Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 12.8 MB || Time 14m 0s ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for April 5th through to April 11th, 2008.
Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met this week in Jerusalem for peace talks while Israeli army attacks and the siege on the Gaza Strip have left 24 Palestinians dead 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 Mary Smith with the details:
On Friday at midday the villagers of Bil’in, a village located near Ramallah in the centre of the west bank along with their international and Israeli supporters conducted their weekly protest against the Israeli wall Israel is building on the village land.
After the Friday prayers, the protest marched from the village towards the gate of the wall, that separates the villagers from their land. As soon as the protest arrived to the gate, the Israeli troops stationed there showered them with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets.
A number of civilians were injured including an Israeli journalist called Israel. The man sustained wounds to his leg after being hit directly with a rubber coated steel bullet. Jonathan Bolack, an Israeli peace activist witnessed the attack:
The Israeli army prevented a number of Israeli peace activists to join the Palestinian residents of Al-Khader in their weekly nonviolent protest against the construction of the separation wall on their land on Friday at noon.
Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that troops stopped the Israeli activists and took the keys of their cars at one of the entrances of the village, and informed the activists that they will get their keys back only if they are going back to Jerusalem.
Coordinator of the Local Committee for Popular Resistance in Bethlehem Samer Jaber, said â€œThis is an attempt by Israel to prevent solidarity with the Palestinians in their just struggle to end the Israeli occupation.â€
Sources that around 150 Palestinians and Internationals, protested near the southern entrance of Bethlehem area. The protest took the form of holding the Friday prayer in the street at the presence of around 60 Israeli soldiers.
The protestors dispersed after the Imam gave a speech to the worshippers and protestors calling for an ongoing nonviolent resistance to end the Israeli occupation.
For IMEMC this is Mary Smith
Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met this week in Jerusalem for peace talks which are underway between the two sides. The meeting ended with no concrete results, as Palestinians insist that Israel should fulfill its obligations under the road map peace plan. IMEMC’s Fuad Al-Zir explains:
The Israeli government declared it would remove 50 roadblocks in the West Bank earlier this week, as of yet nothing has been observed on the ground, while Israeli settlement activities go unabated. Senior Palestinian negotiator. Saeb Eriqat, commented on the situation during a press briefing in Ramallah:
‘Israel must stop settlement activity including natural growth within those settlements, the trust in the peace process most be regained, the continued settlement activity destroys this trust puts any future peace deal at risk.’
Next Monday, U.S President Gorge W. Bush, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, will participate in a three-day summit hosted by Egyptian president Husni Mubarak, at the Red sea Sharm Elshiekh resort, in an attempt to revitalize Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated on Thursday that Israel will deliver a severe blow to the ruling Hamas party in Gaza following a cross-border attack on an Israeli fuel terminal to the east of Gaza city on Wednesday.
Olmert told a rally in Tel-Aviv that Hamas wont be able to kill Israel civilians. In the Gaza Strip, the ruling Hamas party warned of an imminent escalation of the situation, in light of the continued Israeli siege of the coastal enclave.
Khalil AlHaiya, a local leader of Hamas in Gaza, said in a press conference this week, that the Palestinian masses besieged in Gaza might be obliged to cross the Gaza-Egypt border lines in protest of the Israeli siege. He added that Egyptian-Hamas talks over reopening of the Rafah crossing terminal have failed. Cairo issued firm warnings against any breach of its borders and threateningly declared that it knows how to protect its borders.
Diplomatic sources in Egypt told AFP that Egyptian troops on the border lines with Gaza will be reinforced in order to prevent a recurrence of the event in which tens of thousands of besieged Palestinians flooded into Egypt on January 23d of this year. Hamas spokesperson in Gaza , Fawzi Barhoum, denied that Hamas has planned to direct the Palestinian masses towards reopening the borders with Egypt.
‘We would like to confirm that so far no Hamas leader or official has stated that Hamas plans to direct the Palestinian masses towards reopening the crossing or the borders and we donâ€™t know what the Palestinian masses’ reaction will be’.
On January23, Egypt experienced hundreds of thousands of Gazans enterring Egyptian territories to stock up on goods, made scarce because of the Israeli closure of crossing points into and out of Gaza since June of last year.
Meanwhile, Hamas leaders in Palestine and in exile, blamed Israel for the failure of Egyptian-mediated talks over a potential ceasefire with Israel as well as a prisoners exchange which would have seen the release of 350 Palestinian political prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gl’ad Shalit.
Speaking from Damascus, Mousa Abu Marzouk, a senior leader in the Hamas movement, said that his party is unwilling to release Shalit, and is ready to negotiate over his bones, unless Israel agrees to the release of the Palestinian political prisoners that Hamas has requested.
Abu Marzouk also blamed Israel for the failure of ceasefire talks, saying that his party has offered a comprehensive truce that includes an end to Israeli attacks on both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in return for cessation of homemade shells fired into Israeli areas.
On the internal level, Mohammad Nazzal, a senior exiled Hamas leader, told the Qatar-based aL-Jazaeera.net that a Hamas-Fatah conciliation deal is far from being reached, expressing his party’s readiness to initiate unconditional dialogue with the Fatah party headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
The democratically-elected Hamas party took over the Gaza Strip in June2007 amidst a power struggle with the secular Fatah party of Abbas, whose caretaker government in Ramallah continues to attempt peace negotiations with Israel.
For IMEMC.org this is Fuad Al-Zir.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza attacks
This week the continual Israeli army attacks and siege on the Gaza Strip have left 24 Palestinians killed, from Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari with the details:
Two Palestinian fighters from the ruling Hamas party have reportedly been killed by two Israeli air strikes on the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Friday. Palestinian medical sources reported that Mohammad aL-Najjar and Amin aL-Najjar, arrived dead to the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian security sources said The Israeli air strikes were carried out early on Friday morning in the Khuza’a village, to the east of Khan Younis city in southern Gaza Strip.
On Friday midday medical sources in the northern part of the Palestinian coastal region reported that an Israeli shelling left six killed and 17 injured, among them children.
A total of eight Palestinians, including three children, were killed on Wednesday in three Israeli air-strikes that targeted Gaza city. Two fighters were killed shortly after attacking Nahal Oz Israeli military base and killing two soldiers.
Eyewitnesses reported that the Israeli air force carried out a series of air strikes that targeted areas in the eastern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip killing six residents. Earlier on Wednesday morning one Israeli soldier and one Palestinian resistance fighter were killed in clashes between Palestinian resistance fighters and Israeli troops invading the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday midday, five Palestinian patients died after the Israeli army prevented them from leaving the coastal region. The five were chronically ill and doctors said they have been attempting to get them out of Gaza for months to get the life saving medical care they require, but the army refused their applications for exit permits.
These deaths bring the number of Palestinian patients who died in Gaza due to the Israeli siege to 130, with reports of many more facing a risk of death due to the Western backed Israeli siege. The Israeli army has placed the Gaza Strip under total siege since June 2007, leaving the 1.5 Gazans lacking fuel, medicine, food, and water.
On Tuesday a Palestinian fighter was killed by an Israeli army shell, east of Jabalya refugee camp in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The sources said that two other Palestinians were injured in the same Israeli shelling.
On Sunday a five-year-old child was killed by Israeli army gunfire in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of aL-Buraij. Abdullah Bahar, 5, was dead on arrival, at the hospital from shrapnel entering various parts of his head and body. Witnesses said that an Israeli army force backed by tanks invaded the eastern areas of aL-Buraij refugee camp, close to the Gaza-Israel border line and opened fire at residents’ homes.
On Saturday a Palestinian farmer, Ra’fat Mansur, 33, was killed and another was injured after Israeli forces backed by armored vehicles invaded the Jabalyah area north of the Gaza Strip and opened fire at farmers there.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army has invaded the Palestinian communities in the West Bank at least 30 times. During those attacks, the Israeli troops kidnapped 65 Palestinian civilians. IMEMC’s Mannar Jibren with the details:
With those 65 kidnapped by the army this week, the number of Palestinians living in the West Bank kidnapped by Israeli since the beginning of 2008 has mounted to 875.
Four Palestinians were shot and injured when the Israeli army invaded the village of Tafuha, located near the southern west Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. Local sources reported that Israeli troops stormed the village then searched and ransacked a number of homes.
Local youth hurled stones at the invading forces and the army fired rounds of live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets; four were injured. Medical sources in the village said that the four sustained moderate wounds, and were treated at a local clinic in the village.
Palestinian medical sources reported on Wednesday evening that one Palestinian youth was shot and moderately wounded by Israeli military gunfire in Beit Reema village, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The youth was identified as Jamal Sameeh Al Reemawi, 17.
Local sources reported that clashes took place between dozens of youth and Israeli forces. The soldiers invaded the village from its western entrance. Soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, concussion and gas bombs.
On Tuesday, the Israeli state prosecutor demanded an extension to the period given by the Israeli high court of Justice to the army to justify the army decision to close schools and orphanages in the southern west Bank city of Hebron.
On 25 February 2008, the General of Command (GOC) of the Israeli army issued closure, evacuation and confiscation orders on properties and institutions funded by the Islamic Charitable Society based in Hebron city.
Three schools and two orphanages serving 7000 children, 300 of whom are living in the Society buildings, faced an April 1 deadline for the closure. Abed al-kareem Farrah, the legal advisor of the Islamic Charitable Society says the society is legal and only answers to the Palestinian Authority law:
‘The society is legally registered and is operating since 1962, it is located in the Palestinian Authority control areas, according to the Oslo agreement, in which all control, management and security were given in those areas to the PA, so the PA is the one responsible for this organization.’
Last week the Society went to the Israeli high court of Justice, which on April 2 had allotted the Israeli military four days to give the High Court full justification for the closure and evacuation. At the end of the period which ended Monday, the army did not justify the closure order and instead on Tuesday, they demanded more time.
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.