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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for January 2nd to January 8th 2010
As Washington pushed this week for re-launching the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, Israeli attacks on Gaza and the West Bank left one killed and a dozen injured. 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 Jane Smith:
Three residents were injured on Friday at the weekly protest in Bil’in village, central West Bank. Dozens suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalation in a protest against the Wall and settlement building. As is the case for nearly five years now, villagers of Bil’in along with their international and Israeli supporters marched toward the Wall, where an Israeli military unit was located behind blocks of cement.
The army had earlier closed the gate in the Wall with razor wire. When the protesters attempted to reach the land confiscated behind the Wall, the army fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Journalist Abbas Al-Momani and Dr. Rateb Abu Rahmah, a member of the Popular Committee, were each hit with tear gas canisters in their heads. Edo Medix, an Israeli activist, was also injured. Bil’in village is subjected to daily invasions by the Israeli military. Troops target local organizers homes and families that host international supporters.
Also in central West Bank on Friday, The villagers of Nil’in organized their weekly protest Friday against the wall Israel is building on their lands. They were joined this week by international supporters and Palestinian MP Mohammad Mesleh.
Early on Friday morning Israeli troops closed the two entrances into the village of Nil’in and prevented some in attendance from entering, including an Al Jazeera film crew and, initially, Palestinian MP Mohammad Mesleh. Mr. Mesleh did not let this stop him from joining the weekly protest against the Wall in Nil’in and walked through the surrounding fields in order to enter.
After some speeches around 150 local and international activists joined him in marching towards the wall. When the demonstration reached the site of the wall, they were met with large amounts of tear gas and rounds of rubber coated steel bullets. Around ten soldiers entered through one of the gates and started chasing after protestors in an attempt to arrest them. All participants managed to escape and nobody was arrested. The demonstration lasted around three hours and no injuries were reported.
Elsewhere, in southern West Bank, the weekly non-violent protest in the village of al-Ma’sara, ended with a violent outburst by the Israeli military as they marched in to the village. As the demonstration ended, a young child threw a small stone that struck an armored jeep, local sources stated. The Israeli military responded with an unnecessary display of force, marching towards the protesters, shoving them back with the butts of their rifles.
As small skirmishes broke out the military became increasingly heavy handed, forcing protesters back to the beginning of the residential section of al-Ma’sara. A stand off occurred, with the protesters determined not to allow a military incursion into the village. This was to no avail. The military started rolling sound bombs into the crowd, forcing the protesters to disperse. As the peaceful protesters turned to run, the Israeli military began to target members of the crowd, throwing the sound bombs directly at them.
As the forces marched further into the village, they became ever more violent towards those who refused to back down. Eventually the march came to a stand, and after many tense minutes the military and the protesters agreed that both would back away to their separate areas.
For IMEMC.org this is Jamila Hassan
The Political Report
Palestinians and Israelis are expected to re-launch their peace talks under Washington’s supervision. Yet both sides do not seem prepared for such talks. Israeli government warned of further strikes against the coastal territory amidst growing tension in the region. IMEMC’s Circarre Parrhesia has the story:
This week, Washington has urged both Palestinians and Israel to resume peace negotiations, on the basis of the US-envisioned two-state solution, yet Palestinians still insist that Israel should first stop all settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territories, a demand that Israel has yet rejected.
According to Israeli media reports, Washington wants both sides to engage in indirect talks, getting use of the already underway Israeli temporary halt of settlement activities. Israeli officials pre-empted Washington’s intentions, by expecting longer peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was quoted as saying that ‘ there is a possibility to reach an agreement with the Palestinians in a two-year time frame’.
In another issue, the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, which holds captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for four years now, rejected a recent Israeli offer for a prisoner swap deal with the Palestinians.
Hamas insists on a previous list of prisoners the party wants to see released in exchange of the captured soldier. Despite Egyptian and more recently German mediation between the two sides, a prisoner swap deal is yet to be realized.
At the internal level, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah party, said that his party and Egyptian mediators for conciliation with Hamas, would not reopen an Egyptian-mediated conciliation paper that Fatah had already signed. Negotiations have ended, but Hamas have now requested more amendments and are refusing to sign.
The Hamas party announced it would not sign that paper until ‘needed’ modifications are done. Among Hamas’ reservations to the paper is a clause that demands integrating all armed resistance factions into the Palestinian Authority’s security bodies. Hamas, which honors a resistance agenda of its own, insists that integration of resistance factions would undermine resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Meanwhile, as tension in Gaza has been growing recently, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the Israeli army would strike back at Gaza, once a homemade rocket is fired from Gaza onto nearby Israeli areas.
For IMEMC.org this is Circarre Parrhesia.
The Gaza Strip Report
Fourth Viva Palestina Aid convey entered the Gaza Strip as Israeli attacks on the region left one man killed this week. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari Reports:
One Palestinian was killed and six were wounded on Friday in an Israeli air strike targeting the “Tunnels Area” in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
The shelling took place after a series of air strikes targeting several areas in the Gaza Strip. Israel says its shelling came in retaliation to homemade shells fired into adjacent Israeli areas.
The slain resident was identified as Mubarak Abu Shallouf, from Rafah. Six other residents were wounded and moved to local hospitals.
The Israeli army carried a number of air strikes targeted Rafah, Khan Younis, and the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Friday. The army also bombarded an empty home in Sheikh Ejleen area, west of Gaza city.
On Wednesday Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that several Palestinians were wounded in an explosion that took place at a Coffee Shop in Gaza Strip.
The Coffee Shop is located in the ground floor of a 10-story building in Al Nasser neighborhood in Gaza City.
Also on Wednesday, The Viva Palestina Convoy, after facing ongoing Egyptian rejection and violent attacks by the Egyptian security forces, entered the besieged Gaza Strip.
55 persons were wounded on Tuesday evening in Al Arish Egyptian city during clashes that took place when the Egyptian security forces attacked the international peace activists and supporters carrying humanitarian aid to the residents on Gaza.
Viva Palestina Convoy was organized and led by British MP George Galway. The convoy, the third to be organized by the Viva Palestina campaign left UK 31 days ago.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
This week the Israeli army forces conducted at least 17 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli troops kidnapped 23 Palestinian civilians, among them six children. IMEMC’s George Rishmawi has the story:
The military invasions this week were focused in the cities of Hebron and Bethlehem, southern West Bank, in addition to Nablus and Jenin, northern West Bank. Among those kidnapped this week there were six children.
Nine Palestinian residents were wounded on Thursday in separate Israeli military attacks targeting the villages of Sa’ir and Yatta, in the Hebron district.
Medical sources reported that soldiers opened fire at Majed Jaradat, 16, near Nabi Yousuf junction, in Halhoul town, north of Hebron. He was hit by two rounds of live ammunition in his abdomen and arm; his condition was described as serious.
Israel soldiers then moved Jaradat to Hadassah Israeli Hospital in Jerusalem. The army claimed that Jaradat was about to hurl Molotov cocktails at settler vehicles driving on bypass road Number 35.
Two Palestinians were also wounded on Thursday after Israeli soldiers opened fire at them at the entrance of Sa’ir town, north of Hebron. In Yatta town, also near Hebron, six family members were wounded after Israeli soldiers attacked their home, and struck them with batons and rifle-butts in Al Tawana area.
A wounded family member, identified as Mosab Raba’ey, was kidnapped by the soldiers.
In other news, four new settler buildings in East Jerusalem were approved by the Israeli Jerusalem municipal planning and building committee this week.
The four buildings, which will house a total of 24 apartments, will be constructed in an area east of the borders of Jerusalem’s Old City.
The project in question was initiated and constructed by American Jewish millionaire Irving Moskowitz, Israeli media sources reported on Tuesday.
The approval comes just a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel intends to build another 700 apartments in East Jerusalem.
Also this week, the Israeli military ordered the demolition of three barracks and two agricultural stores in al-Khader village, southwest of Bethlehem city.
The military claims that the homes are built without the needed permissions. According to the Oslo Accords al-Khader village is under the total control of the Palestinian Authority and not the Israeli military.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.
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 Ghassan Bannoura.