This Week in Palestine April 14-20

by IMEMC News

HAVANA TIMES, April 20 — The Welcome to Palestine Campaign concluded in Bethlehem, and the Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza called on Arab countries to sever relations with Israel, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.

The Nonviolence Report:

Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank. This week Israeli soldiers used tear gas and chemical water to suppress protesters. IMEMC’s Sarah Steele with the details:

The 2012 Welcome to Palestine Campaign has been concluded with a conference held in the city of Bethlehem on Friday. The organizers of the campaign condemned Israel’s denial of entry to more than 1500 international visitors on Sunday, April 15 and promised to organize similar campaigns in the future.

Based on instructions of the Israeli ministry of Interior several airlines including Lufthansa, Air France and Turkish Airlines cancelled reservations of hundreds of visitors who were planning to land in Tel Aviv airport to visit Bethlehem at the invitation of 25 local organizations and groups. Many of the visitors were prevented from boarding planes in their home countries.

The Israeli authorities deployed 650 additional police officers to Tel Aviv airport, preventing dozens of international visitors from entering Israel upon arrival if the intention to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories was declared. Around 52 visitors refused to be deported and were subsequently detained and moved to the Given detention facility.

While campaign organizers said the visitors were all committed to nonviolence and were coming to visit the Occupied Territories and work with Palestinians, Israel insists that the intention behind the campaign was to disrupt security and the normal life of Israelis.

Israeli media sources reported a 40 percent error rate on a black-list of names sent to all airlines which Israel stated were not allowed to enter the country. The list included a French diplomat and his wife, along with businessmen and other regular tourists who were planning to visit the country not as part of the campaign.

During the preparations for the campaign, Israeli military and intelligence officers broke into the house of one of the campaign coordinators and confiscated his personal laptop and phone.

This is the second campaign named Welcome to Palestine, the first of which was in July 2011, when Israeli denied entry to around 650 international visitors.

In the village of al Nabi Saleh, in central West Bank, villagers and international and Israeli supporters tried to march towards land owned by local farmers which has been taken by Israel for building of a settlement. Israeli soldiers stopped them at the village entrance and forced them back using tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. 3 people were arrested; 2 internationals and one Palestinian journalist named as Bilal Tamimi.

One person was injured in the abdomen when a high velocity tear gas canister was fired at him. He was moved to the hospital in Ramallah for treatment, and he remains in a critical condition. Troops later stormed the village and fired tear gas and chemical water into resident’s homes. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

In the nearby Nil’in village, international and Israeli supporters joined villagers and marched up to the gate of the wall separating local farmers from their lands. Soldiers retaliated by firing tear gas at them, however no injuries were reported.

In the nearby village of Bil’in, also in the central West Bank, Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the villagers and their supporters before reaching the wall. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

In the village of Kufer Kadom, in the northern West Bank, Israeli troops fired tear gas and sound bombs against famers and their Israeli and international supporters as they protested against the Israeli wall on Friday. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Also on Friday in the south of the West bank, villagers of Al Ma’ssara near Bethlehem marched against the annexation wall. Soldiers stopped the protest from leaving the village by using rifle butts and batons.

The Political Report

Deputy-political leader for the Hamas party, Mousa Abu Marzouq, said this week that any agreement between Israel and the PA will not sustain. Meanwhile, top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Eriqat, handed over this week a letter to Israeli Prime Minister, in which the PA outlines stances towards current stalemate of the peace process. IMEMC’s Rami Al Meghari has more:

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Prime Minsiter of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, called on Arab countries that have peace treaties or connections with Israel to expel Israeli ambassadors from their soils. Haniya’s call came in response to what he says continued Israeli settlement buildings and transformation of the occupied Arab city of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority and Israel have not held peace talks since late 2008, amidst the PA’s rejection to Israel’s illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands.

Israel says any resumption of those peace talks should be unconditioned and that Israel is ready to reach an agreement with the PA. Meanwhile, the PA says it could go back again to the United Nations for further actions against Israel. In September, 2011, PA’s leader asked the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a member state within the 1967 borders, on which Israel continues settlements building.

At the internal Palestinian level, both Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the ruling Hamas party in Gaza are yet to agree on implementation of a unity deal reached recently in the Qatari capital of Doha.

Representatives of both sides have recently traded accusations for the delay in conciliation.

The West Bank & Gaza Report

This week the Israeli army conducted at least 57 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Two civilians were reported injured by those attacks as well. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura has more:

Israeli invasions in the West Bank were focused in the northern cities of Jenin and Nablus. Another invasion targeted Gaza city this week.

Sheikh Adnan Khader, a leader of the Islamic Jihad who went on hunger-strike for 66 consecutive days demanding an end to his illegal detention without charges or trial, was released by the Israeli Prison Authorities at midnight on Tuesday. Also Tuesday Palestinians marked the prisoners day while political detainees in Israeli jails announced that start of their protest till Israel ends the policy of administrative detention and ill-treatment to those prisoners.

In the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a woman was shot and wounded after Israeli soldiers opened fire at farmers working on their land in Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The attack took place 1 kilometer away from the Israeli “security fence” that separates Gaza from the state of Israel. On Monday Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian farmer in the same area; claiming that the farmer approached the “security fence”.

On Wednesday, Israeli military bulldozers demolished several sheds and tents belonging to the Al-Jahalin Bedouin tribe, near Jerusalem city. Eyewitnesses reported that the army demolished 13 sheds and tents leaving several families without shelter, and without barns for their livestock.

Staying in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers and policemen displaced a family from their home in Beit Hanina area in East Jerusalem. The eviction came following a court order that granted Israeli settlers ownership over the property.

The Israeli District Court in Jerusalem previously issued an eviction notice ordering the Palestinian family to vacate the property, claiming that the land on which the home is built on had belonged to a Jewish man since 1936.

Meanwhile Israeli settlers have constructed this week 20 new homes on privately owned Palestinian land in an illegal outpost known as Ulpana, in Beit El settlement northeast of Ramallah, Israeli sources reported.

This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and George Rishmawi for IMEMC News.