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Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
MONTHLY MEDIA MONITORING REVIEW

August 2004
1

An Israeli soldier was wounded by a Palestinian sniper while on patrol near the “Neveh Dekalim” settlement west of Khan Yunis. Israel Radiosaid heavy clashes took place in the area, adding that right after the soldier was wounded, Israeli troops opened intensive gunfire in the area. Residents said they heard heavy gunfire near the settlement and saw a helicopter and several Israeli ambulances rushing to the scene. (Xinhua)

The Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said they launched mortars at the “Netzer Hazani” settlement near Khan Yunis. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for destroying an Israeli military vehicle with a roadside bomb during the Israeli incursion into Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip earlier in the day. The Brigades said in a leaflet that the explosion destroyed the vehicle and wounded several Israeli soldiers aboard. Palestinian security sources said that around 30 IDF tanks and bulldozers had entered Jabalya before dawn and had begun levelling orange groves which the Israelis believed were used by militants as cover for attacks. (AFP, Xinhua)

Palestinians launched a Qassam rocket that landed and exploded in Israel. “A Qassam rocket hit the western sector of the Negev desert, slightly injuring two people and leaving another in a state of shock”, an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman told AFP. (AFP, Xinhua)

Yediot Ahronotcited Israeli security sources as saying that 33 mortar cannons, two tons of explosives, 330 anti-tank missiles, 4,900 Kalashnikovs and 380,000 rifle rounds had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt since January 2003 despite large-scale operations designed to prevent the trafficking. Most of the weaponry was reportedly for Hamas. (AFP)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz approved plans to begin construction of an additional 600 homes in the “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement east of Jerusalem, Ma’arivreported. The new construction will add about 2,000 inhabitants to the city, an increase of around seven per cent. According to the paper, “Ma’ale Adumim” is considered a “consensus settlement”, on which there is a large consensus within Israel that it would remain a part of Israel. Other “consensus settlements” include the “Gush Etzion” block and “Givat Ze’ev”, adjacent to Jerusalem, as well as settlements adjacent to the Green Line such as “Oranit”, “Sha’arei Tikvah”, “Elkanah”, “Beit Aryeh” and “Alfei Menashe”. A Ministry of Defense source confirmed that the construction was part of the policy of increasing the size of the large settlements, which Israel planned to keep after the unilateral disengagement under the “secure and safe borders” paragraph of relevant United Nations resolutions. The United States supported this position on 14 April in an exchange of letters that also included an Israeli pledge not to initiate any new development in any West Bank settlement, other than public utilities needed to service the current populations. Messrs. Sharon and Mofaz agreed on the expansion plan two months ago. (BBC, Ma’ariv)

Former PA Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan gave an interview in Jordan which was published in Al-Watanin Kuwait, saying if PA President Arafat failed to carry out real reforms within the PA by 10 August, 30,000 Palestinians would demonstrate in the streets of Gaza. “Arafat is sitting on the corpses and destruction of the Palestinians at a time when they are desperately in need of a new mentality,” he said, adding that the Gaza unrest was “an expression of our demands for reform”. He said that some 5 billion United States dollars ($) of foreign aid to the PA had “gone down the drain and we do not know where”. “There is no escape aside from reforms that Arafat himself has authorized,” he said. Although Mr. Dahlan said the demonstrations were not aimed at Mr. Arafat but at “the corrupt officials” surrounding him, it was widely believed he was staking out political territory for when Israel leaves the Gaza Strip. APquoted an anonymous Fatah official in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus as saying that he had been offered $20,000 by an ally of Mr. Dahlan's work against Mr. Arafat. He said he refused the offer. Speaking to the Dubai-based Al-ArabiyaTV, Mr. Dahlan denied he was challenging Mr. Arafat, saying, “We will press on with demands, despite claims made by some of the yellow press - that I threaten President Arafat.” (AFP, AP, DPA)

A meeting of about 70 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members and senior Fatah officials in Nablus was interrupted when about twenty armed men broke into the hall on the first day of the weeklong event, firing into the air and above the stage where speakers were seated. No one was injured, but the meeting was broken up. Several delegates met with the gunmen to discuss whether the conference could continue. The gunmen identified themselves as members of the Al Awda Brigade, with one opining that they believed the meeting was part of a conspiracy against President Arafat. (AP)

Investigations into alleged cement sales by Palestinian firms to Israel for the construction of the wall started after PA President Arafat ordered the casere-opened. A PLC investigation committee had revealed in June that four Palestinian companies had sold cement imported from Egypt to Israel, which was used later in the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. PLC member Hassan Khreishe said he got a videotape about these companies’ transactions, adding that the companies purchased cement at a price of $22 a ton and sold it to Israeli companies at $100 a ton. However, Mr. Khreishe acknowledged that the PLC investigation committee could not prove the same cement was used in the construction of the wall. Mr. Khreishe said he would not be deterred by death threats, vowing to stay the course to defend the Palestinians and protest against the separation wall. (Xinhua)

2

Israeli forces entered the Khan Yunis refugee camp and demolished six buildings. Troops opened fire, and a Palestinian woman, Mula Abu Sahlul, 45 or 53, according to different sources, was killed when a bullet came through her window, residents said. Medics said six civilians were wounded. Israeli military officials said the operation was aimed at the “terrorist infrastructure” in the camp and added that Palestinians used the location to fire mortars and rifles at a nearby Israeli settlement. They said helicopters fired shots at an open area to keep gunmen away. (AFP, AP, DPA)

In the northern Gaza Strip overnight, Israeli troops shot dead three armed Palestinians. The Israeli military said a group of men were spotted approaching the “Elei Sinai” settlement’s fence and soldiers opened fire. A joint announcement from the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, Saraya Al-Quds, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said three of their men were killed. IMEMCnamed the three as Isam Al-Maghni, 22, Mahmoud Matar, 20, both Brigade members from Beit Lahya, and Ali Mousa Sammoud, 21, a member of the Saraya Al-Quds from the Al-Shati refugee camp. (AP, IMEMC, UPI)

Two suspected Palestinian collaborators were killed after having been injured by unknown individuals, probably prison guards who had tossed two hand grenades into Gaza City’s main prison holding several suspected collaborators. A third, Mussa Awda, 30, died from his injuries in hospital. Mahmud Al-Sharif, 45, and Walid Hamdiya, 42, were shot and killed by gunmen in the city’s Shifa hospital in two attacks several hours apart. Mr. Al Sharif was convicted in 1999 of being involved in the killing of Mahmoud Al-Khawja, the founder of Islamic Jihad’s military wing, four years earlier. Mr. Hamdiya confessed during a 2002 trial to providing Israel with information that helped its forces in 1993 kill Imad Akel, a founder of the Hamas military wing. (AFP, AP, DPA)

Three Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces during an incursion into Bethlehem. The three were detained while shopping in the Madbasa market in the centre of the town. An Israeli source said that one Palestinian was currently in custody but had no further details. (AFP)

PA Director of Borders and Border Terminal Security Salim Abu Safiya said Israel had retreated from its decision to open the Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. “We saw a possibility of opening the crossing yesterday, but the Israeli occupation authorities retreated from their decision under false justifications,” he said. He further added that through “our contacts with them (Israelis), they claim that there are tunnels and security warnings” and the Israeli side intended to open the crossing “when they finish with the warnings, but did not set a date for that yet”. Mr. Abu Safiya believed that the matter was “a political decision since they want to convince the PA to use an alternative crossing”. He said that the Palestinian side had agreed in principle to use the Nitzanit crossing, near Rafah, if all Palestinians stranded at Rafah crossing were allowed to enter. However, the Israelis said they were ready to allow in only a few hundred, Mr. Abu Safiya said. (Xinhua)

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied in Ramallah in support of President Arafat. “You are the defenders of the sacred land,” Mr. Arafat told the crowd, praising his supporters and promising, “We will remain steadfast despite all the conspiracies against us. With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for Palestine. … We are going to Jerusalem, martyrs in the millions.” (AP, DPA)

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel will stage an indefinite hunger strike for improved jail conditions. The strike is to start by 15 August, said Taisir Nasrallah, a member of the Palestinian National Council who organizes legal representation for prisoners. Israeli prison officials said they were aware of the strike threat and promised a tough response. About 4,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails for participating in the intifada and thousands more are held in military prisons, many without being charged. About 100 relatives of prisoners marched through Nablus in solidarity with their jailed relatives, demanding improved conditions for family visits, an end to solitary confinement and better medical care. “They are also demanding to be recognized as prisoners of war,” Mr. Nasrallah said. Israeli officials dismissed the demands as an attempt to undermine prison security procedures and said Israel would not give in. “They want to remove glass barriers during visits, end searches and have access to public phones,” said prison services spokesman Ofer Lefler. “They want to make it easier to smuggle things into the prison to carry out attacks.” If the strike goes ahead, a senior prison official warned, the prisoners could lose existing privileges, such as access to cable television. (AP)

Some 2,000 South Korean Christians were heading for the Middle East for a “Jerusalem Jesus March 2004”. About 1,000 had already left, and 1,000 more were slated to depart in defiance of a Government advisory that Seoul’s troop contribution to the Iraq conflict put South Korean citizens and facilities at risk in the region. “The Government is very concerned,” said an official in Seoul. “It is very troubling that there is nothing the Government can do to stop them.” Some 2,300 South Korean Christians, including about 300 compatriots based in the US, planned to join the 7-10 August event, the centrepiece of which was a peace march between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, organisers said. The event aimed to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians and had won security pledges from authorities on both sides of that long-running conflict, said organiser Choi Han-woo, of the Institute of Asian Culture and Development. (Reuters)

PA Minister of Health Jawab al-Tibi said Israeli forces had killed 222 Palestinian women since September 2000. He said, in a statement, “Women and children have been targeted by the Israeli war machine, while sleeping in their homes.” He also pointed out that 57 women had been forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints, causing the death of 33 babies. (Albawaba.com)

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia pledged to quell civil unrest in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and called on Israeli forces to allow Palestinian police to carry out a crackdown unhindered. “We have asked our brothers in the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Negotiations Department, and the Quartet to inform the Israelis that the Palestinian Authority has started to take serious steps to impose law and order. We have asked them [Israelis] to facilitate this and not to confront,” Mr. Qureia said. The Israeli Ministry of Defense and Quartet spokesmen did not immediately comment. Israeli military sources said no new orders had been received. According to a military source, standard procedure was for Israeli forces to tip off Palestinian police about incursions, so that they could shelter in their compound and avoid clashes. “Otherwise any armed Palestinians spotted by our forces are assumed to be hostile,” the source said. Mr. Qureia said PA police chief Saeb Al-Ajez had presented a “full and comprehensive” plan to overhaul his forces, including the rotation of local commanders between Palestinian cities in an effort to bring about more transparency. (Reuters)

On Israel’s decision to approve 600 new homes in the settlement of “Ma’ale Adumim,” US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, “Our comment is that the Road Map calls for an end to all settlement activities, including natural growth. We have discussed with Prime Minister Sharon the need to make progress on the settlement issue, beginning with the removal of unauthorized settlement outposts. Israel has made a commitment … we look forward to Israel abiding by that commitment and sticking by the Road Map.” Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had earlier said Israel planned to double the number of inhabitants at “Ma’ale Adumim” within three years. “I see “Ma’ale Adumim” as part of a Greater Jerusalem,” he told reporters touring the area. On the Palestinians stranded on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Mr. Ereli said the US was pressing Egypt, Israel and the PA to do something to help the stranded Palestinians who have been stuck at the border checkpoint of Rafah for weeks while attempting to return home after visits to Egypt. “We are aware of the situation and we are deeply concerned about it. It is a humanitarian problem that disturbs us,” he said. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said Israel’s building of more homes for settlers was “in total defiance of the Road Map … and total defiance of President Bush’s vision. Settlements and peace do not go together.” PA President Arafat’s top aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh called “on the international community … to intervene to stop these illegal practices”. (DPA, Reuters)

Saudi officials accused Israel of “annexing” Palestinian villages through its construction of the wall. “The Kingdom followed with deep concern the developments in the Palestinian territories and the constant Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people,” said a statement issued after the Kingdom’s weekly cabinet session. It denounced “Israeli policies aiming at changing realities, including the Israeli Government plan to build Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem … and annexing a number of Palestinian villages with the racist Israeli barrier.” (AFP)

3

Three Palestinians were killed and at least 17 wounded in an explosion at the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza. BBC'sAlan Johnston in Gaza said it seemed Palestinian militants had been trying to plant an explosive device when it went off prematurely. Some witnesses had earlier said the blast had been caused by Israeli gunfire. The three fatalities were identified as Akram Hadidi, 31; Maisara Abu Soneima, 19; and Mohammed Abu Naba, 18. Hamas said two of the casualties were its members while the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed one of the dead men as a member. Among the injured were children under the age of ten, as well as Reuterscameraman Bassaam Masoud, who suffered a shrapnel wound in his hand. Palestinian security officials have confirmed that Israeli tanks entered the area overnight and demolished six houses and damaged three others. According to the Wafanews agency, an Israeli helicopter fired three missiles at houses in the Yobna refugee camp, killing Palestinians. Israeli military sources said investigations of the incident were ongoing. (AFP, Albawaba.com, AP, BBC, Ha’aretz)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit strongly condemned the expansion of the settlement of “Ma’ale Adumim”. “The decision is a clear continuation of provocative Israeli policies and is a clear violation of Israeli commitments to signed agreements, UN Security Council resolutions and the Road Map that clearly state a stop to settlement activity,” he said. “…. we expect from the US, the official sponsor of the peace process and the Road Map, to take action with the Quartet, to stop this procedure,” he added. (DPA)

In an interview with Al Arabiyatelevision, King Abdullah of Jordan said the Palestinian Authority had made too many “surprise” concessions in peace talks with Israel and needed to take a clearer stand to enlist the support of Arab States. “We wish the Palestinian leadership would clearly specify what it wants and not surprise us now and then with some decisions and the acceptance of what it refused in the past,” King Abdullah said. “At the start, talks were on regaining 98 per cent of occupied Palestinian land and are now about regaining less than 50 per cent and we don’t know what it will be in a year or two. As for refugees, discussions were first about their return and compensation and now talks are on the return of a small number. It is unfortunate that what was rejected as betrayal has to some become now a demand and great achievement.” In response PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said, “His Majesty does not talk out of thin air. We take very seriously what he is saying … We have serious worries about such comments.” He also said Palestinians continued to demand a State in the West Bank and Gaza along the 1967 borders with Israel, the return of refugees to what is now Israel or equivalent compensation and a capital in East Jerusalem. (Reuters,www.mfa.gov.jo)

Delegates from Palestinian factions were gathering in Cairo ahead of talks with Egyptian officials over Israel’s planned pullout from the Gaza Strip. Sources said representatives from the Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were expected to participate at the meeting. Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal was reported to be in Cairo already as well as Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Rawhi Fattouh, who was on a scheduled official visit there. (AFP)

The World Food Programme announced that it would extend its emergency operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for a further twelve months. (Ha’aretz)

4

Three Palestinians were wounded in an Israeli helicopter strike near Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical and security sources said. An IDF source confirmed that “the Israeli Air Force fired into open fields near Jabalya”. Palestinian sources said that two children, boys aged 10 and 12, had also been wounded by tank shelling around the entrance to Jabalya where many of the Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles had assembled. IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Yaalon said, “As long as the Palestinians fire Qassam rockets towards Israeli areas, we will reinforce and enlarge our activities on the ground to not only prevent these attacks but also to strike the workshops and manufacturers”. (AFP, AP,www.idf.il)

Five Palestinians were killed, including one or two children. In the northern West Bank, Kassem al-Mutawaq, 18 (Jassem al-Motawaq, 20, according to Xinhua),was shot dead by IDF soldiers manning tanks in the centre of Jabalya. Wa’el Mohammad Abu Al-Jidian, 15 (17, according to AFP)died after being hit in the chest by an Israeli bullet when soldiers opened fire from a tank in an area near Tal Al-Za’atar. Mohammed Hisham Salem, 9, died after being hit by a bullet in the chest. Family members identified him as a son of a senior Islamic Jihad member and said he was from Beit Lahya. Around the same time, Israeli helicopters fired two missiles at an area near Zammu junction in Jabalya. No injuries were reported. Earlier in the day, Israeli soldiers shot to death Awadh Hashash, 29, in Nablus, and a 22-year-old man in the Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip. (AFP, AP, DPA, IMEMC, Xinhua)

IDF bulldozers destroyed at least 10 Palestinian homes and shops in the West Bank village of Azzun Atma, south of Qalqilya, after entering along with some two dozen jeeps. An Israeli spokeswoman said the buildings were being demolished because they had been "illegally constructed." (AP)

The IDF reported that it had uncovered a tunnel in the yard of an abandoned house on the outskirts of Rafah. (www.idf.il)

Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine in the Near East (UNRWA) Peter Hansen said in a statement that international staff working at UNRWA headquarters, with the exception of his office and that of his deputy, would be temporarily relocated to Amman due to the deterioration of security conditions in Gaza. The persistence of IDF military operations and friction between Palestinian factions were cited as the main reasons. (UPI,www.unrwa.org)

The mayor of the “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement, Benny Kashriel, said that thousands of new homes would be built in the settlement, located east of Jerusalem. “The Americans and the Palestinians and the entire world know that Ma’ale Adumim is continuing to build,” Mr. Kashriel added. “The overall plan is to double the population.” (AP)

Israel’s National Security Council Chairman Giora Eiland told the Knesset that the evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip would end by September 2005. However, efforts would be made to enable residents who wished to leave earlier to do so. Mr. Eiland added that IDF forces would only leave Gaza around December 2005. (Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

The European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) submitted a request to Israel's National Security Council to permit its investigators to question Palestinian militants in Israeli prisons about Israeli allegations that European Union aid to the Palestinian Authority had been diverted to fund their activities. (Ha’aretz)

A delegation headed by Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas' Political Bureau, was expected to discuss with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Wednesday, Egypt’s plan to provide security in the Gaza Strip after an Israeli pullout, a Hamas spokesman said. (AFP)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said he and PA Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia had spoken by telephone and agreed that “there's no problem” between their leaderships. Mr. Muasher told reporters that King Abdullah had “sounded the alarm [in his interview with Al Arabiyatelevision on 3 August] because there's a clear Jordanian concern that the lack of Palestinian action might weaken opportunities to establish a Palestinian State, also at the expense of Jordan.” (AP)

The Israeli ambassador in Cairo, Eli Sheked, was called to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to explain why Israel was refusing to open the Rafah crossing, where 2,500 Palestinians [over 4,000, according to other estimates] had been stranded for over two weeks. Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit told reporters that Egypt told Israel, “to urgently reopen the crossing to put an end to the deterioration of humanitarian conditions there”. Egypt had also urged the EU “to prevent further humanitarian suffering by the Palestinians”. Mr. Aboul Gheit also contacted the UN Special Coordinator Terje Roed-Larsen to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians “lest the condition develops dangerously”, and had sent an urgent letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan requesting immediate intervention. (DPA)

Israeli soldiers raided an engagement party in Ramallah, injuring and arresting the prospective bridegroom, participants said. Rami Barghouti, 28, a distant relative of Marwan Barghouti and a Hamas activist who had long been in hiding, was celebrating his engagement when Israeli forces surrounded the house. Participants said Mr. Barghouti tried to hide, but the soldiers opened fire, wounding and capturing him. (AP)

Some 70 delegates, including former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, gathered at a hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea to discuss the progress of the Geneva Accord initiative, organizers said in a statement. The meeting was to end on 7 August. (AFP)

5

Iman Barhum, 12, died from the head wound she sustained several days earlier in Rafah. (IMEMC, Xinhua)

A bomb exploded next to the car of Jamal Abu Samadana, head of the Popular Resistance Committee, in Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border, witnesses said, but no one was hurt. Israel Radioreported that Israeli helicopters fired a missile at the car, but witnesses said Israel was not involved. (AP)

Israeli troops destroyed a house in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem that belonged to Helmi Hamash, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. He was arrested some six months ago for his role in planning the January 2004 suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus that killed 11 people and wounded 61, not counting the bomber, the IDF said in a statement. (AFP)

Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles had begun leaving the centre of Beit Hanoun at dawn and completed their pullout four hours later, residents said. Troops had also withdrawn from around the nearby town of Jabalya and its refugee camp. A hot air balloon could be seen flying overhead with cameras directed towards the town. Residents said that much of Beit Hanoun’s infrastructure had been destroyed in the course of the recent operation as troops demolished buildings, tore up roads and razed citrus groves. PA Housing Minister Abdelrahman Hamad, who comes from Beit Hanoun, said the latest incursion had caused some $40 million worth of damage to homes, farms and infrastructure. He said that eight million acres of farmland in the northern Gaza Strip had been damaged or destroyed by the incursion. “They have left a huge amount of destruction. As you know, Beit Hanoun is the only real source of farming and citrus fruits in Gaza and now it’s a desert,” echoed by Beit Hanoun mayor Ibrahim Hamad. Twenty Palestinians were killed during the course of the operation and at least 30 houses demolished. “This is a redeployment, not a withdrawal. Our operations to prevent the firing of Qassam [rockets] will continue”, an Israeli military said . During the day, seven Qassam rockets hit three open locations in Israel's Negev causing no injuries or damage. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility. Israel Army Radiosaid the previous day that more than 40 rockets had landed in Israeli territory since the start of the operation. (AFP, AP, IMEMC)

Hours after Israeli troops withdrew from Beit Hanoun, Palestinian gunmen broke up a news conference in the town, forcing three PA Cabinet ministers to stop speaking and leave town. The six masked gunmen, dressed in military fatigues and headbands of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, took over the stage of the municipality building. “Where have you been in the last 37 days while we were under invasion? Why did not one person from the Government come during the invasion? We don’t want you here. Leave now, or you will see worse”, one of the militants told the ministers. Before the gunmen intruded, Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Abu al-Naja told reporters the PA had created a committee to assess the destruction and compensate townspeople. (AP)

Hani al-Hassan, a member of the Fatah Executive Committee, accused Israel of planning to assassinate PA President Arafat and senior aides. “Israel tried to no avail to recruit Palestinian assassins to kill Arafat. In one case, two Palestinians were recruited but backtracked when they knew that Arafat was the target and informed us of the Israeli plan,” he told the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat,adding that Israel wanted to topple Mr. Arafat by March 2005 when Israel expected to have withdrawn from the Gaza Strip. Mr. Al-Hassan further said the decision to get rid of Mr. Arafat and replace him with a pro-Israel Palestinian was taken after the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. (UPI)

Israel and the European Commission initialled an agreement designed to end a long-running dispute over the “rules of origin” for products from the settlements which were labelled “Made in Israel”. Under the accord, goods exported by Israel to the EU will be labelled with a town of origin as well as the nationality. Customs authorities in EU member States will then be able to charge duty on products labelled, for example, “made in Ariel, Israel” but not on those marked “made in Tel Aviv, Israel,” provided the Israelis declared the origin honestly. The deal was negotiated by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Brussels in November 2003. Whereas the word “Israel” describes the location of the settlements, the EU is allowed to charge a tariff on goods produced beyond the Green Line in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. An EU official said External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten and Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein would put a joint proposal to the Commission next month for a new regulation replacing the 2002 notice to importers instructing them to collect deposits on the goods which could be liable to duty. (Reuters)

Israel banned the remains of a Palestinian woman, Yusra Awad Abdel Fattah, 52, who died in Cairo a few days earlier, from being sent back to the Gaza Strip across the Rafah terminal, her husband Saleh Lubad, 57, said. “I had to bury my wife in a cemetery at the Egyptian side after I failed to convince the Israelis to let me bring her body back to Gaza to be buried in the family cemetery,” he said. The previous day, a Palestinian official said that three Palestinian women, Sabah Jamal, 40, Sabah Abed Al-Wahab, 30 and Najah Izz ad-Din, 29, had miscarried at the terminal. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Xinhua)

In May 2004, Prime Minister Sharon and Minister of Defense Mofaz declared 3,750 acres of land between the “Ma'aleh Adumim” settlement and Jerusalem "State land", the first step towards using it for housing construction, an anonymous government official said. Israel's Ministry of Construction and Housing had already begun infrastructure work on the land, preparing to lay down sewage, electricity and phone lines. “Within about six months the planning work in the Housing Ministry will be complete, and then we will be able to present the construction plans for the city to the Defense Minister for approval,” Benny Kashriel, mayor of the “Ma'aleh Adumim”, stated. The plan is apparently meant to ensure a large Jewish majority in Jerusalem to counter a high Palestinian growth rate. The neighbourhood is planned for a hill below Issawiya and the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus, just north of the new Jerusalem-Ma'aleh Adumim road, and will be encompassed by the West Bank barrier. The Minister of Defense said in response to Ma’ariv'spublication of these developments, “It is an old plan from eight years ago, from [Prime Minister] Rabin’s time”. A defense source said, “As far as we know, the matter is in the hands of the Ministry of Housing. Of course, it is must be looked into, since things have changed over the past eight years”. US Middle East envoy Elliot E. Abrams was to discuss the new construction plans during a meeting with Prime Minister Sharon in Jerusalem later in the day. (AP, Ma’ariv)

Israel will ask the US for its support in expanding settlement blocks it wants to keep if a peace agreement is negotiated, according to Israeli officials. US State Department officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied US policy had changed, saying the US was opposed to all settlement construction and was not telling Israel otherwise. Israeli officials said that talks with the US were to begin soon over guidelines for additional construction in the settlements with an eye towards strengthening the main blocks Israel wants to hold onto in the framework of a final peace deal. Following up on President Bush’s implicit recognition of main settlement blocks on 14 April 2004, the Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel and the US were now in the process of putting together an aerial map of the West Bank as a tool to delineate where Israel would be allowed to build. One possibility, the officials said, was that borders would be drawn around the settlement blocks, and that Israel would be permitted to build housing between the settlements. The other option under consideration was recognition of the master plans of the settlements – grandiose schemes that foresaw small enclaves one day developing into full-fledged cities, covering large areas of the West Bank. Also, the officials said, an agreement might be reached with the US Government under which the US would continue to issue formal protests when Israel built in the settlements, with the understanding that the US complaints could be ignored. The settlement blocks in question included “Ma'aleh Adumim”, “Ariel”, “Gush Etzion”, “Betar Illit” and “Modiin Illit”. (AP)

Israel intends to allow the PA to deploy armed police officers in the West Bank, Israel Radiosaid. As part of a reform programme, PA Prime Minister Qureia decided to deploy blue-uniformed police on the Palestinian streets. However, for the last three years, Israel has not allowed Palestinians to carry arms in public. A request by Mr. Qureia had been passed on to the Israeli defense establishment for consideration, and the security officials were considering the request very favourable, the report said. Mr. Qureia had also appealed to the US to help persuade Israel. Israeli government spokesman Ophir Chacham confirmed that Jamil Tarifi, the PA Minister of Civil Affairs, sought Israel’s coordination in deploying more uniformed Palestinian police throughout the West Bank. “We want to cooperate,” said the spokesman, but he declined to say whether the policemen could carry weapons. (AP, Xinhua)

Israel’s Supreme Court renewed an order to the Government Press Office to resume accrediting journalists from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, rejecting a government appeal against a similar judgement issued on 26 April 2004, judicial sources said. The Press Office had cited "security reasons" for drastically reducing the number of Palestinians being granted Israeli press credentials. (AP)

6

The IDF shot dead Mohammed Abu Hamad, 18, a would-be bomber who was preparing to attack either “Morag” or a neighbouring settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. An IDF spokesman confirmed that troops guarding the adjacent “Kerem Azmona” settlement had opened fire on two Palestinians before dawn, killing one of them, while the other escaped. Some 40 kg of explosives were found near the dead man and made safe by sappers before the body was handed over to the Palestinians, the IDF spokesman said. (AFP, DPA)

Israel’s Special Forces detained an alleged “Tanzim” activist Samah Barghouti in Ramallah on suspicion of having murdered an Israeli near Ramallah in late June. (Ha’aretz)

A Hamas member suspected in shooting attacks was killed by the IDF near the town of Salfit, just south of the “Ariel” settlement in the West Bank. Palestinian security sources named the dead gunman as Mohamed Talasmeh. Another suspected militant was detained. (AFP, Ha’aretz).

Israel reopened the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, allowing some 1,500 Palestinians to head home after having been stranded in Egypt for weeks. Israel Army Radiosaid the crossing would be open for extra hours on 6 and 7 August to allow travellers to return home as quickly as possible. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he had agreed that Palestinian police could carry clubs and pistols “in some places that could deteriorate to uncontrolled anarchy”. The Shin Bet would check those police officers, and local military commanders would coordinate the move gradually for a few cities and localities. This decision would be implemented very carefully and could be reversed within a week if necessary, Mr. Mofaz added. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz)

A delegation of senior military officials from Egypt, including several generals, visited Israel. Heading the Israeli side was Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Political-Security Department. The Egyptian side was headed by Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman. Arms smuggling and Egypt’s proposed training programme for Palestinian police were reported to be among the issues discussed. (Ha’aretz)

Former PA Information Minister and one the main backers of the Geneva Accord initiative Yasser Abed Rabbo said, “We want to affirm our belief in the Geneva initiative as the basis for an overall solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. "We also want to agree on a working plan for the coming period to increase the role of the peace camp among Israelis and Palestinians.” Mr. Abed Rabbo was reached by telephone on the second day of the three-day meeting on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea to discuss the initiative’s progress. (AFP)

Troops shot dead an unarmed Palestinian teenager close to the Sufa border crossing in the south-eastern corner of the Gaza Strip overnight. The youth was named as Ahmad al-Qiyq, 16. An IDF spokeswoman claimed he was shot on the Israeli side of the border after he and another Palestinian had cut through the fence. “The Force spotted four suspicious Palestinians near the security fence in Sufa in an area which is off-limits to non-military personnel,” she said. As the soldiers approached, two of them fled towards a nearby Palestinian area, while the other two managed to get through a hole in the border fence. Troops opened fire, killing one and taking the second for investigation, she said. A wire-cutter was found in their possession and an explosive device was found buried in the sand near the fence, she added. (AFP)

7

Israeli soldiers fired at a group of Palestinians carrying a missile launcher near the Rafiah Yam settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF said, adding it appeared at least two Palestinians had been killed. The army said soldiers spotted the group, opened fire and apparently hit the missile launcher, causing a large explosion. Palestinian ambulances evacuated the causalities. (AP)

Israel troops carried out an early-morning raid in Tulkarm detaining four Palestinians. Palestinian security sources said the four belonged to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. One of them was named as Abud Shreim, 28, the Tulkarm area leader of the Brigades. The IDF confirmed the four arrests in Tulkarm, but said only one of them belonged to the Brigades, while the other three were Hamas members. A spokeswoman said troops had uncovered a weapons cache hidden in one of the Hamas activists’ homes, containing 19 explosive devices, a rifle and ammunition. (AFP)

PA Justice Minister Nahed Arreyes announced his resignation, saying he has been stripped of much of his authority over the legal system. In 2003, PA President Arafat created a rival agency to the Justice Ministry and continues to control the judiciary. Mr. Arreyes said he submitted his resignation to PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on 4 August. However, Mr. Qureia said he has not accepted the resignation and would press the Minister to stay. “We stand by him and we hope we can resolve the issue,” he told reporters in Ramallah. In an interview in his Gaza City home, Mr. Arreyes said that he no longer had authority over State prosecutors. “The prosecution should be under the control of the Justice Ministry, according to the law. My resignation comes as a protest against the incorrect position of the prosecution.” In a separate development, PA Planning Minister Nabil Qassis resigned, saying he was leaving the Cabinet to serve as president of Bir Zeit University. (AP)

Israel’s Police Minister Tzahi Hanegbi warned that Jewish extremists might target East Jerusalem's Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount) compound in hopes of stopping Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Mr. Hanegbi said there were warning signs that extremists would try to attack the mosques in the compound or Israeli leaders. Asked by Israel Radiowhether he believed some of the extremists should be detained without trial, in so-called administrative detention, he said, “This is not within my authority, but I’m in favour. I’m in favour of any measure that can prevent an attack on the Temple Mount or an attack on public officials.” (AP)

8

Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers backed by helicopters raided the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers announced a curfew, closed all main entrances and blew up two houses belonging to Mohammed and Shadi Issa, causing heavy damage to nearby buildings. Palestinian security sources said that 20-year-old Mohamed Issa Ma’ali was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. According to an IDF statement, he had dispatched the suicide bomber who killed 11 Israeli civilians riding on a bus in Jerusalem on 22 February 2004. In Nablus, Israeli soldiers stormed a vocational school and turned it into a military post. In Tulkarm, Israeli soldiers backed by military jeeps and armoured vehicles raided its refugee camp, imposing a curfew and firing heavy machine guns at civilians’ houses. The soldiers arrested a Palestinian in a house-to-house search. (AFP, Xinhua)

Palestinian militants opened fire at an IDF patrol and a settler convoy near the “Kissufim” junction east of Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip. The heavy exchange of fire between the soldiers and the militants lasted for more than 10 minutes, where the militants managed to retreat and no injuries were reported. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP, claimed responsibility for the attack. Palestinian residents said that following the attack, several Israeli tanks raided the village of al-Qarara, south of the place where the attack occurred. (Xinhua)

In the morning IDF forces raided the al-Shout neighbourhood of Rafah and razed about eight Palestinian houses. Palestinian medics at Rafah Hospital said that the Israeli troops’ gunfire in that raid wounded four Palestinians, three of them children. At night, Israeli helicopters fired about five missiles at a sewing factory and empty houses in the area, with no injuries reported. AFPreported that the strike damaged a local power network and caused a blackout near Rafah. (AFP, DPA, UPI, Xinhua)

The IDF expelled a Palestinian woman, Nea Nabhan, and her two sons, Mohammed and Samah al-Masri, from Jericho to Gaza City, Palestinian security sources said. Israel claimed that the woman, carrying an identity card issued in Gaza, should not stay in the West Bank unless she had permission by the IDF to move from Gaza to the West Bank. Ms. Nabhan had been living in Jericho for several years with her sons and husband, who held an identity card issued in the West Bank. (Xinhua)

Abu Salim Abu Safiya, Chief of PA Borders and Border Terminals Security, told reporters that Israel agreed to reopen the Rafah terminal on 6 August in one direction, for those entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt. By 9 August the reopening would be two-way, he said. (Xinhua)

PA President Arafat accused Israel of blocking Palestinian general elections planned for November. He said IDF roadblocks and checkpoints across the West Bank and Gaza denied Palestinians free access to areas for election registration, Voice of Palestinereported. “They are blocking the implementation of the first phase of the general elections,” Mr. Arafat said. According to a PA presidential decree issued in July 2004, the Palestinians would elect their president and the 88 members of the PLC in November. (Xinhua)

Several hundred Palestinians and international peace activists demonstrated in the West Bank village of Beit Jala against the barrier Israel was constructing nearby. (The Jerusalem Post)

Swiss Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntagreported that Switzerland was to impose provisional taxes on Israeli exports suspected of coming from settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “In over 30 cases, frontier guarantee payments have been demanded from importers of ‘Made in Israel’ goods, according to senior customs officials,” the paper said. The Swiss Government subsequently confirmed to the Swiss media that the taxes collected would be kept by the authorities “until the precise origin of the products is established”. Under an accord concluded by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), products exported by Israel to Switzerland are exempt from customs duties, but merchandise produced by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is excluded from the agreement. For the past two years, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has examined certificates of origin for 650 Israeli products but has so far been unable to distinguish the goods from Israel from those originating from settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. SECO spokeswoman Rita Baldegger said it was difficult to obtain the necessary data to clarify the situation: “The Israeli customs authorities often take a long time to respond and their declarations are often full of gaps or imprecise”. (AFP)

9

An eight-year-old Palestinian child died from wounds sustained the previous week in the Gaza Strip. (IMEMC)

The PA Ministry of Health said an estimated 61 Palestinians were killed and 465 wounded by Israeli action in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in July 2004. WAFAquoted a Ministry report as saying 34 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip and the rest in the West Bank, including 18 children and teenagers. The report said among the wounded, 264 were in the Gaza Strip and 201 in the West Bank. The Ministry accused the IDF of targeting civilians, especially during its invasion of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. (UPI)

The IDF, backed by tanks and bulldozers, demolished five Palestinian houses in the al-Shout neighbourhood of Rafah. (Xinhua)

Egypt and Israel concluded an “agreement in principle” for Egyptian border guards rather than police to monitor the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. “This measure will not modify the [1979] peace treaty” that demilitarized the Sinai and laid down strict terms for carrying weapons in the peninsula, said Al-Ahram.“An Egyptian military delegation is currently in Israel to negotiate on security problems on the border with Gaza, including the Salah-Al-Din ["Philadelphi"] corridor,” it said, adding that Cairo had set four conditions for its participation in efforts to maintain security after an Israeli withdrawal. The pullout must be total; Gaza must have access to the outside world, with its port and airport reopened; Gaza and the West Bank should be linked; and Israel must commit itself not to re-occupy the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Egypt is to start training Palestinian police officers in Cairo in September, as part of preparations for Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Al-Ahramsaid the PA had been invited to submit a 45-person list for the programme. It added that Egypt had proposed sending 200 Egyptian security experts to Gaza for the training. (AFP, Xinhua)

Egypt and Hamas had reached an agreement on reinforcing Palestinian unity and devising special arrangements once the IDF pulls out and settlements are evacuated from the Gaza Strip, Al-Ahramsaid. It said that Egypt was seeking to reach an agreement with other Palestinian factions, especially Fatah. “We have not agreed, neither have we disagreed. We are only in a dialogue,” Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan told APfrom Lebanon. “We made no promises, and we want to see the occupation end first.” (AP, Xinhua)

Referring to Israeli plans to add new housing units in West Bank settlements, PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said the construction would “destroy the efforts exerted to restore the peace process to its normal track”. “We contacted the Quartet members yesterday and demanded them to interfere to abrogate this decision,” he added. (AFP)

Israeli Public Radioreported that Prime Minister Sharon had refused a request by the Ministry of Construction and Housing to give the final approval for 1,300 housing units in four of the largest settlements (Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba and Betar Illit) after completing preparatory groundwork for the construction and obtaining the necessary authorization from the Defence Ministry. The freeze is designed to ensure that all building work is within the municipal boundaries of the settlements and does not breach agreements between the US and Israel. It affects plans revealed in the last week for expansion of “Ma'ale Adumim” and “Ariel”. While there was no confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office, leaders of the settler movement confirmed that a freeze had been imposed. Josh Hasten, a spokesman for the Yesha Council of Settlers, said that the movement was confident that the freeze would be merely temporary and said that there could be no arguments over the need for the new housing. “This could be a temporary setback,” he said. “Our communities are growing and thriving. We do not think there should be any delays [to accommodate] natural growth. There’s always a need as there’s always a demand.” (Ha'aretz, AFP)

Some 2,500 South Korean Christian evangelists marched from the outskirts of Jerusalem to Bethlehem, calling for an end to division and conflict in the Holy Land. Their march took them through one of the largest checkpoints in the West Bank near Jerusalem, with security provided by Israeli border police. Some carried banners calling for "Peace between Israel and Palestine" while others carried South Korean flags. IMEMCreported that the Koreans were prevented by the IDF from entering Bethlehem. (AFP, IMEMC)

A report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem concluded that Israeli restrictions made it almost impossible for Palestinians to use regular West Bank roads and accused Israel of applying an apartheid-style policy. The report points to the strong relation between Israeli settlements and both the construction of roads and the restrictions imposed on Palestinians, saying, “One can rarely find a road in the West Bank that is not tightly linked to settlers’ needs”. (IMEMC)

About 600 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons will be allowed visitors after the IDF modified restrictions forbidding hundreds of visitors from crossing into Israel due to security precautions. After investigating the grounds for denying each individual’s entry into Israel, security officials cancelled the entry prohibitions on some 600 people, allowing them to visit their incarcerated relatives. (The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian inmates in prisons across Israel threatened to strike during the week to protest prison conditions. The list of their 57 demands included removal of the glass partitions separating prisoners from their visitors, the installation of public telephones and the provision of cooking oil. Prison Authority officials had reviewed the demands and refused to implement them. (The Jerusalem Post)

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Salim El-Kussa, 18, was shot dead by Israeli troops in Nablus, while 11 other Palestinians were wounded when the IDF opened fire to disperse stone-throwing protesters, witnesses said. The death of Salim El-Kussa brought the death toll since September 2000 to 4,223, including 3,226 Palestinians and 926 Israelis. (AFP)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned Sofia Sakorafa, a Greek javelin world record holder in 1982-1983, from staging a symbolic Olympic comeback for the Palestinian team. Ms. Sakorafa, who obtained a Palestinian ID on 18 May, presented her credentials to the IOC after the National Palestinian Olympic Committee on 7 July had approved her as a participant. (AFP)

Israeli military officials confirmed that the head of the IDF’s Central Command had signed a directive formalizing the confiscation of cars of Palestinians who ignore military roadblocks. The directive limits the practice to the towns “under encirclement” where no Palestinian traffic is allowed through. Israeli soldiers could therefore use the measure only in Nablus, the only West Bank town still under complete siege. (DPA)

The plan to permit Palestinian policemen to carry weapons in the West Bank has been delayed. According to Palestinian sources, the delay was over an Israeli demand for the names of individual security personnel. PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said the PA would accept Israeli demands for a list of Palestinian policemen that it would check and decide who could carry weapons. An Israeli Defense Ministry source confirmed it was still awaiting a list of names that would then be passed on to the security services for vetting. The plan reflected Israel’s concern about the internal situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Detailed proposals for implementation of the plan included the following: 100-150 “blue” PA civilian police officers would be allowed to carry handguns in each PA area. There would also be a coordinated system by which the armed Palestinian officers would quickly take shelter in predetermined places when the IDF was operating in their respective areas. The PA would agree not to place police barricades at the entrance to such areas. Carrying a weapon would be allowed only when the policeman was in full uniform, to avoid mistaking his identity, and IDF division commanders would decide exactly where the armed policemen would be allowed to patrol. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

After two meetings with Palestinian lawmakers, PA President Arafat sent a message through envoys that he offered Cabinet posts to Mohammed Dahlan and Samir Mashrawi. He also agreed to meet again with legislators to discuss reform demands. The legislators wanted Mr. Arafat to abide by the Basic Law, which spells out the separation of powers, sign anti-corruption legislation and commit to reform of the security services. “Mr. Arafat’s only concession so far was an assurance that Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia could appoint Cabinet ministers,” said the legislators, members of a committee set up in July 2004 to write a reform plan. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the committee, said “there are issues that PA President Arafat agreed to, others he is still reluctant to accept.” Mr. Arafat promised to make his decision public in a speech to Parliament. (AP)

Israeli authorities reopened the Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt to commercial traffic, officials on both sides of the terminal said. An Israeli military source confirmed that commercial vehicles were being allowed to cross for the first time in several weeks, although the border had been partially reopened to civilians travelling into Gaza since 6 August. (AFP)

In a televised speech to religious leaders, PA President Arafat made an appeal to Israel to resume peace talks. “We extend our hand to our neighbours, the Israelis,” he said. (AP)

Speaking before a youth forum organized by “Seeds for Peace”, an international NGO, US Secretary of State Powell said, “We know that Chairman Arafat occupies a unique place in the minds and hearts of his people. He is the embodiment of their desires and wishes. But we do not think he has been an effective interlocutor toward peace, and therefore we thought the world would be better served, the region would be better served, the Palestinians would be better served if we can empower a prime minister who was operating with authority.” (www.state.gov)

The European Commission welcomed the interim findings of the European Anti-Fraud Office that there was no evidence that EU aid funds to the PA had been used to finance terrorism. Following an 18-month investigation, OLAF said, “However, to date, the provisional assessment of OLAF is that there is no evidence that the EU non-targeted direct budget assistance was used to finance illegal activities, including the financing of terrorism,” adding that its interim findings may be reviewed. A spokeswoman for the EU executive said the OLAF verdict “bears out what we've said all along, which is that we had put in place conditions and means to ensure that the money is spent correctly… We have always maintained that... there had been no misuse of these funds. We're pleased that OLAF saw fit to make that clear.” However, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said the investigators “were misled or they wanted to be misled”. He accused the PA of having developed “a very sophisticated system” to channel money from donor countries to high-ranking Palestinian officials who pocketed funds themselves and passed money on to militants. “Those who are involved in this mafia system know how to hide it,” Mr. Gissin added. “It's a farce, this kind of report,” he said. (DPA, AFP, europa.eu.int)

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The IDF raided the Khan Yunis refugee camp, firing a missile from a helicopter. Palestinian hospital officials said 12 people were wounded in the missile strike, three critically. Shortly before the strike, around 20 Israeli tanks, jeeps and bulldozers moved into the western side of the camp and began destroying houses, Palestinian sources said. IDF officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the operation was “against the terrorist infrastructure,” and a helicopter fired a missile at an open area to deter gunmen. The IDF said troops destroyed 13 abandoned structures before withdrawing just after dawn. (AP, Ha’aretz)

A car bomb exploded at the IDF’s Qalandiya checkpoint between East Jerusalem and Ramallah, killing two Palestinians and wounding six others, including a six-year old child who suffered critical injuries. The 20-kg explosive was detonated by remote control. Seven Israeli soldiers were also injured in the explosion. The Palestinians killed were Ayed Mustafa Abed Rabbo, 33, and Salah Abu Sneineh, 60. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who claimed responsibility, apologized, in a statement, to the families of the Palestinian victims, saying they were forced to detonate the case at the checkpoint instead of inside Israel because the person who carried out the attack could not reach his destination. Israeli sources said the soldiers received accurate information that a Palestinian was planning to execute an operation inside Israel and they closed all entrances to Jerusalem. The operation was received with notable resentment in the Palestinian street. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

The IDF closed the Qalandiya checkpoint and all roads leading to Ramallah and Al-Bireh following the explosion near the checkpoint. A Palestinian source said the IDF informed the Palestinian side at the Liaison Office that they had started a security activity in Ramallah and that this activity would last until 14 August. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia condemned the bomb attack at an IDF checkpoint in Jerusalem. “These kinds of things are not in the Palestinian interest and we condemn them,” he told reporters after a meeting with US congressmen. However, Mr. Qureia blamed Israel for the bombing, saying that its military incursions into Palestinian towns and killing of Palestinian activists provoked retaliations. (DPA)

IDF soldiers stationed north of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shot and seriously wounded Aya al Qadd, a five-year-old Palestinian girl, local residents and hospital officials said. (Xinhua)

Israel closed the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, only five days after agreeing under Egyptian and US pressure to reopen it, Palestinian security sources said. The sources said the IDF had shut down the terminal without any advance notice. (Xinhua)

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, speaking at a financial conference in Kuala Lumpur, said there was “widespread discomfort among Muslims everywhere, including here in Malaysia, with American policies in the Middle East… Muslims are especially upset with America’s unconditional, one-sided support for Israelis in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a serious problem that has not yet been adequately addressed and will continue to provide the psychological oxygen of hatred and despair for terrorist groups the world over,” he added. (AP)

The European Commission announced a grant of 1.35 million euros (€) ($1.6 million) to UNRWA to help provide temporary lodging for some 3,800 Palestinians whose homes had been destroyed or damaged during the IDF incursions in May and June in the Rafah refugee camp. The grant is the second this year from the Commission to aid victims of home demolitions in the Gaza Strip, following the allocation of €1 million ($1.2 million) in March. Commenting on the decision, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson, said: “These funds do not absolve the occupying Power of its responsibilities to uphold international humanitarian law. The Israeli authorities must take urgent action to alleviate the suffering of the population in the occupied territories, where the humanitarian situation has alarmingly deteriorated over the past years.” He added: “As reiterated by the European Union and the United Nations, house demolitions are disproportionate acts that contravene international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, and show a reckless disregard for the lives of civilians”. (europa.eu.int)

PA Minister for Negotiations Affairs Saeb Erakat said that the Israeli side hadn’t responded yet to the Palestinian demands about holding a Palestinian-Israeli security meeting with the aim to deploy Palestinian police officers, carrying their arms and wearing their uniforms, to maintain law and order in the West Bank . Mr. Erakat said that "the reason behind the security mess in the Palestinian Territory was a result of the Israeli destruction of the Palestinian security apparatus, enclosing the headquarters and seizing police arms." Israeli security officials said Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had withdrawn his agreement to let armed Palestinian police patrol West Bank cities and towns. Cabinet hardliners had criticized the anticipated change, arguing police might become involved in attacks on Israelis. (AP, Xinhua)

Samir Al-Mashharawi, a senior Fatah official, proposed forming a salvage Government headed by PA Prime Minister Qureia to settle the political and security crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He said in an interview with a Gaza radio station that the government could comprise all national and Islamic factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. (Xinhua)

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast in his briefing to the Security Council said that neither Israel nor the PA had taken adequate steps to protect civilians, and that both were in breach of their international legal obligations. “Palestinian civilians continue to fall victim in Israeli military operations. The scale of destruction of Palestinian property raises concerns about collective punishment… Israeli civilians continue to suffer attacks from Palestinians, most recently in the form of Qassam rockets,” he stated. (UN News Centre)

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Before dawn, the IDF invaded Rafah, destroying eight houses. Israeli helicopters began the operation by firing two rockets, then some 20 Israeli tanks and several bulldozers drove into the Al-Shout neighbourhood and destroyed Palestinian houses and bulldozed their farms. In the operation, an Israeli soldier was seriously injured by Palestinian fire, Israeli military sources said. Palestinian security sources confirmed in the afternoon that the IDF pulled out from the neighbourhood. (AP, DPA, WAFA, Xinhua)

About 30 Palestinians, some armed, occupied the PA offices in the Rafah refugee camp to protest the outstanding compensation for their demolished houses during IDF raids the previous week. They forced the PA employees out of the building and refused to leave until local officials agreed to advance the sum of $600 per family as a loan until the PA could pay the compensation. According to one of the protesters, Yusef Shaat, PA President Arafat telephoned in the morning and promised to send an envoy to hear the demonstrators' grievances, insisting they leave the PA building. Mr. Shaat said the protesters would stay until they met with Arafat's envoy. (AP, DPA)

Abed Al Satar Qassem, a political science professor, filed a suit on his behalf and on behalf of nine other Palestinians at the Nablus court against two local cement companies, charging them with supplying Israel with the material to build parts of the separation barrier. A Palestinian commission of inquiry last month found that the Al Tarifi and Barake companies had diverted to Israel thousands of tons of cement initially destined for Palestinian houses, most of it to be used for the barrier. Mr. Qassem, who has had his land confiscated to build the barrier, said they were not demanding proper compensation, but a symbolic $5,000 from the two companies, adding that he wanted Palestinians to know they could also get justice through the courts. (AP)

The IDF broke into Beit Mersem village amid intensive shooting, forced an entry into several houses, arrested 26-year-old Mussa Amr, and led him to an unidentified location. (WAFA)

Al-Sharq Al-Awsareported that Israeli settlers had set up a training camp in the Gaza Strip to resist the Israeli Government’s order of evacuating settlements. In the camp run by the “Kahane Hai” group teenage settlers were learning how to use firearms and to take over houses and make fortification to resist the IDF, the daily added. (WAFA)

Ahmad Fusel and Karim Abu Thabet were critically wounded when IDF troops backed by tanks and armoured vehicles entered the Balata refugee camp in Nablus and carried out house-to-house searches amid heavy machine gunfire. (WAFA)

An Israeli military court has renewed the detention of Samira Tawfik Shalaan, 35, arrested at an Israeli checkpoint at the southern entrance of East Jerusalem. Ms. Shalaan’s mother, a resident of the Dheisheh refugee camp, said that her daughter was charged with entering Jerusalem without a permit. (The Palestinian Information Centre)

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel would have to remove more settlements after it withdrew from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank in 2005, if it was to remain a Jewish and democratic State. “In the future there will be a need to evacuate more settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) – not because it’s just, but because there is no choice if we want to remain a Jewish and democratic State,” he told settler leaders in a meeting. Mr. Olmert said Israel would eventually have to remove tens of thousands of the 230,000 settlers living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and had voiced fears of a demographic “time bomb” of Palestinian population growth unless Israel gave them a State. Unnamed Israeli officials were reported to have said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not agree with Mr. Olmert. (BBC, Ma’ariv, Reuters)

Egypt was reportedly close to reaching a deal with Fatah representatives, due to arrive in Cairo at the end of August, regarding security arrangements and public order in the Gaza Strip after the IDF withdrew from the area, according to Palestinian sources. It had earlier been reported that Egypt had reached agreements with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad on “special arrangements to guarantee Palestinian safety” after the Israeli withdrawal. Negotiations between Egypt and Israel were expected to begin in September. “The Egyptian-Israeli talks will discuss the details of changing the Egyptian forces that secure the border with Israel, preparing it and protecting it by the current border guards instead of the current police forces without having to amend the peace agreement,” according to Al-Ahram.Egypt had stipulated four conditions: a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip; the lifting of all blockades and opening the area to all transportation, by sea and air: an Israeli promise that it would not reoccupy the Gaza Strip; and the re-opening of passage between Gaza and the West Bank. (DPA, Ma’ariv)

Israeli soldiers detained three journalists working for the BBCduring an undercover military operation in Nablus, according to military officials and the BBC.A BBCcrew, which had been filming a Palestinian doctor as he made house calls, was forced by Israel troops to sit for four hours at gunpoint, according to Nicholas Springate, Bureau Chief for BBCJerusalem. “The BBCwill be issuing a formal statement and complaint,” he said. (BBC, Reuters)

13

Three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers, including one who had fatally wounded an Israeli settler from “Itamar”. One of the Palestinians, identified as Yussef Ahmed Hanani, 27, was killed after he had opened fire on a car outside “Itamar” and fatally wounded its occupant, who later died in an Israeli hospital. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. A second Palestinian was reported to have escaped. Meanwhile, soldiers killed two Palestinians who had opened fire on troops in two separate incidents on the road between the Karni commercial passage and the settlement of “Netzarim.” The IDF said that in both incidents the troops had returned fire from armed Palestinians and reported hitting them. Palestinian medical officials said that in addition, four Palestinians had been wounded by soldiers who raided the Al-Zaitoun neighbourhood in southern Gaza. Neighbourhood sources said IDF forces raided the area, which lay near “Netzarim,” while bulldozers razed wide areas of cultivated land. (Albawaba.com, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Israeli troops blew up a house in the village of Beit Furiq, east of Nablus. Witnesses told WAFA that the house belonged to Youssef Hanani, who had been killed the same day by Israeli soldiers after attacking the “Itamar” settlement. (Albawaba.com)

Israeli Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told reporters that Palestinian prisoners planning a hunger strike on 15 August “can strike for a day, a month, even starve to death,” as far as he was concerned. He said security officials at the jails were taking stiff measures to prevent terror attacks from within the jails and that he had no intention to relax those rules. In talks between prisoner representatives and prison officials, the Prisons Service’s inclination had been to meet some of the demands, such as limiting the number of prisoners who were not allowed to receive visitors. Officers rejected the demand for telephones, saying the prisoners “intend to give orders for terrorist attacks.” Prisons Service Chief Ya’akov Ganot said if a hunger strike were launched, the prisoners would suffer a loss of existing privileges, such as family visits and access to television and the radio. The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said it received a list of the demands of the detainees in Israeli detention camps. (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, was to join a series of civil society protests against the Israeli occupation. A Ramallah-based coalition of Palestinian anti-wall protesters, members of NGOs and Fatah activists were organizing the events. Mr. Gandhi, head of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-violence in the US, will be the main speaker in three mass rallies planned in Ramallah, Abu Dis and Bethlehem between 26 and 29 August. The protests were coordinated with the Palestinians for Peace and Democracy Group in the US. The group’s leader, Mohammed Al-Atar, said they felt “an urgency to find another way to resist occupation.” (Ha’aretz, IMEMC)

Nabil Mabrook, head of the Palestinian Sport Union, said Palestinian athletes will participate in the Athens Olympics scheduled from 13 to 29 August. Palestinians will participate in the swimming and the 800-metre running competitions. According to runner Sana Bakhit, one of the problems suffered by athletes preparing for the running competition was the continuous shootings in the areas where practice was taking place, such as in Deir Al-Balah. During curfews, raids and exchanges of fire, Sana went to a sand area near the police station and trained for two hours, but this area was filled with stones and thistle, causing several injuries. Mr. Mabrook hoped the Palestinian team would do well. (IMEMC)

Spain demanded an explanation from Israel after Israeli soldiers fired warning shots to force a Spanish diplomat to stop at a Gaza checkpoint on 12 August. The Foreign Ministry in Madrid called in Israel’s Chargé d’affaires to seek an explanation on the incident, according to Europa Pressand EFE.The news agencies reported that Spain’s Deputy Consul-General in Israel had been travelling with 15 Palestinian children who were to attend a cultural event in Barcelona when Israeli soldiers fired shots in the air to force their vehicle to stop. Spanish officials have asked the Israeli diplomat to make sure there was no repetition of the incident and voiced concern about deteriorating working conditions for diplomatic missions in the area. It was reported that Spanish officials had told the Israeli authorities of the trip days in advance, but Israeli military denied this. (Reuters)

14

Two Palestinian children were wounded as Israeli troops opened fire at houses during their incursion into Tulkarm and its refugee camp. Medics said that an 11-year-old girl and 10-year-old Motasim Amarneh were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. (Albawaba.com)

More than 100 unemployed university students stormed a PA building in the Gaza Strip, calling on the Palestinian leadership to provide them with jobs. The incident ended peacefully after two hours. Shadi Shaath, leader of the protestors, said, “We have asked all those in charge and all the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council to find a solution for our situation by finding us jobs, but no one is listening to us.” He promised further action in the coming days if officials did not respond. (AP)

An Italian film, “Private”, depicting the absurdities of life for a Palestinian family in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, won the top Golden Leopard award at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. The film focused on Mohamed, whose home is wedged in between a Palestinian village and an Israeli military base. Inspired by a real story, film director Severino Costanzo portrayed the Palestinian family’s frustration, fear and resistance during Israeli occupation. (AFP)

15

A Palestinian was shot dead by an Israeli border policeman he had stabbed in the neck near the entrance to the Old City’s Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem. The attacker, 40, had a history of assault and was apparently mentally disturbed. The policeman was said to be in moderate condition. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

Salif Al-Din Barhoum, 14, who had been shot in the head during an Israeli incursion into the Rafah refugee camp a week earlier, died of his injuries. Later in the day, Mohammad Al-Fayoumi, 17, was wounded by Israeli soldiers with a live bullet in the chest in the Balata refugee camp. Israeli troops re-invaded the camp, commandeered the house of the Al-Sous family and started shooting at civilians, wounding Mr. Al-Fayoumi. (AFP, Albawaba.com, IPC)

Israeli helicopter gunships fired three missiles into the Rafah refugee camp following clashes with Palestinians. Witnesses said at least one missile hit an empty home. There were no reports of casualties. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike. Approximately 4,000 prisoners had announced earlier this month their intention to embark on the hunger strike to back their demand for a number of privileges that had either been restricted or taken away by the Israeli Prisons Service. Among the demands of the prisoners were public telephones in their cell blocks, removal of glass partitions separating them from visiting relatives, “intrusive” body searches and confining prisoners in tiny cells. PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs Hisham Abdel Razek said, “This hunger strike is not a political strike. It’s a strike about basic and fundamental rights.” In Beirut, some 200 Lebanese and Palestinians took part in a sit-down protest in front of the Economic and Social Council of Western Asia to support the hunger strike. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz)

PA Prime Minister Qureia expressed support for the strike stating that he stood fully behind the prisoners “in their legitimate demands, particularly to end collective punishment, oppression and terrorism practiced by the occupation prison authorities and forces against the prisoners and their families.” He added, “The release of all prisoners is an essential condition for any solution or progress in the peace process. The Government regards the prisoners issue as being at the top of its list of priorities.” Mr. Qureia also called for international intervention to look into the conditions in the prisons. Israel had ignored an attempt by Mr. Qureia to try to facilitate talks between Israel and the hunger strike prisoners. (DPA, Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

Israeli authorities began to take steps designed to break the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners. They removed radios and TV sets from cells, did not distribute newspapers and cancelled family visits, Israel Radio reported. Prisoners were also forbidden to smoke. In addition, the wardens would deliberately prepare succulent barbecues just outside the prisons, including kebabs and falafels, in a psychological warfare tactic designed to break the strike. (Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

The authors of the Geneva Accord initiative criticized the US. “I would like the Democrats to take over and a Democrat administration to pick up at the point where Clinton left the region,” former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg (Labour Party) told journalists at a conference in Caux, Switzerland. Former PA Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo called for a revival of US political involvement in the conflict, saying, “the position of the United States was not positive and is not helpful in moving from Gaza to Geneva. Without a third party guarantee, we will not have an agreement.” Mr. Burg also said that “a good president for Israel in the White House is not one who is doing what Israel wants, but what Israel needs … the current presidency speaks the same language as some of our political leaderships … Israel is becoming … a mini-America in the Middle East.” ( AFP)

16

Three Palestinians were killed, in two separate incidents, and at least 20 were arrested in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources said two were killed as Israeli gunships fired four missiles at Jabalya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources said they had spotted the “militants” about to fire rockets into Israeli territory. The two dead were identified as Musa Abu Mashi, 20, and Mohamad Salmane Abu Hashish, 21. Both worked as guards at an industrial complex near Al-Shuhada cemetery. It was reported that they were not engaged in any military activity. Meanwhile, an unarmed Palestinian, identified as Zaher Al-Adham, 29, was shot dead by Israeli troops in Nablus. According to sources, he was shot in the head as he climbed onto the roof of his home during a curfew imposed by the IDF. Israeli forces arrested 15 Palestinians at the Israeli checkpoint of Abu Huli, southern Gaza Strip, before blocking the checkpoint and denying access from, and into, Khan Younis. Another five were arrested in Jenin and Ramallah, according to witnesses. (AFP, Albawaba.com, BBC, Ha’aretz, IMEMC, IPC)

The IDF raided the Brazil neighbourhood in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian officials. Five Israeli tanks and two bulldozers backed by helicopters raided the area and set several Palestinian houses on fire. Houses close to the border with Egypt were razed, causing panic among residents. (Xinhua)

A report released by the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said there were 300 child detainees in Israeli detention camps, including 120 children arrested in 2004. Thirty children were in a detention camp in the Negev. (IMEMC)

Thousands of Palestinians expressed support for the prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. Some 3,000 took to the streets of Gaza City in a solidarity march. The crowds assembled outside the local offices of the Red Cross before marching towards UNRWA where they delivered a letter addressed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, calling for him to apply pressure on Israel and help improve conditions for the prisoners. (AFP)

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad denied reports on a deal struck in Egypt claiming that the two movements would lay down arms and stop all attacks against Israeli targets after an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesperson in Lebanon Osama Hamdan said, “What was published in the media about Hamas accepting to lay down arms is incorrect.” Islamic Jihad spokesperson Mohammad Al-Hindi denied any communiqué in this regard. (IMEMC)

17

Khaled Kusta, 9, was shot and killed outside his home in Nablus. Palestinian medics said that several hours before the shooting the IDF enforced a curfew on the centre of Nablus and nearby refugee camp searching for weapons. They said the IDF had a position on a roof near the boy's house. In another incident the IDF had shot and injured two Palestinians throwning stones at military jeeps, witnesses and rescue officials said. During the search of the casbah, two Qassam rockets and a booklet on how to prepare the projectiles were discovered, the army said, while another IDF unit located a bomb factory and found two explosives belts as well as other explosive materials. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Sharon approved bids for the construction of 1,000 housing units in six West Bank settlements, after freezing them earlier this month. The homes are to be built in “Karnei Shomron”, “Ariel”, “Geva Benyamin”, “Maaleh Adumim”, “Kiryat Arba” and “Betar Illit”. US Embassy spokesman Paul Patin said the planned construction violated the Road Map, saying, “Israel has accepted the Road Map and all its stipulations and we expect it to abide by them”. While Israeli Government officials said the bids had tacit US blessing, PA Negotiation Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat urged President Bush to intervene immediately and pressure the Israelis to live up to their obligations. Housing Ministry spokesman Kobi Bleich said that the six settlements earmarked for expansion were within “the Israeli consensus”, meaning they were among those Israel planned to keep with any final settlement. “All the relevant authorizations have been received, Mr. Bleich said of the construction bids. (AP, Xinhua)

Two armed Palestinians affiliated with the Ahmed Abu Rish Brigades were killed near the “Atzmona” settlement during an attempted attack in the southern Gaza Strip, the spokesman for the group said. The two were named as Saadi Duhan, 20, and Shaadi Alakan, 20, both from Khan Yunis. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz)

Three IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in the afternoon when a grenade exploded at a military base in the northern Jordan Valley. It was not immediately clear what caused the grenade to explode. (Ha’aretz)

Ali Attoum, the head of the Jordanian Parliamentary Committee on Palestine, issued a statement denouncing the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. He urged the international community to intervene and to put an end to the Israeli practices towards Palestinian prisoners and penalize Israel for these practices. (WAFA)

The Union of Arab Lawyers issued a statement denouncing Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory particularly towards Palestinian prisoners that are on hunger strike. The statement said such practices contradicted international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention. It said that the secretariat of the Union would organize an international campaign by contacting international organizations and the Secretary-General of the United Nations in order to release Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. The statement called upon both the Arab and the international communities to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention and provide international protection until the Palestinians obtain their inalienable rights. (WAFA)

The PA was making contacts with the international community to submit the issue of prisoners to the United Nations, said Hassan Abu Lebdeh, Prime Minister Qureia’s chief of staff. About 1,400 Palestinians prisoners started an open-ended hunger strike on 15 August to protest the treatment by Israelis and the jail conditions. The PA has also decided to proclaim 18 August a fasting day to express solidarity with the striking prisoners. (Xinhua)

IDF troops backed by tanks and bulldozers raided Beit Hanoun early in the day amid heavy fire, destroying two Palestinian houses in the eastern part of the town, Palestinian security sources said. (Xinhua)

A Palestinian was killed in an explosion that appeared to have been caused by a bomb he was preparing. The blast occurred in the house of Majdi Rifai in the village of al-Ein, northwest of Ramallah. Several family members were injured as a result of the explosion. (Ha’aretz)

Israel Radioreported that Prime Minister Sharon’s Bureau chief Dov Weissglas’s visit to Washington, initially scheduled for this weekend to discuss the new route of the separation barrier, had been postponed to September, until after the new route has been approved by the Israeli Cabinet. (Israel Radio)

PA President Arafat's National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub met in Cairo with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit, head of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman, and Osama al-Baz, political adviser to President Mubarak. In a telephone conversation with Al-Quds,Mr. Rajoub said that he had delivered a message from Mr. Arafat to Mr. Mubarak, in which he affirmed his deep appreciation for Egypt's role in helping the Palestinian people establish their independent State, promoting the Palestinian dialogue, and achieving a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in implementation of the Road Map. Mr. Rajoub explained to the three officials the conditions under which the Palestinian prisoners live in Israeli prisons, and the reasons that caused them to declare a hunger strike. (Al-Quds)

During a press briefing, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said on the construction of additional 1,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, “Our comment is that we are studying the details regarding the tenders that have been issued by the Government of Israel. Our concern is to determine whether these tenders are consistent with the Government of Israel's previous commitments on settlements. I would also note that there is a technical team that's going out to Israel, to work with Israel, to study… some of these specific questions.” (www.state.gov)

18

In an apparent attempt on the life of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari, an explosion in an olive grove near Mr. Jabari's house in Gaza City killed five Palestinians, among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. Seven people were wounded in the attack, two of them critically, hospital sources said. Doctors said Mr. Jabari had suffered leg wounds. “In an Israeli security forces operation in the northern Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces targeted a senior Hamas terrorist,” an IDF statement said, without giving further details. (Ma’ariv,www.idf.il)

Two people were injured when a mortar shell hit the Gaza Strip settlement of “Neveh Dekalim”. (Ha’aretz)

Two Qassam rockets hit the town of Sderot in Israel. No reports of damage or casualties have been received. (Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

Addressing PLC members at his Ramallah headquarters, PA President Arafat said, “There were wrong actions ... by some institutions, and some were irresponsible and misused their positions. There is nobody immune from mistakes, starting from me on down. Even prophets committed mistakes.” He added, “There were not enough efforts to strengthen the rule of law, the independence of the judicial institutions ... But we have begun measures to solve this.” (The Jerusalem Post)

As the Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli prisons entered its fourth day, the total number of participants reached 2,264. Detainees at Shikma, Shata and Poale Keidar prisons joined the strike. Several solidarity demonstrations were held, organized by the Prisoners’ Friends Association, which declared the day to be “Day of national struggle for prisoners’ rights”. PA President Arafat and other PA officials announced that they were joining in a one-day solidarity hunger strike. (The Jerusalem Post)

President Mubarak telephoned Prime Minister Sharon to discuss the disengagement plan and the security situation, sources in the Prime Minister’s office reported. Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz confirmed that Israeli and Egyptian representatives had met several times and discussed the security arrangements on the “Philadelphi route” along the border with Egypt following the IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. According to Mr. Mofaz, the parties would soon meet again to discuss a massive deployment of Egyptian army troops to prevent arms smuggling. (Israel Radio)

The Israeli Military Police had launched some 600 investigations into suspected cases of abuse of Palestinians by IDF soldiers since the start of the intifada in September 2000, Judge Advocate General Menachem Finkelstein told the Knesset. Among the cases under investigation, 88 related to shootings in which Palestinians were killed, 217 were probes into violent offences, and 181 were for alleged looting of property. (The Jerusalem Post)

19

Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs Bernard Bot, speaking as President of the EU Council of Ministers, expressed his dismay at the tenders by the Israeli Ministry of Housing for the construction of houses and the lease of land for several settlements in the occupied West Bank. This was the second time during the month that expansion of Israeli settlement activity was authorized by the Israeli Government. Mr. Bot reiterated that all settlement activity was to be frozen, including natural growth of settlement, as stipulated in the Road Map. In addition, Mr. Bot expressed his concern that, at a time when prospects of making some progress in the Middle East Peace Process appeared, the increase of settlement activity in the West Bank would not be conducive to a climate of confidence required to achieve such progress. (www.eu2004.nl)

A ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Durban, South Africa, backed boycotting goods from Israeli settlements and imposing sanctions on companies involved in building Israel’s West Bank barrier. The 115-member Movement said in its final document that it wanted the UN Security Council to adopt a clear resolution chastising Israel and to take further measures to force Israel to stop building the wall. The group urged the UN to establish the General Assembly mandated register of damage caused by the wall, saying that Israel was obliged to pay reparations because of losses blamed on the wall. The group further called for action “to decline entry to Israeli settlers and to impose sanctions against companies and entities involved in the construction of the wall and other illegal activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. (Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Sharon gave his personal approval to proceed with housing tenders for the construction of 1,000 new housing units in the West Bank. Labour MK Phir Pines said a cancellation of these tenders must be a pre-condition for Labour renewing coalition talks with Likud. Peace Now also condemned the move. (Ma’ariv)

The President of the Israeli High Court of Justice, Judge Aharon Barak, said Israel could not continue to ignore the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the separation wall and would have to deal with it at a certain point, with the exception of Jerusalem. Judge Barak’s remarks were made during the Court’s deliberations over an appeal by residents of the village of Shoqbah, near Ramallah, against the construction of the wall on their land. (IMEMC)

PA Minister of Planning Nabil Kassis and representatives of the UK and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a grant of £950,000 in support of the Ministry of Planning’s war on poverty reduction. (www.papp.undp.org)

Palestinian militants fired five homemade rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, lightly wounding a 10-year-old boy. The rockets landed in three areas of Sderot. (AP, IMEMC)

IDF soldiers shot dead Ahmad-Fattah Al-Hamss, 16, in Rafah and wounded an 11-year-old boy from the Yabena refugee camp, south of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. A local source in the camp said that Mr. Al-Hamss was attempting to shield the boy from Israeli fire. (AP, IMEMC, DPA)

IDF troops moved into the Ein Beit camp in the West Bank, ordering men under the age of 35 out of their homes. About 150 people were taken to a nearby school. (AP)

IDF soldiers got onto the roof of the “Al-Mezan” building in the centre of Hebron and used it as a military post. The building belongs to a group of local investors, is still under construction and designed to be a trade centre.

Two Palestinian brothers were wounded at dawn during an IDF incursion into the Al-Salam suburb of Rafah. Medical sources said that the two, Mohammed and Khaled Khafaja, were hit with shrapnel from a tank. The IDF further destroyed a factory, a café and a number of houses in the same suburb. (www.palestine-info.co.uk)

US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice called on Israel to halt all construction in all settlements, and called on Palestinians to appoint a democratic and transparent leadership. She stated, “Settlement expansion is not in line with the internationally-brokered peace plan”. (IMEMC, The Jerusalem Post)

The Israeli Supreme Court gave the Government 30 days to report on the implications of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the illegality of the separation wall. Israel's Attorney General Meni Mazuz had warned that the ICJ ruling could lead to international sanctions against Israel. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Hamas organized a demonstration in the Balata refugee camp in support of the hunger strike held by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and in support of the people of Nablus and the Beit Alma refugee camp who had been under siege for four days. A spokesperson for Hamas told the participants that this was the start of a series of actions in support of the striking prisoners. ( www.palestine-info.co.uk)

20

Israeli Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegby said to Israel radio that the country would not give in to any of the demands of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. He said that the prisons authorities were preparing for the possibility that the strike would last months. (DPA)

Israeli police upgraded their presence around the Al-Haram Al-Sharif in East Jerusalem, in preparation for any attempts to provoke disturbances after prayers in order to draw attention to the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike. Only Jerusalem citizens over the age of 45 were allowed to participate in the prayers at the mosques. (Ma’ariv)

The IDF ceased its operations in the Gaza Strip, that had divided it into three separate enclaves. The operation was undertaken following an increase in Qassam launchings. A senior IDF source said, “The message we delivered has been received. We are therefore ending the operation for now, and withdrawing our forces to where they were prior to the operation. If necessary we can always renew it”. (Ma’ariv)

The Islamic Jihad organized a demonstration in support of the Palestinian political prisoners in Bethlehem. The participants marched to a tent that was pitched in support of the prisoners. ( www.palestine-info.co.uk)

Mohammed Al-Hamaydah, 60, died from wounds sustained the previous day during the IDF incursion into Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)

The IDF demolished seven homes in the Baraykha, western Khan Younis, and injured a Palestinian boy during an incursion into the area. (www.palestine-info.co.uk)

Palestinians fired a rocket into the “Neveh Dekalim” settlement. One of the shells hit a house causing severe damage but no one was injured. So far no organization has claimed responsibility. (Ma’ariv)

Israeli soldiers late in the day shot and killed a Palestinian as he approached a security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip in an off-limits area near the settlement of "Netzarim", Israeli military sources said. Israeli sources said an explosive device was found next to the man’s body, Palestinian sources said he had been unarmed. (AFP, Albawaba.com, Reuters)

Hussien Al-Jabari, 35, died of injuries sustained on 18 August when an Israeli helicopter fired on an area in the Gaza City’s eastern Al-Shijaiya neighbourhood, killing five Hamas activists. (AFP, Albawaba.com)

Israel moved imprisoned PLC member Marwan Barghouti to a prison wing normally used for Israeli common criminals, regarded as a punishment for the hunger strike he was suspected of leading, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. According to the group, Mr. Barghouti now faced routine abuse from Israeli prisoners whenever he left his isolation cell. (AFP)

The Fourteenth Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, held at Durban, south Africa, from 17-19 August, issued a Final Document including a Declaration on Palestine. The document welcomed the ICJ’s advisory opinion on the construction of the separation wall and took note of the immediate negative response by Israel to it. It called for specific actions from Member States, including measures to prevent products of Israeli settlements from entering their markets, to deny entry to Israeli settlers and to impose sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the wall and other illegal activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Israeli professor Nitza Nahmias of Haifa University said the decision was the “marker that grants legitimacy to economic and commercial sanctions, which could endanger our future and security.” (Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv, Reuters,www.nam.gov.za)

21

The US Administration said it would accept limited growth within existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. A senior official, commenting on Prime Minister Sharon’s approval of 1,000 settler homes, said, “There is some flexibility here. I’m not suggesting it is [acceptable]. The Israelis make the point that settlement activity does not necessarily include building within existing settlements. That is a subject of debate.” While the White House denied there was a shift in US policy, an official said efforts were under way to clarify with the Israelis what “settlement activity” meant. A senior Israeli source said, “This is crucial for Sharon to get through the disengagement plan. He needs it for the Israeli public and his party. The Americans understand that. MK Yossi Sarid said Mr. Sharon was taking advantage of the US campaign. Peace Now said, “It creates an opening for a new wave of construction in all the settlements and distances Israel from resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.” (Albawaba.com, BBC, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

22

Ten Palestinians were injured when Israeli troops fired towards a group of stone-throwers during an incursion into Nablus. Three of the injured were hit with live bullets, sources said. An IDF spokesman said troops in Nablus had uncovered an explosives laboratory that contained an explosive belt, a bag with 10 kg of explosives and several mortar shells. Israeli troops blew up a day earlier a suspected bomb-making operation in Nablus. (AFP)

Israeli troops arrested five Hamas members in the northern West Bank. Some 15 Israeli jeeps moved into Qabatiya, several kilometres south of Jenin, and surrounded the building where the five had been. In the casbah some 100 demonstrators held a protest against the ongoing army incursion into the area. About 30 of the protestors were foreign peace activists belonging to the International Solidarity Movement. (AFP)

The number of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike had almost doubled since the protest started, the Israeli Prisons Services said. “There are now around 2,900 prisoners taking part in the protest, but we believe it is waning. Around 40 prisoners have broken it,” a spokesperson said. Palestinian sources said there were 3,200 prisoners on hunger strike. The Physicians for Human Rights stated, “The hunger strike of the security prisoners in the various prisons is the last option for this population … to receive proper prison conditions and their basic human rights.” The Prisoners Rights organization “Mandela” said Israeli Prisons Authority was executing a plan to thwart the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike by trying to cut contacts of prisoners from their lawyers and creating a situation of instability through the intensive transfer of prisoners, with some sent to isolation cells. (AFP, IMEMC, Reuters)

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said he was waiting for confirmation on a US shift in policy after Washington signalled it could accept some growth of West Bank settlements, adding that he would be shocked if it were true. He said, “I do not believe that America says now that settlements can be expanded. This thwarts and destroys the peace process.” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an aide to PA President Arafat, said he called on the White House “to clarify this position, which encourages the Israeli Government to continue and escalate its war against the Palestinian people.” Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa said, “It’s not something we look at with any peace of mind, but rather with distress. Where is the role of the Quartet and international law?” (DPA, Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Interior Ministry announced a freeze on the equivalent of $13 million in funding for settlement in the West Bank and Gaza, explaining that the freeze was due to budget constraints and not related to the disengagement plan. Ministry spokesman Tibi Tabinovitz said a parliamentary finance committee could overrule the decision. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly was opposed to the funding freeze. (Ha’aretz)

The Israeli Government committee responsible for overseeing the evacuation of all settlements under the disengagement plan started its work. The 10-member committee known as SELA, a Hebrew acronym for Aid for Gaza Strip Residents, was part of the plan, according to a statement from Prime Minister Sharon’s office. “The Administration will act as the sole Government body which will have direct and continuous connections with the settlers,” it said. The Jerusalem-based committee will also be responsible for compensating settlers removed from their homes by the September 2005 deadline. It is headed by Yanatan Basi, a kibbutz leader who had served as Director-General for the Agriculture Ministry under Yitzhak Rabin’s Government in the 1990s. (AFP)

23

IDF troops shot dead a Palestinian in Rafah, identified as Hazam Abu Zori, 21. According to military sources, the troops opened fire on three Palestinians approaching an abandoned house located a few hundred metres from a military base, but said they had not been aware of any casualties. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Israel plans to build more than 530 new housing units in the West Bank settlements after the US signalled it would accept their growth. The construction, in addition to 1,000 units approved by Prime Minister Sharon a week earlier, would be mostly in settlements close to Jerusalem and was expected to be completed by the end of 2004. Several earthmovers had already commenced work on a rocky hillside beyond the last line of houses in the “Har Gilo” settlement, south of Jerusalem, where officials said about 200 homes units were being built. A further 101 would be built in “Har Adar”. (AFP, Reuters)

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said a planned new section of the separation wall from Jerusalem to the northern West Bank would be moved closer to Green Line to reduce the encroachment on Palestinian land by nearly 20 sq km. He said only 15 sq km of West Bank land would now lie on the Israeli side in the section of the barrier as opposed to 34 sq km as originally planned. The alterations had been made to bring the barrier in line with a recent ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice, according to sources. (AFP)

PA President Arafat met for two hours with former PA Internal Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan at his Ramallah HQ, the muqataa.PLC Speaker Rawhi Fattuh also attended the meeting. Mr. Dahlan also met with Prime Minister Qureia. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Mr. Arafat’s senior aide, said Mr. Dahlan was expected to return to the muqataafor further talks later in the evening. (AFP)

Hundreds of Jordanians staged a mass protest before a UN office in Amman to show support for the Palestinians and 70 Jordanians detained by Israel. The protesters demanded that the international community exercise pressure on Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention. Jordanian Government Spokesperson Asma Khadr said Jordan considered the issue of Jordanian detainees in Israeli jails a priority and the Government would shoulder full responsibility for the issue of prisoners and hoped to achieve positive results in this regard. (Xinhua)

24

The IDF rounded up 300 Palestinians taking them into a school in the Askar refugee camp east of Nablus after some 30 jeeps and armoured vehicles entered the city in the early morning. The IDF then proceeded to carry out house-to-house search as they imposed a curfew and ordered all males aged between 16 and 40 into the school compound. An Israeli military source confirmed that "several hundred" people were being held at the school "for questioning in order to check their connection with militant groups”. (AFP, WAFA)

The following statement was issued by the office of the Secretary-General’s spokesman:

(UN News Service)

Israeli forces arrested two young men in Tulkarm, Palestinian security sources said, adding that one was shot and wounded when an Israeli special unit broke into a house where the two young men were staying. Israel claimed the two were wanted for security reasons. (Xinhua)

Palestinian security sources said settlers had escalated their attacks on the residents of Hebron, especially in the Tal al Rumeida neighbourhood and around Al-Ibrahimi mosque. (Xinhua)

According to Palestinian sources, the IDF raided the house of the PLC member Zahran Abu Kbeeta in Yatta, searched it and arrested his two children. According to Mr. Kbeeta, the IDF forced all members of his family to strip, beating some of them. (WAFA, Xinhua)

During a routine inspection, IDF soldiers confiscated weapons belonging to Jamil Trifi, the PA official in charge of security coordination with the IDF and other Israeli authorities. IDF soldiers stopped Mr. Trifi as he drove with another passenger through a Ramallah neighbourhood and discovered three rifles and two pistols in the passenger's possession. The soldiers seized the weapons and permitted the Palestinians to continue on their way. (Ha’aretz)

IDF troops detained a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Adnan Abiyat, and his brother in Bethlehem. Mr. Abiyat was arrested in a laundry room in the Holy Family Hospital while he was in the possession of a MAG machine gun and rifles. According to the IDF, Mr. Abiyat operated from within the Holy Family Hospital in recent weeks, and was suspected to have been involved in a number of attempts to dispatch attackers to Jerusalem. (AFP, Ha’aretz, WAFA)

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the Government would complete its preparations for next year's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip by the end of next month, saying it needed "meticulous planning." Mr. Mofaz told MKs the previous day that he planned to withdraw the 8,000 Gaza settlers and four settlements in the northern West Bank in one go, instead of in phases. He also said that the IDF and not the police would oversee the operation, which was expected to see all the settlers out of Gaza by September 2005. All troops should have left in the following three months. (AFP, AP, Xinhua)

Israel declared its hospitals off-limits to the Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, saying they could be treated in makeshift facilities behind bars if taken ill. "I am not prepared for there to be a situation where the lives of patients and medical teams are endangered in our hospitals as a result of us having to admit them", Health Minister Danny Naveh told Army Radio.(Reuters)

More than 2,000 people took to the streets of Hebron in a show of support for the ongoing hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Protesters brought the centre of the city to a halt at one stage by burning tires on the roads. (AFP)

The Palestinian Legislative Council postponed a session planned to debate reforms in the PA institutions, Abbas Zaki told reporters. The explanation for the postponement decision was to allow deputies to take part in a day of solidarity in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (AFP, Xinhua)

In a letter to Pope John Paul II, the Palestinian Prisoners' Association appealed to the Pontiff to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. The President of the Association, Issa Qaraqea, said that the inmates were being subjected to "a campaign of repression and unjustifiable violence". ( AFP)

Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, announced in Amman that during his visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory he would observe a one-day fast in solidarity with Palestinians jailed in Israel. Aides said Mr. Gandhi would hold the fast during a visit to Ramallah on 27 August where he was to meet PA President Arafat. "I ask the Arab world, Muslims and Christians, and I also ask the Muslim world and all peace-loving people to join us in a day of fast," he added in a statement. Mr. Gandhi urged Palestinians to emulate his grandfather and refrain from violence to win their rights from Israel. He also criticized the barrier Israel was building in the West Bank, describing it as "particularly evil because it is designed in a way to strangulate a whole nation." He urged the international community to press Israel into heeding the ICJ ruling. (AFP, Xinhua)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher condemned the Israeli separation wall as the cause of Palestinians' suffering and an obstacle to establishing a Palestinian State, Petra News Agency reported. Mr. Moasher pointed out that the wall was not aimed at protecting Israeli citizens but at protecting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. "We are concerned that the Israeli fence would undermine the future of a Palestinian State, putting Jordan at the risk of possible influx of Palestinians from the occupied territories," he said. He also affirmed the necessity of respecting and implementing the International Court of Justice's ruling against the wall. His comments came at a state dinner held in honor of Arun Gandhi who was on a three-day visit to Jordan accompanied by a delegation representing the US organization of peace and non-violence. (Xinhua)

Palestinian officials said that the Arab League would hold an urgent session in Cairo to discuss the Palestinian prisoners' situation upon the request of the PA. At the end of the session the League would call upon international human rights organizations to support the Palestinian prisoners and to urge Israel to treat them according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The officials said that former prisoner Mohammed Abu Jbara, who spent 25 years in Israeli jails, would attend the session to explain personally the prisoners' conditions. (Xinhua)

An Israeli Justice Ministry legal team recommended the Israeli Government should "thoroughly examine" the possibility of formally applying the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories, in a way that maintained Israel's right to assume security responsibility there. The team headed by Deputy Attorney-General Shavit Mattias suggested that the Government change its approach to the convention, to UN rapporteurs in the territories and to the International Court of Justice. It argued that Israeli officials should refrain from attacking the Court, and that the fence's route must demonstrate "sensitivity" to the Court's ruling. It also said that in light of the ruling, Israel should reconsider the way in which the IDF and other Israeli agencies operated in the territories. The ruling could serve as a basis for anti-Israel activity in international forums, and could even lead to sanctions, it warned. The team recommended building the barrier as close as possible to the Green Line, taking into account security needs and the need to minimize harm to Palestinians. Where settlements are on the Green Line, it said, the barrier should lie as close as possible to the outermost houses of these settlements. However, the Justice Ministry legal team declined to make recommendations about the barrier route in Jerusalem. It also recommended adjusting in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law the "permit regime" instituted for Palestinians living near the barrier. In the same context, Israel’s Attorney-General also urged the Government to consider adopting an international convention governing the treatment of residents of occupied lands, the Fourth Geneva Convention. (AP, Ha’aretz)

The Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, said in his forthcoming report to the General Assembly that there was "an apartheid regime" in the territories "worse than the one that existed in South Africa”. He gave as an example the roads that were only open to settlers, from which Palestinians were banned. In his report that was circulated ahead of the coming General Assembly session, Mr. Dugard was highly critical of Israel for its "continuing violations of human rights in the territories”. He said Israel was blatantly violating the International Court of Justice ruling on the separation barrier. (Ha’aretz)

Differences in the PA are not conducive to a Middle East settlement, Russia’s Middle East envoy Alexander Kalugin told Interfax.Palestinian law enforcement agencies must be reformed, in particular by reducing their numbers, and other reforms must be carried out, Mr. Kalugin said. “Neither party to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is currently abiding by its commitments,” he added. PA Prime Minister Qureia will visit Russia in early September, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Israel shortly afterwards, Mr. Kalugin told the news agency. (Interfax)

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Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority Arafat chaired a meeting of the Executive Committee, representatives of Palestinian factions and the Central Elections Committee to discuss the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The participants also discussed the need to implement a comprehensive reform and prepare for successful local, legislative and presidential elections. ( IMRA)

PA President Arafat pledged to take the necessary comprehensive reform steps in a letter to the PLC, which the lawmakers approved, 31-12. The letter was a response to a PLC report containing their recommendations to Mr. Arafat, which included forming a viable Government capable of fighting corruption more effectively and restoring law and order. (AP)

The Palestinian Legislative Council voted in favour of a report calling for PA Prime Minister Qureia to have powers to end the “security chaos” and to launch a reform package. The legislators voted 31 in favour, 12 against and one abstention in favour of the recommendations of a specially appointed 14-member parliamentary commission. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)

The US Embassy in Israel reportedly began to operate in recent days a secret unit of monitors who tour the settlements in order to follow the progress of Israeli construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The unit was apparently created because the US Administration felt that Israel was not giving it all the information on what is happening in the occupied territories. (Ma’ariv)

Prime Minister Sharon intends to move up the Cabinet vote on the first stage of the disengagement plan and hold it within a month. (Ma’ariv)

The Organization of the Islamic Conference issued a statement calling upon the international community to “take stock of the inhuman conditions” in which Palestinian detainees were living in Israeli prisons and detention camps and to act quickly by constituting and dispatching international committees under UN supervision to study the conditions of the prisoners. (www.arabnews.com)

In the Gaza Strip, gunmen opened fire at a convoy carrying Deputy Chief of the PA Intelligence Service Tarek Abu Rajab, seriously wounding him in the chest and killing two bodyguards. (Ha’aretz, AFP, AP, UPI, Xinhua, Reuters)

PA President Arafat held another set of talks with former Security Minister Mohammad Dahlan, the third during the week. ( AFP)

The IDF launched a second raid on Al-Meghraqa, in the southern Gaza Strip, arresting ten people, including a 70 year-old man, and razing hundreds of dunums of cultivated land, according to Palestinian sources. (Xinhua)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher and his Palestinian counterpart Nabil Sha’ath affirmed that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should be part of the Road Map and stressed the need to continue consultation and coordination. In a press statement following the meeting in Amman, Mr. Muasher denied that there was a crisis in relations between Jordan and the PA and said that the two sides had one common objective - ending Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian State. (Petra)

26

Palestinian security sources and witnesses said that an Israeli missile hit a house in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, neighbouring that of Mohammed Sheikh Khalil, a local commander of the Islamic Jihad's armed wing. He survived, but eight other Palestinians, including two children, were injured, hospital officials said, including Jaduwa el-Qurd, 71, whose wounds proved fatal. (AFP, DPA)

Fadi Owemer, a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was killed in Gaza City when a bomb he was handling exploded prematurely, Palestinian sources said. According to other reports, he was killed by a missile fired from an Israeli aircraft. (Reuters, DPA)

The IDF destroyed two homes in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, which it said were used by militants to open fire on Israelis. (Ha’aretz)

Two “Qassam” rockets had been fired at the town of Sderot in the south of Israel and landed in an open area causing no injuries. IDF sources also said that mortar bombs had landed near the “Morag” settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, again without causing any injuries. After the attacks, IDF set up roadblocks on the main roads in the Gaza Strip, effectively cutting it into three parts. (Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv, UPI)

Palestinians in Israeli prisons appealed for intervention from human rights organizations and the United Nations to prevent their hunger strike from developing into a “humanitarian disaster.” "We ask human rights organizations all around the world, and especially the UN, represented by its Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to take a stand and help us end the miserable circumstances we are living in," a spokesman for the prisoners said by telephone. (AFP)

In a statement to Al-Ayyam,PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Sha'ath said: “The talk about [Israel’s] readiness to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention [to the Occupied Palestinian Territory] is empty talk to co-opt world public opinion… They are very concerned over the issue of punitive measures, especially after the decisions of the Non-Aligned foreign ministers.” (Al-Ayyam)

PA Minister for Negotiations Affairs Saeb Erakat said the US Administration had informed the PA that there had been no change in its position vis-à-vis settlement activities. In an interview with the Voice of PalestineMr. Erakat said that the US side had stressed its adherence to the Mitchell Report of 2001 regarding the need to cease settlement activities, including natural growth. (Voice of Palestine)

Israeli settlers are planning a wave of petitions to the High Court of Justice against the revised route of the separation barrier, arguing that an earlier court ruling which ordered the fence moved to avoid harming Palestinian rights now infringed on their rights instead. (Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Sharon planned to speed up the preparations for his disengagement plan by having the next Cabinet vote on the issue in October 2004, instead of March 2005 as originally planned, cabinet sources said. (AP)

Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, called on the Palestinians to adopt non-violent means to reach their goal of liberation. Speaking in Ramallah, Mr. Gandhi said, “If the Palestinians start non-violent resistance, they can win the support of the world.” Mr. Gandhi, who is on a week-long solidarity visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, plans to fast on 27 August 2004 in support of the Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike. (DPA)

27

Israeli authorities arrested a soldier suspected of deliberately shooting dead a Palestinian civilian in Rafah last autumn, the Yediot Ahronotdaily reported. The daily said it was the first arrest of a soldier on suspicion of murder of a Palestinian since the current Intifada began. (DPA)

Over 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis marched through Abu Dis, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The protesters, headed by Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Arun Gandhi and PA Prime Minister Qureia, called for non-violent protest against the construction of the separation barrier. (AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Thirteen UN agencies operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) - expressed concern about the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike. UN Special Coordinator Terje Roed-Larsen called on the Israeli authorities to comply with its international obligations and to make every effort to find, with the prisoners, an appropriate resolution to the hunger strike. The UN agencies and offices reminded Israel of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and relevant international human rights instruments which provide for the protection of detainees and prisoners. Secretary-General Kofi Annan supported the statement and hoped that the matter would be resolved soon in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law, his spokesman said. (ReliefWeb,UN News Centre)

US State Department official Constance Mayer was short-listed to head an American team of experts visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory to supervise the delineation of the construction boundary line of Israeli settlements, Ha’aretzreported. Ms. Mayer is a senior Middle East analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The US Administration said the team consisting of technical experts would help US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer in his talks with Israeli officials on demarcating the settlements' boundaries. (Ha’aretz)

28

The play “When the Bubul Stopped Singing”, based on the diaries of Raja Shehadeh, a Palestinian lawyer, won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Festival. (The Herald)

The IDF reopened Gaza’s main north-south highway. (Reuters)

The IDF at pre-dawn opened intensive fire on Palestinian houses and razed about 40 dunums of cultivated lands in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian security forces reported . (Xinhua).

29

Solama Al-Sawakra, a 24-year-old PFLP member, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he and two other members of the organization were seen approaching a border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Palestinian and Israeli security sources said. The PFLP issued a statement on the operation. An Israeli source said that two other militants had fled. (AFP, Reuters)

Israeli troops, stationed on the outskirts of the “Rafiah Yam” settlement in the Gaza Strip, opened fire and seriously wounded a child, Ali Zatma, 10, in the head. According to sources, the soldiers fired tank shells at Palestinian houses in Rafah. (Xinhua)

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia called on the world to press Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank, as such construction doomed peace prospects. “If you want a two-State solution, there is no way to reach it without an immediate halt to settlements”, he said. (AP, Xinhua)

PA Prime Minister Qureia stated that the international community’s indifference to the plight of Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons raised questions over its desire for a Middle East peace agreement. “The blindness and silence that the world has been showing towards the Palestinian prisoners can only put question marks against the whole peace process”, he told reporters after a meeting with his Cabinet. (AFP)

Arun Gandhi, on his last day of a solidarity trip to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, told the PLC that non-violence was the only option for the Palestinians. “Non-violent resistance does not only make sense, but it also practical. … Sporadic violence has created a kind of atmosphere that has become unbearable and any other strategy would only increase suffering”. He suggested the Palestinians adopt a strategy akin to the Salt March his grandfather, Mahatma Ghandi, led in India in 1930. (Reuters, Xinhua)

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom cautioned the EU not to back any Palestinian moves to condemn Israel at the United Nations and consider a sanctions regime for the separation barrier. “It is very important for us that the Europeans not voted in favour in this resolution like they did a few weeks ago,” Mr. Shalom said . (AFP)

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer called on Israel to abide by the terms of the Road Map and freeze its settlement activity in the West Bank. Mr. Fisher told a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom that the planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was an opportunity to restart the peace process. (Reuters)

30

A Palestinian farmer, Yasser al-Najjar, 24, was shot dead by IDF soldiers near the “Morag” settlement in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said. (Xinhua)

PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia travelled to Cairo to hold talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. (AFP, Xinhua)

Two members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades escaped unhurt when an Israeli helicopter fired a rocket on their car in Jenin. The rocket missed the vehicle, landing instead on a nearby house, injuring a nine-year-old girl child and her mother and badly damaging a building. Fatah sources in Jenin confirmed that Mahmoud Abu Khaleifeh, the right hand of local Brigade commander Zakharia Zubeidi, had been in the car. Palestinian sources said that the IDF had arrested six militants in the Jenin area. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)

Israel told World Bank officials it wanted to destroy the houses in the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, except one to be used as a hospital after an Israeli pullout, and sell an industrial zone on the edge of the Gaza Strip to international bodies. (AP)

The head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Association said inmates at Shikma prison in Ashkelon, who had suspended their hunger strike from 27 to 29 August pending the outcome of negotiations with prison authorities, resumed fasting after the talks brought no results. (AFP, Reuters)

Muhammad Al-Hindi, one of the leaders of the Islamic Jihad, expressed readiness to take part in any Palestinian Government if the internal Palestinian situation should be rearranged. Dr. Al-Hindi said the disengagement plan was intended to distract the world’s public opinion from the aim of turning the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into large prisons. (BBC)

Prime Minister Sharon presented the new withdrawal plan to his Security Cabinet under which all the settlements in the Gaza Strip would be evacuated at the same time instead of in three stages as originally planned. Reports said that the evacuations could start as early as February 2005, but there was no confirmation from Mr. Sharon. (AP)

31

Two buses exploded almost simultaneously in Beersheba in southern Israel, killing 16 people and the two bombers, and wounding 90. Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility in a leaflet, saying “This is but one of a series of responses in which the Brigades have vowed to carry out in response to the martyrdom of the leaders of our movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantissi.” Palestinian security sources named the bombers as Ahmed Qawasmeh and Nasim Jabari, both 22. PA Minister for Negotiations Affairs Saeb Erakat said “the Palestinian Authority condemns any attacks that target civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinian.” (AP, AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Hebron was placed under closure and IDF soldiers arrested 12 Palestinians in the city overnight. The IDF also demolished the houses of the Beersheba suicide bombers, residents said. (Xinhua, Ha’aretz)

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued the following statement:

UN Security Council members, taking note of the Secretary-General's earlier statement on the Beersheba suicide attacks, “strongly condemned these bombings that resulted in the loss of innocent lives. They also condemned all other acts of terrorism ... Members of the Council denounced the escalation of violence in the Middle East and called on all the parties for the continuation of the Middle East peace process.” (SC/8177)

PA President Arafat’s office issued a statement, which said, “The leadership’s position is clearly against any attacks against civilians, Israelis or Palestinians, where the highest national interests require stopping the targeting of civilians in order to prevent granting Israel pretexts to escalate its daily attacks against our people.” US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters, “Palestinian leaders must take immediate credible steps to end terror and violence. The time for excuses is long past … it's not a question of words, it's a question of actions.” (WAFA, ww.p-p-o.com,www.state.gov)

The IDF arrested a Palestinian at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip strapped with explosives, Israeli sources said. The troops closed the crossing immediately and started a search operation for possible accomplices. (Xinhua, Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv)

Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket which landed near the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the Gaza Strip. There were no injuries or damage. (Ma’ariv)

IDF troops opened fire on a Palestinian ambulance at a checkpoint in the southern Gaza Strip, just outside of Khan Yunis, wounding a doctor and his driver, Palestinian medics and a human rights group said. (AFP)

Mazem Al-Agah, 14, was killed by machine-gun fire from an IDF tank, witnesses said, as armoured vehicles and two bulldozers moved into the Rafah refugee camp in the south of the Gaza Strip. The neighbors said that every time an ambulance was trying to reach the house, the soldiers opened fire at it, preventing it from rescuing the boy child. (AFP, Xinhua)

Prime Minister Sharon presented the Likud faction in the Knesset with a timetable for the approval of his disengagement plan, and warned his opponents that the plan "will be implemented, period." In a speech broadcast by Israel Radio,he said that by 14 September 2004 members of the Security Cabinet would be asked to approve the bill outlining the implementation of the plan, including the modalities for evacuating settlements and compensating evacuees. By 24 October the Government would approve the bill, which would be presented to the Knesset by 3 November 2004. PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat told AFPafter Mr. Sharon’s announcement, “The Palestinian Authority is ready to assume its responsibilities in any territories that Israel retreats from in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip,” adding “We insist that any eventual withdrawal forms part of the Road Map and is not a substitute for it." (AP, AFP, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Egypt's President Mubarak met with PA Prime Minister Qureia in Alexandria, Egyptian TV reported. The meeting focused on the latest developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Egypt's efforts to support the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Egypt would not send officers to train Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip unless Israel responded to conditions set by Egypt earlier in the month, PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath, accompanying Mr. Qureia said. These conditions included “a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip; the lifting of all blockades and opening the area to all transportation, by sea and air; an Israeli promise that it will not reoccupy the Gaza Strip; the reopening of passage between Gaza and the West Bank.” Egypt would be ready, however, to train Palestinians in Egypt. (DPA, Xinhua)

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by human rights groups to force Israeli prison authorities to provide Palestinian inmates on an open-ended hunger strike with salt additives. The Judges ruled that the medical facilities that had been put on standby by the prison authorities were sufficient and there was no need to give the hunger strikers nutritional additives. (AFP)

The Palestinian Prisoners' Association said that some 700 detainees in the Gilboa prison in northern Israel had suspended their hunger strike after being given assurances that their conditions would be improved. A spokesman for the Israeli prison service said that the hunger strike had been halted, but denied that any concessions had been made. (AFP)

The Popular Resistance Committees issued a death threat against PA Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath for participating in a conference in Rimini, Italy, which his Israeli counterpart also attended. (Reuters)

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