Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for October 31st to November 6th, 2009
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced this week his intention not to run in the upcoming elections in January, 2010. Israeli attacks continued to target Palestinians this week. 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 George Rishmawi:
Israeli troops attacked on Friday the villagers of Bil’in, central West Bank, along with their international and Israeli supporters. Two dozen civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation
As has been the case for the past four years Bil’in villagers, along with their supporters, marched from the village center towards the Israeli wall. On this occasion the protesters were marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As soon as the protesters reached the gate in the wall separating Bil’in villagers from their lands Israeli troops showered them with tear gas. At least two dozen suffered effects of tear gas inhalation and were treated in the village.
Also on Friday in central West Bank, the villagers of Nil’in were joined by international and Israeli supporters for the weekly anti-wall protest.
The protesters marched towards their lands where Israel is constructing the wall. As soon as they arrived the troops fired tear gas at them.
A number of people suffered effects of tear gas inhalation. Among those injured in the Friday protest was a Palestinian MP Mustafa Al Barghouti,.
For IMEMC.org this is Iyad Khair
The Political Report
As the Palestinian-Israeli peace process continues to be delayed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Israeli government and public to choose peace that is based on a two-state solution. Abbas said he would not run for next year’s elections due to the current peace impasse. IMEMC’s Jessica Hulsey has the story:
In a televised speech, President Abbas outlined important steps in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process calling on the Israelis to choose peace based on a two-state solution. Abbas said he made his decision due to the stalled Middle East peace process.
‘Peace is much more significant than any political gains. And it’s much more important than any government coalition that could lead the region to fall apart or to other unknown ends.’
Israeli settlement activity is still one of the most controversial issues standing in the way of peace talks. The US has gone back and forth on the issue of settlements and preconditions, something that Abbas has criticized. The Palestinian Authority has rejected resuming peace talks with Israel unless Israel stops all forms of settlement construction. Talal Aukal is a Gaza-based political analyst.
‘Regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is obvious that Israel is the part that decides the American policy towards such a conflict. If the United States increases pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas, this would threaten the existence of the Palestinian Authority.’
On Friday, Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmad Abu Elgheit said that his country wants internationally-backed guarantees before Palestinians and Israelis resume peace talks. The guarantees include a Palestinian state within the boundaries of 1967 including east Jerusalem.
The foreign minister maintained that such guarantees should be backed by the UN Security Council and other major players involved such as the U.S and European countries.
In other news, on Thursday the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the UN Goldstone report on war crimes in Gaza in January of this year. More than 120 member states called on both Israel and the ruling Hamas party to conduct probes into war crimes.
On the internal Palestinian level, a high-ranking Hamas delegation is set to meet with Egyptian officials over Hamas’ reservations about an Egyptian conciliation document, that the rival Fatah party had signed earlier.
Local media sources reported that Hamas’ key leader Mahmoud Alzahar moved to Damascus to discuss the paper with Hamas’ leadership in exile in order for the party to formulate its final response to a national unity deal with Fatah.
Hamas’ refusal to the paper prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to declare elections for January 24, 2010 and blame Hamas for blocking a unity government deal.
In related news, this week a number of independent Gaza-based bodies met with Ismail Haniya , Prime Minister of Hamas. The delegates discussed with Haniya possible ways out of current Palestinian internal turmoil, primarily lack of national unity.
For IMEMC.org this is Jessica Hulsey.
The Gaza Strip Report
Three Palestinians were reported dead this week in the Gaza Strip due to the continuing Israeli siege. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari Reports:
On Sunday evening two Palestinians were killed in tunnels located between Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and Egypt.
Palestinian medical sources reported that a young man was killed by an electric shock in a tunnel located between the border of Gaza and Egypt. Earlier on Sunday, a Palestinian resident died of suffocation when he got trapped in a Rafah tunnel.
Palestinian Human Right groups said that with the two killed on Sunday the number of people killed inside the tunnels in the past two years has now reached 120.
A Palestinian patient was reported dead on Tuesday after he was unable to leave the Gaza Strip for the life saving medical care he needed.
Doctors announced that Ass’ad Asfour, aged 51, died of lung cancer after the Israeli Authorities prevented him from leaving the besieged Gaza Strip for medical care.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported this week that the number of patients that have died because of the Israeli siege has reached 364.
Israel started its siege on the Gaza Strip in June of 2007 which has resulted in a severe shortage of essential supplies for the 1.5 million Palestinians living there. Gazan hospitals have been rendered unable to treat most medical cases.
On Wednesday a Palestinian fisherman was injured when the Israeli navy opened fire at his boat off the shores of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
Medical sources said that Bilal Al Najjar was moderately injured after being hit with a live round in his abdomen.
Witnesses said that Al Najjar was working in his boat one kilometer away from the shore when he was attacked.
Palestinian fishermen say they are attacked regularly by the Israeli navy even though they only work in Palestinian territorial waters.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza
The West Bank Report
This week the Israeli military conducted at least 15 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Troops kidnapped at least 30 Palestinian civilians, including one child. IMEMC’s Katharine Orwell Reports:
According to the Israeli military all kidnapped this week were taken to army detention camps for questioning.
Elsewhere, The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem demolished on Monday two Palestinian owned homes and damaged a third one.
The center of Economic and Social Rights in Jerusalem announced that the houses were located near the old city and were home to around 24 people. An old lady was taken to the hospital after she was attacked by police officers during the attack, witnesses told local media.
On Tuesday a group of Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian owned home in the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood near Jerusalem’s old city.
Owner of the house, Rifqa Al Kurd, 85 years old, was forced out before settlers took over the house. When residents gathered outside Israeli police attacked them and forced them out of the street enabling the settlers to take over the property.
Half of Rifqa’s house was sealed off by an Israeli court order seven years ago and she had been living in the other half awaiting a court decision that was scheduled this week. The Israeli municipality claims that the house was built without a proper license.
There are 28 Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarah but Israeli settlers claim that the land on which the homes are built used to belong to Jews before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The settlers said that the court ruled in their favor last week and gave them the keys to the house. The Israeli police have ordered the settlers to leave the property for 10 days and they have instructed the al-Kurd family to appeal to the court. Eyewitnesses stated that although the settlers have left the house they have posted two private security guards outside the property.
On Wednesday, three Palestinian families were ordered by the Israeli military to demolish their homes located in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Local sources announced that the homes are situated in the northern part of Nablus city. The military gave no reason for the demolition orders.
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 Zak Brophy and Ghassan Bannoura.