Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4.57 MB || Time 5m 0sWelcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www.imemc.org, for Thursday March 8th, 2007.
At Rafah crossing in the Gaza strip chaos broke out, causing the death of one elderly man. The Israeli army abducts at least 24 Palestinian civilians from the West Bank. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
The Gaza Update
On Thursday the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border was reopened after a day’s closure. As hoards of Palestinian civilians accumulated, panic erupted amidst Israeli troops’ attempt to achieve calm by firing gunshots in the air.
It is estimated that 5000 civilians desperate to cross the rarely open border crossing had gathered in the area, resulting in a crush of bodies. Chaos broke out, causing the death of one elderly man, named as Ismail Qizaat by Gaza sources. Four people suffered injuries.
According to eyewitnesses at the crossing, men are taking to the roof tops of buses, while there is no room for organized passing. Women reportedly pleaded with officials at the crossing to organize the crowds of people, to no avail.
The opening hours of the crossing have been continuously inconsistent since 25 June 2006, when Palestinian armed factions captured the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, near the southern Gaza Strip. As a result of short and limited periods of opening, there have often been hoards of travelers accumulating at the crossing, resulting in mass crushes.
The West Bank Update
Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs at a women’s protest that took place near Qalandia checkpoint at the southern entrance of Ramallah city, in the central West Bank. The protest was organized by various Palestinian women’s organizations to commemorate International Women’s Day, which is today, March the 8th. Some gas inhalation cases were reported.
Israeli forces abducted at least 24 Palestinian civilians during invasions of several parts of the West Bank on Thursday morning. Nablus city, in the northern part of the West Bank, has witnessed most of those abductions.11 out of the 24 individuals abducted in the morning were from Nablus.
A massive Israeli force invaded the city and conducted a wide-scale search campaign in different parts of the city. Soldiers fired sound bombs and live rounds at residents’ houses and forced families outside before searching their homes.
Troops damaged families’ belongings during their search and took away electrical devices such as television sets and computers. Some families reported that Israeli soldiers have stolen money and cell phones from their houses.
Among those abducted were Jamal Hawash, Amjad Aliwi, Bishara Dashon, and Mohamed Al Qutab. All were taken to unknown detention camps.
Kufer Thouleth village south of Qalqilia city, also in the northern West Bank, had its share in the abductions today. The Israeli army invaded the village, searched scores of residents’ houses and ransacked them, then took Ibraheem Qassem, aged 35, Jassem Omer, 33, and Tarik Zumari, 23, to unknown locations, eyewitnesses reported.
Sources in Qalqilia added that a number of Israeli soldiers installed a military checkpoint at the eastern entrance of the city and handed out unsubstantiated fines to Palestinian drivers.
The Israeli army abducted five Palestinian civilians from the city of Tulkarem and the village of Atteel in the northern West Bank during an invasion on Thursday morning. An Israeli army convoy attacked the city and the village; soldiers searched a number of homes. Among those abducted were Nur Yousif, aged 19, and Khalid Bassam, 23.
In the central West Bank, two miners were abducted by Israeli forces that invaded the village of Al Ezariah on thusday. Four army vehicles and an Israeli secret service (Shin Biet) vehicle attacked the village, searched some homes then abducted Mothafer Abu Rumi, 16, and Abd-Allah Khalaf, 15. The families of the two boys stated that the army and secret service agents attacked and beat up the two boys while detaining them.
Khalied Jabier, Awad Al Tamari, and Abed Obayiat, were abducted from their homes located in downtown Bethlehem city on Thursday. Eyewitnesses reported that soldiers invaded the city, surrounded the detainees houses and searched them, then took the three men and left.
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.