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This week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC.Org for Thursday January 5, 2006
 
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hospitalized for a massive brain hemorrhage and is currently in a grave condition.  Meanwhile, construction of the wall and expansion of settlements continues in the West Bank and Palestinians continue to resist in different parts of the West Bank.  And Palestinians start their election campaigns amid calls for delay over a Jerusalem dispute.  These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
 
Sharon hospitalized, brain hemorrhage
The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rushed to the hospital unconscious on Wednesday night, suffering a "far-reaching" stroke and a massive brain hemorrhage, Israeli medical sources reported.
 
The 77-year-old Sharon was operated on for several hours before doctors managed to stop the bleeding.
 
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yousef, director of Hadassah University Hospital, to where Sharon was evacuated, said there were vital signs showing "functional and stable" levels, but Sharon’s condition remained grave.
 
Soon after the news about his stroke spread, Sharon’s deputy, Ihud Olmert became acting Prime Minister after the state Attorney General Menachem Mazuz transferred all Sharon’s prime ministerial authority to him.
 
Separation Wall
Eight Palestinian residents suffered bruises and concussions during a protest against the Separation Wall in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, on Friday, after soldiers attacked and clubbed the protestors during their peaceful procession against the Wall. The residents conducted their protests after Israeli bulldozers started to uproot orchards which belongs to the residents of Beit Jala, in order to construct a section of the Separation Wall.
 
Soldiers detained Sami Awad, a Palestinian activist from Bethlehem, known for his peaceful activities against the Separation Wall and activities regarding land defense. He was released hours after his arrest.
 
In a separate incident, Israeli soldiers, backed by 25 armored vehicles, uprooted more than 400 olive trees from orchards belonging to residents of Al-Sikka village, south of the West Bank city of Hebron for the construction of the separation Wall in that area.
 
 
Palestinian Central elections Commission quits
The Central Election Commission, responsible for the upcoming Palestinian Parliamentary elections, has submitted its resignation to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in protest charging that Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei is interfering in the process.
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, for the first time, that Parliamentary elections set for January 25 may be delayed if Israel insists on preventing Jerusalem Palestinians from voting.  The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the main rival to the ruling Fatah party, on the other hand, demands that the PA hold elections as scheduled, saying that the Jerusalem issue is no excuse.
 
728 candidates competing for the 132 seats of the Palestinian Parliament’s upcoming elections have started their electoral campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  So far, they were not allowed to campaign in Jerusalem and a few of them were arrested.
 
The new election law requires that each list must include at least one woman in the first three names, at least one woman in the next four names and at least one woman in each of the five names that follow in the list.
 
Meanwhile, dozens of European Union observers to the Palestinian Parliamentary elections began deploying in Palestinian areas Monday, undeterred by a wave of kidnappings and other violence that has swept through Palestinian streets in recent weeks.
 
Gaza Shelling
The Israeli army admitted that the no go zone in the north and south of the Gaza Strip enforced last week as part of military operation of "Blue Skies" did not reduce the  Palestinian resistance shelling into Israel.
 
In response to dozens of home-made Qassam shells launched not far from the off limits zone, an Israeli air force aircraft fired, on Monday night, several missiles at a Palestinian vehicle in the Jabalia refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip; two residents were killed, and three were injured, one seriously. Three were leaders in Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad and others injured were bystanders.
 
Israeli artillery resumed shelling areas in the north and east of the Gaza Strip. Most of the shelled areas are said to be non-residential areas, east of the Beit Hanoun and Al Shuja’eyya neighborhoods, in the Gaza Strip. In addition, two residents were killed and one injured in the area of Beit Lahia..
 
Settlements
The Israeli High Court of Justice gave, on Sunday, the Israeli government the green light to construct the Separation Wall near Nablus to annex two settlements to Israel.   The court issued an interim injunction in response to a petition submitted seven months ago by the council heads of the West Bank villages near Nablus.
 
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, published documents stating that illegal permits were issued retroactively for a new West Bank settlement expansion project while buildings were being constructed or even completed, near the West Bank village of Bil’in near Ramallah. These documents revealed that the Palestinian private owned lands by Bil’in villagers were sold to Israeli land dealers through forged powers of attorney.
 
The documents are related to a project of new illegal buildings in the Modi’in Illit settlement bloc that includes Mattityaho East
 
Bil’in residents fear that this plan is part of a master plan from 1998 for the Modi’in Illit area, according to which the private land of the village of Bil’in will be annexed to Israel by the year 2020.  Revealing such documents shows that the rampant illegal construction is just the tip of the iceberg in a much graver affair.
 
Abdullah Abu Rahme, member of the land defense committee in the village said the land was illegally sold to Israeli land dealers through forged powers of attorney.
 
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"In the past few days we discovered that some Israeli companies have illegally bought some of the village’s land through forged documents.  Today the Israeli Civil administration admitted this fraud. Therefore, all the houses built in the Modi’in Ilit settlement are illegal."
 
Eight settler families, who took over eight Palestinian stores, at a market in the West Bank city of Hebron, were handed eviction notices by representatives of the Israeli Civil Administration Office. These settlers will be evacuated by January 15.
 
Palestinian young singer, ranked 7 in Arab contest
 
Palestinian young man, Haitham Shomali from the town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem returned to his hometown after he failed to get the required votes in the "Super Star" music contest held in Lebanon.
 
18-year-old Shomali was ranked seventh among 19 contestants from different Arab countries.
 
Shomali has been singing since he was 8 and was encouraged by his relatives and friends to join the contest.
 
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In last year’s contest, Palestinian Ammar Hassan, from the West Bank city of Salfit, was ranked second in the contest which was won by a Libyan singer.
 
 
And that’s just some of the news this week from Occupied Palestine. For up-to-the minute updates you can visit www.imemc.org. From Beit Sahour, I’m Terrina Aguilar.
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