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Welcome to This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for May 29th through June 4, 2010
Israeli military attacks a humanitarian aid convoy in the high seas en route to Gaza Strip killing 10 passengers and wounded around 60 others triggering a world wide condemnation and Palestinian protest the attack through nonviolent activities in the West Bank. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.
Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank which were dedicated this week to condemn the Israeli attack on the humanitarian aid convoy in international waters on Monday.
Around 150 Palestinians, Internationals and Israelis marched on Friday in the village of Wad Rahal near Bethlehem to protest Israel’s construction of the wall on their land and to protest the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla passengers.
The march started after the Friday prayers and arrived at the lands slated for confiscation for the construction of the wall.
Wall is planned to isolate, the illegal settlement of Efrat, which is built on lands that belong to villagers from Wad Rahal, and the neighboring villages in Bethlehem area.
As soon as protesters arrived to the lands, 5 Israeli military jeeps arrived at the scene and demanded the protesters to leave.
The protesters, who were raising Turkish and Palestinian flags refused to leave and decided to stay and express their rejection to the wall. Shadi Fawaghra, head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in the village spoke to the crowd stressing the importance of nonviolent popular resistance and the need for more frequent activities against wall and settlements.
On his part, Dr. Mazin Qumsieh, member of the Popular Committee of Beit Sahour spoke in English addressing the Israeli soldiers who were persent there. Dr. Qumsiyeh pointed out that the world, except the USA, is against what Israel is doing, confiscating land of Palestinians, to build the wall and settlements and especially in the latest Israeli assault against the humanitarian aid convoy in the Mediterranean, which claimed the lives of 10 activists, mostly from Turkey and wounded dozens.
He added that there will be a day when the US will realize that it is supporting Israel’s wrong doings and then, Israel will recognize the rights of the Palestinians, adding that peace can not prevail until the Palestinian people achieve their rights.
In the village of N’ilin, near Ramallah hundreds of the villagers were joined by International supporters as they held the Friday prayer on the lands on which Israel is planning to build the wall. The villagers were also joined by Sheikeh Ikrima Sabri, the Sheikh of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Sabri stressed the importance of resistance in order to protect the land. He condemned the Israeli attack against the Freedom Flotilla saying that this assault has turned against Israel.
As the protesters arrived at the land, Israeli troops showered them with dozens of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens were treated for gas inhalation. Protesters carried Palestinian and Turkish flags and boat-like shapes and chanted slogans against the Israeli military and in support of Turkey.
In the nearby village of Bil’in, four were injured including Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, member of the Palestinian Parliament, and two journalists and another protester.
Villagers and their International and Israeli supporters marched towards the construction site of the wall carrying Palestinian and Turkish flags and small boat-like structures representing the Freedom Flotilla and placed 40 flags on top of them.
Israeli troops attacked the protesters and destroyed the miniature boats. Troops also fired tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets in addition to stun grenade at the marchers causing the injury of four people. Al-Bargouthi told reporters that the soldiers stopped the ambulance and detained the wounded protester and assaulted him.
Media commissioner of the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammad Dahalan, stated this week that U.S-mediated indirect peace talks underway between Israel and Palestinians will fail unless there is concrete progress. IMEMC’s Kathryn Muehl with the details.
For the past few weeks, Washington has been involved in such talks. A meeting scheduled between Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S President Barak Obama on Tuesday, was postponed.
Delaying the meeting was due to an international storm of criticism for Israel after the Israeli Navy attacked a fleet of international activists in international waters this week. The convoy was heading for Gaza when it was attacked and 10 members killed and dozens of others wounded.
Israel has not yet stopped settlement construction on occupied Palestinian lands, a matter that Palestinians insist to observe in order to achieve a peace breakthrough.
Since late 2008, both sides have been holding off peace negotiations, amidst growing Israeli settlement activities and reinforcement of apartheid walls around Palestinian areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Dahalan’s remarks come as Palestinians mark the 43 anniversary of the Naksa, the Arabic name for the June 4, 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in which Israel occupied Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In the meantime, Israel faced worldwide condemnations this week in response to Israeli’s attack on an aid convoy to Gaza, carrying 10,000 tons of needed goods and commodities as well as 700 solidarity campaigners of 40 different countries.
In reaction, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that Israel would not lift its three-year-long blockade on the Gaza Strip.
At the internal Palestinian level, the rival Fatah and Hamas parties traded calls for reviving a deadlocked national unity deal.
Hamas welcomed a visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza by Palestinian president Mahmound Abbas of Fatah, while Fatah expressed willingness to dispatch a high-ranking Fatah delegation to the coastal territory.
For IMEMC’s this is Kathryn Muehl
West Bank and Gaza Strip
The Israeli military continues to target Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while settlers continue their assaults against Palestinian communities. IMEMCs Harrison Christoff has more.
The Israeli military conducted at least 9 raids into Palestinian neighbourhood in the West Bank this week. Israeli forces arrested 12 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. At checkpoints around the West Bank, Israeli troops detained 5 Palestinian civilians, including two children.
On Saturday, in the village of Silwan near Jerusalem’s old city, armed Israeli security officers from the ‘Beit Jonathan’ settlement attacked a group of Palestinian children who were playing in the neighbourhood. Palestinian civilians gathered to protect their children, but were immediately met by Israeli forces who beat them, Silwan residents Noura al-Rajbi, Mohammed Ghazzawi, and Ahmed Ghazzawi were injured.
In Ramallah, An American Activist was hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops who were trying to break up a demonstration held against Israel’s raid on the freedom flotilla.
Emily Henochowicz, 21, was taken to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where she received surgery to remove her left eye.
According to eyewitnesses, an Israeli soldier shot Henochowicz directly in the face during the demonstration at Qalandia checkpoint. Israeli troops fired volleys of tear gas at unarmed Palestinian and international protesters, causing panic amongst the demonstrators as well as the Palestinian workers waiting there to cross the checkpoint.
Tuesday in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed 5 Palestinian fighters, in two separate operations near the Gaza – Israel border.
Also on Tuesday, an old woman was wounded when Israeli forces fired an artillery shell into the town of Rafah in southern Gaza. On Wednesday in Gaza, a Palestinian worker was wounded when Israeli forces fired at him and other workers who were collecting construction materials from the debris of destroyed buildings in evacuated settlements.
The Israeli Air Force bombarded and destroyed a workshop in Gaza City in addition to some structures in Rafah International Airport.
Israeli troops continued to shoot at Gaza farmers and workers working near the Israeli border, as well as firing on fishing boats along the Gaza Strip shores.
For IMEMC.ORG, This is Harrison Christoff
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 George Rishmawi.