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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for August 16th, through August, 22nd, 2008.
Lead: The ruling Hamas party in Gaza announced its rejection of any Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement excluding the issue of Jerusalem meanwhile death toll in Gaza due to the long year siege has reached 237. These stories and more, coming up stay tuned.
We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent resistance actions in the West Bank.:
At least 17 people including children suffered from gas inhalation when the Israeli army fired a number of CS gas canisters at protestors in the village of Niâ€™lin near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.
Salah Khawaja, coordinator of the Niâ€™lin popular committee, told IMEMC that nearly 400 Palestinians, internationals and Israelis took to the streets of the village to nonviolently protest the construction of the wall and settlements on the villageâ€™s land.
The protest started following the Friday noon prayers, when worshippers and international and Israeli solidarity activists walked towards the construction site of the wall. Israeli soldiers opened fire towards the peaceful protesters, preventing them reaching the wall.
Israeli troops then declared the area a closed military zone and clashed with the protestors.
On Thursday, the popular committee in Niâ€™lin organized a nonviolent protest. Israeli troops fired CS gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at the nonviolent demonstrators, wounding nine people, including four children.
Dozens of Palestinian, international and Israeli civilians were treated for gas inhalation as the Israeli army showered them with CS gas during the weekly nonviolent anti-wall protest in the village of Bilâ€™in, west of Ramallah.
A group of 100 protestors marched after the Friday prayers in the village towards the illegal wall built on the villagersâ€™ land.
The Israeli army attacked the civilian protesters with batons, concussion grenades and CS gas, causing dozens to suffer from gas inhalation, Eyad Burnat, head of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bilâ€™in, reported.
Moreover, troops also sprayed protestors with colored water. Burnat told IMEMC he believes the water contained chemicals and could cause skin problems.
Similarly, a number of internationals, Israeli peace activists and Palestinian villagers marched after the Friday prayers in Al-Ma’sara village near Bethlehem, in a nonviolent protest against the annexation wall being built on the village lands.
Local sources reported that the Israeli army stopped the protest by shooting CS gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and concussion grenades. Among the protesters were children who were injured by the Israeli troops. A number of civilians reportedly suffered from gas inhalation.
Mazen Al-Azza, one of the local coordinators, told IMEMC that another goal for the protest was to commemorate the 39th anniversary of attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on August 21, 1969 by an Australian national named Michael Dennis Rohan. At the time, the Israeli authorities said he was insane in order to clear him from standing trial and the case was closed.
For imemc.org this is George Rishmawi
Lead: As the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its ninth week, Death toll in Gaza due to the Israeli siege reaches 237. This and more from IMEMCâ€™s Rami Al Mughari in Gaza :
In the Gaza Strip the number of patients who have died due to the year-long Israeli siege has reached 237, as one more patient died this week.
Ramada Ghalayini died of cancer as he was banned from leaving the Gaza strip to get the needed medical treatment, Palestinian medical sources reported.
On Saturday, Israeli army gunboats opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat at Beit Lahia seashore in the northern Gaza Strip, on which Ayman Mustafa al-â€˜Aassi, 29, and â€˜Abdul Karim al-Nahhal, 40, were sailing.
Israeli forces troops kidnapped the two fishermen and took them to Ashdod Harbor. Israeli army interrogated the two fishermen and released later on. The two fishermen were released wearing only their underwear.
The Free Gaza movement, who are set to sail to the Gaza Strip the break the Israeli siege, received the go-ahead from the Cyprian authorities for two boats filled with humanitarian supplies and 60 international activists to set sail Thursday for the Gaza Strip.
The ‘Free Gaza’ movement has been collecting money and supplies since last year to allow the unprecedented blockade-breaking trip to move forward. As the sixty activists gathered in Cyprus two weeks ago, the Israeli government issued statements indicating that the Israeli navy would shoot the boats if they tried to bring the humanitarian aid to Gaza.
In earlier reports, the Israeli minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni responded to a letter of invitation from Free Gaza Movement to welcome the group in Gaza. Although Livni stated in her letter that Israel recognizes that the mission of the two boats is humanitarian, yet Israeli military said they may intercept the boats.
The Israeli army has continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The Israeli forces siege of Gaza, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
1.5 million People are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.
Egypt brokered a truce between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel on 19 June; however, there have been no major changes regarding the movements of civilians and goods through the six Gaza Strip border crossings.
Rafah International Crossing Point, the only border crossing from the Gaza Strip to the outside world via a country other than Israel, remains closed.
Lead: Israeli army troops wounded 31 Palestinians, including 10 children, and three international human rights defenders in the West Bank this week. Most of these civilians were injured when the Israeli military used force against peaceful demonstrations organized to protest construction of the Annexation Wall. IMEMCâ€™s Rula Shahwan has the details:
Israeli forces conducted at least 40 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces kidnapped 37 Palestinians, including ten children.
This week’s attacks focused on the cities of Nablus, Hebron, Jenin, Bethlehem and Ramallah. Following these incursions and detentions, the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of this year now stands at 1,789.
Israeli troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank abducted at least one Palestinian civilian.
On Thursday, nine Palestinian civilians, including four children, were wounded by the Israeli military in the village of Nil’in, west of Ramallah, as troops opened fire at a nonviolent protest against the wall.
On Wednesday, two Palestinian children were injured when Israeli forces moved into Tammoun village, southeast of Tubas, and opened fire indiscriminately.
Also on Wednesday, Israeli forces raided the headquarters of three Palestinian radio stations in Hebron. They confiscated equipment and abducted two members of staff.
On Tuesday, Israeli troops attacked a number of shops selling fertilizer and agricultural materials where they confiscated agricultural equipment and crops worth approximately 35,000 shekels.
There are about 600 permanent roadblocks, manned and unmanned checkpoints spread across the West Bank. In addition, there are some 60-80 â€˜flyingâ€™ or temporary checkpoints erected across the West Bank by Israeli forces every week.
For IMEMC this is Rula Shahwan
The political report
Lead: The ruling Hamas party in Gaza announced its rejection of any Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement excluding the issue of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the promised national dialogue between Hamas and the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to begin. This and more by IMEMC’s Poul Martinos has details
Palestinian prime minister and leader of the Hamas movement Isma’il Haniyeh slammed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on a Palestinian state on 93 percent of the West Bank, with Israel annexing 7 percent of the land area including the major Israeli settlement blocs.
Haniyeh’s remarks came against the backdrop of continuing Israeli excavations beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, in occupied East Jerusalem. The Jordanian foreign ministry filed a written protest at the excavations through the Jordanian ambassador in Tel-Aviv.
So far, peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have not achieved any progress on the ground, as Israel continues to expand settlements, maintain hundreds of checkpoints across the West Bank and carry out excavations beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the Hamas party in Gaza denied that Cairo has sent invitations to the various Gaza factions for a new round of national dialogue with the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
President Abbas, whose party was ejected from Gaza on June14, 2007, flew to Saudi Arabia this week for Arab-Palestinian consultations on important issues such as the national dialogue and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
On another note, Egyptian efforts to mediate a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, in which hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would be released from Israeli jails in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, have yet to bear fruit.
The principal mediator and chief of Egyptian intelligence services, Omar Suleiman, this week demanded that Israel and Hamas conclude a deal within the next three months. The negotiations have stalled because Hamas and the factions holding Shalit are insisting on a list of prisoners to be freed in the swap, while Israel has rejected the list, saying it can not free those it claims have ‘blood on their hands.’
These developments threaten the two-month-old Egyptian-mediated truce deal between Israel and Hamas. Several Gaza factions that agreed to the ceasefire deal have recently warned that they will reconsider the ceasefire within the coming two weeks, due to Israel’s failure to abide by its commitments and open the border crossings.
Abu Mujahed, spokesperson for the Salah Addin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza and one of the factions holding Shalit, stressed his faction’s adherence to the conditions for any potential prisoner swap.
In an unrelated development, human rights groups in Gaza have decided to appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council to send a panel to investigate the killing of Reuters News Agency cameraman Fadil Shana’a, who was killed by an Israeli tank shell in April 2008, after the Israeli military closed its investigation into the killing.
Khalil Abu Shamallah is the director of the Addamir center for Human Rights in Gaza:
Actuality (In English) 
Earlier this week, an Israeli military prosecutor acquitted the Israeli tank crew of Shana’a’s killing, claiming that the soldiers’ actions were reasonable and followed army regulations, even though Shana’a was clearly identifiable as a reporter when he was killed.
Separately, about sixty international aid workers, human rights activists and journalists began a journey to the Gaza Strip by sea, hoping to reach Gaza’s Mediterranean coast.
The group set sail on Thursday from Cyprus, in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza which has been in place since June 2007, when the Islamist Hamas party seized control of the coastal territory.
Greta Berlin, a member of the media team of the Free Gaza boat, told the IMEMC this week that the internationals are determined to sail to Gaza despite Israeli threats to use force to prevent the boat from arriving at Gaza shores.
For IMEMC this is Poul Martinos
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 George Rishmawi and Husam Qasiss.