Listen to to the audio from the MP3 Player on the right column. || Click here to Download MP3 file 7.0 MB
This week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC.Org for the week of Friday September 2nd to Thursday September 8th
The Israeli government focused its attention on the West Bank this week, declaring the expansion of West Bank settlement blocs a substitute for the evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Israeli army was instructed to act ruthlessly towards Palestinians at the checkpoints and the Palestinian Authority is facing an escalating crisis in the Gaza Strip.
On Friday, residents and peace activists gathered in BilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢in village, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, to carry out their weekly peaceful protest against the Wall at the construction site near the village. Before the protest even began, the Israeli army invaded the village, attacked the residents, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at dozens of residents and international peace activists.
A source in the village said that several residents responded to the armyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attack on the village by hurling stones at the soldiers. Four people were injured and three peace activists were arrested in the village.
Linking MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim settlement with Jerusalem
After announcing plans to build a huge new settlement that will link Jerusalem to the settlement of MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim, Israel said that it has given the American administration a commitment not to build between Jerusalem and MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim at this time. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert said on Thursday that the project had been put on hold indefinitely.
Israel revealed that plans to link the settlement of MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim to Jerusalem were proposed ten years ago. The project, called E1, would involve the construction of 3500 housing units, the annexation of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land, and the prevention of geographical contiguity between the Palestinian areas.
Israeli Minister of Education Limor Livnat said on Tuesday that Israel should Ã¢â‚¬Å“grab the window of opportunityÃ¢â‚¬Â afforded by disengagement to expand the West Bank settlement blocs. LivnatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statements came after Israeli government and security sources denied reports in the Israeli media that the government had approved the construction of 3000 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
Livnat described the evacuation of 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“window of opportunityÃ¢â‚¬Â that should enable Israel to build in and around the West Bank settlement blocs, especially the E1 project connecting MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim settlement to Jerusalem.
Livnat also said that US president George W. Bush has declared that Israel can expect to keep the West Bank settlement blocs under any future peace deal.
Mofaz instructs soldiers to have no pity on the checkpoints
Despite Israel’s claims that it intends to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, Israeli Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz instructed his soldiers on Tuesday that they should have no pity for Palestinians at the road blocks and checkpoints in the West Bank. He insisted that they conduct rigorous searches of Palestinian vehicles. Mofaz stated that this procedure is a measure to ensure the security of Israelis and indicated that Israel will focus its military efforts on the West Bank, especially after the pullout from the Gaza Strip.
After receiving these orders from Mofaz, Israeli soldiers forced several residents to undress after stopping them at a military checkpoint on Tuesday evening. The incident took place at a checkpoint near Doutan military camp, east of Arraba village near Jenin. The residents were forced to wear plastic bags and old pieces of clothing that had been discarded in the area.
A local source reported that soldiers stopped dozens of vehicles, especially taxis, and searched them while interrogating the passengers. The army declared the area a closed military zone and installed five roadblocks. Dozens of residents had to walk back home through fields and over hills after the army barred taxis and cars from passing.
Five killed in Tulkarem
A probe conducted by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, BÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Tselem, and the Israeli online daily Haaretz revealed new information about the five Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army in the Tulkarem refugee camp on August 24. The probe revealed that the five were not fighters, but rather unarmed civilians. This contradicts the Israeli army’s version of the story.
The probe also revealed that the three teenagers were not members of any resistance group, that all of the victims were unarmed, and that they were shot at close range while they were in a largely-enclosed courtyard.
After receiving pressure to respond, the Israeli army issued a statement saying that the operation carried out by the Duvdivan special unit was an arrest operation. The statement stopped short of saying that the victims were unarmed civilians.
On Tuesday night, an Israeli tank fired live ammunition at a group of Palestinian children and youth gathered near the evacuated settlement of Moragh. 18 year old Nimir Al SaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢dooni was killed and three others were injured. In response to the killing of Al-SaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢dooni, Palestinian resistance fired a homemade Qassam shell which landed in the western Negev. No injuries were reported.
Five Palestinian civilians were killed and at least 35 were injured in a blast which rocked a home in Al Shijaeaya neighborhood east of Gaza city, a Palestinian medical source at Al Shifa Hospital reported on Monday evening. A Palestinian security source reported that the explosion might have been caused by an explosive charge which accidentally detonated while being prepared. The initial explosion caused a fire, which reached gas canisters and ignited a series of other explosions.
The Israeli army denied any connection to the blast. However, eyewitnesses said there was an Israeli helicopter hovering above the area a few hours before the blast occurred.
Assassination of Mussa Arafat
The former chief of Palestinian Military Intelligence, Mussa Arafat, was killed and his son was kidnapped when dozens of unknown gunmen stormed his house in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Palestinian sources reported.
Mussa Arafat, a cousin of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, was head of military intelligence and played a key role in directing Palestinian security forces over the past ten years. He was forced to retire last March upon orders from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, before he was promoted to head the National Security Forces. Following his retirement, Arafat served as a military advisor to Abbas.
In his first response to the assassination, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and the commanders of Palestinian security forces.
Arafat survived an assassination attempt last year when a car exploded near his house as he was returning from his office in Gaza City. The Salah Ed-Din Brigade of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for killing Mousa Arafat and abducting his son, Manhal, who was later released.
For the international Middle East media center imemc.org in Beit Sahour Palestine this is Andy Clarno and Dinna Awad.