Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 13.7 MB || Time 15m 0s ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for March 29th through to April 4th, 2008.

The Arab summit concluded, with low-level representation and no serious decisions made. In addition, Israeli attacks this week leave seven Palestinian dead. These stories and more coming up stay tuned.

Nonviolent Resistance

Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s Mary Smith with the details:

Ramallah

Ten non-violent protestors were reported injured during the weekly Anti-Wall protest at the village of Bil’in located near the West Bank city of Ramallah on midday Friday.

As the case each week, villagers from Bil’in along with Israeli and international peace activists marched towards the location of the Wall which is separating the village from its land. As soon as the protest reached the gate of the Wall soldiers showered the protestors with tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. Medical sources reported that ten protestors suffered gas inhalation.

Palestinians from a number of villages located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah protested in commemoration of Land Day on Friday.

Villagers from Beit Uor, Beit Syira, Saffa, and Al Tiyra, gathered at the village of Khrabtha where they held midday Friday prayers and then proceeded to the Israeli settler road known as Rd. 443. Israeli soldiers blocked the protestors by installing razor wire in front of them, the protest ended peacefully after several speeches were given by the organizers. Road 443 was closed by the army seven years ago, forbidding the surrounding Palestinians from accessing it.

Bethlehem

The Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall together with 132 Palestinian, international and Israeli peace activists gathered at the southern entrance of Al Kahder, Bethlehem. The activity started with Friday prayers in which the main speech invited people to participate in these non-violent actions and to reclaim their lands.

After prayers, the protest moved to the construction site of the Wall and speeches were delivered asking for international intervention to stop this catastrophe against the Palestinian people. This is the ninth weekly demonstration against the Wall in Al Khader.

The primary slogan of this protest was, ‘Give Palestinian Children a Chance to Smile’.

Also near Bethlehem, the villagers of Al Wallaja organized a similar protest on Friday. People gathered at the land threatened to be taken by Israel to build the wall, Friday prayers were conducted and speeches were delivered by local organizers. The speakers demanded more national unity to resist Israeli settlement and Wall construction, and encouraged farmers to continue farming their land as a form of resistance against the Israeli Land Grab policy.

For IMEMC.org this is Marry Smith.

Political

The Arab summit concluded, with low-level representation and no serious decisions made, while U.S. secretary Rice visited the region promising the Palestinians easing up of restrictions though Israeli settlements continue to grow, IMEMC’s Fouad Al-Zir has more:

The Arab summit meeting held in Syria early this week, reaffirmed the Arab peace initiative , which calls for a comprehensive peace with Israel including normalized Arab-Israeli ties, in return for the full Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian lands occupied in the 1967 war. Amr Musa, Secretary General of the Arab League, however, stated that Arab states might be obliged to make a ‘painful decision’, if Israel continues refusing the initiative.

The Arab leaders also backed the Yemeni proposal for reconciliation between the rival Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, responding to calls from both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ politburo chief, Khaled Masha’al. These reconciliation talks between the rival Hamas and Fatah parties have not started yet, after both sides signed the Yemeni-sponsored San’aa agreement last week.

The Arab summit was not attended by all Arab countries on the same diplomatic representation level. While Arab summit meetings are usually attended by heads of state, some Arab states sent their Foreign Ministers due to differences with Syria. Lebanon completely boycotted the summit.

Meanwhile, President Abbas met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak met this week in Cairo, where the two leaders discussed the latest developments. Abbas confirmed that talks on a possible ceasefire with Israel are underway and said that nothing has been achieved so far although he is hopeful that Egyptian efforts will bear fruit.

Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, on the other hand, dismissed the possibility of reaching a ceasefire agreement with Palestinians, vowing to keep up pressure on the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, and to continue negotiations as well as settlement activities.

During a three-way-meeting that brought together US. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem on Sunday, the Israelis and Palestinians agreed to a series of steps to ease Palestinian civilian life in the West Bank including the removal of 50 Israeli military roadblocks.

Israeli army checkpoints and roadblocks directly affect the Palestinian economy and freedom of movement. Although 50 road blocks are slated for removal by Israel, The more than 500 others dividing the West Bank into 64 areas will remain in place. Furthermore, Previous claims by Israel that it had removed roadblocks and checkpoints were proven false, since many of the roadblocks in question had either eroded, did not exist or were already removed in the past.

Secretary Rice stressed the need to ease life for Palestinians, saying she understands Israel’s security considerations,

Israel has approved the construction of 600 housing units in the settlement of Pisgat Zeev near Jerusalem. The project is part of a larger plan approved by the mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, to construct 40,000 homes for Israeli settlers in the Jerusalem area.

While media reports said that Rice’s visit is meant to revitalize Palestinian Israeli peace talks which were re-initiated during the U.S sponsored Annapolis conference last November, nothing seems to be clear for the near future.

For IMEMC.org this is Fouad Al-Zir.

The Israeli attacks

The Gaza attacks

This week the Israeli army attack and siege Gaza leaving six Palestinians dead. A number of Israeli invasions into the Palestinian coastal region were reported, from Gaza, IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari has the details:

Rabee’ Hassan, 23, and Murad Khader,23, from Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed after Israeli army shelled areas in northern Gaza on Saturday.

On Monday two Palestinians were moderately wounded as the Israeli soldiers, stationed to the south of Gaza Strip, opened fire at them. Medics confirmed that the two have been moderately wounded and that they have been admitted to hospital for treatment.

Two Palestinian fighters were killed and another two injured during armed clashes with Israeli troops in the village of Wadi Al Salqa in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. Witnesses reported that an Israeli undercover force invaded the village on Tuesday morning and searched homes there. A group of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, clashed with the invading forces. The clashes ended when troops and tanks left Wadi Al Salqa leaving two Qassam fighters killed and two injured.

Saif Eldin Al-Shewaiki, 39, and Mohammad Al-Hamarna, 70, of the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, died today after Israeli authorities prevented them from receiving medical care outside of Gaza. The Palestinian Death toll resulting from the Israeli denial of permits to people requiring medical care outside of the Gaza strip now stands at 121.

Israel has placed Gaza under total Siege since June 2007. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza warned of a humanitarian crisis there on Wednesday, because of continued Israeli closure on the coastal territory.

In October 2007 Israel intensified its siege on Gaza including cutting off fuel supplies to Gaza’s 1.5 million residents. These fuel supplies are urgently needed for hospitals and ambulances.

On Thursday Palestinian medical sources reported that ten Palestinians, including two resistance fighters, were injured during an Israeli army invasion targeting Al Qarrara village in the southern part of the Gaza strip. Palestinian media reports said that the Israeli forces attacked and searched homes in Al Qarrara, then kidnapped seven Palestinians including a woman.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army kidnapped five Palestinians from the northern part of Gaza Strip. A dozen tanks, accompanied by a bulldozer, invaded the Sifa area, just north of Beit Lahiya town in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

for IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.

The West Bank

This week the Israeli army conducted at least 41 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those attacks Israeli troops kidnapped 33 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children. IMEMC’s Manar Jibrin has the details:

With the 33 Palestinians kidnapped in the West Bank by the army this week, the number of Palestinians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 has mounted to 810.

On Monday near Ramallah city, north of Jerusalem, a Palestinian civilian was shot and killed by gunfire from Israeli settlers near Ramallah. The sources identified the slain resident as Ali Mohammad Kharroub, 22, from Haris village, near the West Bank city of Salfit.

Palestinian security sources reported that extremist settlers of Shiloh settlement opened fire on Kharroub as he was walking on a sand road, near Tomor Ayya village, north of Ramallah.

The Israeli police demolished the Hamdan family house on Wednesday. The Hamdan family is a Palestinian family living in Anata, a Palestinian neighborhood in the city of Jerusalem.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an Israeli human rights group, finished rebuilding the house in July 2007 after it was first demolished in December 2005. The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem says that the house was built without legal permission, which has rarely been given to Palestinians since Israel occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1967.

Professor Jeff Halper, founder and co-coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, arrived at the scene and tied himself to the house to prevent the police from leveling the building; officers arrested him and released him several hours later after the house was destroyed.

Earlier this week the Israeli Army attacked an orphanage in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, the attack came two days after the Israeli Authorities issued an order to confiscate all the belongings of the orphanage. Nearly 200 orphans are living in the orphanage, and that they are students at the school which belongs to the Islamic Charitable Society.

For IMEMC.org this is Manar Jibrien.

The Land Day

On Sunday of this week Palestinians commemorated the 32nd anniversary of Land day, IMEMC’s J Sheridan with the story:

On 29 February 1976, the Israeli government announced that it planned to confiscate 21,000 Dunums (5,500 acres) of Arab-owned land in order to create eight Jewish industrial centers. It was another attempt by Israel to geographically marginalize the state’s Arab community and strip it of its agricultural livelihood.
Having experienced institutionalized discrimination since the Jewish state’s inception, the Palestinian’s in Israel decided to challenge the confiscations.
Community organizers met and decided to organize a general strike. In response, Israeli authorities announced a curfew on the evening of 29 March 1976. The following morning, Israeli police and military forces entered the striking Arab villages, and clashes erupted. Israeli forces responded with live ammunition, by the end of that day, six Palestinian’s were killed, 96 others were injured and 300 arrested.
Hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank, Israel, and other countries, were marking the anniversary of Land Day on Sunday when The Israeli army forces cracked down on demonstrators in the West Bank observing Land Day.
The speakers at the demonstration expressed their contempt for the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine, often referring to the current policy as a continuation of the 1948 Nakba. Omar Siksik, a community leader among Palestinian citizens of Israel said:

‘What happened in 1948, displacement and massacre will not be repeated, and we as popular committees will defend each house and every brick and every grain of sand.’
One of the most powerful speeches at the demonstration that commemorated land day in Jaffa was delivered by Sheikh Raid Salah, a well-respected leader of the Islamic movement among Palestinians in Israel who was recently released from prison
Actuality – Arabic>
‘I was asked several minutes ago by journalists who asked, why did you come here. I said to them and I still say, we did not come, because we were here anyway, we are here to stay, in the face of the confiscation of our land we are here to stay, in the face of house demolitions we are here to stay, in the face of the hands that extend to steal the land of the Tasso cemetery we are here to stay and all of our holy sites, And we will keep repeating, through the voices of our men, and women and youth and children, we are here to stay, we are here to stay.’
For IMEMC.org this is J Sheridan.

Conclusion

And that’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.

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