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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for July 28 through August 4, 2006.

At least 900 are dead in Lebanon, a third of them children, according to the most recent statements by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.  At least that number are expected to be buried under the rubble of their villages, where rescue workers are unable to reach under the heavy bombardment.  While the world’s eyes are turned to Lebanon, the killing continues in Gaza, this week, the number of dead reached 177, over half civilians and forty of them children. These stories and more, coming up.  Stay tuned.

Anti Wall Actions

The non-violent demonstration in Al-Khader village, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem changed course Friday when Israeli soldiers erected a metal barrier encased in barbed wire.  Heavily armed and protected by the barrier, the soldiers allowed for no room to advance. Reaching Highway 60, the illegally built Israeli settlers only road, is one of the main goals of the demonstration.  The idea is to prevent Israelis from using the highway, which the government built to protect settlers on land confiscated from the Palestinians, and to attract the attention of Israeli civilians passing by at the time. Around 18 Israeli soldiers, including snipers, faced 70-100 determined demonstrators.  Six army jeeps and one Armored Personal Carrier (APC) were positioned just behind the barrier, prepared for clashes.

An Israeli peace activist who participate in the weekly peaceful protest held on Friday in the village of Al Khader

Friday afternoon in Bil’in, west of the West Bank city of Ramallah Three hundred people including residents, International and Israeli peace activists held the weekly peaceful protest, marched to the Annexation Wall today and demanded that Israel tear down the 2km Annexation Wall in Bil’in to stop its attack on Lebanon, and stop killing innocent civilians in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip. One person was injured, after Israeli soldiers fired sound bombs and tear gas at demonstrators

Israeli Attacks on Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday that soldiers killed 177, over half of them civilians and 40 of them children, since the beginning of its offensive, Operation Summer Rain, on June 27.  872 residents, including 272 children, have been injured.

This week alone, the Israeli army killed eighteen people in Gaza, including three children.  In one invasion, fifty tanks and bulldozers, under the cover of F16s, attacked the Strip’s southernmost city of Rafah, killing eight civilians including a ten-year-old child, and injuring twenty.

Dr. Ali Mousa, the director of Abu Yousef Al Najar Hospital in Gaza

"So far, eight killed and around 23 wounded arrived at the hospital, most of the dead were severely dismembered and badly burned, hardly identifiable.  A number of them died at the spot because ambulances were unable to reach them. There have been eight serious injuries out of the 23 as most of them were hit by missiles and artillery shrapnel.  Most of the injured suffered sever burns, serious tissue damage and body mutilation as a result of using internationally prohibited weapons, which we still do not know its components."

International humanitarian aid organizations have warned repeatedly of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip because of shortage of food and water and the cut off of electricity since the beginning of the military operation and the closure of the Rafah crossing. A long line of food containers are now at closed military checkpoints around the border of Gaza, waiting to be let through.

The Rafah border crossing with Egypt has been closed for weeks now, and for weeks the Israeli army has not allowed European monitors to attend their jobs at the crossing.  This, just months after Israel said it was evacuating the crossing and leaving control of the border to third party European monitors.

Three residents, including a child, were killed in northern Gaza when an Israeli fighter-jet fired a missile at a civilian car in the city of Beit Lahia.  One child and a woman were killed, at least four residents were injured, and a 13-year old child died of wounds sustained a week earlier in a separate attack.

In Beit Hanoun, the village south of Beit Lahia, a child was killed while he was standing in front of his house on Monday when Israeli soldiers shelled the area.  Two more residents were killed when Israel shelled Dir Al Balah, in central Gaza. Another two residents, including a ten-year-old child, died of wounds sustained in last week’s attacks.

Israeli Attacks on the West Bank

In the West Bank this Saturday, Israeli under-cover units, backed by armored vehicles, invaded Nablus, killing two resistance fighters of Al Quds Brigade, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. In East Jerusalem, a Palestinian was killed when he attacked Israeli soldiers present at a checkpoint near East Jerusalem; he exchanged fire with them and injured two of the soldiers.

Two of the 80 Palestinian officials abducted by the Israeli army two months earlier, legislator Hassan Khrieshah, and Minister of Prisoners Affairs Wasfi Qabha, were released this week.

Israeli high court opens Al-Aqsa to Jewish extremist group

The Israeli High Court this week has upheld a request by far-right Israeli activists to enter Islam’s third holiest site, the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is also revered by Jews as the ‘Temple Mount’.
In its decision, the high court said that Israeli petitioners "… will be allowed to enter Temple Mount during visiting hours."

Chief Islamic Justice Sheikh Taysir Al Tamimi says that these groups are aiming at harming the holy sites not only the Islamic ones in Jerusalem but all of the holy sites in the occupied territories:


"These groups reveal a Zionist plan to harm the Arab, Islamic and Christian presence in this country.  These groups are trying to harm the holy sites – holy sites which are the most important thing for humanity.  The attacks against mosques and churches – the church of Nativity, and the attack against the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the attacks against the Ibrahimi Mosque and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the destruction of hundreds of mosques in the occupied territories, and churches in Gaza – this is considered a program of attack against holy sites, like nowhere else in the world.  Israel is undermining our faith and our holy places; it seems they are determined to do whatever it takes to undermine our dignity, pride and honor."

But the court ordered the group’s leader, Gershon Salomon, to stay clear from the area of the Temple Mount or the adjacent Western Wall.  Salomon attempted to enter the area anyway and was arrested. The court also ruled that the far-right group, which counts only a few dozen members, should "not be allowed to carry placards or act in a provocative manner."  

Palestinian member of the Israeli Parliament Mohammad Barakeh, Palestinian groups, and police, have all warned that allowing the activists to enter the compound could even spark riots, and have called on the Israeli Prime Minister to intervene and prevent any such visit.

These provocative actions by the Israeli extremists against Al Aqsa Mosque had previously sparked the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 when former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon entered the mosque.  Thousands died in the years that followed.

 Israel conducted a large archeological works around and under Al Aqsa Mosque which threaten the foundations of the holy compound fearing of its collapse if continued

Adnan al-Husseini, the head of the Islamic WAQF in Jerusalem:
< The world knows that since Israel occupied the Holy City in 1967, they have continuously conducted large ‘archaeological digs’ around and under Al-Aqsa Mosque, and in several areas in the old city.  This digging hasn’t stopped for forty years.  We look at these digs with a lot of anxiety and worry because they could undermine the foundations.  More than 80% of the archaeological digs have uncovered Islamic artifacts, and some Roman and Byzantine artifacts.  This is a history of an ancient city – Israel should not play games and jeopardize this history.  The Israeli authorities are an occupying force, and they should stop all of the digging.  Most of these lands are WAQF properties – they are holy Islamic sites, and Israel knows they should respect, and not attack these properties.>

Attack on Lebanon

The Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Seniora said on Thursday that more than 900 people were killed and 3,000 injured in Israeli attacks since the Israeli attacks against Lebanon began three weeks earlier.  He added that one million people – a quarter of the population – had been displaced by the ongoing attacks.

While Seniora spoke, Hezbollah was firing hundreds of rockets in Israeli cities. An Israeli was killed after being hit by shrapnel near the northern border town of Nahariya.  Also, one Israeli soldier was killed and four injured in the Lebanese border village Ayta Ash-Shaab in an invasion to southern of Lebanon.  So far 56 Israelis have been killed, including thirty-seven soldiers, since the war began three weeks ago.

On Sunday, the Israeli army dropped two bombs on a three-story building in Qana, a village in southern Lebanon, killing nearly everyone inside.  Fifty-seven civilians, including 37 children, died in the massacre.
The Israeli army refused to take responsibility for the killing, instead blaming Hezbollah and the victims themselves for their deaths.  Israeli officials said that those inside the building should have left as Israel had ordered them to evacuate days ago, and thus it was their fault for remaining.  Many people in Lebanon have found themselves in similar situations, unable to leave their homes as Israel has bombed the vehicles of evacuating families, killing dozens.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert blamed Hezbollah for the death of the civilians, saying the Lebanese resistance fighters had fired rockets into Israel from Qana.  Olmert then blamed the victims, saying they should have evacuated as the army had ordered them to do.

However, an investigation conducted by the Israeli army found that no rockets had been fired from the village. The army now calls the massacre a “mistake,” and says the intent was not to kill civilians.  However, they continue to hold Hezbollah responsible for the deaths saying the group uses civilians as human shields for their rocket attacks.

Israel has been documented repeatedly as using human shields as a standard tactic of military operations.

The US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to condemn the Qana massacre.  The US has vetoed over forty UN resolutions concerning Israel’s role in the Middle East.

And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine.  For constant updates, check out our website,  As always, thanks for joining us.  From Occupied Bethlehem, this is Jacque Shoen, Dinna Awwad & Ghassan Bannoura