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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC.Org for the week of Friday November 4th, to Thursday November 10th.
As the Separation Wall and new settlements continue to annex Palestinian land, Israel arrests peace activists, and announces the adoption of its long-standing practice of extra-judicial assassination as official everyday policy. These stories and more coming up in this report, stay tuned.
Three blasts rocked the Jordanian capital of Amman on Wednesday night, killing at least 57 people, and wounding hundreds. Al-Qaeda militant group claimed responsibility for the blasts, which occurred in three hotels in Amman.
The first explosion came at 8.50 pm local time in or near the lobby of the Grand Hyatt. The second blast followed shortly afterwards, hitting the wedding hall at the Radisson SAS hotel. These two explosions are believed to have been caused by suicide bombers.
The third explosion, in the nightclub of the Days Inn Hotel, was caused by an explosives-laden vehicle that blew up outside the hotel after failing to cross a police line.
Four Palestinian officials were killed, including Chief of Military Intelligence Major-General Bashir Nafe’a; Director of the Ministry of the Interior Col. Abed Alloun; the commercial attachÃƒÂ© at the Palestinian Embassy in Egypt Jihad Fattouh; and Mos’ab Khourma, former director of the Ministry of Communication.
A Palestinian businessman with Israeli citizenship from Um Al-Fahem was also killed, and the daughter of Syrian filmmaker Mustafa Akkad was wounded.
The Palestinian Authority declared three days of mourning for the victims.
Palestinian, international and Israeli peace activists chained themselves to iron bars of the Separation Wall this Friday, to protest the construction of the Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The Wall is annexing much of the village’s land to Israel.
Israeli troops operating in Bil’in arrested four Israeli activists and clubbed the chained protestors, who responded by chanting anti-occupation slogans. At least 17 Bil’in residents have been arrested recently, in invasions carried out by the Israeli military as reprisals for the protests against the Wall.
The Israeli military also issued orders this week to confiscate 75 acres of land from the village of Kufur Thilith near the West Bank city of Qalqilia. The land will be bulldozed to make way for an additional layer of the Wall near the city, which is already enclosed by the Wall.
Also this week, an Israeli court refrained from deporting four international peace activists, who were arrested when they joined Palestinians in protests against the construction of a new settlement near Hebron in the southern West Bank. The activists are citizens of Scotland, the United States, Canada, and Sweden.
Gabi Lasky, the activists’ lawyer, said the arrest and deportation of activists and is illegal.
The Separation Wall & Settlements
Israeli Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz announced his decision to demolish Amona, an illegal settlement outpost, by the end of January 2006. This outpost was constructed by a group of extremist settlers in the West Bank.
The announcement came in response to a petition submitted by the Israeli Peace Now movement to the Supreme Court demanding the removal of the outpost. However, it includes a provision that the demolition “will only take place if the security situation allows it.”
Meanwhile, Mofaz’s advisor to Settlement Affairs, Ron Shechner, resigned on Wednesday over implications that he had assisted in the construction of unauthorized settlement outposts. Schechner was accused, in an official report, of providing misleading information to American and other donors, who gave money on the condition it would not be used for settlements. Shechner then used their donations to fund outposts in the West Bank, which are illegal under both international and Israeli law.
Former state prosecutor Talia Sasson, who authored the report, also recommended curbing illegal outposts in the West Bank. However, this recommendation was ignored by the government.
The Israeli Security Service (Shin Bet) demanded that the route of the Wall be changed, to place Palestinian village Beit Iksa, near Jerusalem, on the Palestinian side of the Wall. The Israeli Defense Ministry responded by insisting the route of the Wall remain as it is, which will annex the village to Israel. The Defense Ministry is hoping to get the Wall built as quickly as possible, before villagers can petition the High Court against this decision, which might result in suspension of construction.
Calm Renewal & Assassination Policy
Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman is scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip next week, where he will officially invite Palestinian factions to series of talks in Cairo aiming to renew the ceasefire declared by the Palestinian factions in March. The current ceasefire expires at the end of this year.
The Palestinian Authority welcomed the idea, but some factions expressed concerns, saying the ongoing Israeli offensive, including extrajudicial assassinations, and the escalating construction of settlements and the Separation Wall, make a ceasefire difficult to consider.
Also this week, Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, announced that extrajudicial assassination of Palestinian resistance fighters will henceforth be adopted as part of the military’s everyday policy. The assassinations, illegal under international law, were first employed in 2001 as reprisals for suicide bombs, and were received with wide criticism by Palestinian, Israeli, and international communities. However, as Israel has used them with increasing frequency, the initial outrage expressed by the international community has all but disappeared.
Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, a prominent leader of Hamas, said the policy would spell disaster for Israel.
(ZaharÃ‚Â Audio) ‘If this statement is fully implemented and if it going to be met by the Palestinian factions with more resistance, Israel will have to resort to the Arab countries and the United States seeking calm. Therefore, this statement is either a cover up for their defeat or an unwise decision that would cause the Israeli people more tragedies. We have to wait and see which path he is going to take.’
Invasions & Killings
Israeli police killed Sameer Dary, 36, from Al Esawiyya town east of Jerusalem, while he was driving in his car. The police claim he did not adhere to their orders to stop the car.
In the invasion that followed, Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated metal bullets at residents of the town, causing several injuries.
In another incident, Akram Abu Ghadyeen, 22, from Gaza, was killed by Israeli soldiers, on Thursday morning, near Al Boreij refugee camp. The army claimed Ghaydeen was trying to plant an explosive device south of Karni Crossing Point.
In Nablus, Israeli troops killed 15-year-old Mohammad Abu Salha and wounded five others when they invaded the city on Tuesday. The army said it was looking for wanted Palestinians.
An Israeli army officer had been wounded earlier that day when a roadside explosive detonated near a military jeep operating in Nablus.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli troops invaded Al Far’a refugee camp, near Nablus, and fired rounds of live ammunition, seriously wounding an Islamic operative, identified as Samer Al Ghoul.
Cross cultural Organs transplantation
At least six Israelis will use the vital organs of Ahmed al-Khatib, 12 years old, from Jenin, who was killed last week by the Israeli army in the West Bank city of Jenin, when the troops mistook his plastic gun for a real one. Ahmed’s family donated the organs of their son ‘for the sake of peace between peoples.’
Also this week, British peace activist Anne Wix donated her kidney to 3-year-old Palestinian girl, Lina Timaa, from the village of Masha near Salfit. Timaa had suffered renal failure in infancy when her family was prevented from reaching the hospital to treat a case of severe diarrhea, due to an Israeli blockade on Ramallah.
Wix came to Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement and participated in a protest camp in Mas’ha against the construction of the Wall, which is where she met and befriended the parents of Lina Timaa.
And that’s some of the news this week in Occupied Palestine. This service is brought to you by the International Middle East Media Center, IMEMC.ORG. From Beit Sahour, this is Triena Egular.