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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for February 20th, to the 26th, 2010

The Palestinian Authority says it is considering a bi-national state, rather than a long-negotiated two-state solution, and Israel escalated its attacks on the West Bank communities this week. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.

Nonviolent Activities

Let’s begin our weekly report with the non-violent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Ruben O’Shea:

The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs at a number of locations in the West Bank this week to suppress nonviolent actions. Anti wall protests were organized at the central West Bank village of Bil’in, al-Nabi Saleh village, northern West Bank and al-Ma’sara village southern West Bank. Dozens suffered effects of tear gas inhalation at all three protests.

Earlier in the week, Israeli troops fired tear gas and concussion grenades, on Sunday midday at a Mass held by residents of Beit Sahour, a town in the southern West Bank. No injuries were reported

Residents from Beit Sahour, along with international supporters, gathered at the evacuated Israeli military base of Ush Ghrab, east of the city. The Israeli army abandoned the former military base at Ush Ghrab in April 2006, and the town’s municipality transformed part of the site into a public park and a centre for the residents of Beit Sahour.

The municipality of Beit Sahour has been prevented, by the army, from converting the rest of the area into a children’s hospital serving all of the southern West Bank, as they had intended. Two years ago settlers announced that they were planning to erect a settlement at Ush Ghrab, to be called Shdema. Last week, the Israeli army came back to the old military site and started to bulldoze land and put in military installations.

For IMEMC.org this is Ruben O’Shea.

The Political Report

The Palestinian Authority is considering a bi-national state, rather than a long-negotiated two-state solution with Israel. Meanwhile, new developments were reported this week regarding the assassination, in January, of a Hamas leader in Dubai. IMEMC’s George Rishmawi reports:

Israeli Media , reported Friday, that top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Eriqat is drafting a new document, outlining the Palestinian Authority’s concerns over the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

According to Haaretz, the document states that the PA would consider a one-democratic-state solution for the conflict. No PA source has verified this report.

In the meantime, media reports said that more developments regarding the assassination of Hamas leader, Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, in Dubai have emerged. The total number of suspects in the episode has increased to 25. Meanwhile jailed Hamas leader from the West Bank, Hasan Yousef, denied his son’s involvement in the extra-judicial killing of Al Mabhouh earlier this month or any other previous ones.

Some European countries, including France, Germany & Britain, want full Israeli cooperation with the already underway investigations into reported use by Israeli spy agents of their countries’ passports in the killing. Israel says it does not expect this would impact its ties with those countries.

In other news, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the recent annexation of two Islamic shrines in the West Bank to Israel’s religious heritage, does not mean depriving Muslims their rights to such shrines.

Netanyahu’s statement came after Palestinians protested at the Israeli decision and clashed with Israeli army forces in Hebron and Bethlehem.

In another development, the UN General Assembly has, this week, discussed the Goldstone report on the Israeli war on Gaza in January 2009. The new UN debate, called for by 19 Arab countries, would further demand Israel and the Palestinian Authority to conduct extensive, fair probes into possible war crimes by the parties involved.

For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.

The Gaza Report

Israel stepped up attacks on the Gaza Strip this week while it continued its three year long siege on the coastal region. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami al-Megahri with the story:

In the Gaza Strip, on Saturday, three fighters were wounded by Israeli army fire at al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.

In other news, a Palestinian youth died on Monday, due to electrocution, in a tunnel in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. He was working inside the tunnel and died instantly after coming into contact with an exposed wire. Hundreds of residents have died and been injured in similar tunnel accidents across the border with Egypt.

Elsewhere, Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded, Wednesday afternoon, farmlands located near Khan Younis town in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that tanks invaded the area and opened fire at nearby homes as bulldozers uprooted olive and fruit trees in the area that belong to local farmers. No injuries were reported.

This is the second attack the Israeli army carried out on Wednesday in the Gaza Strip. Earlier in the morning, Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian workers near Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip; no injuries were reported. Furthermore, the Israeli Navy opened fire at fishermen in Beit Lahia; media sources reported damage to property but no injuries.

On Thursday Israeli tanks invaded areas in northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that tanks opened fire at nearby farm lands and homes. No injuries in the attack were reported.

For IMEMC.org this is Rami al-Meghari in Gaza.

The West Bank Report

The Israeli military conducted at least 21 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week. During those attacks Israeli troops detained 21 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children. IMEMC’s Walter Jones has the details:

On Thursday, dozens of protesters, including children, Palestinian Members of Pparliament and journalists, were injured by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron. The series of protests marked the 16th anniversary of a massacre where 29 praying Muslims were killed by an Israeli Jewish Settler.

A local group, named Youth Against Settlements, organized one of the protests in an attempt to re-open al-Shuhada street in Hebron’s old city. Soldiers closed the street 10 years ago to distance Palestinians from illegal settlement outposts located there.

Israeli troops also stopped a vigil denouncing an Israeli decision that adds two holy sites in the West Bank to the Jewish National Heritage List. Dr. Mustafa al-Barghouthi, a Palestinian MP, was among those injured.

‘We were all subjected to this tear gas, but the demonstration was successful, and it showed how resilient Palestinians are in defending their right and demanding the natural thing which is freedom. Its not allowable to have apartheid in the 21st century.’

The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and Bilal Mosque in Bethlehem are the latest additions to the Jewish National Heritage List. Although these holy sites are revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians, Israeli settlers maintain total control over them.

In other news, Ibrahim Aabed, age 34, was injured and later detained on Wednesday by Israeli troops. A Palestinian farmer from the village of Kufer Dan, northern West Bank; ‘Aabed was injured while a group of villagers attempted to stop military bulldozers from destroying a water well on his land. Israeli troops fired upon the villagers injuring Aabed in the abdomen. Upon being transported to the hospital, Israeli troops stopped the ambulance and took him away.

On Wednesday the Israeli municipality distributed a new wave of demolition orders to Palestinian home owners near Jerusalem’s old city. The homes in question are located in Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood of east Jerusalem. Israeli sources cite a lack of building permits as cause for demolition. The threatened home owners claim some of their building’s existed before the creation of the State of Israel.

For IMEMC.org this is Walter Jones.

Conclusion
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.

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