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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, from May 19 to May 25, 2006.
The Israeli army kills nine Palestinians, including seven civilians. A woman is shot dead in her home. Seven die in Palestinian infighting, including a Jordanian driver. And the siege continues, threatening the West Bank and Gaza Strip with widespread famine and medical failure. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists gathered in Bil’in again this Friday for the weekly protest at the annexation Wall. Holding carpets to protect their hands, they crossed the barbed wire fence erected by the army and continued on to the village’s orchards, carrying banners that read (quote), “For every Palestinian village that was destroyed in 1948, there is another village isolated behind the annexation Wall.” Israeli soldiers guarding the Wall attacked the demonstrators with sound bombs, tear gas, rubber-coated metal bullets, and clubs. Twenty-four were injured, one seriously, and fifteen detained.
As the weekly protest against the Wall raged on in Bil’in, Israeli authorities churned out a storm of legislation and court rulings to speed up and solidify the Wall’s construction. On Tuesday, the Israeli High Court rejected an appeal by residents of Al-Ezariyya village east of Jerusalem. The residents had requested a change to the route of the Wall in order to avoid the isolation and ghettoization of their town. And on Monday, the High Court approved the construction of another section of the Wall near Qalqilya. This new section will annex one thousand acres of farmland to illegal settlements and lead to the uprooting of 1100 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers. And over in the Knesset, the Israeli government confirmed its plans to complete ninety-five percent of the Wall within a year.
PCHR in Brief
And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli military attacks against Palestinians. This week, the Israeli army killed nine Palestinians of whom seven were civilians, injured forty-six including ten children, arrested seventy-eight civilians, invaded the West Bank fifty times, and continued the siege that is threatening the West Bank and Gaza Strip with a man-made famine.
This Saturday, an Israeli warplane dropped a bomb on the car of twenty-eight-year-old al-Quds Brigades member Mohammed al-Dahdouh. Along with him, three civilians were killed and four wounded, all from the Aamen family.
And on Sunday morning a woman was shot dead in her home in Balata camp. Here’s how it happened. It was quiet around four in the morning, when fifty-year-old Subhi Abu Musallam left for his job at the vegetable market. But when he noticed Israeli soldiers nearby, he decided to return home. His wife heard footsteps approaching the house, so she went to the second floor and looked through the window to see if it was her husband coming back home. As soon as she looked through the window, an Israeli soldier shot her dead with a live bullet to the head.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Israeli army invaded Ramallah, allegedly to arrest a wanted Palestinian. By the time the army left two hours later, they had shot dead the wanted man and three civilians, and wounded thirty-five including eight children.
Meanwhile the siege continues, threatening the lives and livelihood of all who remain in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Only a handful of people are allowed to enter and exit Gaza and food is in desperate supply. The West Bank continues to be sectioned off into ghettos, as movement between north and south comes under increasingly severe regulation by the Israeli army. And this week the US House of Representatives passed a ‘Palestinian anti-Terrorism Bill.’ The bill would declare the occupied Palestinian territories a ‘terrorist sanctuary’ and allow for US sanctions on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The infighting between Hamas and Fatah continued this week. Seven were killed, including the driver of the Jordanian ambassador in Gaza.
The clashes happened when Hamas deployed a newly formed security force last week in Gaza. President Mahmoud Abbas demanded that Hamas dissolve the force of three thousand, while Haniyeh insisted it should be combined with the already existing Palestinian police force. Over the last three weeks, six people died in street battles over the new security force.
Meanwhile, Tareq Abu Rajab, head of Palestinian Intelligence, was wounded along with seven of his colleagues, in an explosion that rocked the center of Palestinian General Intelligence in Gaza city on Saturday morning.
Al Tayeb Abdel Raheem, Secretary General of the Abbas administration, commented on the recent clashes.
"These are worrying and condemned incidents; the reason behind it is the illegal procedures of the forming a force under the command of the Minister of Interior. Stopping these incidents can be done only by canceling the illegal procedure that were taken. Otherwise, the situation will lead to a civil war which all the Palestinian People reject."
Representatives from different Palestinian factions and religious groups convened on Thursday to hammer out a document that would put an end to the internal conflicts that have escalated in the past two weeks. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called again for national dialogue and unity, and leaders of Fatah and Hamas agreed that an investigation should go forward.
Israel Continues Fund Seige, Verbal Attacks on Palestinian Leaders
Just before visiting the United States, Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert has called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a powerless leader who cannot represent Palestinians in peace talks with Israel. This statement followed a meeting between Abbas, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Abbas publicly disagreed with the statement and called again for an end to the Israeli occupation and the full implementation of the Road Map Plan.
A badly needed but sorely insufficient amount of funds may pass through to the West Bank and Gaza. This Sunday, the Israeli cabinet partially approved the transfer of $11 million dollars worth of medicine and health supplies. As urgently as it is needed, this money is but a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars rightfully belonging to the Palestinian government that is currently being held hostage in Israeli banks.
Salah Bardawil, Hamas media spokesperson, comments on the transfer of the $11 million.
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, this is Terrina Aguilar and Dina Awwad.