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Welcome to Palestine Today a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Monday May 16, 2011

On Saturday, Palestinian medical sources in Jerusalem reported that Milad Sa’id Ayyash, 17, died of wounds suffered Friday during clashes with the Israeli police in Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses reported that the bullet was fired by a settler from one of the floors of the illegal “Yonatan” outpost in Batn Al Hawa neighborhood. The settler fired the illegal “Dumdum” rounds at the protesting youths in the area, the witnesses told the Bokra website. Dumdum bullets are rounds of live ammunition designed to expand on impact in order to cause a larger diameter wound.

Israel Police Superintendent, Luba Samri, stated Saturday that the police detained twenty Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem following clashes with the army and the police in several areas of the city. Several Palestinians and a number of police officers were injured. Samri stated that eight policemen were injured during the clashes, including five who required hospitalization for further treatment. She added the police decided to impose restrictions on the entry to the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, as males below the age of forty will not be allowed in. Palestinians from the West Bank holding entry permits to Jerusalem will not be allowed into the mosque.

Israeli authorities decided to implement a 24-hour closure of the West Bank under direct orders issued by Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak. The Israeli Radio reported that Israel will be deploying nearly 10.000 policemen and soldiers in East Jerusalem, and in Arab towns in the 1948 Territories. The Israeli government said that it will be arresting any person who marks the Nabka in “Israel”, and also deployed hundreds of policemen in cities have have Arab and Jewish inhabitants.

Despite Israeli “laws”, which effectively criminalize commemoration of “Nabka Day”, that marks the creation of Israel on Palestinian lands and the displacement of millions of Palestinians, thousands of residents, including Jewish peace activists, marched on Saturday evening in Jaffa, and held an art festival affirming the Palestinian historic rights and their legitimate struggle against oppression and occupation.

Several intellectuals and local leaders delivered speeches in which they stated that Israel needs to realize that the Palestinians are not immigrants, but are natives of the country despite the Israeli occupation and aggression, and the forced removal of the refugees.

An estimated four people were killed Sunday on the Syria-Israel border, five killed on the Lebanon-Israel border, 52 injured in Gaza, and at least 24 injured in the West Bank as Israeli forces attacked Palestinian refugees trying to re-enter their former homes in what is now Israel.

Thousands of Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon tried to cross the border with Israel on Sunday morning, and were met with gunfire from Israeli troops stationed at the border. Local sources report that at least five people were killed, and ten wounded by Israeli gunfire in the Maroun al-Ras area.

In Gaza, according to local sources, around 1,000 Palestinian refugees and supporters from the Gaza Strip marched on the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a Palestinian youth was killed and at least 172 were wounded on Sunday due to Israeli military excessive use of force against the “Return Protests” in different parts of the coastal region. The sources stated that Israeli troops based near the Nahal Oz crossing, east of Gaza City, killed an 18-year-old youth identified as Salah Khamis, from Jabalia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian refugees from the West Bank also marched to the Qalandia checkpoint established by Israeli forces as the main border crossing between the West Bank and what is now Israel, although Qalandia’s location is far east of the internationally-agreed armistice line of 1967, and indicates a possible land grab by Israel if established as an actual border.

At least five Palestinian youth were injured when Israeli forces fired live rounds at a group of youth throwing stones during the largely peaceful demonstration of several thousand people at Qalandia. Dozens more were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas inhalation.

In al-Walaja village, a site known for non-violent anti-Wall protests, several hundred Palestinians, internationals and Israelis marched to the site of Wall construction in the center of the village. A total of 11 peace activists and reporters were detained Sunday by the Israeli military as they attempted to march to the old village.

Those detained included leading activist Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh, Chairman of Board of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement Between People (parent organization of the IMEMC). The seven arrested international activists have been subsequently released while four Palestinians remain in custody in Atarot prison in Jerusalem. At least 63 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces at protests in the West Bank and Jerusalem since Friday.

Palestinian medical forces reported Sunday that at least 150 Palestinians were injured by Israeli military fire, while dozens of residents were kidnapped as the army opened fire at the “Return Protests” in Ramallah and Al Bireh on Sunday. A source at the Ramallah governmental hospital said that 150 residents were admitted to the hospital, including seven who are in serious conditions. Rubber-coated metal bullets hit dozens of the wounded, while dozens of residents were treated for the effects of teargas inhalation.

In response Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced the protests stating that the protests were not about 1967 borders or the right of return of refugee’s but questioned “the very existence of Israel”. Netanyahu defended the action of the Israeli military, saying that Israel was determined to defend its sovereignty. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has also defended the actions of the military placing blame for the deaths with those who crossed the border and those who sent them. He warned that such instances were just the beginning of similar problems in the future.

Israel has confirmed that it will renew the transfer of tax payments collected on Palestinians behalf to the Palestinian Authority. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz confirmed rumours started by The Union of Civil Servants that payment due to Palestinian government workers for April, due to them since the 5th of the month, would be paid by the end of the day on assurances from the PA. In a statement Steinitz claimed he had received insurances from the PA that no funds would be transferred to the Hamas or to terrorist activities.

Thats all for today from the IMEMC. This was the Monday 116 of May’s daily roundup of news from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We hope you will join us again tomorrow. This was brought to you by Husam Qassis and me David Steele.