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Welcome to Palestine Today a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Wednesday July 13h, 2011.

Two thousand, five hundred Jewish Americans and Canadians are expected to immigrate to Israel this summer of 2011. The immigrants will be residing in areas with a largely Palestinian population, as part of an initiative to change the demographics of these areas.

Applicants for the program may qualify for up to 9,000 dollars in financial assistance as well as 4,000 dollars for a vehicle subsidy. The immigrants will be settling in Northern parts of Israel, in the Golan Heights, lower and upper Galilee, the Jezreel Valley and the Upper Jordan Valley. The “Go North” initiative received a 10 million dollar donation from the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Jewish National Fund, and other programs designed to aid newly arrived Aliyah immigrants.

As the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the Greek president, Karolos Papoulias, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, dozens of Palestinians protested the visit to express rejection to Greek Authorities decision that prevented the Freedom Flotilla 2 from sailing to Gaza via Greek ports. Papoulias first visited Tel Aviv before heading to Ramallah in an official visit to President Abbas. He received an official welcome ceremony.

The Israeli Army decided to expropriate large areas of Palestinians land in the Bethlehem district in order to expand the Efrat illegal settlement, built on lands illegally annexed from residents of Al Khader District, south of Bethlehem.

Palestinian medical sources reported that a college student was shot and killed, on Wednesday at dawn, by Israeli military fire in Al Far’a refugee camp, north of the northern West Bank city of Nablus; several residents were abducted.

The sources identified the slain youth as Ibrahim Sarhan, a student of the Al Najah University in Nablus. Eyewitnesses reported that at least eleven armored Israeli military vehicles invaded the refugee camp approximately at 3 a.m., broke into and searched several homes causing damages.

The eyewitnesses added that as Sarhan was walking towards the camp’s mosque to perform dawn prayers, soldiers opened fire at him hitting the major artery in his thigh. Seeking help, the youth then tried to drag himself into a nearby home, but the soldiers grabbed him dragged him on the ground, before leaving him to bleed to death by preventing local medics from approaching him.

On Wednesday at dawn,The Israeli Air Force carried out two air strikes targeting a blacksmith’s workshop in Gaza City, leading to extensive damage and one injury. The blacksmith worship was destroyed and several nearby homes sustained damages, while the main waterline in the neighborhood was shattered.

The Palestinian Authority has slammed the role of the US in Middle East talks in a statement on Monday. In a press release following a PA meeting to discuss the Middle East Quartet meeting, Palestinian leaders laid the blame for Israeli policies on US Barrack Obama administration’s door. The statement described Israeli policies as racist and expansionary.

Both soft and hard line US Israeli supporters have come out against the new Israeli Boycott Law that came into effect on Monday when it gained a majority vote in the Knesset. Groups have described the bill, which makes illegal the boycotting of Israeli goods, including goods made in the settlements, as undemocratic and undermining freedom of speech.

Unusually, hard line Zionist groups in America, such as the Zionist Organisation of America and the Anti Defamation League, have joined peace groups such as Americans for Peace Now and J Street in criticizing Israeli government policy.

Senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, speaking to the Palestinian daily, al Falesteen, has reiterated the party position that Hamas will not support Salam al Fayyed continuing in his current position as Prime Minister in an interim unity government.

That’s rounds up the main news for today. Please join us again tomorrow for a summary of important events in the Palestinian Territories. You have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Centre. For more updates please visit our website at This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and me David Steele