Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Mortars are fired from Gaza and shells from Israeli tanks on the border region. Settlers stab a Palestinian near Hebron. The UN says there has been a major increase in Palestinian home demolitions. PLO officials say they may seek UN recognition soon. Israel admits to having kidnapped a missing Palestinian engineer. Analysts say the Hamas attacks on Israel are a political statement. Pro-unity rallies continue in Gaza. Akiva Eldar says PM Netanyahu has provoked Hamas. The leader of J Street is in Israel to lobby against a Knesset investigation, as the military has been investigating left-wing NGOs. A Palestinian says he was stabbed 10 times by Israelis. Israel says Hamas is building more tunnels. Analysts say border clashes show Israel’s deterrence against Hamas is waning. Fabio Fiallo says Arab uprisings may be good for Israel and democracy. Hamas seems to pullback from its invitation to Pres. Abbas. Israel builds a wall around an occupied Lebanese village. A Palestinian youth denied entry into Israel dies in hospital. Abdulateef Al-Mulhim says it would have been better if the Arabs had recognized Israel in 1948.

Mortar Fire From Hamas, and Israeli Tanks Respond
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Isabel Kershner - March 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas militants fired dozens of mortar shells from Gaza into southern Israel during a 15-minute period on Saturday morning, slightly injuring two Israeli civilians and sharply escalating tensions along the Israel-Gaza border. The Israeli military responded to the unusually intense barrage with tank and helicopter fire. Gaza officials reported that five Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire directed at a Hamas security facility east of Gaza City, including three security officers and two civilians, one of them a child.

Settlers stab Palestinian south of Hebron
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

A 32-year-old from the south Hebron hills told Ma'an he was stabbed in the chest on Monday by settlers from the Ma'on settlement. Speaking by phone from hospital, Mahmoud Ibrahim Ali Awad said he was treated for moderate stab wounds. The father of two lives in Khirbet Toubeh. Family members told the Palestinian Authority shortly after the incident that he was attacked while riding his donkey toward the nearby town of Yatta, where he was to receive treatment for kidney problems.

UN: Massive increase in home demolitions
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The latest numbers from the United Nations show a two-fold increase in the number of Palestinian homes and agricultural buildings destroyed by Israel order this year, causing concern among officials. The UN Relief and Works Agency recorded 70 demolitions since the start of 2011, displacing 105 Palestinians, of whom 43 were under the age of 18. The demolitions were carried out across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and ordered by Israeli police, municipal officials and by mandate of the Civil Administration.

Erekat: We will seek UN recognition soon
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ma'an News Agency
March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

The United Nations will be asked to recognize a Palestinian state with full membership of the world body, a Palestinian official said on Sunday. The decision to go forward with the plan had been made by the Palestinian leadership and it is the "choice of president Mahmoud Abbas," resigned chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP. However, Erakat said no date had been set for the move, which would request the world body recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, saying only that it would happen "as soon as possible."

Israel holding missing Palestinian engineer
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel's internal security service confirms that a Palestinian who was allegedly abducted from Ukraine last month is being held by Israel. Dirar Abu Sisi was reportedly abducted from a Ukrainian train last month. He was a senior engineer at Gaza's power plant and was in Ukraine seeking citizenship. Israel's internal security service confirmed he is being held but refused to comment further. Smadar Ben-Natan, an Israeli lawyer representing Abu Sisi, said her client "is doing OK." Israel is banning details of his arrest from publication, she said.

Hamas fires dozens of mortars at Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ian Deitch - March 19, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 mortar shells into Israel on Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said, raising the prospect of a new Mideast flareup. Also Saturday, Hamas police beat reporters and news photographers covering a rally in Gaza City, drawing a stiff condemnation from the reporters' association.

Palestinian worker stabbed in Jewish settlement
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

A veiled man, believed to be an Israeli, stabbed a Palestinian worker in a West Bank settlement near Hebron City Monday, Palestinian medics and security sources said. Israeli media also reported the incident, saying the Palestinian was stabbed in the chest several times. Palestinian doctors said the 25-year-old worker was moderately injured. Israel's Ynet news website said that the Palestinian man insisted on being taken to a Palestinian hospital. Israeli police deployed heavily near Havat Ma'on settlement and were investigating the incident, according to Ynet.

News Analysis: Latest Hamas Rocket attack on Israel a political statement: observers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Adam Gonn - March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Islamic Hamas movement claimed responsibility for the Saturday mortar attack into southern Israel, to which the latter retaliated with air strikes on what the army said were military targets. The Palestinian attacks came a few days after Palestinian National Authority President and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas said that he would travel to Gaza for reconciliation talks with Hamas. Local analysts view the Palestinian mortar barrage as part of an internal political standoff ahead of Abbas' visit.

Palestinians continue anti-division rallies in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly - March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The popular peaceful rallies lead by youth movement against the internal Palestinian division continued on Sunday in the Gaza Strip which is ruled by Islamic Hamas movement. Thousands of students at the Gaza-based al-Azhar University organized at noon time a sit-in on campus. They chanted slogans that called for ending the internal division and succeeding the efforts to achieve the reconciliation, and called for escalating the popular activities. The demonstrators also held banners that read "the people want to end the division -- Fatah and Hamas hand in hand."

Netanyahu's public service announcement to Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Akiva Eldar - (Opinion) March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

In Tunisia, Egypt, the Gulf states and even Syria, citizens are prepared to give up their lives to sanctify democracy. The United States and Europe are working hand in hand to topple the ruler of Libya, Muammar Gadhafi, and to open the way to a democratic regime. While all this is happening, one small country in the Middle East is refusing to recognize the right of one small nation to choose its leaders.

J Street head in Israel to lobby Knesset over group's commitment to Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Natasha Mozgovaya - March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The leftist pro-Israel lobby J Street launched a petition and letter writing campaign on Sunday calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to treat J Street and other pro-peace movements as allies. The Knesset committee is scheduled to debate this Wednesday whether J Street is sufficiently "committed" to Israel to be called a pro-Israel organization.

Military Intelligence monitoring foreign left-wing organizations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Barak Ravid - March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Military Intelligence is collecting information about left-wing organizations abroad that the army sees as aiming to delegitimize Israel, according to senior Israeli officials and Israel Defense Forces officers. The sources said MI's research division created a department several months ago that is dedicated to monitoring left-wing groups and will work closely with government ministries. In recent weeks, the head of the new unit has been taking part in discussions in the Prime Minister's Office about how to prepare for the possible arrival of a Gaza-bound flotilla in May.

Arab victim 'stabbed 10 times by haredim'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Hassan Shaalan - March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Alber Halul, who was stabbed Saturday night by a group of masked men he claims are haredim, recounted the attack Sunday. "They threatened to shoot us if we resisted and stabbed me 10 times – in my head, my leg, and my neck," he told Ynet. Halul, a 22-year old Christian Arab from the Galilee town of Gush Halav, was assaulted while with a group of friends at Ein Zeitim forest, near Safed.

Hamas digging ‘terror tunnels’ along border with Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Facing a possible new conflict against Hamas, concern is growing within the IDF regarding increased efforts by Palestinian terrorist groups to dig tunnels under the border that could be used to infiltrate into Israel and perpetrate attacks. According to IDF sources, the number of tunnels has grown in recent years. Hamas is under orders to dig “terror tunnels” along the border. Hamas has split into five different regional brigades – north, Gaza City, central Gaza, Khan Younis and Rafah. The exact number of tunnels is unknown to the IDF.

Analysis: Gaza escalation shows IDF deterrence eroding
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - (Analysis) March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

When Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz took up his post as Israel’s 20th chief of General Staff in mid-February, the Egyptian revolution had only recently succeeded in toppling Hosni Mubarak – and concern was mounting in Israel over a possible takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. That concern has not disappeared, and will likely manifest itself in the new multiyear plan that Gantz quickly drafted since taking office, to be presented next week to the cabinet for approval. But like many of his predecessors, Gantz has found himself facing a far more immediate threat from the Gaza Strip.

Why the Arab revolt may be good for democracy – and Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Fabio R. Fiallo - (Opinion) March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Concerns have been voiced over the possibility that today’s turmoil in the Arab world might be hijacked by Islamist movements with totalitarian designs, among them the destruction of Israel. The toppling of Iran’s shah in 1979 is given as a salient example of an autocracy being replaced by an even more despotic regime. Legitimate as they undoubtedly are, these concerns should not overlook the fact that the Arab region may be ripe for a democratic turn averse to Islamic fundamentalism.

Hamas split over Abbas offer to visit Gaza for unity talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Khaled Abu Toameh - March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s offer to visit the Gaza Strip has sparked a dispute within Hamas, sources there said on Sunday. Last week, Abbas announced his readiness to travel to the Gaza Strip, for the first time since 2007, to hold talks with Hamas leaders on the formation of a Palestinian unity government. The announcement came shortly after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh invited Abbas to urgent talks in the Gaza Strip to discuss ways of ending the feud between the two sides.

Hamas Invites Abbas to Gaza, Then Rolls Up Welcome Mat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Media Line
by David Miller - March 20, 2011 - 12:00am

As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prepares an historic visit to the Gaza Strip, heeding an invitation by his arch-rival, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, doubts have begun to arise as to whether there will be anyone to greet him upon arrival. Haniyeh invited Abbas on March 15 to Gaza to take part in reconciliation talks. Abbas responded the following day by saying he was prepared "to go to Gaza tomorrow." But on Saturday a Hamas official in Damascus poured cold water on Abbas' eagerness, comparing him to Arab dictators who are being challenged by the masses across the Arab world.

Hamas and Israel in border clashes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian militants fired a rocket into southern Israel yesterday, while Israeli troops killed two Palestinians along the volatile border with Gaza. It came a day after Palestinian militants fired about 50 mortar bombs into Israel – the heaviest assault since an Israeli offensive two years ago. Both Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel have largely honoured an informal ceasefire since the 2009 war. The Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for yesterday's rocket attack. No one was hurt.

Israel builds fence around village of Ghajar
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
March 21, 2011 - 12:00am

Israel erected up to 200 meters of barbed wire fencing and several observation posts around the occupied village of Ghajar Sunday, according to reports from the south. “Israeli soldiers of occupation pursued their laying of barbed wires around the occupied village of Ghajar in south Lebanon with the apparent purpose of strengthening their hold on the occupied section of the village,” the state-run National News Agency reported.

Ill youth from Gaza, who for 16 days was denied entry to Israel to receive treatment, dies in East Jerusalem hospital, January 2011
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from B'Tselem
March 16, 2011 - 12:00am

On 4 December 2010, Mahmoud a-Najar, 15, from Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, was diagnosed as having leukemia. Physicians at a-Shifaa Hospital, in Gaza City, referred him to Augusta Victoria Hospital, in East Jerusalem, where he was given an appointment for 28 December.

What if Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Arab News
by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim - (Opinion) March 19, 2011 - 12:00am

When I was attending New York-based SUNY Maritime college (1975-1979), I read a lot of books about Palestinians, Arabs and the Israelis. I have read every article about the many chances the Palestinians had and missed to solve their problem, especially the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel.

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017