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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, imemc.org, for the week November 3 through November 10, 2006.
A massacre in Beit Hanoun kills 20 members of the same family including women and children. Three members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade extra-judicially assassinated in the West Bank. And Hamas and Fatah agree on a national unity government. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
Weekly Peaceful actions in the West Bank
Let's begin our weekly report with this week's peaceful actions against the annexation Wall and other stories in the West Bank.
At today's weekly demonstration against the annexation Wall in Bil'in, international volunteers and Israeli activists joined villagers to express their condemnation of the mass killing in Gaza this week and to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat.
The marchers carried a funeral tent for the victims of the Gaza atrocities and a youth band played at the front of the march. Marchers wore black ribbons around their faces and across their mouths to symbolize the silence of the international community.
Some protesters marched down the hill and started to dismantle parts of the illegal wall made of razor wire. The Israeli military responded with many rounds of tear gas, sound bombs and shot one protestor in the arm and face with rubber bullets. Despite this violence, protesters managed to pull up the razor wire using their bare hands and olive branches. Once on the other side the demonstrators sat down and started chanting anti-occupation slogans before deciding to disperse.
After the demonstration Israeli troops invaded the village, fired live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets wounding 8 children, and hitting one child with shrapnel from live ammunition in the hand. Soldiers invaded the house of Ahmad Hassan and beat 3 members of his family.
Attacks on the West Bank & Gaza Strip
Ninety nine Palestinians have been killed this week in Israeli attacks on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll since June to 424 in Gaza alone.
Attacks on the Gaza Strip
Ninety-four have been killed this week in the town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, as Israeli tanks invaded and shelled the town as part of operation "Autumn Clouds." Since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Beit Hanoun, Gaza's economic and industrial center, has come under repeated assault by the Israeli military. The town has seen many of its factories and farms destroyed in large-scale invasions that also exacted a severe human toll.
Israeli army claimed the aim of the operation is to stop the launch of homemade Qassam shells at Israeli areas. However, during the invasion the Palestinian resistance launched some of these shells at Sderot. No injuries were reported.
After a week of invasions into Beit Hanoun, the Israeli military redeployed to the outskirts of the town on Wednesday, leading residents to believe the invasion was over. That night, the military shelled a residential neighborhood in the town, killing twenty residents of the 'Athamnah family while they were asleep in their beds. Eight of the dead were children and seven were women.
Israeli officials said the attack was a mistake rather than intentional. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini called it a "regrettable incident" but said it was inevitable in "the course of battle."
Ayman 'Athamnah, a survivor of the massacre, said before the attacks, troops searched their houses found no weapons at all.
I have lost all of my family; my mom, my sister, my brother's wife, my cousins. All of us are from the same family. Those injured are also part of my family: my brother and his son are both in critical condition. My uncle, his wife, son and daughter are dead. All of those who died are my brothers or first cousins. There was no resistance today or in the past few days. During the first day of the invasion to Beit Hanoun, soldiers stormed our house and searched it before leaving. On Tuesday they searched our houses again and found no weapons and no resistance fighters.
In response to the invasion, Palestinian resistance factions declared an end to their one-sided truce and said they would resume suicide bombings as a tactic. Hamas politburo head Khaled Mashaal called on all Palestinian factions to retaliate.
Three days of mourning were declared throughout East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and most areas declared a commercial strike. In larger cities, protestors took to the streets. Several were attacked or abducted by Israeli troops.
Israeli Defense Minster Amir Peretz ordered a military investigation in the attack and said the target of the attack had been missed one kilometer, while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert blamed it on human error.
B'tselem, the Israeli Center for Human Rights, condemned the attack and all attacks against civilians. Sarit Michlle of B'tselem:
The EU expressed its profound shock over the killings and called international efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said America's approach to the Middle East has failed and called for an international force to be deployed in Gaza akin to the UNIFIL force in South Lebanon. The United Nations Security Council called an urgent meeting on Thursday to discuss a response to the Israeli attack.
Attacks on the West Bank
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank 34 times this week, abducted 123 civilians, including 4 children and 3 women. In an invasion into Al-Yamoun village near Jenin, Israeli soldiers extra judicially assassinated five Palestinians, three of which were members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah and the other two were bystander civilians.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that an Israeli undercover unit invaded the village and tracked the youth, exchanged fire with the three operatives and managed to capture them after wounding them in the legs.
Dr. Iyad Samarah, an eyewitness said the three were executed in cold blood:
"The occupation forces stopped ambulances and doctors from reaching the injured. I saw the three injured talking to neighbors at a house nearby before the soldiers took them behind the house and murdered them in cold blood."
There has been several cases where Israeli troops captured operatives alive and killed them on the spot in different areas in the West Bank.
Agreement on forming a National Unity government
The two main Palestinian rival parties, Fatah and Hamas have finally agreed on the main principles to form a national unity government after a series of meetings mediated by Parliament member Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh both declared that the unity government will be formed within the coming two weeks and that it will be based on the National Conciliation Document drafted by the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and endorsed by most of the Palestinian factions.
They also agreed on the reform of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to include all of the Palestinian factions. Palestinians are hoping that forming this government will help in lifting the international sanctions imposed on the Palestinians by the United States, the European Union and Israel, since Hamas took power in March.
Following the deadly attack against Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of 20 Palestinian civilians mostly from one family, talks were suspended because of the three-day mourning, declared in all the Palestinian areas.
Yousef Rizqa, Palestinian Minster of information, said this attack is reason for more unity.
"On the contrary, the attack increased the will among Palestinians to see the National Unity government become a reality. The government suspended the talks over the National Unity, to focus efforts to face the painful incident which overwhelmed all political issues. Talk will continue and will hopefully meet the Palestinian hopes."
The Financial Crisis in Palestine continue
Palestinian students flocked to their schools this Tuesday as around 40,000 teachers ended a two-month-long work strike. The teachers ended the strike after the government agreed to pay each teacher $230 dollars now, and the remainder of November's salary by the end of the month. Overdue salaries, unpaid since the beginning of the sanctions in March, will be delivered in January. Meanwhile, thousands of government employees remain on strike as pledges to deliver their salaries fall through. Among the striking employees are those in the health sector, who have not gone to their jobs in two months leaving the governmental hospitals closed.
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 Caysha Cay