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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for November 28th to December 4th, 2009
Israeli settlers attack Palestinians in the West Bank in response to the Israeli government freeze on settlement construction, while military attacks are reported along the border with 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 Zak Brophy:
One civilian sustained moderate wounds and others were treated for tear gas inhalation after Israeli troops attacked on Friday the weekly anti wall protest in the village of Nil’in, central West Bank.
Villagers along with their international supporters held the midday prayers close to the wall’s construction site. After the prayers they marched towards the separation wall which is being built on lands owned by the farmers of Nil’in.
As the protestors approached the gate of the wall the troops fired tear gas at them.
Local youths hurled stoned at the soldiers who responded by firing live rounds at them. One local boy was hit with a live round in his abdomen and was moved to a hospital in the nearby city of Ramallah.
Also on Friday in central west Bank Residents of Bil’in village alongside international and Israeli solidarity activists, demonstrated against the Wall after the midday prayer.
Many suffered from tear-gas inhalation, as the Israeli armed forces fired upon the protestors as they approached the illegal Wall.
The weekly demonstration, organized by the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, focused on the recent endeavors of the Swedish government.
Sweden, as current president of the European Union, recently released a draft document implying the EU would recognize a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Popular Committee encourages the initiative and calls on other governments to support it.
Demonstrators marched from the center of Bil’in village, chanting slogans against the theft of Palestinian land and called for an end to Israel’s military occupation.
The rallies have intensified since the Israeli Authorities escalated the arrest and intimidation campaign against Bil’in protestors which the Israeli military began in June.
For IMEMC.org this is Zak Brophy
The Political Report
This week Israeli ministers reaffirmed Israel’s willingness to continue settlement building, despite a recent call by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for a ten-month-long halt to settlement construction. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has again called on the international community to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. IMEMC’s Jessica Hulsy has the story:
This week, Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, voiced his government’s willingness to keep up settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite the Israeli Prime Minister’s plan to stop settlement construction temporarily.
Israeli unilateral declaration for stopping settlement building for 10 months is reported to have meant giving a chance for stalled peace talks to resume.
This week Israeli settlers attempted to install foundations in the West Bank, to bypass a government freeze on settlement construction. An Israeli human rights group found that settlers were pouring cement in the shape of building floors so that it would look like foundations in an aerial photo. Hagit Ofran is head of Peace Now Settlement Watch:
‘For the Fake Foundations, the decision on the freeze says that if you already have the foundation of the house you can finish it. The settlers decided to fool the inspectors and to make Fake Foundations which means they build thin layers of cement on the ground so if someone comes he thinks is actually a foundation.’
Many Palestinians were already skeptical of the announcement of the Israeli construction freeze. Khalil AL Tafakji is a Palestinian expert on the settlement issue:
‘This is a smoke screen, Israel is trying to get Away with two things, first is to exclude Jerusalem from the negotiations and second IS to maintain that settlement activity is part of Israel’s policy. Israel announces a halt in settlement activity once a while. But If you look at the past settlements activity, it increases during the
The Israeli settlers took to the streets and didn’t just lay down Fake Foundations. Settler attacks were reported today and in past days on Palestinians and their property to show the anger against their governments decision. No injuries reported among Palestinians but cars and other property sustained damage.
In other news, as some media sources reported, this week a prisoner swap deal is likely between Israel and the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, in which Israel is supposed to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for captured soldier Gilad Shalit, neither Hamas nor Israel confirmed the reports.
In the meantime, Hamas officials asserted this week that their party does not plan to separate totally from the West Bank by maintaining its own regime in the coastal territory. Since coming to power in January of 2006, Hamas has been at odds with the Fatah party until a bloody clash broke out in June of 2007, leading to ejection by Hamas of Fatah-linked PA forces from Gaza. Abbas outlawed Hamas, as a result.
Hamas has shunned previously-PA-signed peace agreements with Israel unless Israel ends occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and lifts a three-year-long blockade , being imposed on the Gaza Strip.
For IMEMC.org this is Jessica Hulsey.
The Gaza Strip Report
Hamas announced that one of its fighters was killed in the Gaza Strip this week and a number of Israeli invasions on the Gaza border were reported. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari Reports:
Al Qassam Brigades the armed wing of Hamas announced that one of its fighters has been killed Wednesday morning while carrying doing a mission in the central Gaza Strip. The group identified the fighter as Yasser Radi, 37 year old and gave no further details.
Earlier in the day, Israeli troops positioned at the northern border line of the Gaza Strip opened fire at a Palestinian ma and wounded him near Beit Lahia.
Troops then entered the area and kidnapped him preventing the ambulance to evacuate him, witnesses reported. The witnesses added that the man, who was not identified, was collecting metal piece to be resold for recycling.
Israeli tanks opened fire on Monday afternoon at residential area close to the southern Gaza Strip boarders. Witnesses said a number of Israeli tanks rolled into the area early on Monday morning.
When tanks were leaving on Monday afternoon they opened fire at resident homes, Witnesses added. Local sources reported no injuries but residents’ homes sustained some damage. Residents of the area say those Israeli attacks happen almost on daily basses.
In related incident a number of Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded on Thursday the border areas close to Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip and opened fire on residents’ homes.
Witnesses said tanks advanced from the Israeli Egyptian border to Rafah, while bulldozers destroyed farm lands as the tanks opened fire on nearby homes. Residents told local media that their homes sustained damage but that no one was injured.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 14 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli troops kidnapped at least 20 people, including 6 children. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura Reports:
This week Israeli settlers escalated their attacks on Palestinians and their property in the West Bank. The settler attacks come in response to last week’s decision by the Israeli government to halt settlement construction in the West Bank.
On Wednesday during a rally against the freezing of settlement construction, scores of Israeli settlers hurled stones at Palestinian cars in the northern West Bank.
The rally began at the illegal Israeli settlement of Alon Moreh near the West Bank city of Nablus and headed towards a military checkpoint known to Palestinians as Huwwara. Settlers closed the military checkpoint and hurled stones at passing Palestinian cars.
According to eyewitnesses no one was injured but some cars were damaged.
On Tuesday morning a group of fundamentalist Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
The settlers broke into the house of an elderly woman, Rifka Al-Kurd, as Israeli police looked on and did not attempt to stop them.
On Monday a group of Israeli settlers attacked the village of Bureen, near Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Local media sources said that the settlers stormed the village and attacked farmers with batons and rifle butts. The settlers also attacked villagers’ homes.
The villagers believe the settlers came from the nearby Israeli settlement of Yitzhar. They said that settlers from Yitzhar frequently attack them as they want to take over village lands to expand the settlement.
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 Kathryn Bannoura.