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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for July 30th Through the August 5th 2011.
Palestinians to meet on Sunday to finalize the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas meanwhile Israel builds more settlements in the West Bank and tension escalates in the Gaza Strip, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned
Lets us begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank villages, with IMEMC’s Katie child
Friday protests took place in the central West Bank villages of al-Nabi Saleh, Bilâin, and Nilâin in addition to al-Maâssara in the southern West Bank.
Local and international protesters were tear gassed today as they marched in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Unlike other recent protests in the village, Israeli soldiers did not meet the protesters in the village but along a road leading out of the town.
After the march Israeli soldiers entered the village and threw a tear gas canister into a house where protesters had gathered. As protesters escaped the house, more tear gas was shot into the streets. In recent weeks Israeli soldiers have stepped-up their efforts in Nabi Saleh, declaring the village a closed military zone and stopping activists and journalists before even reaching the village.
In Bilâin village also central West Bank, dozens of Palestinian villagers in addition to Israeli and International peace activists marched after the Friday prayers from the mosque to the lands confiscated by Israel to build the wall.
A tractor carrying chairs and trash cans drove in front of the marchers who were heading to Abu Laimun’s family land in order to turn in into a public park for the village. However troops showered them to tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets in addition to some smelly chemical material. Dozens suffered from tear-gas inhalation and were treated by field medics.
This week people in Bilâin marched in support of the Palestinian state bid at the UN in September troops used tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets also to suppress the anti wall protest in the nearby village of Nilâin. Villagers were joined by Israeli and international supporters after the midday prayers and marched up to the wall.
Troops fired tear gas at protesters causing many to suffer from tear gas inhalation. In southern West Bank, many treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as troops attacked the anti-wall protest organized in al-Maâsara village near Bethlehem. Soldiers attacked protesters as they tried to reach land owned by local farmers Israel took for the wall. For IMEMC.org this is Katie Child
The Palestinian Authority plans rallies around September to support its bid for statehood at the UN amidst instability in the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, more with IMEMC’s George Rishmawi.
As part of the preparations to the September bid, where the Palestinian Authority is expected to officially request the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders, the PA has instructed its security devices to be ready to stop any kind of violence that might result during the rallies that will be organized around September.
The PA has planned a number of rallies to support its bid for statehood in September, however, some Palestinian officials said they expect some of these nonviolent rallies to turn into violent ones, especially those close to friction points with the israeli military.
Ironically, the Israeli Knesset issued a report few days ago, saying that it is not expected that there will be a violence outbreak around the September bid.
In internal news, Fatah and Hamas are to meet Sunday to finalize the reconciliation agreement, Hamas source said Tuesday.
Both Hamas and Fatah delegations are expected to meet in Cairo on Sunday to follow up on the implementation of the reconciliation agreement. A Palestinian unity government is yet to be formed amidst disagreement on the post of the Prime Minister.
Senior Hamas leader Dr. Khalil el-Hayya said that the success of the Sunday meeting depends on the seriousness of Fatah, adding that it is necessary that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of Fatah are convinced to cooperate with Hamas to reach a success.
On the other hand, an official from the Central Elections Commission stated that the October 22 local Palestinian elections will only take place in the West Bank. He cited interference from Hamas as the reason for the canceling of elections in Gaza.
The announcement to cancel the October elections in Gaza came from the CEC after it was informed of the decision by the government. The CEC earlier sent a letter to the cabinet stating it was making little progress in preparing Gaza for the elections.
CEC officials claim that Hamas has interfered with their efforts by forcing them to close offices and confiscating their vehicles.
Hamas has countered the accusations by saying that Fatah has failed to reform the CEC according to the terms of the reconciliation deal.
Demolition of Palestinian homes, military and settler attacks among other Israeli policies are a main factor of displacement of the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank, a report by the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) says.
The report indicates that 700 Palestinians have been displaced in the first six months of 2011 as a result of the settlement activities and settler and military attacks and measures in their region, most of which are in area C.
UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness said, âMany displacements are taking place where settlements are expanding and with it we are seeing an upturn in vicious attacks by Jewish settlers. Palestinians are being thrown off their ancestral lands to make way for settlers.â
the report adds, âThere is growing evidence that it is destroying the very fabric of these communities and ultimately contributing to a demographic shift which is changing the ethnic make-up of the West Bank.â For IMEMC.ORG This is George Rishmawi
West Bank and Gaza
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that from July 28th to August 3rd, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians and wounded 4 others, including two children, in the West Bank, and conducted 44 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
In a major incident on Monday, Israeli forces moved into Qalandya refugee camp, south of Ramallah. In response to a group of boys throwing stones, the Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs, and brought backup. They raided a house belonging to Mohammed Saâid Zayed.
Later, a vehicle carrying 5 Palestinian civilians arrived in the area. Israeli soldiers opened fire on them when they attempted to flee. As a result, âAli Khalifa died from a bullet wound to his abdomen and Maâmoun âAwad was wounded by a bullet to the right shoulder. Also, local resident Moâtassem âEdwan was killed by a head shot when he stepped out of his home. Before their withdrawal from the camp, Israeli forces abducted 3 Palestinian civilians, including two children.
Also this week, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Khaled Abu Tous was kidnapped from his home near Tubas at 2:00 in the morning by Israeli soldiers.
Earlier this week, a group of fundamentalist Israeli settlers set ablaze 150 Dunams of farmlands that belong to residents of Ein Jaloud village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Residents report frequent settlers attacks and harassment.
And in what appears to be a response to the ongoing housing crisis in the State of Israel, the Israeli government has given final approval to build 930 additional housing units in the illegal settlement of Har Homa. The expansion will see the illegal settlement extend to a third hill.
In Gaza, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when Israeli soldiers stationed at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel opened fire at a number of Palestinian civilians who were collecting straw.
In a significant increase of violence, there were a number of rockets fired from Gaza and even more Israeli airstrikes in response beginning with the Israeli bombardment of a tunnel at the Egyptian border in the southern Gaza Strip, and a training site in the north. No casualties were reported from that incident.
Later in the week, however, the Israeli air force dropped two bombs on Gaza City, claiming that two shells had landed in the desert in southern Israel fired from somewhere inside Gaza. 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.
Late Thursday night Israel fired rockets of its own into Gaza in response to a rocket fired from Gaza. The attack wounded two Palestinians. Then, early Friday morning, Israeli gunships bombed five targets in the Gaza Strip wounding five civilians. One Israeli was lightly injured from the Palestinian rockets.
And that was just some of the news from this week in Palestine, for more updates; please visit our website at www.imemc.org. Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem, This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and me Danny Johnes.