This Week in Palestine - weekly audio report
This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.IMEMC.org, for Thursday, April 27, 2006.
A nineteen-year-old Palestinian boy drowns while attempting to bypass a closed checkpoint. Bil'in villagers protest Israeli goods in their stores. Israeli forces arrest the wives and mothers of wanted Palestinians as a form of pressure. And Israeli settlers attack international peace activists in Hebron for the third time in three weeks. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.
Palestinian farmers and land owners were joined by members of the International Solidarity Movement and the Christian Peacemaker Teams at their farms to the east of Hebron this Tuesday. The group gathered to protest as Israeli bulldozers prepared the ground for the construction of the annexation wall, which will displace several villages.
And on Friday, the West Bank village of Bil'in held its usual protest. Palestinian villagers, Israelis, and international peace activists came together this week to protest Israeli products that have taken over stores in the Occupied Territories. The group set fire to Israeli products collected from local shops, then headed to a construction site of the annexation Wall, where they broke several locks in an attempt to reach their orchards on the other side. Israeli troops attacked the protesters with rubber-coated bullets and tear gas. At least ten residents were injured. Three Israelis and one Palestinian were detained.
PCHR in Brief
And now, highlights from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights weekly report on Israeli attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The army invaded the West Bank forty-one times in the past week. From April 20 to 26, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 20, including ten children. In addition, troops arrested 72 civilians, including 5 children and 4 women. The women were wives and mothers of Palestinians who are wanted by the Israeli army. The army arrested them to pressure their husbands and sons to give themselves up.
And during an evening incursion into al-Yamoun near Nablus, on Wednesday, Israeli soldiers killed twenty-four-year-old 'Amer Hoshiya.
On the other hand, Israel increased restrictions on movement and continued to divide north from south. The army claims this is a temporary measure following the Tel Aviv bombing earlier this month. But Palestinians are now required to obtain permits from the army to travel between north and south.
And 19-year-old Aatef Eissa drowned on Monday while attempting to bypass a closed checkpoint. Heavy rains pushed him and another civilian into a valley. The second individual survived. Eissa did not. The Israeli military forcibly removed his body to an Israeli forensic medical center, because they claimed he had been wanted.
The Israeli military continued its siege on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Gaza, the military is still monitoring Palestinian civilians traveling across the Egyptian border. Limited food aid was allowed to pass into Gaza from Egypt, but food remains scarce and few can afford to buy it as the ongoing siege drives up prices. Gaza residents were also prevented from going to their jobs in Israel, and from traveling to the West Bank.
Moreover, the Israeli army continued to shell the Gaza Strip, damaging homes and shops, and injuring 3 civilians, two of whom were children.
Attack on Jenin and Nablus
Israeli forces invaded Jenin refugee camp this Wednesday morning. According to eyewitnesses, twenty military vehicles invaded the camp and surrounded the house of Bassam Al-Sa'adi, an Islamic Jihad leader currently in an Israeli prison. Troops arrested his eighteen-year-old son, Izziddin Al-Sa'adi.
Um Ibrahim, Izzidin's mother, describes the arrest:
"At three A.M, Israeli soldiers broke through our door and fired sound bombs. They forced us out with loudspeakers. We got out of the house. One of the soldiers asked me if there was anyone inside the house. I told him that there was no one. He said no, there is someone in the house, we will fire heavy guns at the house and we will destroy it. I said do whatever you want, no one is there. He fired heavy guns and rounds of live ammunition until five A.M."
The army then held residents captive for interrogation, demanding they provide information about Ashraf and Mahmoud Al-Sa'adi, two Islamic Jihad operatives wanted by Israel's Shin Bet.
The army also re-invaded Nablus, wounding and arresting several residents.
Dr. Ghassan Hamdan head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Services in Nablus said 6 were wounded and 12 were arrested, including an elderly woman.
"There was a wide scale military invasion across the city in which more than 12 residents were arrested including an old woman, she was detained and interrogated for more than 6 hours. For the last four hours there have been clashes with the army on Amman road, 6 residents have been injured, due to the shooting, which targeted stone-throwing children."
Assassination in Bethlehem and Gaza
On Sunday, Israeli Special Forces invaded the Bethlehem area and positioned near the psychiatric hospital as peddlers, where they ambushed a car carrying three men believed to be members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Ahmed Musleh was killed immediately, and Daniel Abu Hamama was pronounced dead in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The army claims he died of his wounds, but investigations by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights indicate he may have been executed after his arrest. Arafat Abu Sha'eera was also shot, then beaten and taken under Israeli custody.
Daniel's father, Saba George Abu Hamama, said his son was executed
"My son was wanted; he was under surveillance for a long time. When they got the chance he was with two other young men, they started to shoot at their car, near the psychiatric hospital, even though they were unarmed. They shot them he did not die but was injured. They pulled my son for 20 to 30 meters into an open garage where they killed him, clearly it was an execution."
In the Gaza Strip, at least two Palestinians were killed who were thought to be members of Al-Quds brigade, the Islamic Jihad armed resistance wing. A third person riding in the same car was critically injured and several others were wounded in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, Thursday morning when Four Israeli warplanes fired four missiles into the middle of the Gaza Strip.
Settlers Attack Human Rights Workers and Palestinian Civilians
Israeli settlers living illegally on Palestinian land near Hebron attacked human rights workers in the area this Saturday, the third such attack in three weeks.
The group of settlers, composed primarily of teenagers in Orthodox dress, was led by an adult male. They flung sharpened metal bars through the open doorway of a store, smashing produce jars and knocking goods from the shelves. They also threw stones, beat a group of Palestinian children playing outside, and assaulted the store owner's sixteen-year-old son. Israeli soldiers finally intervened, at which point the settlers headed for a nearby Palestinian olive grove.
And in the village of Huwara, residents accused settlers of sneaking into a quarry on Saturday night, and burning the quarry's trucks and electrical generator, creating hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of damage.
Arab Aid to OPTs Held Up By US Economic Freeze
Here's the latest on the economic siege on the Occupied Territories, now in its third month.
Arab countries have donated enough money to cover the salaries of Palestinian governmental workers for the past three months. The money is in the hands of the Arab League, but getting it to Palestinian banks is another question.
The American government has openly threatened any bank that transfers aid money to the Palestinian government. Millions of dollars of aid money, now sitting in Egyptian banks, cannot be transferred for fear of US repercussions. Attempts by the Arab League to transfer funds have also failed. The US has also refused the suggestion to have President Abbas act as an intermediary for the aid.
The Hamas-led Palestinian government criticized the United States' double standard in dealing with the Palestine-Israel conflict. The government accused the US administration of terrorism, owing to its economic blockade on the Occupied Territories, calling the tactic "collective punishment."
Abbas Threatens to Fire Government
The crisis between the Presidency and the government establishments escalated in the last few days.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to use his authority to fire the Hamas-run government this Monday after Khaled Masha'al, Hamas' polit-bureau chief, accused Abbas of plotting against Hamas. When Abbas' comments drew wide criticism from the government, aides to the President said he has no intentions to fire the government, yet they clarified that he would take such measures only if the economic situation in the Occupied Territories became "catastrophic."
And that's just some of the news this week in Palestine. For constant updates, check out the International Middle East Media Center website, www.IMEMC.org. As always, thanks for joining us. From Occupied Bethlehem, I'm Dina Awwad and I am Terrina Aguilar.
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