Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4.57MB || Time 5m 0sWelcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre,, for Tuesday March 20th, 2007.

The Israeli army opens fire at Palestinian houses in the central Gaza strip, and levels several others in the West Bank. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

The Gaza Update

On Tuesday afternoon Israeli army bulldozers accompanied by a barrage of heavy tank fire, bulldozed Palestinian-owned lands to the east of Maghazi Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip.

Witnesses told an IMEMC correspondent that Israeli bulldozers have razed a hilltop called Abu Mandil, just 200 meters inside Maghazi boundaries. This area is on the Israel-Gaza border line, known as the Armistice Line of 1949, which was set down immediately after the Israeli-Arab war in 1948. Witnesses confirmed that the army tanks opened heavy fire apparently as ‘cover’ for the bulldozers.

On Tuesday morning the Israeli naval forces abducted five Palestinian fishermen near the shores of the costal city of Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza strip. Local sources reported that the fishermen were working near the shore when Israeli naval boats attacked them, then abducted the five and took them to unknown locations.

The Israeli navy attacks the Palestinian fishermen in Gaza regularly; troops fire and damage their boats, abduct them or force them to swim back to the shore, or sometimes detain them for days.

The West Bank update

On Tuesday morning Israeli forces leveled a house in the village of Halhul north of Hebron city in the southern part of the West Bank. Clashes erupted between the Israeli troops and local residents, injuring ten. Two army bulldozers protected by a massive military force invaded the village of Halhul. Israeli soldiers surrounded the village then bulldozers started to level the house of Ibraheem Abu Yousif.

Israeli troops forced Abu Yousif and his family off their premises then demolished the house. The house is a two storey building and is a home to 14 people. The Abu Yousif family received a military order to demolish their home last year but the family took the case to court and won. According to the Israeli court, the military was not permitted to demolish the house.

The Israeli army also threatened to demolish a number of neighboring homes in the village, all of which have won cases against the Israeli army, supposedly insuring them against this demolition. Soldiers fired tear gas, sound bombs and rubber coated bullets at the crowd that gathered in protest of the demolition.

Medical sources stated that three of the injured civilians were admitted to hospital. Another seven were treated on the spot for gas inhalation, the medical sources added.

Israeli army bulldozers leveled another two Palestinian homes located in the Al Shikh Jarah and Wadi Qadom neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, and threatened to demolish a third on Tuesday around midday.

The reason given by the army for the demolition of the two homes was that they were ‘built without permits’. The Israeli government has refused to give Palestinians in Jerusalem permits to build homes or even keep their existing ones since Israel occupied the city in 1967.

According to local residents, massive forces of the Israeli army and police surrounded the two houses during the demolition and did not allow anyone access, even family members. Residents desperately tried to reach the houses and soldiers used batons to hold them back, no injuries were reported.

Another Palestinian family received a demolition order today from the Israeli army. Sami Al Rigbi from Selwan village near Jerusalem received a military order from the Israeli army troops who stormed and searched his house on Tuesday at dawn, eyewitnesses reported. On Tuesday at dawn the Israeli army invaded several West Bank areas and abducted at least 12 civilians, five of those were in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the nearby village of Sourif, Palestinian sources reported.


Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center,, brought to you by Polly Bangoriad and Ghassan Bannoura.