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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, from May 26 to June 1, 2006.
The Israeli High Court of Justice continues with a wave of rulings approving new sections of the annexation Wall. The Israeli army conducts the first land invasion into the Gaza Strip since the September pullout, killing three. A woman in labor was held up in one of the streets in Nablus while the Israeli army raided her ambulance. And one hundred million dollars earmarked for Palestinian aid are held up in a Kuwait by a US edict. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
The Israeli High Court of Justice continues to back the annexation of Palestinian lands to make way for the Wall. This Tuesday the court rejected a petition filed by a Palestinian mayor and two village council heads to alter the route of the annexation Wall near Nablus. The route approved by the court will annex the entire illegal settlement of Shavei Shomron to Israel. Thirteen acres of Palestinian farmland will become property of the settlement, and three-hundred-and-fifty olive trees, the main livelihood for Palestinian farmers in the area, will be uprooted.
Also this week, Israeli authorities issued a military order to annex seven acres of farmland from residents of Al-Jab’a village near Bethlehem to make way for the annexation Wall and a possible military base. Twenty-five acres were recently annexed from the same village to accommodate a settlement road and border crossing that connects the Gush Etzion settlement bloc to the Israeli city of Bet Shemesh.
But in Bil’in village the resistance to the Wall continues. This week, three hundred residents, along with Israeli and international peace activists, sounded a call for Palestinian unity as they marched against the Wall and against factional infighting. The Israeli military responded with tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring ten residents and three internationals.
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 eleven Palestinians including five civilians, injured twenty-eight including ten children, invaded the West Bank forty two times and the Gaza Strip once. The army also arrested sixty civilians including four children and two women, bringing the total number of Palestinians arrested by the army this year to one-thousand-six-hundred-and-thirty.
On Monday, an Israeli military special unit, backed by Israeli gun ships, invaded northern Gaza, in the first land invasion into Gaza since the September 2005 pullout. Several civilians were wounded, and three resistance fighters from Al-Quds Brigade, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, were killed in clashes. Four more civilians were killed during Israel’s routine shelling of the Gaza Strip this week. Among them were a mother, a child, and a security officer.
Meanwhile, during an incursion into Nablus, the Israeli army assaulted a medical crew from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society who were transporting a Palestinian woman to the hospital to give birth. Several military vehicles stopped the ambulance and searched it at length, endangering the health of the woman in labor and her unborn child.
The Israeli army also killed two Palestinian resistance fighters in two separate incidents in the West Bank, one in Balata refugee camp in Nablus, and the other in Qabatiya near Jenin. And on Friday, twenty-year-old civilian ‘Alaa’ ‘Aatef Jaber Hujair, of Balata camp, died in Jordan Hospital in Amman of wounds he sustained in April.
Palestinian National Dialogue
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has begun ten days of intensive talks with Hamas and other Palestinian factions, hoping to convince them to accept a plan that implicitly calls for the recognition of Israel.
The talks began with a three-hour closed door meeting in Abbas’ Ramallah office this Sunday. Two dozen representatives of different factions were in attendance. The plan up for discussion was laid out in a document drawn up by Palestinian political prisoners. Based on previous Arab peace initiatives, it calls for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem.
In his opening speech, Abbas said the goal of the talks was to end the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas that has intensified since the Hamas electoral victory this January. He warned that failure to come together would push the Palestinians deeper into economic and social difficulties. He then gave Hamas ten days to accept his proposed peace plan, threatening to call for a referendum if the party rejected it.
Hamas replied that the president does not have the authority to call for a national referendum. The party had received a boost just before the talks, when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine reversed its previous position and agreed to join the Hamas-led coalition government.
Israel Threatens Hamas Ministers with Expulsion from Jerusalem
Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafa and three other Members of Parliament were given an ultimatum by Israeli authorities to either abandon their political posts or face expulsion from East Jerusalem. They were given thirty days to decide.
One of the three legislators, Muhammad Totah, said the move was part of a two-pronged plan.
"This move is meant to pressure the new Palestinian government and to tighten the siege imposed on the Palestinian people. I believe the embargo imposed on the Palestinians by Europe and the United States gave Israel a green light to make this move.”
Israel bans all Palestinian political activities in East Jerusalem, which was occupied in June 1967. Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state.
Israel Arrests Government Official
In a dawn incursion this Tuesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers broke into the house of forty-two-year-old Aziz Kayed, a senior Palestinian Authority official. They surrounded his home, broke into it, and confiscated his computer’s hard drive and some of his money, before arresting him. Kayed, who has been detained in Israeli prisons on more than one occasion, was appointed to his post this March.
A badly needed one-hundred-million-dollar grant has been promised to Palestine by the Al-Aqsa Fund, which is managed by the Islamic Development Bank and whose shareholders include Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Algeria, Oman, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Morocco. The grant is earmarked for education, health, infrastructure, economic development, social rehabilitation and cooperation with the private sector.
But while the money has been promised, it remains to be seen whether it will cross the border into Palestine from its current location in Kuwait. The US-led political and economic boycott on the Palestinian government has banned all money transfers including aid moneys to Palestinian banks. Any bank that violates this edict will be declared an abettor of terrorism by the US and will be treated as such.
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 Dina Awwad and Terrina Aguilar.