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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for May 19th to 25th 2012
While Hamas and Fatah are closer than ever to reconciliation, Israeli settlement activities continue to expand in the West Bank creating more obstacles for the peace process, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
The Nonviolence Report:
Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank. three children were injured this week as Israeli troops attacked anti-wall and settlements protests organized all over the West Bank. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura with the details: On Friday anti wall and settlements protests were organized in central West Bank villages of al Nabi Saleh, Bil’in and Nil’in. also protests were organized in Al Ma’ssara in southern West Bank and in the village of Kufer Qaduom in northern West Bank.
Three children were injured at the village of Nabi Saleh when Israeli troops attacked the weekly protest there. Local sources said that Israeli soldiers attacked unarmed protesters as soon as they reached the village entrance. Soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at protesters injuring an 11, 13, 14 year old children. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In the nearby villages of Bil’in and Nil’in villagers and their international supporters managed to reach the Israeli wall. Soldiers fired tear gas at them and in Bil’in troops used chemical water against protesters. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Elsewhere at the village of Kufer Qaduom, in northern west Bank villagers were attacked with tear gas as soon as they reached the road block that is isolation the village. Local sources said that many residents were treated for tear gas inhalation.
Also on Friday in Al Ma’ssara village, near Bethlehem city troops stopped the protest at the village entrances and used tear gas to force people back. No injuries were reported.
For IMEMC News this is Ghassan Bannnoura.
The Political Report
Both Hamas and Fatah are expected to start implementing a recent understanding in Cairo. Meanwhile, Israeli continues settlements building on occupied Palestinian territories, including the Arab city of east Jerusalem. IMEMC Rami Almghari has more.
Palestinian prime minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, says from a local mosque here that the easiest road to the occupied East Jerusalem is the besieged Gaza Strip. Haniya’s comments came during a Friday sermon, in reaction to arrival of some aid convoys at Gaza, which Israel has besieged since 2007.
The prime minister’s statement came in the backdrop of continued Israeli settlement activities , which are dubbed illegal by international law and some international players. The Palestinian leader meant that Israeli actions in east Jerusalem can come to a halt by further international support to the Palestinian cause.
On the other hand, Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, met with some regional leaders this week, within attempts to prevent Israel from going on its settlement policy, over which Washington and the EU have voiced concern. The PA wants a complete halt of such activities before peace talks with Israel resume.
At the internal Palestinian level, both Hamas and Fatah of PA’s Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to starting implementation of a unity deal that was brokered by Qatar in Feb. 2012.
The new deal stipulates that elections committees in Gaza and the West Bank prepare soon for general presidential and parliamentary elections in a period of six months. Parallel to this, a non-political-based consensus government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, will be taking care of public affairs, until the elections are due.
Dr. Ibrahim Abrash is a Gaza-based political analyst. Abrash is cautiously welcoming the recent deal in Cairo.
Actuality ‘ In Arabic’.
‘ We have repeatedly heard from Abu Mazen that he has got guarantees from Arab and international parties that Israel will not block elections’.
Israel, United States and European Union, have sidelined the Islamist Hamas since the party has taken power right after 2006’s parliamentary elections. Hamas honors a political agenda that is inconsistent with that of Fatah party of the western-backed president Mahmoud Abbas.
For IMEMC News, I am Rami Almeghari in Gaza
The West Bank & Gaza Report
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week ending 23 May, stated that 4 non-violent protesters and a civilian were wounded, 30 Palestinians including 12 children were abducted by Israeli forces, and a civilian was shot and seriously wounded in Gaza IMEMC William Temple has the story
The Palestinian Contractors Union stated Thursday that two Israeli companies have won bids for reconstructing water distilling stations destroyed by Israel during the war on Gaza (December 2008 – January 2009). The Israeli companies then contact Gaza-based contractors asking them to carry out the projects on their behalf for half of the contract fees. This is not the first time: two contractors from Gaza have already completed two water-distilling contracts obtained by Israeli contractors. It appears that UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund considers the Israeli companies to be “local companies” and so asks them for bids. The Union said that it is appalled that Israel, despite the fact that it has imposed a deadly siege on Gaza for more than six years and was the cause of this massive destruction in the first place, is now winning bids for reconstructing what it destroyed.
A Christian family whose four sons have all been imprisoned by the Israeli Military was in the news Wednesday. ‘Since 2004, the whole family did not gather, not even once. Someone is always missing,’ said Alexandra Halabi, the Christian mother of four sons. At present all four are in jail, but one may be released shortly. Other women visiting relatives in prison were often surprised when they saw Alexandra and her daughter wearing crosses and said it was unusual to find Christians in jail. She tells them ‘Religion is for God and the country is for everyone. If I’m Christian, don’t I have a homeland?’
Wednesday evening dozens of Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli soldiers and policemen closed the main road near Tiqua’ town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, forcing hundreds of residents to use an alternative and longer route. The settlers were reported to be chanting slogans against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, while raising Israeli flags and anti-Arab signs. No clashes were reported despite the high tension caused.
Israeli forces invaded several areas of the West Bank on Tuesday, abducted six Palestinians, will interview a seventh, and transferred the six detainees to unknown destinations. The towns invaded were Beit Omar near the southern city of Hebron, Azzoun, east of Qalqliya, and Yamoun near the northern city of Nablus.
In Gaza, too, tanks and bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip Tuesday from the ‘Kosufem military’ Gate north east of Khan Younis. Israeli forces regularly invade the territory of the Gaza Strip and prohibit the approach of any Palestinian within a distance of 300 meters of the border preventing the use of a large portion of Gaza’s limited arable land.
Jerusalem Day on Sunday marked the 45th anniversary of the annexation of East Jerusalem, For the second straight year young Israeli marchers chanted anti-Arab slogans and banged on metal shop shutters during a march which started in downtown Jerusalem, entered the Old City through Damascus Gate, continued into the Muslim Quarter and ended at the Western Wall. Palestinian gathered at Damascus Gate to protest the holding of the march in Arab neighbourhoods and hundreds of young Israelis spent hours shouting at them. Police separated the protesters from the marchers before the confrontations could escalate.
On Jerusalem Day on Sunday the Organization for Civil Rights published a new and disturbing Report on the city’s Palestinians, 38% of the total population of the city. This showed the highest levels of deprivation since the occupation of the city in 1967 with 84% of Palestinian children and 86% of the total population lived below the poverty line. Four reasons were cited: unemployment, the Separation Barrier, the collapse of the education system, and neglect by the Israeli authorities.
The water crisis in the West Bank is a result of Israel’s control and use of water resources, PA Prime Minister Salem Fayyad said at a Conference on Monday. A UN report released in March said ‘Since the beginning of its occupation in 1967, Israel has established and maintained a system of direct control over the exploitation and distribution of West Bank water resources.’ Jewish settlers have seized dozens of natural springs in the West Bank, barring or limiting access by Palestinians. Palestinians consume on average around 70 liters a day, while settlers consume 300 liters a day and around 300,000 Palestinians in the West Bank experience real water scarcity. Furthermore, apart from personal use, settlers use the water to irrigate and produce agricultural goods for export while Palestinian farmers find it hard even to feed their own families from their own land.
On Tuesday Fatah and Hamas officials reported an agreement that Legislative Council elections should be held in about 6 months’ time to form a new power sharing deal between them.
The UN OCHA Report for the previous week stated that 370 Palestinians had been shot during the Nakba demonstrations on 15 May. In A total of 1337 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli soldiers this year, that is 69/week, over double last year’s rate. Similarly, 285 building structures have been demolished this year, displacing 477 Palestinians, a 25% increase over the same period last year.
on Thursday reported that Israel has unveiled a project to expand the settlements near ‘Ariel’ in the northern West Bank in two phases at the expense of large areas of Palestinian land in the Governorates of Qalqiliya and Tulkarem. Building is already underway in Salfeet Governate.
And finally the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza issued a statement revealing that 404 patients in Gaza who suffer from kidney failure are facing serious deterioration in their health because of the lack of equipment needed for dialysis, and they appealed for replacement equipment.
For IMEMC News, this is William Temple
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 George Rishmawi.