Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 10.9 MB || Time 12m 0s || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for March 8th through to March 14th, 2008.
As ten Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire this week, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak of obstructing peace talks, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s Mary Firth. with the details:
Dozens of residents of Bilâ€™in, a village near Ramallah, took to the streets on Friday in their weekly demonstration protesting against the illegal confiscation of village land through Israel’s continued expansion of the wall. The residents were also joined by many international and Israeli peace activists.
Israeli troops manning a gate in the wall that cuts the villagers off from their land, showered the protesters with tear gas and rubber coated steal bullets as soon as the protesters arrived at a military barricade nearby.
In addition, when the protestors moved back to the village, Israeli troops attacked them at the entrance with rifle butts and batons. Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that soldiers also sprayed the eyes of the peace protesters with pepper spray.
In total, six people were injured, among them a freelance European journalist known as Tom. Iran, an Israeli activist who was shot in the leg by Israeli troops spoke to IMEMC:
Around 100 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, were joined by Israeli and international peace activists, as they staged a demonstration at midday on Friday, against the illegal Wall Israel is building on village land.
The demonstration started with the holding of Friday prayers at Al Nashah, an Israeli checkpoint located at the entrance of the village. Shortly afterwards, demonstrators marched towards the checkpoint where they were prevented from advancing any further due to a substantial presence of Israeli soldiers and military vehicles blockading the main road.
Organizers from the local popular committee of land defense in Al Khader village delivered speeches in Arabic and English. The demonstration was then finished by local youths who burned tyres in protest on the road approaching the checkpoint. No clashes with the army were reported.
For IMEMC.org this is Mary Firth.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak of obstructing peace talks, while Hamas announced that they are not willing to give a free truce to Israel, this and more with IMEMC’s Elisa Sprout:
Speaking from Gaza, Palestinian Prime Minister of the deposed Hamas-government, Ismail Haniyeh, stated in a speech this week that the Israeli offensive on Gaza has failed, and that his movement is not striving for a ‘truce deal’ with Israel until their actions on Gaza and the West Bank cease.
Also, the Hamas government spokesman, Taher al-Nunu, held Israel responsible for escalation on the ground in the aftermath of the Israeli army assassination of five Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Tulkarem on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Egypt has been involved in a series of talks with concerned parties over a possible halt to violence in the region, and opening of the Rafah terminal, the only passage for Gazans out of the coastal region. Egyptian efforts have been obstructed because of the escalation of violence, which may delay the visit of senior Egyptian official, Omar Suleiman to Israel and Palestine, aimed at reaching a truce deal.
For its part, Hamas demanded that Israel stops all its attacks and ends the siege on the Gaza Strip in order to reach a cease-fire. Fawzi Barhoum spokesperson of Hamas stated:
â€œThe problem is in the Israeli occupation that is waging a full-scale war against our people. We hereby stress that we are not to give a free truce, the Israeli occupation must end all its aggression and violence and to end the Gaza siege to bring the suffering of our people to an end.â€
In the meantime, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, this week slammed what he termed ‘Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem’, following a recently announced Israeli plan to construct 400 housing units in the Arab city to be used by Jewish settlers. Meanwhile, in his meeting with senior Israeli strategist Amos Gilad and US envoy, General William Fraser in Jerusalem, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that freezing settlement activities means â€œnot putting one brick over the other.â€ He accused Israel of not living up to its commitments under the US backed road map, which demands that Israel freezes all settlement activities.
In addition, Palestinian president Abbas accused the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak of obstructing agreement between the two parties. Barak was quoted this week as dismissing any possibility of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians by the end of 2008.
Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, echoed this position during a meeting with U.S envoy, John James, in West Jerusalem this week. Livni told the U.S official that a Palestinian state is unlikely by the end of 2008 if Hamas stays in power in Gaza.
Last November, Washington revived the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process on the basis of a two state solution with both Palestinian and Israeli states living side by side in peace by end of 2008.
The European Union foreign minister discussed in Brussels this week possible involvement of Hamas in peace talks with Israel. The discussions came out with conflicting positions and no decision has yet been taken.
Also this week, Foreign Policy chief of the EU, Xavier Solana, criticized Israel’s planned settlement activities as ‘unhelpful to peace-making efforts underway ‘.
For IMEMC.org this is Elisa Sprout
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
Five Palestinians died in Gaza this week due to the continued Israeli attacks and siege of the Palestinian Coastal region. From Gaza, IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari with the details:
Two Palestinians have reportedly been killed in the Gaza Strip, one from wounds he sustained earlier during an Israeli army attack. Ayman Mansour, 25, of the central Gaza Strip village of aL-Zawayda, was pronounced dead on Wednesday morning after an explosive device went off as he was preparing it on Tuesday night.
Also on Wednesday, medical sources announced that Aref Doghmosh, in his twenties, from the Shati refugee camp in central Gaza City, had died of wounds he sustained last week, after the Israeli army shelled a Palestinian police station.
The Israeli army carried out a series of deadly attacks on Gaza last week, involving ground offensives, air strikes and tank shellings, claiming the lives of at least 125 Palestinians, many of them civilians.
An elderly Palestinian woman died on Tuesday after succumbing to wounds she sustained last week during an Israeli air raid targeting her family home. Aliah Al Simieri, 70, from Khan Younis town sustained multiple wounds when Israeli jet fighters fired several missiles at her son Yousif outside their family home. His niece, a three-week old baby, was also killed in the attack.
In a similar story on Monday evening, a Palestinian man, Ala Atallah, 26, died of wounds he sustained last week when Israeli jet fighters shelled his family home in Gaza city. Atallah was sent to Egypt for treatment several days ago, but was pronounced dead on Monday evening. Six members of the Attallah family were killed in the attack.
On Sunday night, medical sources in Gaza reported that another Palestinian patient joined those who have died whilst barred by the Israeli authorities from leaving the Strip to receive treatment.
The death of Fatima al-Maqadima, an elderly woman from al Buriej refugee camp, raised the death toll to 107. She had been suffering from cancer and had been prevented from leaving the Strip to receive necessary medical treatment.
The Gaza Strip was placed under total siege by the Israeli army nine months ago. According to medical sources, among the 107 deceased Palestinians were children, who are also barred from leaving the Strip to receive medical treatment.
Two Palestinian resistance fighters were injured at dawn on Saturday when an Israeli shell exploded near them outside of Gaza City. Palestinian Medical sources said that a group of fighters were gathered outside of Gaza City when Israeli tanks stationed at the northern Gaza-Israel border opened fire on them, injuring the two.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army invaded the West Bank 47 times. During these invasions Israeli troops killed five Palestinians and kidnapped 78, including 12 children. IMEMC’s James Smith explains:
This week the Israelis focused their invasion in the cities of Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Nablus. Among those kidnapped this week was the Palestinian journalist Hassan Abed Al Jawaad, 53 from Bethlehem. Abed Al Jawaad is a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Journalists Association.
This action brings the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 to 642.
Palestinian sources reported that one Palestinian civilian was injured in Jericho on Thursday. Soliyman Abu Dahok, 34, was injured after a land-mine left by the Israeli army exploded near him.
Medical sources said that the man sustained moderate wounds to his legs and was moved to a local hospital in Jericho city.
On Wednesday the Israeli army killed five Palestinians, four said to be members of the Islamic Jihad. On Wednesday evening Mohammad Shehada, Imad el-Kamel, Issa Marzouk and Ahmad el-Balboul, all from Bethlehem were ambushed by Israeli troops dressed in civilian clothes and driving a civilian car in a Bethlehem suburb, killing them instantly. Imad el-Kamel’s father said that this attack shows that Israel does not want peace:
‘This is the nature of the Israeli army, very racist and very violent; the killing of my son and his friends shows that Israel does not want peace.’
Earlier on Wednesday Saleh Karkuk, 28, said to be a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed by Israeli army fire when troops surrounded and demolished the house he was hiding in at the village of Sieda near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.
On Tuesday morning, Israeli military forces in the northern West Bank city of Jenin shut-down the al-Majd Radio station, a Palestinian local station in the city. The Jenin-based station issued a statement to the press saying that Israeli military forces invaded the station, confiscated property and barred the main door. Later, forces issued a closure order to the station for two years.
For IMEMC.org this is James Smith.
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 Raphael Anderson and Ghassan Bannoura.