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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, for Thursday August 4th, 2011.

The Israeli Air Force bombs Gaza city and the Israeli housing crisis drives further illegal settlement development. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

The Israeli Air Force has confirmed that it dropped two bombs on Gaza City Thursday morning. It claimed that two shells fired from Gaza had landed in southern Israel.

According to local sources, the airstrikes hit a beachfront facility used by the armed wing of the Hamas party, and a training camp used by the same group. There were no casualties reported.

Concerning Israeli attacks last month, the International Relations Department at the PLO reported that, in July, Israeli soldiers killed six Palestinians, kidnapped 230 others, and demolished 32 homes and structures in the occupied territories. The monthly report which was released on Wednesday stated that Israel is targeting Palestinian residents, their lands and their Muslim and Christian holy sites.

There is lots of news from the Israeli Knesset today, starting with the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. The committee stated that the Palestinian UN bid to seek international recognition of an independent state this coming September, will worsen Israel’s stance in the international arena, and could lead to “ongoing escalation”.

On the subject of the UN bid, a report to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee indicates that intelligence officials do not expect Palestinian violence following the September bid. Officials expect non-violent protests, but still recommend activating reserve army units as a precaution.

A new law has been proposed which recognizes the inherent contradiction in Israel’s self-definition as both a ‘democratic’ and Jewish state, and calls on the government to favor Jewish law and traditions over democracy.

It calls on Israeli courts to use Jewish law to make decisions ‘in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character’, and calls for Arabic to be removed as one of Israel’s national languages. The bill also calls for the state to take action ‘to ingather the exiles of Israel and [further] Jewish settlement within it, and allocate resources to this end.’

Meanwhile, forty-two MK’s and cabinet members have petitioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resolve the housing crisis by building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The petition was given to Netanyahu on Tuesday, signed entirely by members of the Eretz Yisrael Lobby.

In what appears to be a response to the petition and housing crisis, the Israeli government has on Thursday given final approval to build housing units in the settlement of Har Homa. Israeli media outlets are reporting that 903 new units have been approved for construction.

And finally in international news, for the second year in a row, Turkey is not participating in the naval drill, Reliant Mermaid, with Israel and the US. This action was taken by Israel as a result of the killing of nine Turkish activists in the 2010 Gaza Flotilla Raid. Its abstention reflects the poor state of relations between Israel and Turkey due to Israel’s refusal to apologize for the incident.

That’s all for today, you have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center. For more updates, please visit our website at This report has been brought to you from Occupied Bethlehem by Husam Qassis and me Danny Johnes.