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Welcome to this week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org for June 19th to the 25th, 2010.
Israeli actions in east Jerusalem created local and international criticism, while military attacks on Gaza this week left two killed. These stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.
Let us begin our weekly report with the non-violent actions in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Bart Farrell.
This week non violent actions against the wall and occupation were organized at the villages of Bil’in and Nil’in, in the central West Bank, in addition to Al Ma’ssara and Wadi Rahal, in the southern West Bank.
Both international and Israeli supporters joined Palestinians at all four locations. Protesters demanded the halt of the Israeli expansion into East Jerusalem as well as the continuation of the separation wall.
50 year old Radwan Yassin, a university professor, was hit with a rubber coated steel bullet in his hand when Israeli troops attacked protesters in Bil’in; dozens also suffered from the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In Nil’in the protest ended this Friday with clashes between soldiers and local youth. A number of local youth were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
At Al Ma’ssara village, demonstrators managed to reach the gate of the nearby Efrat settlement before Israeli soldiers stopped them. Troops used batons to disperse the crowd.
In the nearby village of Wadi Rahal, villagers and their international and Israeli supporters marched to the construction site of the wall and the nearby Efrat settlement.
Israeli troops stopped the protest as soon as it reached the security road adjacent to the wall. Organizers delivered speeches and the protest concluded with out any injuries or arrests.
For IMEMC.org this is Bart Farrell.
The Political Report:
This week in Palestine, provocative Israeli actions in the occupied east Jerusalem created local and international criticism amidst deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari Reports:
Chief Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurei branded latest Israeli intentions to demolish 22 homes in the occupied East Jerusalem, under some Jewish claims, as a provocative action that would undermine peace in the region.
Qurei called for preventing Israeli from embarking on the move. Israeli authorities said they would delay the demolitions due to political considerations, as Palestinian residents of the would-be demolished homes clashed with a number of Jews over the issue.
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, called on Israel not to carry out the demolitions, saying that the homes are located in the occupied East Jerusalem, a statement by the UN chief read this week.
Also, Washington that has been tirelessly involved in mediation between Israel and the Palestinians , so both sides would reach a peace agreement, based on a two-state solution, called the Israeli decision ‘ a provocative action that would undermine underway peace efforts’.
This week, the European parliament council, announced it would work on forming a probe panel that would investigate the Israeli attack on a Gaza aid convoy off international waters in May31, in which 9 Turkish activists were killed.
Israel has encountered a storm of worldwide criticism following the said attack. In response , Israel decided last week to ease a three-year-long blockade, it has been imposing on the coastal territory.
In other news, the ruling Hamas party in Gaza along with the Salah Eldin brigades of the Popular Resistance committees, held Israel responsible for the delay in the release of captured Israeli soldier, Gil’ad Shalit.
Both Israel and Hamas have failed to agree on an Egyptian-mediated swap deal since Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees captured Shalit in a cross-border attack in June2006.
At the internal level, the rival Hamas and Fatah parties have recently traded good-will gestured towards ending a three-year-long division. Hamas sources told IMEMC that both parties have a greed to a memorandum of understanding to be attached to an Egyptian-produced conciliation paper.
In October 2009, Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, signed the paper, while Hamas refused, given what the Islamist party says unacceptable amendments.
Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since Hamas took over Gaza amidst factional fighting with Fatah in 2007. Hamas has accused Fatah of subordination to the West.
For IMEMC.org this is Rami Al Meghari in Gaza.
The Jerusalem Report:
The mayor of Jerusalem this week approved a plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in a neighborhood near the old city to make way for a tourist center. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura has the Story:
In the year 985, the Arab traveler al-muqddasi wrote about a village called Silwan perched on the side of a lush valley with streams and gardens AND adjacent to the old city of Jerusalem. Others historians refer to it as a staging area for Jewish pilgrims during the holy festival of Passover.
Today, Silwan has grown into an urban neighborhood in east Jerusalem with 50,000 residents. While several hundred Israeli settlers live in Silwan, The vast majority of residents are Palestinians; many are refugees from the 1948 war which created Israel.
Now some 1000 people stand to be displaced if Israeli officials move forward with demolishing 22 homes in the al-bustan neighborhood of Silwan. the Jerusalem municipality wants to build an archeological park and tourist center on the historical site of King David’s gardens.
The plans need to pass several more rounds of approval before it will be implemented. Defending the plan the Israeli Jerusalem municipality says it will help legalize many more Palestinians homes in Al Bustan. Israel says the homes that would be demolished were built without permits , which are rarely granted to Palestinians. Murad Shafee, owns a home slated for destruction by Israel:
(Actuality – Male – 18 sec – Arabic)
“My father lived here for more than 50 years I have lived here for 30 years and my son for 10, in total its about 100 years, the homes of Al Bustan neighborhood existed here since 1918, before the occupation, before Israeli was created in Palestine.”
Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 Israelis have been trying to establish a presence in the neighborhood and push out its Palestinian residents. Israeli settler organizations point to the settlement of a Yemenite Jewish community in the valley in the late 1800s as justification for their attempts to move Jews back into the area. The Yemenite community fled during the Arab revolt in 1936. Ziyad Al Hamurri, the director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights explains:
(Actuality – Male – 28 sec – English)
“What is going on here in east Jerusalem as a whole, we are not talking just about Silwan, there is more than 20,000 demolition orders issued by Israeli courts which means that half of the Palestinians in east Jerusalem will be removed, if it will be implemented then this is a very dangerous future which is waiting for the Palestinians in Jerusalem.”
Many observers say the ultimate goal of the settlement movement is to undermine Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem so Israel can argue for full control of the city in future peace negotiations. But the al-Bustan community is doing all they can to make sure the demolitions do not occur. They set up a protest tent and hired lawyers to represent them in Israeli courts.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said the demolitions would be illegal; and Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said it lacked common sense. the u-s state department expressed concern, saying the move would undermine peace negotiations.
For IMEMC.org this is Ghassan Bannoura.
The Israeli attacks:
This week the Israeli army conducted a at least 20 invasions and attacks targeting Gaza and the West Bank, attacks in Gaza left two killed while troops detained 43 Palestinian civilians, including five children. IMEMC’s Brian Ennis:
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces fired at Palestinian workers who were collecting construction materials. As a result, four workers, including two children, were wounded in four separate incidents.
Friday the 25th of June, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles at empty areas of land in northern Gaza near Jabalia and Beit Lahia.
The Israeli military also shelled parts of southern Gaza, the reason given by officials being to target tunnels in the area. Later in the day two men working in the tunnels were found to be dead.
The siege on Gaza still continues. Palestinians in the area still struggle to meet food, water, medical, and electricity needs.
On Monday morning, Israeli forces implemented large-scale bulldozing activities on Palestinian lands between ‘Pisgat Ze’ev’ and ‘Neve Ya’kov’ settlements in the north of occupied Jerusalem.
This is to prepare for the construction of another 600 new illegal settlement units. The construction of these new settlement units was approved one year ago in order to establish a link between the aforementioned settlements.
Sunday, 20 June 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld an order issued by the Israeli police to deport four Palestinian politicians from Jerusalem, until next September when the Court will consider his petition.
There was also a settler attack on the village of Safa, north of Hebron. At around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning settlers began to throw stones and empty bottles at Palestinian homes. They also attempted to light farmlands on fire but were prevented from doing so by locals.
When Israeli military arrived on the scene they fired tear gas at the Palestinian residents of the village instead of detaining the settlers who began the attack.
For IMEMC.org this is Brian Ennis.
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 Dina Awwad.