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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for Thursday, March 30th, 2006.

Palestinians living inside along with those of the West Bank and Gaza Strip commemorate the 30th anniversary of Land Day. The new Palestinian government is sworn in, and in the Kadima party wins the general elections. The Israeli army and settlers continue their attacks against the Palestinians who continue to resist the Annexation Wall. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned. 

Separation Wall & Land Day

Since 1976, Land Day has been marked by Palestinians to protest the seizing of their lands by . Palestinians living in planned a number of activities to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Land Day.  

This year’s anniversary comes shortly after Israeli voters elected their Parliament which will be led by the newly formed Kadima party, vowing to draw the borders of , to include a huge area of the West Bank occupied in 1967.

Some Israelis will also join Palestinians in the West Bank to commemorate Land Day. The Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, (The Peace Bloc) announced a large demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil’in, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Friday.

Meanwhile, in Bil’in village, 300 residents, along with Israeli and international peace activists, demonstrated on Friday against the Annexation Wall and settlements. The peaceful protesters carried three models of Modi’in Elit settlement, constructed on orchards that belong to the residents of Bil’in and several surrounding villages. One protestor dressed as a judge smashed the objects in a move that symbolized destroying the settlement. The protesters were met by military violence as the Israeli army fired gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber coated bullets. Ten were injured and five were arrested.

Also, in the West Bank village of Beit Siera, west of Ramallah, residents and Israeli and international peace activists demonstrated on Friday afternoon against the Annexation Wall is constructing on orchards belonging to the residents.

Soldiers claimed that the protestors hurled stones at them and that troops fired live rounds in the air to disperse them. Two soldiers were injured during the protest.

Palestinian New Government

The Palestinian Parliament approved in its session on Tuesday the new cabinet formed by the majority party Hamas, led by Prime Minister Ismael Haniya. The cabinet was sworn in by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza city on Wednesday, marking the tenth Palestinian government since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1996.

Within hours, cut off aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. Other nations are expected to follow.

The government banned its diplomats from having any contact with the Hamas-led cabinet. In a directive distributed to diplomats and other officials by email, the American government instructed them not to have contacts with Hamas-appointed government ministers, whether they are members of the party or not.

Israeli government

The Israeli acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, declared victory in the Israeli elections early Wednesday while his aides said that the Shas and the Pensioners Parties would be partners of the new Kadima-led government.  

Kadima won 29 seats, which is less than expected. The Labor party won 20 seats, while Shas rose to 12. The Arab parties in won a total of nine seats, one seat more than in the previous election.

The Weekly Brief of PCHR

This week, the Israeli army killed 3 Palestinians, including a child. Soldiers shot dead a Palestinian child near the border between the Gaza Strip and , when he attempted to enter to search for a job. On Sunday, the army killed a Palestinian resistance fighter near the border between the Gaza Strip and . On the same day, a Palestinian civilian was killed in al-Yamoun village, southwest of Jenin. The army claimed that he had fired at them but he was in fact unarmed at the time. 18 Palestinian civilians were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

The Israeli army conducted 27 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, they raided houses and arrested 44 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. Soldiers transformed 6 other houses into military sites. Undercover units and trained dogs were used during these incursions.  

The Israeli army continued to impose a comprehensive siege on the Palestinian territories, in violation of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinian civilians.

In addition, the army continued to impose a tightened siege on the Gaza Strip, transforming it into a large prison. The al-Mentar (Karni) commercial crossing, east of Gaza City, was partially reopened but only under severe restrictions. The Gaza Strip has suffered from a severe economic crisis for weeks prior to this temporary and partial reopening. On 28 March 2006, the army imposed a total closure on the Gaza Strip and closed all border crossings between it and .

In the West Bank, additional restrictions were imposed on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the area. On Monday morning, Israeli officials announced the transformation of Qalandya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem into a border crossing. Only residents of Jerusalem, who have Israeli identity cards, and residents of the West Bank who have permits to enter Jerusalem, will be allowed to pass through the "crossing". Although the operation of the checkpoint as a border crossing was postponed, the army continued to conduct prolonged and complicated electronic searches on Palestinian civilians.  

Army Attacks & invasions  

Approximately 50 armed Israeli officials break into the house of Ibrahim Ghozlan in the Silwan area south of the Old City of Jerusalem and forced five Palestinian families from the building. An Israeli extremist group is claiming that they own the building, but the Palestinian family who has owned the property for hundreds of years challenges that claim.

Settler Attacks against Palestinians & Internationals

In separate incidents near the West Bank city of Hebron, settlers repeatedly attacked Palestinian residents in an attempt to force them from their land. Extremist settlers from the Hafat Ya’er illegal outpost attacked Bedouins living in tents in the south of Hebron; two residents suffered mild-to-moderate wounds. One of the residents was severely clubbed and punched in the head. Israeli peace activists reported that the settlers, using clubs and knives, attacked the Bedouins while they were sleeping in their tents. The Israeli police claimed that a complaint was filed but will not be officially probed until the two residents are released from the Alia Hospital in Hebron.

 

Meanwhile, on Friday an extremist settler group from the Sosia settlement, adjacent to Yatta village, south of Hebron, uprooted dozens of olive trees after attacking the residents who were working in their orchards.  

On Saturday, an American volunteering with the Tel Rumeida Project in Hebron was attacked by a group of settlers and sustained a mild concussion.  

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.

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