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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,, for Tuesday July 31, 2012.

Israel announces plans to convert Al-Aqsa into a park for Israelis and tourists and conducts raids throughout the West Bank ; these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.

The Israeli West Jerusalem municipality has issued a decision to convert Al-Aqsa mosque’s yards into public parks and gardens that would be open to the general public, according to Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in occupied lands. On Tuesday, a press release issued by Al-Khatib stated that this was part of an effort by the Israeli authorities to erase the history of Palestinians in Jerusalem and end Muslim control of their own holy sites.

Early Tuesday morning, the Israeli military raided several refugee camps south of Hebron and detained two residents as five more Palestinians were arrested simultaneously around the West Bank. The Israeli military has released no charges for the detainees or any cause for the raids.

In related news, the Israeli military arrested a young Palestinian with special needs after severely beating him in front of his parents according to the Popular Committee Against Settlement in Beit Ummar. Israeli forces broke into the home of Mohammad Khalil Abu Dayeh, 23, on Monday, and though they were aware of his mental health status, they tortured and beat him before removing him to an undisclosed location in a military jeep.

Elsewhere, the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, announced that he plans to send officials from his office to Israel to observe trials of Palestinian children who are sentenced to military prison. Carr expressed his concern about human rights violations in the occupied territories and demanded that Israel respect the human rights of Palestinian children. According to a recent report by the Save the Children Foundation and the East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Program, the Israeli military arrests 700 Palestinian children every year. There are currently an estimated 280 Palestinian children in Israeli military prisons.

And finally, today the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli government spent NIS 1.1 billion on illegal settlements in the West Bank in 2011, an increase of 38 % over the previous year. The article also asserts that an additional NIS 1.6 billion could be saved if government spending on settlers was the same as per capita spending for the rest of its citizens. This report fails to mention the illegality of all settlements in the West Bank according to international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the widespread condemnation of settlements by every nation in the world outside of Israel in an attempt to normalize the occupation and frame the issue as one of economics rather than human rights.

And that’s all for today from IMEMC News; this was the Tuesday July 31st daily news round-up from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For more news and updates please visit our website at Today’s report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and me, Kelly Joiner.