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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre  for Wednesday August 23, 2006.

One residents dies of injuries in Gaza while the army continues to attack West Bank cities and takes prisoners.  These stores and more coming up, stay tuned.

The Gaza Update

Medical sources report Wednesday that Mohammad Abu Amsha died of injuries sustained during an Israeli attack on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip A group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigade claimed responsibility for kidnapping the two Fox News reporters in the Gaza Strip and is seeking a prisoner exchange with the US.  Popular Resistance Committees stop actions to resolve the Rafah crisis after receiving promise from Egyptians to reopen the southern Gaza Strip border crossing tomorrow.  Israeli authorities allow a two hour opening of the Gaza Strip for Palestinians to import medicine Wednesday Palestinian security forces destroyed a tunnel Wednesday morning in the Brazil neighborhood of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

The Al Dameer Foundation for Human Rights issued a written statement in Gaza City Wednesday that warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe as Israeli occupation forces practice collective punishment against the citizens of the Gaza Strip.” Al Dameer called the policies of the Israeli government the “ugliest form of state sponsored terrorism.” The foundation demanded that the international fulfill its responsibility and force Israel to adhere to international law as the “collective punishment has gone beyond all limits, norms and laws.”

The Palestinian National Information Center – State Information Service, released a report on Wednesday about the Israeli violations and attacks against the Palestinians during the period between August 15 and August 21. The report revealed that Israeli troops killed 17 Palestinians, injured 61, and arrested 99 in one week. Within one week, Israeli soldiers carried 62 invasions that included breaking into civilian homes 175 times, installing temporary checkpoints 116 times, closing borders crossings and terminals 359 times, in addition to bulldozing Palestinian orchards, for the construction of the Wall, 8 times.

Scores of Palestinian Authority employees took to the streets in Gaza City in front of Palestinian Government offices Wednesday afternoon in protest of a warning issued by Hamas member and Palestinian Government Spokesperson Dr. Ghazi Hamad.  The nonviolent demonstration was against the warning that teachers and PA employees should not strike against pay checks now six months.  The protesters claim that many Hamas members are receiving salaries to the exclusion of other party members who have not been paid since the US-led international economic and political blockade started upon the democratic election of Hamas in January 2006.  The Palestinian government claims that their actions breach Palestinian law, but the protestors disagree. Also Wednesday, some 8,000 Palestinian teachers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began a two-day hunger strike.

The West Bank update

Israeli army troops and jeeps stormed the village of Dura south of the West Bank city of Hebron Wednesday morning.  According to local residents, troops stormed residents’ homes, searched them and ransacked them, looking for what they claim to be “wanted Palestinians.”  Soldiers detained scores of young men from the village and forced them to stand against the wall for several hours while checking their IDs, then released them, residents reported. In separate incident, Nasser Abu Samra, 25, from Yatta village near the city was arrested by the Israeli army while going through the borders in Jericho and was taken to an unknown location.  No reasons were given for his arrest according to his family.

Israeli army troops stormed and ransacked a library and a Palestinian police station in the old city of the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday. Local sources said that the army stormed the two buildings in the early dawn hours, searched them and ransacked personal belongings before using them as army posts.  The sources added that soldiers detained civilians who were in the library and released them after checking their ID cards.  Meanwhile, in the old city of Hebron, Israeli soldiers barred Palestinian residents from entering Abraham Mosque also called the Tomb of Patriarchs in order to allow illegal settlers to celebrate their holy day in the mosque on Wednesday.

Said Abu Jaber, 23, was taken prisoner during a pre dawn invasion of the village of Jelqa Mous east of the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday.  Also Wednesday, the Israeli army invaded Arraba’ village north of Jenin city and searched several homes and ransacked them, then left the village.  Meanwhile, another force stormed the city of Jenin, patrolled the streets and left. Israeli army troops stationed at the military checkpoint south of the West Bank city of Tubas took four prisoners late Tuesday night.  The four were stopped at this checkpoint, detained for several hours, then taken to an unknown location, eyewitnesses reported.  Their identities remain unknown.  Abdullah Barruuthi, 21 from the village of Dir Ghassana west of the West Bank city of Ramallah was taken prisoner by the Israeli army on Wednesday morning.

In the city of Tulkarem Muhammad Tanbouz, 17 was taken to an unknown location when troops stormed the city searched and ransacked several homes including his family’s home. Also on Wednesday, Israeli army bulldozers leveled a house that belongs to Ahmed Zaki in Jabal Al Mukaber, a Palestinian neighborhood south east of the old city of Jerusalem.  Police officers also arrested two of Zaki’s sons Wi’am and Haitham.

Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem.  You have been listening to Palestine Today for the International Middle East Media Centre, brought to you by Caysha Cay & Ghassan Bannoura