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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for Thursday, May 4, 2006.
A mother of five is shot dead in Tulkarem; two of her daughters are also injured. The Israeli High Court reneges on its promise to reroute the annexation Wall near Jerusalem. The new route promises to isolate or displace thousands. And Gaza faces a medical crisis even as aid from the Arab League finally makes it to Palestine. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
Bil’in Weekly Protest
In Bil’in this week, villagers together with Israeli and internationals carried a three-hundred-meter-long Palestinian flag up a hill to where the annexation Wall is currently under construction. They closed the yellow gate which had been opened to allow the army free access into Bi’lin. They were attacked by Israeli soldiers, who fired sound bombs and tear gas from their jeeps and humvees. Two protestors received medical treatment.
Mansour, a Palestinian coordinator of the International Solidarity Movement, says we will continue to resist the construction of the annexation wall despite the military violence.
Shu’fat Residents Demand Freedom of Movement
The Israeli military began its construction of the annexation Wall in Shu’fat refugee camp near Jerusalem this Monday. Despite a court order to provide residents right of way during construction, soldiers added large concrete blocks to an already impassible military roadblock made of four-meter-high strips of barbed wire. The concrete blocks are expected extend two to three hundred meters.
Shu’fat’s Local Council, represented by Dani Zeidman, filed an appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice. In court, an engineer representing Israel proposed two maps of crossings through the Wall, which would be constructed in four months. Lawyer Zeidman rejected the maps and demanded the blocks be removed as per the previous court ruling.
Gaza Faces Health Crises As Israel Bans Medicine
Several officials from the Palestinian Ministry of Health warned of an impending health crisis in the Gaza Strip as Israel continues to issue sanctions on medical supplies as part of its continuing siege.
Minister of Health Dr. Basem Naim called on the international community to intervene, and said that hospitals are only days away from being unable to perform certain urgent surgeries, especially for people with heart and kidney problems. Gaza has only one pharmaceutical company, limited in its scope, and relies on imports from the West Bank and Israel. But trucks carrying these imports are now waiting at Karni crossing point every day from ten am until midnight without being allowed to pass.
Since Israel began the siege more than three months ago, Israeli forces have prevented twenty-one critical patients, including three children and several elderly citizens, from reaching Israeli hospitals, even after they received security clearance and permits to enter Israel. Israel has banned ambulances from bringing pharmaceuticals for patients receiving dialysis for renal failure.
Some limited relief arrived on Tuesday, when a shipment of food and medicine sent by Jordan reached Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital. Of the shipment’s twenty-seven trucks, seventeen passed through Karni Crossing.
Hamas & the Financial crisis
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh has confirmed the receipt of funds sent by the Arab League in light of the US and Europe’s boycott against the Palestinian government. The money will pay the government’s one-hundred-and-sixty-five thousand employees, whose salaries are two months overdue. The money had been sitting in Egyptian banks for some time, after the United States threatened to label any banks transferring money to the Palestinian government “terrorist supporters.”
The Palestinian Authority rejected French President Jack Chirac’s proposal to have the World Bank oversee the salaries of state employees, insisting on financial self-determination. Hamas has made a counter-proposal to have aid moneys be sorted by the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
On the other hand, Hamas has declared it has no internal conflict concerning the approaching national talks that were recently delayed until May 20, and said the postponement was necessary to insure the talks developed according to correct standards and a clear agenda.
PCHR in Brief
And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, from April 27 to May 3. During the reported period, the Israeli military killed three people. Among them was a mother. We’ll devote a special segment to this story later on in the show. The military also wounded seventeen people, including seven children, and damaged homes and civilian facilities in its continued invasions and shelling of the occupied Palestinian territories.
The army conducted thirty-seven military incursions into the West Bank, conducting house raids and arresting one-hundred-and-eleven civilians, among them fourteen children and two women. The army transformed houses into military sites, used undercover units and trained dogs, and arrested a number of wives and mothers of wanted individuals.
The army continued its siege on the Gaza Strip, keeping border crossings nearly closed, preventing medicine from reaching the sick and workers from going to work to their jobs in Israel, and barring their freedom of movement to and from the West Bank. The army also continued its siege on the West Bank, severely restricting freedom of movement by closing checkpoints and requiring residents to acquire permits to travel between the north and south. The army specifically targeted Nablus, closing checkpoints around the city and invading it repeatedly.
Explosion in Northern Gaza Kills Two Security Officers
Palestinian security officers Khaled Fanoura and Tamer Al Masharawi were killed inside the National Security Building in northern Gaza this Tuesday, in an explosion eyewitnesses identified as either a tank shell or a land mine. Seven more were injured. The explosion followed Monday’s airdrop of leaflets into the area, warning the residents to leave. Hundreds of families have already been forced out of northern Gaza to make way for Israel’s new so-called security zone.
Itaf Zalat, Mother of Five, Shot Dead; Daughters Injured
During an invasion into Tulkarem this week, Israeli soldiers shot and killed forty-five-year-old Itaf Zalat, mother of five. Two of her daughters were injured as well.
Itaf’s husband Abu Mohammad said she was sitting next to him when she was shot.
"When the soldiers opened fire, my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen by the window, our two daughters were sitting one meter away. When the shooting stopped, one of the girls started screaming, my hand, my hand, I went to check my daughter and I found a hole in her arm and the bones were crushed. I covered the wound with my hand to stop the bleeding, then my other girl yelled at me saying look at my mother. I turned to my wife and found her neck bent on her shoulder and she was dead."
Palestinians Mark International Workers Day
Thousands of workers marched through the West Bank on May 1 in honor of International Workers Day. They first visited Fatah spokesperson Ahmed Abdul Rahman, who expressed his indignation against the ongoing economic blockade, calling it part of Israel’s plan to destroy the will of the Palestinian people. The march culminated with a visit to President Abbas, to whom they delivered a collective memo expressing their grievances.
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, I’m Dina Awwad and I am Terrina Aguilar.