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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for November 13th to 19, 2010
Arab League and US efforts to revive the stalled peace talks were met with ongoing Israeli attacks against Palestinian communities and plans to expand Jerusalem, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
Lets us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in West Bank .
This week dozens of civilians were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as Israeli troops attacked anti wall protests organized at a number of Locations.
In the village of Bil’in, in central West Bank, Israeli and international supporters joined villagers after the midday prayers at the local mosque and marched towards the Israeli wall built on farmers lands.
As soon as protesters reached the gate of the wall soldiers stationed there fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at them, many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In the nearby village of Ni’lin the weekly protest started when villagers conducted the Friday prayers near the Israeli built wall on their lands. Israeli and international supporters also joined Ni’lin villagers.
The weekly action finished when local youth and Israeli troops clashed. Soldiers then chased the protesters and the local youth back to the village and used tear gas, a number of people were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In southern west Bank, the villagers of al Ma’ssara along with their international and Israeli supporters marched on Friday from the village center towards their lands were Israeli is building the wall. Troops stopped them at the village entrance and used tear gas to force them back.
Despite intensive talks and US offers for Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank to advance peace talks, Israeli mayor of Jerusalem presents plans to demolish Palestinian homes in Jerusalem to build more settlement units, the full story with IMEMC’s Ane Irazabal.
After U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Friday, the U.S. set out an offer of additional military assistance to Israel in exchange for a 90-day moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank.
However, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said U.S. promises were needed in writing before the Cabinet votes on a 3 month settlement freeze.
This news comes the same week in which Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, presented a controversial new city planning policy for East Jerusalem which entails demolishing several homes. Barkat announced that the re-zoning plan would take into consideration the ‘current unsatisfactory situation’, and demand a freeze on all current demolition orders in east Jerusalem until the plan is approved by the Israeli government and can go ahead.
Arab League officials claimed that the U.S. proposal might not be enough to entice the Palestinians into renewing Middle East peace talks and said that they are waiting for what the U.S. and Israel can offer Palestinians.
The Arab League also considered an alternative proposal to direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, which may include seeking United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.
After these statements, U.S. State Department Spokesperson, Philip J. Crowley, stated that Washington still believes that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but added that such a deal requires more than the allocated twelve months.
On the internal level, following the arrest of a cell by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, that was believed to be prepared to assassinate Nablus governor, the member of the Political Bureau of the Hamas movement, Dr. Mahmoud Zahhar, denied these claims and stated that the rival Fatah movement of Mahmoud Abbas is trying to foil attempts to reach a Palestinian unity deal, and is ongoing with its aggression against Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank.
In other news, Israeli cabinet decided to withdraw its troops from northern Ghajar, a village on the country’s border with Lebanon and transfer the control of the northern area of the village to the U.N. Interim Force deployed along the border with Lebanon to keep the peace. The decision was welcomed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
For IMEMC.org this is Ane Irazabal
West Bank and Gaza
Israeli settlers continue to vandalize Palestinian farmlands in different parts of the West Bank, preventing local villagers from reaching their orchards, and clashes erupt between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip, the details and more with IMEMC’s Alessandra Bajec
On Sunday evening, a group of extremist Jewish settlers torched 200 olive trees in Salem village, near Nablus.
In other news in the West Bank, Israeli troops abducted three Palestinian civilians and broke into several houses and a mosque in Hebron. The military setup a checkpoint at the entrance of the city and searched passengers, causing delays and traffic at a time when Muslims were preparing for the Eid al- Adha holiday on Tuesday.
Also. Israeli army invaded and searched a school in the village of Bani Na’im, east of Hebron. The army also erected two checkpoints in the northern part of Hebron.
Israeli soldiers abducted a Palestinian youth in Madama village, south of Nablus, claiming that the invasion was carried out after several youths threw stones at settler’s vehicles.
On Tuesday, two settlers were arrested by Israeli police in the Yitzhar settlement, south of Nablus, under the suspicion of trying to attack Palestinians.
On Friday, one son of an Israeli settler leader has been convicted of kidnap and abuse, after severely beating a 15-year old Palestinian boy and dragging him behind a tractor in al-Qasra village. One other perpetrator remains at large.
Eyad Jamil al-Alami, organizer of non-violent demonstrations in Beit Ummar village, has been released from prison after serving one month without any charges. In recent months, non-violent organizers of protests against the Wall and land confiscation have been abducted by the Israeli military, most of them held without charge, and released months later.
In addition, Palestinian legislator Daraghma was released by Israeli prison authorities.
On Tuesday, around 85 trees were set on fire by settlers from Bat Ayn settlement, in Safa village, near Beit Ummar. The Palestinian Solidarity Project said that half the trees in the area were damaged. On the same night, three Palestinians were arrested while they were trying to extinguish the fire.
Separate reports indicate the release of a new footage contradicting recent arson allegations that international activists and Palestinian farmers set fire to ‘state land’ in Saffa valley, last October 7th.
In the Gaza strip, Islamic Jihad Fighters clashed with Israeli troops on Tuesday at dawn as the army attempted to enter in the strip, Palestinian media sources reported. Israeli forces were reportedly forced to withdraw.
On Wednesday, an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed two brothers, named as Mohamed and Islam Yassin, who are believed to be leaders of the Army of Islam. The fundamentalist group Ansar al-Sunna, released a 30-second recording in Hebrew vowing to avenge the death of the two fighters.
Two mortar shells from Gaza landed on Thursday in the southern district of Israel. No injuries were caused. According to Palestinian medical sources, a resident was wounded by Israeli military fire near Beit Lahia, after a resistance group fired an RPG shell at an army jeep in northern Gaza. The attack reportedly comes in retaliation to recent Israeli attacks, and the killing of the two brothers on Wednesday.
Long-range Grad rocket was fired from Gaza into western Negev, early on Friday, without causing casualties.
Also, Ma’an News has reported on Friday that further Israeli air strikes hit Gaza, in the locations of Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah. Six people were injured.
The airstrikes come in retaliation to the ongoing exchanges between armed Gaza factions and the Israeli military, over the last few weeks, and after the killing of three top militant leaders by Israeli forces in the Gaza strip.
For IMEMC.org this is Alesandra Bajec
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