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Welcome to this week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org for June 4 to 11, 2010.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets the US. President Barak Obama and discus the Gaza Siege, at the same time, Israeli attacks and raids into Palestinian communities continue in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.
Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in Bethlehem, and Ramallah in the West Bank.
Residents of the village of Ni’lin organized an anti-wall demonstration after the Friday prayer today. Protestors marched from the mosque to the land slated for confiscation, despite the Israeli decision which declared the villager’s land a closed military zone.
Protestors carried Palestinian flags in addition to Turkish flags as well as the flags of countries of those who participated in the recent Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
Israeli troops attacked the protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, while settlers from the illegal settlement of Hashmun’im gathered in the area chanting slogans that called for moving Palestinians to Jordan. The slogans also implied that all forms of Palestinian resistance are terrorism.
A number of Palestinian protestors chocked as a result of tear gas inhalation and were treated by field medics.
In the village of Wad Rahal near Bethelehm, international supporters joined the farmers after the midday prayers in the local mosque and marched to the lands taken over by Israeli military for the Apartheid Wall construction.
Israeli soldiers stopped the marchers from reaching the construction site. Organizers delivered speeches demanding the halt of illegal settlements and wall construction in the West Bank. The march this week ended without any clashes with the military.
At the same time, another anti wall protest was organized in the nearby village of Al Ma’ssara. Israeli and international supporters marched with the villagers to their lands. Soldiers stopped the people near the Settler road, number 60, which separate the villagers from their lands.
Soldiers used barbed wire to block the road for the protesters. At the military road block local youth torched an Israeli flag.
Troops arrested Hassan Breijiyeh, a local organizer, after part of the burnt flag stuck into his shoes. While trying to shake it off it hit a soldier’s foot resulting in the arrest, witnesses told Palestine News Network
Israelis and international supporters also joined weekly protests against the wall in the villages of Bil’in, central West Bank.
Demonstrators in Bil’in today formed their own Palestine national football team, coinciding with the start of the World Cup, to highlight their right to be an independent nation.
Shortly after the midday prayers, the players, together with dozens of other Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, marched to the gate of the wall at the edge of the village, where a goal was constructed and a game was begun. This gate separates the villages from their lands.
Several footballs were kicked over the fence onto land owned by the village. Israeli soldiers responded to this entirely non-violent activity by firing volleys of tear gas at the participants.
Soldiers then came through the fence, and arrested six journalists, four of whom were soon released. Two – one Palestinian and one international – remain in detention.
The tear gas canisters fired also caused large fires on the dry ground around the olive trees. Soldiers fired more canisters, directing their fire on the groups of villagers attempting to put out the resulting flames.
The village of Bil’in has been protesting the Wall for the past five years. Last year the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the military to re-route the wall giving the villages half of the land the military took for constructing the wall. The military is yet to comply.
In their meeting in Washington this week, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and U.S President Barak Obama, emphasized the need to find a solution for the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade for the past three years. Meanwhile, European and Arab efforts to break the Gaza siege are underway. The details with IMEMC’s Rami Al-Meghari in Gaza.
Barak Obama described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable and pledged a sum of $400 million dollar in aid to the Gaza Strip. Also, Obama called on Israel to work on easing the Gaza blockade.
A part of their meeting, the two leaders voiced willingness to proceed with peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. President Abbas maintained that there can be no real solution for the Palestinian –Israeli conflict without the occupied East Jerusalem.
Abbas told press that the international community and the United States recognize East Jerusalem as an occupied Palestinian territory and that there should be a solution, based on that fact.
The Palestinian leader also stated that he can never deny the Jews’ right to exist on the lands of Palestine. The ruling Hamas party in Gaza criticized such remarks very sharply.
In the meantime, European and Arab efforts are underway to ease the Gaza blockade. Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah crossing terminal after it has been closed for the past three years.
Media reports suggested that those efforts would lead to reopening of at least one border crossing in Gaza regularly. Some Palestinian parties have rejected what they called ‘ partial solution for the blockade’; they rather wanted comprehensive lifting of the siege.
Early next week, Secretary General of the League of Arab states, Amr Mouse will be visiting the Gaza Strip, within the same efforts and particularly bridging the gab between Fatah and Hamas for the best of national conciliation.
Some commentators believe that the blockade can not be eased or lifted without a national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah. Rami Almaghari www.imemc.org Gaza
West Bank & Gaza
During this week, Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians and wounded three others in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the details with IMEMC’s Kathryn Muehl.
The Israeli military raided at least 11 different locations in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip. These raids resulted in killing seven Palestinians, two civilians and five resistance fighters.
During these raids, Israeli troops abducted 16 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. They also abducted 6 human rights defenders, including 3 Israelis.
Today, at noon, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man from the Wadi El-Jouz neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. Israeli medical sources said Ziad Al-Joulani died of his wounds as he arrived to the hospital.
Israeli sources said the troops opened fire at Ziad Al Joulani when he refused to stop when ordered to do so by Israeli military police as they were setting up a check point in the area. They also stated that he had tried to hit two policemen with his vehicle. In the process of shooting Al Joulani, 5 others were injured, including two women, a senior citizen, and a child.
Staying in Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities stripped four Palestinian residents of Jerusalem of their ID and residency rights, expelling them to other areas in the West Bank.
The four are members of the Palestinian Parliament representing the Change and Reform bloc affiliated with Hamas. All four have served some time in Israeli jails.
They were arrested by Israeli police shortly following the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in Gaza. The Israeli decision to cancel their permanent residency rights to Jerusalem was based on accusations of ‘breaking loyalty to the state’ by being elected to the Palestinian Parliament.
Thursday, the Magistrates Court in Haifa decided to keep four settlers, all Yeshiva students, in custody. They are the main suspects in spraying racist graffiti on the walls of a mosque in Ibtin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The incident occurred last Tuesday night.
The Israeli “Defence Council” denied the charges, stating that there is no solid proof that could implicate the detained settlers, and that the suspicions are only based on intelligence information.
Israeli Ynet News reported that the charges include religious offense, conspiracy to commit a crime, and vandalism of property.
The graffiti sprayed on the walls of the mosque read, “War will take place in Judea and Samaria;” a reference to militarily occupied West Bank, and “marked for demolition.” A Star of David was also drawn.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinian men diving underwater off the coast of Gaza. Palestinian media quoted sources of the al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, as saying that members of the Brigades were wearing diving gear as they were training in the sea, nearly one kilometer away from al-Zahraa’ beach, whereupon Israeli naval troops intercepted and fired at them.
Israeli media quoted Israeli forces stating that the Israeli navy foiled an attempt of infiltration into Israel through the sea.
For IMEMC.ORG This is Kathryn Muehl.
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.