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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www.imemc.org, for Wednesday February 7th, 2007
Thirteen Palestinians were abducted by Israeli forces from various parts of the West Bank today, while controversial demolition in Jerusalem continues for a second day. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
The West Bank Update
Thirteen Palestinians were abducted by Israeli forces from various parts of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Israeli forces arrested three brothers from the village of Beit Amin, south of Qalqilya after storming houses and carrying out search operations, according to witnesses. Abed Al-Salam Omar,35, ‘Ali ‘Omar,26, and ‘Izzidin ‘Omar, aged 30 were all taken to unknown destinations according to security sources. Witnesses added that two other citizens were arrested in the same operation.
Mansour Obed, from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia was abducted at an Israeli army checkpoint near the West bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday midday
Israeli forces abducted two Palestinians from the city and refugee camp of Tulkarem. One of them is a 17 year-old activist in the Islamic Jihad movement, named Marwan Munther ‘Abed Al-Latif Al-Madani, according to Palestinian media sources. 19 year old Sa’id Fawaz’a was also abducted from Tulkarem refugee camp.
Israeli forces also abducted three Palestinians in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources stated that ten army jeeps invaded the city. Troops abducted Mustafa Hmeidan, 23, from the town of Beit Iba west of Nablus, Fadil Abu Salim, 20, from the refugee camp of Askar east of Nablus, and Muhammad Ali Hashash from the refugee camp of Balata east of Nablus. Also on Wednesday, the Israeli army arrested a 19-year-old after breaking into his house in Hebron, witnesses stated. They added that another person was arrested in another operation in the city.
On Wednesday Israeli police restricted access to the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem for the second consecutive day while controversial demolition is underway. Only Muslim men over the age of 45 with Israeli identity cards and Muslim women are allowed to enter the Mosque compound.
The already tight restrictions were strengthened on Sunday, then again on Tuesday morning before Israeli bulldozers started demolishing the bridge to the Mugrabi (Moroccan) Gate, one of the main entrances to the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Several people have been arrested for defying the restrictions in protest, including the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Ra’ed Salah. Detainees were taken to Masqopia detention centre in Jerusalem for interrogation.
On Monday the ‘City of Peoples’ organization and city council member Peppe Alalo, sent an urgent letter to the Attorney General Menachem Mazuz stating that the illegality of the excavation was well known by municipal bodies. However, this outcry was ignored. The Israeli government had recently decided to demolish the bridge, citing the need to build a road for Jewish settlers. Ehud Olmert also recently granted permission for a synagogue to be built only 40-50 meters away from the al-Aqsa mosque.
A meeting in Makkah started on Wednesday between the rivalry Fateh and Hamas parties in order to discuss the issues of national unity and ending conflict in Palestine. Hamas leader Khaled Meshal told the inaugural ceremony in the Saudi King’s guest palace that they have no other option but to reach an agreement.
Hopes that agreement is on the horizon were strengthened by Fateh leader President Mahmoud Abbas’ similar comment that ‘we will not leave this holy place until we have agreed on everything good, with God’s blessing.’
The meeting is being held under the patronage of Saudi Arabia, which has been conducting extensive efforts to end the internal clashes between Fateh and Hamas and to help the factions achieve a unity government deal. Fateh and Hamas talks in Saudi Arabia will last for two days, and the meetings will be off-limits to the press.
On the ground, unknown gunmen abducted a Palestinian health ministry official in the northern West Bank city of Ramallah. Initial reports are saying that he is the director of public hospitals in the ministry of health. On Tuesday late at night the Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas, said that one of its fighters was killed and three others were injured after being attacked by gunmen in the center of Gaza City.
Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, brought to you by Jake Talhami and Ghassan Bannoura