Nonviolent Resistance in West Bank
Let's begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in Bethlehem and Ramallah. IMEMC's George Rishmawi with the details:
Residents of the village of Bil’in near the West Bank city of Ramallah organized their weekly Anti-Wall nonviolent protest this Friday, and were joined by a number of international and Israeli peace activists.
Protestors marched through the village carrying banners demanding the dismantling of the wall and calling for national unity. Israeli troops intercepted the protest and prevented them from reaching the construction site of the wall by installing additional layers of barbed wire.
As the protestors approached the wire, troops showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated-steel bullets. Dozens were treated for gas inhalation, while five were wounded by the rubber bullets.
Five including two American protestors, two Palestinians and an Israeli protestor were detained by the soldiers.
One of the Palestinians detained was struck in the head by a police baton, resulting in a wound that required stitches.
Another international, who was not detained, was struck in the temple by a rubber bullet, which left him disoriented.
Meanwhile, troops assaulted and arrested an Israeli journalist identified as David. They released him and all the other detainees an hour later.
Highway 443 protest
Residents of a number of villages in the Ramallah area organized a protest joined by a number of international and Israeli peace activists at Highway 443, on Friday after the noon prayer.
Protestors carried anti-racism signs and Palestinian flags, and demanded that the Israeli authorities allow them to use this road that passes through the villagers’ land.
Troops installed barbed wire in an attempt to prevent the protestors from reaching the highway. However, the villagers insisted and managed to reach the road. Troops fired several rounds of rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at the protestors, however no injuries were reported.
For seven years in a row, Israel prohibits Palestinians from using this 200-mile road which is built on the land of Palestinian villages, and allows only Jewish settlers to use it.
Dozens of residents of al Me'sarah village near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem were joined by a group of Israeli and International peace activists on Friday at noon to protest the confiscation of their land. The Israeli army installed road blocks to prevent the peace activists from reaching the village.
The protestors marched to the lands that will be annexed for the expansion of a nearby settlement and the construction of the Separation Wall. After the Friday prayers some protestors delivered speeches in Arabic and English stressing the need to resist the land confiscation labeling it as “land theft.” The Israeli troops who were at the scene attacked the demonstrators and prevented them from reaching the settlement road known as road 60. One resident identified as Bassam Ibrahim, 22, suffered light injuries.
For IMEMC.OR this is George Rishmawi
As the Annapolis summit approaches, Arab Foreign Ministers convene to prepare for it, and Palestinians remain uncertain about the chances of its success. IMEMC’s Lousia White has more:
As the Annapolis summit approaches, Arab Foreign Ministers convene to prepare for it, and Palestinians remain uncertain about the chances of the success of the autumn summit. IMEMC’s Lousia White has more:
Washington, this week, sent out invitations to various countries and organizations to attend the Annapolis summit to revive the seven-year-long stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, are expected to fly to Maryland in the United States, to attend the Annapolis meeting.
Egypt announced it would dispatch its foreign minister, Ahmad Abu el-Gheit, as Jordan and some other Arab countries will attend the conference. In Cairo, foreign ministers of Arab states held meetings on Friday to discuss the basis on which the Arab countries will participate in the upcoming conference, with Damascus demanding that the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, be tackled separately on the sideline of the summit.
In a press briefing following the meetings, Saudi Foreign Minister, Saud al-Faisal, declared that his country, which has never officially recognized Israel, will take part in the peace summit, as a result of Arab consensus. Media sources reported that the U.S has assured the Arab States that the occupied Golan Heights will be dealt with during the conference. Syria, consequently, are expected to attend, revealed the sources.
Egyptian President, Husni Mubarak, in a meeting with Olmert, in Cairo earlier this week, voiced hope the conference will bear fruits.
The Annapolis meeting comes at a time when both Palestinians and Israelis are not in agreement about the core issues they are expected to discuss, despite repeated visits by the U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region over several months of coordination and preparations. Chances of success of the summit, according to analysts, are doubtful, with the Israeli Prime Minister, facing corruption charges and Palestinian President, controlling only half of the occupied Palestinian territories, after a Hamas-led government took over the Gaza Strip in June.
The Islamist Hamas group, which won the vast majority of the Palestinian Parliament seats last January, completely opposes the conference describing it as a 'loss', unless it solves the refugee problem and the Jerusalem issue fairly and in accordance with the international legitimacy resolutions.
On Thursday the deposed Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, branded the summit as 'stillborn', while Hamas' senior leader in Gaza , Mahmoud az-Zahhar, believed that 'underway Arab-Islamic division' will contribute to the failure of the conference.'
Hamas has not been invited to the conference, being left in a 360 square kilometer- Strip, with a population of 1.4 million inhabitants, under a complete strict Israeli closure.
In related news, the Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, visited the region this week, holding an economic plan, claimed to be aimed at boosting the Palestinian economy and improving living standards for the Palestinian people.
Following a trilateral meeting held in Jerusalem, which joined him with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Minister of Defense Ihud Barak, Blair announced four projects: the construction of an agro-industrial park in Jericho; an emergency sewage treatment project in north Gaza; the development of industrial zones, particularly in the area of Tarqumiya and tourism projects for both the Palestinian and Israeli sectors.
The timing of revealing the economic plan in relation to the Annapolis summit triggered a number of questions regarding this plan and it's underlying intentions. Nassar Ibrahim a Palestinian political analyst commented:
On his part, PM Fayyad said, the Palestinian government hopes that the upcoming Paris meeting will provide more financial support for the Palestinians to help them revive the deteriorating economy, which resulted from the long-term financial and political blockade imposed by the U.S, Israel and the EU for some 14 months, after Hamas won the parliamentary elections in January 2006.
For IMEMC.org this Lousia White
The Israeli attacks
The West Bank
During the week, the Israeli army conducted at least 35 military invasions in Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those invasions, Israeli troops kidnapped 51 Palestinian civilians. IMEMC's Nate Bremen has more:
Including the civilians kidnapped this week, the number of Palestinians kidnapped by the Israeli army in the West Bank since the beginning of this year has risen to 2,446.
At dawn on Saturday, Israeli troops attacked a Palestinian youth near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Medical sources reported that the youth from the village of Tiqua east of Bethlehem, sustained light wounds to his arms and legs, and was moved to the public hospital for treatment in Bethlehem city. Witnesses reported that, after invading the village, troops stopped the youth and attacked him without provocation.
The Israeli army imposed a curfew on several Palestinian towns between Nablus and Qalqilia after the announcement of the killing of an Israeli settler by a Palestinian resistance fire overnight on Monday. Local sources reported that, after midnight on Monday, scores of military vehicles invaded several towns and randomly opened fire and ransacked homes.
On Tuesday, the Israeli high court sentenced Sheikh Tayseer al Tamimi, head of the Islamic supreme Islamic judicial council in Palestine to six months of suspended imprisonment. He was charged with entering the Al Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem without a permit. Al Tamimi rejected the charges and sentence, saying that the permit system for Palestinian faithful who wish only to pray at the holy mosque is unfair, and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
According to international human rights workers living in the area, a Palestinian man was detained, blindfolded and beaten by Israeli forces Monday night in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The attack occurred on the man's property, just two meters from his door.
On Wednesday Israeli troops handed out military orders to villagers from Al Khader village, south of Bethlehem city, in the southern part of the West Bank, that prevent them from continuing to construct their homes. Sources in the village said that the military orders included seven homes that are already under construction.
In addition, the Israeli army also demolished a well used by farmers in Al Khader and told others that their wells will also soon be destroyed. The Israeli army said that the homes and wells must be demolished and removed since they are obstacles to the planned route of the illegal wall that is being built on lands stolen by the army from the village.
For IMEMC.org this is Nate Bremen.
The Gaza strip
The Israeli army continued its closure of the Gaza Strip this week. Two civilians died because the Israeli army refused to allow them to leave Gaza for medical treatment. From Gaza IMEMC's Rami Al Mughari with the details:
This week, two Palestinian civilians died because the Israeli army refused to allow them to leave the Gaza strip for medical treatment. On Monday, a 12 year old boy, Tamer Shaher al-Yazji, from Gaza city, died at the Gaza's children hospital, after his application to seek medical attention outside Gaza was delayed by the Israeli authorities. Tamer died from untreated chicken pox.
IMEMC spoke to Dr. Ismail Yassin, of the Intensive Care Unit at the Childrens' Hospital.
"The patient's condition was worsening due the purser on his brain, he was moved to the ICU, and we were waiting for the transfer but he died this morning because he was not allowed to be transferred for treatment in Israel."
On Thursday, a 21-year old man with testicular cancer died after being denied exit. Nael al-Kurdi, was one of eleven plaintiffs on a lawsuit challenging the Israeli closure of all entries into and exits from Gaza, but the Israeli court ruled against him and six of the others. One of the other plaintiffs has also died since the ruling came through last week.
Also on Thursday, Palestinian sources reported that two Palestinian resistance fighters were killed by the Israeli army at the northern Gaza Israeli borders. In a statement faxed to press, the Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, said that two of their fighters were taking part in a fight against an Israeli military outpost on the eastern Gaza-Israel border line, when they were attacked by the Israeli soldiers.
Another man Nedal aL-Najjar, 35, died on Thursday morning of wounds he sustained on Tuesday, from an Israeli army attack on the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.
Also on Thursday a local Palestinian sources confirmed that three Palestinian resistance fighters were shot and wounded during armed clashes with the Israeli army forces on the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian medical sources in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis announced that on Tuesday morning, one Palestinian was killed and another three injured, one seriously, after Israeli forces opened fire on civilian homes in Al-Khaza'a, a town east of Khan Younis.
For IMEMC.org this Rami Al Mughari in Gaza.
Resistance factions warned the Palestinian Authority against attacking resistance fighters while political tension reaches the Palestinian universities, IMEMC's Manar Jbreen with the details:
The civil unrest
Resistance factions warned the PA against attacking men of the resistance while political tension reaches the Palestinian universities, IMEMC's Manar Jbreen with the details.
Hamas sources said that at least 30 members of their movement were arrested by the Fatah security forces throughout the West Bank this week. The movement also accused Fatah forces of attacking schools and mosques founded by Hamas. Among those arrested by Fatah was a Hamas leader, Hussam al-Qaltuni, 50, a member of the northern West Bank City of Nablus' municipal council.
Palestinian resistance fighters from several groups called this week for insurance for the Palestinian resistance fighters in the backdrop of recent Palestinian security services' crackdown on fighters from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The PA's security services have recently chased a number of Palestinians, who they say have been involved in causing internal unrest in the West Bank city of Nablus. The PFLP, for it's part, rejected the crackdown, saying those pursued were members of its armed wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades.
On Wednesday night, unknown assailants detonated an explosive device in a Palestinian police vehicle, to the west of the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, causing no injuries but damages to the vehicle.
On Tuesday at midday, Beir Zeit University suspended teaching indefinitely due to an attack by unknown gunmen on one of the university students late on Monday night. Dr. Ghassan Andoni, the director of the public relations office at the university, told IMEMC that the University will be closed until the administration is sure that the Campus is safe for the students and the staff.
There was an atmosphere of high tension at Beir Zeit University between political student groups after last week's attack by Fatah supporters at the left faction's rally that was organized in the university to mark the declaration of independence of the Palestinians.
For IMEMC.org this Manar Jbreen.
And that’s just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out our website, www.IMEMC.org. Thanks for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem, this is Amanda Johns and Ghassan Bannoura.