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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for June 9 through June 15, 2006.
Israeli army kills seven family members on Gaza Beach and 21 others in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the army staged up its extra-judicial killings policy. Meanwhile, Palestinians along with Israeli and International supporters continue to resist the West Bank annexation wall as Palestinians continue with their National dialogue session in bid to stop the infighting and end the financial crisis.
These stories and more coming up. Stay tuned.
The Anti-Wall Bil’in Protest
In Bil’in this Friday, several Palestinian legislators and senior officials joined hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists in this week’s protest against the annexation Wall. This week, the subject was Israeli attacks on journalists. Protesters carried a pyramid covered with the pictures and names of six local and international journalists killed by the Israeli army since September 2000. Nine protestors, including two international peace activists, were injured as troops violently attacked the demonstration. After the protest, Israeli troops invaded Bil’in. They fired tear gas rubber-coated bullets into homes and streets. Six residents were injured, including three children.
PCHR in Brief
And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli attacks against Palestinians. This week, the Israeli army killed twenty-eight Palestinians. Twenty-seven of them were in the Gaza Strip. Twenty-one were unarmed civilians. Seven came from the same family, more on this later. Also this week, sixty-seven Palestinian civilians including twenty children were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the Gaza Strip.
The army conducted seven extrajudicial assassinations this week. We’ll tell you about three. Ten civilians, including a man, his child, his brother-in-law and four medical personnel, were killed when an Israeli gun ship fired a missile at a Palestinian vehicle in a crowded residential area in the Gaza Strip. The helicopter waited for medics and bystanders to gather, then dropped another bomb, killing two medics and wounding forty civilians. Two members of Islamic Jihad, the target of the attack, were also in the car.
In a separate incident, four Palestinians were assassinated in Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip, including Jamal Abu Samhadana, Secretary General of the Popular Resistance Committees, who was recently appointed by Hamas to a position in the Ministry of the Interior. Following that assassination, three Palestinian civilians, including two brothers, were killed in an attempted assassination in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.
and now, a report on how settlers in Beit Ayn are being supported by the Israeli military, police, and secret service in their campaign to seize land owned by a Palestinian family near Hebron.
Jabber Abu Solaiby owns fifty acres of land at the border, where the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar meets Beit Ayn settlement. He has documentation proving his ownership and has filed eight different police reports with the Gush Etzion police concerning the settlers’ destruction of his property and assaults on him. However, The civil administration and police claim the land has been sold to settlers, although there is no documentation to prove this. The police have barred Solaiby access to his land, and last Friday told him that if he or his wife stepped the land, they would be beaten by settlers.
Just after a three-hour meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh to smooth out the differences between Hamas and Fatah, clashes erupted again. The meeting, which was also attended by some faction leaders, resulted in an extension of the dialogue for another week to reach a final decision on the National Conciliation document authored by Palestinian political prisoners. The main issues of conflict are the document’s implicit recognition of Israel and the status of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Abbas has been pushing for the approval of the document with the goal of alleviating the financial crisis that is now strangling the Palestinian economy and pushing the nation rapidly towards starvation. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have so far refused to sign, calling it a concession to Israeli and American demands and their chosen tactic of a siege. Abbas has set a public referendum for the end of July, while Hamas and the Islamic Jihad say the President doesn’t have this legal right.
After the meeting, clashes broke out when a crowd of Hamas supporters conducting a funeral march for a member who was killed in clashes with Fatah. Hamas officials say that as they passed the preventive security building in Khan Younis, members of the preventive security opened fire at the crowed, a claim the security officers deny. And on Wednesday, a Hamas operative was killed in clashes between Fatah militias and the newly-formed special force gunmen.
And following Tuesday’s convening of Parliament, a group of Fatah gunmen stormed Haniyeh’s West Bank office and set it on fire. Haniyeh was not in his office as Israel has banned him from traveling to the West Bank.
The financial crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continues. Although last week, employees whose salaries are lower than $350 US received one month’s salary, 165,000 civil servants still have not received paychecks for three months. The government needs some $150 millions per month to pay state employees, and while money has been offered, the US has declared any bank that transfers money to the Palestinian government, as aiding terrorism.
This Wednesday at noon, a group of angry governmental employees stormed the Palestinian Legislative Council headquarters in Ramallah while the MP’s were in session, demanding their salaries be paid so that they can feed their families.
On Wednesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Mahoud Al-Zahar managed to transfer $20 million to Gaza. Israeli security officers stopped him at Rafah crossing point; however, President Abbas intervened to allow the money into the Gaza Strip. Just days earlier, the security men at the crossing had detained Salah Al0Bardawil while he was on his way to Gaza with 4.5 million of Euros. Last month, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri carried over half a million of euros to the Gaza Strip in belts around his waist. However, this money was not allowed in by Israel.
Israeli army kills Seven Family Members on Gaza Beach
Last Friday afternoon, an Israeli gunboat fired shells onto the beach of Beit Lahia, killing two parents and their five children, the youngest of whom was five months old. The Ghalia family had been enjoying a picnic outing. The family was hit by artillery shells fired by an Israeli gunboat. At least 30 civilians, including 10 children, were wounded in the shelling.
The only surviving member of the family is ten-year-old Hoda, who was captured on television crying hysterically beside her father’s body. President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh have both offered to adopt her.
The Israeli army initially denied responsibility for the shelling, and said that a Palestinian Qassam shell or a mine killed the family. But Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon battle damage expert who surveyed the scene of the explosion, said yesterday that evidence points to Israeli land-based artillery shell.
Garlasco worked in war zones including Iraq and Kosovo during his seven-years in the US Department of Defense, and is now a senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch. Following Garlasco’s findings, Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation into the killings.
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 Maia Williams Carpenter and Stacie Miller.