Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 12.8MB || Time 14m 0s ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for February 16th through to February 22nd, 2008.
The European parliament lambasted the Israeli government’s actions on the Gaza Strip, and Israeli attacks on the region leaves 17 killed this week. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
We begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s Jane Smith with the details:
The villagers of Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, along with international and Israeli supporters, conducted their weekly protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on village land. Israeli troops attacked the protesters.
As is the case each week for over two years now, the protest started after Friday prayers, with participants marching from the village center towards the construction site of the Wall.
This week the theme of the protest was to mark the third anniversary of the continuous nonviolent struggle of Bil’in village and the 39th anniversary of the Democratic Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
As soon as the protestors left the village and walked towards the village’s confiscated land it was met with a military barricade set up by the Israeli soldiers. As soon as the protest reached the barricade soldiers showered them with tear gas and sound bombs. As a result, sixteen civilians including one journalist were injured and had to be moved to a hospital in the nearby city of Ramallah for treatment, where the injuries were described as light to moderate.
On Friday, the Israeli army attacked a nonviolent protest organized by the villagers of Al Khader near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. At least 70 civilians were hurt in the attack. The Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Al Khader organized a protest to demonstrate against the illegal construction of the annexation wall on land owned by village farmers.
Officials and members from The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine DFLP joined the villagers of Al Khader today. Around 1500 villagers, along with a handful of foreigners, and Israeli peace activists marched toward the nearby Israeli settlers’ road which is separating the village from it’s farm lands. The protest started after Friday prayers were held at the side of the road.
Two speeches were delivered during the protest; one was by Taysser Khaled, a DFLP leader and Samer Jaber from the Al Khader Popular Committee against the Wall and the coordinator of the Popular Committees in Bethlehem. Shortly after the speeches the army attacked the protesters and showered them with tear gas.
Samer Jaber described the soldiers attack
Earlier on Friday morning four unarmed Palestinian civilians were injured when Israeli troops attack a peaceful protest in Al Ma’ssara village located south of Bethlehem city, in the southern part of the West Bank. Around 70 Palestinians from the village along with international and Israeli supporters organized a protest against the illegal wall Israel is building on the village land.
Protesters marched to the village entrance where the army blocked it with razor wire. The villagers wanted to reach their lands, but as soon as the villagers tired to cross over the military checkpoint Israeli troops attacked them with batons and injured four of them. Witnesses told IMEMC that soldiers also spit and yelled at the young men at the protest in order to provoke violence, but without success.
For IMEMC.org this is Jane Smith.
On Thursday, the European parliament lambasted the Israeli government’s actions on the Gaza Strip, primarily the crippling blockade and the frequent attacks on the coastal region. This and more with IMEMC’s Raphael Anderson:
The European lawmakers’ resolution also called on the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas to reinitiate talks with the rival Hamas party in Gaza. Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni had earlier told the EU’s ambassador to Tel-Aviv that the EU should understand what she called, â€œHamas’ willingness to undermine the Palestinian people’s rights, by blocking establishment of a Palestinian statehood.â€œ
The Israeli army has been engaged in a series of deadly attacks against the group and other Palestinian resistance factions over the past year, particularly after Hamas took over the coastal territory in June 2007.
The EU lawmakers ruling came amidst harsh humanitarian conditions in Gaza, created by the eight-month-long Israeli closure of the coastal Strip. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to arrive in Jerusalem next week to discuss the USâ€™s concerns over the situation in Gaza.
Hamas on Friday welcomed a European Parliament initiative to end Israel’s crippling blockade on the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, most of whom are dependent on aid. Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesperson in Gaza talked to IMEMC:
‘We in Hamas appreciate this call and believe that it is a step in the right direction, the problem lies in the Israeli occupation, if this occupation halts all forms of its actions, including violence crimes, assassinations and invasions, then Hamas will be ready to consider any initiative that would put an end to the suffering of our people and lifting the siege’
Rice will also raise such concerns during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, in Japan in the upcoming few days, Israeli media sources reported.
Also this week, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert met in West Jerusalem, for peace talks. Olmert had earlier declared Israelâ€™s preference for talks over occupied East Jerusalem to be delayed to final status negotiations. Abbas refused any delay on the Jerusalem issue, saying that it was one of the core issues on the agenda and should not be postponed. Nabil Amr is Media advisor for the Palestinian president:
‘Based on the results of previous meetings, there are not many hopes on this meeting; however, it is a chance for serious talks about the final status. We will try to make the best out of these talks, which is an international obligation, and will continue to pressure Israel through these talks.’
Following the meeting, Israeli foreign minister Livni dismissed the possibility that Israel will engage in talks over the problem of Palestinian refugees. Some commentators viewed such a stance as Israeli repudiation of the state’s historical responsibility for the problem and an indication of Israel’s plan to have Israel an exclusive Jewish state.
Israeli political analysts say that Olmert is attempting to keep his divided government together by halting talks over Jerusalem. Michael Warschawski, is an Israeli political analyst from Jerusalem:
On the Palestinian side, an aide to the Palestinian president and member of the negotiating team, Yasser Abed Rabbo, proposed a Kosovo-like Palestinian declaration of independence.
Abbas disregarded the proposal and top negotiators Ahmad Qurei and Saeb Eriqat, refused it totally, saying that what is needed, first and foremost, is an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. In Gaza, the ruling Hamas party slammed the Abbas-Olmert meetings as a ‘waste of time’ and said they were just aimed at bolstering the Israeli occupation as well as deepening the Palestinian division, with no apparent positive concrete results.
The Palestinian-Israeli peace talks were revived during last November’s Washington-sponsored Annapolis summit, in which both sides agreed to reach a peaceful settlement by the end of 2008.
The US President George W. Bush, urged the two sides to reach an agreement on a two states based on the 1967 borders, which would mean Palestine consisting of east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel continues to construct new settlements and expand existing ones in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite Olmert’s promise to halt such activities. Last week, Israel announced a plan to build 1110 housing units in settlements in the occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian cabinet regards the plan, as well as other Israeli actions, as ‘dangerous to peace-making.’
For IMEMC.org this is Raphael Anderson.
The Israeli attacks
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army invaded West Bank Palestinian communities at least 23 times. During the attacks the army kidnapped 48 Palestinian civilians. IMEMC’s Louisa White with the details:
With the addition of this weekâ€™s kidnappings the number of Palestinian civilians taken by the Israeli army without reason from the West Bank since the beginning of the year stands at 432.
Also this week, Israeli soldiers harshly assaulted a Palestinian boy from the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Wednesday. Medics said that Mohammad Abu Zant,14, suffered bruises in all over his body after been exposed to severe beating by the Israeli soldiers. Witnesses said that Abu Zant was taken earlier in the day during an Israeli military incursion into the city.
Three residents of the southern West Bank city of Hebron were injured on Monday, two seriously, when they were assaulted by the army. The third was injured as a suspicious device, left behind by the Israeli army, detonated near him.
Medical sources in Hebron reported that two Palestinian residents were taken to the emergency room in Hebron hospital as they were severely bruised. The two got bruised as a result of being beaten by Israeli soldiers, near the Abraham Mosque, also known as, the tomb of Patriarchs.
Meanwhile, Hisham Abu Maria, 14, from the nearby town of Beit Omar received an injury to his left arm as an explosive device, believed to be left behind by the Israeli military detonated at a close distance where he was standing.
On Thursday morning, the Israeli Authorities in the southern Negev area demolished four houses, one shop and a public facility in four unrecognized Arab villages of the Negev.
Hussein Rafayâ€™a, head of the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Arab Villages in the Negev, stated that the demolishing of the construction is part of the of an ongoing campaign by the Israeli authorities against the Arab villages in the Negev as the government is expanding and construction Jewish-only settlements in the area.
For IMEMC.org this is Louisa White.
The Gaza Strip
This week 17 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari from Gaza explains:
Two Palestinian fighters, members of the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, were assassinated and one was injured in an Israeli military shelling to Al Maghazi refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip on Friday at dawn.
A Palestinian child was shot and killed when the Israeli army opened fire on Palestinian homes located in the central Gaza strip city of Dier Al Balah on Tuesday evening. Medical sources identified the child as Tamer Abu Sha’ar, 10 years old. Witnesses said that Israeli troops invaded the area and when confronted with local resistance, they opened fire on nearby homes and killed the child.
Earlier on Tuesday a Palestinian resistance fighter of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s armed wing was shot dead and another was wounded on the central Gaza-Israel border.
Medical sources identified the man that was killed as Ismail Jadallah, and the democratic front confirmed he was killed during an armed clash with the Israeli soldiers manning the border.
On Monday, Palestinian medical sources reported that one resident died of wounds sustained during an Israeli military invasion into Al Shouka area in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Sunday at noon.
On Sunday at dawn, the Israeli army killed four Palestinian resistance fighters, and wounded fifteen during a three hour long ground invasion into the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Witnesses said that an undercover Israeli army unit infiltrated the vicinity of Gaza international airport backed by tanks on the ground and drones overhead.
Israeli media sources said that the Israeli soldiers clashed with the resistance fighters after kidnapping 25 Palestinians in the targeted area, from which the Israeli army said Palestinians fire homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas.
The deadliest attack this week occurred in the beginning of the week. Last Friday night an explosion hit the house of a prominent leader of the Islamic Jihad in Al Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Eight were killed including Ayman Fayid, 42, one of the leaders of the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement.
The Islamic Jihad movement said the Israeli missile caused the house of Fayid to collapse, while Israeli army sources denied any responsibility for the attack.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
And thatâ€™s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out our website, www.IMEMC.org. Thanks for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem; this is Cybil Collins and Ghassan Bannoura.