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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for 25th, September through October 1st, 2010
Peace talks at stalemate as settlement activities continue, meanwhile, settler attacks and activities increase in the West Bank following the end of the settlement freeze, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned.
Lets us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in West Bank.
This week dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday when Israeli troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protest in the central West Bank village of Bil’in.
International and Israeli supporters joined the villagers after the midday prayers at the local mosque and marched towards the wall built on local farmlands. People demanded the halt of construction in West Bank settlements and asked Palestinian leaders to unite.
As soon people reached the gate of the wall separating villagers from their lands troops stationed there showered them with tear gas, dozens of civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. Two years ago the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the Israeli military to remove the part of the wall built on Bil’in land and the army still refuses to comply.
Also on Friday in the nearby N’ilin village, Israeli troops used tear gas to suppress an anti wall protest organized by the villagers and their Israeli and international supporters. People managed to get near the wall before troops fired tear gas at them, many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In the village of Nabi Saleh also in central West Bank, Villagers along with international and Israeli supporters marched after the midday prayers towards local farmers’ lands were Israeli is planning to build the wall.
As soon as the people reached their lands soldiers stationed there used tear gas and sound bombs to stop the march. A number of people were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In Bethlehem, the villagers of Al Ma’ssara, held on Friday their weekly protest against the Israeli government wall being built on their lands. Villagers were joined by Israeli and international supporters shortly in the protest that started after the midday prayers.
As protesters were marching towards the construction site of the wall, Israeli soldiers stopped them at the entrance of the village, and showered them with tear gas bombs, in an attempt to force them back into the village. A number of residents and internationals were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
As Israeli- Palestinian peace talks have not moved forward, EU’s foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton in the region for possible mediation, while Washington’s envoy George Mitchell is holding talks with both sides this week. IMEMC’s Rami Al-Meghari has the details.
An Israel newspaper ‘ Israel Now’ reported that Israel is considering a compromise, on which Israel will resume small-scale settlements building in the occupied West Bank as well as remove some of movement restrictions over there, within the upcoming year of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The proposal was drafted during a recent meeting between Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak and American officials in Washington.
According to such a proposal, the newspaper adds, Israel would only build one thousand and two hundred settlement units inside major settlement blocks under direct supervision by the Israeli government and away from media outlets.
Palestinian sources including president Mahmoud Abbas, have rejected any resumption of settlement construction and reiterated position that there can’t be peace talks with settlements building.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Eriqat was quoted as saying this week that ‘ Israel has the clues for peace in the region’. Eriqat was hinting at Israeli acceptance of freeze of settlements building before engaging in intensive peace talks within one year from now.
On September 26, a moratorium on settlements construction came to end and since then media reports said that some construction has taken place, against the wishes of Palestinians and the American administration, which has repeatedly demanded Israel to stop such buildings and give a chance for peace talks to succeed.
Washington is determined to observe a concrete progress in terms of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks within one year, leading eventually to a two-state solution.
In the meantime, Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmad Abuelgheit, downplayed remarks by Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman in New York, in which Liberman proposed a land swap between Palestinians and Israel and maintained that peace can not be achieved soon.
A statement by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denied Liberman’s remarks represented Israel’s official stance regarding peace with the Palestinians.
In Gaza, Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismael Haniya of the Islamist Hamas party, called for rejecting all peace talks and supported continuation of the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.
On the internal level, a meeting in Damascus between representatives of the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas, dealt with outstanding issues that hamper reaching a unity deal between the two parties. Both sides agreed to meet once again next week in order to sort out the remaining issues. According to political analysts, a unit deal between Hamas and Fatah could make chances of peace between Israel and the Palestinians more possible.
Rami Almeghari. IMEMC.org, Gaza.
West Bank and Gaza
Israeli settlers stepped up their attacks and activities in the West Bank following statements by Israeli officials of not renewing the settlement freeze, meanwhile, the Gaza closure resumes, the details with IMEMC’s George Rishmawi.
During this week, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and a fifth dies of wounds.
On September 24, Israeli gunboats opened fire at fishermen near al-Sudaniya beach in the northern Gaza City, killing Mohammad Bakr, as he was fishing together with his relatives. A spokeswoman from the Israeli military stated that Bakr was in restricted waters ‘heading towards Israel.’
Israeli gunboats frequently chase Palestinian fishermen in the sea and threaten their sources of livelihood through continuously firing at their boats, detaining them and confiscating their fishing tools.
On September 25, medical sources at Nasser Hospital in Egypt declared that Mohammed al-‘Amarin, 21, from al-Zaytoun neighbourhood in the southeast of Gaza City, died of wounds sustained by Israeli forces in the central Gaza Strip on September 14.
Also in the Gaza Strip, Israeli military stationed at the strip borders with Israel, opened fire at Palestinian protestors who demonstrated near Abasan village east of Khan Younis, against the establishment of a buffer zone and the fence that isolates the coastal region. Suleiman Abu Anza, 20 was seriously wounded by a bullet to the abdomen.
On September 28, Israeli warplanes launched two air strikes against Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip, killing three Palestinians and damaging a civilian home that belongs to Kamal Abu Shammala. The dead were said to be members of the Palestinian armed resistance.
Additionally, Israeli military opened fire at two workers, in two separate incidents wounding them, as they were collecting ballast from evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip, as part there daily work to secure food for their families.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces invaded residential areas 24 times this week, during which 13 civilians were abducted, and Israeli troops stationed at checkpoints inside the West Bank abducted three other civilians. In addition, Israeli settlers attacked a number of olive orchards and stole the olives as the Palestinian farmers started the olive harvest season, in some of the West Bank areas.
In Jerusalem, 13-month-old baby Mohammad Abu Sara died as a result of inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli police in al-‘Eissawiya village. The baby was exposed to tear gas three times in less than 24 hours. The first two times, medical treatment saved his life, however the third time was fatal.
On the other hand, Israeli settlers increased their activities and assaults against Palestinian civilians following Israel end of the 10-month settlement freeze, which was accompanied by statements made by Israeli senior officials that there will be no extension for the freeze.
On September 25, the eve of the end of the freeze, Israeli settlers from ‘Rafafa’ settlement seized dozens of donums of land in Deir Estia village, northwest of Salfit. According to eyewitnesses, the settlers placed 22 mobile homes on10-acres of land.
In addition, Israeli settlers from ‘Givat Ze’ev’ settlement broke into al-Zaytoun area near Ramallah, and organised celebrations for the Jewish Sukkot holiday. Later, Israeli forces moved into the area and evacuated the settlers.
On the same day, Israeli settlers from ‘Nukadim’ settlement placed 3 mobile homes near Jib al-Theeb village, east of Bethlehem.
The following day, dozens of armed Israeli settlers, accompanied by bulldozers and escorted by Israeli forces, continued to lay foundations for a new settlement known as ‘Havat Ma’oun’ near ‘Ma’oun’ settlement to the east of Yatta village, south of Hebron.
On the same day, Silvan Shalom, Deputy Israeli Prime Minister and the former Minister of Foreign Affair, laid the corner stone of a Jewish religious school near ‘Beir Rumano’ settlement outpost in Hebron in a celebration that was attended by a number of leaders of settles and rightist members of the Israeli Knesset, who encouraged more settlement activities and seizure of Palestinian property.
Despite the fact that Palestinian negotiators threatened to quit the peace talks if settlement activities continue, the Israeli government is not acting in any way to stop the settlement activities,which puts the entire peace process in jeopardy.
For IMEMC.ORG, this is George Rishmawi.
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 Dina Awwad