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 12th through to April 18th, 2008.
As Israeli army attacked left 30 Palestinians killed in Gaza this week, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, set forth conditions for ceasefire with Hamas and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, these stories and more coming up stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s George Rishmawi with the details:
Eleven protesters among them a Palestinian journalist were injured on Friday during the weekly protest against the Wall in the village of Bil’in near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
As is the case each week, villagers of Bil’in, along with their international and Israeli supporters, conducted their weekly protest against the Israeli Annexation Wall on the village land. After Friday prayers, the protesters marched from the village towards the gate of the wall, which separates the villagers from their land. The main theme of the event today was the Solidarity with the Palestinian Prisoners.
As soon as the protest arrived at the gate, Israeli troops stationed there showered them with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. Witnesses told IMEMC that troops deliberately attacked journalists to prevent them from documenting. Ammar Awad, a Reuters photojournalist, was lightly injured after troops shot him with a rubber coated steel bullet. Another 11 protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation.
At least 200 villagers from Al Khader village located near Bethlehem city in the southern part of the West Bank along with international and Israeli peace activists protested against the illegal wall Israeli is building on the village land.
The protest was in the form of Friday prayer in the street in 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.
Speeches were delivered by the local organizers. Coordinator of the Local Committee for Popular Resistance in Bethlehem, Samer Jaber, told IMEMC that this Friday the protest was in Solidarity with the Palestinian Political detainees held by Israel.
The Israeli illegal wall, when completed, will consist of 750 km of cement barriers and electric fences equipped with electronic motion sensors. The wall, along with 575 checkpoints and hundreds of watchtowers constitute a matrix of control rooted in a racist regime.
For IMEMC.org this is Manar Jibreen.
The Political report
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Russia this weeks, his visit came preliminary to a Russia-sponsored international peace conference to be held soon in Moscow. This and more by IMEMC’s Fuad Al-Zir:
Last November, Washington hosted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which set the aim of reaching a solution by the end of 2008. As of yet, however, little progress has been made. While on a visit to Russia on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that unless Israel releases all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, a peace agreement is unlikely.
From a Qatar-hosted trade conference this week, the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, stated that the Islamist Hamas party in Gaza was an obstacle to peace with Israel. Meanwhile, Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini, issued a press release on Friday, demanding a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, as well as an end to the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and condemned Israel’s decision to deny ex-US President Jimmy Carter entry to the Strip.
On the ground, ex-President of the United States Jimmy Carter, met with Hamas MP, Naser Al-Shae’r, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He described the meeting as good, and stated that he hoped peace would be achieved in the region.
This week Carter also met with other two other Hamas officials, Mahmoud al-Zahar and Said Siyam in Cairo. Israel and the United States criticized the Carter-Hamas meetings, with Israel asserting that Hamas is committed to the destruction of the state of Israel.
U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated ‘I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace.’ Rice made her comments on Friday, during a meeting with officials in Germany.
Also this week, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, put forth his conditions for a ceasefire with Hamas and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. He demanded that Hamas stop firing homemade shells from Gaza onto Israel and that Israel maintain a level of control on Gaza’s border crossings. On the ground the Israeli army controls all crossings leading in and out of the Palestinian coastal region including the Rafah-Egypt crossing.
The London-based Arabic newspaper aL-Hayat, quoted Palestinian sources stating that Hamas might accept the Israeli ceasefire offer but that the Islamic Jihad resistance group in Gaza as well as the Palestinian Authority might not agree.
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, had offered to take control of Gaza’s border crossings, yet Hamas refused this deal, asking for joint responsibility over the borders, especially the Rafah crossing terminal on the Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel enforced a total closure on the coastal region in June of last year, after the democratically-elected Hamas took over the territory amidst a power struggle with the Fatah party of President Abbas.
Israel says that Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, while Hamas, since taking power after January 2006’s elections, has voiced readiness for a long-term truce with Israel, and has authorized Abbas to negotiate with Israel.
For IMEMC.org this is Fuad Al-Zir explains.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
This week the Israeli army attacks on Gaza left 30 Palestinians, including 8 children and a journalist, killed. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Mughari with the details:
On Monday in the north of the Gaza Strip the Israeli army extra-judicially executed two resistance fighters of Al Qassam brigades the armed wing of Hamas, wounded a third one. Five other civilian bystanders, including a child, were injured in the attack.
Palestinian medical sources in Gaza City reported that one Palestinian patient died on Monday at midday, succumbing to cancer after having been denied a permit to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment by the occupying Israeli army.
Suhha Al Jumbass, 22, had cancer, and had applied several times to leave the Gaza Strip for medical care but the Israeli army refused. The death of Al Jumbass brings the number of Palestinian patients who have died in Gaza due to the nine month long Israeli siege to 133.
On Tuesday four activists of the Palestinian resistance group, Al Qassam brigades were killed and four others were wounded during armed clashes with Israeli army troops that moved into al-Shojaâ€™eya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.
Meanwhile on Wednesday afternoon during an incursion into Juhor al-Dik village in the central Gaza Strip, the Israeli army killed 13 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children and a journalist, and wounded 32 others, including 17 children, another journalist and a woman.
Five Palestinian resistance fighters and three Israeli soldiers were killed during three different incidents in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Palestinian sources said that four fighters of the al Qassam brigades the armed wing of Hamas were killed when the Israeli army invaded Al Shujaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City and clashed with Palestinian fighters at dawn.
Meanwhile Palestinian sources reported that a Palestinian man, said to be an Islamic Jihad fighter was killed by Israeli army fire near the southern part of the Gaza Strip in the city of Rafah, on Wednesday at dawn.
Three Israeli soldiers were killed when a group of Al Qassam Brigades managed to ambush them near Nahal OZ border crossing located at the centre of the Gaza Israeli borders. Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian farmer and wounded 2 others in the northern Gaza Strip. Additionally, 12 Palestinians, including a child and 2 women, were wounded by army attacks in separate attacks throughout the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian sources reported that three Palestinian fighters died on Thursday, two due to previous wounds and one during clashes with the Israeli army at midday Thursday.
Osama Abu Anzah, of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, was killed when armed clashes with the Israeli army took place at the Karem Salem border crossing located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile the Al Qassam Brigades today stated that two of their fighters have died due to earlier wounds sustained during the week by Israeli attacks.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army conducted least 48 military invasions targeting Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those attacks the army killed three resistance fighters and kidnapped 52 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children. IMEMC’s Mary Smith has the details:
The invasions this week were concentrated in the cities of Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem. With 52 civilians kidnapped this week the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by Israel in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 has mounted to 927.
This week the Israeli army continued to target and kill Palestinian resistance fighters. The latest was the murder of a leader of the resistance in Balata refugee camp located in Nablus city.
Hanni Al Ka’bie, 22, the leader of the Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah party was killed when Israeli troops surrounded a house in Balata refugee camp and used bombs to shell it. Soldiers also kidnapped two other men, one of which was injured during the attack.
During a pre dawn attack on Thursday which targeted Qabtiya town located near the city of Jenin, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian resistance fighters. Local sources in Qabtiya said that Israeli troops and a bulldozer invaded the town then surrounded a house there that was under construction, two fighters from the Al Quds brigades were inside.
Clashes between the Israeli soldiers and the fighters took place for several hours, the clashes ended when troops used explosives to attack the house killing the two fighters inside. Medical sources identified the two resistance men as Bilal Ikmeal, 26, and Iz-al Deen Iwedat, 19. Ikmeal is the leader of the Al Quds brigades in the northern part of the West Bank, sources from the Islamic Jihad said.
On Monday afternoon, the Israeli police demolished a Palestinian owned house located in Anata neighborhood, in the northern part of Jerusalem city. Witnesses stated that bulldozers and Israeli troops surrounded the house on Monday morning; police officers forced the family out of their home and attacked them with batons.
By Monday evening, the house was completely leveled, local sources reported. The Israeli police said that the house is too close to the illegal Annexation Wall, and that it was built without the required, official documents. Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians living in Jerusalem since it occupied the city in 1967.
Palestinian sources reported on Saturday that the body of a 16-year old Palestinian child was found two days ago in Kibbutz Hatzarim area, in the southern Hebron Hills. The leg of the child was amputated, and the child bled to death, after an explosive left by the army detonated near him as he was herding sheep in the area.
For IMEMC.org this is Mary Smith.
This week the Palestinians marked the Prisoners day, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that no peace deal will be reached without Israeli releasing those prisoners, IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura with the story:
Hundreds of demonstrators marked Prisoners Day. On April 17th of each year Palestinians mark Political Prisoners day in solidarity of the Palestinians who are detained by Israel with protests throughout the west Bank and the Gaza strip.
Since 1967, when Israel occupied both the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli troops have abducted a total of 750,000 Palestinian Prisoners for being involved in resisting the Israeli occupation. According to the Palestinian Authority, that would be the equivalent of having one member of every Palestinian family imprisoned at least once in their lifetime.
At present, 9750 people are held in detention by the Israeli military. 49 of those abducted by the Israeli army are Palestinian law makers who won the January 2006 Parliamentary elections.
Palestinian MP, Issa Qaraqi, the head of Political Prisoners affairs committee in the Palestinian parliament describes conditions inside the prisons:
‘The demonstrations are a clear indication that Palestinian society demands the freedom of all political detainees, in addition it shows that Palestinians will not accept any deal that does not involve freeing political prisoners. The situation in the Israeli jails is deteriorating, eight died during 2007 and one this year because of the bad medical care.’
According to the Palestinian Authority report, over half of the 9750 political detainees are either being held without a trial or were kept under administrative detention. If the detainees get a court hearing it will be in a military court even though they are civilians.
In those courts Israel applies what the report cites as ‘secret charges’, which the detainee and his or her lawyer are not allowed to see.
Israeli military records state that The Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli detention facilities currently include 330 children. Reports by the Red Cross and human right groups say those children face interrogation by the army, and in most cases the children experienced some form of torture.
The abduction of Palestinians occurs frequently as the military searches and ransacks private homes mainly in the west bank, under the pretext that residents are resisting the army.
Tamer Salah, a Palestinian child from Bethlehem, experienced these abductions first-hand:
‘I was 16 and half year old when I was taken, I served two years and half, they said because I used to throw stones at the army. they psychologically tortured me, AND they physically tortured me in the beginning. The good food was only on Friday and Thursday the rest of the week it was bad, there was a 13 year old boy from Ramallah with me, each time the guards attacked us with dogs he used to breakdown psychologically.’
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura in Palestine.
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.