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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for the week of November 10 through November 17, 2006.
Six Palestinians die in Israeli invasions. Meanwhile, a new, unaffiliated prime minister has been named as the Quartet continues to approve sanctions on any Palestinian government that does not recognize Israel. And this week marks the second anniversary of the passing of late President Yasser Arafat, and the eighteenth anniversary of the declaration of Palestinian Independence. 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 nonviolent protest against the annexation Wall in Bil’in.
Some 300 Palestinians and 100 Israeli and international peace activists marched on Friday against the Israeli Annexation Wall in Bil'in village, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. In reference to Palestinian Independence Day, the procession called for the end of the occupation and Israeli annexation policies. Israeli soldiers injured seven peaceful protesters.
The protesters were stopped by Israeli soldiers at the gate that leads to Bil'in's agricultural land (now annexed behind Israeli construction). Other soldiers took a high position on a ridge of the patrol-road, part of which has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice.
After a few minutes of non-violent protest, the demonstrators were attacked by soldiers throwing concussion grenades. Local teenagers retaliated by throwing stones at the well-armed troops. As protesters continued towards the Wall, soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated bullets at them, which further agitated local youths. Four residents and three activists were injured by rubber-coated bullets. Two of them needed hospitalization at Sheikh Ziyad Hospital in Ramallah.
Nayef Ghazi Al Khateeb, 19 and Khaled Abu Rahma, were hit by rubber-coated bullets in their head and hand respectively. Eyad Bornat, Mohammad (guard for parliament member Qais Abu Laila), Michael (an Israeli activist), Natalia (a Swedish activist), and Avlina (a French activist)- all received treatment on the scene.
Natalia, a Swedish activist was injured by a concussion bomb in the protest.
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Moreover, soldiers attacked a Reuters cameraman, Oleg, and one gas bomb, fired by the army, hit the Reuters vehicle. On the western side of the village soldiers broke into the house of Mahmoud Abdul-Hadi Samara and occupied its rooftop. The Samara family was not allowed to leave the house, which soldiers used to fire rubber-coated bullets at the protesters from the rooftop, located about 500-600 meters away from the Wall.
Attacks on the West Bank & Gaza Strip
This week marked the second anniversary of the passing of late President Yasser Arafat. Hundreds poured into the streets of Ramallah to commemorate the day. The crowds headed to the presidential headquarters, the site of Arafat’s grave. This week was also the eighteenth anniversary of Palestinian Independence Day, declared on November 1988 by the late President Yasser Arafat, while he was living in exile in Algeria.
Ashraf Al Ajrami, a Palestinian political analyst expert in Israeli affairs says Israel is the obstacle to establishing a Palestinian state.
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"Israelis, including right wing parties, fully realize that the establishment of a Palestinian state is inevitable, and sees that as the best solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is an achievement for the Palestinians. However Israel does not until this moment recognize the importance of withdrawing to pre-1967 borders and establishing a Palestinian State along side Israel safe as neighbors”
Meanwhile, the Israeli army continued attacking the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing six residents and injuring several others.
Four Dead In Gaza As EU Extends Third Party Border Mission
The Israeli army killed four residents in Gaza this week, including one child. Three more died of wounds sustained in last week’s invasion to Beit Hanoun, which claimed the lives of 98, mainly civilians. Two hundred and sixty four were injured in the attack on Beit Hanoun last week, including 76 children and sixty women. Gaza’s death toll has surpassed 400 since the beginning of Israel’s military operation “Summer Rains” last June.
In response to the attacks on Gaza, the United Nations Human Rights Council held an urgent meeting in Geneva in which it condemned the killing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure. Beit Hanoun is Gaza’s economic center and its factories and farms have been the repeated target of Israeli military attacks. The Council also called for an investigation into Israel’s massacre of 18 members of a single family last Thursday. All 18 were killed, including 7 children and 6 women, while they were sleeping in their beds.
And the European Union has approved a six-month extension for its third party observers at Rafah Crossing Point. Last week, EU officials threatened to withdraw their observers if Israel continued to bar them from reaching their posts. The original mission of the EU observers, established in August 2005, was to provide impartial and secure travel to people crossing the Gaza border. However, since June the Israeli military has forced them out and closed the border, leaving thousands stranded on both sides. Many have died waiting in unsanitary conditions.
Two Dead In West Bank As Daily Attacks Continue
This week, the Israeli army invaded towns in the West Bank 30 times, killing two, injuring 13, and abducting 55, including six children and two women. Israeli troops invaded Al Ein Beit Al-Maa’ refugee camp near Nablus twice. In one attack, 26-year-old Bahaa’ Salah Khatari, a resistance fighter, was killed. Another resident was killed by the Israeli army during the latest invasion to Al Ein refugee camp while he was inside his home.
Dr. Ghassan Hamdan describes the Israeli army invasion to the West Bank refugee camp of Al Ein near Nablus and the killing of one its youths while he was at his home.
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"Israeli forces occupied one of the buildings that is close to Al Ein refugee camp, the soldiers were watching the youth's home who has a wanted brother as the soldiers claimed, while the soldiers were watching the home, the youth looked out from a window of his home, the snipers shot him directly with live ammunition in the heart"
New Prime Minister For Palestine as Cabinet Talks Begin
Hamas and Fatah have announced a breakthrough in national unity talks. The two movements agreed this week to appoint Mohammed Shabeir, former head of the Islamic University in Gaza, as Prime Minister. Shabeir is unaffiliated with neither Hamas nor Fatah but enjoys good relations with both, as well as the international community.
The next topic of national unity talks will be the cabinet, which consists of 24 ministries. The cabinet will be divided according to the electoral popularity of the various parties, with Hamas taking 9 seats and Fatah taking six. The leftist bloc, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, will get three seats, and the five remaining seats will be distributed among smaller groups, including the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Communist Party, Palestine Independent, and the Third Way.
President Mahmoud Abbas reported receiving assurances from the United States that sanctions will be lifted after the new government is formed.
Fu’ad Kokale, a Fatah Palestinian Member of Parliamen says that the main concern now is to find a way to lift the embargo imposed on the Palestinians.
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"What is important now is whether the Palestinians can reach a formula which can be accepted by the Arab and Western worlds and by the Palestinian people, through which we could find a way out of the embargo imposed on our people. The Quartet conditions are part of the agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority. Therefore any Palestinian government to be formed should take into consideration the agreements adopted by previous governments that are based on the PLO program. I think that Hamas accepted these conditions after some modifications. Secondly it's not necessarily for Hamas to recognize Israel."
Meanwhile, the Quartet, which includes the United Nations, United States, Russia and the European Union, discussed the possibilities of reviving the stalled Middle East peace process. The Quartet reaffirmed that it will recognize a Palestinian government if the government recognizes Israel, renounces violence, and accepts all previously signed agreements with Israel.
Israel Rejects a new European Peace Initiative
Three European countries, France, Italy and Spain, presented a new Middle East initiative for peace in an attempt to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This initiative consists of five points, including an immediate ceasefire and sending an international mission to Gaza to monitor the ceasefire. The initiative also calls for the formation of a Palestinian national unity government and a prisoners’ swap. including the captured Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the initiative promotes talks between Israel's prime minister and the Palestinian president.
This initiative did not explicitly demand Hamas to recognize Israel, which is one of the Quartet's requirements in order to lift the sanctions imposed on the Palestinians in the last nine months after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections.
While the Palestinian Authority welcomed the initiative, Israel rejected it because it made Israel “non-existent”. This came after a week of an Israeli invasion on Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip that killed at least twenty residents, including eighteen members of one family and injured several others. One Israeli woman was killed another young man was seriously injured by Palestinian homemade shells fired at Israeli targets.
And that’s just some of the news for this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out our website at www.imemc.org. As always, thank you for joining us. From Occupied Bethlehem, this is Michael Whiting, Caysha Cay, and Ghassan Bannoura.