Hebron-related protests subside, but the controversy has not blown over.
Tel Aviv — The weeklong Palestinian protests over Israel’s decision to designate two shrines in the West Bank as heritage sites subsided this week, but the controversy has not blown over.
If the government goes through with a plan to renovate religious sites like the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, there is a risk of an even worse upsurge in violence, claimed the leader of a prominent Palestinian clan in the city.
Sderot, Israel — With a friendship confined to opposite poles of the Israel-Palestinian war zone — this southern border town and a Gaza refugee camp — the two men have not seen each other in about a year because of an escalating cycle of violence.
But they have been reunited in the blogosphere, writing a joint diary to stave off their own despair and prove that a dialogue is still possible across their bloody divide.
Gaza City — Hours before narrowly escaping an assassination attempt by the Israeli military, Hamas leader Abdel Azziz Rantisi dismissed the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace plan and claimed that most Palestinians opposed it as well.
“It’s a big mistake. You won’t find any Palestinian who will tell you otherwise,” said the Hamas hardliner in an interview with The Jewish Week Monday at his home here on the Gaza Strip.
Ramallah, West Bank — The crisis of Rafah’s open border morphed into a four-way diplomatic power struggle this week that reinforced Hamas’ ascendance in the rivalry against President Mahmoud Abbas’ weaker Palestinian Authority.
A Palestinian Authority official said Abbas wants the Egyptians to help him deploy some 200 to 300 of his presidential guard forces along the border in order to uphold the Palestinian commitments under a U.S.-brokered agreement with Israel that’s supposed to keep the passages open.
Zikkim Beach, Israel — Itzik Levy rambles up a grassy sand dune just three miles down the coast from Ashkelon and surveys what he hopes one day could be the site of his new home.
Some 19 years ago, Levy had moved to the settlement of Eli Sinai on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip amid dunes with a similar view of the Mediterranean’s blue horizon. Now he’s lobbying the Israeli government to set aside areas like Zikkim Beach or the dunes of Nitzanim for Eli Sinai residents who want to rebuild their communities inside the Green Line.
Hila, Israel — Amid a flurry of reports about possible progress in prisoner-swap talks to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, his father Noam says he won’t get his hopes up despite signs of encouragement.
“It has only just started to move. It hasn’t reached an agreement. It has a much longer road to go,” he told The Jewish Week in an interview at the Shalit family home in this northern Israel hamlet.