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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for July 19th, through July, 25th, 2008.
Top Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurei, is set to head to Washington for talks over the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. As the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its sixth week, the Israeli army kills one Palestinian and shoots another in Gaza. These stories and more coming up stay tuned.
We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Rula Shahwan has the details:
Nearly 200 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader, located near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, were joined by International peace activists for the weekly prayer service and march to protest the illegal wall Israel is building around the village.
The protesters held Friday prayers at the nearby military checkpoint then departed after speeches were delivered.
Near Ramallah: As Friday prayers finished, the people of Nil’in marched in their weekly protest against the apartheid wall and settlements.
They were joined by international and Israeli activists. The protesters walked towards an incomplete section of the wall. As the protestors passed the wall, Israeli soldiers started firing CS gas canisters, concussion grenades and rubber bullets, resulting in the injury of an Israeli photographer,
Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of Palestinian children gathered near the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt carrying plastic saws and hammers and symbolically attempted to demolish the wall in a move that shows their rejection of the siege imposed on Gaza.
Also on Friday near Ramallah scores of international and Israeli peace activists along with villagers marched against the illegal wall being built on Bil’in.
Protestors walked from the village entrance after the conclusion of weekly Friday prayers. The protestors were demonstrating against the Israeli killings of local civilians as well as the illegal closures and confiscation of lands and property. The protestors walked towards the wall in an attempt to get to the villager’s lands behind it.
Israeli troops shot CS gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and concussion grenades at the protesters causing numerous civilians to suffer from gas inhalation. Additionally, an Israeli reporter was shot by the Israeli troops.
For IMEMC.org this is Rula Shahwan
The Political Report
Lead: Top Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurei, is set to head to Washington for talks over the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Qurei’s visit is concurrent with a similar move by his Israeli counterpart, foreign minister Tzibi Livni. This and more by IMEMC’s Kendra Puryear:
The two parties’ visits come amidst Washington’s recent attempts to host a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. These talks continue to be overshadowed by large-scale concerns over the continued Israeli settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon voiced concern on Thursday over Israel’s intention to build 40 housing units in a Jerusalem-based Israeli settlement. Earlier this week Egypt branded Israeli settlement activities ‘ a threat to peace’.
In the meantime, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli president Shimon Peres met this week in the latter’s residence in Jerusalem. The two leaders, who laid the foundations for Palestinian-Israeli peace accords of 1993, emphasized the need for reaching a solution to the conflict, yet Peres pointed out that the main obstacle lies in Jerusalem.
Also this week, president Abbas met in Ramallah with the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, during his recent visit to Palestine and Israel. Brown pledged economic development in the Palestinian territories.
In other news, Israel accused the ruling Hamas party in Gaza of blocking a prisonerâ€™s swap deal which would see the release of a captured Israeli soldier, in exchange for freedom of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Hamas’s Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, hinted earlier in the week that the party is about to conclude an honorable prisoners swap deal, similar to that the Lebanese Hizbullah party has recently concluded with Israel through German mediation.
Hamas reiterated to Egyptian mediators that the Shalit case is a separate issue and that any discussions should be separate from the current ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel.
In the meantime, talks over Palestinian national unity are still stalled as both Fatah and Hamas parties insist on preconditions for dialogue. A meeting of representatives from other Gaza factions confirmed on Thursday that unity between Hamas and Fatah is the best means to protest the Palestinian national interests.
For IMEMC.org this is Kendra Puryear.
The Israeli attacks
Lead: As the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its sixth week, the Israeli army kills one Palestinian and shoots another. This and more from IMEMCâ€™s Rami Al Mughari in Gaza:
The Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, announced on Tuesday that one of their fighters was killed and two others were wounded by the Israeli army in eastern Gaza City.
In a statement faxed to media outlets the brigades said that the three injured fighters had been taking part in a resistance mission when a blast occurred at a Qassam post in the Shijaiya neighborhood, east of Gaza City.
Dr. Mo’awiya Hasanin, chief of the Emergency Department at Gaza’s Health Ministry told media outlets that one man arrived dead at the hospital while the other two wounded people, including a child, underwent life-saving surgeries.
Earlier on Wednesday at midday, The Israeli army shot a Palestinian from a nearby Israeli military zone located on the northern border of the Gaza Strip.
Medical sources reported that Israeli troops opened fire on Abed Hamdan, 25, injuring his foot. He was transferred to a local hospital for treatment.
The Israeli army gunfire today came following an Israeli decision two weeks ago to shoot at any moving object within 300 meters of the border fence. This attack is the sixth of its kind since the Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel on 19 June 2008.
The Israeli army continues its 2-year old policy of keeping all border crossings to the Gaza Strip closed. The Israeli forces siege of Gaza, which has tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and has violated the human, economic and social rights of the Palestinian civilian population. Approximately 1.5 million people are being deprived of their rights, particularly as it pertains to living conditions, health and education.
Lead: This week the Israeli Army conducted at least 32 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The army kidnapped 80 Palestinian civilians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. IMEMCâ€™s William Bascom has the details:
This Weeks attacks were focused in the cities of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah. This week the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of this year now stands at 1,628. In Nablus alone, Israeli forces abducted 74 Palestinian civilians.
Also this week and for the third consecutive week, The Israeli army continues their campaign targeting Palestinian civil institutions. During the reporting period, Israeli forces ransacked and searched a charity and a kindergarten in Jericho. They confiscated computers and documents.
On Thursday midday, The Israeli army invaded Faggar Village located in the southern part of the city of Bethlehem. The army entered the industrial zone in the village and invaded 45 stone quarries in the area. Locals reported that six Israeli vehicles accompanied by trucks confiscated various equipment with an estimated worth of millions of dollars.
Moreover on Thursday at dawn, in the West Bank city of Hebron, The Israeli army shot 2 civilians during encounters with the Israeli soldiers; Israeli soldiers shot tear gas, gun fire and sound bombs randomly causing civilians to panic.
Since the Egypt-brokered truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel came into effect in the Gaza Strip on 19 June 2008, the Israeli army escalated attacks against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank. This escalation led the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, to suspend the security plan being implemented by the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank.
Earlier on Wednesday, an Israeli military vehicle ran over a six-year-old boy in Hebron. He was critically injured and taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, a group of 20 Israeli settlers attacked a house in Boreen village in the southern part of Nablus city and injured the residents. Earlier this week, Boreen was also attacked by settlers using homemade shells.
On Tuesday afternoon Israeli sources said that a bulldozer driver hit a number of cars on a busy street in Jerusalem City. 16 Israelis were injured in the attack.
Israeli police said that a security guard opened fire on the bulldozer driver and killed him. Medical sources reported that one person sustained moderate wounds and others were lightly injured. Earlier in July a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem in a Bulldozer attacked a number of Israeli cars killing three Israelis. He was not known to be affiliated with any Palestinian militant group.
For IMEMC.org this is William Bascom.
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 Nathen Dannison and Husam Qasiss.