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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for November 14th to the 20th, 2009
As Israel approves more settlements on occupied Palestinian land Israeli army conducted at least 22 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and bombarded areas in the Gaza Strip. 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:
The villagers of Bil’in, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, along with their international and Israeli supports protested at the Israeli segregation wall on Friday.
After the Friday midday prayers, about 150 protestors marched to the Wall that is being built on the village’s land.
Israeli troops positioned on the other side of the fence, responded by firing high-velocity tear gas canisters at the nonviolent protestors, causing dozens to choke from gas inhalation.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, member of the popular committee against the wall in the village, said this week’s action comes on the 21st anniversary of the symbolic declaration of independence of Palestine and to protest the ongoing settlement activities in the West Bank.
Abu Rahma also pointed out that the Israeli military is trying many ways to silence the nonviolent resistance in Bilin by kidnapping the activists in night-invasions. So Far around 27 Palestinian activists from Bilin have been kidnapped in the past few months.
In the central West Bank village of Nil’in, protests were also held at the Israeli wall on Friday. Troops attacked the protestors injuring one villager while many others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Villagers along with their international supporters held the midday prayers on areas of their lands that have become a construction site for the wall. From there they marched towards the wall where Israeli troops stationed nearby opened fire at them using live rounds and tear gas.
Sa’eed Amirah, from Nil’in sustained a wound in the leg from a live round and was moved to a nearby hospital while other protesters were treated on site for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Elsewhere, Villagers from Al Ma’sara, southern West Bank, along with their international and Israeli supporters staged a protest against the Israeli wall on Friday. Israeli troops spread barb wire across the main street of the village so as to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the actual construction site of the Wall that is being built on their lands.
An old woman from the village and some children managed to cross the barrier and waved a Palestinian flag over a military vehicle before they continued on their way to her land. The protesters dispersed shortly after and no clashes were reported. Al Ma’sara villagers have been organizing protests against the wall’s construction for the past three years.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.
The Political Report
As Israel approves more settlements on occupied Palestinian land, Palestinian officials rally for UN backed declaration of a Palestinian state on lands occupied by Israel in 1967; IMEMC’s Zak Brophy has the story:
This week the Palestinian leadership announced that they will seek a UN Security Council declaration of Palestinian statehood, based on the 1967 borders- which include the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem. Fayez Al Saqqa Iis a Palestinian MP from President Abbas’ Fatah party. He said they are frustrated by 18 years of failed peace negotiations.
‘Abbas’ move is to bring the Palestinian people their rights, because the direct negotiations between us and the Israelis have proven to be pointless. WE HAVE not reached a deal based on international laws and HAVEN’T RETURNED TO the Palestinians their state on the lands occupied in 1967.’
Earlier this year, Palestinians and the Obama administration demanded a freeze in settlement activity before peace talks could resume. Israeli officials refused and settlement construction continues on Palestinian lands in the West Bank.
This week alone the Israeli government officials gave the final approval to a plan that will expand the ‘Gilo’ settlement, southern West Bank, by 900 units. Whilst also issuing another plan to construct a new neighborhood in the Nof Zion illegal settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood Jabal Al Mukabbir in east Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said unilateral action wasn’t a ‘substitute for negotiations’ and could lead to ‘one-sided steps on the part of Israel.’ Michael Warchanski is an Israeli political analyst:
‘The measures will not be against the Palestinian people, but the Palestinian Authority, the pressure will be oriented to limit the Power of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian police and most of all the Economy.’
An adviser to president Abbas said they are seeking support for the U.N declaration from the international community. However, E.U foreign ministers have rejected Abbas’s decision and some U.S lawmakers have already promised a veto, including Senator Joe Lieberman.
Abbas’ Palestinian rival Hamas also oppose the move. In response to the move Hamas officials stated that Palestinian independence requires them to regain all of their land, not just parts of it.
Internally Palestinian factions, mainly the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, called on both Hamas and Fatah to expedite reaching a national unity agreement as a way out of current political impasse, particularly in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Fatah, along with the DFLP in the West Bank convened a meeting of their representatives in Ramallah and called on Hamas to sign the Egyptian-presented paper for national unity.
For IMEMC.org this is Zak Brophy.
The Gaza Strip Report
Israeli attacks on Gaza this week left three civilians injured as a man died inside a tunnel near the borders with Egypt, from Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari reports:
A young Palestinian man has died after being electrocuted in a tunnel near Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said today.
Twenty five year old Tawfiq Abu Rjeila, from Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis was electrocuted by an exposed wire in the tunnel.
Medics managed to retrieve his body from the tunnel but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the European Hospital.
One hundred and twenty Palestinians, including four children, were killed in tunnel accidents during 2008 and 2009. Seven Palestinians were killed this year in tunnels targeted by the Israeli Air Force.
Elsewhere, a number of Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded at noon on Tuesday the boarder area southern Gaza City. Local Palestinian sources said that four bulldozers and six tanks rolled into Khaza town, close to the border.
Witnesses said that as the bulldozers destroyed farm lands tanks opened fire on neighboring homes. Damage was reported but no injuries. Resident says that such invasions are a daily occurrence along the border areas.
Three Palestinians were injured on Thursday at dawn when Israeli jetfighters attacked several locations in the Gaza Strip.
The first attack targeted the southern Gaza Strip borders with Egypt. Local sources reported that three men were injured and were moved to nearby hospital for treatment.
The second and third attacks, with half an hour period between them, targeted a site that belongs to al Qassam brigades the armed wing of the Hamas. The brigades reported damage in structures but no injuries.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 22 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. While two Swine Flu patients were reported dead in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura has the story:
Throughout the week invading Israeli troops kidnapped at least 32 Palestinian civilians across the West Bank. Amongst those kidnapped this week were eight children.
Elsewhere, a Palestinian suffering from H1N1, also known as swine flu, died in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday bringing the death toll to six since the outbreak began.
This is the second person to have died of the virus this week in the West Bank. The first patient died on Monday.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says there are currently at least one thousand, one hundred cases of people suffering from H1N1 in the West Bank.
In other news a Palestinian man sustained moderate wounds on Thursday afternoon after an Israeli teen stabbed him in Jerusalem. The teenager, said to be yarmulke-wearing Jew surrendered himself to the police hours after the attack.
Staying in Jerusalem, the Israeli municipality demolished four Palestinian owned homes and the offices of local organizations in East Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Seven people were injured in the Al Bustan neighborhood when residents tried to stop the demolition of two homes there. Witnesses said that soldiers attacked them with batons and fired tear gas at them.
Five families, totaling 35 people, were made homeless, local sources reported.
Meanwhile the municipality bulldozers demolished the offices of ‘The Old City Women’s Center.’
Earlier today the municipality also demolished two homes owned by Palestinians east of Jerusalem’s old city.
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