Listen to the audio from the MP3 Player on the right column. || Click here to Download MP3 file 8.5 MBThis week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center IMEMC.ORG for Thursday February 23rd 2006

A new Palestinian government is on its way to being formed; The Israeli army staged attacks against the Palestinians in various cities in the West Bank, and increased restrictions on movement for Palestinians, and peaceful protest continued this week against the Separation Wall. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.

Separation Wall

Three West Bank villages held protests this week against the Separation Wall. They were joined by international and Israeli peace activists and, as usual, the Israeli army attacked the protesters with teargas bombs and rubber coated bullets

In Bil’in, after Friday’s weekly protest, the Israeli army invaded the village, firing rubber bullets and tear gas. A number of Bil’in residents, including those who were inside their homes, required medical treatment after inhaling gas and three people required medical treatment after being hit by rubber bullets.

Bil’in also hosted a two-day conference, organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall and supported by a number of other organizations, and attended by hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international supporters.

Also on Friday, in Aboud village, approximately 300 residents, Israeli and international peace activists protested against the Wall. Soldiers attacked the procession, and several residents and peace activists were injured.

In Beit Sera village, west of Ramallah, at least ten Palestinian and Israeli peace activists were injured on Thursday after Israeli soldiers attacked a peaceful protest and fired rubber coated bullets. The soldiers were uprooting orchards in order to construct the Wall in a Palestinian area between Beit Sera and Maccabim settlement, located inside the Green Line.

New Palestinian Government

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, asked the Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyya to form the new Palestinian government headed by Hamas. Abbas urged Hamas to recognize the past peace deals with , and to seek the Palestinian statehood through "nonviolent means".

Hamas held a number of meetings with various Palestinian parliamentary blocs, and primarily the Fatah bloc, in a bid to form a coalition government. With the Peoples Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Party announcing on Monday that they would consider the possibility of joining a Hamas-led Palestinian government, and the Fateh party leadership mulling the possibility of a coalition with Hamas, it appears that the Hamas party is set to do what seemed impossible: merge the various Palestinian factions in a united front. Even the resistance movement Islamic Jihad, whose military-wing leader was assassinated by on Sunday, begrudgingly offered their support to the Hamas leadership

Invasions, Killings, and arrests

The West Bank city of Nablus and Balata refugee camp have been taking the brunt of the attacks by Israeli forces, who have conducted a large-scale military offensive on the city, in which five people, including two children, were killed and dozens others were wounded.

Thursday morning Israeli forces backed by bulldozers, military jeeps and armored personal carriers invaded Nablus and Balata Camp, while Apache helicopters circled overhead. Five residents were killed, including three resistance fighters, after shelling by apache gun ships. Dozens were critically injured.

Clair, an international volunteer, was in Balata refugee camp during the invasion.


Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday morning, the villages of Al Yamoun and Qabatia, near Jenin, and arrested two members of Islamic Jihad. The two unidentified members, were arrested after the soldiers broke into and searched dozens of homes, and detained and interrogated residents. Soldiers closed the entrances of the two villages and barred the residents from entering or leaving.

In a separate invasion to the West Bank city of Tulkarem, soldiers broke into several houses, including the home of a Hamas activist, and searched them; no arrests were reported. Also, soldiers invaded Jensafut village, near Tulkarem, and demolished one house and some barracks. The Army claims that the demolished buildings were illegally constructed.


The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, reported that is constructing the Separation Wall in the West Bank under the guise of security, and that the routing of the Wall is made to enable Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. The report said that the fact that the Separation Wall cuts into the West Bank, and isolates the residents from each other and from their orchards, was and remains the main cause of human rights violations of Palestinians living near the Wall.

The B’Tselem report challenges the Israeli allegations that the Wall route is based solely on "security considerations" and offers proof that in many cases the primary reasons for choosing the route of the Wall were to enable settlement expansion and the establishment of new settlements. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the expansion plans of four settlements and the connection between the plans and the route of the Separation Wall and presents the principal findings in eight other cases in which settlement expansion plans significantly affected the Wall’s route.

Israeli only checkpoints

Israeli soldiers began last week implementing a military order that bars Palestinians with permits to enter from entering via the roads "designated only for Israelis". The order not only bars the Palestinian residents from crossing these checkpoints, but also forbids Israelis from transporting Palestinian residents. The Palestinians must cross through one of the 11 crossing points designated for them

Jad Issac director of the Applied research Institute of Jerusalem, said that these restrictions amount to geographical apartheid and attempt to draw ‘s final borders



With the recent announcement by the Church of England that they would divest from companies which profit from ‘s occupation, as well as a similar divestment announcement by an Architect’s Association in , the ‘Boycott ‘ campaign appears to be gaining ground. Based on a similar ‘divestment/boycott’ campaign against the apartheid regime of in the 1980s, the focus of the boycott is to put pressure on companies that do business with to divest until changes its policies.

The Anglican Church will divest the 200 million pounds it currently has invested in Caterpillar Company, whose bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes. The Israeli practice of demolishing Palestinian homes has rendered at least 27,000 Palestinians homeless over the last five years, according to human rights organizations.

Similarly, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, a group including Britain’s most prominent architects, is calling for an economic boycott of Israel’s construction industry to protest the building of Israeli settlements and the Separation Wall.

Settlers Attacks

Israeli settlers from the Karneh Shemron settlement have been carrying out repeated attacks against a Palestinian family in Kufr Laqif village, near Qalqilia in the West Bank. The eleven members of Mahmoud Awad’s family face the constant threat of eviction because their house lies on the outskirts of the village, in an area were the settlers plan to expand Karneh Shemron settlement. The main Qalqilia-Nablus road, designated as an Israeli-only road, separates the Awad family from Kufr Laqif village.

Awad says the settlers frequently attack his house with rocks and Molotov cocktails in an attempt to frighten the family into leaving. Last Monday, Awad brought workers from the Qalqilia municipality to reconnect the electricity to his house. Israeli soldiers detained him and the workers for several hours. Upon releasing the men, soldiers told them not to return to the area, claiming it was a "closed military zone".


And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For up-to-date reports and commentary, go to From Beit Sahour, I’m Terrina Aguilar