Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 5 m 40s || 5.19 MB ||

Welcome to Palestine Today a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Thursday May 26th, 2011

International human rights organisation Amnesty International has called on people to take action to prevent the demolition of the village of al- Araqib to make way for planned forestry. The village, the organisation claims, has been demolished by the Israeli state on over 20 occasions despite the 250 villagers effected having clear evidence of their legal ownership of the land from the Ottoman period. The village is one of 40 “unrecognised villages” in Israel that are prone to demolition at any given time.

The Egyptian Authorities decided to permanently open the Rafah Border Terminal with the Gaza Strip starting this coming Saturday in an attempt to ease the deadly four-year blockade on the coastal region. According to an official Egyptian statement, the terminal will be opened starting on Saturday from 9am to 9pm and will remain permanently opened except on Fridays and national holidays. The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has welcomed the Egyptian decision.

Israeli Army Radio reported on Thursday morning that the army invaded several villages and towns in the Ramallah district, and abducted several individuals described as “wanted” Palestinians. The reasons are unknown. Similar invasions and arrests are frequent occurrences against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Most of the arrests and invasions are carried out at dawn, an issue that causes panic amongst residents, particularly children.

Palestinian liaison official in Gaza, Raed Fattouh, stated that the Israeli Authorities decided to allow 290-300 trucks loaded with aid to the trade, agriculture and transportation sectors into the Gaza Strip through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, on Thursday. Ten trucks filled with cement, and fifty trucks filled with gravel will be allowed through to be used for construction projects run by the UNRWA.

Nearly one year after Israeli commandos stormed an aide flotilla that was in international waters and bound for Gaza, The CCR, the Center for Constitutional Rights has launched a Freedom of Information lawsuit. The lawsuit was launched in order to try and gain access to governmental documents that would show just how much knowledge the United States had of the attack.

The raid on the boat left 54 civilians injured and left nine dead, among them was an 18 year old American citizen by the name of Furkan Dogan. He was shot several times while he was filming the raid, then he was shot point blank range in the face, even though he was wounded and posed no threat to the Israeli commandos. Doğan’s father, Professor Ahmet Doğan has said he has traveled to Washington D.C. seeking answers in his son’s death.
Israeli government Ministers have inaugurated a new Jewish only settlement in East Jerusalem. A ceremony including Jerusalem mayor Mayor Nir Barkat and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan officially opened the Ma’aleh Zeitim settlement, in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighbourhood.

Former Minister of Detainees, Hamas political leader, Wasfy Qabha, demanded the Palestinian Authority (P.A) in the West Bank to release all political prisoners, and to stop the arrests and interrogation of political activists. Qabha said that these arrests and interrogations have no moral, religious or political justifications. “It makes no sense to have political arrests, even before achieving unity”, he added, “this situation causes shame and sadness, such campaigns must stop”.

US President Barrack Obama’s administration is to fund the purchase of four more anti rocket systems for the Israeli military. The US will help fund the short range anti rocket “Iron Dome” missile defence system as part of the $200 million Obama military aid initiative to Israel.

The mobile devices are used to intercept and destroy rockets before they hit their target. So far two such devices have been set up in Ashelkon and Beersheba, towns close to the Gaza strip. The batteries cost $50 million per unit and are developed and produced by Israeli state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. Barrack Obama in his speech to AIPAC promised that the US would go “beyond” its regular military aid to Israel in the future.

Maan news agency is reporting that the head of the Palestine Investment Fund and potential candidate for role of Prime Minister in the new unity interim government, Mohammed Mustafa, has announced a $1 billion investment for reconstruction of the Gaza strip. Mustafa, who worked for 15 years for the World Bank and is Mahmoud Abbas economic adviser, is currently in Gaza for talks with local business people as to how best to undertake reconstruction efforts. ‘The goal is to start building Gaza’s economy as part of a state economy based on self-reliance,’ Mustafa Said.

Israeli Vice-Premier Silvan Shalom has spoken out against the easing of the blockade on Gaza through relaxed restrictions at the Egypt-Gaza crossing at Rafah, according to the Jerusalem Post. Shalom warned that development could lead to groups such as al-Qaeda smuggling weapons into the Palestinian coastal hamlet. Shalom also called for international monitoring of the crossing, however, Heeratz reports, the European Border Assistance Mission has not as yet received an invitation to return to Rafah from either the Israelis or the PA. An agreement between the PA and Israel would be necessary for EU observers to return to the crossing with the cooperation of Egypt.

Thats all for today from the IMEMC. This was the Thursday 26th 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