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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for May 1st to the 7th, 2010
As efforts escalate to start indirect peace talks between the Israel and Palestine, the rate of Israeli attacks has accelerated leaving two Palestinians injured and 40 others detained. 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. IMEMC’s George Hanson has the story:
On Friday nonviolent actions against the wall were reported in the villages of Al Ma’ssara, Al Walaja and Wad Rahal near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, as well as in Bil’in and Nil’in in the central West Bank. Israeli and international supporters joined people from the villages.
One person was injured and six others detained when Israeli soldiers used teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress the Bil’in protest. People also suffered from the effects of teargas inhalation when soldiers fired canisters at the demonstrators in Nil’in.
Al Ma’ssara villagers managed to reach some of their farmland this week, something they have not be able to do for the past two years. Usually soldiers stop the march at the entrance of the village. The protest in Al Walaja ended peacefully.
On Thursday Israeli troops injured three Palestinian civilians and arrested three others during an anti-wall protest at the same location.
Israel resumed work on this section of the wall last month. Villagers say army bulldozers have already uprooted 100 olive trees owned by local farmers. Some of these trees date back to the Roman Era.
For the first time this Friday the people of Wad Rahal gathered to protest against the building of the wall on their land. Much has already been taken by the Israelis to build the illegal settlement of Efrata and the wall, which comes close to the centre of the village.
Villagers are worried that if the wall is re-routed, as planned, even more land will be lost. Around 200 hundred people, supported by internationals, marched the short distance from the school to the route of the wall after Friday prayers. Speeches were made and the protest, despite the presence of a large number of troops, ended peacefully.
For IMEMC.org this is George Hanson
The Political Report
Palestinians and Israelis are about to start indirect peace talks amidst renewed U.S mediation efforts in the region. U.S envoy for peace George Mitchell visited the region earlier this week for initial meetings, IMEMC’s George Rishmawi with the details:
Israeli president Shimon Peres told Mitchell on Friday that his country wants to resume peace talks with security on top of the agenda. Peres’s remarks came during a meeting with the Washington’s envoy.
Palestinian presidency spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Mitchell will have until the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization convenes on Sunday for a decision regarding the indirect talks.
The Palestinian side has been demanding a complete freeze of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a pre-condition for the expected talks.
Earlier, Israel had declared a 10-month freeze of such activities, yet construction of new settlements in the West Bank and the expansion of others never stopped in the occupied East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider the capital for their future Palestinian state.
Peace talks between the two sides have stopped for more than 18 months following Israeli elections, which brought to power a hardliner government, headed by the Likud Party of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the meantime, diplomatic sources in Washington reported that U.S. President, Barack Obama, gave Israel verbal and written guarantees that the United States will not allow the Palestinians to conduct any unilateral steps during indirect talks, or in the case of failure of such talks.
The sources did not mention any guarantees that would prohibit Israel from continuing its unilateral measures especially settlement activities and taking over of Palestinian neighborhoods by Israeli settlers in the occupied East Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismael Haniyeh of Hamas, announced willingness to engage in a national unity with the rival Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, based on what he termed embracement of the higher national interests of the Palestinians.
Tension between the two rival parties, Fatah and Hamas reach4ed its peak, in June of 2007 when Hamas took over control of the Gaza Strip after a bloody fight with Fatah.
For IMEMC.org this is George Rishmawi
The Israeli Attacks Report:
The Israeli military carried out at least 23 invasions of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank troops detained 40 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari reports:
Israeli troops inured two Palestinian men while protesting at the Erez crossing point in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Ahmad Abu Salaf and Mahmoud Sha’baan were deported to the Gaza Strip last month after Israel enforced the military order number 1650. Both are married to Palestinian women that hold Israeli citizenship.
The order 1650, effective last month, gives the Israeli military almost full control to detain and deport anyone in the West Bank who does not have permission from Israel to live in the West Bank.
This includes tens of thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and those who returned to the West Bank and decided to stay or Gazans who are married to an Israeli Arab and lives in Israel. The order also includes non-Palestinians who are married to Palestinian citizens but do not have Israel’s approval to stay in the West Bank.
Also this week in Gaza Israeli tanks attacked farm lands in southern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip. Army tanks destroyed crops and bulldozed farm lands, local farmers reported.
Elsewhere, a group of Israeli settlers set on fire the mosque of Al Luban village, northern West Bank, on Tuesday at dawn. The Sheikh of the mosque said that he came on to open the mosque for the dawn prayers when he noticed the fire.
Residents gathered and tried to put the fire away and called the firefighters from the nearby city of Nablus. The fire destroyed almost 60% of the mosque, according to the sheikh. Residents believe settlers from the nearby Malayh Levona settlement have deliberately caused the fire. Earlier this year settlers set a mosque in southern West Bank village. The Israeli police arrested a dozen settlers in connection to the attack; six were found guilty.
On Thursday around 100 Israeli settlers clashed with Israeli police forces when officers tried to remove homes at the settlement of Hashmonaim, northern West Bank.
Police forces managed to demolish two homes before settlers stopped them from leveling a third, Israeli media sources reported. There are half a million settlers living in the West Bank settlements. All those settlement are illegal according to international law.
For IMEMC.org this 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 Ghassan Bannoura.