Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || Time 12m 0s || File 10.9 MB ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for May 24th, through May 30th, 2008.
As Egyptian mediation efforts between the Palestinian resistance and Israel continue, the Israeli army maintained its siege on Gaza and kidnapped civilians from the West Bank. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
We begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura has the details:
The Israeli army attacked the nonviolent protest organized by the villagers of Al-Meâ€™sara village south of Bethlehem on Friday morning and kidnapped one protester.
Supported by international and Israeli peace activists, the villagers gathered at the nearby Israeli settlers road and demanded the removal of the separation wall Israel is building on the land.
Dozens of Israeli troops lined up and forced the villagers away; one international peace activist was kidnapped and taken away by the Israeli troops.
On Friday, also near Bethlehem, about 200 villagers from Al Khader village protested the Israeli wall and settlements constructed on the village land.
Supported by 50 international and Israeli peace activists the villagers held the midday prayers on the settler’s road near the village and then marched towards the nearby Israeli road block. Several hours later the action was finished peacefully.
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 against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land on Friday.
The villagers called for the removal of the Israeli wall and settlements. As they do each week, the protests started after the mid-day Friday prayers were finished in the local mosque.
Protesters 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, and three were injured by rubber-steal coated bullets.
Iyad Burnat, of the local committee against the Wall and Settlements, said that the soldiers used a new army vehicle that fires tear gas at protesters. ‘It can fire 30 gas bombs in one go.’ Burnat told IMEMC.
Egyptian mediators are awaiting an Israeli response to the Palestinian resistance groups’ offer of a ceasefire with Israel in Gaza. This and more political updates with IMEMC’s Kay Manning:
Amos Gil’ad, a top Israeli security official, headed to Cairo this week for discussions with the Egyptians, following a new round of talks between Hamas and Omar Sulieman, the Egyptian intelligence chief.
According to the terms of the Hamas-led ceasefire initiative, the ruling Hamas party will halt homemade shell fire from Gaza in return for Israeli halt of military attacks, and lifting the ongoing blockade on Gaza. Hamas officials in Gaza said on Thursday that they expected a response from the Egyptians on the results of the truce efforts.
Israel demanded that Hamas release a captured Israeli soldier and that Egyptians ensure stoppage of ‘arms smuggling’ through underground tunnels on Gaza-Egypt border, before any truce is observed. Also, Israel said it would not commit officially to any ceasefire deals but it said that if its two demands were met, there will be no need for more Israeli army actions against Gaza.
Hamas, which holds full sway of Gaza, said that the soldier’s issue is a separate one that should be addressed within a prisoner swap deal, in which hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, jailed in Israel, be freed.
In Damascus, Khaled Mash’al, supreme exiled leader of Hamas, warned of the stalemate of ceasefire talks, saying that the Palestinian people are determined to break up the siege on Gaza if this siege is not lifted.
In Gaza, United Nations Human Rights Council, sent former South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, to investigate an Israeli army massacre of 19 civilians in November of 2006. Tutu, who concluded a two-day mission in the Hamas-run Gaza, described the situation as miserable, calling on Israel to lift the blockade and on Palestinian factions to stop homemade shell fire.
These developments come on the heels of a pledge by Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert on Wednesday, that he would stop homemade shell fire from Gaza , once and for all, as other military officials, including the defense minister, Ehud Barak, warned of a massive military attack on Gaza soon.
Meanwhile, a new round of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations was held on Tuesday in Jerusalem between top Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurai and Israeli foreign minister, Tzibi Livni , who heads the Israeli team.
Saeb Eriqat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, described the meeting as serious but said no major breakthrough was seen, as the two sides are still divided in terms of contentious final status issues.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party, who formed a care taker government in Ramallah after the Hamas’s seizure of Gaza in June 2007, met this week with some Hamas officials in the West Bank. The meeting discussed possible ways of returning the situation back as it was prior to the June incidents, as Abbas insisted that Hamas should renounce control of Gaza before any conciliation between the two major rival parties is seen.
On another issue, spokesman of the Palestinian presidency, Nabil Abu Rodaina, stated that the current Israeli internal political affairs are ‘an internal issue’ and that the corruption charges against the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, will impact the peace negotiations between the two sides.
At the Israeli level, Olmert’s standing has been affected recently due to a police probe into cash Olmert ‘allegedly’ used for personal purposes. The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, asked Olmert to resign from post, yet the Israeli government’s spokesperson said that Olmert is undertaking his responsibilities as usual.
For IMEMC.org this is Kay Manning.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
As Egypt continues to mediate a truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel, Israeli army attacks and the siege on Gaza continued this week, IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari in Gaza reports:
Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian civilian was pronounced dead on Thursday due to wounds he sustained on Wednesday.
Ahmad Al Omour, was pronounced dead after being wounded during the Israeli army attack targeting the southern Gaza Strip towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah. Two Palestinian fighters have reportedly been killed and nine others wounded on Wednesday, in two Israeli air strikes and a ground invasion into separate Gaza areas.
The Israeli naval forces detained 10 Palestinian fishermen on Tuesday morning, while on board Rafah shores to the south of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources reported.
Witnesses said that Israeli naval boats intercepted fishing boats on board Rafah shores earlier on Tuesday morning then arrested ten of them, taking them to unknown destination.
Israeli naval attacks on Palestinian fishermen have recently increased in the coastal region as Israel enforces a crippling closure on the coastal territory since June of last year. Palestinian sources estimate that there are 4600 families in Gaza who earn a living through fishing.
One more Palestinian patient died on Tuesday after having been denied access to treatment outside of the Gaza Strip. This is the 167th case where a patient died from not receiving appropriate treatment due to being denied access to medical facilities by the Israeli army.
Sources in Gaza declared that Mohammad Alimawi, 22, of the eastern Gaza city neighborhood of Shiejaiya, died of cancer at Gaza city hospital.
Alimawi received treatment at an Israeli hospital several months ago. A couple of days ago he was heading to Israel to receive his regular check up when his access was delayed by the Israeli army, causing him severe bleeding until he died.
Earlier, doctors announced the death of an infant, after his access to medical care outside the coastal region was delayed because of the Israeli blockade.
On Monday night, two 10 days old twin-sisters died in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. Doctors say the twins needed medicine that is not available in Gaza due to the Israeli siege, in addition both were not allowed to leave Gaza by the army to get the life saving medical care they needed, doctors added.
Israel has placed the Gaza Strip under total siege for 11 months now, leaving 1.5 million Palestinians, living in the coastal enclave, lacking medicine, food, water, and fuel.
On Saturday Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that 13 Palestinians were wounded in several Israeli military attacks that targeted two areas in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami AL Meghari.
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 34 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those attacks Israeli troops kidnapped 38 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children. This and more by IMEMC’s Jane Smith:
Including the 38 civilians kidnapped this week by the army, the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by Israeli troops in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 has risen to 1,224.
The Israeli army kidnapped four Palestinian civilians during an attack targeting the village of Na’alen, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, on Thursday morning. Ayman Nafei, the mayor of Na’alen, stated that the abductions were aimed at foiling a nonviolent action against the illegal Israeli wall that was due to take place today in the village.
Nafei added that the Israeli wall will annex 2500 Dunoms of the village lands (one Acre is equal to 4 Dunoms). Earlier this week the Israeli army attacked a nonviolent protest organized by the villagers of Na’alen, and at least 20 civilians were injured by the army fire.
The Christian Peace Maker Teams (CPT), stationed in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, reported on Thursday that Israeli soldiers blocked the road between the village of At-Tuwani and the city of Yatta using three concrete blocks.
The blocked road is the main route for vehicles in the South Hebron Hills and is used by the Palestinians to travel to and from the city of Yatta, near Hebron. The CPT reported that the main health services, including maternity provisions, are situated in Yatta, and that the blockade of this road will bar several villages in the South Hebron Hills from having access to these facilities.
Khalid Al Azza, head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, member of the Central Committee of the National Struggle Front, stated on Wednesday that the Israeli authorities delivered orders to residents of the West Bank districts of Bethlehem and Hebron informing them of intentions to demolish 10 homes and three stores in addition to a construction used for storing rain water.
Palestinian sources reported on Sunday that an Israeli peace activist was wounded and three supporters were detained after the Israeli army attacked a peaceful protest conducted by the activists at the entrance of Al Sammoaâ€™ village, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
For IMEMC.org this is Jane Smith.
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 week’s report was brought to you by Malandra Burrows and Ghassan Bannoura.