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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, from Friday, May 12 to Thursday, May 18 2006.
The Israeli Army extra judicially killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians commemorated the 58th Anniversary of Al Nakba, the Catastrophe These stories and more, coming up Stay tuned.
Hundreds of Palestinian residents of Bil’in village who carried Palestinian flags and chanted slogans, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, calling for unity among the Palestinian people and political factions, protested along with dozens of Israeli and international peace activists, and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) against Israel’s annexation Wall. At least twelve protestors, including two of the international peace activists, were injured after troops violently attacked the peaceful protest An Australian and a Danish protestor were severely injured by rubber bullets fired at their heads at close range, and a Palestinian reporter was also injured. Some Palestinian youths responded by throwing stones at the soldiers.
PCHR in Brief
And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli military attacks against Palestinians
During the reported period, the army killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank. On Sunday, May 14th, Israeli soldiers killed 5 Palestinians, in Qabatya town, southeast of Jenin. One of the Palestinians was killed when he exchanged gunfire with the army; his brother was killed when he attempted to evacuate him; a third Palestinian was killed when soldiers fired shots at stone throwers; and the remaining two Palestinians, who were the intended target of the attack, were killed when the army shelled the house in which they were hiding. On the same day, the army killed a member of the Palestinian General Intelligence Services, outside the headquarters in Jenin. In Nablus, the army killed 3 Palestinian resistance fighters in two separate incidents. An elderly Palestinian man also died from a heart attack resulting from a previous military operation in Nablus.
During the reported period, 41 Palestinians, including 13 children, were wounded by army gunfire. In the West Bank, 25 Palestinians were wounded during incursions into Palestinian communities, and 10 others were wounded when the army violently dispersed peaceful demonstration. In the Gaza Strip, 4 members of the Palestinian resistance were wounded, when an Israeli drone shelled their car. A passing girl was also wounded in the attack. In addition, a farmer was wounded when army shelled the northern Gaza Strip.
During the reported period, the army conducted 43 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, the army raided houses and arrested 77 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children and a woman. In the Gaza Strip, the army conducted two incursions, during which they bulluzed 20 dunums of agricultural land in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis. These incursions have been the first since the redeployment from inside the Gaza Strip to the borders last summer.
The Israeli army has killed 110 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 17 children, since the beginning of this year, in comparison to 84 Palestinians killed during the same period in 2005. This is an indication of the escalation in Israeli operations in the OPT, despite redeployment of army troops from inside the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian in Fight
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered thousands of police deployed throughout the Gaza Strip to restore order after fighting between rival armed groups. The order from Abbas came hours after the Hamas government defied the president by deploying its own special security force onto Gaza streets on Wednesday. This move came after clashes that erupted between rivals during the last few days that killed three and injured several others.
The Palestinian Minister of Interior Sa’ed Siyam of Hamas announced that the controversial special security force will be deployed in the Gaza Strip to maintain security. Despite Siyam’s confirmation that the force is composed of Palestinians of various political factions, about 30 members of this new force, armed and wearing military fatigues, wore headbands emblazoned with the name "Qassam", after Hamas’ armed wing – the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Meanwhile a group of Palestinian armed men said to be members of Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigade, the armed wing of the former ruling Fatah party opened fire on Thursday morning at Governorate building in Tulkarem city in the northern West Bank, where Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Eddin El-Sha’er was holding meetings with PA officials.
The head of the Palestinian Medical Association, Yihye Shawar, warned on Wednesday that the health system in the Gaza Strip and West Bank would probably collapse as a result of international sanctions. Shawar added that half of all medical equipment will have run out within the month if the sanctions are not lifted.
This came as the both the financial crisis and the shortage of fuel are affecting the life of people in the Palestinian territories. In a press conference following his speech at the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of a chaotic situation in the Palestinian territories if the international donors do not move quickly to restore aid cut off in the recent weeks. Approximately one hundred and sixty five thousand Palestinian employees have not received their paychecks for the months of March and April.
Heyam, a teacher who has not received her paychecks, describes how difficult the situation has become:
"Everything is so expensive, and my husband is currently unemployed. The situation is so difficult for us. We try to minimize spending, but the money goes very quickly. I do not even have money to pay for the transportation to go to work. It is becoming very difficult because I have not received my paycheck yet."
The crisis escalated in the Palestinian areas when the Israeli energy company decided to stop providing Palestinians with fuel until they pay a debt of 90 million US dollars. Meanwhile, Israel is holding hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax revenues which, if paid, would help provide some relief from the financial crisis. These taxes are collected by Israel on goods imported by Palestinians through Israeli ports in accordance with the agreements signed in the mid-nineties.
The Israeli energy company resumed the distribution of fuel after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to pay $27 million. The debt has grown to nearly $90 million and the crisis is expected to escalate again.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says that the work of moving people with chronic illnesses will be negatively affected by the stoppage of fuel supplies to the Palestinian territories.
Dr. Mohammad Awada, head of the emergency and ambulances department at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society says that ambulances will not be able to offer their services to those living in the villages behind the checkpoints, especially those with chronic ailments.
<Dr. Mohammad Awada>
"Most of those who benefit from our service are those who live behind checkpoints. There are checkpoints everywhere. They will not be able to arrive to hospitals for medical treatment. I am talking about a large number of patients, who need daily kidney dialysis; they need to be taken them from their homes in the villages to hospital and vice-versa. There is a similar problem with Cancer and Thalassemia patients. I can not imagine how disastrous the situation will be if ambulances stop working."
Palestinian commemorated Al-Nakba 58 anniversary May 14
Palestinians marking the darkest day in their history – the day of Israel’s creation – are determined to lift damaging economic sanctions and warned that Israeli unilateralism could kill a two-state solution.
About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their land after the creation of Israel in 1948 and the ensuing Arab-Israeli war. An additional 200,000 Palestinians underwent a similar fate during the 1967 war. Demonstrations took place across the Gaza Strip and West Bank, as well as in refugee camps around the region. In Gaza City, several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the local branch of parliament with banners demanding the right of return, maps of historic Palestine, wooden keys to former homes, and flags.
The fate of the original refugees and their descendants, who are scattered throughout the occupied territories, neighboring Arab countries and other parts of the world, has been one of the thorniest issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Israeli soldiers put the villagers of Hussan, west of Bethlehem in the West Bank, under house arrest after an Israeli settler’s car hit a Palestinian woman who was riding her horse home from her farmland, on Friday shortly before midnight, as the settler was en route to the nearby settlement of Bittar Ilit. The woman and two Jewish settlers were injured in this accident and were evacuated to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem for treatment.
Mohammad Abdul-Aziz Ibregheeth, 75, was seriously injured on Thursday after a settler rammed him with his car close to Efrat settlement, in the far north of the West Bank city of Hebron.
In another incident, in Huwwara village, south of the West Bank city of Nablus an extremist settler group attempted, on Thursday at night, to burn a Palestinian resident in a caravan in which he barricaded himself in an attempt to avoid them. After the caravan was set on fire, the man had to step out and was attacked by the settlers, who then fled the scene. The man suffered facial injuries and ran to a nearby Israeli military checkpoint to report the incident.
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. From Occupied Bethlehem, I’m Terrina Aguilar.