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This week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC.ORG, for the week of Friday October 14th to Thursday October 20th.
Israel escalates its confiscation of Palestinian land, expanding existing settlements and creating new ones, and continuing its blanket demolition of Palestinian farmlands to make way for the Separation Wall and settler roads.  Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas campaigns the world’s leaders to implement the Road Map.  And, the Israeli military, aided by its paramilitary, the settlers, stage up their attacks against Palestinians, while Palestinians grapple with ongoing internal strife as Palestinian factions exchange insults and resignations.  All this and more, coming up.  Stay tuned.
Abbas – Bush Meeting and the world tour
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is on the road, promoting the Road Map, which was implemented in June of 2004, only to be eclipsed by the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral Disengagement Plan.  Under the cover of the media circus around Sharon’s talk of Disengagement, the Israeli military then resumed its assault on Palestinian lives and property.
With the Disengagement now complete, but with no end in sight to the ongoing brutality, that has defined the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories of Gaza and the West Bank, Abbas is calling for a revival of the long forgotten Road Map.
His last stop was in Washington this week with U.S. President George W. Bush, who authored the failed Road Map.  Abbas stressed to Bush the importance of ensuring peace and freedom for the Palestinian people as outlined in the Road Map.  Bush responded by saying Abbas should fight and disarm Palestinian resistance groups as demanded by the US and Israel.
Abbas replied by saying that the ongoing Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was hindering movement towards democracy.  In a press conference afterwards, he said, ‘We were promised peace, independence and freedom, and I hope we will achieve this.’
Abbas’ visit to the U.S. followed similar visits to Jordan, Egypt, France, and Spain.
Separation Wall
The Israeli High Court of Justice has approved the resumption of construction of the Separation Wall around Jerusalem, putting an end to a temporary freeze of construction.  The court had previously ruled to freeze construction, but voted unanimously to reverse its ruling when the state filed a petition saying the Wall was a (quote) “urgent security need.”
The particular section of the Wall in question will cut through the neighborhood of Dahiat Al-Bareed, demolishing hundreds of homes in its path, isolating some 55 thousand Palestinians from Jerusalem, and annexing 30 thousand settlers who live on land originally confiscated from Palestinians, to Israel.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Jerusalem, in the village of Bil’in near Ramallah, the Israeli army sent an undercover unit into the village’s weekly protest last Friday.  Disguised in Palestinian clothes, the undercover unit then arrested four international peace activists and injured three Palestinian villagers.
Israeli soldiers had surrounded Bil’in early Friday morning, erecting three military checkpoints to prevent internationals and residents of neighboring villages from joining the protest.
Settlers’ Acts and land grab
Settlers again attacked Palestinians in the West Bank, as always with the support of the Israeli military, which turned a blind eye.
A group of settlers from Ma’oun, an outpost south of Hebron, vandalized homes and stores in the village of At-Tuwani.  The outpost is illegal according to Israeli and international law but has been tolerated by the Israeli military since it was founded several months ago.
Settlers near Nablus set fire to Palestinian farmlands that were planted with seeds, as well as olive and almond trees.  This represents a crippling loss to the owners of the farms, who depend on them as their only source of livelihood. 
In addition, dozens of settlers from the Alon Moreh settlement set fire to 45 acres of olive orchards in Ash-Shifa.  Israeli soldiers, who are charged with protecting Palestinians from settler attacks, were present in the area.  However, they simply watched as the fields burned.  Dozens of villagers rushed to the area to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring lands.
And to conclude this week’s report on settlement activity, the Israeli military recently decided to annex 250 acres of Palestinian olive orchards to the settlement of Rotem, near Jenin.  And in the nearby settlement of Baskot, bulldozers and other heavy machines were seen on Sunday, demolishing everything in their path, to prepare the ground for new settlement houses.  Meanwhile, settlers of Maskot, another adjacent settlement, started to install new structures, in an attempt to expand the settlement by annexing huge areas of Palestinian lands.
Special Roads for the Settlers in the West Bank
Israeli sources have unveiled their ‘Road Separation Plan.’  In the plan, the Israeli government outlines a system to complete the segregation of roads in the West Bank.  New settler-only roads will be built, crisscrossing over Palestinian land to connect settlements.  New underground roads, tunnels, and subways, will be built for Palestinians to use while traveling between villages, towns and cities.  The underground roads, as well as the Separation Wall, will together ensure that Palestinians remain invisible to settlers and to the media.  The new road system is being put in place to guarantee continued segregation even in the case of a future disengagement from the West Bank.
West Bank Shooting
On Friday morning, Israeli troops shot dead 16-year-old Akram Za’loul from the village of Hussan near Bethlehem.
Army claims the boy hurled a cocktail bomb at them before they shot him.
Last week, two settlers were killed and at least three more injured on Sunday, when armed Palestinians opened fire on a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion settlement near Hebron.  Beit Al Maqdis Brigades, one of several new, armed Palestinian groups, claimed responsibility for the shooting.  A third settler was killed in another drive-by shooting near Eli settlement, near Nablus.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz responded immediately with a plan to attack Palestinian cities, saying that (quote) “the Palestinians will feel the presence of the army among them.”  And, Israel declared a halt of all contact with the Palestinian Authority.
Prior to the attacks on settlers, Israeli soldiers had shot and killed Nihad Abu Ghanim, age 27, a top Islamic Jihad leader, in Jenin.
Fatah Members’  Resignation
At least 240 members of ruling Fatah party in Rafah area in the Gaza Strip tendered their collective resignation, saying they can no longer tolerate the governmental corruption.  They say their resignation will be followed by a series of protests against corrupt officials.
Meanwhile, a newly formed Palestinian militia, calling itself “The Knights of Tempest,’ abducted two men in the south of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, after accusing them of collaborating with Israeli security departments.  Tawfiq Abu Khousa, the Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesperson, condemned the kidnapping and pledged to improve security.
Jabalia Explosion
Hamas officials denied allegations from the PA that the movement had claimed responsibility for what was described as a “mysterious explosion” in Jabalia refugee camp, near Gaza City one month ago.  The bomb killed 22 Palestinians injured dozens, during a Hamas rally.
The Palestinian Ministry of Interior and National Security claimed Hamas had admitted responsibly for the Jabalia explosion and said it would “compensate” the families victims.  Hamas leader Mushier Al Masri accused the interior ministry of “spreading rumors” and instigating a civil war.
Thanks to Manar Jibrin, Lora Gordon, Ghassan Bannoura, Dina Awwad and George Rishmawi for their efforts in producing this report.