Download MP3

This week in Palestine—a service of the International Middle East Media Centre,, for the week of Friday, April 1st to Thursday, April 7th.

Amid high alerts of a possible attack by Jewish extremists against Haram Al-Sharif, Israeli police have been put on high alert, and Jerusalem was sealed from the West Bank just in advance of the Moslem Friday prayer.

Police are working on the assumption that Palestinians could participate in acts of protest during prayers, because of the Revava movement’s decision to bring thousands of Jews to the site on Sunday as a way to foil Israeli Prime Minister’s disengagement plan. Some 3,000 policemen will be deployed in the area of the Haram Al-Sharif and the Old City.

A Police source described the Haram Al-Sharif compound as ‘an explosive device that could be set off by the slightest confrontation.’

The police have decided to bar entry to all Jews, and Moslems younger than 40, and do not carry Jerusalem ID, to the holy compound Sunday.

<<actuality-voice over>>

Sheikh Hassan Yousef from Hammas earlier described the Israeli procedures as a violation of one of the Human Rights:

It is a violation of human rights to prevent freedom of worship by barring access to holy sites. This is a clear indication of the intention of the occupation to confiscating the holy sites.

We call upon the world to pay attention to this important issue. The Christian and Muslim believers of Palestine are denied access to the holy sites, and thus the free practice of their rituals and beliefs.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas began the week with major changes in the Palestinian Authority security command after an incident in which Palestinian gunmen fired at the presidential compound last week. Abbas fired the local security chief in Ramallah and Abbas also accepted the resignation of his top West Bank National Security Chief, Ismail Jaber. About 1,000 Palestinian security officials will be forced into retirement by the end of the week.

A group of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades broke into several restaurants in Ramallah after they were not allowed into the presidential compound where Abbas was meeting with chiefs of the security forces in the city.

This led to the resignation of the Intelligence Chief, Tawfiq Tirawi. Tirawi then rescinded his resignation Abbas assigned him to investigate corruption cases in which some senior Palestinian Authority officials are involved.

A report prepared and published by the Palestinian National Information Center recorded 345 violations of the cease-fire by the Israeli army declared in February at the Sharm Al-Sheikh Summit in Egypt. The report counts 60 shooting incidents against civilians, where 48 were injured, 85 invasions of Palestinian territory; and 43 arrested. “In spite of the Palestinian commitment to the cease fire, the Israeli leadership did not honor its pledges, and the army continued its attacks and violations”, the center reported.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank city of Hebron, four Palestinian policemen were beaten and detained by Israeli soldiers. The unarmed uniformed police were directing traffic in the Bab al-Zawiya area when the soldiers arrived, beat them and took them away in military vehicles. The soldiers fired tear gas into the angry crowd of Palestinians that formed and began throwing stones in reaction to the beatings. An Israeli military source said the policemen were detained for questioning after refusing to leave an area where they were not allowed and were shortly released.

On Friday, The Israeli army shot and wounded two children in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. According to the Palestinian News Agency WAFA, Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian houses and shot two 13 and 15 year old boys who were playing nearby. The agency also reported that Israeli soldiers annexed 70 Dunams of Palestinian farmlands in the village of Fqeis, near Hebron..

On Saturday a group of Israeli settlers from Ramat Yishi took over the home of two Palestinian families. The settlers moved into house, adjacent to the settlement, after throwing the Palestinian families’ belongings into the street. The families had been previously forced to leave their home due to repeated attacks by neighbouring Israeli settlers. Around 500 Jewish settlers live under heavy Israeli military protection in Hebron, home to 150,000 Palestinians.

On Sunday evening, Israeli soldiers attacked an anti-wall peaceful demonstration in the village of Bal’in, west of Ramallah.

A local source in the village stated that dozens of residents, Israeli and international peace activists protested against the Wall in the village. Soldiers attacked the procession, fired gas bombs and rubber coated bullets; one Israeli peace activist was moderately injured after when a gas bomb struck him in his head.

On April 5th, Palestinians celebrate ‘the Palestinian Child Day’. This year’s anniversary came as Palestinian children suffer from various deprivations of their basic human rights. Israeli occupation remains the main cause of these violations and the basic source of agony for children and Palestinian society as a whole.

To further cement the reality of child rights violations, The Palestinian Prisoners Society published a report on Thursday which revealed that there are 350 Palestinian children imprisoned in Israeli detention camps and prisons.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society reported that 95% of the child detainees give forced confessions as a result of torture and violations against them; the violations include molestation and threats of rape, while some of the children were tortured in their private parts.

Israel plans to dump 10,000 tons of garbage per month into Abu Shusha quarry near the West Bank city of Nablus, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Several world leaders have denounced the plan, which violates international laws prohibiting an occupying state from making use of occupied territory unless it benefits the local population. Environmental experts say that the dumping could pollute one of the largest Palestinian water sources. Despite not having received government approvoal yet, trucks and bulldozers have already started covering the quarry’s floor with brown soil in preparation for dumping.

Jad Ishakk, director of Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), comments on the effects of this intended dumping site….


On Friday, the Birzeit University Environmental Health Center reported test results that revealed that the poison found in Palestinian grazing pastures in the southern Hebron hills is banned by the World Health Organization. The villagers suspect that Israeli settlers from the Havat Maon settlement near the Palestinian village of Tuwani intentionally spread poison-infused to kill the sheep owned by local Palestinian families. Seventeen sheep in Tuwani have died and 78 have become very sick since the poison was discovered more than two weeks ago.

U.S. President George Bush is likely to refrain from bringing up “thorny” issues when he meets Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his Texas ranch next week, because he prefers to offer Sharon a show of support in the run-up to the Gaza pullout. Bush’s priority is the joint Israeli-Palestinian efforts needed to make disengagement a success, and is expected to ignore some of the on-the-ground priorities of Palestinians like recent Israeli plans to expand settlements or its failure to evacuate unauthorized settlers’ outposts.

Bush is expected to reiterate commitment to the three-stage road map program, in agreement with Sharon’s demands. He is also expected to stand by his earlier statement that any final-status agreement will have to take into account the realities on the ground, especially the existence of sizable Israeli populations in the settlement blocs.

Also, Sharon heightened White House concern when he told Israeli lawmakers on Monday that Maale Adumim, an Israeli settlement of 30,000 people, should be linked to Jerusalem. However, Israeli officials also said the government had not opened construction bidding and no building was likely for two years.

Sharon’s sudden emphasis on the Maale Adumim expansion was widely perceived in Israel as an attempt to mollify rightist opponents of his planned pullout from Gaza this summer. He has made it clear that while quitting Gaza, he intends to cement Israeli control over large swathes of West Bank land where the vast majority of 240,000 settlers live.

Palestinians fear the settlement expansion would largely cut off the West Bank, which would form the bulk of a future state, from the eastern Arab part of Jerusalem, which they want as its capital.

Also, On Thursday, The European Union expressed concern over plans by Israel to expand three West Bank settlement blocs, especially the plan to build 3,500 new housing units to link Ma’alee Adumim to Jerusalem. The European Union called on Israel to live up to its obligations to freeze all settlement activity and to dismantle unauthorized settlers’ outposts.

The Geneva-based World Council of Churches has also called on Israel to halt all measures that would prevent Jerusalem becoming a city sharing sovereignty and citizenship between the Jews and a future Palestine. In a letter published on its website, the Council expressed alarm at what it called Israeli actions that would pre-determine the status of the city under any peace accord. These included construction of a wall, which Israel calls a protection barrier, cutting off the whole of eastern Jerusalem from the West Bank, and effectively forcing Palestinians out of the city by threats and a new property law.

For the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC.ORG) in Palestine, this is Sharri Adams.