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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for March 27th to April 2nd, 2010
In this week’s report, Washington set forth a near proposal for the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, while Palestinians mark the Land Day in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
Let’s begin our weekly report with the non-violent activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinians all over the West Bank and Gaza marked this week land day with protests as well as planting olive trees. Troops attacked those protests killing one child. IMEMC’s George Rishmawi has the details:
Palestinians marked Land Day in several areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with agricultural activities and protests against the wall and settlements that are being built on Palestinian lands.
During the land day protest in Gaza Strip, people gathered at the Israeli-built wall near the Rafah international airport in the southern part of the strip. Troops opened fire at civilians killing 15-year-old Mohammad Al Faramawi.
At the same time, another protest marking land day was organized in Khan Younis town, south east of Gaza Strip. As protesters reached the buffer zone near the borders, soldiers stationed there opened fire at the protesters injuring 16 civilians. Among those injured was nine-year-old Ra’ed Abu Namous who was hit with a live round to his head, medical sources reported.
In the West Bank Israeli soldiers attacked Land Day protests with tear gas and dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. In Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, hundreds of school students and international supporters joined farmers and planted olive trees on lands threatened to be taken over by the Israeli military and settlers. Similar actions were organized in Nablus and Salfeet, northern West Bank, where Parliament Members and international supporters joined the farmers and planted trees in their lands.
Palestinians mark the Land Day after events dating back to March, 30th 1976. Clashes erupted near the Palestinian town of Sakhneen, in response to the Israeli government’s plans to expropriate thousands of Palestinian-owned acres of land. A general strike and protests were organized in Arab towns from the Galilee to the Negev, met with severe violence from the Israeli police killing six Palestinians and wounding hundreds.
Also this week, Israeli police and troops detained 10 people during a protest at the Wall-gate separating the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The protest took place on Sunday as local Christians marked Palm Sunday. Protesters demanded free access to Jerusalem and the freedom of worship in the holy sites there. Israel denies Palestinians free access to Jerusalem since 1991. Israeli authorities allow few thousands only with special permits to enter Jerusalem that are rarely granted.
On Wednesday the Israeli military court of Ofer ordered the release of all ten Palestinians who were detained on Sunday on bail. All ten have to appear in front of a military court on April 18th.
Also in the West Bank, on Friday anti wall protests were organized in the villages of Bil’in and N’ilin central West Bank as well as Deir Istiya, in the north and Al Ma’ssara village, near Bethlehem in the south. Troops used tear gas to suppress those protests. Three journalists were injured and one international supporter was detained by the Israeli military in Al Ma’ssara village.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi
The Political Report
As stalemate in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks continues, Washington proposed a settlement halt for four months. The freeze in settlement construction is pre-conditioned by the Palestinian president for negotiations to start. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura with the latest:
Washington’s special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, is set to visit the region soon in order to convey a new U.S proposal that is based on Israeli freeze of settlement construction for a period of four months, followed by indirect talks by both Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli government is yet to send out it’s response to the new initiative, while Palestinians accepted it, reaffirming previous stance that any peace talks between the two sides should be linked with the halt of all settlements building underway in Jerusalem and other parts of the occupied West Bank.
On the Arab level, Arab leaders who met earlier this week in their annual regular summit embraced the Washington-led efforts for peace talks between the two sides. The summit called for convening another meeting by September to follow up on current developments, particularly the situation in the occupied East Jerusalem.
In another development, media reports said this week the German mediator for a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the Palestinians will soon resume his efforts amidst a deadlocked.
Israel has been demanding that some of the prisoners to be freed in return for the captured soldier Gil’ad Shalit in Gaza, to be deported outside of the Palestinian territories. Also, Israel has objected to releasing some senior Palestinian prisoners like Marwan Barghouthi of Fatah party and Ahmad Sa’adat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The Islamist Hamas party, who holds Shalit, has reaffirmed its strong rejection to deporting any of the released prisoners and insisted that all those on it’s original list should be freed in exchange of Shalit.
On the internal level, tension between the rival Hamas and Fatah parties has risen to the surface again, with Hamas accusing Fatah’s strongman Mohammad Dahlan of attempting to extract information about resistance factions in Gaza.
Latest controversy, according to some commentators, will delay reaching a unity deal that is yet to be observed for more than 20 months now after Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip amidst factional fighting with Fatah party of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
While Fatah continues to present a peace negotiation agenda, Hamas still shuns any peace agreements until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian territories including Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.
The Israeli attacks Report
The Israeli army continued to bombard border areas in different locations this week in the Gaza Strip while troops conducted eight military invasions into West Bank communities. From Gaza IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari Reports:
On Saturday at dawn Palestinian resistance fighters ambushed Israeli soldiers inside the Gaza Strip at the southern borders with Israel. The ensued clashes left two soldiers dead. Later Israeli tanks shelled nearby residents’ homes killing one Palestinian civilian and inuring thirteen others.
The Israeli bombardment targeting residents’ homes at the border areas continued this week. Israel’s navy also attacked Palestinian fishermen this week damaging a number of boats.
The Israeli Army carried, on Friday at dawn, a series of air strikes targeting a several areas in the Gaza Strip. Medical sources reported that three children aged eighteen months, 4 and 11, were wounded.
In the West Bank this week Israeli troops detained 10 Palestinian civilians including a child during morning invasions targeting West Bank communities.
In Jerusalem’s old city on Monday scuffles erupted when Israeli settlers stormed Al Aqsa Mosque; the third holiest site for Muslims worldwide.
Staying in Jerusalem, the Israeli Police attacked on Thursday Wadi Hilwa Media Center, in Silwan neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem. Troops attacked employees and visitors, leading to several injuries. The army gave no reasons for the attack.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
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.