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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for Thursday, 23 March 2006.

Gaza runs out of bread as ‘s closure on the occupied Palestinian territories reaches the six-week mark. Palestinians continue to resist settlement and Wall activities and an eight-year-old girl is killed by undercover Israeli operatives. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.

Separation Wall – A small success in court amidst rapid settlement growth

Seven hundred residents successfully argued their case at the Israeli Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem, against the proposed route of one section of the annexation Wall. The residents live in the neighborhood of Sheikh Sa’ad, which is part of the East Jerusalem village of Jabal Al-Mokabber. But unlike the rest of the village, Sheikh Sa’ad is located just beyond the southeast border of Jerusalem, and will be cut off from Jabal Al-Mokabber if the Wall’s proposed route goes through. Most Sheikh Sa’ad residents hold East Jerusalem identity cards, and would no longer be able to access necessary goods and services. The court threw out the proposed route, saying residents of Sheikh Sa’ad do not pose a security risk to Jerusalem.

But elsewhere, the annexation of Palestinian lands continued unabated. In Bethlehem on Sunday, Israeli soldiers annexed 200 acres of Palestinian farmland to make way for the Wall.

And in the village of Beit Ummar in Hebron, farmers gathered to cultivate their lands in defiance of the nearby Gush Etzion settlement bloc’s rapid expansion towards their village. The village municipality estimates that 150 acres of village land will be destroyed to make way for the Wall, and another fifteen hundred acres annexed to Gush Etzion. As soon as the farmers began to work their lands, the Israeli military declared the area a ‘closed military zone’ and began to attack the villagers with tear gas and sound bombs.

Nonviolent Resistance Continue

The West Bank village of Bil’in near Ramallah kept up its steady campaign of nonviolent resistance to the Wall. On Friday, Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists carried an ‘Iron Wall’ towards the construction site, where a large number of soldiers attacked them with clubs, rubber-coated metal bullets and even live ammunition. Four Palestinians were injured, and five soldiers suffered bruises from being hit with stones.

On Wednesday, the Israeli High Court of Justice delayed its ruling on a petition filed by the residents of Bil’in together with other human rights organizations, against Israeli construction companies purchasing Palestinian lands to expand Modi’in Ilit settlement bloc.

And in the nearby Beit Siera village, Israeli soldiers attacked a peaceful procession against the Wall this week, injuring ten.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military demolished two houses in the village of Walaja, on grounds the houses had been built without a building permit. But no such permits have been granted to Palestinians since 1967. Israeli soldiers declared the area a closed military zone, prevented journalists and international peace activists from entering the area, and attacked villagers who used their bodies to obstruct the demolition. Three were injured and two arrested. This comes amidst a popular nonviolent resistance campaign in Walaja, where every week residents hold non-violent demonstrations against the Wall based on the model of Bil’in. Walaja lies right in the path of a high-speed train line that is planning to build.

PCHR in Brief

And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on human rights violations in occupied Palestine.

An Israeli undercover unit shot dead eight-year-old Akabir Zaydan and wounded two other civilians in al-Yamoun near Jenin, when they opened fire at a car in which she was traveling.

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli army assassinated a member of al-Quds Brigade in ‘Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, south of Jericho, and arrested two others.

Mr. John Ging, director of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said he was (quote) "struggling to be optimistic" about the "developing humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military has imposed a complete closure for the past 48 days. Bread has run out, storehouses are empty, and families are lining up for rations. Karni commercial checkpoint was opened for a rare 30 minutes on Tuesday, but Mr. Ging says this has done little to avert the militarily-created food shortage. Even without the closure, two-thirds of Gaza residents are malnourished and seventy percent live on less than $2 a day.

also continued its closure on Palestinian communities in the West Bank, imposing further restrictions on movement and arresting many Palestinian civilians at checkpoints. has given no projected date for lifting the closure.

Meanwhile, after a discussion with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, European Union envoy Mark Otteh said that in light of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the EU would continue its aid and partnership with the Palestinian people, the European Union recently donated 120 million US dollars to the Palestinian Authority, in addition to 64 million to UNRWA.

Three Killed From Al-Quds Brigade

At least three Palestinians from Al-Quds brigade, the Islamic Jihad armed wing, were killed Thursday morning when an Israeli drone fired two missiles at them. Al-Quds Brigade spokespeople said the men were killed after firing two home-made shells into as a response to ‘s targeting of Palestinian political leaders. No Israelis were injured by the shells.

Israeli Soldier, killer of 13-year-old child promoted, compensated

This in the same week that an Israeli court granted $20,000 to the soldier who admitted to shooting thirteen-year-old Iman Al-Hams in compensation for the trouble of going to court.

Iman Al Hams, a 13-year old Palestinian girl, was shot by more than 23 bullets near the Girit Israeli military outpost in Rafah, in October 2004. In February of this year, the Druze soldier who fired at Al-Hams, and completed the ‘confirm kill’ procedure by firing at her dead body, was not only acquitted of all charges, but recently received a promotion to the rank of major.

Hamas Goes it Alone, Facing Financial Crisis

After several rounds of negotiations with other Palestinian political parties, Hamas failed to form a national unity government.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization rejected Hamas’ proposal for the new cabinet, which contradicts the PLO’s cabinet policy.

Hamas failed to bridge the gap with Fatah the second biggest parliamentary bloc. The final blow came when Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyah submitted a list of proposed cabinet ministers to President Mahmoud Abbas. Most of those listed were Hamas affiliates, and the rest independent.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was the last bloc to decide not to join Hamas’ Government. The PFLP’s Jameel Majdalawi, a member of Parliament, said the major conflict was over Hamas’ failure to recognize the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian People.

<Actuality>

Going to power alone, Hamas faces a number of challenges, most notably dealing with the factional infighting that has thrown the occupied Palestinian territories into chaos for months now, and the economic crisis now in full swing as the US and EU make aid donations contingent upon Hamas’ recognition of Israel and formal disarmament.

Jewish Voice for Peace Renews Pressure on Caterpillar

The American organization Jewish Voice for Peace has renewed its call on Caterpillar to stop selling bulldozers to until stops using these machines to destroy Palestinian homes and lands. They are also calling for other Jewish organizations and individuals to join their campaign.

Conclusion

And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out the International Middle East Media Center website, www.IMEMC.org. As always, thanks for joining us. From Occupied Bethlehem, This is Terrina Aguilar and Dina Awwad.

Credits: IMEMC Audio Team, Manar JIbrin, Lora Gordon, Ghassan Bannoura, Terrina Aguilar, Dina Awwad

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