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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for Monday April 9, 2012.

A Palestinian man wounded in the Gaza Strip and Palestinians prepare for the Welcome to Palestine campaign, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.

The Welcome to Palestine 2012 Campaign have invited hundreds of visitors from around the globe to celebrate Easter in Bethlehem.

As part of the initiative a press release was issued that stated ‘Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel’s policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population.’ The letter was undersigned by many top officials, politicians and writers including Tony Benn, Noam Chomsky and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.

The letter called for a press conference on Tuesday at the Bethlehem Peace Center to announce the campaign to the public. Coordinators of the campaign told IMEMC that over 1000 visitor purchased their tickets and are getting ready to visit Palestine.

This is the second Welcome to Palestine campaign to be organized by over 25 Palestinian organizations in the West Bank. In July 2011 around 650 people signed up and purchased tickets to come to Palestine, however, over 350 of them had their reservation revoked one day before the travel date based on instructions from the Israeli ministry of Interior sent to the airline companies.

Over 120 passengers were denied entry at Ben Gorion airport as they declared their intentions to visit Palestine. The visitors are expected to arrive on Sunday April 15.

In other news, dozens of Israeli settlers entered the old city in Jerusalem to perform religious rituals in the streets and city markets in celebration of the Passover festival.

The guards of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem said that dozens of Israeli settlers entered al-Aqsa mosque in small formations at timed intervals, setting off from al-Maghreba gate.

They also said that settlers were accompanied by special units and Israeli police to provide them with protection during their tour of the mosque. No clashes were reported and the settlers left the site some time after.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian construction worker in eastern Gaza on Monday morning. Medical sources said that 23-year-old man was taken to ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city. Also Monday, the Maan News Agency reported that dozens of military vehicles, including bulldozers, ventured 250 meters into the southern Gaza Strip east of Khan Younis and began bulldozing agricultural land.

Witnesses said that military vehicles were also seen entering the Nahda neighbourhood of Rafah in southern Gaza and patrolling the area.

Staying in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s navy fired live ammunition at a fishing boat in the Gaza Strip. Local witnesses reported that several shells were fired into open areas off the Gaza coast however no injuries were reported.

An Israeli military spokesperson said that a fishing boat had deviated from the designated fishing area, and after failing to respond to orders to return, warning shots were fired.

And that’s all for today from IMEMC News, this was the Monday, April 9th daily news roundup from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Please Join us again tomorrow for more news and updates. Please visit our website at www.imemc.org. Today’s report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and me George Rishmawi

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