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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for August 9th, through August, 15th, 2008.
Lead: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered new ideas for a solution between Palestinian and Israelis.moreover as the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its eighth week, the Israeli army has cleared the soldiers who killed Reuter’s cameraman. 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:
On Friday IMEMC’s correspondents reported that a group of peace activists including internationals and local villagers marched in a non-violent protest against the wall at Nil’in village.
After the Friday prayer was over the protestors marched in a non-violent protest against the illegal wall being built on the village lands, and against the illegal closures and killing of Palestinians.
A large number of Israeli troops halted the protest and banned the protestors from heading towards the wall.
The Israeli army soldiers surrounded the protestors and attacked them, injuring seven. Two suffered severe head injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets fired by soldiers, and dozens suffered from CS-gas inhalation. All wounded protestors were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
The Israeli army dispersed the weekly non-violent protest in Bil’in village north of Ramallah on Friday midday with gas, guns and grenades.
After the weekly Friday prayer, a group 300 internationals and peace activists marched in solidarity with the people of Bil’in village. The protest was against the illegal wall being built on the local village lands.
The protestors were also demonstrating against the Israeli killings of local civilians and the illegal closures and confiscation of lands and property. The protestors walked towards the wall with the intention of reaching the lands behind it.
Israeli troops attacked the protestors by shooting CS gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and concussion grenades at them.
Dozens of civilians were reported suffering the effects of gas inhalation. Israeli troops also threw manure and chemical water at the protestors.
A group of fifty internationals, peace activists and non-violent protesters marched in protest against the illegal wall on Friday midday at al Khader village located near Bethlehem.
IMEMCâ€™s correspondents reported that the protest took place after the Friday prayer at the village. A group of fifty non-violent demonstrators marched in protest against the apartheid wall being built on the village lands.
Also on Friday, International action groups joined local villagers at Um Salamona in a non-violent protest against the building of separation walls. Close to a hundred of the peaceful protesters from Italy, France, Israel and the United States were kept from crossing the road by a fence of barbed wire Israeli soldiers had strung across the road to prevent passing.
For imemc.org this is Rula Shahwan
The political report
Lead: This week Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert was reported by Israeli media sources as offering new ideas for a solution between Israelis and Palestinians, as talks over the captured Israeli soldier, Gil’ad Shalit are making no progress IMEMC’s Sofie Reid has the details
Israeli media reports revealed this week that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has offered new ideas for a peaceful solution between Palestinians and Israelis that include creating a Palestinian state on 93 percent of the West Bank lands and allowing the return of 20,000 Palestinian refugees on yearly basis within 10 years.
The office of Prime Minister would not engage in the problem of Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel in 1948. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman rejected the statehood offer, branding it inconsistent with the Palestinian demands and international legitimacy resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Olmert proposal, according to the Haaretz newspaper, includes a Palestinian state on 93 percent of West Bank, a 7 percent shortage to be compensated with lands in the Israeli Negev desert. Israel, in return, would keep major settlement blokcs.
Also, safe passage would connect the West Bank with the Gaza Strip, with Palestinians moving freely between the two parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israeli foreign minister, Tsibi Livni, a candidate after Olmert leaves office, objected to the proposal, saying she would work against it. Washington, which supervises Palestinian-Israeli talks since Novemver2007’s Annapolis summit, will dispatch Secretary Condoleezza Rice next week to soften obstacles for the best of an acceptable solution for both parties.
The United States has been attempting to reach a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by the end of 2008.
In the meantime, talks over the captured Israeli soldier, Gil’ad Shalit, who the ruling Hamas party in Gaza still holds, have made no progress since Hamas and Israel agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal in June19, 2008.
During talks in Cairo on Thursday, chief of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman told his Israeli counterpart, Amos Gil’ad, that Israel and Hamas should reach a resolution of the Shalit case in no later than three months.
On the ground, Hamas has moved masses towards the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza, in protest of the terminal closure by Egypt since June14, 2007.
Deputy-speaker of the Hamas-dominated parliament in Gaza blamed the Egyptian leadership for what he considered suffering of the Gaza population
‘Mr. President, the people of Gaza are starving as Gaza’s patients die one after another slowly. We appeal to the Arab states league to take its real role, we appeal to the Arab parliaments, we appeal to Human Rights groups, we appeal to the Organization of Islamic Conference, we appeal to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, to relieve the people of Gaza.’
The Hamas’ rally and protests emanate form the continued Israeli blockade of Gaza despite the ceasefire deal, which Cairo brokered two months ago. Hamas’s leader told reporters on Sunday that Israel only allows 60 trucks of commodities out of 450 trucks on daily basis, as Israel closes the border crossings frequently since the deal has been concluded.
On the other hand, Israel has recently warned of a large military offensive on the coastal region if the homemade shells fire continues from Gaza onto Israel.
Amidst such a situation, media reports hinted at the possibility of bringing in Arab forces into the Gaza Strip to rein in the situation and rearrange the Palestinian internal politics.
Egyptian mediators called this week for a meeting of Palestinian faction representatives in Cairo to discuss Palestinian national unity, which has stalled since Hamas took over Gaza and Fatah was ejected from the Strip in June2007.
Mohammad Albaba, a political leader for the popular resistance committees, a principal Gaza-based faction that holds soldier Shalit, told the IMEMC that his party believes that the ties with Egypt are solid enough, welcoming any Egyptian role.
However, Albaba said that any security or military force would be dealt with as the occupation if it is installed to implement Israeli or American agendas.
For IMEMC this is Sofie Reid
Lead: As the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its eighth week, the Israeli army has cleared the soldiers who killed Reuter’s cameraman Fade shana’a. is this and more from IMEMCâ€™s Rami Al Mughari in Gaza:
The Israeli military justice system, Israeli forces exempted the soldiers who killed Fadel Shanaâ€™a, a Reuter’s cameraman in Juhor al-Dik in the central Gaza Strip on 16 April 2008. The Israeli military advocate-general, Avihai Mendelblit, claimed that an Israeli tank crew who killed Shanaâ€™a and a number of other unarmed civilians, including children, acted properly and will not face any legal action.
The Palestinian Information Center reported on Sunday that three residents were hospitalized after suffocating under the rubble of a collapsed tunnel in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and Egypt. Seven residents are still missing. The three wounded residents are currently in a stable condition after receiving the needed medical attention. They were located on Saturday night; the tunnel collapsed Saturday evening.
On Wednesday, the Israeli government announced that it will reopen four crossing points with the Gaza Strip, including the Kerem Shalom border crossing. This will be the first time that the Kerem Shalom crossing will be open in four months, since an attack on the checkpoint which injured thirteen Israeli soldiers. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the borders closed on Tuesday in response to a homemade Palestinian shell that landed in an Israeli town bordering Gaza.
Israeli forces have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The Israeli 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 approximately 1.5 million Palestinian civilians. Their rights to appropriate living conditions, health and education have been utterly ignored. The siege has also paralyzed the Gazan economy.
Furthermore, severe restrictions have been imposed on the movement of the Palestinian civilian population. The siege imposed on the Gaza Strip has severely impacted the flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities such as fuel, construction materials and raw materials for various economic sectors.
For IMEMC this is Rami Al Mughari
Lead: This week Israeli forces conducted twenty-six invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those invasions, Israeli forces kidnapped thirty-three Palestinian civilians, including ten children. In addition, Israeli troops positioned at checkpoints throughout the West Bank abducted at least three Palestinian civilians. IMEMCâ€™s Robert Shaver has the details:
On Tuesday, a group of Israeli settlers attacked houses and a mosque in Hebron and attempted to set the mosque on fire. Settlers attacked both local civilians and international peace activists inside the mosque, and showered them with garbage.
Eye witnesses reported that the settlers climbed onto the roof of the mosque and attempted to set it on fire. They also harassed civilians and forcibly grabbed video cameras from international photographers present at the attack.
On Wednesday, a group of Israeli settlers attacked the West Bank city of Hebron, wounding a Palestinian child in the head. He was taken to a local hospital.
Also on Wednesday, the Israeli army invaded Deheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem and started firing at random, injuring an unarmed Palestinian boy with shrapnel from a bullet. Medical sources reported that the boy was transferred to a local hospital and that he is suffering from a moderate injury.
Meanwhile, Israeli bulldozers demolished three houses in Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said that the bulldozers demolished the houses immediately, preventing family members from rescuing any of their belongings before the houses were destroyed. The Israeli army justifies the demolition by claiming that the houses were built without the needed permission. However, since Israel occupied Jerusalem in 1967 it has rarely given its Palestinian residents any form of documentation for their land or homes or permission to build.
On Thursday, the Israeli army invaded Deheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Eye witnesses reported that a large Israeli army force entered the camp and to lay down heavy fire at random, injuring two civilians. The Israeli army took the two wounded civilians to an unknown destination.
Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been denied access to Jerusalem.
Israeli forces have established many checkpoints around and inside the city. Restrictions of the movement of Palestinian civilians often escalate on Fridays to prevent them from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli forces often assault Palestinian civilians who attempt to bypass checkpoints and enter the city.
For IMEMC.org this is Robert Shaver.
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 has been brought to you by George Rishmawi and Husam Qasiss.