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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for December 5th, to 11th 2009
Palestinians continue to resist against the wall and settlements in the West Bank while Israeli settlers escalate attacks, meanwhile the Gaza blockade continues accompanied by military assaults and restriction of movement, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.
Let us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank, where the struggle against the wall continues;
Dozens of Palestinians were treated for gas inhalation during a nonviolent protest against the wall in the village of Bil’in near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
Villagers along with their international and Israeli supporters marched against the construction of the wall on the village’s land. As soon as the marchers arrived near the gate, troops showered them with dozens of tear gas canisters causing dozens of them to choke.
This week’s protest is dedicated to commemorate the 22 second anniversary of the break out of the first Intifada in 1987. Protestors called for the removal of the wall and the release of all Palestinian political prisoners form Israeli jails and also made a specific mention of the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the wall in the village Abdullah Abu Rahma who was kidnapped from his house by Israeli troops during the early hours of Friday
Staying in Ramallah area in the nearby village of Ni’lin near Ramallah, where nine Palestinians were wounded in the weekly nonviolent protest on Friday. Residents of Nil’in together with intentional peace activists marched after the Friday prayers attempting to reach their land where Israel is constructing the illegal wall.
Protestors raised Palestinian flags as they marched peacefully to protest the construction of the wall and the settlements on Palestinian lands. Israeli troops stormed the protestors by firing tear gas at them, to which some youth responded with throwing rocks at the troops.
Troops then opened fire at the protestors wounding three protestors with live ammunition. The three were identified as Mustafa Khawaja, Saddam Nafi’s and Sabti Khawaja. Their wounds were described as moderate. Troops also fired rubber-coated steel bullets against the protestors wounding six others and were treated by para medics in the field.
So far, 25 Palestinians were killed in non-violent actions against the wall in different parts of the West Bank, and more than 320 were kidnapped while participating in non-violent actions, according to reports of the popular committee against the wall in the village of Ni’lin.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi
The Palestinian Authority dismissed today possibility to hold an international peace conference in the absence of political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would shortly designate what he called ‘national-priority lands’ in the occupied West Bank, IMEMC’s Dina Awwad has the details.
Palestinian Authority’s information minister, Riyad Al-Malki, said that the Palestinians do not agree to a Russian-hosted peace conference, while the peace process between Palestinians and Israel is completely stalled.
Almalki’s remarks came as Israeli cabinet discusses a proposal that would classify Palestinian lands in the West Bank into those nationally-preferred and those that are not. The Israeli prime minister had already called for settlement construction to be halted in the West Bank for a period of 10 months.
The Israeli move is intended to give a chance for peace talks to resume, yet facts on the ground contradict the Israeli announcement.
This week, new plans for settlement construction in the West Bank were announced, as bulldozing of Palestinian-owned homes in the occupied east Jerusalem continued.
The Palestinian President, who this week completed a worldwide tour, downplayed the Israeli halt of settlements building as ‘misleading’. Abbas called on the international community to embrace a recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 border lines.
Concurrently, the European Union has announced willingness to declare a Palestinian state on the 1967 border lines, yet Palestinian parties considered the declaration as a shortfall.
In another news, Hamas senior leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Alzahar, stated this week that a prisoner swap deal with Israel could commence soon, once Israel agrees to a list of names of prisoners that Hamas wants to see released from Israeli jails.
Israeli sources did not comment, while some Israeli media outlets hinted at the possibility that Israeli cabinet would discuss the issue amidst objection by some ministers to the deal itself.
At the internal level, representatives of independent Palestinians bodies headed for Cairo this week over discussion of an Egyptian-presented conciliation document. The Egyptian paperwork was signed already by the rival Fatah party, while it was not approved by Hamas in Gaza.
Hamas has told Egyptian mediators, it would not sign the paper unless some clauses are removed. Among the modifications Hamas wants is not integrating Palestinian resistance factions into any upcoming national unity government’s security forces.
For IMEMC.org this is Dina Awwad.
As the Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip continues two years and a half now, Israeli army assaults and restrictions of movement in Gaza go on, IMEMC’s Rami Almeghari form Gaza has more.
Israeli army, positioned at the Eritz checkpoint in northern Gaza, arrested a Palestinian patient, en-route to Jerusalem for urgent medical care.
Meanwhile, Israeli occupation authorities have been prevented entry of essential commodities into the besieged Gaza Strip, with irregular opening of commercial crossings this week.
Today Friday, Israel sealed off all Gaza’s crossings completely, as the territory suffers sharp shortage of cooking gas since December 2009.
In southern Gaza Strip, the Rafah crossing terminal, shared by Egypt, Egyptian authorities allowed entry in and out of Gaza of tens of patients who have completed or wanting medical care at Cairo hospitals.
Egypt continues to seal off the border crossing since June 2007, unless a national unity deal between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank is realized.
Since then, the Egyptian authorities have used to reopening the Rafah terminal from time to time to allow patients, stranded travelers and students in and out of the coastal enclave.
Rami Al-Meghari. IMEMC.org Gaza.
West Bank Report
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported this week that Israeli forces conducted 23 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 36 Palestinian civilians including five children, meanwhile Israeli settlers escalate their attacks against Palestinian population, Charlie Hoyle has the details.
A group of fundamentalist Jewish settlers burnt large sections of the “Great Mosque” in Yasuf village at dawn on Friday, near the central West Bank city of Salfit. The settlers also sprayed graffiti saying “Price Tag” and “We Will Burn You All” on the walls of the mosque.
Head of Yasuf village council, Abdul-Rahim Musleh, told the Maan News Agency that the settlers torched the second floor of the mosque located in the center of the village.
Musleh added, the fire consumed the library of the mosque and most of the carpets before the villagers and local firefighters contained the fire.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces stormed an apartment building in Nablus and blew up the doors of 6 flats, the door of the elevator and some windows. They also abducted a Palestinian from the building.
On Monday, Israeli troops stormed a house in Sa’i village, northeast of Hebron. They violently beat the owner and ransacked the house. When Israeli forces left the house, the family discovered that money and some jewelry were stolen.
Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Troops forced Daoud Ahmed al-‘Alami to demolish a part of his house in al-Sawana quarters in al-Tour village near Jerusalem. The house is comprised of a wooden room established in 1980. In 1999, al-‘Alami reconstructed the room. Five years later, the Israeli police and officials from the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem came to the house and photographed the room. In 2006, the Israeli municipal court ordered the demolition of the room and imposed a fine of 11,000 NIS on al-‘Alami.
Also in Jerusalem, the Israeli Authorities decided to expel seven Palestinians, from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, out of the city for 45 days after they clashed with extremist jewish settlers who attempted to forcefully occupy Palestinian homes in the city.
Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood is subjected to an ongoing campaign by Israeli settlers, encouraged by settler leaders and the state, to occupy more Palestinian homes and expel the residents from the city.
Hundreds of settlers yesterday blocked the entrances to two settlements in the occupied West Bank to prevent Israeli government inspectors from serving construction freeze orders in line with a government order issued in late November.
This is the second time in two days that settlers had defied police and tried to prevent inspectors from serving the orders to freeze settlement building. The Israeli government decided a few weeks ago to freeze settlement construction for 10 months, a decision staunchly opposed by the Jewish settlers who described it as anti-Zionist. The 10-month moratorium does not include Jerusalem.
Israeli authorities managed to peacefully serve similar orders to dozens of other settlements in the West Bank, but on Sunday, government inspectors were held up for hours trying to serve similar papers to the settlement of Kedumim.
For IMEMC.org this is Charlie Hoyle
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 George Rishmawi