Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 12 m 0s || 10.9 MB ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for June 14th, through June 20th , 2008.
As the truce deal between Hamas and Israel was reached this week, Israeli attacks on the coastal region has left 17 Palestinians killed. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
We begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Jay Sheridan has the details:
On Friday, villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, along with their international and Israeli supporters marched in their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land.
Protestors carried photos of Ibrahim Burnat who was injured during last week’s protest by three live bullets fired by an Israeli soldier at a close range. Burnat is still receiving treatment in the hospital.
The protests started after the mid-day Friday prayers were finished in the mosque, participants marched towards the separation Wall which separates 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 canisters. Two including a journalist were injured as a result of the rubber-coated steel bullets. In addition tear gas canisters started several fires in the olive orchards burning many of the old trees.
At least 150 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader along with Israeli and international supporters staged the protest at the nearby settlers road. The march started with midday prayers held near the army checkpoint there, and then speeches were delivered by local organizers.
Samier Jaber of the local committee against the Wall and settlement said that todayâ€™s protest was to commemorate the world day for refugees, he said’ because of the Israeli illegal wall and settlement all Palestinians will be refugees.’
After the speeches a group of old men from the village marched to the checkpoint, where soldiers forced them away, local sources said that soldiers pushed one of the old men and nearly injured him.
Also near Bethlehem scores of Palestinian villagers from Um Salamunah protested on Friday morning the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village land. The villagers supported by international and Israeli peace activists marched towered the near by settlers road.
As soon as the protesters arrived to the settlers’ road, troops blocked it using barbed-wire; speeches were delivered by the organizers calling for the removal of the illegal wall. Later a group of protesters tried to remove the military blockade, soldiers stopped them and detained two Israeli activists for 30 minutes then released them.
For IMEMC.org this is Jay Sheridan.
Lead: This week in Palestine, the ruling Hamas party in Gaza agreed to an Egyptian-mediated truce deal with Israel on the basis of lifting the Israeli blockade gradually, halting homemade shells fire into nearby Israeli areas and achieving progress in negotiations over the release of captured Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shait. IMEMC’s Anna Smith has the details:
The truce deal went into effect on Thursday morning, while Hamas said Israeli gunboats fired on fishermen while on Rafah shores. Israeli artillery also fired towards houses in Khan Younis in the south of Gaza.
Also, the Israeli occupation authorities allowed limited shipments of fuel into Gaza in the first hours of the ceasefire implementation. Mahmoud Alkhuzendar, deputy-director of the Gaza fuel stations society, told IMEMC that the quantities of fuel and cooking gas fell short of the real need of the population.
‘such quantities do not reflect any calm, if there is a real calm, such quantities would have been much larger’.
The fuel stations in Gaza reportedly received only 270 tons of cooking gas out of the 400 tons actually needed by the population on a daily basis, 200,000 liters of gasoline and no single liter of Benzene. In the meantime, the ruling Hamas party said in a statement that it is committed to the truce deal and it would ensure the halt of homemade shell fire, but if the Israeli army breaches the declaration, it would respond.
Fawzi Barhoum , Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza told the IMEMC that the Palestinian factions agreed also to the ceasefire announcement.
‘ Hamas and the other factions submitted their vision ,to which all agreed, then Hamas inquired about some points, pending a response from the Zionist occupation, until we reached such a Tahdiyya (truce)’.
However, a number of Palestinian factions in Gaza, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, had their own reservations on the agreement. Rabah Mhanna, a local PFLP leader in Gaza said that such a ceasefire can not succeed unless the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is ended.
In Israel, the Israeli officials appeared divided over approval of the ceasefire, despite the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and his defense minister, Ehud Barak’s approval of this truce deal with the Palestinians. Nevertheless, Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, believes that the ceasefire is shaky and can not last long, stating that the Israeli army is preparing for a possible military attack on Gaza if the ceasefire fails.
The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, of the caretaker government, welcomed the truce deal, hopeful it would lead to some sort of calm and would inject a momentum into deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
Washington cautiously reacted to the Thursday announcement. Washington still considers Hamas a terrorist group until it meets three demands: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting past signed peace agreements with Israel.
The European Union, which is a member of the Quartet Committee for Middle East peace, welcomed the truce declaration and looked forward to calm in the region and the hope of a Palestinian-Israeli peace by end of this year.
In Jerusalem, the Quartet Committee’s Special Envoy Tony Blair stated that this ceasefire declaration is a good chance for Hamas to adapt to ‘new policy and tactics’.
On another issue, representatives of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Gaza’s met this weekend with a number of Gaza factional leaders. Nafed Azzam, an Isamic Jihad leader in Gaza, believed that direct talks between the ruling Hamas and the ousted Fatah party in Gaza will be held in two weeks. Hamas, which controls Gaza, welcomed dialogue with Fatah, but demanded that its supporters who have been arrested by the Fatah-linked government in the West Bank over the past several months, be freed.
For IMEMC.org this is Anna Smith.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
As the truce deal between Hamas and Israel was reached this week, Israeli attacks on the coastal region has left 17 Palestinians killed, from Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari has the details:
On Sunday the Israeli army killed four Palestinian resistance activists and wounded four others in Khuzaâ€™a village in the southern Gaza Strip, and in Gaza City.
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that one fighter of the Islamic Jihad was killed on Monday evening after the Israeli army fired a missile at an area close to Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed and three others injured in two separate Israeli attacks in northern Gaza strip on Monday morning.
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that six Palestinians were killed by Israeli shells in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The statement came after one resident died of his wounds at a local hospital in Gaza; several injuries were reported.
The Israeli air force fired missiles at two vehicles in the southern and central parts of the Gaza Strip killing five residents and wounding several others. Four of the killed were resistance fighters and one was a civilian. Later on the sixth resident died of his wounds, medical sources reported.
The Israeli army conducted several air attacks targeting different areas in the Gaza Strip on Thursday at dawn, one killed and two injured local sources reported.
Witnesses said that a Palestinian resistance fighter was killed and two others injured when Israeli F16 jet fighters shelled areas in the central part of the Gaza Strip.
Israel has announced late on Tuesday that it accepted the truce deal with Hamas that was mediated by Egypt. The Egyptian-mediated ceasefire stipulates that Hamas, which controls Gaza since June 2007, will halt the fire of homemade shells into Israeli territory, in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Gaza Strip.
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, stated on Thursday that Israel violated the first day of ceasefire three times, and warned that any Israeli violation to any section of the truce will seriously endanger its success as the movement will monitor the Israeli implementation of this deal.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank
Lead: This Week the Israeli army conducted at least 29 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these attacks the Israeli troops kidnapped 28 Palestinian civilians, including three children. IMEMC’s Taylor Bray has the Story:
This week the attacks were focused in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem. With this weekâ€™s kidnappings the number of Palestinians who were kidnapped by the Israeli army from the West Bank has reached 1,334 since the beginning of 2008.
A group of settlers from the settlement of Yitsahar located near Bureen village south of Nablus city in the northern part of the West Bank set fire to Palestinian owned olive trees on Thursday.
Farmers said that the attack caused them heavy financial losses; they added that settlers also prevented firefighters from reaching the area which increased the damage.
The Israeli army conducted a military operation targeting the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Thursday; during the attack the army destroyed three homes and kidnapped five civilians.
Palestinian sources said that Israeli forces invaded the city on Thursday morning then surrounded the house of Akkel Hassanin, then kidnapped four of his sons before demolishing his home and another nearby empty house.
A fifth man, while walking in the street, was kidnapped along with the four brothers, witnesses said. Hassanin has a son who was a resistance fighter and was killed by the army several years ago.
Ten Palestinians were injured when Israeli troops invaded the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon. Witnesses reported that at least 14 Israeli military jeeps invaded the city and surrounded the house of Muath Abu Aker family.
Abu Aker is claimed wanted by the Israeli army, for being involved with the Palestinian armed resistance groups. Clashes between local youth and the invading troops erupted nearby Deheisheh refugee camp.
Palestinian youth hurled stones at the Israeli jeeps, while troops responded with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets injuring ten civilians, one seriously.
For IMEMC.org this is Taylor Bray
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 Ghassan Bannoura and George Rishmawi.