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This week in Palestine- a service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC. Org for the week of Friday, July29 to Thursday, August 4, 2005

Four Arab residents of Israel were killed on Thursday, and at least twelve others were injured, three critically, when an Israeli soldier open fired aboard a bus in the Druze town of Shfa-Amr in northern Israel. The victims included two girls, an elderly man, and the bus driver. The attacker, Eden Natan-Zada, a19-year-old who recently moved to the West Bank settlement of Tapoah, was killed by by-standers after the attack. He was a member of the outlawed Kach Jewish terrorist movement.

The Gaza Pullout

The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said that it will cooperate with the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinian factions in order to turn the Gaza withdrawal into a national liberation that will serve as the initial point of liberation for the rest of the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, a top Islamic Jihad official said his movement does not rule out future recognition of the state of Israel. He also said the resistance organization would stop firing homemade shells at Israeli settlements in and near the Gaza Strip until after the Israeli disengagement from the area, to ensure a peaceful pullout. Israel has threatened to launch a vast offensive in Gaza Strip if attacks are carried out during the pullout of troops and settlers.

Khader Adnan spokesman of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank told IMEMC that halting shells is tactic and is related to Israel’s cease of attacks against Palestinians.

(Actuality)

‘Halting the shelling aims at ending attacks against our people, and is related to Israel’s cease of aggression, if the situation on the ground is calm in Palestine, our brigades will stop the shelling but will resume if Israel attacks again’.

Separation Wall

Palestinians in some West Bank villages continued their peaceful protests against the Separation Wall Israel is now building deep inside the West Bank, grabbing more Palestinian land and causing the uprooting of more olive trees.

Last Friday, Israeli soldiers attacked a peaceful protest in the West Bank village of Bil’in, near Ramallah, with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. The soldiers detained three Israelis and one international. Five Palestinians were injured – four by rubber-coated bullets, one by a teargas canister.

Bil’in, which stands to lose half its agricultural land because of the Wall, has waged a campaign of active but non-violent protest for months. On July 17, during an earlier peaceful demonstration, the Israelis arrested Abdullah Abu-Rahme, the leader of the village’s popular committee and a key organizer of the resistance campaign. After two weeks in jail, he had a court hearing on Monday. With about 50 demonstrators outside demanding his release, the judge finally agreed to let him go on bail, on condition that he will stop demonstrating against the wall.

Also on Monday, Palestinians from the village of Kefel Haris, near the West Bank city of Salfit, were joined by foreign and Israeli activists for another demonstration against the Wall. They were marching towards a roadblock that cuts off traffic to the entrance of their village, when they were approached by Israeli soldiers, The soldiers then fired tear gas canisters directly at the crowd, according to Nasfat Khofash, coordinator of the Palestinian Committee Against the Wall in the Salfit area.

Sarah, one of the internationals present at the rally, described what happened in the protest.

(Actuality)

Settlements

While preparing the settlements of Gaza Strip to be evacuated in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government is moving to strengthen its hold in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, especially by developing new settlements surrounding Jerusalem. On Thursday Dov Weissglass, senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said that with American blessing, Israel will be able to keep 180,000 settlers out of the 240,000 currently residing in the West Bank, not counting more than 200,000 in the Jerusalem area. Weissglass’s statement came after he met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington last Monday.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Housing Ministry on Thursday issued requests for bids for the construction of 72 new housing units in the settlement of Betar Ilit, which is located between Jerusalem and the Etzion bloc of settlements in the West Bank. So far this year, the ministry has requested bids for the building of a total of 235 housing units in settlements, the majority of which are for locations in in the ‘settlement blocs’ near metropolitan Jerusalem and northern West Bank.

In addition, Dan Naveh, Israeli Health Minister and a Likud member of the Knesset, or Israeli Parliament, submitted a proposal to the Knesset to construct a new Israeli settlement in the area between east Jerusalem and the Ma’ale Adumim settlement further east of the city. This proposal comes after the Israeli government already approved the construction of 3,500 homes for settlers in the same area.

Israeli officials, however, toned down their public statements regarding settlement construction after the American administration said that it rejects the new plan to link the Ma’ale Adumim settlement with east Jerusalem, on the grounds that the project conflicts with the “Road Map” peace plan. The Israeli development plan completely would eliminate any geographical contiguity between the northern and southern areas of the West Bank, in addition to isolating the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Incidents

With less than two weeks remaining before the scheduled Israeli pullout from the West Bank, several violent incidents took place in the area during the week, suggesting that the Palestinian Authority does not have full control there.

On Friday an Australian and a Palestinian working for the United Nations were taken hostage by masked gunmen in Gaza City and held for several hours before being released. Responsibility for the abductions was claimed by relatives of a colonel in the Palestinian police intelligence service, who had been kidnapped the day before.

Later in the week explosions went off at the Gaza City homes of two top Palestinian Authority officials, the Attorney General and the Chief Justice. And armed fighters broke into the Palestinian Legislative Council building and the Ministry of Detainees in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, to demand that jobs from the Palestinian Authority.

Anti Pullout Rally

Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli rightists gathered in towns close to the occupied Gaza Strip for another huge rally protesting Sharon’s disengagement plan, but they suspended a planned march to the Gaza settlements after police and soldiers blocked their path on Thursday.

Palestinian Parliamentary elections

Palestinian parliamentary elections will be held in late January 2006, Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Sha’ath said Sunday. Sha’ath said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would soon issue a Presidential decree setting the exact date for the election. The elections were originally set for July 17 of this year, but in June Abbas issued an official decree postponing them. Although he cited technical reasons for the delay, it is widely believed that his motive is to consolidate security and government reforms before facing the voters, to reduce the chances of a victory by the Islamic resistance movement Hamas.

Settlers’Acts

Four Palestinian residents were injured on Saturday in Yatta village, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, after being attacked by an extremist settlers group. A local source in the village reported that settlers of Maoun settlement attacked dozens of farmers while thy were working at their orchards. Four farmers were injured. The settlers also uprooted 80 olive trees near the settlement after forcing the residents off their lands.

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