Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 36s || 3.30 MB ||

Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre,, for Monday December 19, 2011.

Over the weekend 550 detainees are released in the second phase of the prisoner-swap deal, and two Jerusalem families win their court case trying to save their home from demolition, these stories and more coming up; so stay tuned.

Israeli media has reported that the Housing Ministry and Israel’s Land Authority has decided to build 1,000 new settlement units in three settlements, located in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The approval is part of a larger plan that aims at building 6,000 units in 44 settlements in different parts of the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

This will include building 348 units in Beitar Eilit settlement, west of Bethlehem, 500 units in Har Homa, north of Bethlehem, and 180 units of Pisgat Zeev, north of Jerusalem.

The Israeli government insists on what it calls “Israel’s right to build housing projects for its citizens”, yet, settlements violate International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, as they are built in territories that are under occupation.

Over the weekend, on Sunday, Israel released 550 detainees as part of the second and final phase of the prisoner swap deal that secured the release of captured Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

The first phase was implemented on October 18 when the resistance sent Shalit to Egypt and Israel released 477 Palestinian detainees. The second phase also included the release of two Jordanian detainees, and six Palestinian female detainees

Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, stated that the Palestinian resistance managed to liberate 20% of the detainees imprisoned by Israel, and will remain committed to securing the release of all detainees.

In other news, the Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association denounced the Israeli Army for the daily arrests of children and youth at the Shu’fat refugee camp, in East Jerusalem, adding that the army has taken more than 21 youths, including 11 children over the last two weeks.

The group stated that it became clear that the charges filed against them were hurling stones, attacking police officers and obstructing their duty, and participating in protests.

In most cases, the youths and children are released after their families are forced to pay 1000-3000 Shekels in fines, and under the condition of being placed under house arrest for seven days.

Also in Jerusalem, just one week after two Palestinian homes were destroyed by Israeli troops in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, rendering 15 people homeless, another two families in Silwan have received a temporary reprieve from the threat of a house demolition.

In the recent separate court rulings, Jerusalem judges ruled against groups associated with the Israeli settler group Elad, which had filed lawsuits demanding the eviction of the two families in order to move Jewish settlers into the homes.

That’s all for today from the IMEMC News, this was the Monday December 19 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, William Gibson.