Husam Qassis and Craig Harrington for the International Middle East Media Center, IMEMC News
HAVANA TIMES — The past week in Palestine has been headlined by a series of major ministerial conferences – American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Israel and Palestine on Monday led off a week that culminated with the first meeting ever between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood with both parties in positions of legitimate authority, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned.
The Nonviolence Report:
Let’s begin our weekly report with nonviolent activities in the West Bank. Israeli forces attacked anti-wall protests organized at a number of West Bank communities on Friday, many demonstrators were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In central West Bank, protests were reported at the villages of Bil’in, Nil’in and al-Nabi Saleh. Israeli troops used chemical water in addition to tear gas to suppress protesters.
Israeli soldiers attacked Al Nabi Saleh protests at the village entrance while in Bil’in and Ni’lin protesters managed to reached the Israeli wall.
In northern West Bank, at the village of Kufer Qaduom, villagers and their international supporters were attacked with tear gas as soon as they reached the road block that is isolation the village. Local sources said that many residents were treated for tear gas inhalation.
Meanwhile on Friday, in southern West Bank, many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when Israeli soldiers attacked the villagers of Al Ma’sara as they organized their weekly anti wall and settlements protest.
The Political Report
After the United States last week threatened to cut off foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people if the state continued seeking international recognition President Mahmoud Abbas was able to secure a $100mn grant from Saudi Arabia to cover government expenses and payroll.
The Palestinian Authority was able to pay part of civil servants salaries last week after receiving a $100 million donation from Saudi Arabia. President Abbas met with the Saudi king to discuss the ongoing financial crisis. In related news, the US threatened to cut all aid to the PA if they continue to submit bids for recognition to the UN and its agencies.
On Monday, the Nelson Mandela Foundation for Political Prisoners urged the UN to investigate human rights violations in Israeli jails. In testimony given to the UN, Buthaina Duqmaq, head of the foundation, claimed that Israel was attempting to isolate prisoners from the rest of the world. Israel routinely transfers prisoners from the occupied territories to jails inside Israel, a practice which violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In news from Israel, Secretary Clinton visited Israel on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Talks mainly focused on Iran and Egypt. The peace talks between Israel and Palestine have stalled due to Netanyahu refusing to halt settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Ongoing settlement expansion and Israeli human rights violations were not on Clintons agenda. Clinton also met with Palestinian Prime Minster Salem Fayyad where she was urged to encourage the Israelis to resume stalled peace talks.
In other news from Israel, the Kadima Party dropped out of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s grand coalition government over the Prime Minister’s surrender to ultra-Orthodox political groups. The final break came when Netanyahu took the side of far-right and ultra-Orthodox communities resisting an expansion of Israeli conscription requirements for members of the religious community.
Meanwhile, Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, dispatched a letter to the international community urging them to examine their bilateral agreements with Israel to ensure that they are not unwittingly supporting Israel’s occupation. The recent findings of the Israeli government-appointed Levy Commission were also at issue. The commission recently attempted to legitimize Israeli settlements that have repeatedly been declared to be violations of international law.
Hamas party leader Khalid Mashaal met with Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Wednesday evening to discuss the future of Gaza’s relationship with Egypt. The meeting focused on the Egyptian-Gazan relationship. Many believe that the two leaders share a common bond due to their Islamist political ties. Mursi is facing domestic pressure to lift the Gaza blockade and begin sending relief to its embattled residents in the form of food and fuel
The West Bank & Gaza Report
Israeli forces continued their occupation of Palestine through the illegal assault and arrest of several Palestinian students this week, one student, 17-year old Mahmoud al-Badan was rushed to hospital in Jerusalem before being imprisoned. In Gaza 43-year old Rawhi Kerkz was arrested at the Erez border crossing as he sought permission to travel into Israel for urgent medical care, the details of this story and more with IMEMC’s. Kelly Joiner
Several Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem boycotted a press conference held by U.S. Secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, in Jerusalem after Israeli security officers ordered them to undergo a strip search before they enter the conference room at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. The reporters stated that they conducted all needed prior arrangements and obtained all needed permits to enter the press conference, but the Israeli Internal Security refused to allow them into the hotel unless they agree to be strip searched. The journalist refused and left the hotel building. They said that Israel did not require that Israeli and International reporters should also be strip-searched and only targeted Palestinian reporters. On Thursday, the International Federation of Journalists, in solidarity with Palestinian reporters, called on the US government to condemn the incident.
Near Bethlehem this week, Israeli soldiers assaulted and abused Mahmoud Al-Badan, 17, after breaking into his home, Sunday, in Tiqua’ town. Next door neighbors witnessed the soldiers kicking and hitting Mahmoud with rifle butts and batons, in addition to repeatedly punching him before they cuffed and blindfolded him, and threw him in one of the jeeps and sped away. He was later transferred to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. Doctors there found the teen had bruising to the head and a broken jaw. Israeli forces then brought Al-Badan back to prison.
In related news, Israeli soldiers raided several homes and kidnapped three youngsters in the village of Ya’bud, southwest of Jenin on Tuesday. The youths were named as Nameq Tareq Abu Bakr, 19, Haidar Amarneh, 22, and Majdi Amarneh, 20.The Israeli raids follow similar military action on Monday where the village of Azoun, east of Qalqilya in the western part of the occupied territories was raided and a child of 16 was arrested.
Israeli Occupation Forces continued to destroy Palestinian land this week. On Tuesday, farmland belonging to a Palestinian family in the village of Qasra near Nablus in the northern part of the West Bank was destroyed. They razed the fields belonging to Mohammad and Saqer Shahadeh surrounding about 30 olive trees and then proceeded to uproot the trees. That same day, the Israeli army raided Al Qanoub area in Sa’ir, east of Hebron and issued a demolition order on two cisterns used to irrigate land for the benefit of twenty people, of whom more than half are children. And on Thursday, the Israeli army entered the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem and destroyed a water well that had been build to collect rain water so that local farmers could irrigate their land. A large amount of crops belonging to Ali Jaber were also destroyed.
In other news, a Palestinian village that is completely cut off from the West Bank by the illegal Israeli separation barrier has been without electricity for ten days. Mechanics required to repair the only generator require special permission from the Israeli military. The village of Dhaher al-Malih west of Jenin in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, had to rely on generators from the Palestinian Authority for power. Ten days ago, their sole remaining generator broke down leaving the isolated villagers without electricity. Attempts by the PA to connect the village to the grid have been rebuffed by Israel, and attempts by the villagers to bring mechanics in to repair the generator have met with a similar response.
A Palestinian man who was attempting to travel from Gaza to Jerusalem for medical treatment was detained due to travel restrictions in the third such case this month according to Ma’an news. Jabaliya resident, Rawhi Fouad Kerkz, 43, went to meet Israeli intelligence officials on Sunday at Erez crossing to discuss his permit to travel to the hospital in Jerusalem. According to Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Kerkz never returned. He left early on Sunday and later in the evening his family received a call from an Israeli official saying he was being held in Ashkelon jail.
That was just some of the news from This Week in Palestine, for more updates; please visit our website at www.imemc.org.