This Week in Palestine – April Week 4

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For the period of 22 – 28 April 2005

This week in Palestine – a service of the International Middle East Media Center, IMEMC.org – for the week of Friday, April 22 to Thursday April 28, 2005.

As Israelis celebrated the Jewish holiday of Passover this week, the Israeli military imposed a tight closure over the West Bank and Gaza, preventing Palestinians from reaching their homes and businesses with roadblocks and checkpoints. The Israeli military invaded Palestinian communities in Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarem, Jenin and Bethlehem, and Israeli settlers staged several attacks on Palestinian civilians.

Monday morning, Israeli soldiers detained and interrogated students and staff of Hebron University in the southern West Bank. The WAFA news agency reported that soldiers erected a military checkpoint at the entrance of the university and on several roads leading to it. Soldiers forced dozens of university students and teachers against the wall for more than three hours before releasing them.

Monday night, a Palestinian taxi driver and an Israeli soldier were killed at a movable roadblock near Hebron. Initial Israeli reports said Palestinian driver Iyad Dwek ran over Sgt. Tsiki Eyal when he failed to stop at the checkpoint. Troops opened fire at Dwek’s car, hitting him seven times and hitting Sgt Eyal in the head with a single shot. The family of Dwek claims that Eyal was killed by a soldier on the scene and not by the driver of the car.

<Actuality>

Palestinian resistance groups fired a mortar shell at Kush Katif settlement in Gaza, slightly wounding an Israeli soldier Wednesday. The attack briefly disrupted a settler rally protesting this summer’s planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers inaugurated a new five-story block of housing units in the Tel Rumeida settlement in the old city of Hebron. At the opening ceremony Tuesday, settlers and their supporters vowed to continue their battle to colonize the Palestinian territories. Israeli parliament speaker Reuven Rivlin said the opening of new settlements in Hebron should be an inspiration to settlers who face removal from the Gaza Strip later this year.

An elderly man was seriously injured by a group of settlers from Alon Moreh settlement near Nablus. Seventy-year-old Aziz Hanani said he was attacked by five settlers who stole his cane and beat him with it for twenty minutes, causing serious injuries to his body and head.

Thursday, a group of Israeli settlers from Efrat settlement, south of Bethlehem, attacked dozens of Palestinians working in their farmlands. A local source reported that the settlers erected an outpost in Ein Qassis area and forcibly took control of Palestinian lands by firing at residents and threatening to kill them.

Arab Israeli Parliament member Mohammed Barakeh was lightly hurt Thursday by a stun grenade thrown by Israeli police officers at an anti-wall protest in the village of Bil’in, near Ramallah. Bil’in has been the site of daily anti-wall demonstrations organized by Palestinians and Israeli peace activists. Among the Palestinian protestors Thursday were former Palestinian Authority minister Kedura Fares and former presidential candidate Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.

Israel continued to work on the controversial construction of 3,500 new housing units in the West Bank settlement Ma’ale Adumim, despite Israeli Housing Minister Isaac Herzog’s statement that building in the area is not included in the ministry’s plan for 2005. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Herzog’s aides said the minister was surprised by the construction and asked the ministry’s Jerusalem branch head to investigate the project.

Hassan Ayoub of the Palestinian National Office of Land Defense and Settlement Resistance says that such statements from the Housing Ministry are deceptive because construction continues with full approval of the Israeli government.

<Actuality>

Last Tuesday the Council of the European Union affirmed its support for an independent viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. The Council expressed concern over increased settlement expansion in the West Bank and continuing construction of the separation Wall.

Sweeping reforms in the Palestinian Authority continued this week as President Mahmoud Abbas appointed a new chief of Preventive Security on Tuesday. Rashid Abu Shbak is one of the young generation of leaders in Abbas’ ruling Fatah movement. Abbas also consolidated nine branches of the security apparatus into three and signed off on the forced retirement of more than one thousand security officers.

Fakhri Shakurah head of the Interior and Security Affairs Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council said that reforming security forces is a priority for the Council and a demand of the Palestinian people.

<Actuality>

The Palestinian border authority decided Tuesday to close the Rafah terminal in the Gaza Strip in protest of Israel’s use of an X-ray machine to examine all Palestinians using the crossing. Earlier this month, the Palestinian health ministry called on the World Health Organization to send experts to check the machine, warning that it emits harmful radiations that risk the lives of those who pass through it.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society reported this week that the number of sick detainees in Israeli prisons is now at 950 and gradually increasing. The report stated that Israeli prison administration is barring detainees from obtaining necessary treatment and medication.

For the International Middle East Media Center, I’m Marcie Garrett in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

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