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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for 11th, September to 17th, 2010.
As Palestinian and Israeli negotiators resumed peace talks, Israeli military assassinates a senior Hamas operative in the West Bank and Israeli government declares plans to build more settlements in the West Bank, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.
Nonviolence Lets us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in West Bank.
This week, anti wall protests were organized in the villages of Bil’in and Nil’in, in the central West Bank, and the village of Al Ma’sara, in the southern West Bank.
Israeli soldiers used tear gas and sound bombs on Friday midday to suppress two anti wall protests in Bil’in and Nil’in villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
In Bil’in, Israeli and international supporters marched with villagers after the midday prayers and headed from the village to the wall built on farmers’ lands. As soon as protesters reached the gate of the wall troops stationed there opened fire at them.
Leading the protest was a group of men who wore masks resembling Nilsson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Abdullah Abu Rahama the local activist who was arrested by the military eight months ago. Abu Rahma was sentenced for tow year in Jail this week by an Israeli military court.
Four activists were injured by the army fire; many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In the village of Nil’in two villagers were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli troops during the weekly anti wall protest there on Friday. Israeli and international supporters joined this week’s action in Nil’in.
Also on Friday Israeli soldiers used tear gas to suppress an anti wall protest in the village of Al Ma’ssara near Bethlehem in southern West Bank. Villagers along with international and Israeli protesters marched after the midday prayers and headed towards the construction site of the wall on villagers lands.
Soldiers stopped the protesters at the entrance of the village and used tear gas to force people back. A number of protesters were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation Political Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, condemned Friday the assassination of a senior Hamas operative in the West Bank by Israeli military. Meanwhile, U.S-mediated peace efforts are yet to maintain a progress, IMEMC’s Rami Al-Meghari has the details.
Fayyad says the assassination of the Hamas senior member in Tulkarem city is a backward development that would hamper current direct peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.
The assassination comes as U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, failed to convince the Israeli side of the need to freeze settlements building in the West Bank, a matter that would make peace talks fail unless Israel declares halt of such activities.
Today Friday, sources at the office of Israeli Prime Minister ,Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Israel will not consider extension of a current temporary freeze of settlement activities, due to terminate by September26.
The issue of settlements is the hardest on the talks’ agenda. On Tuesday, Palestinian, Israeli, Egyptian leaders and U.S officials, kicked off the direct talks in the Egyptian town of Sharm Elshiekh. The meeting in Sharm Elsheikh was followed by a meeting in Jerusalem.
So far, the parties have not reached an agreement regarding the freeze of settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem.
Since came to a halt in late 2008, both Israelis and Palestinians have not maintained any progress on their peaceful negotiations, with Israeli settlements construction reaching paramount and Gaza being separated by an Israeli closure from the West Bank.
Among the issues the negotiations should tackle are the borders, the refugees, the settlements and the water and security. Palestinians insist that there can be no progress until Israel freezes such settlement activities once and for all.
Washington that has been tirelessly involved in mediation between the two sides, has repeatedly asked Israel to stop settlements building, considering such activities as illegal and breach of international law.
This week, Palestinian political factions in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Islamic Jihad group, have all rejected current peace talks, casting doubts over their success due to what they termed Israeli intransigence towards imperative issues like Settlements and borders of future Palestinian state.
Washington wants both sides to reach an agreement within one year from now, that would eventually lead to the creation of a Palestinian statehood living side by side with Israel.
In the last round of Sharm Elsheikh Israel reiterated a previous demands that Palestinians should recognize Israel as a Jewish state, before a Palestinian state is created.
Rami Almeghari. IMEMC.org, Gaza
West Bank and Gaza
The Israel military killed at least 5 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza including a senior Hamas leader, and kidnapped a number of civilians in different parts of the West Bank, more details with IMEMC’s Cathy Winter.
West Bank and Gaza
Israeli soldiers assassinated on Friday at dawn, Eyad As’ad Shilbaya, a Hamas leader, in Nour Shams refugee camp near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Palestinian media sources reported that troops broke into his house and shot him to death while he was in bed. Ten Hamas members were also kidnapped in the same raid.
Eyewitnesses reported that dozens of armoured military vehicles invaded Tulkarem city and Nour Shams refugee camp approximately after midnight and assassinated Shilbaya, took his body and withdrew from the area.
A group of fundamentalist Jews tore copies of the Muslim holy Quran in Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem, and deliberately stepped on them.
The Ma’an News Agency reported that resident Mohammad Moneer, a Bethlehem University student from Wadi Al Joz in East Jerusalem found pages of the Quran in Jaffa street, and saw dozens of fundamentalists stepping on them.
Moneer added that as he was collecting the pages from the street a number of fundamentalist started insulting him and one settler kicked him”.
The Israeli Radio reported Thursday that Israel intends to construct 25000 units in Modi’in Ilit settlements near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
The Radio said that directly after the settlement “freeze” ends at the end of this month, the construction would resume in the settlement and in several other settlements in the occupied West Bank.
According to the radio an Israeli construction company “Na’ot Hapisga” will start the construction of 2400 units in Modi’in Ilit. The radio added that this decision was made after the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu declared that it does not intend to extend its temporary settlement freeze which is due to end September 26.
Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinian civilians, including two children and one old man, in the Gaza Strip.
Three of the killed where shot in what Israeli forces claim to be preparation of firing home-made shells at Israeli targets from Gaza on Sunday, September 12.
The three were identified as 19-year old Ibrahim Abu Said, 21-year old Ismael Abu Odeh, and his grandfather Mohammad, 91 years old.
Another civilian was killed and another wounded when Israeli aircraft shelled a tunnel under the borders between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Lately the tunnels have been used to traffic much needed supplies to the besieged 1.5 million Gaza residents. In the meanwhile, a huge land convoy filled with humanitarian aid will be leaving London in conjunction with other convoys from Qatar and Morocco. The land convoys are timed to arrive Gaza at the same time as an international flotilla will attempt to enter Gaza from the sea.
The “Viva Palestina 5 – a global lifeline to Gaza”, which will be headed by the former British legislator George Galloway, is planning to start its trip on Saturday, September 18th; the effort is being conducted in cooperation with the International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza, and several organisations from Europe, Middle East, India, Turkey, South Africa and several other countries.
For IMEMC.org this is Cathy Winther.
And that was just some of the news from this week in Palestine, for more updates; please visit our website at www.imemc.org. Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, this report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and George Rishmawi