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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,, for Thursday, March, 2, 2006.
A critical week, as the Wall closes around Bethlehem and the army begins its officially sanctioned plan to forcefully evacuate 3000 residents out of their homes. A top resistance leader is killed. Eyewitnesses say they saw an Israeli warplane drop the bomb, but Israel denies the charges.  And an Israeli demonstrator is in critical condition after being shot in the eye with a rubber bullet. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
Separation Wall
In Hebron
The Israeli army has begun to implement a plan to forcefully evacuate 3000 residents from their villages. The residents live just south of the West Bank city of Hebron, in a 20,000-acre area that Israel plans to annex.
The plan follows military orders issued two months ago to construct a 32-kilometer wall along settlement roads. The wall will stretch from the Carmiel settlement, which was constructed on Palestinian lands east of Yatta, to the Wadi Al Khaleel area just south of the village of Al Sammoa’ village.
The 3000 residents scheduled to be forced out of their homes will be transferred to an area north of the Separation Wall, where they will be sandwiched between the wall along the settlement road and the larger Separation Wall.
In Bethlehem
Within days, the Wall separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem will be completed, cutting the cities off from one another, surrounding Rachel’s Tomb, and severing the connection between the region’s most holy Christian sites. This, following the Israeli Supreme Court’s rejection of an appeal by 18 Palestinian families and the municipalities of Beit Jala and Bethlehem to reroute the Wall away from the Christian holy sites.
The completed Wall is also the harbinger of a new ‘fact on the ground’ – a new illegal Jewish settlement. Four hundred new apartments will house some of Israel’s most extremist settlers, scheduled to move in as soon as the Wall is completed. The settlement will fall within Jerusalem’s borders, in direct violation of the Oslo accords.
Demonstrations in favor of land integrity attacked by Israeli army
But the peaceful protests against the Separation Wall continue to grow. On Sunday, the village of Anata, just north of Jerusalem, joined in the movement with a protest at the Wall. Israeli police attacked the villagers with rubber-coated bullets, injuring two.
At another anti-Wall demonstration in the village of Beit Sira near Ramallah, seven Palestinians and one Israeli supporter were injured when Israeli forces attacked the hundreds of nonviolent demonstrators with tear gas and sound bombs.
Several more were injured by rubber-coated bullets in the weekly anti-Wall protest in the village of Bil’in. One Israeli supporter was hospitalized after being shot in the left eye with a rubber bullet. His wounds are described as critical. A journalist was also hit with a rubber-coated bullet in the leg.
Arrests, invasions & killings
And now, highlights from this week’s arrests, invasions, and assassinations, carried out by the Israeli army.
The Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers arrested 76 Palestinians in several military attacks and invasions carried during the month of February in the West Bank city of Hebron and its surrounding areas. Beit Ummar, a village just north of Hebron, bore the brunt of the attacks, with several invasions and 19 arrests.
Early Wednesday morning, at least six Israeli military vehicles invaded the village of Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem. They declared the village a closed military zone and conducted a house-to-house search and arrested twelve Palestinian youth.
Later that day, Abu Waleed Al-Dahdouh, a top leader of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, was killed when his car exploded. Witnesses saw an Israeli war-jet fire a missile at his vehicle, a charge denied by Israel.
On Friday, resistance leader Abdul Moeti Mohammad Daf was killed in an explosion in Gaza City that seriously injured a second man. Two Palestinian workers were also shot dead trying to cross into Israel to work.
Later that day, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car carrying resistance men on their way to fire rockets, an official from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades resistance group said. The occupants jumped to safety before the car was hit. Two passers-by were slightly hurt.
In response to the attacks against the civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian resisters killed one settler and injured four.
Settlement issue
In a speech this week in Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reiterated Israel’s intention to unilaterally draw final borders, annexing 20% of the West Bank to Israel.
Mofaz’ statement corroborates statements by acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, that Israel would ‘take the Jordan Valley,’ West Bank settlement blocs, and Jerusalem.
These West Bank settlements have taken over $14 billion of the Israeli government’s budget since 1967, according to a recently released report by the Israeli Research Institute for Economic and Social Affairs. The figure is an estimate. An exact figure is nearly impossible to obtain, since settlement spending is never identified as such in the budget.
Hamas, Israel, and the EU
Mohammad Abu Teir and Mohammad Totah, two Hamas legislators from East Jerusalem, were released after the Israeli police detained them in an investigation centre in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The police claimed the legislators had conducted "illegal activities" in hospitals and other institutions.
Meanwhile, the European Union says it will provide US$143 million in emergency assistance to the current caretaker Palestinian government, despite warnings from Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that a Hamas-led government was "a terrorist threat."
And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, visit the International Middle East Media Center at Thanks for joining us. From Occupied Bethlehem, I’m Terrina Aguilar.