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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www.IMEMC.org for Thursday, February 10, 2006.
Israel kills sixteen in extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinian resistance fighters. An Israeli and a Palestinian are each nominated for the Noble Peace Prize. And Hamas forms a new government in the face of international pressure. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
Israel Violates Sharm Al-Sheikh Accords 26679 times
Since signing the Sharm Al-Sheikh ceasefire a year ago, Israel has violated the agreement 26679 times, firing live rounds at civilians 2654 times, killing 187, injuring 1277, arresting 4406, and bringing the number of military checkpoints to 4832. Israel, with the help of settlers, also annexed 8633 acres of farmland, and uprooted 203 olive orchards.
An Israeli and a Palestinian Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker social justice organization, has nominated two candidates for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize: Ghassan Andoni, co-founder and former director of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People, and Jeff Halper, director and founder of the "Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions."
Andoni is a physics professor and the director of the Public Relations Office at Birzeit University. He has combined his academic work with peace activism since founding Rapprochement in 1988, yet his peace activities began much earlier. As a college student in Iraq, Andoni dropped out to work in refugee camps in Lebanon during the civil war there. Returning home from Lebanon he was arrested and jailed for two years for his supposed involvement in the military conflict. His Israeli judge refused to believe that he was a hospital worker and sentenced him for alleged membership in the PLO.
Halper is also an academic a professor of Anthropology. "His discipline", says AFSC, "convinced him early on of the importance of trust in human relationships and the need never to treat humans as the ‘other’."
Halper is an American who went to Israel in 1973 after attending rabbinical school and becoming a Vietnam War resister. As an Israeli citizen he has refused to bear arms, even during his military service, and refused to serve in the Occupied Territories. Two of his children have been imprisoned as conscientious objectors.
Palestinians Resist; Court Questions Wall; Olmert Plans Annexation
During a tour of the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel intends to formally annex the settlements in the Jordan Valley.
On Thursday, the Israeli High Court of Justice gave the state three weeks to explain its rejection to change the route of the Separation Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The proposed change would have moved the Wall away from Palestinian farmland.
Abdullah Abu Rahma of the Popular Committee against the Wall, gave his opinion on the court order.
<Abu Rahma Clip>
"It will be good to shift the Wall by 100-200 meters away from the village, but we can not accept this. We demand the entire removal of the Separation Wall and the immediate dismantling of the settlements constructed on the land of the village."
And on Friday, Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists converged in Bil’in again for the weekly protest against the Wall. This week, they protested the racist cartoons in the Danish newspaper. They were met by Israeli military violence, including rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs. Several protesters were injured, and one Israeli peace activist was arrested.
Israel Attacks and Assassinates Palestinians
On Tuesday morning, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank city of Nablus. They assassinated Ahmad Raddad, a senior leader of Al-Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, and injured twelve more. Two Israeli soldiers were also injured.
Nasser Jumaa of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade commented on Israel’s policy of extrajudicial assassination.
<Nasser Jumaa Clip>
"Israel did not stop its policy of targeted killings against the Palestinian resistance fighters, even at times when all the armed wings committed to the calm they declared; Israel continued to target Palestinian resistance fighters. Additionally, Israel escalated its invasions to Palestinian areas which increase friction with the resistance fighters, which causes more killing."
On Wednesday the sixteenth resident of the Gaza Strip died in a four-day Israeli killing spree. That night, Israeli soldiers continued its shelling of Gaza into the next day, killing an unarmed civilian. Thursday at dawn saw a joint military operation against Erez Crossing Point in northern Gaza, by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Popular Resistance Committee. Two Palestinian resistance fighters died. No Israelis were killed or injured. After the attack, the army closed Erez Crossing Point indefinitely
Palestinian Attorney General Investigates PA Corruption
In his audit of the Palestinian Authority, Attorney General Ahmad Al-Mughani has announced $700 million of missing aid money. This controversial declaration came just as the Palestinian Authority sought an urgent aide package of $300 million.
Al-Mughani said the audit of 55 files on corruption is almost complete, including embezzlement, the sale of cement for construction of the Wall, and land sales to Israeli settlement contractors.
On Tuesday, Mr. Mughani sent out 13 subpoenas. So far, six have responded. Twenty-five suspects have also been arrested, some living in the Occupied Territories; some in the Diaspora.
Mughani said a list of names of the involved will be published when and if they are tried and found guilty.
Future Palestinian Government
Two weeks after their electoral victory, Hamas officials traveled to Cairo, where they held the first in a series of meetings in different Arab countries, to attempt to problem-solve regarding the pressure on Palestinians and plan the future government. Hamas leaders met with President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition with outgoing Fatah, but maintained that the position of Prime Minister would go to one of Hamas’ two top leaders, Ismael Haniyya or Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar.
Khaled Masha’al, chair of Hamas’ politburo, outlined the party’s position. Hamas will respect all agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and will accept a "long-term truce" if Israeli troops and settlers withdraw to the Green Line. But the party will also keep its firm stand for Palestinians’ internationally enshrined rights to self-determination, a state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return.
Shin Bet Admits Racial Discrimination
Yuval Diskin, chief of the Shin Bet Israeli Security Forces, was the first to admit that his department is more lenient of Jewish Israeli terror suspects than Palestinians, even those Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Shin Bet, an elite undercover military group, is infamous for is assassins, who have killed hundreds of Palestinians around the world.
And that’s just some of the news this week in Occupied Palestine. With the International Middle East Media Center in Beit Sahour, I’m Terina Aguilar.