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Welcome to this week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for June 12 to 18, 2010.

Israel says it will take measures to ease the Gaza siege while settlements’ activities continue in the West Bank despite of International pressure and Palestinian nonviolent resistance, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.

Let us begin our weekly report with the non-violent actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where hundreds of civilians joined the non-violent activities organized this week in a number of locations in the West Bank.

The villagers of N’ilin, together with International supporters marched after the Friday prayer to their confiscated land where Israel is building the wall.

Abu Amira, member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and settlements in the village said some of the protestors wore the national dresses of the United Arab Emirates and waved Emirati flags, in a sign of gratitude to this Arab state for its support to the Palestinian people.

Protestors also chanted slogans demanding Israel to remove the Israeli settlements from the West Bank saying that all of these settlements are illegal.
Abu Amira added that Israeli troops fired a number of tear gas canisters at the protesters causing dozens of them to choke and few others to faint.

In the meantime, a number of protestors were wounded when Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at a non-violent demonstration in the village of Bil’in near Ramallah, central West Bank.

The demonstration started after the mid-day Friday prayer and was joined by International and Israeli supporters.

Protestors attempted to reach their lands which were confiscated by the Israeli military to build the wall. They carried Palestinian flags, banners and signs slamming the Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest decision to build 1600 settler units in settlements near Jerusalem.

In Bethlehem, dozens of residents from the village of Al-Ma’asara protested the confiscation of their land and the construction of the wall on it on Friday afternoon. Israeli forces did not intercept the protestors who managed to reach their land.

The marchers carried signs demanding the release of Hasan Breijiyeh who was detained during last weeks protest. The Israeli military accuse him of trying to burn a soldier. Eyewitnesses said that he was trying to put out a fire that caught his shoes, when he accidentally hit an Israeli soldier.

Meanwhile, in the nearby village of Wad Rahal, Israeli troops intercepted the protesters and did not allow them to reach their lands. The military commander warned the protesters that they will arrest everyone if they do not leave in 5 minutes. An order that was ignored by all protestors. Boy Scout groups took part in the demonstration during which marchers demanded the lift of the siege on Gaza. The protest ended peacefully.

In the Gaza Strip, Hundreds of Palestinians marched to protest the “buffer zone” Israel is creating in the northern and eastern side of the strip.

The march, called for by the Popular Committee Against the Buffer Zone, started from the town of Beit Lahia to the area Israel is levelling to create the extended buffer zone.

The march ended peacefully following speeches delivered by the organizers who affirmed their commitment to the ongoing non-violent resistance to the buffer zone and the siege on Gaza.

Political Report
U.S envoy to Middle East peace, Gorge Mitchell is visiting region within efforts to accelerate indirect peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Mitchell visit is coincided with Israel’s decision to ease the Gaza blockade. IMEMC’s Rami Al-Meghari has the details.

Israeli inner cabinet decided Thursday to ease the Gaza blockade significantly. The decision includes allowing all food items, stationary, kitchen utensils and towels into the besieged coastal territory. Yet it excludes many other materials like cement and steel, except when needed for UN-run vital construction projects.

This week, Israeli cabinet discussed easing the blockade, jointly with the envoy of Quartet Committee for Middle East Peace, Tony Blair. International community including the US and Europe have demanded anease of the blockade following Israeli deadly attack on an aid convoy to Gaza, off international waters.

The ruling Hamas party in Gaza branded the move as incomplete and merely media propaganda, demanding a complete lifting of the three-year-blockade, which began with Hamas’s takeover of the coastal enclave in June2007.

Raed Fatouh is a PA official who coordinated entry of goods into Gaza.
Actuality (In Arabic)

‘We consider this as a positive step, yet it is not enough. We call on the Israeli side to allow entry of all 4000 goods that used to enter the territory before the siege was imposed’

As international pressure on Israel to lift the blockade has reached paramount for the past two weeks, Secretary General of the League of Arab States visited the coastal territory through the now opened Rafah crossing terminal.

The visit took several hours, in which he observed the humanitarian situation and explored ideas from various Palestinian political factions in Gaza including Hamas, over possible conciliation between
Fatah and Hamas.

Amr Mousa , answering a question by IMEMC’s correspondent in Gaza.

Actuality (In English).
At the internal level, efforts are underway to bridge the gab between the rival Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas. Some Arab media sources suggested that a new initiative by the Arab league chief has been formulated during the latter’s visit to the region.

According to such media reports, Hamas might be invited to sign an Egyptian-produced national conciliation paper that Fatah has already signed on. Hamas has refused to sign.

IMEMC’s correspondent in Gaza talked to Fatah MP, Ashraf Juma’a about
current deadlocked national unity.

Actuality (In Arabic):

‘ Hams should first sign the paper, and then all Hamas’s reservations to such a paper can be taken in consideration. If such reservations are not taken seriously, nothing will be achieved’.

Recently, both parties have exchanged invitations to a serious dialogue for the sake of reaching an agreement that would lead to national unity.
‘Rami Almeghari. Gaza

West Bank and Gaza
Israeli military’s attacks continue against the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip at lest four Palestinians were killed during this week. The details are with IMEMC’s Brian Ennis

During the last week in Gaza, Israeli forces continued to fire at Palestinian workers who were collecting construction materials. As a result, four workers were wounded in four separate incidents.

On Monday, 14 Jun, Israeli troops moved into al-Qarara and ‘Abassan villages, east of Khan Yunis and fired 5 artillery shells at the area; no casualties were reported.

On the same day, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in northern Gaza; no casualties were reported.

Israeli forces conducted two limited incursions into Palestinian areas of the strip, during which they leveled areas of previously razed land.

In the West Bank, on 11 June, Israeli forces killed one Palestinian civilian in Wad al-Jouz neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, and wounded one Palestinian child. Israeli forces claimed that the victim was driving a car, did not obey orders to stop at a checkpoint in Wad al-Jouz and attempted to run down two soldiers, who were injured.

Israeli forces conducted twenty-four incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted thirty-nine Palestinian civilians, including eight children. Israeli forces summoned a 7 year-old child for interrogation.

Israeli troops stationed at military checkpoints in the West Bank abducted two Palestinian civilians. Israeli troops continued to harass Palestinian civilians at military checkpoints.

On 16 June, Israeli forces, accompanied by a bulldozer, moved into al-‘Abasiya quarter in Silwan village. There they demolished two eighteen-square-meter stores belonging to Maher Na’im Siam. They stole an eighteen square-meter container and demolished a 100 square-meter barn belonging to the man as well in the same operation.

Elsewhere in Jerusalem that day the Israeli military, without warning, demolished a thirty square-meter garage belonging to another man.

On 14 June, the Planning and Construction Committee of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem approved the construction of 1,600 housing units in ‘Ramat Shlomo’ settlement in Jerusalem. Israel postponed the approval of the construction to this week to avoid any crisis with the United States.

And that’s just some of the news from This Week in Palestine. For regular updates, please visit our website at Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. This week’s report has been brought to you by George Rishmawi.