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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Wednesday, August 11th, 2010.

Rival Palestinian parties release prisoners to celebrate the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while human rights groups question the Israeli investigation of a flotilla attack four months ago. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

An Israeli man suspecting of killing four Palestinians was released from Israeli prison today due to an apparent lack of evidence.

Chaim Pearlman was charged with going on a shooting spree, killing and wounding Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem several years ago. He had publicly spoken about the need to kill Arabs to achieve the objectives of the Jewish state, and was known to be in the area of a number of shootings. Palestinians claim that the ‘lack of evidence’ cited by prosecutors was actually due to the lack of a proper investigation of the case.

Today marks the first day of Ramadan, a month-long holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world. In Palestine, officials from the two main political parties, Hamas and Fateh, agreed to release some prisoners as a sign of goodwill.

The Hamas party in Gaza released 100 prisoners, most of which belong to the Fateh party. And the Fateh-run government in the West Bank released 8 university professors belonging to the Hamas party. The Fateh government denied allegations that the professors had been tortured while in custody.

In the ongoing Israeli investigation of its attack on a humanitarian aid convoy in May, senior Israeli officials gave conflicting accounts of the Israeli military’s behavior during the attack. Israel was largely criticized for the attack, in which Israeli naval forces boarded humanitarian aid ships and killed nine aid workers, including one American. While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated on Monday that the attack had been well-planned and coordinated by the Israeli military, today’s testimony by Israeli army chief Gabi Ashkenazi painted a different picture of the raid.

According to the military chief, the attack quickly became chaotic when paratroopers dropped onto the ships in international waters and faced an angry crowd on deck. But he defended the soldiers involved in the attack, saying that their actions in killing nine civilian aid workers and injuring dozens more were quote “proportionate and correct.”

In other news, Egyptian forces seized control of 17 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt today, as part of an ongoing campaign to stop the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip in violation of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

The Palestinian population of Gaza depend on these tunnels for the import of basic foodstuffs and medicines, most of which are prevented from entering the Gaza Strip by Israeli and Egyptian forces.

Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, you have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center, for constant updates, please visit our website at www.imemc.org. This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis.

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