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 22nd through to March 28th , 2008.
Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agree on a national reconciliation deal, while this week the Israeli army attacks on Gaza leave five Palestinians dead, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s Conscience Londres with the details:
On Friday, scores of residents from Bilâ€™in, a village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, took to the streets along with their international and Israeli supporters to conduct their weekly nonviolent protest against the Israeli Wall and illegal confiscation of the village land.
Israeli troops manning the wall and the gate that cuts off the villagers from their land showered the protesters with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets immediately after the protesters reached the gate. 17 were injured including seven journalists. Eyad Burnat, of the Bil’in popular committee, was among those injured:
‘As we arrived at the gate in the wall soldiers showered us with tier gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, they tried to kidnap one of the village youth as I went to help him they attacked and beat me up very badly.’
The parents of Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was killed in Gaza by the Israeli army Gaza five years ago, joined the Bil’in protest.
At least 250 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, joined by Israeli and international peace activists, staged a protest at midday on Friday against the illegal Wall Israel is building on the village land.
The protest commenced with Friday prayers held at the Al Nashah Israeli checkpoint, located at the entrance to the village. Members of the local Popular Committee of Land Defence in Al Khader and the village Mayor delivered speeches in Arabic. The protests ended peacefully without any clashes with the army. Samer Jaber, from the local Popular Committee of Lands Defense in Al Khader talked to IMEMC:
In Bethlehem on Friday, 150 residents of the al Ma’sarah village were joined by around thirty International and Israeli peace activists who gathered in the yard of a local school and then marched to village lands that are at risk from confiscation due to the construction of the annexation Wall.
Israeli soldiers deployed near village land installed barbed wire and prevented protestors from reaching the site. A group of children attempted to reach the area by going up the hills but Israeli soldiers fired at them injuring two, Bara’ Zawahreh and ‘Ubadah Brejiyah both are nine years old.
The theme of the march was the 32nd anniversary of ‘ Land Day’ and was a protest against Israeli acts of land confiscation for construction of the Wall and the expansion of nearby settlements.
On March 30 1976, Palestinians voiced their rejection of the Israeli policies of racism and annexation of Palestinian lands in demonstrations in the Arab town of Saknin, in the Galilee. On that day, six Palestinian residents of Saknin were killed by the Israeli police; Palestinians and Arabs have been commemorating the date since then.
For IMEMC.org this is Conscience Londres.
The Political Report
This week the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, agreed to a reconciliation deal in the Yemeni capital of San’aa. Meanwhile Palestinian resistance groups met with Egyptian officials to discuss a possible truce with Israel. This and more with IMEMC’s Eliza Sprout:
The Yemeni-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah was signed by representatives of both parties; however, each side has his own interpretation of the deal. The Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, told IMEMC that Hamas is committed to the provisions of the truce deal with the rival Fatah party.
‘Provisions of the Yemeni initiative are clear enough The Yemeni initiative marks a framework for a dialogue between Hamas and Fatah that would return the situation back, in both Gaza and the West Bank, prior to June 2007. This means there are no preconditions and any outcome of such a dialogue will be respected by Hamas’.
Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Palestinian president, Nabil Abu Rudaina, announced that the deal is invalid until Hamas renounces control over the Gaza Strip.
Fuad Koukali, a Fatah MP in the West Bank told the IMEMC that Fatah is concerned about unity among the Palestinians:
‘The government is not that important, what is important are the unity of the Palestinian people and unity of the Palestinian performance vis a vis the negotiations, the entire world, Israel and America. What we need is a unified Palestinian position with a clear vision that we can convince our friends, partners and the whole world with’.
In Gaza, hundreds of members of civil society organizations and clan chiefs rallied in Gaza City, calling on both factions to reconcile their differences and end their power struggle for the good of national interests.
Speaking to IMEMC, Samir Zaqout, member of the Gaza Mental Health Program, considered unity as an imperative for the Palestinian people.
‘The rally is a message to all Palestinian forces, especially the leaderships of Fatah and Hamas that the Palestinian people and the ordinary people, who have been abandoned by all, want unity’.
On another issue, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas confirmed during a meeting in Amman with Jordan’s Monarch, King Abdullah II, that current negotiations with Israel are tackling all outstanding issues including Jerusalem.
The same remark was echoed earlier in the week by Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, during an interview with Israel’s TV Channel 2. In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was quoted this week as saying that there will be a peace deal with Palestinians by the end of 2008 and that talks will continue.
Olmert also warned of further military strikes against the ruling Hamas party in the Gaza Strip, excluding a ceasefire deal.
On a more pessimistic note, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Eriqat reiterated a warning of the Palestinian Authority’s imminent collapse during a meeting this week with the foreign minister of Luxemburg in the West Bank city of Jericho. Eriqat cited slowness of peace talks as well as continued Israeli construction of settlements.
Palestinian Minister Salam Fayyad, voiced a similar concern this week in a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak.
U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is expected to arrive in the region on Friday in a visit that will last until next Sunday, aimed at encouraging both Israelis and Palestinians to make a peace deal by Washington’s deadline, the end of 2008.
Vice-president of the United States, Dick Cheney, visited Palestine and Israel earlier in the week and also urged Israelis and Palestinians to conclude an agreement by the end of 2008. Some commentators believe that Cheney’s statements during the visit put much of the blame for the lack of progress on the Palestinian side, despite Washington’s repeated concerns over Israel’s planned Settlement building.
In Egypt, members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad parties, held a meeting with Egyptian officials on ways to reach a ceasefire with Israel. Hamas insists that Israel should halt actions against Gaza and the West Bank, before any ceasefire is concluded.
For IMEMC.org this is Eliza Sprout.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
As the Israeli siege on the Gaza strip continues, Israeli army attacks on the coastal region left four Palestinians dead this week. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari reports:
A Palestinian resistance fighter of the al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, has been reportedly killed by the Israeli army early on Friday morning. Media sources reported that Israeli army special forces clashed with a group of fighters near the Kussofim military post to the east of al-Qarrara village in the southern Gaza Strip. During the fighting, Belal aL-Astal, 23, was killed.
Israeli army tanks and bulldozers invaded the village of Al Qarrara in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday night. Tanks and bulldozers destroyed two homes owned by local farmers in addition to bulldozing 50 dunums of farmland local sources reported.
A Palestinian resistance fighter was pronounced dead on Wednesday at midday, of wounds sustained during an Israeli attack targeting the Gaza Strip three weeks ago. Mohamed Abed Rabuh, 24, was injured earlier this month during Israeli attacks when the army killed at least 130 Palestinians, 95 of whom were civilians.
Jazyiah Abu Hilal, 65, from Gaza city died on Tuesday night, from a chronic illness. For several months she was prevented by the army from leaving Gaza to obtain life saving treatment, doctors said.
The death of Abu Hilal, brings the number of Palestinians dead due to being denied permission to leave Gaza for medical care to 118, according to medical sources in the Palestinian coastal region. The Israeli army has placed Gaza under total siege since June 2007.
The Israeli army shot and killed a Palestinian farmer on Monday at midday in the southern part of the Gaza strip. Yousif Abu Thahier, was working his land located close to the southern border between Israel and Gaza near the city of Khan Younis when Israeli troops from a nearby army post opened fire; killing the 55 year old man.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 48 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these attacks, Israeli troops kidnapped 82 Palestinian civilians, including 15 children. IMEMC’s Manar Jibrin with the details:
With the 82 civilians kidnapped this week the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 has mounted to 777.
The Israeli army attacked two radio stations in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday. Witnesses said that troops searched and ransacked the offices of Al Huryia and Siraj radio stations then kidnapped a radio technician from Siraj radio.
Abed Al Jabar Abu Suninah, the owner of Siraj radio explains:
‘An Israeli force attacked and searched the offices of Siraj and Al Huryia radios, they confiscated broadcasting equipments, troops detained the staff then beat up some of them, in addition the soldiers kidnapped our colleague in Siraj radio Ahmad Sonokrot.’
Also in the southern part of the West Bank a group of Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Havet Ma’on opened fire at Palestinian shepherds and their sheep on Wednesday midday. Shepherds from A-Twani village, near the settlement, were grazing their sheep when Israeli settlers opened fire at them and injured three sheep.
Settlers from the same settlement attacked two farmers from A-Twani village in another incident on Friday and injured them both. The farmer and his son were detained by the Israeli police who arrived at the location of the attack, and then took one of the farmers to a nearby military post.
For IMEMC.org this is Manar Jibrin.
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.