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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for January 23ed to January 29th, 2010
U.S peace efforts in the region still bear no fruits, while this week Israeli attacks escalate in the West Bank. 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:
Non-violent protests were reported on Friday at the villages of Bilin, Nilin, , and Al Nabi Saleh in the central west bank in addition to Shikh Jarah in east Jerusalem.
The protests began after the mid-day prayers and finished later in the afternoon. At the villages of Bil’in Ni’lin and Al Nabi Saleh, Israeli troops attacked villagers and their Israeli and international supporters. Dozens were treated for tear gas inhalation including a number of journalists.
Villagers reported Israeli military used live rounds to suppress protests in the villages Nilin, and Al Nabi Saleh.
In Jerusalem, despite warnings of a forceful protest dispersion by Israeli police, this week’s protest in Sheikh Jarrah was attended in volume, but remained restrained. The non-violent demonstration was attended by approximately 500 people, including Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals.
After 2 hours of energetic protest, the crowd dispersed, with no arrests. Recent weeks have seen an increase in arrests and a change in police tactics.
For the past four weeks neither protesters nor journalists have been permitted access to the street outside the settled homes, and protests have been forced to occur at the nearby junction by Derech Shchem Street.
The neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah & al-Bustan have been under dispute for a number of years. 3 homes have been settled in Sheikh Jarrah and 1,200 demolition orders were served against Palestinian families in occupied Jerusalem.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.
The Political Report
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas expressed no objection to recognizing a Jewish identity of the Israeli state once a comprehensive peace deal is reached between Palestinians and Israelis. Meanwhile, U.S peace efforts in the region still bear no fruits. IMEMC’s Ruben O’shea with the latest:
A statement from Hamas says Abbas does not represent all Palestinians, only himself and his Fatah party.
The statement, emailed to media outlets, came in response to Abbas’s remarks on Russian TV yesterday. Russia, a priniciple peace mediator in the Middle East, announced its willingness to continue contact with Hamas in order to find peace.
Meanwhile, U.S peace efforts prove fruitless, despite a recent visit by U.S peace envoy, George Mitchel. Palestinians still demand a complete halt of all Israeli settlement activity while Israel says it will continue unabated.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said once a peace agreement with the Palestinians is reached, on the basis of a two-state solution, Israel will maintain its presence on some Palestinian for security considerations.
Such an announcement is seen by political analysts as yet another obstacle in the peace process.
At the internal Palestinian level, Hamas asked Egyptian mediators for guarantees to implement a long awaited waited unity deal between Fatah and Hamas.
Ayman Taha, a spokesperson for Hamas in Gaza, comments on the unity deal:
‘ It is required that the Egyptian media incitement against Hamas party stops for there can be no conciliation between the Palestinians, while Egypt, the mediator, continues hostility against Hamas’.
This latest stance of Hamas comes on the heels of tense Hamas-Egypt relations following early January’s clashes on Gaza-Egypt border that left one Egyptian soldier dead and more than 30 Palestinians injured.
These clashes were motivated by Hamas to protest the construction of an Egyptian-built metal wall, above and underground the border of Gaza. Earlier this week, Egypt’s president Husni Mubarak, said the wall is necessary to preserve his country’s sovereignty.
For IMEMC.org this is Ruben O’shea.
The Gaza Strip Report
Border crossings into the Gaza Strip remain closed this past week as they have been for over two and a half years. Israel’s blockade on Gaza, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had disastrous impacts on the humanitarian and economic situation. A number of Israeli attacks have also occurred in the besieged region. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari reports:
Israeli tanks shelled areas close to Gaza City and the borders with Israel. Thursday afternoon, residents of Al Shojayia neighborhood reported the shelling of their homes and farm lands by Israeli tanks stationed at the nearby border.
The residents added that tanks also targeted farmers while they were working on their land. Damage to property and homes were reported but no injuries.
Israeli military boats have fired upon Gazan fishermen in Palestinian water this week. The attack allegedly occurred in waters near the Rafah border crossing, off the southern coast of Gaza.
According to a fisherman’s testimony, Israeli gun-ships fired upon the Palestinian vessels, sending them back to shore with damaged boats. Since the Israeli blockade upon Gaza, attacks on fishermen have steadily increased.
A number of fishermen have been killed and many more detained by the Israeli military. The Palestinian Fishermen Trade Union in Gaza warns that the fishing industry is at the verge of collapse due to Israeli prohibitions that severely limit where Gazans are permitted to fish.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
This week, Israel’s military conducted at least 19 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Troops detained 29 Palestinian civilians, including one child. Settler attacks across the West Bank were also reported. IMEMC’s Walter Jones has the story:
On Tuesday in the northern West Bank village of Burin, Israeli military delivered orders to the Salman Al-Farisi mosque, demanding that they halt construction immediately. The military says the construction need Israeli authorization before work can continue.
Later in the week Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of Palestinian property in the towns of Al Baq’a and Ithna, south in the West Bank. The Israeli military also delivered demolition orders to a Co-operative Society and a number of clinics.
In the village of Dir Nitham, central West Bank, residents of the illegal settlement Halmish uprooted 15 olive trees on Tuesday. The attack is one of a series carried out by the settlers who are trying to annex land for settlement expansion.
Dozens of armed settlers invaded the village of Beit Illu, central West Bank, on Tuesday evening. Local sources reported that the group ransacked homes and set fire to a car.
The Israeli army did not attempt to stop the attacks; nor did they attempt to force the settlers out of the village. This follows another attack where settlers uprooted several olive trees belonging to villagers.
In the village of Burin on Thursday, Israeli soldiers attacked a number of Palestinian reporters. The reporters were documenting the, ‘Green Palestine,’ project where more than 250 trees were planted.
Anan al-Ateera, deputy governor of Nablus, described the soldiers behavior as “savage”, adding that the army always tries to prevent reporters from documenting their violations. She noted that the area in question is under full Palestinian control and the army has no right to be there.
For IMEMC.org this is Walter Jones.
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.