Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 11 m 0s || 10.0 MB ||Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for November 7th to the 13th, 2009
This week the Israeli military conducted at least 28 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and shelled areas in Gaza. Also, this week, the Palestinian elections committee said it cannot prepare for the upcoming elections in January of 2010. 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 Zak Brophy:
Scores of people suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday, among them Mohamed Baraka, an Arab member of the Israeli Parliament, during the weekly protest against the wall at the village of Bil’in central West Bank.
Residents of the village, along with their international and Israeli supporters, gathered at the village center after the midday prayers. Local organizers welcomed visiting groups such as Baraka.
Later on people marched towards the gate of the wall separating farmers from their lands. As soon as protesters arrived Israeli troops fired tear gas at them. This week the protesters commemorated the 5th anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Also in central West Bank on Friday, scores of villagers from Nil’in village protested against the Israeli wall. The military attacked the protesters and injured three civilians.
After performing the Friday prayer on the land next to the Nil’in health clinic the people of Nil’in, accompanied by international and Israeli activists, marched to the Wall carrying Palestinian flags and posters of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Israeli troops immediately started to fire tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition at the protesters. Nonetheless a group of protesting youths managed to cut up parts of the fence and partially damage the gate. The army entered into the fields from three different sides, closing in on the group of around 100 demonstrators.
The army was shooting live ammunition from a distance of less than 3 meters. The crowded dispersed and two people sustained minor injuries from grazing shots. One medical volunteer was beaten up by an Israeli soldier. Eyewitnesses identified him as Mohamed Ali Sabti from the village.
Elsewhere on Friday the villagers of Al-Ma’sara near Bethlehem southern West Bank, along with their international and Israeli supporters protested the Israeli wall.
The protesters raised Palestinian flags and banners demanding that farmers be allowed to access their lands to pick olives. As with every Friday for the past three years, they were intercepted by Israeli soldiers who had put up a fence of barbed wire at the entrance to the village, effectively cutting off the villager’s access to their lands.
Protestors removed the barb wire and continued their march towards their lands and the site of the Wall. In this instance the soldiers stood aside and allowed villagers to pass.
For IMEMC.org this is Zak Brophy.
The Political Report
This week, the Palestinian elections committee said that it can not prepare for the upcoming elections in January of 2010. Meanwhile, Israeli military said they would conduct internal investigations into possible war crimes by the army personnel during the last Israeli war on Gaza. IMEMC’s Jessica Hulsey has the story:
The Palestinian presidency spokesperson said Friday they would announce an official response to a statement by the head of the elections committee, Hanna Naser, that the elections can not be held at this time.
Naser declared that in time, the ruling Hamas party in Gaza intends to block holding elections in the coastal territory unless a national unity agreement is reached. The committee can not lay the foundations for the upcoming general elections.
In the meantime, the rival Hamas and Fatah parties are yet to reach a unity deal due to Hamas’ refusal to sign an Egyptian-presented reconciliation paper, on which Fatah had already signed.
Such developments come as the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was reported by some Fatah sources saying he would resign from both the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah party.
Abbas had earlier declared he would not run for any upcoming presidential elections, due to the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Washington has not exerted pressure on Israel to halt settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land. Hani Habib is a Gaza-based political analyst.
‘The matter is based on the American administration’s will towards some guarantees or moves that would eventually make the president reconsider his willingness’.
In the meantime, Israeli chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, was reported saying that his army would embark on war crimes investigations during the last Israeli 22-day attack on the Gaza Strip in early January of 2009.
Ashkenazi’s statement came less than one week after the United Nations General Assembly adopted unanimously the UN Goldstone report on human rights violations in Gaza, accusing Israel and the ruling Hamas party of committing war crimes against civilians.
However, human rights groups in Palestine considered Ashekanzi’s call as a maneuver that is intending to evade international condemnation of Israel once the Goldstone report is submitted to the UN Security Council. Samir Zaqout is a spokesperson for the Almizan Center for Human Rights in Gaza.
‘These investigations should be made public, we in rights group should verify such investigations whether they are true or not. Also, non-biased bodies should be involved in the probes, in order for us to make sure whether they are consistent with the findings of the Goldstone report. ‘
The Israeli offensive, Operation Cast Lead, claimed the lives of at least 1,500 Palestinians and left 6,000 others injured. 14 Israeli soldiers, and two civilians were killed during the operation.
For IMEMC.org this is Jessica Hulsey.
The Gaza Strip Report
As Israeli troops continued to shell areas in Gaza this week, Israeli chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, asked Palestinians to Provide testimonies over possible Israeli war crimes during the Israeli army’s war on Gaza. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari reports:
Palestinian medical sources reported early on Saturday that four Palestinians were wounded after Israeli army fired artillery shells at a number of residents near the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in eastern Gaza city.
Medical sources confirmed that at least four people were moderately injured during the attack near the fuel terminal. .
According to witnesses, Israeli army fire hit four residents while having lunch inside a nearby home and that the home was severely damaged.
In other news, Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, said Tuesday that the military is conducting investigations into possible war crimes during the January 2009 war on Gaza.
Ashkenazi told Israeli Media that his army currently verifying 45 out of 60 complaints already in hand. He also encouraged all Palestinians to produce proofs for more potential war crimes.
Ashkenazi admitted that during the 22-day onslaught, his troops might have hurt civilians. Cast Lead offensive claimed the lives of at least 1,500 Palestinians and left 6,000 others injured, 16 Israelis, including14 soldiers, and 2civilians killed.
The January2009 Israeli offensive, codenamed Operation Cast Lead was unleashed between December 27th 2008 to January 18th, 2009
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
This week the Israeli military conducted at least 28 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli troops kidnapped 40 Palestinian civilians. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura Reports:
This week’s invasions were focused in the cities of Nablus and Jenin, the northern West Bank, as well as Ramallah and the city of Hebron in the south. Among those kidnapped this week where 12 children.
Two Palestinian teenagers were injured late Tuesday night when Israeli settlers attacked them in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Witnesses said that the two teenagers, Hatem Al Sharabati, 17, and his brother, Hazim, 16, were on their way home when settlers from the Tal Romeida illegal outpost, in Hebron’s Old City, attacked them.
Doctors at the local hospital announced that the two sustained cuts and bruises due to the attack and were released from the hospital on Wednesday morning.
Palestinians in the West Bank marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today in their own way. Scores of Palestinians gathered in the central West Bank city of Ramallah where protesters headed to the nearest site of the Israeli wall surrounding the city and dismantled parts of it.
Israeli troops attacked the crowd by firing tear gas at them. Eventually the crowd broke up – some suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
The event was organized by local popular committees against the wall and settlements. Eyad Burnat is an organizer for those committees in Ramallah.
“As people celebrate today the dismantling the Berlin racist wall, in Palestinian we ent out a clear message that the Israeli racist wall should be removed as well.”
In 2004, The International Court of justice in The Hague ruled the Israeli wall illegal. Israel has yet to comply with their order while Palestinians continue to protest against the wall on a weekly basis at a number of locations in the West Bank.
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.
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 Dina Awwad