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This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,  For September 15 through September 22, 2006.

The Israeli army kills 8 civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Efforts to form a national unity government are put on hold as Abbas meets with American and Israeli officials in the UN General Assembly in New York.  And three churches are attacked in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as outrage grows over the Pope’s slander of Islam.  These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

Weekly Peaceful protests against the Separation Wall in the West  Bank village of Bil’in

Let's begin our weekly report with this week’s peaceful actions against the annexation Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in


At the weekly anti-Wall protest in Bil'in Friday around 75 villagers, internationals and Israelis began their march to the site of the illegal Wall, but were stopped by soldiers when they reached the edge of the village. The peaceful demonstrators then made their way through the olive groves, but were forced back into the village by tear gas and rubber bullets fired by the soldiers. 

Cobi, an Israeli peace activist from the Anarchists Against the Wall movement, was there,

Soldiers then, invaded the village and arrested Mohammed Khatib, a member of the Popular Resistance Committee Against the Wall. He was held for over an hour before being released. Soldiers also fired multiple tear gas canisters and shot rubber bullets at villagers as they made several forays into the village. Adib Abu Rahme was injured by rubber bullet in the stomach, Nasser Abu Rahme, was hit in the arm by a rubber bullet and Sharar Mansour was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet.

Attacks on the West Bank & Gaza Strip
This week the Israeli army killed eight Palestinians including three children, one of whom is a fifteen year old girl who died of wounds sustained during an invasion earlier this month.

Attacks on the Gaza Strip
This week the Israeli army invaded several areas in the Gaza Strip and killed eight civilians, bringing the death toll in Gaza since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Summer Rains to 231, including 49 children and 12 women.  The injured number is 814, mostly civilians, including 216 children, 31 women, four paramedics and six journalists.

The army also abducted nine Gaza residents this week.  The most recent invasion was carried out this Thursday on the southern town of Rafah.  Five Palestinians were killed, including two children and a mother; seven were wounded.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, 35-year-old mother I’timad Abu Moa’ammar was deliberately shot by the Israeli army and was left to bleed to death in Um Al-Nasser village near Rafah. Another young man died of wounds of after receiving a bullet to the thigh and was left to bleed for more than six hours.  The army prevented medical teams from rescuing the wounded.

Dr. Ali Mousa, head of the emergency room in Rafah Hospital told IEMC around noon time, there was a chance to save the wounded.

<Actuality 20 sec>
“Apparently, the wounded were left to bleed to death. One hour ago, we receive a dead young man who was wounded at dawn, in his thigh, and one of the veins was cut. Such injury, if arrives at the hospital fast, the bleeding can be controlled and the wounded would be saved. However, the Israeli Army deliberately left the wounded to bleed which resulted in the death of the woman and the young man.”

Attacks on the West Bank
And in the West Bank this week, the Israeli army broke into the Jordanian National Bank, as well as 24 money exchange shops in four cities.  Israeli soldiers kidnapped 7 money exchangers and confiscated over one million dollars, claiming the exchange shops were financing attacks on Israel.

Also this week, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank village of Sanur, southeast of Jenin, and assassinated a member of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, after surrounding his house and firing even after he was captured.

Nine West Bank residents were injured this week in invasions, and 20 residents were abducted, including one child and one woman.

National Unity Government talks continue

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, is being challenged by the Palestinian government of acting as a mouthpiece for the United States government, and misrepresenting the Palestinian demands during his visit to the U.S. over the last two days.

Abbas told the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York Thursday that the Palestinian government would recognize the state of Israel, despite the fact that national unity government talks between his party and the rival ruling party, Hamas, have yet to be completed.  Abbas' statement came just one day after a meeting with U.S. President George Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, leading many to speculate that he was pressured by Bush to make such a statement.

Hamas has continuously reiterated its stance that it would not recognize Israel, however, said that it accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state on the land occupied in 1967 and ten-year truce with Israel.

Abbas and US President George W. Bush discussed ways to revive the Road Map.  Bush voiced his support for Abbas' efforts to form a Palestinian National Unity government, while reiterating the conditions which, if not met, aid would continue to be withheld.  The conditions include recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting all of the peace agreements previously signed with Israel.

Abbas also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the first meeting in four months between officials from both sides.  Livni told the General Assembly that Israel does not intend to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

The 2002 Arab Initiative for peace called for a full scale recognition of Israel in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders as a solution to the Israeli Arab conflict.

Quartet meeting & EU temporary aid mechanism

The Quartet, which includes Russia, the US, the UN and the EU, of the Middle East Peace Mediators also met in New York this week. The organization endorsed the Palestinian National Unity government, indicating a softening of the US position towards the Palestinian Hamas led government.

In a statement, the Quartet criticized Israel's siege on the Gaza Strip and the restrictions of movement of the Palestinians in the West Bank, and called on Israel to release the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Palestinian tax revenues that Israel has withheld for the last seven months.

Meanwhile the European Union decided to extend its temporary mechanism of aid to the Palestinians for another three months.  The aid is directed to forty thousand families who have not received salaries since the EU and the US cut off of aid to Palestine last March after Hamas took office.  The money will be routed to Abbas’ office and will be distributed to the local banks so that people can receive their salaries.  One Hamas high official expressed hopes that the extension of the EU aid would help lift the sanctions imposed on the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Palestinian employees are in their forth week of general strike.  This week protestors took to the streets in several West Bank cities and Gaza Strip, demanding payment of overdue wages.  Crowds gathered around Haniyeh as he arrived to attend a session of the Palestinian Legislative Council, obstructing his movement and demanding a solution.  Two protestors were injured when security men and Haniyeh's bodyguards open fired at the protestors.

Palestinian reaction on the Pope's statements

And Pope Benedict 16th’s remarks against Islam have sparked anger and violence across the Muslim world.  Protest rallies were conducted across Palestine, demanding that the Pope apologize for his comments, and crowds set fire to three churches.  The Palestinian Minister of the Interior vowed to protect churches in the Palestinian territories and deployed security forces around them.

In an attempt to cool the outrage at the Pope’s comments, a Vatican envoy met with the head of the Palestinian judicial council, Shiekh Tayseer Al Tamimi, and delivered a message from the Pope saying his comments were misinterpreted and did not mean to harm Islam or the feelings of the Muslims.  The Pope is expected to receive the ambassadors of Islamic countries in his Vatican residence in the coming few days.

And that’s just some of the news from this week in Palestine.  For constant updates, check our website at  As always, thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem.  This report is brought to you by Caysha Cay, Dina Awwad and Ghassan Bannoura.