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This week in Palestine a service of the International Middle East Media Center www.imemc.org for July 14 through July 21.
Israel supported by the United States and Britain stepped up its attacks against both the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and killed at least 20 and injured several other and against Lebanon and killed more than two hundred civilians this week alone. These stories and more stay tuned.
Anti Wall action
Today in Bil’in village west of the West Bank city of Ramallah around four hundred Palestinians, international supporters and Israeli peace activists held a peaceful protest against Israeli military attacks in Palestine and Lebanon near the gate of the Annexation Wall currently being constructed on confiscated village lands
During this protest, the demonstrators carried a huge black flag to commemorate over 400 Palestinian and Lebanese residents, almost all of them civilians, killed last month by the Israeli army in the occupied territories and Lebanon during the ongoing Israeli military escalations in both countries.
No clashes were reported in the protest that ended with a general meeting in the village between the peace activists and the residents to discuss further steps of nonviolent resistance against the Wall and the ongoing Israeli military aggression against both Lebanon and Palestine.
PCHR in Brief
Let’s take a look at the weekly report by the Palestinian Center for Human rights covering the period from July 13 to July 19.
During this week attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli army killed 26 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including five children and two women, and injured at least 200 civilians including 55 children, 5 women, and two journalists. Two children also died from previous wounds.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli army killed 20 people, including 16 in offensives on the city of Beit Hanoun and al-Maghazi refugee camp, bringing the number dead to 108 since Israel began the military operation Summer Rain on June 28.
In the West Bank city of Nablus the Israeli army killed four residents; three were members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fateh. Thirty-three civilians were also injured, including journalists and members of a medical crew.
In the West Bank city of Nablus the Israeli army demolished a municipal headquarters that includes a central jail, the military intelligence department and the police department. In Gaza, the Israeli army bombed and destroyed the Ministries of the Economy and Foreign Affairs, in addition to several houses and two bridges.
The Israeli army temporarily reopened Rafah Crossing border in coordination with the third party observers after holding six thousand people hostage at the crossing for three weeks. Five people died at the crossing before Israel lifted the closure for two days.
The Israeli army illegally arrested at least 31 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and 5 in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank city of Nablus at least 150 Palestinians were illegally detained for various lengths of time and held without charges.
Ongoing Israeli Attacks on the Gaza Strip
Israeli air strikes continued against the Gaza Strip for the fourth week, killing over twenty civilians including children, and bringing the total of dead to 108 since the beginning of Operation Summer Rain three weeks ago. Gaza residents now have electricity for only twelve hours a day and running water for two hours once every four days as Israel bombed the strip’s only power plant. Many parts of the Gaza strip have no electric power at all.
On Wednesday evening, three Palestinians including a mother and her child were killed when Israel bombed al-Maghazi refugee camp. At least thirty more were injured. Sixteen had to be amputated or suffered severe burns. Earlier that day six Palestinians were killed when the Israeli army invaded al-Maghazi, leveling three houses.
John Dugard, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur, now reports that since March, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has greatly deepened as Israel, the US and the EU continue to withhold aid and impose closure, starving the population. Dugard also called for an independent inquiry to be made to determine whether Israel’s attack on Gaza’s only electricity power plant was a war crime.
Since the beginning of Operation Summer Rain, 80% of Palestinians in Gaza have been without electricity. Poverty rates have risen to 75%, and locals are experiencing a severe shortage of water.
Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi, Palestinian independent legislator, fears that the paralysis of the sewage system in Gaza could result in a serious public health disaster.
The Rapporteur has also predicted such a situation. In his report, Dugard stated that, "There are reports of sewage leakage, as well as a reduction in municipal waste collection and disposal. Reported cases of diarrhea have increased by 163% compared to the same period last year. It is possible that communicable diseases, like cholera and poliomyelitis, will re-emerge. Reduced hospital services are dependent upon generators that are unsuitable for constant, long-term use,"
The concern over war crimes has also been expressed by Senior UN official, Louise Arbor, mentioning civilian deaths in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Israel and Lebanon.
Israeli ongoing attacks on Lebanon
More than 300 people have now been killed and 500,000 displaced during the ten days Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Israeli forces bombed Lebanon’s airport, nearly all of Lebanon’s major roads and imposed a naval blockade. Hezbollah responded by shelling northern Israeli cities with rockets that killed at least twenty civilians including two Palestinian children in the city of Nazareth.
President Bush, backed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is granting Israel one week to continue its attacks on Lebanon before joining the international community in calling for a stop to the bombardment, according to British sources. At the UN Security Council, the G8 summit in St. Petersburg and the European foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels, world leaders called for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. However, the US and Britain have interfered in such efforts, allowing Israel to continue to bomb Lebanon.
Despite pressure from the international community and worldwide protests, Major Moshe Kaplinsky, Israel’s deputy armed forces chief of staff, stated that the offense could last for a few weeks, and that an invasion could be possible. Israel has disregarded Lebanon’s call for a cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated that the bombardment would not end until Hezbollah gives up the two captured soldiers, and ceases rocket attacks on Israel.
Israeli ongoing attacks on the West Bank
In the West Bank city of Nablus, soldiers killed five Palestinians and injured dozens of other residents during an invasion of the city in which the army invaded surrounded the nearby Ministry of Health.
The Nablus invasion was carried by 50 military vehicles and dozens of tanks that invaded the city from several directions, opened random fire, and imposed a curfew. Soldiers surrounded the Palestinian Security headquarters and its prison and used loud speakers to order everybody out.
Several reporters were injured by the Israeli soldiers including an Al Jazeera cameraman and a woman Palestinian reporter working for Al –Hurra TV. Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, head of the Medical Relief, who was mildly injured in his leg:
This invasion came after an explosion claimed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of Fateh in the old city of Nablus earlier this week that killed a soldier and injured seven others.
Palestinian Financial Crisis
In the weekly cabinet meeting, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismaiel Hanieyah said some of the 165,000 governmental employees who have not been paid for months would be paid half of one month’s salary.
After Hamas’ success in January’s election, the US, Israel, and the EU imposed an aid freeze, making the Palestinian economy plummet. This week the European Union and the Arab League began transferring some aid money to the Palestinians. This aid will be the first to be received since the aid cut off three months ago when Hamas party took office
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 Melissa Simpson & Dinna Awwad