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 15th through to March 21st, 2008.
As the Israeli government stepped up settlement activity in the West Bank, the Israeli army attacks on Gaza left at least five Palestinians killed this week, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s Brian Lara with the details:
A number of Palestinians from the village of Al Khader located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, staged a protest on Friday against the illegal Wall Israel is building on the villageâ€™s land.
The protest started by holding the Friday prayers at Al Nashah Israeli checkpoint located at the entrance of the village. This week the protest finished peacefully without clashes with the Israeli troops.
If completed that illegal Israeli wall will annex 20 000 Dunams of lands owned by the villagers of Al Khader to Israel. (4 dunoms = one acre)
Also on Friday scores of residents of Bilâ€™in, a village near the central West Bank city of 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 joined by many international and Israeli peace activists.
Israeli troops manning the wall and the gate in the wall that cuts off the villagers from their lands showered the protesters with tear gas and rubber coated steal bullets as soon as the protesters arrived at a military blockade nearby.
Local sources said that a number of residents, among them a paramedic, suffered gas inhalation.
During the protest the villagers and their supporters held banners calling the Israeli government to cannel its decision to use lethal force against protesters marching against the illegal wall.
Israeli media sources reported on Wednesday that the Israeli government has given new orders to the army, which allow troops to use live rounds at Palestinian protesters near the illegal wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem.
The new orders allow soldiers to use lethal force, during protests against the illegal Israeli wall surrounding the city, but the new orders do not include those actions that have the participation of Israeli and international peace activists.
For IMEMC.org this is Brian Lara.
This week in Palestine, Israeli settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands in the West Bank have been a core issue in Palestinian politics. IMEMC’s Raphael Anderson explains:
Early this week, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Eriqat stated that negotiations with Israel cannot continue, with Israeli settlement activities underway on occupied Palestinian lands. The Israeli government had earlier endorsed construction of more than 40 housing units in the northern occupied West Bank.
Also, Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rodaian criticized the planned settlement activities as ‘ impediment to peace-making efforts. Meanwhile, negotiator Eriqat believed that the Palestinian Authority might collapse if a peace agreement is not reached by end of 2008, the deadline set by the American administration for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Eriqat blamed Israel for stalemate in peace talks due to what he termed ‘ Israel’s reluctance to freeze settlement activities and remove hundreds of roadblocks across the West Bank. According to the 2003’s US-backed road map peace plan, the Israeli government is obliged to halt all settlement activities in return for PA’s efforts to crackdown on Palestinian armed groups.
In addition, former Palestinian minister, Yasser Abed Rabo, slammed this by Republican US presidential candidate, John McCain.
McCain endorsed, during a visit to Israel, the idea of moving the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their future capital. Abed Rabo was quoted as saying ‘ McCainâ€™s statements are dangerous and contradicting international legitimacy, of which US is a part’.
President George W Bush’s administration revived last November the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process on basis of a two-state solution. Bush hopes to achieve a peace agreement before he leaves office in Janurary 2009.
On another issue, Egyptians and Israelis have been reportedly involved in talks over possible ceasefire between Israel and the ruling Hamas party in Gaza. Under a proposed agreement, Israel would halt military action and lift the months-old siege. In return Hamas would stop homemade projectile fire from Gaza into adjacent Israeli towns. The Rafah crossing point with Egypt would be reopened.
At the internal Palestinian level, representatives of the rival Hamas and Fatah parties headed for Yemen for talks over possible reconciliation after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June of last year. As of filing this report, nothing has emerged out of the talks, called for by the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Hamas insists that any dialogue should be unconditional and based on previous understandings in light of the January 2006 elections, which Hamas won overwhelmingly. The Fatah delegation wants Hamas to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.
Hamas’s spokesperson in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said this week that the PLO is no longer representative of Palestinians. Both Fatah and Hamas formed jointly last February the first ever unity government, yet four months later, infighting between the two broke out, ending with Hamas’s seizure of the coastal enclave in June.
For IMEMC.org this is Raphael Anderson.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
As the army continues to besiege and attack Gaza, the number of Palestinian dead this week in the strip stands at seven, from Gaza, IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari has the details:
Palestinian medical sources reported that two Palestinians, an elderly man and an infant, died on Saturday in Gaza city due to the ongoing Israeli siege imposed on the Palestinian coastal region.
The sources said that Ahmad Al Nurri, 60, died of cancer, while nine month old Sabeel Tubasi, died from a lung infection. Doctors stated that both were prevented from leaving the Gaza Strip for medical care by the Israeli military. Including those killed this week, 120 Palestinian medical patients have died due to the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza.
The Israeli army placed the Gaza strip under total siege in June 2007, blocking deliveries of food, medicine and fuel.
Three Palestinians were reportedly killed on Saturday after an Israeli drone fired a missile near a school in eastern Gaza City. A fourth man was pronounced dead on Sunday after receiving wounds on the Saturday attack.
Palestinian medical sources reported on Tuesday at night that at twelve residents were wounded, four seriously, when the Israeli air force fired missiles at fighters who gathered near a local mosque in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Three Palestinians have been killed in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip, medics and media sources reported. Palestinian security sources said that early on Thursday, farmer Hassan Abu Abed, 60, was shot dead by the Israeli army to the east of the town of Qarrara, in southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers, manning the Gaza-Israel border line, opened fire at Abu Abed, killing him instantly.
Meanwhile, two Palestinian resistance fighters of the Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas movement, were killed and three others wounded in another Israeli air strike on a Qassam position on Gaza city’s southern shores.
The Israeli army denies responsibility for killing the two Qassam operatives.
On Friday at least one resistance fighter of the Al-Qassam brigades, has been killed and another wounded, apparently in an internal explosion at one of the Al-Qassam training centers in southern Gaza.
A statement by the Al-Qassam brigades, faxed to press, announced that one of their members was killed while on duty of training and preparation.
For IMEMc.org this is Rami Al Mughari.
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 44 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those attacks Israeli troops kidnapped 53 Palestinian civilians, including three children. IMEMC’s George Rishmawi has more:
The number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 has mounted to 695 this week.
Also this week the Israeli army attacked Palestinian villages in the Hebron area, in the southern part of the West Bank, and leveled 11 homes in addition to attacking international aid workers and shepherds. The home demolitions took place in the villages of Qawawis, Imneizil, Ad Deirat and Um Lasfa.
The Christian Peace Maker Teams (CPT) stationed in Hebron reported on Wednesday that two extremist Israeli settlers attacked two internationals who attempted to escort Palestinian children to their school as the settlers continuously attack the children en route to their schools.
The CPT reported that the settlers had their faces covered, and used a slingshot to shoot stones at the internationals.
Meanwhile bulldozers belonging to the Civil Administration, which is under Israeli army control in the occupied territories, demolished three Palestinian homes in two villages near Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Two homes were also demolished in the villages of Hizma and Al Jeeb.
In a separate incident an Israeli settler was stabbed on Tuesday morning near Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem. Israeli medical sources stated that the man sustained moderate wounds in the neck. Israeli police maintained that the attack was politically motivated.
On Tuesday at midday, a group of Palestinian resistance fighters escaped an Israeli army ambush in the village of Zababda, located south of Jenin city in the northern West Bank. Palestinian sources said troops surrounded the local mosque, claiming that Palestinian resistance fighters were hiding inside.
The Islamic Jihad movement announced that the attack on Zababdah targeted a group of their fighters. In a statement faxed to press, the group revealed that their fighters escaped the area long before the army surrounded the mosque.
Separately, a Palestinian teenager was injured when Israeli troops attacked and searched homes in the city of Tubas, located in the northern part of the West Bank on Saturday morning. His wounds were described as moderate.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.
Unknown gunmen kill two Palestinians, one in Gaza and the second in the West Bank, this and more by IMEMC’s Manar Jibren.
Unknown gunmen opened fire at 75-year-old Abed Al Karem Al Abeet, killing him in the village of Bein-Amein, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Tuesday afternoon.Local sources allege that Abeet’s is a collaborator with the Israeli army, after he was involved in the death of a Palestinian youth during the first Intifada, or uprising. Abeet’s son was attacked by Palestinian resistance fighters in the early 1990s but escaped, and is now living in an Israeli controlled area.
A Palestinian man from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis was shot dead on Wednesday by unknown assailants, medical sources revealed. The medics added that the victim had received a bullet to the head, leading to his instant death.
Salama Al-Agha, in his thirties, was killed for reasons relating to a dispute between his family and another local family, local sources said. Immediately following the incident, a large number of the Al-Agha family attacked and set fire to the home of a second family, thought to be involved in the shooting.
Palestinian Preventative Security Forces in the West Bank apprehended on Wednesday at night 11 million NIS worth of medicine that was hidden in a wedding hall in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
Palestinian medical sources said that an amount of expired heart medicine was also found in Ramallah at the same time when the PA security forces found the hidden medicine. Maher Dweikat, director of the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces in Ramallah, blamed Hamas movement for smuggling the medicine into the Palestinian areas in order to foment disorder in the West Bank.
Also this week the Hamas movement said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbasâ€™ forces arrested at least ten of the movementâ€™s members in several parts of the West Bank.
In June 2007 Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip following several months of infighting between the movement and Abbas’s Fateh party, leaving Abbas and his caretaker government in control of the West Bank. Abbas dismissed the Hamas-Fatah unity government shortly after the takeover and outlawed Hamasâ€™ Executive Force.
For IMEMC.org this is Mannar Jibren.
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 Louisa White and Ghassan Bannoura.