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Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for May 4th to the 10th 2013
Settlement activities in the West Bank remain a main obstacle for peace, in the meantime tension arises as Israeli Jews reiterate claims of unified Jerusalem as capital of Israel, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
The Nonviolence Report
Let’s begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities organized in the West Bank. a journalist was injured, others were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when soldiers attacked anti wall and settlements protests organized at a number of West Bank communities on Friday. IMEMC’s Salam Qumsiyeh with the story:
Anti wall and settlements protests were organized this week in the villages of al Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, Nil’in as well as Al Walaja in southern west Bank.
Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when soldiers attacked villagers and their supporters at the village of Bil’in, Ni’lin and al Nabi Saleh.
In Bil’in and Ni’lin, residents and their international and Israeli supporters, managed to reach the wall. Soldiers stationed there fired tear gas and chemical water on protesters. Haytham Al Khatieb, a local journalist from Bil’in also sustained light wounds in his hand when soldiers shot him with rubber-coated steel bullets.
However at the nearby Al Nabi Saleh village Israeli soldiers attacked the unarmed protesters at the village entrance then invaded the village and fired tear gas into residents’ homes. Earlier in the week Israeli settlers from the illegal Halmish settlement near Al Nabi Saleh closed the road leading to the village and attacked residents cars and homes. Damage was reported but no injuries.
Elsewhere, In Al-Walaja village near Bethlehem, residents marched towards the gate installed on the eastern entrance of the village which separates the village from the nearby Cremisan Monastery. The gate is part of the separation wall built on the village’s land.
The protest was called for by the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements as part of a week of popular resistance activities to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Palestinian dispossession in 1948 known by Palestinians as an Nakba.
As soon as the protesters arrived at the gate, Israeli soldiers started pushing them backwards away from the gate, which was recently installed.
Protesters tried to force their way through however three protesters suffered serious burns in the face as Israeli troops sprayed them with pepper spray as they failed to arrest some of the protesters.
The three young men have been transferred to the nearby Arabic Society Rehabilitation hospital for treatment, their condition has been described as moderate.
For IMEMC News this is Salam Qumsiyeh.
The West Bank and Gaza Report
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 79 invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza. During these attacks, Israeli Troops kidnapped at least 45 Palestinians, including 3 children. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura has more:
This week invasions were focused in the West Bank cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. Among those kidnapped this week by Israeli soldiers was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, he was taken after troops after surrounding his home and breaking into it in East Jerusalem.
At the start of the week, four Palestinian civilians were wounded on Saturday at the village of Ras Karkar , northwest of Ramallah, during Israeli settlers attack targeting the village. According to villagers around 300 Israeli settlers attacked their village and set fire to some trees and throw stones at their cars and homes.
Israeli court in Jerusalem has decided to allow the Israeli government to demolish the new built part of The Muhammad Al-Fatih Mosque. The Muhammad Al-Fatih Mosque, located in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood in East Jerusalem, was forced to expand in 2009 due to a massive increase in worshipers after Israeli authorities began preventing Palestinian worshipers from accessing the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
To deal with the influx of worshipers, the Muhammed Al-Fatih mosque applied to the Israeli authorities for a permit to expand. That permit, like virtually every permit filed by Palestinians for construction on existing property, was denied. Facing a weekly overload of its capacity, the mosque’s managers decided to complete the expansion anyway.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to attack Palestinian fishermen at sea. On Monday, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia, in the north of the Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats that were around 3 nautical miles offshore. Similar incidents took place on Tuesday. Neither casualties nor material damage were reported.
On Sunday, Israeli forces positioned along the border fence opened fire at some gravel and steel collectors who were about 300 metres away from the border fence, north of Beit Lahia, in the north of the Gaza Strip. However, no casualties were reported.
For IMEMC News this is Ghassan Bannoura.
The Political Report
Shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel will freeze settlement bids to give a push to the stalled peace talks, the Israeli government approved the construction of additional 296 units in the Bet El settlement, north of the central Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israeli media sources reported that a committee in charge of settlement at the so called Civil Administration Office, in charge of implementing Israeli government decisions and policies in the West Bank, approved a plan for a new “neighbourhood” in Bet El, by constructing new 12 apartment buildings in the settlement.
The approval of these units comes as large-scale settler activities are ongoing in different Palestinian locations especially in the Bethlehem area.
Palestinian observers believe that every new settler building adds a nail to the coffin of the peace process especially that a previous Palestinian stand is against going back to negotiations without a complete freeze of settlement activities in the West Bank.
Apparently, efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are focused on bringing both Palestinian and Israeli leaders to the negotiation table after over 5 years stall.
Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister were in China at the beginning of the week. Despite comments about a possible meeting between the two, there have been no signs or statements of a meeting.
Abbas said earlier, there are no plans to meet with Netanyahu, however he won’t mind meeting with him in Beijing.
On his part Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to ‘build mutual trust’ and resume dialogue, saying China wanted to promote peace in the Middle East.
In other news, a wide wave of criticism targeted the famous British physics scientist Stephen Hawking who decided to boycott an academic conference in Israel hosted by the Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Hawking sent a letter to Peres, who is organizing this conference to celebrate his 90th birthday, telling him that he has changed his mind and will not attend the conference.
The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine said it as ‘his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there’.
And that’s all for today from This Week in Palestine this was the Weekly report for May 4th to the 10th 2013 from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For more news and updates please keep visiting our website at www.imemc.org. Today’s report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and me, George Rishmawi