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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,, for Wednesday, October 20th, 2010.

The Artery of Life 5 (Viva Palestina 5) humanitarian flotilla sailed on Wednesday from a Syrian Port headed for an Egyptian port. The flotilla is on its way deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. A spokesperson said there had been an attempt to blackmail the ship’s owner for more money. Additional activists will fly to Egypt later. Jordanian activists, who were denied entrance, are appealing, asking to be allowed into Egypt.

In the Gaza Strip, a 65-year-old man received a moderate neck wound when Israeli soldiers opened fire on several Palestinian homes east of Rafah. On Tuesday, armored Israeli vehicles invaded an area north of Khan Younis. No clashes were reported and later the army withdrew.

On Wednesday morning, Israeli soldiers demolished four illegal and unlicensed structures built by Jewish settlers in an illegal settlement near occupied Bethlehem. One structure had been inhabited. There were no confrontations.
Israeli settlers torched a school warehouse in Al Sawiya village near Nablus.

Also on Wednesday local sources in Nablus reported that approximately 40 settlers entered olive groves and coordinated an attack on the olive pickers. A man was wounded as he tried to prevent soldiers from abusing a child who was picking olives with his family.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a change in his controversial amendment to the Citizenship Act, so that the loyalty oath would also apply to Jews immigrating to Israel.

In a change from last week’s cabinet decision, Netanyahu said that the allegiance pledge should be required of all new citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. The amended pledge requires an oath pledging to a ‘Jewish and democratic Israel,’ instead of to the ‘Jewish state of Israel.’ Palestinian leaders described the move as ‘racist.’

Netanyahu said that the State of Israel was not established as ‘just another state,’ but as the sovereign state of the Jewish people in their historic homeland; and as a democratic nation, whose citizens, Jews and non-Jews, enjoy full civil equality.’ With strong opposition, passage depends on Netanyahu’s ability to strong-arm Kensett members who currently oppose switching their votes. The Justice Minister said that he will quit as minister if the bill does not pass.

On Wednesday morning the Israeli military invaded the village of Ethna near Hebron, searching several houses, and set up checkpoints in several villages south of Hebron.

Ma’an News Agency reported today that a school principal in a Nablus girls school found the locks to the school and its storage facilities were broken, and desks and sports equipment burned up. Settlers were responsible for the damage and for racist graffiti on the school walls.

Reports from Gaza on Wednesday revealed the Israeli military attacked Palestinian resistance fighters with tanks and bulldozers near an Israeli military post east of Khan Younis, inside the Gaza Strip.

Two Palestinian detainees have completed their twenty-fifth year in Israeli prisons. Another 121 detainees have spent more than 20 years in Israeli prisons.

A group of Israeli Knesset members led by Gideon Ezra have proposed a plan to de-commission all Palestinians licensed to lead tours in Jerusalem, they said that they do not represent Israel’s interests in their tours and are “hostile to the state of Israel”. Palestinian guides say that this is an all-out negation of the Palestinian narrative of the history of the region. The bill being proposed wants all tours to be ‘accompanied by a guide who is an Israeli citizen and has institutional loyalty to the State of Israel.’

A group of 18 Israeli rabbis recently issued an open letter calling on all landlords to refuse to rent or sell property to Arabs, calling such actions a violation of Jewish religious law. This letter was inspired by a conference in the Israeli town of Safed north the Tiberias Sea in which participants rallied against the Palestinian students enrolled at the Safed Academic College, warning of an ‘Arab takeover’ of the town. One of the leading signatories is Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, known for his inflammatory statements against Palestinians.

That’s some of our news for today. Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today, a program of the International Middle East Media Center. For more updates and details of these stories, please visit our website at This report was brought to you by Husam Qassis and Doris Norrito