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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,, for Monday, August 23rd, 2010.

Twelve Palestinians abducted by Israeli troops as political leaders challenge the idea of direct talks with Israel. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

On Monday at dawn, Israeli soldiers kidnapped 12 Palestinians in different areas of the occupied West Bank, and transferred them to a number of interrogation centers.

The army claims that the kidnapped residents are wanted, but did not reveal whether they are members of certain Palestinian groups of resistance factions.

The kidnapping is part of a daily campaign carried out by the Israeli army against Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, including areas that are supposedly controlled by the Palestinian Authority and the security forces of president Mahmoud Abbas.

In the Gaza Strip today, Israeli soldiers invaded an area east of Rafah city at dawn.

According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli army, accompanied by a number of tanks and military bulldozers, advanced 300 meters into farmlands located in al-Nahda area, east of Rafah, and bulldozed farmlands while firing at random.

Over the weekend, a group of right-wing Israeli settlers set fire to around five acres of Palestinian farmland south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The settlers came from the illegal settlement outpost known as Ihya, and torched farmland in Khallet Abu Shreka, near Jalud village, then fled the scene on foot.

The attack is just the latest in a series of arsons and beatings carried out by the settlers, who seek to expand their outpost in the northern West Bank, and to construct new illegal outposts on Palestinian lands.

The arson was followed by an Israeli military invasion of the Palestinian village, during which Israeli soldiers also fired tear gas canisters at the local residents. The settlers who carried out the arson were not pursued or arrested.

In political news, the Hamas party, elected in 2006 to represent the Palestinian people, has challenged the decision by rival party Fateh to engage in direct talks with Israel without pre-conditions.

In addition, legislators from across the political spectrum in Palestine voiced their concern about the decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to engage in direct talks with Israel. According to the legislators, the previous agreement that was made in 1993 needs to be enforced, instead of new talks which they believe will result in negotiating away even more of the Palestinian people’s rights.

President Abbas was pressured by the US and Israel to engage in the talks with a threat that international aid would be cut off if he did not but many Palestinian people believe that Abbas does not represent them, as his term as President expired in January and he refused to hold new elections.

And finally, a group of 39 Palestinians who were exiled by Israel since 2002 are seeking a return back home. The men were exiled to the Gaza Strip and Europe, after they sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in April 2002.

They have not been allowed to work, or to receive visits from their families, since they were sent into exile more than 8 years ago.

The exiled men hope that the Palestinian President, who has no actual power over the situation, will appeal to the Israeli Authorities on their behalf.

Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, you have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center. For constant updates, please visit our website at This report has been brought to you by George Rishmawi and Husam Qassis.