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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Tuesday, February 22 2011.

In Gaza, on Tuesday, a worker has been wounded by fire from the Israeli army. The man was with group of other workers gathering materials, for re-use in construction, near to the border when Israeli soldiers opened fire on them.

In the West Bank, the homes of a Bedouin community in the south Hebron hills have been bulldozed by Israeli authorities. A total of five tents, which housed approximately 50 residents, were demolished early on Monday morning, together with the community’s olive trees and water sources.

The residents had moved to the area from a kilometer away due to harassment from local settlers.

On Tuesday, the Israeli army bulldozed over 230 olive trees near Bethlehem. The uprooted trees were then confiscated by the army. The land was cleared in the village of Jub’a, which is located to the south of Bethlehem.

The Israeli run Jerusalem Municipality has not approved, on Monday, plans to extend the illegal settlement of Har Homa, north of Bethlehem. Plans had been submitted for approval to extend the settlement by a further 60 acres, and it has been speculated that the rejection of these plans are, at least in part, a result of international political pressure, following the U.S. decision to veto the Palestinian attempts to have Israeli settlement activity condemned by the U.N.

On Monday, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists protested and held vigils in front of Canadian Embassies organized by the Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Latrun Villages. The Committee represents residents from Palestinian villages that were forcibly expelled from their lands by Israeli occupying forces in 1967.

The protests and vigils targeted the Canadian Embassies because of Canada’s role in whitewashing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that took place in 1967. It did this by helping fund the construction of a park, “Canada Park”, on the lands of the destroyed villages. The park currently serves as a recreational space for Israelis.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, based in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, has published a response to an article from the Israeli daily newspaper, Maariv, branding the article “slanderous”.

The article claims that the Center’s director, Jawad Siyam, protests the actions of the State of Israel, whilst being a paid employee of the Jerusalem Municipality; allegations Siyam denies.

The timing of the piece comes when Siyam is facing legal troubles with Israeli authorities, with an assault case lodged against him by the Jerusalem police still pending.

Speaking to an audience that included a number of Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres and Culture Minister Limor Livnat, British author Ian McEwan strongly criticized Israel’s policies of land confiscation and the Israeli law of the ‘right of return’ which applies only to Jews, not to indigenous Arabs.

Speaking in Jerusalem over the weekend, McEwan accepted the ‘Jerusalem Prize’ for his literary achievement as a writer, but used the occasion to challenge the Israeli officials in the audience. Israeli officials did not respond to McEwan’s criticism in their public statements about the fair.

That sums up our news for today, thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today, from International Middle East Media Center. For more updates, please visit our website at www.imemc.org. This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and Circarre Parrhesia.

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