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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for January 30th to February 5th, 2010
A high-ranking Fatah official visited the Gaza Strip this week, as the Israeli siege and continued attacks claim the lives two Palestinians. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the non-violent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s George Rishmawi:
Despite the heavy rain and cold weather, nonviolent actions were organized at a number of locations this week in the West Bank. Anti-wall and settlement construction protests were organized at the villages of Nil ‘in, Bil’in, and al-Nabi Saleh, central West Bank, in addition to the southern West Bank village of al-Ma’sara.
Three Palestinian villagers were injured, when they were fired upon by Israel soldiers in the village of Nabi Saleh. Soldiers attacked protesters before they got to the land that residents from Halmish settlement are trying to occupy.
Villagers were planning to plant olive trees at their lands.
Also on Friday two civilians, one Palestinian and one international, were injured by Israeli fire when troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protest at the village of Bil’in. Israeli soldiers chased the demonstrators back to the village, where clashes between local youths and troops erupted. The clashes ended with no injuries reported.
Meanwhile the villagers of Nil’in held their weekly non-violent protest, this Friday despite rainfall. Soldiers attacked villagers with tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. A number of protesters were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Even though soldiers blocked the protesters from reaching the construction site of the wall, the weekly demonstration against the annexation wall, built on Palestinian land, ended with no clashes with the Israeli military, in the West Bank village of al-Ma’sara.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi
The Political Report
A high-ranking Fatah official visited the Gaza Strip this week, and met with senior Hamas officials. The meetings between the rival parties are the first of their kind since the two sides engaged in a power struggle in June 2007. Also this week, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, reaffirmed his willingness to resume peace talks with Israel once they halt all settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territories. IMEMC’s Ruben O’Shea has the story:
In the first move of its type, senior Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath, paid a visit to the Gaza Strip and met with high-ranking Hamas officials including prime minister, Ismail Haniya.
The two rival parties have been unable to forge a unity agreement since the beginning of their power struggle following Hamas’ victory in the January 2006 elections. Their unity deal is pending Hamas’ agreement to an Egyptian-brokered conciliation paper.
In October 2009, Fatah signed the paper, while Hamas rejected it, claiming some of the clauses in the original draft were modified or removed. Hamas wants guarantees from Egypt that they would prevent integrating resistance factions into the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatuses.
Since coming to power in January 2006, the international community and Israel have been demanding the ruling Hamas party in Gaza to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previously agreed peace agreements with Israel.
Peace agreements with Israel were signed by the Fatah party, represented by late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.
In the meantime, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he would accept Israel’s claim for a Jewish state, once a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is reached.
Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, preempted any future peaceful settlement by stating that Israel would keep some lands in the future Palestinian state within the boundaries of Israel, for what he termed “security considerations.”
In a related news, Washington has been fully engaged in mediation between Palestinians and Israelis since President Barack Obama was elected. Despite this, Washington is unable to convince Israel of halting settlement activities, illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In other news, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, stated this week that his government would not reverse building a steel wall under & over the ground on the border between Gaza and Egypt.
Mubarak said constructing such a wall is under Egypt’s sovereignty and that underground Palestinian tunnels harms the country’s standing.
The construction of the steel wall is rejected by the Hamas party in Gaza, as the party believes that it would compound the Israeli blockade of the region. Since Hamas took power in Gaza, in June 2007, Palestinians have relied on underground tunnels in the south of the territory, to bring in essential goods and commodities from Egypt amidst an hermetic Israeli closure of the coastal enclave.
For IMEMC.org this is Ruben O’Shea
The Gaza Report
As Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip continues, two Palestinian were reported killed in the coastal region, from Gaza IMEMC’s Rami al-Meghari reports:
On Thursday, a 22-year-old Palestinian patient from Gaza, Abdul-Rahman Tayyim, died of health complications and kidney failure.
Wounded during an Israeli Air Force assault into the al-Nusseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza in 2003. Tayyim was unable to receive the medical care he required due to the ongoing Israeli siege.
On Wednesday at dawn the Israeli Air Force bombarded seven areas in the Gaza Strip, killing one resident and wounding two others. The army also carried out a limited invasion into northern Gaza.
The attacks targeted border areas, and the Gaza International Airport. The airport, located in the southern part of the strip has been shut down since late September 2000, after numerous attacks by Israel.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that the attacks targeted two tunnels, and added that the shelling comes in retaliation to Palestinian homemade shells fired into adjacent Israeli areas.
Later in the day Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded residential areas and farm lands, east of Gaza City. As tanks opened fire at nearby resident’s homes, witnesses reported that bulldozers destroyed farm lands.
The Israeli army reported, Monday morning, that Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian man east of Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, and moved him to an Israeli hospital.
The resident, who remains unidentified, suffered moderate wounds. The army stated that soldiers saw the man approach the electric fence, north of the Kissufim military base, and opened fire.
A Hamas leader, Yousef Sarsour, survived an assassination attempt, on Tuesday, after unknown assailants placed an explosive charge in his parked vehicle in Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Sarsour, who was not in the vehicle, was unharmed although two children were wounded in a nearby home. Sarsour said that he heard a ground-shaking explosion near his home. Initially, he thought it was an Israeli air strike. He described the attack as a “cowardly crime.”
In related news, an Egyptian driver was injured, Tuesday afternoon, when his car was attacked by Gazans throwing stones as it passed the border road between southern Gaza and Egypt.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami al-Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank report
The Israeli military conducted at least 19 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, this week. Israeli troops detained at least 51 Palestinian civilians, including one child. IMEMC’s Walter Jones has the details:
This week’s invasions were focused in and around the West Bank cities of Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem & Hebron.
In other news, the Israeli army announced, this Sunday, its intention to re-occupy the military camp, Osh Ghrab. The camp was evacuated by Israel in April 2006. Osh Grab is located in Beit Sahour, outside if the city of Bethlehem, West Bank.
After Israel evacuated the camp, the Beit Sahour Municipality transformed it into a public park, but Jewish settlers have subjected this park to repeated attacks. Now, Israel wants to reoccupy the property, likely to build a new settlement.
Later this week, Israeli troops and workers for the Jerusalem Municipality raided Palestinian owned homes and shops located at the Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood near Jerusalem’s old city.
The municipality claims that the residents and shop owners have not paid property taxes that Israel enforces on the Palestinian residents. Also on Monday, the Israeli military prevented Palestinian farmers, and their international supporters, from planting olive trees near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.
The soldiers said that the farmers must prove their owner ship of the land to the military before they could continue to farm it.
On Tuesday, the military served six demolition orders to families in the south West Bank village of al-Towani. The army claims the homes are built without the necessary permission from the military.
On Thursday, a group of right wing, armed, Israeli settlers occupied a 500-Dunam Palestinian mountain south of Nablus city, in the northern part of the West Bank. Local farmers say the settlers installed four mobile homes.
Also this week the Israeli military deported a man from the northern city of Tulkarem to the Gaza Strip, after detaining him for one month. Moreover Israel announced Thursday that it intends to deport 9 more detainees to Jordan.
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.