Israel seizes ten senior Hamas leaders in the West Bank (1). Several veterans of the Gaza war come out publicly about the serious misconduct by IDF forces (2) (3) (4). The controversy continues over the withdrawn appointment of Charles Freeman (5) (9). After days of Egyptian brokered negotiations, Hamas and Fatah may have agreed on some basic tenants of a national accord government (10). The New York Times looks at how the Gaza war has isolated Israel internationally (11).

Israelis Using 'Excessive' Force Against Protesters
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
by Mel Frykberg - March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

The critical wounding of a U.S. activist has highlighted the excessive use of force by Israeli forces. The activist, Tristan Anderson, 38, was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the Palestinian West Bank last week. He remains in intensive care in Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv. Anderson was one of approximately 400 international, Palestinian and Israeli protestors taking part in a demonstration in the village of Ni'ilin, near the central West Bank city Ramallah, when he was hit by a teargas canister.

Hamas Offers Reward for Men Who Marry Gaza Widows
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Roee Nahmias - March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Hamas is offering a $3000 reward for any man willing to marry the widow of a "shahid" (a martyr), several Arab websites reported this week. Hamas initiated the move in an attempt to lower the number of widowed women in the Gaza Strip who lost the spouses who provided for them and their children, and in order to ease their emotional grief and financial difficulties. The number of widows in Gaza has grown dramatically after Operation Cast Lead. The Palestinian society regards divorcées and widows in a negative way, and young men usually refrain from marrying them.

Egypt: 2 Hamas Officials Blocked
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Egyptian security forces blocked two Hamas officials on Tuesday from entering the Gaza Strip with night-vision goggles and around $900,000 in cash, security and customs officials said. The Hamas officials were stopped at the Gaza border after customs agents found the cash, 500,000 euros and $250,000, during a search of their bags as they headed home after taking part in Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo. It was the second time in two months that Egyptian authorities had stopped Hamas officials from bringing large sums of money into Gaza.

After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis of Isolation
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel, whose founding idea was branded as racism by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and which faced an Arab boycott for decades, is no stranger to isolation. But in the weeks since its Gaza war, and as it prepares to inaugurate a hawkish right-wing government, it is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades. Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel’s embassy.

Freeman is nothing more than a sideshow
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Joseph A. Kechichian - (Opinion) March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

In his book Disarming Iraq, Hans Blix, the former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealed what then French president Jacques Chirac once told him: Western "intelligence services sometimes 'intoxicate each other'." The Chirac quote came to mind this past week in the aftermath of the Chas Freeman fiasco because its chief protagonist was a prominent former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) official. What are the consequences of this first political defeat for President Barack Obama and what should diplomats learn to say?

How far will Mitchell go in the Mideast?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Gulf News
by Richard W. Murphy - (Opinion) March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Will US President Barack Obama succeed in making a fresh effort for Middle East peace? He has dispatched his envoy, Senator George Mitchell, twice to the region to explore the possibilities. The cynics say that the United States will never commit the sustained leadership or have the necessary political will to convince the parties to make the accommodations necessary. Those who hope for Mitchell's success acknowledge their past disappointments with Washington but are encouraged by the strikingly new tone in the White House about the Middle East.

Hamas, Fatah deal on unity government
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Warring Palestinian factions yesterday agreed to bury the hatchet and reached an agreement on forming a unity government during the all-faction reconciliation talks in Cairo. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum informed reporters in Gaza that Hamas-allied groups and Fatah had reached an agreement on forming a transitional unity government. In a statement sent to reporters from Cairo, Barhoum said participants at the Cairo meeting have agreed on forming a government “whose specific job will be to hold elections before the end of the year.”

More crises in the making
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Michael Jansen - (Analysis) March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Two months after its war on Gaza ended, Israel continues to impose a policy of “no development, no prosperity, no humanitarian crisis” on the strip’s 1.5 million people. Food and medicines flow through the goods crossings between Israel and Gaza at a volume to provide a bare sufficiency, but a flat ban on construction materials has blocked the rebuilding of destroyed and damaged houses, commercial premises, schools and essential infrastructure.

The right to free movement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
by Daoud Kuttab - (Opinion) March 19, 2009 - 12:00am

In observing decades-old conflicts, political spin takes overrides reality. Facts are often replaced by claims and counterclaims leaving a neutral observer confused as to who is wrong and who is right. Sometimes, a new story is much more revealing than the tonnes of arguments and counterarguments. This was the case when news of the failure of the prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, which would have released soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians, many held without trial or charge.

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