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This week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, imemc.org, for September 8th through September the 15th, 2006.
The Israeli army kills 7 civilians including two children and reoccupies the Gaza Strip on the one-year anniversary of its redeployment. And Palestinian ministers hand in their resignation as factions agree to form a national unity government. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
Bil’in continue to resist the wall
Let's begin our weekly report with this week’s peaceful protest against the annexation Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in.
At the weekly demonstration at Bi'lin village today protesters once again confronted the Israeli military who stand between the villagers of Bi'lin and the land which they have farmed for hundreds of years. There were approximately one hundred Palestinian protesters from the village and over twenty international protesters. Numerous scuffles took place. Batons and shields were violently used on protesters as soldiers protected land stolen from Palestinians and stopped protesters from marching towards the apartheid wall. One international, an Israeli named Yutan received a bloody wound to the face and was treated at the scene.
Paul a peace activist from UK was at the demonstration,
Protesters then stood in a line, being confronted by the Israeli soldiers. A Buddhist monk calmly banged his drum as twenty or so protesters sat down in the road. Palestinian boys began to throw stones with sling shots from their position on a ridge away from the main protest. No tear gas was fired. The demonstration passed relatively peacefully compared to recent protests. No live bullets or tear gas was fired were fired. Five Palestinians were hit by Rubber Bullets.
Attacks on the West Bank & Gaza Strip
Israeli army killed seven civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this week, including two children, and injured 22, including three children and five women.
Attacks on the Gaza Strip
One year after its deployment from the Gaza Strip and the dismantlement of illegal settlements, the Israeli army is back inside Gaza, occupying the tiny strip of land with more military force than ever, imposing a catastrophic siege and bombardment.
Since the beginning Israel’s Operation Summer Rains in June, the Israeli military has killed 228 including 48 children and twelve women. 813 have been injured, the vast majority of them civilians, 216 of them children and 30 women. Earlier this week the British newspaper The Guardian warned that people were near starvation point and being forced to look in dumpsters to find food.
Three residents were killed when the army shelled the residential area near the Gaza international airport, including a fourteen-year-old child. His twenty-five-year old brother was critically injured. The army killed a twenty-eight-year-old man during an invasion near Sofa crossing during which the army fired live ammunition into a residential area.
An Israeli soldier was also killed in Gaza this week, near Al-Muntar crossing. Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committee claimed responsibility for the attack.
Attacks on the West Bank
Meanwhile in the West Bank, the Israeli army killed three people including a child, injured 7, and abducted 55 residents including two children, 3 women and 2 wounded persons.
An Israeli undercover unit invaded a village near Nablus and shot at a taxi, killing two of its occupants and injuring the driver.
The Israeli army also invaded Bethlehem with fifteen tanks, provoking clashes with the residents. A fourteen-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and six more were injured. Raouf Azar, head of the Roman Catholic Clinic that received the boy:
"The boy arrived dead to the hospital; however, we tried to do a reanimation, however there was a very strong hemorrhage. We expect his liver, and lung were penetrated by the bullet."
Palestinian National Unity Government to Form
All the Ministers of the Palestinian Authority handed in their resignations to Palestinian Premier Ismael Haniyeh this week. Haniyeh will now submit his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, paving the way for the formation of a new national unity government.
This move follows extensive discussions between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh, as well as within the rest of the Palestinian Authority. The new government will consist of all Palestinian factions except for Islamic Jihad and will continue to be led by Haniyeh.
Following talks between Haniyeh and Abbas over the formation of the coalition government, Abbas declared that the Palestinian Authority employees will receive a month payment before the beginning of Ramadan, in the fourth week of September.
Many are hoping the new government will bring a lifting of the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US, which have left 165,000 civil servants unpaid for over four months. Those civil servants have been engaged in a general strike for three weeks now.
Here’s Fuad Kokali, a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council:
"I think a government with clear political program which takes into consideration the regional and international needs and commits to the Road Map and the agreements signed by the previous government, will cerate a potential to push the situation forward and open a whole in blockade. Actually, this will be on top of the agenda of the new government."
In his three-day tour of the Middle East, Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a joint meeting with President Abbas in Ramallah, gave vocal support to the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, saying the move would help to ease the sanctions.
But in a joint press conference with US secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel would not deal with the new Palestinian government unless it complies with the conditions of the Quartet committee for Peace in the Middle East. The Quartet, which consists of the United States, the European Union, The United Nations and Russia, demands the Palestinian Government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and agree to all peace accords agreed to by previous Palestinian governments. Rice reiterated the same stance.
On the other hand, President Abbas said, the EU, Russia and China welcome the planned formation of a Palestinian national unity government and said they will have ties with it.
Israeli Military Court Extends Imprisonment of Palestinian Officials
An Israeli military court extended the imprisonment of eighteen Palestinian officials, including five cabinet ministers and thirteen legislators who were scheduled to be released on Thursday. The court put the bail for each official at $5,700.
Israeli kidnapped the legislators and ministers following the capture of an Israeli soldier by a group of Palestinian resistance fighters on June 25, from a military base near the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, the Israeli army kidnapped seven members of Hamas including a member of the Bethlehem municipal council, in an early morning invasion of the city.
And that’s just some of the news This Week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out our website, imemc.org. As always, thanks for joining us. From Occupied Bethlehem, This report is brought to you by, Dina Awwad, James Brown and Ghassan Bannoura