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 May 3rd, to through to May 9th 2008.
The Palestinian leadership this week denied any progress in ongoing peace negotiation, meanwhile army attacks and the Israeli siege on Gaza continued 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 Conscience Londres with the details:
On Friday, villagers from Bil’in near Ramallah were joined by international and Israeli peace activists for the weekly nonviolent protest against the wall occupying Bilin land. Protesters carried banners demanding the wall and settlements be removed. The protests called for the international community to support Palestinians inside East Jerusalem whose way of life is threatened by the Israeli army.
As usual the protests commenced after Friday midday prayers, then villagers from Bil’in, Israeli and international peace activists, marched towards site of the Wall separating the village from its land.
When the protest reached the gate in the Wall, soldiers showered protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Many protesters were treated for gas inhalation. Also this week villagers of Bil’in in partnership Adallah center- for Arab Minority in Israeli- succeeded in preventing a Zionist billionaire from opening a business in the United Arab Emirates.
Liv Livaiv, The Jewish American billionaire, is the main funder of the Israeli settlement built on Bil’in’s land, Bil’in villagers and the Adallah center launched a Media campaign against the billionaire which led to officials in United Arab Emirates refusing the business of Livaiv.
Around 200 Palestinians, internationals and Israelis demonstrated at military checkpoint on the southern entrance of Bethlehem, to protest against the wall Israel is building on the lands A khader village of on Friday morning.
The protest started with a prayer held near the checkpoint, during which the preacher affirmed the right of return for Palestinian refugees by United Nations Resolution 194, as the 60th anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people nears. As soon as the protestors gathered for the prayer, at least 30 Israeli troops backed by 6 military vehicles, blocked the checkpoint in an attempt to foil the protest.
The nonviolent demonstration was organized by the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements as part of series of weekly protests against Israeli measures in Palestine.
Protestors carried Palestinian flags and banners reading, â€œStop erasing Palestinian identityâ€, â€œStop ongoing Nakbaâ€, â€œEnd the Israeli occupationâ€, and called for the recognition of right of return for Palestinian refugees. The demonstration ended peacefully after one hour.
For IMEMC.org this is Conscience Londres
The Political report
Lead: The Palestinian leadership this week denied any progress in ongoing peace negotiation efforts between Palestinians and Israelis. This and more by IMEMC’s Mary Smith:
The Palestinian leadership’s denial came after Israeli media reported that a peace agreement is likely to be reached by the end of 2008. Sources quoted Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, as saying that the Israeli settlement enclaves in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, will not pose an obstacle to peace-making.
Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Abed Rabo, responded that the Israeli settlement activities, on occupied Palestinian lands, sabotage the peace process. Earlier, Ahmad Qurai, head of the Palestinian negotiation team, stated that ‘how come such settlements do not pose an obstacle, while they are already occupying about 60 percent of Palestinian lands, which Israel occupied in 1967’.
Amidst such developments, President of United States, Gorge W. Bush is set to visit Israel next week in a bid to push forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks for reaching a solution before his term in office comes to an end.
Bush is also said to be holding a meeting, jointly with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian president Husni Mubarak, on May17 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm Elshiekh .
Last week, U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, called on both sides to set their border lines ahead of a two-state solution that Washington had envisioned during last November’s Annapolis peace summit. Rice also asserts that major Israeli settlement blocs can remain under Israeli control, once an agreement is reached. The Annapolis summit laid the foundation for resumed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
Meanwhile, the Hamas-dominated government in Gaza downplayed current Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as ‘aimless and useless’, urging President Abbas to cut-short such talks immediately.
On the Israeli political level, Israeli media reports said on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is likely to resign in June and call for early elections. The resignation news came in the backdrop of reports that Olmert received money form a New York City businessman during Olmert’s election campaign, almost three years ago.
In a televised speech on Thursday night, Olmert admitted to have taken that money, but argued that he hasn’t taken any bribes or misused public assets’.
In the meantime, Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, urged yesterday the Lebanese factions to keep restraint, after elements of the Islamic party of Hizbullah were deployed in the Beirut international airport.
The party’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned this week of what he called ‘ a conspiracy against the Lebanese resistance of the Israeli occupation by some U.S and Israel-aligned elements in Lebanon’.
Abbas called on all Palestinian factions, based in Lebanon, to keep aside from the ’emerging crisis’ in the Lebanese territories and try to help reconcile ‘Lebanese brothers’.
For IMEMC.org this is Mary Smith.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
As army attacks and the Israeli siege on Gaza continued this week, the Gaza Power Company stated that it will soon not be apple to provide the Strip with its required amount of electricity. From Gaza, the IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari has more:
The Gaza Power Company, the main distributor of electricity in the Gaza Strip, stated on Thursday that it would have to shut down in the coming days as it ran of the required amount of fuel to run its generators and other equipment. The Company said that it would be unable to fix any power networks and main power lines.
Also on Thursday, four Palestinians were wounded after an Israeli air strike hit a civilian car in northern Gaza Strip.
A separate attack involving Israeli tanks and troops occurred in the Abasan area, east of Khan Younis. The attack ended on Thursday at dawn, leaving behind two Palestinians dead, 20 injured, and at least 40 residents were kidnapped.
35 year-old Wafa’ Al Daghmah, a mother of seven children, was shot and killed by the Israeli army in the attack as troops were pulling out of Khan Younis, local sources said. Medics stated that Al Daghmah was shot in the head and died instantly.
On Wednesday afternoon, one Palestinian was killed and seven injured as the Israeli army attacked a group of residents in Khan Younis. 4 homes were also demolished during the military operation in Abasan.
Early on Tuesday, an Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian resistance fighter from Hamas and critically wounded another when the car they were driving in northern Gaza Strip was hit with an Israeli missile.
Three Palestinian women, including a 13-year old girl, died in the Gaza strip on Monday after being prevented by the Israeli authorities from leaving Gaza to for medical treatment abroad. Medical sources reported that the victims were identified as
Asmahan Al Jamal, 13, a patient from Gaza City suffering from brain cancer, Zakyiah Sa’dah, 59, with a heart condition, and Nathmiah Abdah, 55, a cancer patient, both from Al Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. The death of these three patients raises the number of Palestinians patients who died due to the Israeli siege on Gaza to 145.
On Sunday morning, an Israeli tank shelled a Palestinian-owned house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Kheza’a, killing a civilian man and wounding two other inhabitants.
All this as the Israeli siege on Gaza has now entered its 11th month.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank
Lead: This week, the Israeli army conducted at least 43 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those attacks, Israeli troops kidnapped at least 100 Palestinian civilians. The IMEMC’s Jay Sheridan explains:
The Israeli army kidnappings this week were focused in the cities of Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah. Among those 100 kidnapped were 15 children. By this week-end, the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by Israel in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 now stands at 1,151.
Israeli army radio reported on Monday that eight Israeli youth from Jerusalem were arrested for stabbing and attacking two Palestinian residents of Israel. The two victims were residents of the Shuâ€™fat refugee camp in the city. The radio said that the attack took place as Israel was celebrating its memorial day, a special day for â€œremembering fallen soldiersâ€.
The incident took place as the two victims were near the entrance of a shopping mall in Pisgat Zeâ€™ev, near Jerusalem. Ha’aretz reported that one of the victims suffered moderate wounds, while his friend did not need medical intervention.
The Israeli Army radio reported that the assailants said during a police probe that they carried out their attack in order to quote â€œrid Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Arabsâ€.
The Ahrar Center For Detaineesâ€™ Studies stated that on Tuesday at dawn, Israeli soldiers broke into the house of detained legislator Dr. Azzam Salhab in Hebron, searched the property and kidnapped his son and his son-in-law.
The Ahrar Center stated that at least three military vehicles surrounded the house before the soldiers broke in and searched the premises, causing damage to the property. Salhab, who is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was kidnapped by the Israeli army more than three years ago.
Israeli troops manning the Beit Iba checkpoint, located west of Nablus, detained a Palestinian Police official and assaulted another one on Tuesday.
Majid Abed Al Lateef Al Qaddomi, the chief of Palestinian police in Nablus, was going to his work when troops stopped him at the checkpoint and detained him for several hours. Al Qaddomi’s Lieutenant, Nidal Al Jarumy, who was travelling with him at the time, was beaten by Israeli soldiers while Al Qaddomi was being detained.
For IMEMC.org this is Jay Sheridan.
Lead: Israelis celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state this week, while Palestinians commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, or Palestinian catastrophe, were attacked and beaten by Israeli police. IMEMC’s Aaron Lakoff was in Nazareth, and has more:
On Thursday, May 8th, Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence. The state of Israel was officially declared in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, but May 8th was the anniversary according to the Hebrew calendar.
As thousands of Israelis in different cities celebrated this date, Palestinians living in the West Bank and within the 1948 borders of Palestine also marked the date as the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, when over 3 quarters of the population of Palestine were violently displaced from their homes and lands on what has now become Israel.
In Bethlehem on Thursday, over 700 people participated in a demonstration calling for the right of return of Palestinian refugees, who number over 5 million today, constituting the largest refugee population in the world.
The march, which left from Bethlehem and went towards the nearby refugee camps of Deheishe and Aida, was organized by the Palestinian Committee for commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Nakba. They mounted what organizers claim was the largest key in the world onto the back of a flat-bed truck, which was the lead float in the demonstration. The key is a widely used symbol of the aspirations of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes which they were forced to flee in 1948.
In the city Nazareth, located in the Galilee region, within the 1948 borders of Palestine, thousands of Palestinian-Israelis held a demonstration to commemorate the Nakba, which marched towards the nearby destroyed village of Suffariyah. Amongst the remaining rubble of the abandoned village, organizers delivered speeches, recited poetry, and listened to live music.
The peaceful scene turned ugly as the crowds began to leave following the end of the ceremonies. According to eyewitnesses on the scene, Israeli police instructed people to take down their banners and Palestinian flags. When people refused, police began firing tear gas canisters at crowds with families and children.
Israeli news sources reported that nearly a dozen people were injured in the clashes, including 5 police officers, and two Palestinian-Israeli members of the Knesset, Wasel Taha and Mohammed Barakeh . Six people were arrested, and Israeli authorities are expected to call the demonstration’s organizers in for questioning.
Demonstrations, ceremonies, and cultural events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nakba are planned across Palestine and internationally for the rest of the month of May.
For imemc.org, this is Aaron Lakoff.
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 Kate Smith and Ghassan Bannoura.