Israel's Defense Ministry is pleading with the UN agency UNRWA not to build a new school for Palestinian children next to a Hamas military installation in southern Gaza.

In recent weeks, the Israeli defense ministry, which coordinates materiel entering Gaza from Israel, has approved 70 international projects – including the renovation of a sewage treatment plant, the construction of 151 housing units and eight new schools. (Gaza needs new schools because it has one of the highest birth rates in the world, combined with a low infant mortality rate due to the excellent health facilities Israel helped build there before the Israeli withdrawal in 2005.)

Whereas the Israeli Defense Ministry says it fully supports plans by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency to build new schools, it says that to build a school adjacent to a Hamas military installation would be "shocking and highly irresponsible."

"Israel attaches great importance to the UNRWA education system in Gaza and will continue to cooperate and assist as much as possible in helping UNRWA," one senior Israeli official said. "But we will not help Hamas use schools and turn the people of Gaza into human shields."

A longer version of this dispatch can be read in full, with photos, here: www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/001144.html


DID YOUR LOCAL PAPER RUN THESE AP PHOTOS OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN BADLY INJURED BY HAMAS?

In the past, Hamas has cynically placed its bomb laboratories next to schools in the knowledge that Israel will then be extremely reluctant to target them, even during wartime. As a consequence of this, children are regularly maimed when Hamas explosives accidentally explode while the Islamist group is preparing bombs and missiles.

In the latest of several such incidents, last week in the southern Gazan town of Rafah five children and two women were injured according to AP (and 17 children according to Palestinian media) after a device in a Hamas weapons laboratory adjacent to a school accidentally exploded.

Here are some shocking pictures of the children injured in that blast taken by the Associated Press. Most media in the world subscribe to the Associated Press. Did your local paper run these photos (and related editorials), or were they too busy condemning Israel for the most minor infringements, both real and imagined?

www.news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//101020/480/urn_publicid_ap_org9bfea8a3f25b4be1a2471799ef273a1f/

www.news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//101020/480/urn_publicid_ap_org_e122b336605646a3a067982e3bbbaad1/

www.news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//101020/photos_wl_me_afp/b81fe22e09757dec2e5c50964e0447fe/

Brave Palestinian human right groups have condemned Hamas (see the link below), but where are the UN, EU and major Western human rights groups?

www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7083:pchr-calls-for-seriously-investigating-the-circumstances-of-internal-explosion-in-rafah-in-which-26-persons-were-wounded-including-17-children-&catid=36:pchrpressreleases&Itemid=194

On August 2 this year another Hamas "work accident" severely injured 58 Palestinians, including 14 children and 9 women, completely destroyed seven houses and damaged another 30. I don't recall much coverage of that on the BBC or other major Western media though.


NIGERIA INTERCEPTS ARMS SHIPMENT BOUND FOR HAMAS

Custom officials in the Nigerian capital Lagos have seized 13 containers reportedly holding weapons bound for Hamas. Nigerian officials said the containers held rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives, all of which were camouflaged as construction material to enter Gaza as part of an aid convoy. 107mm rockets and 60mm mortar rounds were among the cache.


POLL OF EAST JERUSALEM PALESTINIANS: PLURALITY PREFER ISRAELI CITIZENSHIP OVER PALESTINIAN ONE

In another poll – specifically of East Jerusalem Palestinians – also carried out this month by the PSR, when asked about the preference of the majority of residents in their neighborhoods, 44% said they are likely to prefer Israeli citizenship and only 41% said they are likely to prefer Palestinian citizenship.

This seems to be for economic reasons and for reasons of freedom of expression allowed in a democracy such as Israel.

For example, 85% of Palestinians said they were "satisfied with the electrical supply" Israel provides to their neighborhood and 9% said they were "dissatisfied".

83% said they were "satisfied" with the health care Israel provides to them, and 7% said they were "dissatisfied".

The PSR said "Interviews were conducted face to face with a random sample of 1,000 adult Palestinians over the age of 18 in 50 residential locations throughout all occupied East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods."

The full results are here: www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2010/ejerusalem2010.html

***

In another poll of Palestinians this month, this time by the Near East Consulting (NEC), 61% of Palestinians said they identified themselves as Muslims first, 20% Palestinians first, 15% as "human being first," and 3% as "Arabs first."

The NEC said: "The survey was carried out between the October 2 and 5 on a random sample of 900 Palestinians over the age of 18 from both sexes, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem."

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