Listen to the audio from the MP3 Player on the right column. || Click here to Download MP3 file 6.78 MBThis Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, in Occupied Palestine.
Demonstrations against the Separation Wall continue, as the Israeli Army resumes home invasions and assassinations in the West Bank. Meanwhile, a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv injures twenty, while closures and travel bans throughout the Northern West Bank intensify.
Tel Aviv bombing
Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack carried out Thursday afternoon in a Tel-Aviv bus station. Twenty people were injured; only the bomber was killed.
This Friday, children in Bethlehem demonstrated against the Wall with their families. The group released colored balloons with slogans against the Wall written on them in Arabic, Hebrew, and English.
And on Sunday, in Bil’in, west of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers attacked a crowd of three hundred Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists who were protesting against the Wall.
Killings arrests and invasions
In the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Israeli soldiers broke into dozens of homes, and then assassinated Thabit Ayada, age 24, leader the military wing of Hamas.
Sunday at dawn, under-cover units of the Israeli army broke into the home of a Palestinian family in the village of Rojeeb, and opened fire on them. The mother and her son were killed, and five more were injured
Early Tuesday morning, the Israeli military bulldozed two houses in the village of Al-Furdeis near Bethlehem and injured five civilians. Later that day, the Israeli military fired rounds of live ammunition at dozens of youth in Al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron. The youth hurled stones back at the soldiers.
On Wednesday morning, Israeli soldiers were back in Hebron. They invaded the nearby town of Sourif, arresting one resident after shooting him. The Israeli military then invaded Jenin. In the clashes that followed, two Palestinian resistance fighters and two Israeli army troops were wounded.
Since the second week of December 2005, the Israeli army has sealed off the northern areas of the West Bank from the rest of the Palestinian territories, caging in the 800,000 residents of Tulkarem, Nablus and Jenin by installing iron gates on the main roads. On January 2, the travel ban was extended to Nablus area residents. Residents affected by the ban have received no information as to the how long the gates will be up. Additionally, at Za’atara checkpoint, a so-called "terminal" for the northern and western West Bank, residents who are identified as northern West Bank residents are being turned away even if they had previously been screened and let through.
Machsom Watch activists have also documented numerous incidents when residents from the northern West Bank were prevented from entering Nablus or warned that once they entered, they would not be allowed to leave.
And now, an update the upcoming Palestinian Legislative Council elections, scheduled for January 25.
Israeli harassment of Palestinian candidates continues. Bassam Al Salhi, Secretary General of the Palestinian People Party and one of the candidates, was detained by Israeli troops for several hours upon his arrival from Jordan to the Gaza Strip.
In East Jerusalem, Israeli policemen stormed in an electoral press conference for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Wednesday, and detained seven candidates.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he is ready for immediate resumption of peace talks with the acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert called for negotiations but only after all Palestinian factions disarm.
Fateh and Hamas movements agreed on Wednesday to honor and protect the Palestinian Legislative elections and their results. But Islamic Jihad called on its supporters to boycott the elections, saying they are based on the Oslo accords, which Islamic Jihad does not recognize.
Sharon’s Plans For Settlement Evacuation Revealed
The Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that before suffering a stroke, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the Israeli National Security Council to weigh four possibilities regarding further evacuations.
The four possibilities were as follows: the evacuation of isolated settlements in the West Bank, the evacuation of an entire settlement region, most likely near Nablus, withdrawal from 88 percent of the West Bank, or withdrawal from 92 percent of the West Bank.
Close friends of Sharon agreed that his operative plan was to negotiate with Palestinians over an interim agreement, under which Israel would evacuate 20 isolated settlement outposts. They also said Sharon would consider evacuating settlements up to the Separation Wall in return for American recognition of this line as Israel’s permanent borders. Under Sharon’s rule, Israel would withdraw to near the Separation Wall line by the end of the decade, turning the Jordan Valley into a security zone.
But Sharon refused to draw the exact borders, and maintained that any Palestinian state would be demilitarized and would not control Israel’s water sources. He also insisted on continued territorial contiguity with Hebron settlement blocs and on control over Jerusalem.
Sharon’s inner circle says said that the current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, plans to evacuate some of the settlements in the West Bank to pressure Palestinians to commit to a gradual diplomatic process that will not end with a permanent peace agreement.
The Yesha Council of settlements attacked acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for ordering the evacuation of 20 illegal outposts in the West Bank, as well as illegal squatters in the Hebron market. The market, which was occupied by eight settler families in Hebron in 2002, will be evacuated by force if settlers refuse to leave voluntarily.
Olmert lost patience after hundreds of young settlers flooded into Hebron and rioted for days, attacking Palestinian residents, their homes, and the Israeli police, and international aid workers, including five Americans. He cancelled a meeting scheduled with the Yesha council and ordered the evacuation. The council called the act a "declaration of war."
Meanwhile, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered a week-long delay in the demolition of the Amouna illegal settlement outpost, in order to give the settlers a "legal period" to appeal the demolition orders. The court also rejected an appeal by the Peace Now organization to destroy the buildings.
And that’s some of the news this week in Occupied Palestine. For up-to-the-minute updates, you can visit www.imemc.org. From Beit Sahour, I’m Terrina Aguilar.