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Winter 2005

1. What Lull?
2. I killed thirty children
3. GSS inflict physical punishment
4. A clear message to the soldiers
5. New year, new settlements
6. A Soldiers Testimony
7. 13 year old girl killed in cold blood
8. Not one single settlement
9. The Electronic Intifada

What Lull?
September 8, 2004

Sixteen Israelis were tragically killed in the city of Beersheba yesterday afternoon. As well as the dead Israeli authorities have reported dozens injured. The Palestinian Authority issued a statement saying that they condemned "any attacks that target civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinian."

Already the media around the world have been quick to yet again describe the bombing as marking the end of a period of "relative calm" or "lull" in Israeli-Palestinian violence, supposedly lasting since the last Palestinian suicide attack in Ashdod in March earlier this year.

At least Conal Urquhart of the UK's Guardian clarified that in fact it was Israel's five-month period of relative peace that had been shattered. The Washington Times was just one paper however, that said the attack 'ended a six-month lull in violence.' The UK Telegraph also reported how yesterday "A lull in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was shattered".

It seems futile to try to explain how these last six months of 'relative calm' have been anything but for the Palestinians living under military occupation. How during this lull in violence, almost 400 Palestinians have been killed, 71 in extra-judicial assassination attacks including the killings of the two highest ranking Hamas leaders, Abdel Aziz Rantissi and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The deaths of whom Hamas claimed to be revenging with the bombings in Beersheba. At least 23 of the 71 killed in assassinations were not Hamas leaders, they were not Al Aqsa Brigades or associated with any of the groups targeted for resisting the illegal occupation. They were women and children, innocent bystanders like those killed on the buses but whose deaths do not share the same weight in the international media.

More than 73 Palestinian children have been killed since March. Thirteen year old Saber Abu Libdeh was killed by a bullet through his heart, brother and sister Ahmed and Asma al-Mughair were shot on the roof of their home, 5 year old Ruwan Abu Zaid was shot by a sniper in her neck and her face as she walked hand in hand with her two year old sister. Add to the list Mazen Majid al Aghah whose 14 year old body was riddled with 18 bullets in the Yibna Refugee Camp of Rafah on Monday night as his family fled their home that was about to be demolished.

25 Palestinians have been killed in Beit Hanoun in the last six months of quiet.

In the month of May 75 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone. Israel's Operation Rainbow into the Gaza strip led to the deaths of many innocent men, women and children in the Tel al-Sultan and al Zeitoun neighbourhoods of Gaza.

On May 18th six Palestinians gathering for pre-dawn prayers at the Bilal Bin Rabah mosque were killed as it was set ablaze by an Israeli missile strike.

On the 19th of May Israeli tanks and helicopters opened fire on a procession of civilian demonstrators, killing at least eight, some say 15 but there were so many dying that month that no one could really keep count of the corpses let alone who had died where.

The situation in Gaza in May was so bad that bodies were piling up in hospital morgues and being stored in vegetable refrigerators.

How easily we forget.

Despite the continuous Palestinian bloodshed of the last six months mainstream media organizations again describe this period as being one of "relative calm" or "quiet" that ended only when several Israelis were killed. As Ali Abunimah, of the Electronic Intifada explained last December during a similar episode, this widespread pattern is the most persistent and pernicious failure of the media in reporting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It represents not only a shocking lack of professionalism and objectivity, but a double standard that treats the lives of one set of human beings as being inherently more valuable than those of another.

Internationally condemnation of the bombings has been understandably quick. Kofi Annan and the British Foreign Minister, Jack Straw have called again upon a weakened and debilitated Palestinian Authority to reign in the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Can anybody seriously expect the Palestinian Authority to act as Israel's police force while Israel continues to kill their people, their children, destroy their homes and livelihoods, and steal away their land? The Palestinian Authority will never have any strength or credibility among a people it appears to betray.

In the months since the international court of justice hearing the Palestinians have moved towards peaceful activities, and demonstrations. The past months have witnessed a new wave of non-violent resistance in the territories. Numerous non-violent demonstrations at various sites along the Israeli apartheid wall have seen large sit-ins and peaceful gatherings, often including prayers. Over and over again such protests are confronted with violent suppression, Israeli soldiers responding to peaceful gatherings of civilians with excessive force, using tear gas and live ammunition. Such occasions have led to many being seriously wounded and indeed several deaths.

Now the Palestinians are also faced with Sharon's unilateral solution to consolidate Apartheid which has already seen the United States give its full backing to the Israeli state's aspirations to consolidate its hold over the West Bank and imprison the Gaza Strip.

As Beersheba lies 10 miles from Hebron, in a part of the West Bank where the Israeli army has yet to construct the apartheid wall the bombings immediately led to Israeli demands to accelerate the building programme - a major factor in Sharon's unilateral disengagement.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already convened an emergency security cabinet meeting to plan Israel's response. Needless to say this response will provoke another retaliation and again the emergency cabinet will be convened. But ending the cycle of violence will take more than building a wall to seal off the disappointments and frustrations of a people denied the chance to exist, denied their freedom and their rights to live. Only by acknowledging that behind that wall the cycle of violence is a permanent reality, a daily invasion, a town a village under siege, a farmer denied access to his land, families denied permits to visit one another, husbands and sons enduring hunger strikes in Israeli jails, women giving birth at checkpoints, and children shot in the street only when the occupation is ended and there is no longer the suffering and frustration which provokes violent responses can the cycle of violence realistically end.

I killed thirty children - Confirmed and confessed, B. Michael
October, 2004: Yediot Aharonot: (This article was translated from Hebrew)

Between Sept 29 and Oct 15, fifteen days in all, I killed thirty children. Two children per day.

Two dead children per day is more or less four bereaved parents per day. Why more or less? Because some of them were brothers. So, two dead children for one pair of bereaved parents. Perhaps that's better, because these parents are bereaved anyway, so they are just bereaved twice, and another pair of parents is released from being bereaved. But perhaps it is less good, because to be bereaved is worse than being dead, and being twice bereaved is twice worse than being dead. So I don't really know what to decide.

All these children I killed in the Gaza Strip, and all of them I killed by mistake. That is, I knew that there were children there, and I knew I would kill some of them, but since I knew it would be by mistake I did not feel so pressured about it. Because everybody makes mistakes. Only the one who does nothing does not make mistakes. Mistakes happen, we are all human beings. That is what I think is so nice about my mistakes, they make me so human and fallible, is it not so?

The 30 children I killed by all kind of mistakes. Each child with his special mistake. There was one about whom I thought by mistake that he was not a child. And there was one which I hit because he insisted on standing exactly on the spot at which I decided to shoot. And there was one who threw stones and did not at all look six years old. And there was one who from the air looked like a wanted terrorist. Or like a Qassam rocket. Or like a terrorist holding a Qassam rocket. And there were some children who by mistake got into their heads some of the shrapnel from the shell I shot into their house. And there was one who by mistake hid under her bed exactly when I blew up the bed in order to expel the terrorist squad which was hiding there. But this does not count, it was her mistake, not mine.

I remember it was the most hard with my first mistake. I shot and shot and shot, then they told me I had killed a child. I became pale, and my mouth was dry, and my knees were shaking, and in general I did not sleep very well that night. But with the passing of time, and of mistakes, it became much easier. Now I make mistakes with hardly any side-effects. It was very helpful that my friends, my environment, everybody, did not make so much fuss over every small mistake.

Here, just last week, when I killed by mistake one girl, I shot two more mistakes into her head, just to make sure that I was making a mistake. And then the rest of my magazine, full of mistakes. Once, I would not have been able to do that.

True, some people tell me that I am making a mistake in making this confession. They tell I have not been in Gaza at all, and did not shoot any bullet, and did not bomb, and did not shell, and did not snipe. That's true, I did not. But who paid for the bullets? Me. And who bought the gun? And financed the shell? And the missile? Me. Me. Me. Also me.

And also, who is not growing pale any more with every new mistake? Whose mouth is not getting dry when one more child is laid in the earth? Whose knees do not grow weak when another nameless baby lies dead in a bloody cradle? Who goes on sleeping soundly even when the number of mistakes reaches thirty in two weeks? Me. Also me. So, don't tell me I didn't kill.

The GSS inflict physical punishment on Ms Fahima during interrogation

Ms. Tali Fahima, a peace activist from Kiryat-Gat suspected of contacting the leader of the AlAqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, Zakariya Zbeide, was arrested on August 8, 2004, and turned over to the GSS. The interrogation methods used against her include: sleep deprivation, food deprivation, painful hand-cuffing to a chair for long periods and sexual harassment.

After 28 days of intensive interrogation, no evidence was found against her. She was not released but transferred to administrative detention in Neve Tirtza prison for 3 months. During this period of arrest (from September 5, 2004 to December 5, 2004) Ms Fahima was kept separated from the other prisoners. She was allowed access to only a limited number of books, and deprived of the right to make phone calls, except to her lawyer. She was repeatedly punished with solitary confinement and denial of visits, cigarettes and prevented from buying basic needs in the prison’s cantina.

On Sunday, December 5, 2004, Ms Fahima was transferred again to GSS interrogations compound for 12 days, in spite of the fact that GSS representative admitted at court that there is no reliable evidence to put her on trial. In a meeting with her lawyer Ms Ben Nathan dated December 7 she complained about:

1. Interrogations lasting long hours where she is tightly handcuffed to a chair, behind her back. During visit time she was also held tightly handcuffed and signs were clearly visible on her wrists. Despite the request of her lawyer, the prison guard refused to release her hands, arguing that "those are the orders". It should be remembered that an Israeli Supreme Court decision 5100/94 (The Committee Against Torture in Israel vs. The State of Israel) forbade the tying of prisoners and tight handcuffing as methods of physical punishment or mean of interrogation.

2. Tali Fahima was denied access to the toilets during the interrogations for hours on end. Her interrogators, including one code-named "Gil," said to her that the Israeli Security Services instructions allow denial of access to the toilet.

3. In spite of the long interrogation periods lasting late into the night, she was asked to wake up at dawn. When she refused to do it, she was denied access to cigarettes for 4 days.

4. Ms Fahima is moved within the interrogation compound with her eyes covered so tightly that the red signs resulting from the pressure are clearly visible on her brow, according to her lawyer.

5. The interrogators and male prison guards come into close physical contact with her.

Tali was let to understand that the harsh conditions and methods are used against her because she is exercising her right to remain silent. Ms. Fahima is only exercising her legal right, which in no way entitles the authorities to punish her, physically or in any otherway.

For more details contact Tali's lawyer, Smadar Ben Nathan: 052-3589775

The message to the soldiers was clear
Reuven Pedatzur, Haaretz, Opinion (Israel), December 13, 2004

In the best case, the chief of staff is feigning innocence when he asks whether the army must examine "whether the messages we are sending to combat units are not ambiguous" and when he suddenly discovers, after four years of fighting in the territories, that "in some places, there has apparently been a blunting of the senses and erosion that stems from the prolonged service in the territories and the fighting."

In fact, the messages sent to soldiers by Lieut. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon and other senior officers were sharp and clear. They stated that soldiers fighting in the territories are absolved of the need to worry about moral dilemmas. In this war, everything is permissible, and they will be backed by the high command even if it turns out that they acted contrary to basic moral norms.

Ya'alon gave his soldiers a free hand in the use of their weapons, even though this use often proved to be indiscriminate and exaggerated. The message was clear. Soldiers would not be called to account for acts of abuse against civilians, unnecessary shooting that caused the death of children or the elderly, the daily humiliation of thousands at checkpoints, or confirming a kill. The soldiers understood clearly "the spirit of the commander". When hundreds of innocents are killed, including many children, but in many of those cases the Israel Defense Forces does not even bother to carry out a serious investigation; when after four years of fighting, numerous incidents of abuse and repeated cases in which innocents were killed, less than a dozen soldiers have been indicted and only two have been convicted - when all this happens, a clear message is sent to the soldiers: In the territories, we have immunity; our hands are free.

The behavior of IDF soldiers serving in the territories does not indicate that they belong to a young generation that is cruel and lacking in moral inhibitions. Rather, this behavior is the expected and inevitable result of warfare by an occupation army against a population that is fighting to end the occupation and that uses terrorist tactics to achieve its goals. The experience of other armies, without exception, teaches that fighting in occupied territory slides over into acts of abuse, unnecessary shooting, the killing of innocents and wide-scale whitewashing. This process is unavoidable, and even the most liberal and enlightened of nations cannot escape it.

The chief of staff should have known all this from the start, and he should have understood that the only way to prevent moral deterioration on this anticipated slippery slope was to explain to the soldiers again and again about the dangers inherent in fighting among a civilian population. But Ya'alon and his colleagues chose the path of silence and of turning a blind eye. Even when unacceptable acts were committed, the chief of staff's voice was not heard. When two 1-day-old babies died at a checkpoint because the soldiers would not allow their mother to pass through on her way to the hospital, the chief of staff was silent. And when children on their way to school were killed by indiscriminate shooting, Ya'alon and his officers did not respond.

Therefore, the feigned innocence of the IDF's top brass, which has "suddenly" discovered that immoral acts are being committed by soldiers in the territories, is extremely grave. Suddenly, the IDF command has discovered that soldiers are desecrating dead bodies, shooting at children, humiliating people at checkpoints and shooting the wounded in order to confirm the kill. The truth, of course, is otherwise: They have known about these grave acts all along. They heard about what happens at the checkpoints and knew the details of shooting incidents in which civilians were killed.

And if no one told them, they could have read the reports issued by B'Tselem, or visited the chilling exhibition mounted by Breaking the Silence, an organization of soldiers who served in the territories. But the top brass chose to keep quiet and to send military policemen to confiscate the material displayed in the exhibit. It seems that the only reason Ya'alon suddenly was moved to respond to recent events was their exposure in the media.

The great failure of the chief of staff and his senior officers over the last four years was in understanding the importance of the moral deterioration caused by the fighting in the territories and its grave impact not only on the IDF and its soldiers, but also on the strength of Israeli democracy. At the end of 1956, at the height of the war in Algeria, Gen. Jacques de Bollardiere, a hero of World War II, wrote to the commander of the French forces in Algeria. "If the leadership gives up on the inviolable principle of respect for man because he is a man, enemy or not," he told Gen. Jacques Massu, "it sets loose contemptible impulses that no longer know any limits, and will always find a way to justify themselves."

It must be hoped that after four years of fighting in the territories, IDF commanders will also understand and internalize what de Bollardiere understood five decades ago.

New year, new settlements

The beginning of a new year is aptly marked by building new enterprises of great pitch and moment: a shade of the future in its inception. Ironically, the government marks the opening of the new year by building new settlements in the heart of the populated West Bank, and a notorious wall of separation to perpetuate hate and alienation. We shall close 2004 by demonstrating against it, Israelis and Palestinians together.

This week, as I have reported before, peace activist Tali Fahima was charged for "assisting the enemy" by translating some IDF documents left behind at the Jenin refugee camp last May, indicating operations to capture targeted leaders of Palestinian resistance to the occupation. This morning, Zaqaria Zubeidi, the commander of the Al-Aqsa groups in Jenin, the man whom Israel has long marked as a target for assassination and to whom Tali Fahima volunteered to serve as "a human shield," appeared on Israeli TV, telling the Israeli channel 10 reporter that would the IDF retreat its troops from the area the Palestinian actions will stop. What caught my ear was his accomplished Hebrew: no Tali Fahima was needed to translate any Hebrew documents for him. The Israeli government is concentrating its efforts to arraign peace activists, while still sponsoring pre-military colleges, openly delivering radical right-wing political messages to their students. Please read the [report] below, and think, on the eve of a new year, about the avoidable predicaments created not by nature, but by the human heart, which threat to perpetuate themselves tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...

May you all have a peaceful and happy 2005!
For better days, A. Oz

Friday Dec. 31 Israeli peace activists to demonstrate against creation of new settlement north of Qalqilia, West Bank. "Gaza Disengagement plan: smokescreen for accelerated settlement building on the West Bank." Together with Palestinian villagers they will plant olive trees to replace those uprooted by the settlers.

At 11.00 am on the morning of Friday, December 31, hundreds of Israeli peace activists will hold a joint demonstration with inhabitants of Jayyous village to protest the creation of a new Israeli settlement on village lands north of Qalqilia on the West Bank. Protesters will plant new olive trees to replace those uprooted and sold by the settlers. About a year ago, the Sharon Government erected a section of the so-called Separation Fence, cutting the Jayyous villagers off from their land. At the time, this was explained as "a security need", but it is obvious that the true purpose was confiscating land for a new settlement. The Friday action was initiated be The Palestinian-Israeli Committee of Jayyous, Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc), Ta'ayush (Arab-Jewish Partnership), ICAHD, and Anarchists against the Fence.

The village of Jayyous already lost over two thirds of its lands to the Separation Fence. Now the purpose of this confiscation is becoming evident: on the lands of Jayyous are sprouting new settlements. These settlements, "New Zufin" and "Nofey Zufin" are presented as an extension of the existing settlement Zufin, but in fact they are totally new settlements, and larger by far than the original one. Also planned in this "seam zone" is a new industrial zone (for the Alfey Menasheh settlement) below the Fence, and the paving of a new road to link the various settlements.

When the building is completed, the inhabitants of Jayyous will lose what remains of their lands beyond the Fence. On Dec. 12, bulldozers of a company owned by the settlers , named "Ge'ulat Ha'aretz" (i.d. "Redemption of the Land", i.e. "redeeming" the land from its Palestinian owners and passing it to Jewish ownership) uprooted approximately 300 olive trees in the land of Jayyous inhabitant Tawfiq Hassan Salim. A week later (Dec. 19) the villagers of Jayyous blocked the bulldozers that entered their lands. Today (Wed., Dec. 29) Israeli activists visiting the site found the settlers back at their work, digging out the olive trees with their roots so as to sell them in Israel and make an additional profit.

This accelerated settlement drive at Jayyous is not an isolated event. These days a new wave of settlements is taking place in the West Bank. It is especially evident in the area near the Green Line (pre-'67 order) along a line running from the settlements of Elkana and Oranit, via Zufin, east of Zur Yig'al, and all the way to Reihan in the north. Thousands of housing units are built, in order to blur the Green Line, and annex de-facto all the areas to which the Palestinian owners' access is limited by the Fence.

It seems that Prime Minster Sharon is compensating for the planned exit from Gaza by renewing and accelerating the settlement process on another front.

A Soldier's Testimony
Kole, 11:53AM (PDT), September 3, 2004

The link below takes you to the testimony of an IDF soldier serving in Nablus.

The transcript comes from a trusted Israeli friend actively involved in the ‘refusenik’ movement who has given me permission to reproduce and distribute this text with the names of those involved omitted. In recent months a particularly dedicated group of soldiers has been actively engaged in gathering the testimonies of Israeli soldiers about human rights abuses perpetrated against Palestinian civilians by IDF units enforcing the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The interview is unedited except for the addition of section headings. The omissions in the text were left as presented to me when I was asked to edit the English version of the text. Some of the claims herein are shocking. I honestly hope that the interview - originally conducted in Hebrew - will impel people to action and that the commanders responsible for such abuses will be held to account.

It is worth remembering that the soldier's unit was 'exemplary' in that it was considered to be one that had relatively good discipline compared to other fighting units in the IDF. The interview is thus testimony to the real nature of a military force that is often portrayed as 'the most moral army in the world.'

After reading this interview, it is hard to understand how such a mythology can be sustained within the Israeli body-politic and in the mainstream of US public opinion:

13 year old girl killed in cold blood
Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) kill, in cold blood, a 13 year old Palestinian school girl from the Yebna refugee camp. Iman Sameer Al-Hams was shot and killed by 20 live bullets while she was on her way to an UNRWA school in the Gaza strip city of Rafah, near the Palestinian-Egyptian borders.

According to eye witnesses, the area was quiet at the time. Iman was shot at from an Israeli army observation tower in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of the town of Rafah, on the border with Egypt. Iman died instantly.

Israeli occupation soldiers were at a close distance to the girl and could see that she was wearing her school uniform.

Dr Ali Musa, the head of Abu Yousef An-Najar hospital in the Gaza Strip, said that "the girl's body was riddled with bullets from head to toe, including 5 bullets in the head".

Palestinian children are not safe from Israeli bullets be it at their homes, in the street, or even at UN schools. On September 27, 2004, Raged Adnan al-Assar died of the wounds she had sustained when she was shot by an Israeli soldier as she sat at her desk at the UNRWA Elementary School in Khan Younis on September 7, 2004 .

There have been several reports that the Israeli snipers frequently shoot Palestinian civilians to prove their marksmanship. This might explain why 200 Palestinian children were shot in the head and why 84% of Palestinian civilians, killed by the IOF, were shot in the upper part of the body.

As Israel's so-called "Day of Penitence" operation has entered its seventh day, the total number of Palestinians killed has reached at least 80, most of them are civilians.

In another incident, Israeli troops assassinated two Palestinians in a raid by undercover Israeli unit in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Monday, witnesses and media reports said.

Palestinian security sources said that undercover and regular Israeli troops ambushed two men in a shop in the Ramallah marketplace, and that both men (28 and 35 year old) were killed.

Not one single settlement
Lead Editorial, Haaretz (Israel), December 17, 2004

This, perhaps, is the primary reason the Labor Party must enter the government at any price: to keep a close watch on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon so that he does not follow the familiar yearnings of his heart from years gone by and fill the West Bank with new settlements while all the attention is focused on the evacuation of the Gaza Strip.

These words are being written in the wake of the state's reply to the community of Nirit's petition to the High Court of Justice against the establishment of a new Jewish settlement with 1,200 housing units to be called Nof Hasharon, adjacent to Nirit but on the other side of the Green Line, in the West Bank. In his reply to the High Court of Justice, the representative of the State Prosecutor's office said the road map that has been approved by the government, whereby it has undertaken not to set up any new settlements in the territories, does not legally obligate the state.

This amazing legal hairsplitting shows a trend of thought in Sharon's government that portends ill. It is untenable that it will demand of the Palestinians that they stick to their commitment under the road map to fight terror while ignoring its own commitment not to establish settlements.

The wall-to-wall support that Ariel Sharon has been enjoying recently is based on his decision to turn over a new leaf in the diplomatic arena. This is not unconditional support. The suspicions regarding Sharon still exist and have often been expressed on this page. There is still the possibility that the disengagement from Gaza is nothing but a maneuver aimed at strengthening the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The recent silence of the settler leadership makes one wonder whether they have been given promises about which the public does not know.

This feeling is reinforced upon reading the follow-up reports by Peace Now and other organizations to the effect that in Samaria, the Etzion bloc and Ma'aleh Adumim, there is energetic ground-breaking work going on in an attempt to establish new facts on the ground. The suspicion is that the government is trying to draw up a new map strewn with Jewish settlement points before the Americans come to the region to draw their own map of the settlements. In addition to this, about 100 outposts that were
slated to be evacuated long ago are thriving undisturbed, have already been hooked up to water and electricity infrastructures and are continuing to expand.

It is to be hoped that the Labor Party, upon joining the government, will not nurture any mistaken illusions about Sharon's new path and will not hesitate to insist upon the total cessation of all investments in new Jewish settlements, or the expansion of existing ones, even if this leads to a crisis and early elections. The disengagement from the Gaza Strip has to be only a first stage in a comprehensive peace plan that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The decision by the Knesset Finance Committee this week to transfer NIS 500,000 to tourism projects in settlements in the territories is reasonable if it applies to work that has already been completed; however, any future investment in the development of settlements and their surroundings is unacceptable. This must be the first and most important provision in the coalition agreement with the Labor Party.

Anyone who has been following the settlement project since its inception knows that most of it has come about using the method of promises are one thing, winks are another thing and construction is quite another, which is not unfamiliar to Sharon. The time has come to put an end to this. The Jewish settlements are the main obstacle today to an agreement with the Palestinians. To this historical injustice, not one further settlement should be added.

The Electronic Intifada
Recent articles

17 Palestinians killed by Israeli army since the start of the Palestinian election campaign
Report, PCHR, 2 January 2005

Israeli forces have killed 17 Palestinians since the start of the election campaign on December 25. Palestinian rights group PCHR is gravely concerned at the escalation of attacks by Israeli occupation forces throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and the impact of this on the preparations for holding the Palestinian presidential election on 9 January 2005. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel and its occupation forces to stop such attacks in order to create appropriate conditions to allow Palestinians to exercise their electoral right and freely choose a new president for the Palestinian National Authority.

Voters flock to polling stations for the first phase of Palestine's municipal elections
Atef Saad, Palestine Report, 31 December 2004

"These are the first local elections I have ever participated in," said Abu Marwan, 72. "I missed the other election in 1976." He and a friend, Asad Qassem, 74, were sitting outside a grocery store, near the centre of Beit Fourik, a town of some 11,000 inhabitants near Nablus. The two of them were dressed in traditional garb, a lot of it on this cloudy wintry day, and watched the comings and goings at the small but busy intersection. The first phase of the Palestinian municipal elections started this December 23 in 26 municipalities in the West Bank, and Beit Fourik's townsfolk were out in force.

Israel arrests Palestinian candidates
Khalid Amayreh, Al Jazeera, 2 January 2005

In an apparent effort to forestall gains by Hamas in Palestinian elections, the Israeli army has arrested a large number of potential candidates in the southern part of the West Bank. The arrests began shortly after midnight on Saturday in the town of Dura, nearly 50km south of Jerusalem, where the Israeli occupation army arrested an undisclosed number of Islamist leaders. Local sources in the Hebron area said the detainees included Shaikh Nayif Rajub, imam of the town's Grand Mosque, and Shaikh Fathi Amr, a high-ranking official in Hebron's Islamic endowments department. Rajub's twin brother, Yasir, was also arrested.

Israeli forces seriously wound Palestinian journalist in Gaza
Report, PCHR, 3 January 2005

PCHR condemns shooting at a Palestinian journalist by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Sunday, 2 January 2004, when he was covering an Israeli military incursion into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. The journalist was seriously wounded by a live bullet. PCHR is concerned at the escalation of attacks by IOF on journalists and media crews, which is further evidence of the use of excessive force by IOF against civilians in general and amounts to a systematic targeting of journalists in an attempt to silence the press. The goal of which is to prevent journalists from reporting about attacks on Palestinian civilians.

"Edward Said: The last Interview"
Jenny Gheith, The Electronic Intifada, 31 December 2004

Filmed within three days in 2002, just one year before his death at the age of 67, 'Edward Said: The Last Interview' is a compelling portrait of a man who was not only a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, but an accomplished teacher, literary critic, writer and musician. After living for more than ten years with a fatal strain of leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in 1991, Said refused interviews. However, former student D.D. Guttenplan along with director Mike Dibb convinced him otherwise. Jenny Gheith reviews the film for EI.

About the Electronic Intifada

The Electronic Intifada (EI) is a not-for-profit, independent publication committed to comprehensive public education on the question of Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the economic, political, legal, and human dimensions of Israel's 37-year occupation of Palestinian territories.