Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for October 24th to October 30th, 2009.
Click here to downloas MP3 fileAs U.S peace envoy, George Mitchell arrived to the region a Palestinian fighter was reported dead this week in Gaza while settler attacks left 14 Palestinians injured in the West Bank. These stories and more coming up stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Iyad Khair:
Two people were injured and dozens more suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday as Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest against the wall in the village of Bil’in in the central West Bank.
As is the case every Friday for four years, villagers along with their Israel and international supporters marched from the village after the midday prayers.
As soon as the villages arrived at the gate of the wall separating the villagers from their land, Israeli troops stationed there fired tear gas.
This week protesters demanded the release of Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a village protest organizer. Abu Rahmah was kidnapped by the Israeli military four month ago. The military accused him of inciting violence. Protesters marched on Friday wearing masks of Adeeb, declaring “We are all Adeeb Abu Rahmah”.
Also on Friday in central West Bank dozens suffered effects of tear gas inhalation by the Israeli military fire at the weekly protest against the wall in the village of Nil’in.
Villagers along with their international and Israeli supporters held the midday prayers at their land where Israel is building the wall. Israeli soldiers fired rubber coated steel bullets at them along with tear gas. Dozens were also treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
For IMEMC.org this is Iyad Khair.
The Political Report
U.S peace envoy, George Mitchell is in the region to prepare for an upcoming visit by U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, controversy over elections has begun after Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called this month for elections by January 2010. IMEMC’s Jessica Hulsey has the story:
U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is set to visit with Israeli and Palestinian officials next week in an attempt to push forward the stalled peace process. Palestinians and Israeli negotiators have so far failed to resume talks despite repeated calls by the American administration to do so.
Israel is keeping up with its settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land, in spite of warnings by Washington against such activities as hampering peace and the reality of a two-state solution, envisioned by Washington several years ago.
This week, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel to seize what he considered a three-week opportunity to resume peace talks, expecting the region to enter one more cycle of violence. Abbas was referring to recent clashes in the Al-Aqsa mosque of Jerusalem, where Israeli troops protected entry of right-wing Jews into the mosque’s compound.
He held the Israeli Prime Minister responsible for the latest violence and casting doubt over the Israeli government’s intentions towards a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians.
Office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refuted Abbas’s doubts, maintaining that Israel is still committed to non-conditional resumption of peace talks.
Settlement activities are considered illegal, according to the international law and the U.S-backed road map of 2003, which demands Palestinians to dismantle resistance groups, in return that Israel will halt all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian territories.
Top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Eriqat , was quoted as saying that talks between the two sides can not resume before Israel stops all forms of settlement activity.
Also this week, the rival Hamas and Fatah parties reached a deadlock in terms of their Egyptian-mediated talks, after Palestinian president Mahmuod Abbas of Fatah, set January 24, 2010 as the day of general elections.
Abbas’ decree came right after Hamas refused to sign an Egyptian-made paper for reconciliation. Abbas argued that Hamas has no justification to decline signing the paper after Fatah had already signed.
In Gaza, the ruling Hamas party warned the residents of Gaza against voting in any elections called on by Abbas. Hamas argues that the elections can not be held before a unity deal is reached, saying that Abbas is not authorized to give such dates according to the Palestinian law.
Some local media sources suggested this week that Egyptian mediators might transfer the file of intra-Palestinian talks to the Arab states league for consideration and follow up. Other media outlets reported that a high-ranking Hamas delegation is set to visit Cairo soon upon Egyptian invitation.
For IMEMC.org this is Jessica Hulsey.
The Gaza Strip Report
A Palestinian fighter was reported dead this week as Israeli tanks continue to attack the border areas of the Gaza Strip, from Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari Reports.
The al Qassam brigades the armed wing of Hamas said that one of its fighters died on Thursday during a ‘special mission’ at the southern borders with Egypt.
The brigades identified the fighter as Soliman Abu al Najja, 26 years old. They added that he was killed inside a tunnel at the borders with Egypt and gave no further details.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza announced that with Abu al Najja’s death the number of Palestinians killed inside the tunnels since two years has reached 130.
Israeli placed the Gaza Strip under siege in June 2007, leaving the 1.5 million Palestinians living there lacking all basic supplies. The tunnels are used by the local community as a way to get much needed supplies into the Gaza Strip.
In other news, the Egyptian authorities allowed a number of Palestinian patients to cross back into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. They had been in Egypt for medical treatment.
The Palestinian health Ministry in Gaza said that seven of the patients were taken to the border by ambulance, while the rest were able to cross on foot. At least 361 patients have died since the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip began in June 2007.
Israeli tanks raided the Palestinian side of the Karni crossing, closing it down on Monday midday. Local sources reported that tanks invaded the crossing then bulldozers destroyed nearby farm lands.
The sources added that troops detained truck drivers who were at the location, but later released them after confiscating their identity cards.
Karni Crossing is located on the northern Gaza border with Israel and is the only crossing though which the Israeli military allows limited amounts of food supplies to enter Gaza.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
This week the Israeli military conducted at least 25 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Troops kidnapped at least 47 Palestinian civilians, including 17 children. IMEMC’s Katharine Orwell reports:
This week’s invasions were focused in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, northern West Bank in addition to Hebron in the south.
Medical sources in Jerusalem reported on Wednesday morning that a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem was killed when his vehicle flipped over during a high-speed chase. He died instantly. The Israeli Police said that the accident took place near Tel Aviv, and added that police were chasing him as they suspected that the vehicle he was driving was stolen.
Also on Wednesday in Jerusalem Israeli police officers dismantled a protest tent erected by a Palestinian family near the old city. The al Ghawi family was camping in front of their former home in the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood. Their home was taken over by Israeli settlers two months ago. Sheikh Jarah is a Palestinian neighborhood consisting of 30 houses all of which are threatened to be evicted by the Israeli authorities.
The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem demolished on Tuesday nine Palestinian owned apartments. The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem says those homes are built without the needed licenses. All the homes were located in Palestinian neighborhoods around Jerusalem’s old city. Nimir Ali, the owner of a house that was demolished today spook to IMEMC:
‘I build my house 15 years ago and I have been fighting in courts since 10 years. Next week we were to have a meeting with the municipality committee to approve our house. Today at 5 am troops came, forced me and my family out, we were only able to take what we had been wearing at the time. They gave me no warning’.
Tension is high in Jerusalem. On Sunday clashes between police and residents left 35 Palestinians injured. The clashes erupted after radical Jewish groups tried to storm the Al Aqsa mosque, the second holiest site for Muslims world wide. Ziad Al Hamouri, head of the Jerusalem center for economic and social right says the escalated events in the city are part of a larger plan:
‘All those attacks together have one aim, it’s to force the Palestinians to leave Jerusalem and bring settlers instead of them’.
Since Israel occupied the city of Jerusalem in 1967 it has rarely given the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem permissions to build homes. Meanwhile Israel continues to construct Jewish settlements in and around the city, an act which is illegal according to international law.
Elsewhere eight Palestinian farmers were reported injured on Tuesday as settlers attacked them while working on their land near Nablus city in the northern West Bank. Later in the week settlers attacked and injured five farmers and a journalist near Hebron city in the southern West Bank.
Settler attacks targeting Palestinian farmers have escalated in the past few weeks with the start of the olive harvest season which is considered to be the main income for farmers.
For IMEMC.org this is Katharine Orwell.
And that’s just some of the news from This Week in Palestine. For regular updates, please visit our website at www.IMEMC.org. Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. This week’s report has been brought to you by Ghassan Bannoura.