The sources said that a contingent of Israeli troops broke into the Za'tara and Dar Salah neighborhoods in southern Bethlehem. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers ransacked the residents' houses, detained three inhabitants, and took them to an unknown destination.
In another story, after a brief delay on Sunday due to an injunction by Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, the Israeli High Court agreed to allow the Israeli government to go forward with the release of 230 Palestinians on Monday. Approximately 11,000 Palestinians still remain in Israeli prison camps, many of them held without charges.
The High Court Justice filed the injunction in an attempt to intervene on a decision made by the Israeli government to release 227 of the 11,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. Rubinstein filed the injunction to ask for an assurance from the Israeli government that none of the imprisoned Palestinians had been charged with injuring or killing any Israelis. After receiving that assurance early Monday morning, Rubinstein lifted the injunction.
Also today, Haaretz reported that, “the statistical annual report shows that the Jewish population in the West Bank more than doubled during that time, with a growth of 107 percent. The report also shows that the settler population has surged from 130,000 in 2005 to 270,000 by the end of 2007.”
During the same period, the entire population of Israel only grew by 29 percent.
Haaretz reports that this population trend has continued over the last three years; the West Bank settler population has grown by five percent annually, in contrast to a 1.7 percent growth rate for the entire country.
In Israel, on Sunday, December 14, Israeli Authorities held the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor Richard Falk, on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and is willing to deport Professor Falk to Geneva this morning, Wafa news agency reported last night.
Falk had come to detect Israel's violations of international and international humanitarian laws in the OPT. Upon his arrival, Israeli Authorities denied him access into Israel and held him in immigration at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Israeli authorities are to deport him to Geneva this morning.
This is Falk's first official visit to the OPT and Israel after he was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to specifically oversee human rights violations in the OPT. He is currently working on a report about the human rights conditions in the OPT in order to deliver the analysis to the UNHRC’s tenth session in March of 2009.
In international politics, An international conference on jihad that took place in Jerusalem on Sunday highlighted what far-right scholars on Islam described as ‘real disputes’ about the nature of the greater problem. Far-right and controversial Dutch legislator, Geert Wilders, plans to organize a European ‘follow-up’ in the coming months, Haaretz online reported on Monday.
Wilders received a standing ovation from the 600-plus people in the audience after stating such absurdities "as the terrorist attacks in Mumbai proved, there's no moderate Islam." He reiterated that it was “time for the West to realize it is in a conflict with the Muslim faith at large.”
Wilder holds a strong belief, also held by many other far-right leaders across Europe and the United States, that moderate Islam ‘does not exist’ and that there was no way to ‘reform or modernize’ the Koran.
Wilder also said that key to his war on Islam would involve "crushing the Palestinians' hope for eliminating Israel". He also apposes the creation of a Palestinian state and the ongoing peace talks, brokered by the United States and Egypt.
Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org. This report has been brought to you by Rami Almeghari and Husam Qassis.