Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 19 m 0s || 17.3 MB || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for May 10th, to through to May 16th, 2008. The Egyptian efforts to reach calm in the Gaza Strip continue, as the Israeli siege and military fire left 10 Palestinians 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. Here's IMEMC's Mary Smith with the details: Bethlehem On Friday midday, the popular committee of Al Khader village—near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem—held a non-violent demonstration to protest the construction of the illegal Israeli wall, demanding an end to the Palestinians Nakba and recognition of their right of return. Around 150 Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli peace activists took part in the protest, which started with a prayer near the checkpoint at the entrance of the village. As soon as the protestors gathered for the prayer, at least 30 Israeli troops blocked the checkpoint, attempting to foil the protest. The protesters marched towards the military barricade and sat in front of it for nearly half an hour. Speeches were delivered and the protest ended peacefully. Theme of today's protest was Nakba: "Sixty year of ongoing catastrophe, sixty year of exile; sixty years of neglecting Palestinians' rights and basic human needs" Also near Bethlehem around 250 Palestinians and Internationals, including 70 Americans demonstrated against the construction of the separation wall on the land of Al-Me’sara village on Friday morning. The protestors wore black T-Shirts, and raised black flags in a mourning sign to commemorate the 60 anniversary of the Nakba, the dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. As the protestors arrived at the construction site of the wall, dozens of Israeli troops lined up and placed barbed wire in order to prevent the protestors to advance closer to the wall. The protestors set up a tent at the site to resemble the tents the expelled Palestinians of 1948 lived in. Troops assaulted the protestors with their batons, and rifle buts wounding three of them moderately. Bil'in Villagers from Bil'in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, supported by international and Israeli peace activists conducted their weekly nonviolent protest, on Friday midday, against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village's land. Protesters carried banners demanding the removal of the Israeli wall, settlements, and calling the international community to help Palestinians retain Jerusalem from the Israeli army. Like wise each week the protests started after the mid-day Friday prayers were finished in the local mosque, 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. Immediately after the protest reached the gate of the Wall, soldiers showered the protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Scores of protesters were treated for gas inhalation. For IMEMC.org Mary Smith. The Political report Egyptian efforts to reach calm in the Gaza Strip continue, while Palestinians slam the timing of Bush’s visit to Israel saying it is premature, seeing no solution has been reached. IMEMC’s Louis Manchester has more: Political Report Earlier this week Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, criticized the timing of United States President George W. Bush's visit to Israel, saying that he should visit when a peaceful solution is reached between Israel and the Palestinians. Fayyad also downplayed Israel's celebrations, marking the so-called independence of Israel in 1948. "Such celebrations are meaningless," he said, "in a time when these two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, cannot celebrate the establishment of two states'. President Bush's visit to Israel—in which Bush voiced unprecedented backing of the Jewish state— comes in the backdrop of stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, such as the Annapolis Washington-sponsored peace summit held last November. According to the guidelines set at the summit, Palestinians and Israelis are supposed to reach solutions for all outstanding issues by the end of this year, before the end of Bush's term in office, which terminates in January. Palestinian critics slammed the visit, branding it a clear reflection of biased policy towards Israel, at the expense of Palestinian rights. In Gaza, a representative from the ruling Hamas party said that the visit is a bad omen for the Palestinian people. Hamas's spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: "this visit is of a bad omen for the Palestinian people and we don't rely on this visit but we rather expect more backing to the Israeli occupation for further crimes to happen" Tayseer Khaled, a political leader from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told media outlets that such a visit hindered U.S-sponsored peace efforts, that is indicated outright support for Israel's actions, actions which include the construction of more settlements. Asked by IMEMC whether the visit would result in advancement of the peace process, Mokhaimar Abu Se'da, a professor of political science in Gaza, said that Bush won't be able to pressure Israel, given internal Israeli political reasons. Further, Bush mentioned neither the Palestinian Nakbah (catastrophe), nor the Palestinian people who suffer under Israeli occupation, While Israel was celebrating its independence, Palestinian refugees marked their Nakbah with demonstrations, rallies, and special commemorations. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees—or UNRWA—held a special ceremony in Gaza.. Karen Abu Zaid, the agency's commissioner general, attended the ceremony, and felt great sadness: In the coming week, representatives from Palestinian factions will head to Cairo for a new round of talks, regarding a prospective ceasefire with Israel. Early this week, Omar Sulieman—chief of Egyptian intelligence and a principal mediator—submitted Hamas' offer to Israel, which would begin as a six-month cease fire in Gaza, and would extend to the West Bank later on. Earlier this month, Israel turned down the proposal and demanded two more conditions: the release of a captured Israeli soldier in Gaza, Gil'ad Shalit, and a halt to smuggling of arms from Egypt to the coastal region. Ruling Hamas and other factions in Gaza rejected the two demands, saying that the Shalit case is a separate issue and can be dealt with in the framework of a prisoner exchange On Friday, Israeli media reports suggested that the Israeli army is set to carry out a new round of military attacks on the Gaza Strip, following Bush's visit. For IMEMC.org this is Stephen Engel. The Israeli attacks The Gaza Strip Israeli attacks on Gaza continued this week, where Israel's siege and military attacks have killed 10 Palestinians. Here's IMEMC's Rami Al Meghari: On Tuesday, Israeli shells killed one resident and wounded three others in Al Qarara, Khan Younis, in southern Gaza Strip. Later that night, two Palestinian patients died due to the continued Israeli siege of Gaza Strip. Doctors said that Samyiah Al Suftawi, a 55 year old cancer patient, and Misbah Abed Al Shafee, a 51 year old with a heart condition, died because they were not allowed to leave the coastal region for medical care. Consequently, the number of patients dead—deprived of adequate medical care since the 11 month siege began— now stands at 153. Early Wednesday morning, Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinians—including one fighter—and wounded fourteen residents in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip, and Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, east of Al Shujaeyya neighborhood in Gaza City, two fighters from Al Qassam Brigade—the armed wing of Hamas—were killed by Israeli shells. Three others were wounded. Israelis attacked shortly before midnight, targeting Mohammad Harara, and Ahmad Al Malahi. Medical sources said that their bodies were severely mutilated. Palestinian medical sources reported that Osama Alastal, 23, a member of the Al Qassam brigade, was killed on Sunday morning in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. He was among other Al Qassam resistance fighters, and shot dead near the Israeli-Gaza border. Meanwhile, according to Palestinian local sources, an undercover Israeli unit swept into Alnahda neighborhood, to the east of Rafah city, in southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that the Israeli force fired at residential houses. No injuries were reported. In response to the Israeli attacks, Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza attacked nearby Israeli targets. According to Israeli sources, a 70-year old woman on tour in Israel was killed by a Palestinian homemade shell on Monday. On Wednesday, fifteen Israelis, residents of Ashkelon (Asqalan) town were wounded, three seriously, after Palestinian fighters fired several homemade shells at the city. For IMEMC.org this Rami Al Meghari in Gaza. The West Bank As Palestinians commemorated the 60th year of Nakba, Arabic for the catastrophe, the Israeli army carried out at least 20 military incursions into the West Bank, kidnapping at least 30 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and a journalist. IMEMC's Jay Sheridan tells the story: This week Israeli attacks were waged in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin. With this week's kidnappings, the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank, since the beginning of 2008, stands at 1,155. On Wednesday at dawn, the Israeli army invaded a village near Hebron and kidnapped Hassan Al Rujoub, 24, a journalist for a local university magazine. On Thursday morning, dozens of armed settlers rushed to nab land east of Beit Sahour, a town near Bethlehem, to build a new settlement. The settlers were accompanied by Israeli army troops. Israeli troops arrested Farid Al-Atrash, a lawyer from Bethlehem, who was among the Palestinians protesting the settlement. One of the settlers, who refused to disclose his name, denied the existence of Palestinian land and insisted that it is called Judea. Salah El-Taamari, governor of Bethlehem, told IMEMC that Israel is not showing any inclination towards peace: "Israel is not interested in peace; it's interested in annexing more land. The Israeli army left this land a year ago. And these settlers, under the protection of the army, want to build a settlement on it. This is not a good sign." On Wednesday, the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), revealed information about Israeli intentions to build a new settlement there. This land, known as Ush Ghrab (Crock’s Nest) was occupied by the Israeli army in 1967 and used as a military base, from which the Israeli army unilaterally withdrew in 2006. The Municipality of Beit Sahour, which owns most of the land in that area, immediately started plans to build public gardens for the communities of the Bethlehem area. Also On Thursday morning, a Palestinian from the town of Sa'er, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, was wounded by Israeli fire after clashes broke out. On Monday, Shareif Al Tuorah, 15, was injured by a rubber-coated steal bullet during clashes that took place in the village of Tafouh, near Hebron. Troops invaded the village and searched homes before the clashes took place. Three Palestinian youth were injured midday Saturday when Israeli troops invaded the village of Jaba, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Local sources said that at least 15 Israeli army vehicles stormed the village, where troops conducted a wide scale house to house search. During the search, clashes erupted between the invading soldiers and youth from the village. The boys were injured during the clash. For IMEMC.org this is Jay Sheridan. Nakba This week marks the 60th year of the Nakba, when Zionist forces destroyed and depopulated over 530 Palestinian towns and villages, expelling over 750,000 Palestinians. May 15 is the day that Palestinians commemorate this event, since it is the day that Israel declared itself an independent Jewish state on the land of Palestine, refusing since then to allow the return of Palestine's refugees or their descendants. It is on this day that the millions of Palestinian refugees world wide demonstrate, commemorating the Nakba and calling for the implementation of their right to return. This year the refugees' demonstrations in the West Bank were brutally suppressed by the Israeli military. One of the over 530 villages destroyed by Israel in the 1948 war was the village of al-Wallajeh. Originally located near Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the community was forced to relocate to the part of their village lands that remained under Arab control. Today they are living proof of the ongoing displacement of Palestinians, proof of Palestine's ongoing Nakba. IMEMC's Ghassan Bannoura with the story: Zionist troops became known as the Israeli army after they declared statehood on May 14th, 1948. During the 48 war, the forces destroyed over 530 Palestinian population centers, including the village of Al-Wallajeh in the Jerusalem district. Aisheh Haj Musa Abu Ali was 15 years old when British forces ended their mandate over Palestinian land and armed Zionist forces: "when they left, our men installed barricades around our town incase the Jews attacked us, one day the did, the residents of the village hold them back and we stayed in our village for another six months after that, each day the Jews used to kill one or three of our men, then they attacked our village on a Tuesday by the next day night they took over the village and totally demolished it, that is our catastrophe." Refugees built homes on village lands that remained in the West Bank under Jordanian rule. Iyisha Mahmoud abed Al remembers living in her village Al Wallajeh at the age of 17: "In Al-Wallajeh, we were all farmers, we would plant and harvest. We hand land, and it was a beautiful life. No one would steal, or do anything to hurt the other people in the village. All the land was planted with grapes, and peaches, and we had apples as well. We would play as children on the lands of the village, and never felt afraid or anything like that. Today none of us dares to go from here to here from the soldiers." Israel went on to occupy the rest of Al Wallajeh and West Bank in 1967. Israel annexed Wallajeh to Jerusalem, without its population, so, the villagers are regarded as West Bank residents. Since then the villagers are required to obtain building permits from Israel which are rarely granted. Homes built after 1967 without those permits are subject to Israeli demolition procedures. The springs, fields, and olive trees in Wallajeh are now eaten by surrounding Israeli settlements like Gilo and Har Gilo. In 2002 Israeli authorities announced plans to build a wall through Al Wallajeh. Mahmoud Al-A'raj, a 25 year old activist with the ANSAR Youth Centre in Al Wallajeh explains: "In addition to the settlements that surround the village from all directions we have the apartheid wall, adding to that the home demolishing, since 1975 Israeli demolished 50 homes in Al Wallajeh and now we have a whole neighborhood that is in the danger of being demolished, moreover the high percentage of unemployment which reaches 75%,, now a days the Israelis are using various methods to make it harder for use, which is a continuation of their polices they started 60 years ago." In November 1947, the land of Palestine was inhabited by 1.3 million Arab Palestinians and just over 600,000 European Jews as new immigrants. By the end of the 1948 war, the Israeli army had forced over 750,000 indigenous Palestinians to leave the land. Palestinian refugees number 7.5 million people and form the world's oldest and largest refugee population. For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura in Palestine. Conclusion And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For up to the minute updates, check out our website, www.IMEMC.org. Thanks for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem; this Fou'ad Al Zir.