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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, imemc.org, for August 18 through August 25, 2006.

Israel invades the West Bank 44 times, kills 6 in the Gaza Strip, and abducts two senior Palestinian officials.  UN Resolution 1701 falters as Israel continues to attack Lebanon and the UN peacekeeping force fails to materialize.  And Palestinian peaceful protests continue in the West Bank villages of Bil’in and Al Khader.  These stories and more, coming up.  Stay tuned.

Weekly Update on Actions Against the Annexation Wall

At the weekly demonstration against the Annexation Wall at Bil'in today soldiers brutally attacked protesters with batons. As the protesters made their way to the Wall the soldiers advanced towards them and started beating them repeatedly on all parts of the body.

One American peace activist was beaten on the head and suffered concussion whilst another suffered serious wounds to her hand. Numerous other protesters sustained baton injuries, none the less Palestinians and international ISM activists continued confronting the soldiers.

Mansour Mansour, a local ISM coordinator describes soldiers’ brutality against peace activists.
<Actuality 39 sec>

Local sources at the village said the army used a new weapon against the protestors.  Troops fired some kind of bullets that causes an electric shock upon hitting the body, and leaves bruises on the skin.  At least five Internationals, four Israelis and three Palestinians were wounded.

In Al-Khader village near Bethlehem, local residents including many children were joined by International peace activists to protest against the construction of the wall in their village which will illegally annex a wide area of land to Israel.

The villagers believe the Israeli government's Plans is to expropriate their farm lands and encircle them with the Wall and fences. They were met by about 20 soldiers who prevented them from reaching Road 60, a road used only by settlers, where they have previously stood with their banners and Palestinian flags, in view of passing cars.

The soldiers menaced the children, shouting and pushing, attempting to provoke them into violence. The children held their ground, singing and chanting. The soldiers also took photographs of many of the children. The Border Police arrived as the demonstration ended.

Most of the land that will be annexed to Israel in Al-Khader is agricultural land and is the only source of income to many of the villagers.


Attacks on the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Now let's move onto Israel’s attacks on the West Bank and Gaza Strip that killed 9 this week and injured 26.

Gaza Strip
In Gaza, the Israeli army killed six residents, including a woman who died of wounds sustained earlier this month.  Gaza’s death toll in Israel’s Operation Summer Rains, begun June 28, is now 216, including 45 children.  842 have been injured in the onslaught, 240 of them children.  Over three hundred families have been displaced.

The army abducted six resistance fighters from Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and killed three Islamic Jihad fighters who were attempting to infiltrate into Israel through a border fence near Khan Younis.

The army also abducted five residents from their homes, and destroyed two houses in Gaza, one in Jabalya camp and one in Rafah.  The families were given thirty minutes to evacuate.

On Thursday a group of Palestinian armed men blew a hole in the annexation Wall to protest the months of closure that have left thousands stranded in Egypt.  1,300 Egyptian border guards were then deployed along the border.

Meanwhile, Sofa commercial crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip was temporarily opened this week after months of closure.

West Bank
In the West Bank, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank 44 times this week, arresting 64 civilians including 5 children and 4 women.

In one invasion into the West Bank town of Al–Ebediyah east of Bethlehem, an Apache missile killed two members of Al Quds Brigade, Islamic Jihad's armed wing, and destroyed the cave they were hiding in.

A Palestinian worker was shot dead at an Israeli checkpoint near Nablus, and two others were injured.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem issued a report this week warning of a sharp increase in cases in which Israeli soldiers and Border Police in the West Bank have beaten, abused, and humiliated Palestinians, particularly since the outbreak of the war in Lebanon on July 12th.  Risa Zoll, with B'tselem:

<Actuality 35 sec>

In Jenin, an Israeli under cover unit disguised as Palestinian civilians fired at Husam Jaradat, a local leader of Islamic Jihad. Jaradat was seriously injured.  He was treated at a local hospital and then moved into hiding.  This is Israel’s second attempt to assassinate Jaradat in one month.

 

Israeli Army Kidnaps Two Palestinian Senior Officials
The Israeli military kidnapped two Palestinian officials from Ramallah this week, deputy Prime Minister Dr. Nasser Al Din Al Shaer on Saturday, and Palestinian Legislative Council Secretary Dr. Mahmoud Al Ramahi on Sunday.

Earlier this month Israeli troops kidnapped speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr. Abdel Aziz Dweik.  The soldiers beat him until he had to be hospitalized.

This week, an Israeli military court charged Dweik with membership in a terrorist organization, having contacts with Khaled Mesha’al, head of the Hamas politburo, and heading a terrorist establishment, that is, the Hamas-led Palestinian Legislative Council.

Ghazi Hamad, a government spokesperson, analyzes the reasoning behind Israel’s abductions of Palestinian officials.

<Actuality>

"I think Israel is interested in either removing the Palestinian political system or creating a political void, through the ongoing detention of legislators and cabinet ministers, and by making the government lose its resources.  I think Israel wants to send a message to the world that there is no Palestinian partner for peace and no Palestinian government."

So far, five ministers and over 36 legislators have been abducted in the last two months.  Only four have been released.

Palestinian Factions Discuss National Unity & Financial Crisis
As internal talks continued this week around the possibility of forming a national unity government, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh laid out his conditions for such a government.  They included the release of all imprisoned ministers and legislators from Israeli jails, the lifting of Israel’s blockade on the Palestinian territories, and the end of the US and the EU’s aid cutoff.  Haniyeh also insisted that any coalition government be headed by Hamas since the party had claimed a majority in the January elections.

Some Palestinian civil servants declared a two-day warning strike this Wednesday and Thursday, demanding payment and the lifting of the aid blockade.  If their demands are not met by September 2, they plan to declare an open strike.

Jamil Shehadeh is head of the Palestinian Teacher's Union, who had threatened a strike just as schools are set to open:

<Actuality – 21 sec>
Everybody should know that the base of all our problems here is the Israeli occupation – if we didn't have the occupation, we wouldn't have such problems. Secondly, those countries who blindly support Israel are part of the problem. And third, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for paying the salaries. The Authority should find ways to fulfill its obligations to the workers.

At least 165 thousand Palestinian governmental employees have not been paid regularly for six months, since the US and EU imposed an aid freeze on the Palestinian Authority.  The US has also threatened to consider any bank that transfers funds to the PA a terrorist sympathizer.

Kidnapped Fox News Reporters
An unknown Palestinian faction calling itself Holy Jihad Brigade claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Fox News reporters, Steve Centanni, 60 from the USA and Olaf Wiig, 36 from New Zealand, nine days ago.  The group gave the American administration 72 hours to release all Muslims imprisoned in American jails.  The American consulate in Jerusalem rejected the ultimatum, saying they would not respond to the demands of terrorists.

Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip held massive protests against the abduction of the two reporters and demanded their release.

On Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismael Haniyya, called for the immediate and safe release of the two reporters and expressed hopes that his governments' efforts will be successful.

Later on Friday, the Hamas-led Palestinian government said that an achievement has been made in the case.

Palestinian Interior Minister, Sa'id Siyam, issued a statement saying that “things are moving in a positive direction”, but did not reveal and further details.

UNSCR 1701 Falters as UN Force Fails to Materialize
One Israeli soldier was killed and three injured on Wednesday in occupied Shebaa Farms when Israeli troops stepped on one of the 400 thousand landmines left by Israel in Lebanon after the pullout in 2000.  Another Israeli soldier was killed in clashes with Hezbollah after Israel deployed paratroopers into central Lebanon.  A fourth soldier was seriously injured when he fell and hit his head while patrolling the Lebanese village of Taibeh.  Three Lebanese soldiers were also killed by Israeli cluster bombs and landmines.

UN officials voiced concerns over the stability of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a tenuous ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel earlier this month.  Since its implementation, Israel has continued to attack Lebanon and Hezbollah has refused to disarm.

While 15,000 additional UN troops were supposed to arrive to reinforce the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, in south Lebanon, recruitment is proving difficult.  France has only committed to doubling its contingent of 200 troops, raising doubts in the UN over Paris' enthusiasm.

Conclusion
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 Nicolas Blincoe.

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