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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for the week of Friday May 5th till Thursday, May 11, 2006.
Three children die of renal failure, the latest casualties in the ongoing aid freeze. A Hamas-Fatah gun battle leaves three dead. Hamas agrees to recognize Israel pending an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders. And a group of settlers beats twenty children near Hebron. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
A Day of Street Theater in Bil’in
Hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists gathered at the annexation Wall in Bil’in this Friday, for a day of street theater. Four villagers acted out the decision taken by the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Nations, and Israel, to cut aid to Palestine. They carried a two-meter-high iron wall surrounded by ten-feet of barbed wire. A Palestinian man stood in the center.
Israeli soldiers ordered the demonstrators to leave the area, then fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at them. Some villagers responded with bottles full of chicken and sheep feces. A five-year-old boy and two journalists suffered injuries from the tear gas.
Jeeb Village: Wall Goes Up, Farms Come Down
This marks the second week of Israel’s campaign to ghettoize Jeeb village in Jerusalem. Israeli bulldozers have destroyed acres of farmland and begun plans for a new fenced-in road that will become the sole route open to Palestinians. The road they now use will then be labeled Jewish-only.
PCHR in Brief
And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli military attacks against Palestinians, from May 4th to May 10th. During the reported period, the Israeli army killed 9 people, injured 24 civilians, arrested 61 civilians including 11 children, invaded the West Bank 38 times, continued to shell the Gaza Strip, and continued its strict siege on the occupied Palestinian territories.
As the siege on Gaza continues, the tiny strip of land increasingly resembles a prison. The Israeli military monitors Palestinian civilians traveling internationally, allows small amounts of food aid in from Egypt, but refuses to open commercial borders, prevents workers in Gaza from going to work in Israel, and has an ongoing travel ban on the hundreds of thousands of Gazans who would like to visit the West Bank.
And in the West Bank, checkpoints are multiplying and tightening; the north and south have been isolated by bureaucratic and military measures that appear to be permanent although the military claims they are temporary, and Nablus is continually cut off by closed checkpoints.
Settlers Attack Children in At-Tawani Village
Just outside of Hebron this Saturday, a group of illegal Israeli settlers from the Ma’on settlement south of Yatta village attacked a group of twenty Palestinian children. The settlers beat and stoned the children, injuring five.
Israel Bombs Training Camps in Gaza
Israeli fighter jets fired two missiles at the village of Al-Mawassi in the southern Gaza Strip, one at a training site for the Salah Ed Deen Brigade, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, and the other at a training camp for Abu Al Reesh Brigade, one military offshoot of Fateh. No injuries were reported.
Abu Sari a leader of Abu Al Reesh Brigade reacted to the attacks.
"There were no shooting or clashes in the place that was shelled. The Zionist state always claims that to justify its killing of the resistance men and the elderly and children. Their slogan is safety and security for the Israelis and death to the Palestinians."
Israeli Invades Jenin, Injures Five Children
On Thursday, Israel conducted a dawn invasion into the West Bank city of Jenin. In confrontations with angry residents, the army used live ammunition, injuring several people including five children. The army also arrested Saleh Al-Saadi, a leader of Islamic Jihad who had been on the army’s wanted list for two years.
Now we’ll go to Ali Samoudi, a journalist from Jenin.
"Five injured most of them children in clashes in the city during an Israeli military operation which involved more than 20 jeeps in the eastern neighborhood of the city. The army arrested Saleh Al Sa’di, the leader of Al Qudes brigades, clashes erupted between the resistors and school children against the army, several homes were searched and damage was reported."
Hamas-Fatah Gun Battle in Gaza Leaves Three Dead
Three Palestinians were killed and several more wounded on Monday during a gun battle between Hamas and Fatah in southern Gaza. The confrontation came after Hamas accused Fatah of kidnapping three of its members. Both Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh and President Mahmoud Abbas called for an end to the clashes, and the factions issued a joint statement calling for accountability on both sides.
Aid to Palestine: Too Little, Too Late
Three children died of kidney failure in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital this Tuesday. They are the latest casualties of the aid cutoff coordinated by Israel, the US, the UK, and the UN. Ministry of Health representative Mo’awiyah Abu Hassanain said six hundred children in Gaza hospitals may soon meet the same fate if the aid freeze continues.
The freeze is well into its third month now, and the casualties expand beyond human fatality. Israel is holding onto hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the Palestinian Authority. One-hundred-and-sixty-five-thousand governmental employees have not been paid for months. Dor Energy, the Israeli company that provides fuel to the West Bank and Gaza, has cut off fuel shipments. Taxi drivers have resorted to running their cars on vegetable oil, which is now also in short supply.
Dr. Mohammad Awada, head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Emergency and ambulance department, says that in two days ambulances will be out of commission.
"The situation is very bad, if this lasts for more two days we will be forced to prioritize the hard cases only, to save what little gas is left in the headcounters, but we have gas only for one more week only, the pressure on us is high since all ambulances cross checkpoints which we call long distance runs."
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan invited the Quartet, which includes the US, the UN, the EU, and Russia, to meet in New York to approve a temporary method of transferring aid to Palestinians. Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, attended the meeting to voice concerns that the aid freeze would lead to more violence. Annan said a plan for aid transfer should soon be in place, and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel would not oppose the transfer as long as it bypasses the Hamas-led government.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh voiced suspicion that the new transfer plan was part of an attempt to force Hamas to recognize Israel without holding Israel accountable to international law. Palestinian Chief Negotiator Dr. Saeb Erikat, said the plan would not meet the immediate need of Palestinians.
But Anwar Zboun, a Hamas parliament member, called the decision a positive move despite its flaws.
"In fact, I see it as a positive step, yet they have not dropped their main condition that Hamas should recognize Israel. However, allowing some funds into the Palestinian territories slightly eases the situation. Yet, we and the government do not feel so comfortable with it especially the three-month time limit and the fact that Israel accepted this plan which signal some hidden agendas and agreements."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the international community is trying to respond to the needs of the Palestinian people, while reaffirming the U.S. administration’s boycott of any Palestinian government that refuses to recognize Israel.
Hamas has announce it will recognize Israel as per a 2002 Arab League peace plan, but only if Israel accepts the proposal first. Israel originally rejected the plan because it calls for a complete withdrawal to 1967 borders.
But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that if the Palestinian government did not acquiesce to his conditions for negotiations within six months, he would take unilateral measures. Olmert said that in order for negotiations to begin, Hamas must recognize Israel, officially support previously signed agreements, and “renounce violence.”
And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out our website, www.IMEMC.org. As always, thanks for joining us.