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This Week in Palestine -Week 09 2010
Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for February 27th, to March 5th, 2010
In this weekâ€™s report, Arab foreign ministers urge both Palestinians and Israelis to start indirect peace talks, while Israeli attacks leave two Palestinians killed and at 6 others injured. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
On Friday, Israeli troops used tear gas and rubber coated steal bullets to counter anti wall protests at different locations in the West Bank. Earlier this week Israel started to build a new section of the Wall near Beit Jala town, southern West Bank. IMEMCâ€™s Ghassan Bannoura has the story:
On Friday anti wall protests were organized at the central West Bank villages of Bil’in & Niâ€™lin; al-Nabi Saleh village, northern West Bank; and al-Ma’sara village, southern West Bank. Dozens suffered effects of tear gas inhalation at all four protests. At Nabi Saleh and Nilâ€™in villages 16 people were injured by troops bullets during the clashes that following the protests.
On Tuesday, Israeli army bulldozers uprooted olive trees in preparation for a new section of the wall at lands in Beit Jala Town, southern West Bank.
Israeli and international supporters joined the land owners to protest the new Israeli construction. Troops used batons and rifle but to move people away for the wall construction site on Tuesday and Wednesday.
By Thursday of this week, a layer hired by the Beit Jala municipality managed to stop the work until the Israeli court decide what will happen there. Israel announced its plans for this section of the wall back in 2006. Residents and the Municipality went to court and were still waiting for a decision.
The new section of the wall will surround a nearby settler only road to protect it and will destroy around 75 acres of land owned by residents. The wall will pass by the front doors of 35 families. Metrei Ighneem, from Beit Jala described what it means for the army to cut down his olive trees:
â€śSince 1990 we are suffering. This settlers road is built on my land. Now they uprooted all of my trees. This is a crime to destroy all of those trees. We call those olive trees Roman trees because they were planted by the Romans; they are thousands of years old. Those olive trees used to get me food and oil. I used to farm my land too and eat from it. All that I made in my life and my savings went to this house and the land next to it.â€ť
Lamyia al-Arrja, council member at the Beit Jala Municipality, described the new wall sectionâ€™s effect on the residents:
‘The Wall will cut through people’s homes and lands, destroying trees. Residents will not have the ability to expand their homes anymore. The town of Beit Jala was affected a lot by the settlements and settler’s roads, and now we are completely surrounded because of the settlement, their roads, and the wall.’
In 2004 the International Court of Justice in The Hague announced that the Israeli wall built in the West Bank is illegal.
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.
The Political Report
Arab foreign ministers urged, this week, both Palestinians and Israelis to start indirect peace talks, based on the Arab peace initiative of 2002. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority voiced concerns over growing tension in occupied east Jerusalem. IMEMC’s Ruben O’Shea with the updates:
Top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Ereqat, considered the Arab states decision as a step in the right direction, calling on Israel to halt unilateral moves, such as settlement construction and the creation of new facts on the ground, especially in Jerusalem.
Israel agreed to a short period pause in settlement activities and expressed willingness to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority said Israel’s willingness for peace should be turned into action, calling on Israel to stop settlement construction and restrictions of movement in occupied East Jerusalem.
In a related development, the PA voiced its concern, Friday, over growing tension in the occupied East Jerusalem after some hardliner Jewish groups declared intentions to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest Islamic shrine.
On Friday, Nabil Abu Rodaina, spokesperson for the Mahmoud Abbas, warned of what he termed Israeli plans to fuel a ‘religious conflict’ in the region.
Earlier this week, the PA submitted complaints to the United Nations, and some other key international players, regarding further deterioration of the situation on the ground.
In the meantime, the Gaza-based Hamas government called on the residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank to begin a third Palestinian Intifada in defiance of, what the government regarded, Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.
For IMEMC.org this is Ruben O’Shea
The Gaza Report
As a number of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip were reported this week, two men and a teen were killed in the coastal region. From Gaza IMEMCâ€™s Rami al-Meghari reports:
One Palestinian fighter was killed and three civilians were injured, on Monday, due to separate shelling attacks targeting the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. 22 year-old Mohamed Ghboun was killed by an Israeli tank shell targeting fighters at the borders close to the Beit Lahia town.
The Salah al-Din Brigade, announced that Ghboun is one of their fighters and he was part of a monitoring mission. Later in the day, Israeli tanks fired shells at a group of residents gathered in Beit Lahia. Three were injured, one critically, medical source reported.
A Palestinian teen was reported killed, on Wednesday, night when a tunnel collapsed on him in the southern Gaza border zone with Egypt.
Ahmad al-Najjar, 18 years old, was buried alive under the rubble, local sources reported. According to the Gaza based human rights group, al-Mizan, 141 Palestinians have died inside tunnels at the borders with Egypt since 2007.
Since Israel placed the Gaza Strip under siege on June of 2006, the tunnels at the borders with Egypt have become the main source of much needed supplies for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the coastal enclave.
On Thursday, Israeli tanks stationed at the borders shelled residentâ€™s homes and farmlands close to the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Residents said that they had to leave their farms during the attack. They reported damage to property, but no injuries.
The al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, reported Friday morning that one of its fighters was killed â€śin a missionâ€ť in the Gaza Strip. The Brigades identified the fighter as Nabhan Abu Mâ€™eliq, from the central Gaza Strip. The group did not reveal details on the incident and only stated that he was one of its prominent fighters.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami al-Meghari in Gaza.
The West Bank Report
The Israeli military conducted at least 18 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank this week. During those attacks, troops injured at least 3 Palestinians and detained 50 others, including 10 children. IMEMCâ€™s Walter Jones with the details:
A Palestinian child sustained wounds, Monday, after she was run over by an Israeli military jeep near an Israeli checkpoint, northeast in the West Bank. Dallal Abu Sa’dda, age six, was in the main road of her village, Beit Dajan, when according to witnesses, she was hit by an Israeli jeep. The troops also allegedly stopped a local ambulance crew from helping the child, keeping her waiting until the arrival of an Israeli Ambulance.
On Tuesday, two Palestinian men were injured and detained by Israeli troops during an overnight raid targeting villages near Jenin, north in the West Bank. The two men fought with troops until being injured and abducted. According to local sources, both men are thought to be leaders of the al-Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement.
Also this week, Israeli officials decided to delay the demolition of dozens of Palestinian owned homes in East Jerusalem. The Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem was planning to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in al-Bustan, the largest Palestinian neighborhood, near Jerusalemâ€™s old city. The stated plan is to replace these homes with a Jewish theme park and tourist destination. The plan was put on hold based on demands by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli media reported Tuesday.
This Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat told U.S media last week of his plans to save some of the homes in al-Bustan and provide others with the right to operate businesses within the planned theme park. The state of Israel considers the homes in al-Bustan illegal and subject to demolition.
Palestinians say their homes date back at least 50 years and they posses ownership deeds of the land dating back to times before Israel occupied Jerusalem. Murad Abu Shafee is a homeowner in al-Bustan neighborhood:
Tensions have been rising over the matter since the theme park was first announced, a little over a year ago. The plan has drawn some international condemnation, including from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Israeli political analyst Sergio Yahni, says a mass demolition of Palestinian homes would actually harm Israeli plans in Jerusalem:
Since Israel occupied Jerusalem city in 1967, it has continued to deny building permits to Palestinian residents while erecting Jewish-only settlements in and around the city, an act that is illegal under international law. Local human right groups say Israel issued 1,200 demolition orders to homes and other structures owned by Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
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 Dina Awwad.