May 2008


40 palestinians killed by israeli action this month
2 israelis killed by palestinian action this month


South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a press conference as he concluded the Human Rights Council-mandated fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip: "My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all... Gaza needs the engagement of the outside world, especially its peacemakers." Professor Christine Chinkin who accompanied him said: "I think what we've seen shows plenty of evidence of at least the possibility of war crimes that needs much further independent investigation… I would certainly say the concept of collective punishment in a situation of occupation constitutes the notion of war crimes and possibly of a crime against humanity."

Some 480 Palestinian police headed to Jenin in the West Bank to deploy there as part of the PA's security plan. The forces had received US-funded training in Jordan and were to be deployed against Fatah opponents in the area, primarily Hamas and PFLP, in order to increase inter-palestinian strife.

France has had informal contacts with Hamas, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, confirming a report in the daily Le Figaro that quoted a retired French diplomat as saying he had met with Hamas leaders Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and Ismail Haniyeh a month ago. "These are not relations, they are contacts. We must be able to talk if we want to play a role," the Minister said, adding that Hamas was "more flexible than before" but for the moment did not recognize the State of Israel. Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the contacts with France, adding that other European countries had also spoken to Hamas.


Israeli actions Negotiations Palestinian actions
Every is one palestinian killed by israeli action   Every is one israeli killed by palestinian action
 1 MAY

Overnight, the IDF sends tanks and troops into Abasan to search homes (reportedly using some Palestinians as human shields), exchanging fire (including tank shells) with local gunmen (killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 1), detaining 21 (releasing them in the evening), and bulldozing 225 d. of agricultural land, a greenhouse, an irrigation system before withdrawing late at night. The IDF also makes an air strike on Rafah, assassinating Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades cmdr. Nafiz Mansur, who allegedly had a role in the capture of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, as he walks through town, seriously wounding a 15-yr.-old bystander, damaging several surrounding homes. IDF soldiers at the Kerem Shalom crossing fire on Palestinian farmers who stray nr. the border fence, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Jenin town and r.c., Tulkarm and nr. Hebron. (NYT 5/2; OCHA 5/7; PCHR 5/8)


Palestinians fire 30 rockets, mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries.

In Gaza City, mbrs. of a PRC faction raid and steal office equipment fr. the offices of a rival PRC faction.

 2 MAY

IDF soldiers manning the Sufa crossing fire on nearby Palestinian residential areas, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in, fires on residential areas of Nablus, causing no injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Jenin town and r.c. and Nablus, and nr. Hebron and Ramallah; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil`in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation) and beat demonstrators at a similar protest in al-Masa’ra (lightly injuring 3). In Hebron, a Jewish settler rams his car into the convoy of the U.S. envoy overseeing road map compliance, Gen. William Fraser, causing damage but no injuries, while other settlers demonstrate against his visit; Fraser’s delegation cuts its visit short. Outside Ramallah, 15 Jewish settlers fr. Yad Ta’ir attack, beat, threaten to shoot 2 Palestinian families picnicking; they flee when 1 of the Palestinians warns him that he is a UN employee, pointing to his car, which has a UN emblem. Nr. Hebron, 3 Jewish settlers attack several Palestinians; international peace activists intervene to protect the Palestinians, prompting more settlers to join the attack; the IDF intervenes, ordering the Palestinians to leave the area. (HA 5/2; OCHA 5/7; PCHR 5/8)


In n. Gaza, Hamas-affiliated police attempt break-up a dispute btwn. rival PFLP factions, sparking an exchange of fire that leaves 1 policeman, 1 PFLP mbr. wounded. In Rafah, DFLP, Hamas mbrs. exchange fire, killing 1 Palestinian bystander, wounding a 2d. Islamic Jihad mbr. Ussama al-Houbi dies of injuries sustained in the 4/30 IDF assassination of Islamic Jihad’s Qiq.

 3 MAY

In Gaza, the IDF sends tanks, bulldozers into Juhur al-Dik, areas n. of Rafah to bulldoze land. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Tulkarm, and nr. Jenin. Israel announces plans to construct several new housing units in Har Brakha settlement nr. Nablus on 229 d. of Palestinian land fr. neighboring Burin village. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar nr. Nablus vandalize a nearby Palestinian home, set fire to Palestinian crops, beat Palestinians who come to put out the fire. (NYT, WT 5/4; OCHA 5/7; PCHR 5/8)


A new contingent of 500 PA security officers trained in Jordan takes up patrols in Jenin, adding to the 150 police officers already there in what the PA has dubbed “Operation Smile and Hope”. In Jabaliya r.c., a Fatah mbr. is injured by an explosive device left outside his door; no group claims responsibility.

 4 MAY

Overnight, the IDF sends troops into Khuza, imposing a curfew, firing on residential areas (killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 2 inside their homes), exchanging gunfire with armed Palestinians (wounding 3), arresting 2 Palestinians, and bulldozing 106 d. of agricultural land, 1 Palestinian home, 4 greenhouses, and 2 poultry farms before withdrawing late in the morning. The Israeli navy fires on Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah coast, forcing them to return to shore but causing no reported damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF removes the tiny unauthorized settlement outpost of Hazon David nr. Kiryat Arba; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Gil’ad Farm outpost nr. Qalqilya attack a Palestinian shepherd, steal a sheep. (NYT 5/5; OCHA 5/7; PCHR 5/8)


Palestinians fire at least 3 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no injuries; fire 1 mortar at Nahal Oz crossing while an emergency fuel shipment to UNRWA is been transferred into Gaza, prompting the Israelis to close the terminal.

 5 MAY

Israel delivers fuel to UNRWA in Gaza to keep UN operations going (see 5/4). The IDF sends troops, bulldozers into Abasan, imposing a curfew, firing on residential areas (causing damage but no injuries), bulldozing 3 d. of land before withdrawing in the afternoon; makes a late-night incursion into Bayt Lahiya to raid and search several homes, arresting 3 Palestinians and remanding them to Israel. Also late at night, IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of Bayt Lahiya fire on a group of armed Palestinians nr. the border, killing 1 Hamas mbr., wounding 1. A smuggling tunnel under the Rafah border collapses, killing 1 Palestinian, injuring 4. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, nr. Hebron. (WP 5/6; OCHA 5/7; PCHR 5/8)

 6 MAY

In the West Bank, the IDF sends an undercover unit into Nablus in cars with Palestinian license plates to arrest 2 Palestinians drinking tea outside a home; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, in Jenin town and r.c. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba beat a local Palestinian. (OCHA, WP, WT 5/7; PCHR 5/8)

The Lebanese government declares illegal a private telephone network covering s. and e. Lebanon run by Hizballah, calling it a threat to national security; also removes Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shuqeir as security chief at Beirut International Airport for his alleged Hizballah sympathies. (BBC 5/7; Independent 5/8; Paul Salem, “Hizbollah Attempts Coup D’Etat,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 2008; Hizballah spokesman Haj Hussein Khalil press conference, al-Manar TV [Beirut] 5/12; Asia Times 5/13)


The PA’s new Jenin security force makes a predawn incursion into Qabatya, an Islamic Jihad stronghold, clashing with local gunmen, critically wounding a Palestinian student with a gunshot to the head and shooting 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs. in the legs.

 7 MAY

Israel begins wk.-long celebrations leading up to its 60th anniversary on 5/14, while Palestinians solemnly prepare to mark the Nakba; more than a dozen foreign heads of state, including U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, plan to make official visits to Israel in the next wk. Overnight, in Gaza, IDF tanks and troops raid Abasan under cover of air support, cutting electricity to the area, exchanging heavy fire with Palestinian gunmen, making numerous air strikes and firing tank shells in the densely populated residential area, killing 1 armed Palestinian and 1 Palestinian civilian (a woman killed when soldiers detonate explosives outside her door and storm her home, detaining her children, ages 2–12, in a room for 6 hrs. before releasing them), wounding 19 armed men and 4 civilians (including 1 woman, 2 children), arresting 60 Palestinians (55 are released on 5/8), demolishing 2 Palestinian homes, and bulldozing large areas of agricultural land before withdrawing late in the evening. The IDF also makes an air strike on a group of armed Palestinians in Jabaliya r.c., killing 1 Palestinian resistance mbr., seriously wounding a 2d. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. (PCHR, WP 5/8; PCHR 5/15)

Hizballah mbrs. and their supporters in Amal and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) set up roadblocks leading to Beirut International Airport, other major roads in an effort to press the government to reverse its 5/6 decisions. They clash with gunmen affiliated with Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, leaving 5 civilians, 2 soldiers wounded. (NYT, WP 5/8)

 8 MAY

In Gaza, a Palestinian teenager shot by the IDF during its 5/7 Abasan raid dies. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron. As has occurred on numerous occasions since Israel’s 2005 disengagement, 100s of Jewish settlers temporarily set up tents at the site of the evacuated Homesh settlement in the c. West Bank, vowing to rebuild the settlement and challenge any government efforts to remove additional settlements; the IDF closes off Palestinian traffic to the area and observes, but does not intervene. (PCHR 5/15)

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah makes a speech accusing Lebanese PM Fuad Siniora’s government of launching a war against Hizballah, warning of increased conflict if the 5/6 decisions are not reversed. Soon after, Hizballah sends more gunmen into Beirut’s streets and clashes intensify, especially in the mixed Sunni-Shi`i neighborhoods of Mazra`a and Ras al-Naba`a, and include machine gun and RPG fire, leaving 6 Lebanese dead, 8 wounded. (BBC 5/8; NYT, WP, WT 5/9; Asia Times 5/13)

 9 MAY

In a mysterious incident northeast of Jerusalem, Ofra settlement guards fire on 2 Palestinians whom they claim approached the settlement fence carrying a hunting rifle, killing 1 Palestinian and detaining the other, turning him over to the IDF, which quickly seals the area; later, the AMB claims responsibility for an attack on Ofra, but says the man killed was an innocent bystander and that its mbrs. escaped unharmed. Also in the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil`in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation) and beat demonstrators at a similar protest al-Masa’ra (lightly injuring 3). (WP 5/10; NYT 5/11; PCHR 5/15)

Hizballah and its allies take control of streets in west Beirut, attacking and shutting down media outlets owned by Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, as the army steps aside, saying soldiers will keep peace but not take sides. Hizballah also takes over several government offices, but immediately turns them over to army. Clashes abate somewhat after Hariri orders his forces not to fight. (BBC 5/9; NYT, WP, WT 5/10; Los Angeles Times 5/12; NYT 5/18)


Hamas mbrs. fire 4 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, killing 1 Israeli civilian, wounding 3, in what may be the 1st fatal Palestinian mortar strike. The IDF retaliates with air strikes on Gaza Interior Min. security offices in Rafah (killing 2 Hamas-affiliated security officers, wounding 5 civilians) and a naval police post on the s. Gaza shore (killing 3 policemen).

 10 MAY

Overnight, the IDF sends troops, bulldozers into Khuza, exchanging fire with local gunmen (wounding 1) and bulldozing 62 d. of agricultural land, 20 greenhouses before withdrawing in the early morning. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in, fires on residential areas of Jaba’ nr. Jenin, firing on stone-throwing youths who then confront the troops, wounding 6; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists holding a nonviolent demonstration nr. Tulkarm against Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement, injuring 2 demonstrators and 2 journalists covering the event; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. (NYT, WT 5/11; PCHR 5/15)

Hizballah begins to pull back from areas captured on 5/9. Army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman orders all gunmen to leave the street, but some Future Movement supporters angry over their perceived loss in Beirut attack Hizballah and SSNP offices in n. Lebanon and the Biqa` Valley, leaving 12 Lebanese dead (at least 11 of them SSNP mbrs.), 20 wounded; heavy clashes are also reported in Tripoli (btwn. supporters of Future Movement and Alawi mbrs. of the Arab Democratic Party seeking to settle Sunni-Alawi scores fr. the 1980). (WT 5/10; NYT, WP 5/11; see also REU 5/8)


Palestinians shut down 2 of 3 turbines at Gaza’s power plant for lack of fuel. Hamas mbrs. fire 15 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no injuries.

 11 MAY

Gaza’s power plant shuts down completely for lack of fuel. A Palestinian teenager (brother of the teenager who died on 5/8) succumbs to injuries sustained during the IDF’s 5/7 raid on Abasan. In the West Bank, the IDF imposes a 1-day curfew on Azun nr. Qalqilya; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c., nr. Hebron. (WP 5/12; PCHR 5/15)

In Beirut, calm prevails but many roads remain closed and some Hizballah mbrs. continue to patrol streets. Hizballah and Junblatt supporters exchange fire in the villages of Aley, Kayfun, and Shuwayfat s. of Beirut. Hizballah sends fighters convoys toward Druze leader Walid Junblatt’s stronghold in the Chouf mountains, but they are ambushed en route by Druze militias fighters (some of whom had supported the opposition and stood with Hizballah until it moved deep into the Chouf, then switched sides to defend the Druze heartland), withdrawing with heavy casualties. (NYT, WP, WT 5/12; NYT 5/16; NYT, WP 5/18)

 12 MAY

In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units in cars with Palestinian license plates into Bayt Eiba nr. Nablus, where they surround a Palestinian home, order all occupants to surrender (which they do), arrest 2 wanted AMB mbrs. (1 of whom was among the AMB mbrs. granted amnesty by Israel in 7/07); patrols in al-`Arub r.c., firing on stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no injuries but arresting 1; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron, Jenin town and r.c. (NYT, WP 5/13; PCHR 5/15)

The Arab League sends a high-level delegation to Lebanon to discuss the political crisis. With scattered fighting continuing, the Lebanese army warns that it will begin using force to quell clashes if a cease-fire does not hold. Lebanese security officials say that as many as 62 Lebanese have died and 198 have been injured since clashes erupted on 5/6. (NYT, WP 5/13; NYT 5/16; NYT, WP 5/18)


Islamic Jihad mbrs. fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, killing an Israeli.

 13 MAY

Overnight, the IDF makes an incursion into Khuza, bulldozing 225 d. of agricultural land, 41 greenhouses, at least 150 beehives. During the day, the IDF makes an air strike on a group of Hamas mbr. in al-Qarara, killing 1 Hamas mbr., seriously wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF bulldozes 2 d. of Palestinian land nr. a settlers-only bypass road s. of Hebron to erect a military post; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Abu Dis and Nablus, and nr. Hebron (targeting the home of a journalist, arresting him). (PCHR 5/15)

 14 MAY

Overnight, the IDF makes an incursion into Abasan, raiding and searching homes, occupying several as operational bases, making air strikes on local gunmen who confront them (killing 1 Hamas mbr., seriously wounding 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs. and 1 Hamas mbr.), demolishing 1 Palestinian home, bulldozing 110 d. of agricultural land and 4 poultry farms, arresting 4 Palestinians before withdrawing late in the evening. The IDF also makes an early-morning incursion into Jabaliya town, fatally shooting a Palestinian civilian riding a bicycle for no apparent reason, exchanging fire with local gunmen (killing 1 armed Palestinian, 1 bystander), hitting 3 Palestinian homes with tank fire (injuring 3 Palestinian civilians). Late in the evening, the IDF makes an air strike on Gaza City, killing 2 Palestinian resistance mbrs. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem and Nablus, and in Qalqilya. (NYT, PCHR, WP 5/15; PCHR 5/22)


Palestinians fire a Grad-type rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, striking a shopping mall in Ashqelon, wounding 16 Israelis, 3 of them seriously; several groups, excluding Hamas claim responsibility.

 15 MAY

In Gaza, the IDF begins digging a trench (around 300 ft. long, 10 ft. wide, 15 ft. deep) fr. an IDF post e. of Abasan to Khuza, firing on nearby residential areas, causing no reported injuries. IDF troops at the Erez crossing fire bullets, tear gas at 100s of Palestinians staging a nonviolent protest against the Israeli siege. IDF troops on the c. Gaza border e. of Juhur al-Dik fire on 3 Palestinian girls who stray nr. the border fence, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Taqou’ nr. Bethlehem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus. A Palestinian civilian wounded during the 5/4 IDF incursion into Khuza dies. (CNN 5/15; PCHR 5/22)

Under a deal brokered by the Arab League, the Hizballah-led opposition and Lebanon’s ruling coalition agree to open talks in Qatar on 5/16 to negotiate an agmt. on a cabinet and new electoral law, to be followed by election of consensus pres. candidate Gen. Michel Suleiman. Hizballah removes roadblocks leading to Beirut airport, allowing some flights to resume in the evening. (BBC 5/15; NYT, WP, WT 5/16; WP 5/18)


Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories commemorate the Nakba by visiting the sites of Palestinians villages destroyed in 1948, holding somber rallies and moments of silence, and, in Qalandia r.c., releasing 1,000s of black balloons (1 for each day since the State of Israel was declared).

 16 May

Israeli Air Force airplanes carried out two raids on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported. Three civilians were wounded, one of them seriously, during a third raid on the same area. (WAFA)

Dozens of settlers from the "Yitzhar" settlement in the West Bank rioted in the Asira al-Kabaliya village, causing extensive damage to property and beating up several Palestinians. According to the settlers, Palestinians from a nearby village provoked the clash. A similar incident had taken place two weeks earlier. (Ynetnews)

Israeli forces detained a Palestinian, 22-year-old Ahmed Nasser Abu Al-Kalbat, in Nablus. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israel Radio reported that Israel had asked Egypt to incorporate a deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the ceasefire talks with Hamas being mediated by Egypt, which were due to resume the next week. A spokesperson for Hamas, Aiman Taha, confirmed that Hamas had delayed its visit to Cairo in connection with the ceasefire negotiations mediated by Omar Suleiman, Egypt's Intelligence Chief. He added that Hamas had not ruled out releasing Cpl. Shalit but that this involved conditions that differed from those currently set out in the ceasefire negotiations. In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Farzi Barhoum said that the organization was ready to conclude talks on releasing Shalit as soon as possible but that the issue was unconnected to the Gaza ceasefire. (Haaretz, Ma'an News Agency, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev stated, "This demand, which does not exist under international law, for the [Palestine refugees'] right of return, is the ultimate deal breaker. You cannot have peace and this demand at the same time." Mr. Regev acknowledged the suffering of Palestine refugees but insisted that PA President Abbas must abandon their claims if he wanted a Palestinian State. He said: "The so-called right of return is antithetical to a two-State solution." (Reuters)

Israel Radio reported that the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations sought clarifications regarding the use of the word "Nakba" by a spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General at a press briefing. She is reported to have said that the Secretary-General had telephoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas to express his empathy with the Palestinian people on the day they mark the Nakba. Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations was quoted as saying that the term was a tool of Arab propaganda used to undermine the legitimacy of the establishment of the State of Israel and must not be a part of the lexicon of the United Nations. (Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Ynetnews)


Unknown assailants detonated a bomb outside a Christian school in Gaza City, without causing injuries. The same school had been ransacked in June 2007. (Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stated that the Palestine Investment Conference, to be held in Bethlehem from 21 to 23 May 2008, promised to be a historic event. Mr. Fayyad said that it would jumpstart a process of integrating Palestine into the global economy. He said that the conference would also provide an opportunity to showcase the many promising investment opportunities in Palestine while strengthening public-private partnerships and reforming the economy. (

 17 May

Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dicter told Israel Radio that Israel must destroy Hamas arsenal, saying it was almost on par with that of a sovereign State. In a separate interview, the outgoing Air Force Chief, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedi, said that in a future war, Israel would come under heavy rocket attack, including from Hamas. (AP)

President Bush told a news conference after meeting PA President Abbas in Sharm el-Sheikh: "I told the President that I am absolutely committed to working with him and his negotiators, as well as the Israelis, to get a State defined… The President and his team are committed to peace. They stand squarely against those who use violence to stop the peace process." Mr. Abbas said: "We are very delighted that the President is following all the details of everything and every discussion that is taking place in the Palestinian negotiations, as well as issues in the region." (


Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas' military wing, said: "I think the occupation cannot carry out a wide ground operation in the Gaza Strip but it can shell the houses from the sky and cause casualties." He added that Hamas was prepared for any Israeli military escalation. Abu Ahmad, the spokesman for the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, said that it was ready to "face any aggression or new invasion against the Gaza Strip… There is an attempt to build pressure on the Palestinian resistance and terrify it," he said. (Xinhua)

 18 May

The Israeli Army removed a major roadblock south of Hebron. Dozens of settlers from Hebron and the surrounding area protested against the move and demanded that Israeli and Palestinian motorists drive on different roads "for security reasons," Israel's Public Radio reported. (AFP)

A number of former Israeli army and security officials sent a letter to Prime Minister Olmert and other top ministers which said: "Recognizing that ending the Hamas regime in Gaza is not a realistic goal... non-public negotiations should take place with Hamas through Egypt or anyone else acceptable to both sides." Signatories included ex-Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevi, former Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and the former commander of Israeli troops in Gaza, Shmuel Zakai. (Haaretz)

"We are convinced that in no way can we allow the situation in the south to continue as it has in the past few months," Prime Minister Olmert told a meeting of his Cabinet. "The decisive crossroads regarding how to handle things is very close." (AP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit's talks with his Israeli counterpart had focused on the ongoing efforts to establish calm in the Gaza Strip and the latest developments concerning the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossam Zaki said. A Hamas delegation was scheduled to meet in Cairo on 20 May with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman to hear from him the Israeli response to the truce proposal. (Xinhua)

President Bush told the World Economic Forum on the Middle East: "Last year at Annapolis, we made a hopeful beginning toward a peace negotiation that will outline what this nation of Palestine will look like a contiguous State where Palestinians live in prosperity and dignity... And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year... Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society. Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease the restrictions on the Palestinians. Arab States, especially oil-rich nations, must seize this opportunity to invest aggressively in the Palestinian people and to move past their old resentments against Israel. And all nations in the region must stand together in confronting Hamas, which is attempting to undermine efforts at peace with acts of terror and violence." Egyptian President Mubarak noted in his opening address that the "international atmosphere has not supported Middle East peace effectively." Anyone who believes that cover will be provided for an agreement that does not fulfil the demands [of the Palestinians] is mistaken," he added. Jordan's King Abdullah II declared that after years of delay progress was possible in the Middle East process. "How much further ahead we would be if extremists forces had not had this issue to manipulate," he said. (AFP,,

US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said that President Bush was open to a return trip to the Middle East though none was on the schedule. He said, "I think the President will come back here when there is work for him to advance the process." "We are not at the point where the President is going to have a meeting with President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert to try to declare a vision," he added. (AFP, AP)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were holding serious discussions in private and these talks would likely intensify in the coming months. "They are not going to talk in front of the cameras about what it is they're doing, and if they did, the negotiations would be dead on that day," she said. (AFP)

The Israeli army evacuated a settlement outpost near Nablus. Several settlers who refused to leave were arrested. (AFP)


A rocket fired from Gaza struck south of Ashkelon. No one was injured. (Haaretz)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh reiterated the demand that Israel release 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. "Those who kidnapped Shalit maintain their demands on the number and identities of the Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit," he said in a televised speech. (AFP)

PA President Abbas told reporters in Sharm el-Sheikh during the World Economic Forum: "[US President] Bush's speech in front of the Knesset angered us… We don't want the Americans to negotiate on our behalf... All that we want from them... is a minimum level of neutrality." (AFP)

 19 May

Israeli forces arrested 25 Palestinians in Ramallah, Jenin, Qalqilya and a village near Nablus, PA security sources said. (Xinhua)

The IDF announced that they had killed an armed Palestinian man at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus, who they said was pacing back and forth at the checkpoint and who had an object that appeared to be an explosives belt strapped to his body. When he lowered his hands suddenly toward the explosives, the IDF troops fired at him. A taxi driver who witnessed the scene stated that the troops had asked him to lift his shirt and raise his arms and they then shot him. It was reported that an IDF investigation revealed that the youth had been carrying three pipe bombs which were later detonated by the army. A Palestinian security source indicated that the person in question was 16-year-old Fahmi Dardouk from Nablus. (Haaretz, Ma'an News Agency, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak will discuss the Gaza Strip ceasefire with Egyptian President Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh, and is set to tell him and Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman that Israel is prepared to stop its military activities in Gaza if Hamas stopped firing rockets at Israel. Israel will also try to get Egypt to step up efforts to stop weapons smuggling. Mr. Barak is also expected to say that Israel would lift the blockade only if progress is made on talks aimed at releasing captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel had eased criteria for the release of prisoners with "blood on their hands," Israeli security sources said, and the gap on the prisoner swap was slightly smaller than it had been a few months ago. (AP, Haaretz)

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni suggested, during talks with the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, that Israel and the Palestinians were not likely to reach an agreement on the core issues in 2008. Ms. Livni said, "The time frame in which an agreement will be reached is important, but its contents are even more important. Strict timetables may create expectations, disappointment and violence. As a lesson from the past, we must give the sides the room and the time to reach an agreement. We also know that agreements that lack in clarity only perpetuate the conflict, not bring it to an end." (Haaretz)

Israel's Vice Premier Haim Ramon told a Kadima faction meeting: "We are conducting negotiations with Hamas in contrast to the Government's decision, which has determined that it will only be possible to deal with Hamas after it accepts the conditions of the Quartet." (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli authorities allowed a small shipment of fuel into the Gaza Strip, according to Ahmad Ali, the head of the Palestinian Oil Corporation Gaza. "The Israelis shipped two truckloads of cooking gas and two others of industrial diesel for running the power generating station. No benzene [gasoline] or ordinary diesel was shipped," he said. He explained that the power plant consumed between 500,000 and 600,000 litres of diesel fuel per day, and Israel was allowing just two million per week. (Ma'an News Agency)


France had had informal contacts with Hamas, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, confirming a report in the daily Le Figaro that quoted a retired French diplomat as saying he had met with Hamas leaders Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and Ismail Haniyeh a month ago. "These are not relations, they are contacts. We must be able to talk if we want to play a role," the Minister said, adding that Hamas was "more flexible than before" but for the moment did not recognize the State of Israel. Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the contacts with France, adding that other European countries had also spoken to Hamas. (AP, Ynetnews)

 20 May

The IAF confirmed launching three air strikes in which four Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip. They included a farmer, identified as 32-year-old Ali Ad-Dahdouh, and a 13-year-old, both in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. The Izz-ad Din Al-Qassam Brigades (armed wing of Hamas) and Palestinian medical sources said that two militants, one of whom was identified as 25-year-old Muhammad 'Udah, had been killed and others injured in Israeli shelling in the Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza City. The IAF said that it had fired at persons launching rockets or planting explosives. (AP, Haaretz, Ma'an News Agency, The Jerusalem Post, Ynetnews)

A senior Egyptian official said that Israel had accepted in principle a proposal for a truce in the Gaza Strip. "Israeli leaders [have informed us] of their support for and understanding of the Egyptian proposal for a truce." Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman reportedly relayed the news to a Hamas delegation from the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. Mark Regev, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said, "As far as we are concerned, we can only indicate that contacts are continuing." Meanwhile, Israeli Cpl. Shalit's father, Noam, said Mr. Olmert had personally promised him in a telephone conversation that his son would be included in any agreement or arrangement reached with Hamas. (The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli defence officials stated that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could take effect in the coming days after Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had cleared the way by easing a previous demand that the ceasefire be conditioned on the release of soldier Gilad Shalit. Under the initial ceasefire agreement, both sides would stop attacks against each other. Mr. Shalit's release and an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip would be discussed later. (AP)

Palestinian and international officials began arriving for a three-day Palestine Investment Conference to be held in Bethlehem from 21 to 23 May 2008. Dr. Hasan Abu Libda, the Director of the Conference, did not expect the event to bring about tangible changes on the ground but expressed the hope that "light could be shed" on the opportunities and capabilities of the Palestinian economy. He said that the Palestinian private sector might be able, through the Conference, to establish and maintain economic ties with the rest of the Arab world and other regions. Dr. Abu Libda said that among the business proposals to be presented at the Conference was a major contract between a Palestinian businessman and Arab investors which could create 10,000 jobs. PA Minister of the Economy Kamal Hassuna stated that the main objective of the Conference was to get the visitors to learn about the Palestinian economy first-hand and create an "atmosphere of cooperation" between them and the Palestinian private sector. (, Ma'an News Agency)

The Islamic Jihad said that it expected Israel to try to crush resistance in the Gaza Strip before announcing its acceptance of a ceasefire. Islamic Jihad leader Khaled Al-Batsh said that the Israeli operation against the Gaza Strip was expected to be "limited" and that the ceasefire would be delayed until it had been completed. (Ma'an News Agency)

 21 May

Five Palestinian children were wounded in an Israeli air strike on a car in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian health officials said. Those hit included two babies less than a year old and children aged 5, 12 and 14. Earlier, an Israeli artillery shell landed in the east of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, moderately wounding a Palestinian teenager, paramedics said. (AFP, AP, Xinhua)

The IDF arrested six Palestinians in overnight raids in the West Bank. (Haaretz)

A Palestinian teenager, Khalid Abdul Hadi, died of the wounds sustained when he was shot by Israeli troops in the central Gaza Strip in the previous month. (Ma'an News Agency)

Egypt opened the Rafah crossing for the return of 22 Gazans treated in Egyptian hospitals. (Haaretz)

The Israeli Housing Ministry announced its plan to build 286 new houses in the "Beitar Illit" settlement, near Bethlehem. (AFP, Haaretz, Reuters)


An IDF soldier was slightly wounded when a mortar shell fired by militants in the Gaza Strip exploded near him at the Zikim military base. Another soldier was slightly injured when a Palestinian driving a car ran him over near Tulkarm in the West Bank. (Haaretz)

The Palestine Investment Conference opened in Bethlehem, bringing together more than 1,000 business persons and Government officials from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Arab world and beyond. Asked how the success or failure of the conference would be defined, Director of the Conference Hassan Abu Libdeh said, "For a first conference … the fact that we are meeting here, that we have about 500 participants from outside Palestine, it is a true measure of success for this conference. The success, as far as we are concerned, is to have those investors come, meet with our colleagues, have some networking, business-to-business meetings, maybe strike some deals, maybe do some shopping and go home." Fifteen countries sent official delegations, including the United Arab Emirates, led by the Undersecretary of the Economy, and a leading member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family. Attending also were PA President Abbas, Quartet Representative Tony Blair, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and the Jordanian Minister of Industry and Trade. More than 100 investment projects, worth over $1.0 billion, would be introduced. (AP, Ma'an News Agency)

A Saudi company planned to invest in a $250 million construction project in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said. The company, identified as Al Ard Al Qabeda, was to join with the Palestine Investment Fund to build residential and office towers, malls and a hotel in the West Bank town of Al Bireh, near Ramallah. (AP)

A study by the Palestinian Centre for Communications and Development Studies reported that Hebron was now facing a more than 70 per cent increase in poverty due to the continuing Israeli closures. The poverty rate had now risen to 77 per cent. Head of the Centre Jamil Ad-Derbashi said most of the city's residents depended on trade and commerce, both of which have decreased precipitously. The turnover from trade used to reach $75 million a month, but now was only $5 million a month, seriously affecting Hebron residents. (Ma'an News Agency)

 22 May

Israeli forces shot dead a 62-year-old Palestinian farmer, Salim Al-Bahaysa, during an incursion into the central Gaza Strip. (Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians in the village of Burqin, west of Jenin. (Ma'an News Agency)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, speaking on the second day of the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, told hundreds of foreign investors that investing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory would be an investment in peace. "The Palestinian economy, despite the difficulties we face, has great potential to grow and develop in the future … The Palestinian economy will revive with the creation of a free, competitive and diversified market." The Prime Minister also said that more efforts should be made "to overcome the (Israeli) restrictions on the movement of people and merchandise and access to resources." Conference Director Hassan Abu Libdeh said that 109 projects costing $2 billion would be presented by Palestinian business leaders to the investors. In an interview with Al-Ayyam, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that to achieve economic growth of six to eight per cent annually, Israel must withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territory and stop building settlements. (AFP, Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that Israel intended to conduct negotiations on both the Syrian and the Palestinian tracks, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's office. The Prime Minister also said that Israel "aspires to reach peace with the Palestinians in the coming year." Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev told Xinhua that the "coming year" might be a mistranslation and it should refer to the current year of 2008. (Xinhua)

PA President Abbas told a joint news conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Ramallah: "We discussed the peace process, and we say frankly that we want Europe to have a role. We insist on it. … It's true that Europe offers economic support, but we also want it to play an important political role. It is geographically the closest to the Middle East and best understands the region." Mr. Kouchner told the news conference that the EU "must not just play the role of cashier to dispense money" in aid to the Palestinians. "We must stand by the side of our Palestinian and Israeli friends to participate in progress in the peace process … to be positive and to help, not to be anti-American," he said. Mr. Kouchner, who had met earlier in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni, said: "France's position is clear. … We are completely against the creation of new settlements and have always insisted to our Israeli friends that this must stop. We restated this position yesterday and today in Israel," he said. He played down recent contacts between France and Hamas. "There was only one meeting, you know about that and it is over.… It was a simple contact aimed at gleaning information on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It was not a political negotiation," he said of talks a senior retired diplomat had with Hamas leaders. (AFP)

A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with at least four tons of explosives tried to ram the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel, killing himself but causing no other casualties. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad said that his group carried out the attempted attack in cooperation with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Israeli troops opened fire into a crowd protesting against the siege on the Gaza Strip at another border passage near the Karni crossing several hours later, killing Abdel Karim Ahel, 22, and wounding 17, some of them seriously. The rally, started off by midday prayer, was organized by Hamas, with the presence of about 2,000 protesters. Over the past two days, Hamas had been calling on its supporters to march towards the crossing to "break the siege." (AFP, AP, Haaretz, Ma'an News Agency, Xinhua)

The PA Civil Affairs Department announced that the Israeli authorities had approved 152 applications of Palestine refugees seeking to be reunited with their families in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (Ma'an News Agency)

"The Palestinian groups will not give a truce to Israel if Israel does not accept our demand to end the closure, open borders and stop aggression," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement. (AFP)

At the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, World Bank Managing Director Juan Jose Daboub said, "You may have several justified questions about the viability of commercial activities here under the current circumstances, with the number of checkpoints riddling the Palestinian Territories, and with the security incidents often taking place. And rightly you should. Analysis by the World Bank has shown that while economic growth will be modestly positive this year, this trend would have been much higher in the absence of the current movement and access restrictions." He said the World Bank was devoting a total of $3 billion to the Palestinians through various means. (AFP,

At the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, a group of entrepreneurs announced the establishment of a new $100 million capital holding company, Watan, to focus on building three factories for cement, steel and bricks production, according to Michael Sayegh, a Jordanian entrepreneur, one of the founders and main shareholders. He said that the new holding company, with 15 shareholders, mainly Jordanian and Palestinian, would start in a few months a process to establish an affiliate public shareholding industrial company to build the three factories. The cement factory alone would cost about $380 million. Another joint project worth $12 million would witness the construction of a farm for hatching and breeding turkeys and a slaughterhouse in the Jordan Valley area. (DPA)

US Overseas Private Investment Corporation presented a political risk insurance programme to help finance investments in the West Bank, part of an international effort to help develop the local economy and pave the way for an independent Palestinian State. The measure, announced at the Palestine Investment Conference, was meant to allay concerns by investors about risking their money in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. A Qatari and Saudi company signed two separate construction deals with Palestinian partners for a total of $ 550 million. The Qatari company signed a deal for building a new town in the West Bank, the first planned community in the West Bank. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that PA President Abbas had signed a new law regulating companies. "This is just part of several laws aimed at reducing the tax burden and encouraging investment," he said. US Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt, who led a six-member presidential delegation to the conference, said that he would urge US companies to consider investment opportunities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AP, Haaretz)

The International Labor Organization (ILO) issued a new report on the situation of workers of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, depicting a much degraded employment and labour situation that had deteriorated alarmingly in a number of aspects. The report said that only 130 working industrial establishments remained in Gaza and all 120 construction businesses had closed at a cost of around 42,000 jobs. ILO official Philippe Egger told journalists, "What we are witnessing in Gaza is a very, very serious social situation with high levels of poverty and very high levels of desperation, frustration and anger ... The cause of this massive economic decline is not globalization, it is not cyclones, it is not drought or climate change, it is military occupation." He added that "Palestinians suffer massive discrimination in all walks of life and have scant hope that their situation will improve any time soon … When you see cars of settlers flying through checkpoints and the Palestinians taking four hours to pass from one part of the city to another, one begins to ask major questions. … What we have found in talking to Palestinian employees and workers is a huge credibility gap between the ongoing peace negotiations and the daily lives of Palestinians." Commenting on the announcement made by Quartet Representative Tony Blair that Israel had agreed to remove some checkpoints across the West Bank, Mr. Egger said, "We have spoken to his team in Jerusalem … but our assessment is that there's been absolutely no progress whatsoever." (AFP, DPA)

 23 May

Israeli troops killed five Palestinian militants during raids into the Gaza Strip. An Israeli air strike on gunmen east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip killed three Hamas militants, medical workers said. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that a strike had been carried out against militants who had fired an anti-tank missile at troops, moderately wounding a soldier. Separately, Islamic Jihad said that two of its fighters had been killed by Israeli soldiers in the central Gaza Strip. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, soldiers fired at a group of gunmen who had tried to plant a bomb near the border fence with the Gaza Strip. Medical workers said that soldiers had arrested about 30 Palestinians during the raid. (Reuters)

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians in Ramallah and Hebron. (Ma'an News Agency)


Palestinians fired two Qassam rockets towards Israel's western Negev region, causing no injuries. One of the rockets landed in a greenhouse area near Sderot, causing fire in a nearby wheat field. The second rocket landed in an open area. (Ynetnews)

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the Palestine Investment Conference had helped raise investments for projects worth $1.4 billion, which included housing, high-tech and telecommunications. The investments could create as many as 35,000 jobs, Mr. Fayyad said at the end of the three-day conference, adding that more than $500 million was in real estate and $65 million in high-tech. Wataniya Mobile planned to invest $650 million to set up a second mobile phone service in the Palestinian areas, and announced the day before that it had received assurances that it would soon be assigned the necessary frequencies for operations. The closing session was attended by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who criticized Israel's network of roadblocks and checkpoints. "The restrictions on access and mobility are still significant. … They have not yet been alleviated as they should have. Israel should and Israel can exert more efforts in this regard without endangering its security," Mr. Kouchner said. He also said, "Nothing justifies the settlement expansion, which constitutes an impediment to peace, as well as an obstacle obstructing the development of the Palestinian economy." (AP)

At the conclusion of the Palestinian Investment Conference, a declaration was adopted expressing the joint strategic vision of the Palestinian Authority and the private sector, not only to institute the coordination and complimentarity between them, but also to create an organized and institutional relationship, in order to invigorate the Palestinian economy and support the leading role of the private sector within the process of economic development. (

The Department for International Development said that Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, announced a £3 million initiative to support small businesses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory at the Palestinian Investment Conference. (

 24 May

In the Gaza Strip, the Jihad Jibril Brigades, a group linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, launched four projectiles from the Gaza Strip into the Israeli town of Netivot. Separately, a group called the Al-Asifa Brigades of the Martyr Dalal Al Maghrebi claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at the Sufa military installation. (Ma'an News Agency)

The Saraya Al-Quds Brigades (armed wing of Islamic Jihad) claimed responsibility for launching two projectiles at Miftahim, an Israeli town to the east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. The Brigades said in statement that the operation was in response to the ongoing attacks against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. (Ma'an News Agency)

 25 May

The IDF attacked and wounded five activists demonstrating against the separation wall, and arrested three others during a peaceful demonstration in the West Bank village of Bi'lin, local sources said. The IDF troops fired tear gas, sonic grenades and rubber coated bullets at civilians, including international activists, wounding five of them. Three participants were arrested, including two internationals. (WAFA)

The IDF seized three Palestinian youths from the northern West Bank village of Zeita, north of Tulkarm. (Ma'an News Agency)

In Cairo, Amos Gilad, a senior aide to Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak, met Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman for the latest round of talks with Egyptian mediators attempting to forge a truce with Hamas. (AFP)

Palestinian officials close to peace talks said that Israel had offered a West Bank withdrawal map that leaves about 8.5 per cent of the territory in Israeli hands, less than a previous plan, but still more than the Palestinians were ready to accept. Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, and other PA officials, however, said that the report was unsubstantiated. Meanwhile, PA President Abbas was quoted as saying that the negotiations had achieved no progress since they were restarted last November. (The Jerusalem Post)

Former US President Jimmy Carter said that the United Kingdom and other European Governments should break from the US over the international embargo on the Gaza Strip. Mr. Carter described the EU position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as "supine" and its failure to criticize the Israeli blockade of Gaza as "embarrassing". He said that the blockade on Gaza, imposed by the US, EU, UN and Russia after the Hamas election victory in 2006, was one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth, since it meant the imprisonment of 1.6 million people, 1 million of whom were refugees. "Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing," Carter said. He called on the EU to reassess its stance if Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza. "Let the Europeans lift the embargo and say we will protect the rights of Palestinians in Gaza, and even send observers to Rafah gate [Gaza's crossing into Egypt] to ensure the Palestinians don't violate it." (The Guardian)

A group calling themselves the Abu Ammar Brigades, a military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching one homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot. Separately the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching two rockets at Sderot. (Ma'an News Agency)

 26 May

Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said that only delusional people believed it was possible to hold onto the greater Land of Israel, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. He also said that the notion of Israel becoming a State "of all its citizens" was gaining credence within elites in the United States. He was speaking of what would be, in effect, a one-State solution whereby Palestinians receive Israeli citizenship. "This is a very dangerous process that endangers the continuation of our existence as a Jewish State," he said, warning that if Israel did not reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority it would eventually face a Hamas leadership in the West Bank, as opposed to the more moderate Fatah faction. (Haaretz)

Jordan's King Abdullah II met with visiting US Congressional aides in Amman. During the meeting he emphasized the importance of finding a just and lasting settlement for the Palestinian issue, as the core issue underlying the conflict in the region. He also said it was important that the international community keep its support for the Palestinian Authority, to strengthen its institutions and mitigate the suffering of Palestinians and establish its independent State. (WAFA)

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, meeting in Brussels, adopted conclusions on the Middle East peace process in which it made a commitment to support the parties in the ongoing negotiations on all outstanding issues; emphasized the need for swift and tangible results on the ground in order to sustain Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; expressed deep concern about the recent accelerated settlement expansion; condemned the continued firing of rockets from Gaza on southern Israel; called for the progressive removal of Israeli restrictions on movement and access in order to improve the situation on the ground and living conditions in the West Bank and revitalize the Palestinian economy; expressed deep concern about the unsustainable humanitarian situation in Gaza; and made a commitment to assisting Palestinian State-building efforts across a broad range of areas. The Council welcomed the Palestinian Authority's efforts to develop an effective and reformed security sector and encouraged ongoing efforts towards the fulfilment of its road map obligations in that field; and underlined the need to deliver on pledges made at the International Donor's Conference in Paris in December 2007. (

The International Committee of the Red Cross called on Israel to allow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to visit relatives in Israeli jails, a practice suspended a year ago after Hamas took over the Strip. Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC's delegation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement, "While we acknowledge Israel's security concerns, we strongly believe that they alone cannot justify the all-out suspension of family visits to detainees. This measure is depriving both detainees and their relatives of an essential life line," Mr. Harnisch said. (Haaretz)


PA President Abbas received officials from Hamas in the Presidential compound at the Muqataa in Ramallah, Palestinian sources said. The Hamas delegation delivered a letter from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails calling for unity. According to the source, the delegation included former Minister Nasr al-Sha'ir, Sheikh Hamid Al-Beitawi and Samir Abu 'Eisha. (Ma'an News Agency)

Hamas confirmed that it had held contacts with the Arab League and Qatar to achieve reconciliation with Fatah. Ahmed Yussef, an adviser of former PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said that Hamas' Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal asked Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa and the Qatari Prince to arrange for the reconciliation. Mr. Yousef said, "The responses were positive and they promised to look into the request after consultations with all parties, including the Palestinian Presidency." (Xinhua)

Ayman Daraghma, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), said PA President Abbas had told a Hamas delegation at a meeting in Ramallah that "it is necessary to work on overcoming the internal Palestinian impasse." Meanwhile, Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar was reported to be going to Qatar to look into a possible Hamas-Fatah meeting for reconciliation. (Xinhua)

Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said in a report that Israel had arrested more than 2,700 Palestinians in 2008, most of them in the West Bank. The report stated that 255 children under the age of 18 had been arrested as well as 14 women. There were medical patients, senior citizens, national movement leaders and mayors among those arrested. Hebron had the largest share of the arrests, with 700 people detained in 2008, the report said. Six hundred of the detainees came from the Gaza Strip. Twenty-eight Israeli jails and detention centres were full of Palestinian prisoners. He said that the total number of Palestinian detainees in Israel's custody exceeded 11,700. The report also said that Israel was increasing the use of administrative detention, under which prisoners could be held without charge or trial virtually indefinitely. (Ma'an News Agency)

At a closed meeting at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, said that the PA was prepared to accept limitations on the degree to which the security services of the future Palestinian State would be armed. "We don't need tanks or planes, but we will not relinquish our self-respect," he said. "But it's clear to everyone that on the security issue, the [peace] agreement cannot be implemented without the prominent intervention of America as a third party." (Haaretz)

 27 May

The IDF wounded 15 children and arrested 9 Palestinians in Qalqilya, emergency and aid sources said. The troops fired tear gas and rubber coated bullets towards children between 10 and 15 years of age whose wounds were reported to be light to moderate. (WAFA)

At least 30 anti-wall demonstrators, including an Al-Jazeera journalist and a Watan TV cameraman, were wounded in a peaceful demonstration in Bi'lin village in the West Bank, Anti-Wall Popular Committee Coordinator A'hed Khawaja said. (WAFA)

 28 May

An Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip killed two Hamas gunmen firing mortars at Israeli forces and wounded four others, Hamas said. An earlier Israeli strike had wounded four militants from the Islamic Jihad. The IDF confirmed both air strikes, saying they targeted militants firing mortar shells, one of which had struck directly a western Negev home. (AP, Haaretz)

The IDF arrested nine Palestinians in Nablus, Bethlehem and Jenin, PA security sources said. (WAFA)

The first battalion of more than 600 members of the PA National Security Force trained in Jordan under a United States programme returned to their base in Jericho, Western officials said. The men will undergo additional US-sponsored training and receive new equipment before being deployed in the West Bank in August. (Reuters)

Leading a Human Rights Council-mandated fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip to investigate the killing of 19 Palestinian civilians in 2006 by an Israeli artillery attack, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu listened to members of the Assama family tell what had happened on that day. Archbishop Tutu had met the day earlier with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urging him to put an end to rocket attacks by militant groups against Israel. Archbishop Tutu also said he was moved to tears by the "unacceptable" situation in the territory which was under a tight Israeli blockade, which he condemned. He said: "The incident we are meant to investigate was a violation of human rights in the fact that civilians were targeted." (AFP)

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert H. Serry briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. (UN press release SC/9341)

The University and College Union in England passed a motion at its annual conference calling on academics to "consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned." (Haaretz)


Saeb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, described the latest meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli sides as serious. He told reporters that the meeting covered all final status issues, but no progress was achieved. He said that the Palestinians raised the issue of settlement expansion, including that of "Beitar Ilit", affirming that those activities undermined stability and peace in the region. (WAFA)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for PA President Abbas, said after Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had called on Prime Minister Olmert to step down over corruption allegations: "No doubt, what's happening will leave a negative impact on negotiations." (Reuters)

 29 May

A Palestinian died due to major injuries he had sustained in an Israeli incursion the previous day, Palestinian medical sources announced. (Ma'an News Agency)

A 70-year-old Palestinian woman was shot some 300 yards from the Gaza-Israel fence by Israeli forces during a raid of the Khaza'a area, east of Khan Yunis. She died of her wounds the following day. (AP, Ma'an News Agency)

The IDF arrested 60 Palestinians east of Beit Hanoun when Israeli military vehicles raided the area under cover of intensive gunfire. Bulldozers razed agricultural areas. (Haaretz, Ma'an News Agency)

Israeli forces raided the village of Bi'lin, west of Ramallah, detaining four men from the village. The mayor of Ni'lin said that the incursion and detentions were aimed at suppressing planned activities against the construction of the separation wall on the lands of the village. Israeli forces also arrested three Palestinians from the refugee camp of Nur Shams near Tulkarm. (Ma'an News Agency)

From 4 September 2007 to 29 April 2008, there was an overall increase in the number of roadblocks in the West Bank, from 566 to 607, the May 2008 OCHA Closure Update said. The net increase of 41 resulted from the construction of 144 (11 staffed and 133 un-staffed) obstacles alongside the removal of 103 (11 staffed and 92 unstaffed). (

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a press conference as he concluded the Human Rights Council-mandated fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip: "My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all... Gaza needs the engagement of the outside world, especially its peacemakers." Professor Christine Chinkin who accompanied him said: "I think what we've seen shows plenty of evidence of at least the possibility of war crimes that needs much further independent investigation… I would certainly say the concept of collective punishment in a situation of occupation constitutes the notion of war crimes and possibly of a crime against humanity." (AFP)

A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip directly hit a home in Israel, but did not explode. Earlier, Gaza militants had fired five mortar shells and three rockets into the western Negev; two rockets struck just south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported in these strikes. (Haaretz)

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said that Qatari-mediated talks between Hamas and Fatah were scheduled to take place soon. He had met with Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in an earlier visit to Qatar. Mr. Al-Zahhar, however, expressed doubts on whether reconciliation attempts would be successful, saying: "Abu Mazen [PA President Abbas] will not take a single step closer to Hamas" until US President Bush's term was over. (Ma'an News Agency)

 30 May

At least seven Palestinians were injured, two critically, when Israeli troops opened fire at a demonstration of some 10,000 Palestinians at the Sufa crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The protestors called for an end to the blockade. (AP, Ma'an News Agency, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post)

The US State Department withdrew the Fulbright grants of eight Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip because they had been denied exit visas by Israel. US Secretary of State Rice, travelling in Stockholm, said that she was not aware of the matter and would look into it. US State Department Spokesman Tom Casey said, "We are trying to revisit this issue with the Israeli Government." (AP, Haaretz, Reuters)

Israel issued tenders for the construction of 120 homes in the "Har Homa" settlement in East Jerusalem. (Haaretz)

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert requested a meeting with PA President Abbas, before Mr. Olmert's departure for Washington on 2 June. (Ynetnews)

Two Qassam rockets struck the western Negev. No injuries or damage were reported. (Haaretz)

 31 May

The Israeli Army said that a Thai agricultural worker had been wounded by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. The military wing of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, which had struck the Israeli village of Miftahim. Meanwhile, the National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for shelling Sderot and the military base of Zikim with three missiles. (AP, Ma'an News Agency)

Hamas threatened to escalate its measures to break the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri said, "The threat to carry out measures to break the siege came after the Egyptian efforts to reach a truce with Israel had failed… because Israel wants calm without ending the blockade, and imposes new conditions on reaching a truce." He stressed that "The aim of the truce efforts was to end our people's suffering." (Xinhua)

Fatah called on the Security Council to work for lifting the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman told Voice of Palestine radio: "There are people dying now in the Gaza Strip ... Where is the Security Council?" He appealed to international human rights groups and the Quartet to pressure Israel to reopen the crossing points into Gaza and suggested that the Security Council should take control of the crossings, adding, "The black coup by Hamas can not be taken as a pretext to keep the siege which turns the Strip into a collective detention camp." (Xinhua)



IDF Israeli Defense Forces

PA Palestinian Authority


Chronology Source Abbreviations

ADM (Addameer--Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah)

AFP (Agence France-Presse, Paris)

AIC (Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem)

AP (Associated Press, Internet)

ATL (Anatolia, Ankara)

AYM (al-Ayyam, Ramallah)

BDL (BADIL Resource Center, Bethlehem)

DUS (al-Dustur, Amman)

FAV (Free Arab Voice, Internet)

HA (Ha'Aretz, Tel Aviv)

HJ (al-Hayat al-Jadida, Ramallah)

HP (Hear Palestine, Washington)

HUR (Hurriyet, Istanbul)

IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, Tehran)

IsRN (Israel Radio News, Internet)

JP (Jerusalem Post International Edition, Jerusalem)

JT (Jordan Times, Amman)

LAW (Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, Jerusalem)

MA (Ma'ariv, Tel Aviv)

MEI (Middle East International, London)

MENA (Middle East News Agency, Cairo)

MENL (Middle East Newsline, Internet)

MEZ (al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Jabaliyya)

MM (Mideast Mirror, London)

NYT (New York Times, New York)

PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza)

PR (Palestine Report, Jerusalem)

QA (al-Quds al-Arabi, London)

REU (Reuters, Internet)

RL (Radio Lebanon, Beirut)

RMC (Radio Monte Carlo, Paris)

SA (al-Sharq al-Awsat, London)

UPI (United Press International, Internet)

WJW (Washington Jewish Week, Rockville, MD)

WNC (World News Connection [Internet], Washington)

WP (Washington Post, Washington)

WT (Washington Times, Washington)

XIN (Xinhua+nNew China News Agency, Beijing)

YA (Yedi'ot Aharonot, Tel Aviv)