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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, http://www.IMEMC.org, for Thursday, April 13, 2006.

Jenin remembers the massive 2002 Israeli invasion that left over four hundred dead. Nineteen killed this week in assassinations in Gaza and a major invasion into Nablus. A coroner calls for sanctions against . 140,000 government employees lose their livelihood as the international community freezes aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.

Bil’in Commemorates Eyad Tahar

On Friday, dozens of Palestinian villagers, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, conducted their weekly protest in Bil’in against the annexation Wall. The marchers commemorated Eyad Tahar, who drowned last week. Tahar was caught on the Wall’s razor wire when flash floods hit Bil’in. Israeli forces then prevented villagers from aiding him. Protesters carried pictures of Tahar and installed a memorial near the area where he drowned. As the marchers attempted to open one of the gates of the annexation Wall, the army fired tear gas at the marchers. They detained two residents, and beat one with clubs.

Jenin Massacre Remembered

Thousands marched through Jenin on Monday. Palestinian resistance fighters marched alongside children and nonviolence advocates, to commemorate the massive Israeli military invasion into the Jenin refugee camp four years ago. The invasion, also known as the Jenin massacre, lasted over a month. More than 400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, were killed, and over 100 homes were demolished, sometimes on top of the families living inside them.

After the pullout, banned a United Nations fact-finding commission from entering the camp for investigations. Amnesty International and other human rights groups later accused the Israeli army of using Palestinians as human shields during the invasion, and of preventing rescue teams from entering the camp to treat the wounded.

Hamas Government Faces Financial Crisis

The European Union has verified its decision to freeze aid to the Palestinian Authority after a meeting this Monday in . This, on top of the funding freeze last week, and ’s illegal seizure of Palestinian tax money worth $50 million a month, promises to cripple the Palestinian economy. The EU is responsible for $600 million, nearly half the PA budget. Around 140,000 government employees will be forced to forego salary. Both the Red Cross and the UN have voiced concerns about the humanitarian impact of the funding freeze. In Gaza, thousands of Palestinians marched this week in protest of the cuts.

Jaber Al-Akhras Assassinated

On Sunday evening, Israeli troops, invaded the West Bank village of Beit Ta’mar village, surrounded and broke into a building where they assassinated Jaber Al-Akhras, a Palestinian fighter wanted by the Israeli security since October 2003. Al-Akhras was wanted for the killing of one Israeli officer and one soldier. Al-Akhras had escaped several previous assassination attempts.

Mofaz Threatens Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said this Tuesday that unless there was quiet in , there would be none in Gaza. His statement less than a day after Israeli soldiers killed ten-year-old Hadeel Mohammad Ghabin, and injuring at least thirteen members of her family, among them toddlers, children and teenagers. The Israeli military has also reduced the "safety zone" around residential areas from 300 to 100 meters, endangering many more civilians in the event of future attacks. Mofaz said the attack and new measures are a response to the firing of homemade shells at Israeli targets, which caused no casualties.

Israeli Government Halts Contact With Palestinian Authority

This Sunday, the Israeli security cabinet officially closed ties with the security liaison office in Jericho and sever ties with the Palestinian Authority. The decision comes one week after announced it was ceasing security coordination in the Gaza Strip. The cabinet ordered Palestinian security liaison officers to evacuate their offices, and said that foreign envoys who met with Hamas officials would be denied access to Israeli officials.

Sousia Settlers Attack Yatta Villagers and East Jerusalemites

As part of a growing campaign against Palestinians and their property, settlers from Sousia illegal settlement outpost set fire to a Palestinian home in the adjacent village of Yatta in the southern West Bank. They returned on Saturday and Sunday to attack dozens of farmers in the village, and annex eight Dunams of their land.

And in Al-Tour village just east of Jerusalem, extremist settlers together with Israeli military under-cover units, attacked a four-story Palestinian residential building this Sunday. The settlers forced the families out of their home, then changed the locks. Israeli police then attacked protestors.

Coroner Calls For Sanctions Against

On Tuesday, a British Labour Party Legislator, Gerald Kaufman, called for trials before an international tribunal, against those accused of killing British peace activist Tom Hurndall and British filmmaker James Miller in 2003. Kaufmann called for sanctions against if it failed to hand over those responsible.

Tom Hurndall, 22, was shot in the head near the Gaza border with , in broad daylight, as he carried children away from the line of sniper fire. He died after nine months in a coma. The Israeli soldier who later admitted to the murder was convicted of manslaughter and given an eight-year sentence.

James Miller, an HBO cameraman, was shot in the neck while attempting to communicate with a soldier in a tank using a white flag and lights. The Israeli military then kept medical access from reaching him until he bled to death. 

A coroners’ jury in London court recently found that both Hurndall and Miller were murdered by the Israeli army. Calls for sanctions came after the Israeli government refused to cooperate with the inquest.

PCHR in Brief

And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli attacks against Palestinians.

The Israeli army killed 19 Palestinians this week, including three children. The Gaza Strip received the brunt of the attack. Eleven Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed in extrajudicial assassinations in southern Gaza. The civilians included a man, his child, and two brothers. Two more civilians were killed in Gaza in Israeli shelling.

In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers killed two civilians in Nablus. A Palestinian child was seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers in a village near Jenin, and died three days later. A Palestinian resistance fighter was killed in an exchange of fire with undercover units in Beit Ta’mar village.

The Israeli military continued to shell the Gaza Strip’s residential areas from sniper towers and warplanes. Fifty-four civilians, including 32 children, were injured. In the West Bank, 40 were injured, 36 of them in Nablus.

The Israeli military conducted invaded the West Bank 27 times, mostly in Nablus. They raided homes and arrested 46 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children. The army also transformed 7 houses into military sites.

They continued the comprehensive siege on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Gaza continued to endure prison-like conditions. The army continued the closure on Kerem Shalom commercial crossing, opening it for only a few hours to let a small amount of food aid through. The army closed Beit Hanoun crossing to the north, preventing Palestinian workers from reaching their work. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip were prevented from traveling to the West Bank. During the reported period, the crossing was reopened for a few hours only. In the West Bank, the Israeli army closed the Za’tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, closing it off to Jenin residents. Soldiers stationed at checkpoints also arrested five Palestinian civilians, including two children.

The Israeli military escalated its shelling of the northern Gaza Strip. The shelling has been ongoing for months now, but was stepped up, resulting in the deaths of two Palestinian civilians, including a child. Forty-three more were injured, including 14 children. A number of houses and civilian facilities were also destroyed.

Now, we’ll take a closer look at the Nablus invasion.

Nablus invasion

The Israeli army occupied several buildings in Nablus this Friday, where they remained until Sunday. In one building, Israeli soldiers forced fifteen residents, age three to seventy, to sit in one room on the floor for two days. The soldiers then used their home as a sniper post.

The army refused to allow medical teams to aid the families and prevented any outside communication. One child still managed to communicate with the head of medical relief, Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, through the door. The child told Dr. Ghassan that they had had nothing to eat.

Israeli soldiers also arrested seven young women from the area around Nablus city. At least two of the women were beaten in the street and stripped naked during their arrest. They were then taken in military jeeps to unknown locations.

One parent of an arrestee, who asked not to be identified, described her daughter’s experience:

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"The soldiers asked me to search her. I started to search her, and I found nothing on her. Then they ordered her to accompany them. I went to go with them but they told my husband to take me back inside. When I refused they threatened to shoot me. Then they beat her and put her inside the armored jeep, after they had handcuffed and blindfolded her."

The Israeli also army arrested minors in Nablus city and attacked members of the Palestinian Medical relief teams on rescue missions during the invasions.

Majdi Al Shelah, a local union activist, describes an attack on Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and the arrest of school children.

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"Many arrests were of youth between the ages of sixteen and twenty. Most of them we never heard before they were wanted or activists. In one area, the army surrounded a building and arrested eight university students. During these operations, the army attacked a journalist, Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, and a paramedic, Feras Al-Bakri. The army withdrew from the area half an hour later."

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, http://www.IMEMC.org. As always, thanks for joining us. From Occupied Bethlehem, this is Penny Quinton.

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