Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 13.7MB || Time 15m 0s || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for January 26th through to February 1st, 2008.
As the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza leaves four Palestinians dead, factional representatives left this week for Cairo in a bid to open the borders with Egypt, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in Palestine and Israel, IMEMC’s Louisa White with the details:
The villagers of Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, along with international and Israeli supporters conducted their weekly protest on Friday against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the villager’s land. The main theme of this week’s demonstration was to commemorate the Palestinian lefts leader George Habash, who died in Jordan earlier this week due severe health problems.
As is the case each week, the protest started after the Friday prayers, participants marched from the village center towards the construction site of the Wall that is being illegally built on the village land. Israeli troops installed a military barrier along the way and as soon as the protesters reached it, the Israeli troops showered the demonstration with tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. Three protesters were injured, and were moved to a hospital in Ramallah city.
An estimated 2,000 people, in an action sponsored by a coalition of Israeli peace groups, demonstrated at the Erez Crossing on Saturday to demand an end to Israel’s crippling siege of the Gaza Strip. In a gesture of solidarity with besieged Gaza residents, the groups delivered two truckloads of food and other basic supplies.
After months of sanctions Israel has imposed a total lockdown on the Strip for over a week, limiting supplies of food, fuel and medicine, supposedly in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on neighboring Israeli towns. Sponsored by a broad coalition of Israeli organizations, volunteers arrived via bus from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva, Haifa and Nazareth as well as by private car.
Originally planned to be held on a hilltop overlooking Gaza, the Israeli military forced a change of venue at the last minute, cordoning off the designated hilltop with barbed wire. Rallying outside the heavily-fortified Erez terminal, the Israeli demonstrators could not see their Palestinian counterparts. Uri Avnery, a prominent leader in the Peace now movement in Israel, talked to the crowed on Saturday:
‘the inhuman blockade that has been imposed on A million and a half human beings in Gaza by our government, by our army, In our name â€“ This siege is continuing in its full cruelty. We, Israelis from various political camps, have come to bring basic supplies and to say to the Israeli public and to the whole world: We will not participate in crime’
At the same time of the demonstration outside, the Campaign to end the Siege of Gaza which is a campaign group within Gaza, organized a protest at the Gaza side of the Erez crossing, the two sides communicated by cell-phones to each other.
For IMEMC .org this is Louisa White
Palestinian factional representatives left this week for Cairo in order to forge an agreement on the possibility of running the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza. This and more with IMEMC’s Marguerite Mancy:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated during a meeting in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart, Husni Mubarak, that he would not accept any dialogue with the ruling-Hamas movement in Gaza until they relinquish control over the Strip. Abbas reiterated his stance that, as outlined in the 2005 U.S-brokered agreement on running the Rafah terminal, European observers should return to Rafah. Abbas’s government in Ramallah had previously proposed taking control of the Rafah crossing, in coordination with the Egyptians and the Europeans.
EU observers at the Rafah crossing, who left the coastal region after Hamas took control in June 2007, stated they will be ready to return to their workplace upon guarantee of their security. The ruling Hamas in Gaza utterly rejected the return of the European monitors, stating that the Gaza-Egypt border should be a sovereign Palestinian area, with no intervention from any parties other than the Palestinians and Egyptians.
Asked by the IMEMC whether Hamas will accept the return of European observers, provided that the Europeans’ security can be ensured, Fawwzi Barhoum Hamas’s spokesperson in Gaza says:
‘It’s unfair to differentiate between humans, what is needed is ensuring the safety of the Palestinians. We in the Gaza Strip need to live in security and safety as the regions’ nations. In the presence of the European observers, the Palestinians, who used cross into the terminal, tens of them have been interrogated, hundreds arrested and even humiliated by the Israeli interrogators inside the crossing’.
Last week, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza flooded into the nearby Egyptian town of aL-Arish, after Palestinian resistance activists and civilians knocked down a part of the iron wall encircling Gaza’s perimeter. Since the Hamas movement took complete control over Gaza on June 2006, the Gaza Strip has been undergoing a crippling Israeli siege. In response to last week’s flooding of Gazans into nearby Egypt, the EU’s Commissioner General for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said on Thursday that she believed that the closure of the crossing points leading in and out of Gaza had worsened Palestinian conditions.
In a related issue, the Israeli high court of Justice reaffirmed on Wednesday that the Israeli government’s cut of fuel supplies to the coastal region does not harm the civilian population, approving such cuts until a policy change takes place within the ruling Hamas in Gaza. The court’s decision has left Gaza with a huge shortage of gasoline, cooking gas and fuel needed to generate electricity to serve hundreds of thousands of households. Prof. As’ad Abu Sharekh, a local political analyst views the ruling as improper.
On January, 17, the Israeli government decided to seal off all Gaza’s crossings and prevent fuel supplies to the coastal territory, forcing the sole Gaza power plant to shut down completely. On Tuesday, the United States blocked the passage of a non-binding resolution by the United Nations Security Council would have condemned Israel’s actions against Gaza as a collective punishment policy.
Gaza’s 1.5-million residents currently suffer from daily blackouts, ranging from 8 to 10 hours. According to the Society of Fuel Stations in Gaza, fuel permitted into the Strip is directed mostly to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. Israel says its actions against Gaza are meant to stop homemade shells being fired into southern Israel.
At the Israeli level, retired Israeli Judge Eliyahu Winograd, who was appointed by the Israeli Parliament to investigate the failures of Israel during its war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, issued his report on Wednesday. The report stated that there were dangerous political and military failures in managing the war, the report also noted that the war failed and did not accomplish any of its objectives. When it was first made public in 2007, the report threatened the current Israeli government coalition, headed by Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert.
Israeli political analysts say that the Winograd report placed primary responsibility for the failure on the Israeli military and will therefore likely not jeopardize Prime Minister Olmert’s continued leadership, as Israeli political analyst Michaeal Warschawski explains:
The war resulted in the deaths of over 1200 Lebanese, of whom 1000 were civilians. 100 Israelis died in the war among them 40 civilians and 60 Soldiers.
For IMEMC.org this is Marguerite Mancy.
The Israeli attacks
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 26 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those invasions, troops kidnapped 42 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children. IMEMC’s Caroline Jones has the details:
This week the invasions of the Israeli army were concentrated around the southern West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Hebron, and in the northern part of the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus.
With the kidnapping this week the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army from the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 now stands at 253.
On Monday Israeli army forces and bulldozers invaded Bethlehem city and surrounded a house located in the southern side of the city. The Israelis said that they were looking for what they call wanted Palestinians.
The operation lasted for nearly five hours. During the attacks Israeli troops clashed with local stone throwing youths and killed Qusai al-Afandi aged 17, and injured seven others. Troops left after destroying the house of Mohammad Abdeh and kidnapped him. Abdeh is said to be a member of Al Qudes brigades the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.
Later on Monday evening the Israeli Authorities demolished two levels of a six story house owned by a Palestinian family located in the northern part of Jerusalem city. The reason given by the Israeli army for this demolition was that that the levels had been built without obtaining necessary written permission, a document rarely given to Palestinians living in Jerusalem after the city was occupied in 1967 by Israel.
On Wednesday at dawn one Palestinian civilian was injured during an Israeli army attack targeting the northern West Bank city of Jenin, during the attack troops kidnapped another four civilians. Israeli undercover forces invaded Jenin and surrounded a house in the city center claiming that Palestinian resistance fighters are it.
For IMEMC.org this is Caroline Jones.
The Gaza Strip
The Israeli army attacks and the siege of Gaza this week left five Palestinians dead, for Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari with the details:
This week the number of Palestinians with serious illnesses who died because of the Israeli siege imposed on the coastal region has reached 89.
Arafat Owdah, 23, a cancer patient and Judah Obeed, 56, with a serious illness were both reported dead by Palestinian medical sources on Thursday morning after the Israeli army would not allow them to leave the coastal region to get medical care.
Meanwhile medical sources reported Amneh Al Madhon, 60, from Beit Lahyia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, died on Tuesday after fighting a sever case of Breast Cancer, and she died because she was not allowed to leave Gaza for Israeli or West Bank hospitals to get the proper treatment.
On Friday Nadia Al Omari 29 was pronounced dead after succumbing to a chronic illness, medical sources said that she was denied permission by they Israeli army to leave Gaza for medical treatment
Israel has placed the Gaza Strip under siege since June 2007; two weeks ago the Israeli army stepped up the Siege and sealed off the Gaza strip borders totally, leaving the 1.5 million residents lacking food, medicine, and fuel supplies.
One Palestinian resistance fighter was killed on Thursday morning during clashes that took place between a group of resistance fighters and Israeli troops near the borders between the southern Gaza strip town of Rafah and Israel. Dr. Mo’awiah Hassanin of the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that Mohamed Al Da’alsah, 20, died due to being shot with multiple rounds in his body.
Al Aqsa brigades the armed wing of the Fatah movement headed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a press statement that Al Da’alsah died when a group of fighters from the brigades clashed with Israeli soldiers at the borders.
At noon on Wednesday, Israeli jet fighters shelled areas in the northern Gaza strip town of Beit Hanoun. Meanwhile, the Palestinian resistance announced that it had shelled an Israeli military post located on the borders near central Gaza. In Beit Hanoun, local sources said that jet fighters shelled a farm and residential areas, causing damage to property, but no injuries.
Later in the day the al-Quds brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, announced that the group fired three home-made shells at an Israeli military post located at the borders between central Gaza and Israel. Israeli sources reported no injures.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
And thatâ€™s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out our website, www.IMEMC.org. Thanks for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem; this is Cybil Collins and Ghassan Bannoura.
Uri Avnery’s interview is sourced from the Israeli Social TV