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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for April 17th to the 23rd, 2010

As news of possible Israeli-Palestinian peace talks could resume emerged this week, Israeli military attacks and siege left one killed and eight others injured in the Gaza Strip. These stories and more coming up stay tuned.

The Nonviolence Report

Let’s begin our weekly report with the non-violent activities in the West Bank and Gaza. This week nonviolent anti-wall protests took place in the villages of Al Ma’ssara and Walaja in the southern West Bank, in addition to Nil’in in the central West Bank.

Seven Palestinians were injured at the village of Nil’in in the ensuing clashes after the weekly protest. In both Al Ma’ssara and Walaja the protests ended peacefully.

On Monday, Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians gathered in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, to protest the Israeli built wall near the city. The protest was organized by the local Committees against the Wall. No injuries were reported.

Also this week Bil’in village in the central West Bank, held its Fifth International Conference for Palestinian Popular Resistance. The conference ended on Friday with the weekly protest. Dozens were injured among them one critically. IMEMC’s Elisa Sprout has the story:

As is the case every Friday for the past five years, the protest left the village at midday, heading towards the wall built on villagers’ lands. Soldiers used tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress the protesters injuring a dozen of them, one critically. Soldiers also arrested seven people among them one journalist.

Bil’in’s Fifth International Conference started on Wednesday. The main goal of this week’s conference is to connect international support groups with West Bank villagers and their struggle. Hundreds of Palestinians, along with international and Israeli delegates took part in the conference. Palestinian MP Mustafa Al Barghouthi attended the conference:

For three days participants attended workshops that used Bil’in as a model for non-violent resistance. Workshops included strategic planning, history and methods of nonviolence.
Since the start of the Bil’in village protests, Israeli and international supporters have joined the residents’ struggle; Michael Warschawski is an Israeli political activist attending the conference:

Protesters have had some victories in Bil’in. A 2007 Israeli supreme court ruling led to the villagers getting back 275 of the 600 acres of land Israel was planning to use to build the wall. The conference ended on Friday with the weekly protest.

Despite the non-violent nature of the protests every week, the Israeli army often responds with violence. Last year the army killed local activist Bassem Abu Rahmah after shooting him in the chest with a high velocity tear gas bomb.

For IMEMC .org this is Elisa Sprout.

The political Report

An official declaration for the beginning of an American-mediated indirect Palestinian-Israeli peace talks might be made on Sunday, as Palestinian factions meet in Gaza to discuss Israel latest military order number 1650, the details with IMEMC’s George Rishmawi:

A meeting that will join the United States Middle East Peace envoy, George Mitchell, with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled for Sunday, is expected to witness such declaration, Israeli sources reported.

Palestinians have repeatedly expressed readiness to resume peace talks with Israel, yet conditioned this resumption with Israel freeze of settlement activities in the West Bank, a demand that Israel have continuously rejected.

Apparently, this time as well, Israel will not be asked by the U.S. envoy to freeze settlements, the source stated adding that Israel intends to conduct what is being described as “good-will gestures” by Sunday, including removing some roadblocks, releasing a limited number of detainees, and handing power to the Palestinian Authority in certain areas.

On Thursday, Netanyahu told Israeli Channel 2 that Israel will not freeze settlement activities, and will not accept any preconditions.

In the meantime, the deposed Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, stated Thursday the resuming peace talks with Israel provides another cover-up for what he described as the Judaization of Jerusalem.

Haniyeh stated that Mitchell’s return to the region comes as Israel continue with settlement construction in the West Bank, deporting Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, and ongoing illegal settlement activities in occupied Jerusalem. He said that the return to peace talks will only grant Israel more chances to continue its illegal policies.

Meanwhile, the Hamas leader accused the United States of obstructing internal Palestinian unity talks mediated by Egypt, and added that the U.S. wants the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to continue its security coordination with the Israeli military.

On Tuesday, Palestinian factions, including the rival Fatah and Hamas movements, held a meeting in northern Gaza to discuss the latest Israeli decision to deport thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

The meeting focused on actions to counter the Israeli decision number 1650 that will forcibly remove Gaza Strip Palestinians and their families from the West Bank, and would also lead to the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians and international spouses of Palestinians who do not have Israel’s approval to live in the West Bank.

Some observers build hope that such an issue might decrease the gap between the two rival parties and push them to settle their differences.

For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi.

The Israeli Attacks

One killed, eight injured in the Gaza Strip this week due to the Israeli continued attacks and siege on the costal enclave. Meanwhile Israeli troops detained 22 Palestinian civilians among them four children during invasions targeting West Bank communities this week. IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari reports:

A Palestinian worker was killed late Monday night during separate tunnel accidents at the southern Gaza Strip boarders with Egypt. Mohamed Abu Sha’er, aged 20, was killed when a tunnel collapsed while he was inside. Six other workers were injured, one critically, during separate tunnel accidents earlier on Monday.

Abu Sha’er’s death brings the number of Palestinian workers killed in tunnel accidents to 143 since June of 2007. Since Israel tightened its crippling siege on the Gaza Strip started in June 2007; the tunnels became the source of much needed supplies to the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the coastal enclave.

On Wednesday, two Palestinian fishermen were injured when Israeli naval vessels opened fire at them near Rafah city, southern Gaza Strip. Earlier this week the army attacked fishermen at deferent locations in the Gaza strip damaging boats but causing no injuries.

In the West Bank, Two Palestinian civilians were injured and one international peace activist was detained on Thursday while trying to stop army bulldozers from uprooting olive trees to make way for the wall in the town of Beit Jala near Bethlehem southern West Bank. Troops used batons and rifle butts to attack residents.
Israeli military bulldozers resumed work on Thursday at this location ignoring Israeli court rulings. The lawyer of the residents managed to obtain a court ruling to halt the work two weeks ago pending a final a court ruling.

The new section of the wall in Beit Jala will annex a nearby settler-only road and destroy around 75 acres of land owned by residents. The wall will pass right through the front door of 35 families and destroy olive trees dating back to the Roman Era.

Also on Wednesday military bulldozers uprooted 50 olive trees owned by villagers of Al Walaja near Jerusalem to make way for the wall. In the town of Beit Ummar, near Hebron, Israeli settlers destroyed around 20 acres of vineyards that belong to Palestinian farmers.

On Tuesday Israeli settlers uprooted 250 newly planted olive trees owned by Palestinian farmers form the village of Qaryut near Nablus city, northern West Bank.
At another location the Israeli army handed out on Monday demolition orders to four Palestinian home-owners at the town of Halhoul, southern West Bank.

The military says the houses are located in an area close to the settlers’ road number 60 which connects Israeli settlements in southern West Bank with Jerusalem. Road 60 was originally built on land owned by Palestinian farmers.

For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.

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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