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This week in Palestine- A service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC.Org- for the week of August 12 to 18, 2005
As Israel began its pullout from the Gaza Strip settlements, anti-pullout right wing activists conducted a number of protests inside and outside the settlements.
Israeli extremist Asher Weisgan, a 40-year-old driver from Shvut Rahel settlement expressed his rejection to the disengagement by killing four Palestinians and seriously wounding two others in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon, when he opened fire on a group of Palestinian workers in the industrial zone of the settlement of Shiloh, east of Jerusalem. One of the residents is still in critical condition. This is the second attack against Palestinians by Israeli gunmen in less than two weeks. Weisgan told investigators following the incident that he does not regret killing the four Palestinian workers.
On Sunday, a group of Israeli settlers voluntarily began to leave the settlements of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army closed off the Kissufim border crossing in bid to begin the slated pullout plan from the Strip. Five out of twenty one settlements have been evacuated in the first day. Earlier, the Israeli army distributed eviction orders to the settlers who refused to voluntarily leave.
Approximately five thousand pullout foes arrived to the Gaza Strip in an attempt to foil the disengagement. About 70 percent of Gaza settlers have been removed from the Strip so far, meaning that the evacuation of Jewish residents from the area could end by Monday or Tuesday next week, Police and Disengagement Administration officials say.
The first step on the ground after sealing off the Strip was declaring the beginning of the implementation of the disengagement plan in the early hours of Monday morning. Notices were given to the settlers, allowing them 48 hours to evict the settlements.
Israeli soldiers attacked a peaceful protest against the Separation Wall in Bil’in Village, west of Ramallah. Twenty five Israeli activists and nine internationals were arrested. Eight protestors were injured, including one international, who was injured in the head. She was transferred to a hospital in Ramallah in a Red Crescent ambulance.
In Azzoun village, east of Qalqilia, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and rounds of live ammunition at hundreds of residents who protested in their orchards against an Israeli military order to annex the land for the construction of a wall around the Ariel block. Eight residents were injured, one critically, a medical source in Qalqilia reported. The injured resident was transferred to the Specialized Hospital in Nablus.
On Saturday morning, Israeli soldiers arrested eight residents of al-Shiokh village, near the West Bank city of Hebron. A local source in Hebron reported that soldiers driving armored vehicles and jeeps invaded the village, broke into dozens of homes and conducted searches after forcing out the residents. Damage was reported to the furniture of the attacked homes.
On Monday afternoon, Israeli soldiers invaded the villages of Atteel, Dir al-Ghsoun, and Shweika area, North of Tulkarem. Six residents were arrested, including a 14 year old child. A local source in Tulkarem reported that soldiers first used loud speakers to call the residents out of their homes, after which they fired rounds of live ammunition in the air and forcibly broke into the homes.
A five-million-strong US church has rebuked Israel for building the wall inside the West Bank, becoming the second major US Protestant denomination to reject policies implemented by the Jewish State. The Presbyterian Church had earlier declared selective divestment from companies involved support the occupation and the construction of the wall. The resolution titled ‘Peace Not Walls’ was adopted on Saturday on a 668-269 vote by members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at their convention in Orlando, Florida, despite pleas from Jews to refrain from the move.
Red Cross is back to Gaza
The ICRC returned to its field activities in the Gaza Strip after a temporary suspension following a shooting at its office in Khan Younis. The organization’s decision to resume fieldwork came after security guarantees regarding its operations in the Gaza Strip were issued by the Palestinian National Authority and others concerned.
Palestinian Parliamentary Elections
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has approved amendments to the PA Basic Law passed last week by the Palestinian Legislative Council. The amended Basic Law, a constitutional document for Palestinian affairs, calls for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held every four years. Abbas has set January 21, 2006 as the date for the second Palestinian parliamentary elections, a decade after the first round of elections in January 1996.
Journalist Kidnapped in Gaza
Palestinian Minister of Interior Nasser Yousef instructed the Palestinian security forces to find and release the French journalist kidnapped in the Gaza Strip Sunday night. The statement issued by the Interior Ministry reported that Mohammad Wadouhi, a French national originally from Algeria, who works for the French TV Channel 3 as an audio technician, was kidnapped by some gunmen.
No Palestinian groups claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The Union of Palestinian Journalists described it as cowardly and irresponsible and contradictory to Palestinian traditions in dealing with guests.
Islamic resistance movement Hamas condemned the act saying it is a criminal act, and the Palestinian Authority must provide protection to foreigners in the Palestinian Territories.
For the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC.ORG) in Beit Sahour, Palestine, this is Dina Awwad.