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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for February 6th, to the 12th, 2010
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed this week that no negotiations will take place with Israel as long as settlement activity continues, while Israeli military attacks leave two Palestinians killed this week. 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 Ghassan Bannoura:
The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs at a number of locations in the West Bank this week to suppress nonviolent actions. On Friday, two were injured at the central West Bank village of Bil’in while troops detained two civilians at the nearby village of Nil’in.
Meanwhile Soldiers attacked the weekly protest at the village of Al Ma’ssra, southern West Bank. On Friday, residents of the town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, southern West Bank, and international volunteers gathered at farmlands near the town and planted 250 olive trees.
The area known to locals as Ush Ghrab, was an Israeli military base, evacuated in April of 2006. This week the army came back and resumed construction.
The Non-Violent activity was organized by The Popular Committee to Defend Ush Ghrab, in co-operation with the YMCA’s Joint Advocacy Initiative, and the Reclaiming the Land Project.
Also this week, the Israeli military continued its crackdown on the non-violent popular struggle organizers in the West Bank. On Monday, Israeli soldiers attacked offices of Stop The Wall campaign in Ramallah vandalizing and confiscating various documents and equipment.
On Sunday, soldiers attacked offices of the International Solidarity Movement in Ramallah and arrested two international activists. The two have since been released.
Nata Golan, ISM co-founder:
‘The crackdown on the ISM and Stop the Wall campaign is a continuation of an arrest campaign of the leadership of the popular struggle. Israel is nervous because it’s clear that the popular struggle is gaining legitimacy and widening. They have done many things to try to stop it in the past including killing people and now they are using violence, which they know how to do. It failed in the past and they will fail this time’
Local activist groups say the military has detained at least 128 villagers in the past six months in connection to the weekly anti wall protests.
Currently, the Israel army is holding at least six members of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements under charges of incitement against the military.
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.
The Political Report
Lead: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed the PA’s willingness to resume peace talks with Israel, once all settlement construction on occupied Palestinian territory comes to a halt for a three-month period. IMEMC’s George Rishmawi has the story:
In Palestine this week, U.S peace efforts have still failed to bridge the gap between Palestinians and Israelis. The two parties have not met for more than a year.
Israel has de-railed potential peace deals by stating it would retain control of land within the future Palestinian state for security reasons. Such a new stance was met with absolute rejection by the Palestinian Authority who asks for complete return of all Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967.
In other issues, the Russian Government, a principle Mideast mediator, hosted a Hamas party delegation, headed by Khaled Msh’al, cheif of the political bureau. Meetings between Russian officials and Hamas meant to coerce the party into signing a unity deal with the Fatah political party.
Hamas officials said the party would not sign a deal unless changes are made in the Egyptian conciliation paper, signed by Fatah in October of last year.
In Gaza, Palestinian resistance factions vowed to retaliate against recent Israeli attacks by resuming homemade rocket fire into nearby Israeli areas.
Israeli military actions in Gaza have left one Palestinian fighter killed, another wounded and two teen girls injured during seperate attacks on the coastal enclave over the weekend.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.
The Gaza Report
Lead: As the three-year siege continues, Israel stepped up its attacks in and around the Gaza Strip this week, from Gaza, IMEMC’s Rami al-Meghari reports:
Two Palestinian men were killed in the Gaza Strip, on Thursday, in separate incidents. One Palestinian was killed, and another wounded, after the army bombarded the Juhr al-Deek area, east of Gaza City. The death occurred when an un-manned Israeli drone, fired a missile close to the Karni crossing. Two sisters, ages 13 and 5, were also wounded in the same area, Thursday morning, when the Israeli army fired shells.
Armed clashes took place in the area and at least one resident was wounded, according to local sources. Earlier on Thursday, a Palestinian fighter was killed, in what the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas described as Jihadist mission.
Elsewhere the Israeli air force fired, on late Tuesday night, several missiles at the Gaza International Airport, east of Rafah City, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Local sources reported that the army carried at least three consecutive air strikes directed at the main building of the airport. Excessive damage was reported, but no injuries.
This is the second attack against the unused airport since the beginning of this month. Closed since 2001, it has suffered repeated attacks and bombardment by the Israeli army, whilst army bulldozers also destroyed its runways and demolished several buildings.
Israeli tanks stationed at the boarders with the Gaza Strip, opened fire at farmlands on Tuesday, at midday.
Local sources announced that the fire targeted farm lands near Gaza City. The attack caused damage, but no injuries were reported. Last week Israel’s siege and attacks on the Gaza Strip left two Palestinian killed.
On Monday, Israeli navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the shore of Rafah town, southern Gaza Strip. Damage to the fishermen’s boats was reported but no injuries.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami al-Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
Lead: The Israeli military conducted at least 22 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week. During those attacks troops detained 92 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children. IMEMC’s Ruben O’Shea has this story:
Most of those detained, this week, were from Jerusalem city. On Monday, Israeli police attacked Shu’fat camp for Palestinian refugees in east Jerusalem. During the attack, police forces arrested around 60 people among them medical staff who where helping injured residents.
At least 8 other civilians were reported injured in the ensuing clashes. The clashes with the police forces were renewed on Tuesday. The police arrested one boy.
An Israeli soldier was killed, on Wednesday at midday, when a Palestinian man in northern West Bank stabbed him. Israeli sources said the solider was driving his jeep when he stopped near a military checkpoint known to locals as Za’tara.
On Thursday, soldiers attacked the house of Muhammad al-Khatib, the man accused of killing the soldier. Troops ordered his family to leave the their house, and in addition detained six members of his family. Al-Khatib is a policeman with the Palestinian Authority’s from the northern West Bank.
Israeli military bulldozers demolished five water cisterns and three huts owned by farmers from the southern west bank village of Ithna, on Thursday. The soldiers also confiscated water pumps and electricity generators, according to eye witness reports.
The army says the structures where built too close to the Israeli separation wall being built on Palestinian land. The farmers said they appealed to the Israeli courts and were waiting for a judge’s decision on the matter. They added that the army gave them no warning prior to the demolition.
For IMEMC.org this is Ruben O’Shea
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 Walter Jones.