have done what they have to do in order to have the possibility to have this summit in the next coming months,” Mr. Shalom said at a press conference following talks with Javier Solana of the EU. “Until they do it, I do not see now that we are moving toward a new summit.” He said the original conference proposal had been to hold the four-way peace conference, including Palestinian officials, in New York at the level of foreign minister. An unnamed senior US official told APthat Washington supported the initiative. An Egyptian official said his country preferred to hold the conference in Cairo, at the presidential level. The conference would focus on planning among Israel, Egypt, the US and the Palestinians for “the day after” an Israeli pullout from Gaza, the US official said. PA Cabinet Minister Saeb Erakat confirmed that the Palestinians had been approached about the idea. He said the conference would also focus on implementating the road map. “We welcomed it and we said that we would participate,” he said. The US reportedly made reform a condition for Palestinian participation in the conference, an Israeli official said. (AP)

At her first news conference, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said that Israel’s barrier was “not conducive to the resolution of the conflict” in the Middle East. “One has to hope that the Government of Israel will reconsider the wisdom of ensuring its security – which I concede is a most, most pressing concern – through means other than this particular one,” said Ms. Arbour, who gave up her seat as a Canadian Supreme Court Justice to accept the UN post on 1 July. “All authorities point more or less in the same direction and that is that, as presently conceived and erected, this barrier should be removed,” she said. (AP)

Two peace activists, Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh and Israeli writer Amos Oz, were awarded the sixteenth annual Catalunya Prize, Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region announced. The €80,000 ($98,100) prize is given in recognition of a recipient’s work in promoting cultural, scientific or human values. The jury picked the two from among 270 candidates for their “brave interventions in favour of peace and reconciliation”. Jury president Xavier Robert de Ventos said that Messrs. Oz and Nusseibeh had reached similar conclusions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite their different backgrounds. (AFP, DPA)

The UN planned to evacuate non-essential international staff from the Gaza Strip because of the deteriorating security situation. The move followed a decision to move Gaza up to “Phase Four” security level, a step below “Phase Five”, which required all international staff to leave. “Stage Four was declared in New York in consultation with the people on the ground. Non-essential staff are being pulled out today,” an official told Reuters. He said that many staff were already on summer holiday, so only a few would need to be evacuated. UNRWA said the main concern was that staff could be caught in crossfire with Israeli troops. “We have had six incidents in recent weeks where Israeli armoured vehicles have fired at or very close to UNRWA cars or convoys,” said the Agency’s Commissioner-General Peter Hansen. “That is the primary reason for us to take these measures.” (Reuters)

Israel’s Interior Ministry figures showed that 243,749 settlers were recorded as living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, excluding East Jerusalem, at the end of June 2004, a 5.3 per cent rise in the same figure for 2003. The growth rate followed similar demographic trends of the last four years but was still markedly down from the period before September 2000, the start of the intifada ,when the figure was around 8 per cent. The data showed that the largest increase was seen in the “Maale Adumim” settlement block, close to Jerusalem, where 28,120 Israelis now lived. In the “Ariel” settlement, some 20 km inside the West Bank, the number of inhabitants grew by around 0.5 per cent, to 17,552. The figures also showed that the official Israeli population in the Gaza Strip now stood at 8,158. There are now 146 Government-approved settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Peace Now said its field research and aerial photos showed that Israeli settlers were expanding settlements and establishing unauthorized outposts in areas slated for evacuation. “In general what we are seeing is a great surge in building,” said Dror Etkes, who monitors settlement activity for Peace Now, “and it is occurring especially in those areas that are meant to be evacuated.” Settlers living in “Neveh Dekalim” in the Gaza Strip begun construction on a new neighbourhood in recent months, Peace Now said in a new report. In “Netzarim”, settlers brought in seven new mobile homes to increase the number of residents. The West Bank settlement of “Sa-Nur”, slated for evacuation, set up four mobile homes. Despite Israel’s stated commitment to the road map, the Government had not stopped settlers from building on or establishing farms on 188 hectares in Palestinian areas in the past two months alone, Mr. Etkes said at a press conference. “The Israeli State is continuing to spread disinformation, half-truths and lies to the Israeli public - and to the world - regarding what it is doing or not doing in settlements,” he said. The report also said just three outposts had been dismantled over the past two months, while two had been erected. Ninety-six outposts remained, 51 of which were built after Prime Minister Sharon came to power in 2001. Peace Now further said that in the past two months, 445,000 m2 of Palestinian land had been added to the settlements. For a month the movement operated photography flights, which recorded changes in the structure of the outposts, then compared the results with previous shots. The report showed that more than 190,000 m2 of land had been added to settlements in the Gaza Strip, mostly for agricultural purposes, with the biggest one in the settlement “Bnei Atzmona”, 113,000 m2. West Bank settlements were expanded by 265,000 m2. In the “Gush Etzion” block, 34,000 m2 were added and in the northern West Bank 138,000 m2. (AFP, AP, Ma’ariv)

“My message to Yasser Arafat is very simple: it is vital that the Palestinian Prime Minister and his Interior Minister have effective powers at their disposal,” Prime Minister Blair told a Downing Street press conference. “There is no way that we will get back into the road map without a proper security plan properly implemented,” Mr. Blair said. “We have the chance to make progress if we have a proper security plan and if Israel then proceeds with the disengagement proposals, which it must do in my view, in their entirety,” he further argued. (AFP)

The following are excerpts of the press conference that followed the meeting at UN Headquarters of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell:

(UN News Centre)

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Hassan al-Zaanin, 18, was killed by Palestinian fire in Beit Hanoun as he and other local Palestinians confronted militants planting a roadside bomb aimed at Israeli troops, witnesses and security sources said. Palestinian security sources claimed that Israeli troops killed the teenager when they opened fire on both the gunmen and the residents. Medics said Mr. Zaanin was hit in the chest and died before reaching hospital. Three other people, including Mr. Zaanin’s 50-year-old father, were wounded. (AFP)

In Shijaiyeh, east of Gaza City, 2,000 Palestinians marched in a funeral for two Islamic Jihad members killed in an Israeli helicopter raid in Gaza late on 22 July. The two were identified as Hazem Rahim and Rauf Abu Asi. Mr. Rahim was seen on video two months ago brandishing body parts of Israeli soldiers blown apart in an ambush, IDF sources said. One IDF source insisted Islamic Jihad commander Hazem Rahim was targeted because he was “actively involved in planning future attacks.” (AFP, Palestine Information Centre, Reuters)

An Israeli soldier was wounded as a Palestinian gunman tried to infiltrate the West Bank settlement of “Shavei Shomron” in an attack claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an Israeli military source said. (AFP)

The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana vowed that the EU would play a role in Middle East peacemaking. The pledge came after talks yesterday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who told him there would be little chance of EU involvement in the peace process without a drastic change in the European position. Mr. Solana left Israel telling reporters, “Europe ...is a very important international power and is going to play a role, (whether) you like it or not.” He added that the EU had a right to participate because of its important interests in the region. (Reuters)

PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said the EU role in promoting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was essential after Israel said the opposite during a visit by EU envoy Javier Solana. “We cannot envisage the Middle East peace process without the participation of the European Union, which has made great contributions since its beginning.” (AFP, Reuters)

An American activist lost her appeal to overturn a court order barring her entry into Israel, her lawyer said. The decision against Ms. Jamie Spector, 32, a Jewish social worker from San Francisco, came two days after another judge overturned a similar ban against a member of the same organization, the International Solidarity Movement. Ms. Spector arrived in Israel on July 10 to participate in protests against the separation wall. Airport officials stopped her based on a security recommendation, said Ms. Tova Ellinson, spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior. Ms. Spector has been detained since defying the order to leave, lawyer Gaby Lasky said. “I have not, at any time, been involved in anything illegal,” Ms. Spector said. “Palestinians have a legal right to protest, and I have every right to aid them in non-violent legal actions,” she added. Judge Sara Dotan ruled that activists of the Solidarity Movement should be denied entry because their actions disrupt military operations and put soldiers at risk, Lasky said. Another Solidarity Movement activist, Ann Petter, was granted permission to enter Israel on 21 July after being detained for nearly a month. Ms. Petter, 44, a graphic designer from New York, was allowed to enter the country on condition she stayed at least 1,000 yards from the separation wall and that she not participate in demonstrations. (AP)

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Hossam Nasser, 17 (16, according to AP),was shot dead while standing at the window of his home in Beit Hanoun. The IDF spokesman denied the army was responsible for his death, saying, “our forces came under fire in the area, but they did not shoot back because they could not identify the source” in the dark. (AFP, AP)

The IDF said it had foiled a planned suicide attack in Israel by a member of the Islamic Jihad. The suspect, 24-year-old Shadi Daragme of the northern West Bank city of Tubas, was arrested overnight at his home, a military statement said. Two others involved in the planning of the attack to be carried out in northern Israel were captured, and a belt loaded with 10 kg of explosives was found, the statement said. Separately, the Israeli army said it had thwarted a planned bomb attack on tanks in the Beit Hanoun area in the north of the Gaza Strip. A military spokesman said explosive devices were found and disabled. (AFP)

IDF bulldozers were digging a trench surrounding the terminal of Rafah on the borders between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt, keeping the terminal closed for seven days, Palestinian security sources reported. The sources said that the bulldozers, backed by tanks, are digging the trench, while army forces were opening fire at anybody who got close to the area, claiming that it aimed at preventing Palestinians from digging underground tunnels used in smuggling weapons into Gaza. However, the closure for seven days had kept at least 2,000 Palestinians on the Egyptian side of the terminal, preventing them from crossing into Gaza. The sources said that the PA and human rights organizations had urged Israel to reopen the terminal. (Xinhua)

Backed by several tanks and bulldozers, Israeli forces raided the Rafah refugee camp before dawn and demolished five Palestinian houses. Palestinian security sources and witnesses said that the incursion into the refugee camp was followed by intensive gunfire at the residential area. They said the bulldozers, backed by tanks, demolished the five Palestinian-owned houses in Block “J” in the refugee camp, without allowing its inhabitants to take any of their belongings. (Xinhua)

Israel’s Public Security Minister, Tzahi Hanegbi, warned of a high risk of an attack by Jewish extremists against Islamic holy places on the Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount). Such an attack would be aimed at sabotaging Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip by “provoking a chain reaction”, the Minister said on Israeli television. “We have a considerable amount of disquieting information according to which it is not only academic ideas, but concrete projects,” the Minister added. Ha’aretzhad quoted senior sources as saying they were studying the possibility that extremists, inspired by the 11 September terrorist attacks, would try to crash an unmanned drone packed with explosives or even send a suicide bomber to crash into Muslim worshippers during a prayer session. PA Minister of Labour Ghassan al-Khatib told reporters that “the Palestinians look seriously at such threats,” adding that PA President Arafat was deeply concerned at the issue. (AFP, Xinhua)

Militants torched an empty Palestinian police station before dawn in the town of Zwaida, 6 km south of Gaza City, pouring gasoline on mattresses and blankets and setting the building on fire. The fire damaged an upper storey of the town council, which had recently been renovated with donations from the Government of Denmark. No one was injured, officials said, but police files, computers and communications equipment had been destroyed. No group immediately claimed responsibility. In Khan Yunis, in the southern sector of Gaza, militants of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took over the building of the local administration, demanding the reinstatement of 50 comrades fired from their security jobs, a member of the group said. (AP)

PA President Arafat said he would accept changes in Government proposed by Prime Minister Qureia. “He [Mr. Qureia] has not asked for anything, but this is the right of the Prime Minister – to present what he sees fit,” Mr. Arafat told reporters in Ramallah. “I accept anything he presents, and I have high confidence in him.” (Reuters)

The Committee of Nationalist and Islamist Forces, which links Fatah and Hamas, said, “People’s congresses should be set up with the aim of democratic reform of institutions in order to fight corruption and enforce respect for the law.” The congresses would “put an end to the absurd conflict between the forces and relevant services of the Palestinian Authority,” according to a Committee statement. The Committee also appealed for free and democratic elections, which would be the first since 1995, with the prospect of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. The Committee had earlier called for democratic reform in depth, an end to anarchy and corruption and for corrupt officials to be prosecuted. (AFP)

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Abul Gheit, PA External Affairs Minister Nabil Sha’ath said that the Palestinian cause was going through a critical stage, and it was important to seek the Egyptian role in this respect. “What I am demanding is to be merciful to the Palestinians who are caught between differences in views on the one hand and an Israeli occupation on the other,” Mr. Sha’ath said. “The major problem now is the Israeli occupation, its complete blockade on Palestinian towns and siege on Arafat,” he said. “There will be no solution to the intra-Palestinian crisis without real democracy and reform,” he said. For his part, Mr. Abul Gheit said that the situation in the Palestinian lands was extremely complicated, and contacts were under way with all Palestinian factions to maintain the Palestinian unity. “The Palestinian people, without unity, will not be able to achieve independence, implement the road map peace plan or declare their own State,” he said. He said that Israel should not be given the chance to further complicate the situation or claim that it finds no Palestinian partner. (Xinhua)

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Six Palestinians were killed and two bystanders wounded by Israeli troops during an incursion into Tulkarm, Palestinian medics said. All six victims were members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, according to Israeli military sources. (AFP)

Both Israeli and Palestinian children were among the wounded as persistent violence hit the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said that all six casualties were from a mortar strike on the “Neveh Dekalim” settlement in southern Gaza were believed to be children. “They have all been evacuated to hospital and one of them is in a moderate condition.” Meanwhile, a soldier guarding the “Neveh Dekalim” settlement in southern Gaza was shot and wounded by a Palestinian sniper. The soldier was evacuated to hospital for treatment, but his condition was not thought to be life-threatening. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to AFP. Israeli forces responded by firing at the nearby Khan Yunis refugee camp, injuring three people, including a nine-year-old child, Palestinian medical sources said. (AFP, IBA)

Israeli helicopters fired two missiles at a house in a crowded residential district of Gaza City that had been the scene of heavy fighting. Palestinian security officials said the two-storey house was empty at the time. Two people, apparently bystanders, were taken to hospital with light wounds and two others were treated at the scene. Family members evacuated children by handing them to rescue workers from the second floor of a damaged adjacent house. Firefighters battled flames from the targeted building. In the airstrike, Israeli security officials said the helicopters were targeting a Palestinian militant who was not home at the time. It was not clear which militant the army sought to hit, the officials said. The house was owned by Abu Malek Djoundieh, a Hamas member. (AFP, AP)

Israeli troops expanded their operation near Beit Hanoun, effectively taking over the entire town. Armoured bulldozers cleared roads leading from farmland areas of Beit Hanoun into the centre of town, followed by tanks that parked near the municipality, Palestinian witnesses said. As troops moved in, attack helicopters fired machine guns in the area as cover. Soldiers took over the rooftops of tall buildings and positioned snipers on them, the witnesses said. An army spokesman described it as a routine operation to stop militants from firing rockets across the border into Israel. Both sides reported exchanges of gunfire. A 25-year-old Palestinian man was in critical condition in hospital with bullet wounds to his chest, medics said. (AFP, AP)

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said his recent meetings with the leaders of France, the UK and the US have raised awareness about how Muslim countries view international issues, Bernamareported. Mr. Abdullah, who is the current chairman the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said he spoke to President Bush, Prime Minister Blair and President Chirac about measures to resolve tensions in Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He said Islamic countries want the United Nations to have a larger role in handling issues such as Iraq and Palestine, instead of being marginalized by unilateral powers. “The United Nations must play a significant role instead of merely paying lip service,” Prime Minister Abdullah said. “This is because the UN is a world body that represents us all.” Mr. Abdullah said he hopes to visit the Russian Federation, the Republic of South Korea and Japan soon for similar talks with the leaders of those countries. (DPA)

Young Israeli and Palestinian martial arts athletes participated in a weekend camp organized in Delphi, Greece, to help bridge cultural and religious differences. The camp, called “Budo for Peace Festival” brought some 20 children aged 10-15 to Delphi, some 164 km northwest of Athens. “To see Israeli and Palestinian kids practicing together in partnership is very unique,” said Danny Hakim, founder of the Budo Movement for Peace, based in Israel. “They all share the same third culture, that of martial arts, and this brings them closer.” The Japanese word “budo” is loosely translated as “martial arts”, but literally means “the way of stopping conflict”, said Mr. Hakim, an Australian who lived in Japan for several years and now lives in Israel. (AP)

PLC member Hanan Ashrawi, who also heads the Independent National Committee for Citizens Rights (MIFTAH), told the Swiss newspaper “ SonntagsBlick", “As long as he [PA President Arafat] controls the security forces, he is breaking the fundamental law. … We should bring this one-man-show behind us. Instead of talking about (individual) people, we should at last be talking about institutions and laws.” She also blamed Prime Minister Qureia for the state of chaos and lack of reform, saying, “the Prime Minister cannot accept office, do nothing, and then blame it all on Arafat.” (IMEMC)

Briefing the weekly cabinet meeting, Israel's head of military intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, said that Egypt had intercepted some 60 rockets destined for the Gaza Strip. He told the Ministers that the Palestinian unrest in Gaza had not spread to the West Bank. (IBA)

Approximately 200,000 Israelis protested the planned pullout of the Gaza Strip by joining hands in a human chain linking settlers with fellow Jews in Jerusalem. Organizers from the Yesha Council said the chain, which began in the “Nisanit” settlement in the northern West Bank, stretched to the centre of Jerusalem, a distance of some 90 km. The police put the numbers closer to 70,000. (AFP, BBC, Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

Swiss President Joseph Deiss met with his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer on the sidelines of the Salzburg music festival for talks on EU and the Middle East. Both agreed that issues such as Israel’s separation wall and the treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory could only be resolved at a meeting of all interested parties, according to Mr. Deiss. “Unless we can bring together all interested parties – last time Israel and the United States were absent – I am very sceptical,” he said at a joint press conference with Mr. Fischer. (AFP)

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A mentally handicapped Palestinian woman was killed by Israeli gunfire in Al-Qarara town, in the southern Gaza Strip. Ms. Ghalya Yunis, 55, was killed as she was walking towards a security fence separating the “Ganei Tal” settlement from Al-Qarara. An IDF source said the woman had been hit during exchanges of fire between troops and militants, and it was not clear whether she had been hit by the soldiers or by militants. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

A total of 18 Palestinians suspected of involvement in anti-Israeli attacks were arrested by the IDF in the West Bank, 12 of them in Qalqilya. (AFP)

Israel’s Defence Ministry has mapped out a new route for the wall in the West Bank, complying with a High Court ruling that the original route infringed on Palestinian rights, security officials said. The new line would run closer to the "Green Line". It would affect about 19 miles of the planned route west of Jerusalem. The Ministry decided to stick to the original route in East Jerusalem, keeping the Arab neighbourhoods on the Israeli side. The map would be presented to Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz on 27 July and, later in the week, to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (AP)

A special committee charged with approving construction projects ahead of the planned disengagement said it would not approve ongoing or unnecessary projects at those settlements slated under the plan. Director-General of Prime Minister Sharon’s office Ilan Cohen said 350 projects for approval had been received, despite the disengagement plan. (Ha’aretz)

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said: “Future relations with Israel are determined by two issues: international resolutions and a just and comprehensive peace that has been adopted by Arab leaderships, including the Palestinian leadership. Iraq will not take any unilateral action on a settlement with Israel outside those two frameworks.” (Albawaba.com)

Israeli troops, stationed at the settlements of “Neveh Dekalim” and “Netzer Hazani” in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire, allegedly killing a 12-year-old Palestinian girl. Medics said Sara Mahmoud Zo’rob was shot in the chest in an outlying Khan Yunis neighbourhood and died on the way to hospital. “She was outside playing with the other kids and then the shooting started. She was playing soccer,” a cousin told Reuters.Neighbourhood witnesses said a boy, aged 12, who was playing nearby and a 56-year-old man had also been shot and wounded. Both were in moderate condition after being hit in the leg. Israeli military officials said that soldiers had opened fire in the direction of Khan Yunis following suspicions that militants were trying to infiltrate a nearby Israeli settlement. Reutersquoted its sources as saying that the IDF had received warnings of a possible mortar or rocket attack on a nearby settlement and fired in the air and into the Khan Yunis district as a deterrent. The IDF was checking if the troops’ gunfire caused the girl’s death, Israel Army Radioreported. (DPA, IMEMC, Reuters, UPI, Xinhua)

An Israeli soldier who allegedly assaulted and then shot and wounded a Palestinian student at a roadblock in the northern West Bank the previous day was arrested by the military police. Military sources said the soldier was being investigated for breaching regulations by opening fire towards Mohammed Canaan, 26, a student at An-Najah University in Nablus, who had tried to flee an identity check at a roadblock. However, Naomi Lalom, a member of “Machsom Watch”, a women’s group which monitors the conduct of soldiers at checkpoints, said she saw the soldier attack Mr. Canaan on 25 July, as she and other activists kept watch on the Beit Iba checkpoint, just north of Nablus. “We heard the soldier say, ‘You call me a liar, I’ll show you!’”, she told Israel Army Radio.“Suddenly he gave him two punches to the stomach and slammed his head into a concrete barrier. His face was covered in blood.” She said other soldiers tried to restrain their comrade, but he broke free and started to chase Mr. Canaan. He snatched an assault rifle from another soldier and opened fire, hitting the Palestinian in the arm. Mr. Canaan told APfrom his hospital bed he had been trying to leave Nablus for his home near Jenin, to the north, but that a soldier at the checkpoint had refused to let him pass. “I asked to see an officer, and the soldier attacked me,” he added. (AFP, AP)

A committee of Jordan’s House of Deputies expressed its concern over the events in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Petrareported. Mohammad Abu Hudeib, Chairman of Jordan’s Parliamentary Committee on Arab and International Affairs, made the statement during his talks with visiting PLC Speaker Rawhi Fattouh. Mr. Abu Hudeib was quoted as saying that the Arab region as a whole was suffering from an international blind eye to aggressive Israeli practices against Palestinians and the US occupation of Iraq. (Xinhua)

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An IDF force, backed by tanks, APCs and helicopters, raided the Shijaiya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City before dawn in an operation that lasted for six hours, killing two Palestinians. According to IMEMC, an Israeli undercover unit attacked the home of Mohammad Yunis Jundeyya. Palestinian medics at Shifa Hospital said that two bodies in military uniforms had been received in addition to five other injured, three seriously. The two were identified as Maher Abu al-Atta, 20, and Fadi al-Meghani. According to UPI,they were members of the Popular Resistance Committees, whereas DPAsaid they belonged to Hamas. An IDF spokesman said a force briefly entered the neighbourhood to search for weapons and spotted an armed group about to launch a rocket or mortar attack on the nearby “Netzarim” settlement. The two were killed in the ensuing exchange of gunfire. (DPA, IMEMC, UPI, Xinhua)

Hani al-Shaer, 17, died from serious gunshot wounds he had suffered on 18 July during clashes between Palestinian security forces and armed protestors in Rafah, medics said. Seventeen other Palestinians were also shot and wounded in the clashes. (AFP)

Israel’s Defence Minister, Shaul Mofaz, approved a new plan that would bring Israel’s West Bank barrier closer to the Green Line. The change in the route is meant to comply with a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court that the structure’s original route violated Palestinian rights and international law. The map mostly involves a 40-km area between the “Elkana” settlement and Jerusalem, said an anonymous security official, adding that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was expected to approve the new route in the next few days. Mr. Mofaz also planned to visit other areas around Hebron to try to find a route that satisfies Israel’s security needs while imposing as few hardships as possible on Palestinian residents. (AP)

Nine Palestinian organizations, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, PFLP-GC, Al-Saiqa and Fatah Uprising, issued a statement in Beirut calling for a stop to the spilling of Palestinian blood at the hands of Palestinians. “Using arms in settling inter-Palestinian disputes should be banned and all Palestinian weapons should be directed against the Israeli occupation forces”, said the statement and called for “resorting to reason and logic in the interest of the Palestinian people and taking serious steps to introduce reforms and combat corruption in the Palestinian Authority”. (UPI)

Around 7,000 children demonstrated in the streets of Gaza City against the IDF offensive in Beit Hanoun and against corruption among Palestinian officials. Boys and girls, aged 10 to 14, took part in the demonstration organized by a local Fatah-affiliated charity running summer camps in the city. (AFP)

Israeli police turned back about 30 Jewish extremists trying to enter the Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount) on the holiday of Tisha B’Av, or the 9 th of the month of Av, the day on which Jews believe the Jerusalem temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC and by the Romans in 70 AD. The organized attempt was made by the Temple Mount Faithful, a group dedicated to rebuilding the temple and removing two mosques – the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa – built on the site. Riot police armed with clubs and automatic weapons guarded the entrance to the site, telling the demonstrators they could not enter the compound because of a threat to public security. “Our struggle in the past 37 years is to re-liberate the Temple Mount,” said the group’s leader, Gershon Solomon. “We will remove the Arab Islamic enemy.” In recent years the group has stepped up efforts to gain access to the site, but has been consistently rebuffed by police supported by Israeli Supreme Court rulings. (AP)

The IDF released a statement saying it had dismantled a Hamas cell at An-Najah National University in Nablus, comprised of students arrested in June. “The members of the terrorist cell worked to purchase weaponry, recruit suicide bombers for the Hamas terrorist organization, training them in making explosive devices and forging Israeli identification documents,” the statement said. It further said that four students belonging to Qutla Islamiya, a Hamas-affiliated student union, had been arrested, and named the leader as Alaa al-Jayusi. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister Qureia retracted his resignation after PA President Arafat granted him some powers to carry out reforms, easing a leadership crisis. “The President rejected my resignation and I will comply,” Mr. Qureia, who tendered his resignation 10 days ago, told reporters. “I am satisfied that PA President Arafat is serious this time, that it is not just words but that this time there will be action.” Hassan Abu Libdeh, Mr. Qureia’s chief of staff, said the deal put his Cabinet in charge of the police and preventive security services for the first time. “The Cabinet has been given powers to exercise its duties,” he said. (Reuters)

US Secretary of State Powell urged PA President Arafat to make good on his word. “We need action, not propositions, not proposals, not commitments,” he said. “Action. Real action that transfers power to a Prime Minister of the Palestinian people, and Palestinian Authority, and consolidation of security services with those consolidated services being under the direction of the Prime Minister.” Mr. Powell, during a visit to Budapest, also said he considered Prime Minister Sharon’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and some West Bank settlements was a “golden opportunity” to advance efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (AFP, AP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Egypt applauded the settlement of the Palestinian Government crisis, describing it “a good thing and a useful development”. (UPI)

Jordanian Prime Minister Faisal Fayez reaffirmed the country’s support for the Palestinians to establish an independent State with Jerusalem as its capital, Petrareported. During meetings with a Palestinian delegation led by PLC Speaker Rawhi Fattouh, Mr. Fayez said the Jordanian-Palestinian cooperation on the issue of the separation wall had contributed to the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He stressed the importance of pushing ahead with the peace process and the implementation of the road map. (Xinhua)

Spanish Foreign Minister and former EU Middle East envoy, Miguel Moratinos, spoke to reporters in Cairo after talks with President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, pledging Spain’s commitment to pushing forward the peace process in the region. He said Madrid would “intensify efforts” to get peace talks back on track. “The situation has become so difficult, the Spanish Government and the world cannot wait any longer. The situation needs more international intervention.” Mr. Moratinos said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needed to be given top priority “if we really want to achieve a stable and democratic Middle East.” He said he hoped Prime Minister Sharon’s plans to pull settlers and troops out of the Gaza Strip unilaterally by the end of 2005 would produce “some results”, give hope to the Palestinians and allow them to shoulder some responsibility. (AFP, DPA)

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül announced a $1 million aid package for the Palestinians. Mr. Gül said in a statement that within the framework of the plan, the Turkish Government would send 1,350 tons of food, medicine and medical equipment and donate three ambulances to the Palestinian Authority and people. “The humanitarian aid will be sent to Palestine via Syria and Jordan,” he said, noting that nearly 100 tons of packaged food were planned to be distributed to Palestinian families by the Turkish Red Crescent Society (Kizilay). The first convoy would depart from Turkey late in the week, Mr. Gül added. (AFP, DPA, Xinhua)

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PA Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia said, “There will be actions on the ground”, as he retracted his resignation and announced his agreement with PA President Arafat. “This is a new step towards reform and imposing the rule of law.” Under the agreement, Mr. Qureia will have authority over the internal security forces, the police, civil defence and preventive security, while Mr. Arafat will control the Palestinian intelligence service and armed forces, Palestinian officials said. Mr. Arafat also agreed to order the Attorney General to open investigations against officials suspected of corruption. Sources said that Interior Minister Hakam Balawi would be relieved of his duties, and that his portfolio would go to Mr. Qureia. (AFP,Yediot Ahronot, The Jerusalem Post)

After meeting Egyptian President Mubarak in Cairo, US Secretary of State Powell said that PA President Arafat’s promise to hand some powers to his Prime Minister could lead to progress on Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip. “We may have a moment of opportunity before us again if in fact Prime Minister Qureia did come away ... with the necessary authority to act,” Mr. Powell said at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit. Mr. Abul Gheit said the Gaza plan should be linked to the US-backed peace plan calling for a Palestinian State by next year. Secretary Powell, on a Middle East tour aimed at trying to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, repeated calls for reform in the Palestinian leadership. Egyptian Presidential spokesman Magid Abdel Fattah issued a statement to reporters saying the two had agreed PA President Arafat and Prime Minister Qureia should work together. (AP, Reuters)

Unidentified armed Palestinians forced PA Minister of Social Affairs Intissar Al-Wazir and Education Minister Naim Abu Hommos to return to Ramallah after barring them from entering the Gaza Strip through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. The armed Palestinians said they were protesting the deteriorating living conditions in Beit Hanoun, which has been under Israeli siege for 28 days. (AFP, UPI)

Physicians for Human Rights, together with the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, and Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza filed a petition to the Israeli High Court to press for the lifting of security restrictions that would allow the return of some 2,500 Palestinians. The rights groups said in a statement that among the stranded Palestinians were some 1,000 people returning from medical treatment, pregnant women, elderly people and children. The petitioners said some had been waiting for more than two weeks owing to the almost complete sealing of the Israeli-Egyptian Rafah border since 10 July. The crossing had been open for just two days in that period. PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat appealed to the international community to help resolve the crisis, “We asked the US Administration and the European Union to help put an end to this human rights violations ... and secure the return of thousands of Palestinians stranded on Egypt’s side of the border in Rafah to Gaza. The stranded Palestinians, who could not afford to stay in Egypt, “severely” lacked basic supplies such as medicines, food and water and were waiting in a small, confined area. The petitioners said that even though they were stuck on Egypt’s side of the border, Israel had an obligation to attend to their humanitarian needs since it had decided to close the border. (AFP)

The first compensation payments to settlers willing to leave their homes in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank could begin as early as September 2004, Israel Radioreported. The plan was disclosed on 27 July during an initial meeting between Justice Ministry officials and Attorney Yosef Tamir, who represented settlers willing to leave their homes. Within two months, the Israeli Government could begin paying an advance of the full compensation to settlers who would leave their homes before active evacuation measures are undertaken, the radio said. Mr. Tamir represents some 80 families from northern West Bank settlements and about 15 from “Nissanit” in Gaza. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz)

The IDF blocked the costal road in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of vehicles and Palestinians were stuck on the road. Some tried to pass by walking on a dust road and the beach, but Israeli helicopters and tanks opened fire towards them, according to witnesses. Israeli tanks and bulldozers levelled surrounding agricultural fields and poultry farms, under heavy machine gun fire, to keep residents away, Palestinian witnesses and officials said. No injuries were reported, but some children passed out because of fear and the hot sun. The IDF said it was conducting “a pinpoint operation to destroy a terrorist infrastructure” close to the “Netzarim” settlement. (AFP, AP, WAFA)

The Knesset adopted draft legislation that would bar the relatives of suicide bombers from receiving social security benefits and health care, lawmakers said. The bill, which needed approval at another three readings to become law, would bar the immediate family of Israeli nationals who carry out anti-Israeli suicide attacks from receiving social security, health and disability benefits. The draft law could potentially affect Israel’s 1.2 million Arab population, as well as some 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, occupied and expanded in June 1967. (AFP)

The President, Chairman and other members of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development were accused in a 42-count indictment of supporting terrorists by funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. The indictment, returned by a US federal grand jury on 26 July and unsealed the next day, claimed that the Foundation, based in suburban Dallas, had provided more than $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas from 1995 to 2001. “Hamas did not take one penny from the Holy Land Foundation,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a member of the group’s political bureau, stated. (AP)

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian in Beit Hanoun after the man drew a pistol and pointed it at the soldiers, reported the online edition of Yediot Ahronot.A second revolver and “dark clothing” were found in the dead man’s pockets, according to the report. (DPA, UPI)

In the evening, Israeli soldiers wounded 17 Palestinian and foreign peace activists in Ya’bod, south of Jenin, during a protest against military roadblocks in the area, especially the one that has been for three years on the main road leading to the village. The wounded International Solidarity Movement activists were American, Irish and Swedish. (IMEMC)

Prime Minister Sharon approved a new route for parts of Israel’s West Bank barrier. An unnamed Israeli Defence Ministry official said the next day that Mr. Sharon had made “small” changes to Ministry recommendations on a new route for a 40-km stretch of the barrier between the “Elkana” settlement and Jerusalem, moving the barrier “slightly” closer to the Green Line. (AP)

EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana told reporters following talks with Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Monteiro: “We have always advocated that the [PA] Prime Minister be given basic powers so he can carry out his job, namely with respect to security and economic matters.” Mr. Solana said progress had been made with respect to the transfer of economic powers to PA Prime Minister Qureia, and the EU “continued to insist to PA President Arafat that we would also like to see the Premier have greater powers in terms of security.” (AFP)

Hamas welcomed the political settlement between PA President Arafat and Prime Minister Qureia, saying that it was a “significant step” towards peace in the Palestinian ranks and that "The people are moaning under the duress of corruption, insecurity and an absence of legal authority.” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas executive, told reporters in Damascus that the crisis in the PA leadership had posed a real danger of “intra-Palestinian fighting”. “This did not happen, and it will not happen,” Mr. Marzouk said. “It is not in anybody’s interest to direct guns at each other for personal purposes.” The DFLP said in a statement: “the agreement is a step on a long road towards implementing the joint national programme.” It called on the PA to implement the national programme, an agenda agreed in March 2004 that provided for democratic reform, steps against corruption, and the creation of a unified leadership. (AP)

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, beginning a three-day visit to Israel, said that Georgia supported the road map. “We are not far from Israel, we are basically in the same wider Middle Eastern region, so we have a very strong interest in Israel’s stability and in solving those issues,” Mr. Saakashvili told reporters at a news conference in Jerusalem with President Moshe Katsav. He also met Foreign Minister Shalom and was to have talks with Prime Minister Sharon, the heads of Israel’s arms industries and the chief of the Mossad intelligence agency before leaving on 30 July. Mr. Saakashvili paid a visit to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem to inspect a recently vandalized fresco of the famed Georgian poet, Shota Rustaveli. (AP)

29

A Palestinian was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers near Tulkarm. A military spokesman said that soldiers were arresting Palestinian suspects when gunmen opened fire, prompting the soldiers to fire back and hit a gunman. Saraya Al-Quds, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said that Zaher al-Ashqar, 27, was one of its senior leaders. (AFP, AP, UPI, Xinhua)

In the Gaza Strip, two Palestinians were killed in an explosion near the Khan Yunis refugee camp. Palestinian security sources said they had been killed by an Israeli tank shell, but the IDF denied the allegation, saying an explosive device the two were carrying had blown up. Other reports said that Mohammad Riyadh Adwan, 22, a member of the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, and Yunis Mustafa Al-Abadleh, 23, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, were killed overnight en route to attack the “Netzer Hazani” settlement, west of Khan Yunis. Israeli Radioreported that the two were planting a roadside bomb not far from the settlement when they were killed by the troops guarding the settlement. The IDF handed the bodies over in the morning, Palestinian security sources said. (AFP, AP, DPA, IMEMC, UPI)

Israel helicopter gunships killed two Palestinians in a missile strike on a car in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The strike targeted Amr Abu Sitta, 32, identified by residents as head of the Abu Al-Rish Brigades. “He was responsible ... for hundreds of attacks against troops and civilians,” the IDF said in a statement confirming that it had carried out the air raid. A statement from the Israeli Government Press Office said he had been planning a “high-quality” terrorist attack in the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said helicopters fired two missiles at the car, reducing it to a charred wreckage. The second dead man was identified as Zaki Abu Zarqa, 40 or 41, also a member of the group. (AFP, IMRA, Reuters)

Israeli forces raided Rafah’s Al-Barahma neighbourhood near the Gaza-Egypt border in the early morning. Bulldozers destroyed 14 Palestinian houses (at least 18, according to AP).Israeli soldiers used megaphones to urge any inhabitants to evacuate, residents said, adding that some 100 people, who were not given enough time to move out their belongings, had been made homeless without their personal effects. Israeli military sources confirmed that the IDF had demolished a number of structures, but insisted they were abandoned buildings used by local militants for machine gun, mortar and anti-tank missile attacks and to activate remote-controlled bombs at Israeli troops patrolling the border with Egypt and at nearby IDF posts. Israeli military sources also said the soldiers were searching for tunnels used for smuggling arms. (AP, DPA)

The IDF demolished a house in Beit Liqya, south-west of Ramallah. Mr. Jaber Aref, head of the Beit Liqya village council, said that soldiers had raided the village at dawn and dynamited the two-storey home of a detainee, Salah Subhi Mousa, 29, where nine members of his family had lived. They were not allowed to remove their belongings from the building. (IMEMC)

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia ordered to give priority to the relief efforts in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, which had witnessed a large-scale Israeli operation for four weeks. Mr. Qureia said he considered Beit Hanoun “a disaster zone”, stressing that the village should be rehabilitated after the massive destruction. “The Palestinian Government is continuing its actions by using all possible and available means in order to put an end to the Israeli army aggression carried out in Beit Hanoun,” he said. (Xinhua)

Nine Israelis were wounded as two medium-range homemade rockets hit the Israeli town of Sderot in the morning. An IDF spokesman said that the rockets had been launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and that nine injured Israelis had been hospitalized for treatment. Several cars were damaged by the attack, he added. No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the attack. (Xinhua)

Dozens of Palestinian workers fainted and needed medical treatment, as strict Israeli security checks at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip caused long and chaotic hold-ups. Hundreds of Palestinians were waiting in line in the morning heat to pass through the crossing, while Israeli soldiers at the terminal let them through in small groups of 10 people at a time, witnesses said. About 5,000 Palestinians have permits to work in Israel, but in practice only some 1,500 workers are able to pass through the crossing and reach their jobs each morning. (DPA)

In response to remarks by US Secretary of State Powell on 28 July, PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Sha’ath told reporters: “Instead of raising doubts over the Palestinians, he should pay heed to the empty promises Israel made to the US. What is the credibility of talking about a withdrawal from Gaza while expanding settlements at the same time?” After talks with President Mubarak, Mr. Powell said there was a possibility that PA President Arafat was serious about the reforms. (Xinhua)

Former PA Information Minister Nabil Amr had his leg amputated as a result of a shooting incident in Ramallah on 20 July that left the bones of his leg shattered. First hospitalized in Amman, he was flown to Germany on 25 July for further treatment. “German surgeons amputated Mr. Amr’s right leg on Wednesday”, Attalah Khairy, Palestinian charge d’affaires in Amman, stated. “The doctors were forced to amputate because of complications,” he said, adding that the ex-Minister was “now out of danger and in a good condition”. (AFP)

Nezah Mashiah, head of the West Bank barrier project in Israel’s Defence Ministry, told Israel Radiothat the new route would put the “Gush Etzion” settlement block, comprising 40,000 settlers some 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the "Israeli side" of the barrier. “In the framework of the changes spurred by the High Court ruling [of 30 June], when the new maps are published, they will show movement towards the Green Line, although not right on the Green Line,” he said, adding that the fate of two other large West Bank settlements – “Maale Adumim” and “Ariel” – had not been determined yet. Yediot Ahronotquoted Dov Weissglas, Prime Minister’s Bureau Director, as saying in a meeting with Defence Ministry officials the previous day that there was “no choice but to relocate the fence to the Green Line” if Israel was to head off any UN sanctions move. The paper quoted Mr. Weissglas as saying that for the US to justify vetoing any Security Council resolution in the wake of the General Assembly vote, Israel “must demonstrate that it has clean hands.” Mr. Mashiah said that “in no way, shape, or form is this a fence that will run along the Green Line”. (AP, Reuters)

Two Israeli soldiers were jailed by a military tribunal for throwing stones at Palestinians at a roadblock near Ramallah, Israel Army Radioreported. One of the soldiers, who had damaged a Palestinian taxi, was given a 56-day sentence, while a second soldier was given 42 days behind bars. (AFP)

Israel’s High Court of Justice gave the IDF 30 days to answer why it was preventing 2,500 Palestinians, including pregnant women and children, from returning home to the Gaza Strip from Egypt. A petition had been filed the day before by three NGOs and a dozen Palestinians to seek the lifting of security restrictions on Palestinians stuck opposite Rafah on the Egyptian side of the border. “There is a dire situation taking place right now, and the High Court is not working to reach a solution,” said Shabtai Gold of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. He said 30 days was too long a period and that the Court hearings would take place at an even later date; therefore the petitioners’ lawyer, Ehab Iraqi, had filed an emergency appeal to the Court asking it to move up the deadline. “It seems we are running out of options,” said Mr. Gold, adding that the IDF was preventing his organization from entering the Gaza Strip. He also said that a letter sent to Defence Minister Mofaz about the Rafah problem remained unanswered. “We were even prevented from filing an emergency petition by the High Court Tuesday evening and had to wait until Wednesday,” he added. Israeli authorities said they closed the crossing for fear of militant attacks and had offered alternatives. One was the opening of an alternative crossing point 70 km south-east of Rafah at Nissanit in southern Israel to which the stranded Palestinians would be evacuated by bus. But they said the PA had refused such a solution. In their statement the rights group criticized the proposal, saying it would mean ferrying people by bus, with only five vehicles a day. (AFP)

Iman Barhum, 14, was critically wounded by Israeli gunfire in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said. The girl’s family said she was hit in the head while standing on their front porch. (AFP)

Addressing Likud activists in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Sharon defended his unilateral disengagement plan, saying it was “the most important for Israel at this time. It would be irresponsible for me to back away from it now.” He said that with the plan, he gained US support for the main elements of Israeli policy. “The US position is that the large settlement blocks would remain under Israeli control, and the rest of the West Bank would be open to negotiations.” Mr. Sharon recalled, “we have received a US commitment that there will be no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. We have never gotten that before in 56 years of Israel’s existence.” Mr. Sharon also alluded to Israel’s nuclear capability and US support for it, saying: “it could be that one day when we arrive at a comprehensive peace and everyone disarms completely, we will also be ready to consider taking steps. … Israel faces an existential threat, and it must be able to defend itself by itself by preserving its deterrent capability. … We have received here a clear American position that says, in other words, that Israel must not be touched when it comes to its deterrent capability.” He added that the US supported Israel’s “right to defend itself by itself against threats at any place and to preserve Israel’s deterrent power against all threats”. (AP, Reuters, Xinhua)

Deputy PLC Speaker Hassan Khreishe stated that two Palestinian companies had sold Egyptian cement to Israeli contractors building the West Bank barrier. Mr. Khreishe, who chaired a commission of inquiry on the matter, named a company belonging to the brother of PA Cabinet Minister Jamil Tarifi, himself mentioned in connection with corruption allegations. The other was owned by a woman from the Gaza Strip, he said. Mr. Khreishe said the inquiry showed that from September 2003 to March 2004, at least 420,000 tons of cement had been imported from Egypt at a reduced rate to help reconstruction, “and this amount of cement was transferred to Israel. It was probably used in building the wall. … We considered transferring it to Israel as a national betrayal.” Mr. Khreishe, known as an anti-corruption crusader, said the Palestinian Attorney-General had started his own inquiry. Some PA workers had been punished, he said. The inquiry did not address accusations against Prime Minister Qureia. According to media reports in February 2004, the Al-Quds Cement Company, owned by Mr. Qureia’s family, provided cement for a barrier that cuts through the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, where he lives. (AP)

UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said he had raised the security phase in the Gaza Strip and was relocating “a small number of headquarters staff to Jerusalem to enable them to continue to work in the most effective and efficient manner”. Mr. Hansen said the UN operations in Gaza faced “unpredictability and insecurity” as the staff had to travel in and out of Gaza through the Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, and that he was seriously concerned about Israeli military operations in Beit Hanoun and the increased insecurity in the area. He said there were 8,300 Palestinians working for UNRWA in Gaza. “They are doing an excellent job under enormous pressure and often in situations of great danger. They deserve everyone’s support, and I call upon all elements of Palestinian society to facilitate their vital work,” said Mr. Hansen, whose comments in Gaza were made available at UNHQ in New York. Mr. Hansen said UNRWA would continue to operate fully and maintain all services for the Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip. (AFP, DPA)

FAO announced that around 1,500 farming households in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would stand to benefit from an agricultural pilot project over the next two years. The project will be implemented by FAO and funded by Italy with around $1.5 million. (www.fao.org)

The US State Department announced in a statement that President Bush had authorized it to use up to $20 million from the US Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to respond to UNRWA's $193 million 2004 emergency appeal. (IMRA, www.state.gov)

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Israeli troops shot four Palestinians who they said were on the way to plant a bomb near the border fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel, Israeli radio stations reported. An Israeli military source said soldiers spotted a “terrorist cell” near the fence and opened fire, hitting the group. There were no immediate details on casualties. The incident took place north of the Al-Bureij refugee camp. Palestinian eyewitnesses said two people, including one member of the Islamic Jihad, had been moderately wounded by gunfire at the same spot in the morning. Palestinian medical officials said they had not been notified of any fatalities. (AFP, Reuters)

Four of five Palestinian makeshift rockets landed in southern Israel at different times during the day. An IDF spokesman stated: “two rockets fell in an open field near Sderot in the early morning hours and another two rockets landed in the town of Sderot later in the morning. The second round of rockets caused five people to be treated for shock. The first rockets did not cause any damage.” A statement by Hamas claimed responsibility for the first rocket attack, saying it would continue firing rockets “as long as Beit Hanoun is occupied”. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz convened an emergency meeting with military leaders to discuss an “adequate” response to the attacks. (AFP, AP, DPA)

Palestinian security sources said the IDF had deployed additional forces on the outskirts of Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, the same sources said 10 Palestinians had been arrested by the army in the Tulkarm refugee camp. The army confirmed only nine arrests. (AFP)

Jordan’s Foreign Minister said in an interview with Ha’aretzthat the Palestinians would have no choice but to flock to Jordan, once Israel completed its West Bank barrier, and called the prospect as a “grave national security threat”. Marwan Muasher said, “[The barrier] will divide the West Bank into three parts, and every Palestinian will need an Israeli permit to go from one part to another. In the long run, they will have the following options – to seek Israeli citizenship, which will not happen, to continue living under occupation forever, or to emigrate to Jordan. It is clear which option they will choose. This affects our national security. Jordan does have a large proportion of Palestinians, but it is not an alternative homeland for the Palestinians in the territories.” He said the barrier would pre-empt the creation of a Palestinian State and peace in the region. “They tell us in Israel that we are exaggerating, that nothing will happen and that the scenario is extreme. We say that if we look 10 years ahead, the situation could change and the scenario will not be so extreme, so a Palestinian State must be established. The fence eliminates that option, and the option of peace with other States. … Israel must understand that we are not against a fence per se. Israel’s need to defend itself is clear and understandable, but it can put the fence on the 1967 border.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian child, Muhammad Khalafallah, and wounded 14 other Palestinians, some seriously, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The child’s age was reported as between 11 and 15, and IMEMCsaid his body was disfigured beyond recognition. The soldiers at a post near the “Gadid” settlement fired at the mourners in the Nimsawi neighbourhood west of Khan Yunis who were burying the Fatah leader Omer Abu Sitta and his assistant, Zaki Abu Zarqa, killed the previous day in an Israeli missile attack. An IDF spokesman said dozens of Palestinians had left the cortege and had approached a fence in a restricted area. When they ignored several warnings, the soldiers opened fire. (DPA, IMEMC, The Jerusalem Post)

More than a thousand Palestinians took to the streets of two northern Gaza communities. “We refuse the occupation of Beit Hanoun,” local Hamas leader Fathi Hamad told the angry crowd gathered in the Jabalya refugee camp. “We demand that Sharon withdraw his forces from Beit Hanoun. Our fighters will terminate your colonization,” he said, before the marchers dispersed quietly. Hundreds of residents participated in a similar march in Beit Lahya organized by the Islamic Jihad. (AFP, AP)

Israel’s Labour opposition leader, Shimon Peres, involved in coalition talks with Prime Minister Sharon, said that PA Prime Minister Qureia was a “serious” partner for negotiations. “Abu Ala is experienced, serious, ready for compromise, committed to peace and against terror,” he told a Jerusalem press conference. (AFP)

Mona al-Astal, 32, one of some 2,500 Palestinians stranded at the Rafah terminal, delivered a baby boy in an Egyptian ambulance before it could reach a nearby hospital, her husband, Mohammed, said, adding that they were both in good health, “We named him Terminal because of what his mother endured at the terminal and so he will remember the difficulties and misery caused by the decision of the Israeli occupation authorities to close the crossing.” (AFP)

Israeli helicopters hovering over Gaza City for more than two hours fired two missiles at a metal workshop in the Zaitoun neighbourhood. No injuries were reported. The workshop was on the first floor of a building owned by Saleh Riyashi, the father of Reem Riyashi, a 22-year-old Hamas suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing on 14 January, killing herself and four Israelis. (DPA)

A group of MKs led by Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Michael Ratzon and Knesset Law Committee Chairman Michael Eitan met Palestinian officials at the Royal Dead Sea Hotel, in a workshop organized by the Israeli-Palestinian Centre for Research and Information, entitled “Political Strategic Team Working Weekend”. The Palestinians included PA President Arafat’s adviser Mamdouh Nofal and journalists Riad Malki and Elias Zanzniri. Other participants included MKs Majallie Wahbee (Likud), Eit Livni (Shinui), and Ilan Leibovich (Shinui). The Israelis and Palestinians issued a joint call to resume the diplomatic process in parallel to the disengagement plan, in an effort to use the plan to promote bilateral steps through the road map. (The Jerusalem Post, www.ipcri.org)

The web-based weekly EuropaWorld reported that assistance to the Palestinians from the European Community budget in 2004 was set to amount to some €250 million. (IMRA, www.europaworld.org)

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Israeli soldiers opened fire on some 200 Palestinian women and children demonstrating in Beit Hanoun, wounding a child. The protesters shouted slogans against the IDF operation in Beit Hanoun and demanded food and medicine for the inhabitants of the town, where Israeli soldiers had deployed in late June to prevent rocket attacks on Israel. Fatah had organized the protest. The IDF denied that soldiers fired in the direction of the demonstrators but admitted that they had fired warning shots. (AFP)

Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, issued a leaflet claiming responsibility for firing two “Qassam 2” rockets at Sderot in Israel. An Israeli military spokesman had earlier confirmed the attack, indicating that only one rocket had landed in the city, exploded in an “open” area and caused no injuries or material damage. Defence Minister Mofaz gave carte blanche to the IDF to prevent Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, Israel Army Radiosaid. (AFP, Xinhua)

Israeli settlers under IDF protection took over by force a Palestinian house belonging to the Tahboub family close to the “Beit Hadassah” settlement in the old city of Hebron. (IMEMC)

Israel was likely to reopen within the next few days the Rafah terminal linking Egypt and the Gaza Strip, director of the Gaza Strip passages and terminals Salim Abu Safiya said. (Xinhua)

Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades torched the offices of Jenin's Governor Qaddura Musa, demanding financial support from the PA. Thousands of protestors took to the streets of Jenin in support of the group. Dozens of gunmen fired into the air, pledging support for the local leader of the Brigades, Zakaria Zubeidi. Mr. Zubeidi carried a portrait of PA President Arafat, telling the crowd, “There are some Palestinian leaders conspiring against PA President Arafat. We declare that Al-Aqsa is against them and we fully support the President as we have supported him.” The same day, another group kidnapped three foreign church volunteers in Nablus, an American, a Briton and an Irishman. The hostages were freed two hours later after the PA promised to pay the militants an unspecified amount, officials said. (AFP, AP)

Opposition Labour Party leader Shimon Peres told Channel TwoTV, “I think it is possible to form a coalition that will evacuate settlements before November” 2004, when US elections could alter American policy in the Middle East. “In the talks, [Prime Minister] Sharon gave me to understand that, as much as possible, he will speed up the implementation of the plan. I cannot give dates,” Mr. Peres said. (AP)


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