This Week In Palestine – week 3 2008
Saturday January 19, 2008 04:12 by Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMC - Audio Dept.
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This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for January 12th through to January 18th, 2008.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiation teams met in the occupied city of Jerusalem and this week Israeli army attacks on the Palestinians leave 37 killed in the Gaza strip and the West Bank, these stories and more coming up stay tuned.
Let's begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in Bethlehem and Ramallah, IMEMC's Nate Bremen with the details:
The villagers of Bil'in located near the Central West Bank city of Ramallah, along with their international and Israeli supporters conducted their weekly demonstration against the illegal Israeli wall on Friday. The theme of this week's demonstration was calling on the international community to force Israeli to stop its deadly attacks on Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip. As is the case each week the protesters marched from the village centre towards the construction of the illegal wall Israel is building on the village land.
As soon as the protestors reached a barricade set up by the Israeli soldiers just outside the village, Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber coated metal bullets on the unarmed protesters injuring three of them. Among those injured was Ibraheem Burnat one of the coordinators of the Popular Resistance against the Wall and Settlement Committee in the village of Bil'in.
Meanwhile near Ramallah, villagers from several villages east of Ramallah along with international and Israeli peace activists protested at the settler road known as 443 that cuts through those villages. Troops attacked the protesters with tear gas and several people suffered gas inhalation injuries and were moved to a nearby medical center for treatment.
Also on Friday about 200 Palestinians and their international and Israeli supporters protested the illegal Israeli Wall being built on the lands of Al Khader village south of Bethlehem city in the southern part of the West Bank.
The protest started with the Friday prayers that were conducted at the nearby Al Nashash Israeli army checkpoint just outside the village. Later the protesters marched towards the checkpoint carrying flags and banners demanding the halt of the construction of the illegal wall that Israel is building on their land and the immediate end to the attacks in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops stopped the march from going through the checkpoint and prevented journalists from taking photos. Short speeches in Arabic and English were delivered by the organizers of the protest and the protest ended shortly thereafter. No confrontation with the soldiers was reported.
For IMEMC.org this is Nate Bremen
On Monday the Palestinian and Israeli negotiation teams met in the occupied city of Jerusalem. Both teams announced that core issues were addressed in the meeting. IMEMC's Raphael Anderson has more:
Core issues have been stumbling blocks during previous peace talks. The core issues include; Jerusalem, Settlements, refugees, water, borders and security. But the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. The Israeli army continued to pound the Gaza Strip and attack Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian political analyst explains:
The leading local newspaper of aL-Quds reported on Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned yesterday of resigning in protest against current Israeli army attacks on the Gaza Strip, which this week left 31 Palestinians killed. The paper published that Abbas views the recently-resumed peace talks with Israel as 'aimless' in the shadow of such attacks.
Senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Eriqat, condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza and believed that any talks with Israel will be blocked if such attacks continue. In the meantime, the de-facto Palestinian government in Gaza headed by Hamas appealed to all concerned bodies worldwide, including the United Nations and the Arab countries to move immediately to stop the ongoing Israeli offensive on Gaza.
The government also demanded president Abbas to stop right away any peace talks with Israel, calling for a unified Palestinian national stance against Israel, at a time when Palestinian blood is being shed. Meanwhile, Khaled Mash'al, the supreme exiled leader of Hamas, criticized what he believes is 'international and Arab inaction towards the current Israeli attacks on Gaza'. Dr. Khalil Abu Lilah, a leader of Hamas in Gaza, commented on the Israeli Palestinian talks:
"For sure no one should continue with those meetings while the Zionist attacks on our people continue, even the Palestinian negotiation team announced that the Zionist side IS not welling to concede anything"
In the meantime, chief of the Arab states league, Amr Mousa, believed this week that the Palestinian national legitimate rights should not be ignored and that the Palestinian peoples' right to return should not be divided. Mousa's remarks came in reaction to latest President George W. Bush's statement last week, in which Bush believed that the right to return can be compromised in the form of compensation to hundreds of Palestinian refugees, who were displaced from Palestine by Israel in 1948.
At the internal level, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, this week called for a new initiative of conciliation among all Palestinian factions, involving the main rivalries, President Abbas of Fatah and the ruling Hamas in Gaza.
At the Israeli level, Avigdor Liberman, a hardline Israeli minister and head of the Israel Baytona party, withdrew this week from the coalition led by Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, in protest against the Palestinian-Israeli talks. On Thursday, the Israeli government decided to keep up pressure on the Gaza Strip by further attacking Palestinian resistance groups, as on Friday morning, Israel declared all Gaza's crossings completely closed, with a total halt of fuel supplies to the coastal region.
For IMEMC.org this is Raphael Anderson.
The Israeli attacks
The Gaza Strip
Israeli army attacks on Gaza this week leave 35 Palestinians killed and about 120 others injured IMEMC's Ghassan Bannoura reports:
Three Palestinians were killed on Sunday at midnight when Israeli army jet fighters attacked a car near the house of Hamas leader and deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'el Hanyiah, located in Gaza city. Witnesses said that they saw three men driving a car near Hanyiah's home when jet fighters fired two missiles at the car.
Israeli jet fighters also launched two missiles at civilian car driving on a road east of Gaza city in the eastern part of the Gaza strip at midday on Wednesday, killing the 3 passengers in the car. Palestinian medical sources identified two of those killed as Amer Mohamed and Amer Al Yazigi. Witnesses said that the third killed in the attack was a child but his name remains unknown. Media sources said that the jet fighters were targeting a car carrying resistance fighters from Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad but the missiles missed and hit the civilian car.
The Israeli army conducted a one day military offensive in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip leaving 17 Palestinians dead, and at least 10 more injured. The offensive started when army tanks and bulldozers invaded the Al Zaytona area near Gaza city backed by army helicopters. Al Qassam brigades the armed wing of Hamas announced that among those 17 killed were 13 fighters from the brigades who were clashing with the invading Israeli tanks. The brigades added that among those killed was Hussam al Zahar the son of the prominent Hamas leader Dr Mahmoud Al Zahar.
On Thursday midday Palestinian medical sources reported that Ra'd Abu Fool, 43, of the Popular Resistance Committees' armed wing and his wife Amna Abu Fool, 40, were killed, when an Israeli warplane fired at least one missile towards their car.
On Friday afternoon, Israeli jet fighters attacked the Palestinian Minister of Interior building located in Gaza city; one woman was reportedly killed and 40 other civilians injured in the attack. Medics said that children were among those injured. Eyewitnesses said that the building completely collapsed, sending a huge blaze of fire, shrapnel and smoke into the air and onto the surrounding houses.
Earlier on Friday one Palestinian, said to be a fighter, was reportedly killed and two others wounded, when an Israeli warplane fired a missile onto a group of resistance fighters in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya.
Friday's deaths bring the death toll in the Gaza strip this week to 35, all due to Israeli attacks. On Thursday night, Israeli missiles targeted a woman and her son, who happened to be riding a horse-drawn carriage in Beit Lahiya. Throughout the week, victims of air strikes tended to be civilians, either walking in streets or driving their cars.
Throughout the week Palestinian resistance groups fired at least 30 home made shells at northern Israeli towns neighboring the Gaza strip. Israeli sources reported that five Israelis among them one child were lightly wounded in the attacks. Resistance groups stated that those attacks were a response to the ongoing Israeli military killings of civilians in the coastal region. Meanwhile this week the Israeli army also continued to cut fuel supplies from the Gaza strip, leading to a general power black out all over the coastal region since the solo Gaza power plant relies on Israeli fuel to supply Gaza with electricity.
For IMEMC.org this Ghassan Bannoura
The West Bank
This week the Israeli army conducted at least 22 military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. In those invasions Israeli troops killed two Palestinians and kidnapped 50 others, including 3 children. IMEMC's Eliza Sprout with the details:
With this week's kidnappings the number of Palestinians kidnapped by the Israeli army since the beginning of 2008 has reached 147.
In a pre-dawn invasion on Wednesday Israeli forces kidnapped at least 24 Palestinians from different parts of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and the refugee camps of Balata and Askar, The abduction operations in the Nablus area have intensified since the beginning of this week as the army implemented several abduction campaigns in the area including 12 on Tuesday and three on Monday.
Also this week the Israeli army killed two Palestinian resistance leaders in two different military operations in the West Bank. On Friday morning Ahmad Sanaqra, 24, a leader of the Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fatah was killed by the Israeli army in Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Troops invaded the refugee camp and surrounded some homes; a group of resistance fighters from the Al Aqsa brigades clashed with the invading troops, which left Sanaqra dead and three of his comrades abducted. A Palestinian child, Yazan Qar'an, 3 was injured by flying glass during the armed clashes.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning Walid Obeidi, 41, also known as Abu Al Qassam, a leader of the Al Quds brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and the top senior leader on the Israeli wanted list, was killed in clashes that broke out with the Israeli forces during their invasion of Qabatiya town, near Jenin. Abu Ahmad, is a member of the Islamic Jihad group and was an eyewitness to the attack
"When the attack started, fearing that the army would destroy the house he was in, Abu Al Qassam fired at them from inside the house then went out side while the army surrounded the house, and fought with them until he was dead ."
On Tuesday at midday in the southern West Bank city of Hebron a group of radical armed settlers attacked a Palestinian house and set fire to it while the Israeli Army kidnapped the owners of the house. Also on Tuesday near Hebron Israeli Army bulldozers uprooted 3000 trees that belonged to farmers from the village of Beit Ola south of Hebron city. The farmers who own the land stated that troops arrived early in the morning and uprooted the trees. When farmers tried to protect the trees the soldiers opened fire at them forcing them away.
Four Palestinian civilians were injured, among them one Palestinian journalist, during clashes between Palestinian youth and the Israeli army in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday morning. Eye witnesses said Israeli troops clashed with the local residents and forced shops to close and imposed a curfew on several parts of the city. During the clashes the Israelis fired randomly at nearby homes and civilian cars, injuring the four civilians, including a journalist working for the French news agency AFP. The journalist was known as Hazem Baader, 42.
The clashes started when the army attacked the demonstration organized by the local residents of Hebron protesting the continuous Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Local youth threw stones at the army after soldiers attacked them with rifle butts and batons.
For IMEMC.org this is Eliza Sprout.
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 Louisa White and Ghassan Bannoura.