Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 4.57 MB|| Time 5m0s ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www.imemc.org, for Wednesday April 25th 2007.
Journalists protest in Gaza in solidarity with abducted BBC reporter. In the West Bank, the Israeli army attacked and kidnaps civilians. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
The Gaza strip
On Wednesday, a group of Palestinian journalists and foreign media representatives protested against the abduction of BBC reporter Alan Johnston at the Eritz checkpoint (Beit Hanoun checkpoint) on the Gaza-Israel border in northern Gaza Strip. On the Israeli side of the border, an Israeli group with other international journalists was coincidently holding their own demonstration. Both sides of the border are being sealed off by the Israeli authorities while the protest was being held.
The protest is part of a series of similar moves by the Palestinian and international journalists in Gaza, Ramallah and London. Johnston has been under the captivity of an unknown group for the past six weeks. Palestinian deputy prime minister, Azzam Al-Ahmad, confirmed Tuesday that Johnston is still alive, whilst Palestinian security bodies are working on securing his release.
Several days ago a previously unknown group announced that it had executed Johnston; yet such reports have not been confirmed by any independent body. According to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 55 foreign people including journalists and workers have been abducted and released unharmed in Gaza over the past three years.
One Palestinian man died on Wednesday of wounds he sustained in Gaza city two months ago. Hassan Siam, 24, was admitted to a hospital in Gaza City when he sustained critical wounds during factional infighting in Al Shat’ refugee camp located in the city, medical sources reported.
Israeli tanks stationed at the borders near Beit Hanoun city in the southern part of the Gaza strip shelled homes on Wednesday at dawn. Houses sustained damage but Palestinian sources reported no injures.
The West Bank update
On Wednesday at dawn an undercover Israeli army force kidnapped five Palestinian men from the southern West Bank city of Hebron and a nearby village. Palestinian sources reported that an undercover Israeli army force ambushed four Palestinian men on the main road between the villages of Yatta and Al Samu’a, near Hebron city. Troops stopped the car with four men inside then kidnapped them. Later the four were found to be Aqsa Brigades activists, of the armed wing of Fatah.
The Israeli army stated that its troops set up the ambush late on Tuesday night, based on intelligence information that there were four Palestinian ‘Wanted men’ driving their car on Yatta – Al Samu’a road. All four were taken to unknown detention camps, the sources added.
In related news, an Israeli army force invaded the village of Beit Omer south of the Hebron and kidnapped two civilians and some bee hives on Wednesday morning. Troops invaded the village, searched homes and then took the two men to unknown locations. During the search clashes erupted between local youth and the army, injuries were reported. Sa’eed Quqas, 30 was taken from his house when soldiers searched and ransacked it. They also took away the bee hives that he had in the house, witnesses reported. The other man to be kidnapped is known as Zaki Al Haddad, aged 21.
A massive Israeli army force stormed the northern West Bank city of Nablus and opened fire at civilians and their homes on Wednesday at dawn. The military attack was focused around downtown Nablus and the old city. Witnesses stated that soldiers used sound bombs and opened fire randomly during their house to house search.
Local resistance fighters targeted the invading force with two home made bombs, and the Israeli army reported that two of its soldiers were injured and moved to hospital in Israel when their jeep was hit with one of the bombs. The Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for targeting the invading force.
The Israeli army issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Israeli border police have removed the last right-wing Israeli settlers from the ruins of what used to be the illegal settlement of Homesh, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
The illegal settlement was evacuated and dismantled in Israel’s disengagement plan in 2005. However, right-wing extremist settlers have recently been attempting to re-inhabit the ruins. A group calling itself ‘Homesh First’ has lead several marches to the old settlement in the past few weeks, despite the Israeli army’s somewhat feeble attempts to ban such activity.
Thousands of settlers and right wing extremists flooded to the area on Tuesday, in celebration of the day that marks 59 years since the creation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land. Hundreds of them spent Tuesday night amongst the ruins when Israeli forces prevented the access of buses that had come to fetch the extremists at the end of the day. Today, Israeli media sources reported that the last participants had finally been removed from the area.
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 Polly Bangoriad and Ghassan Bannoura.