This Week in Palestine June 30 – July 6

Husam Qassis and George Rishmawi for IMEMC News

Gaza dates are the best. Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

HAVANA TIMES — Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for June 30th through July 6th 2012

New information revealed regarding the death of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat creates controversy meanwhile, Israel resumes the construction of the wall around Jerusalem, 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. Israeli troops used tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress anti wall protests organized in a number of West Bank communities this week. One protester was injured and many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation due to soldiers’ attacks. IMEMC’s Craig Harrington has more.

On Friday peaceful demonstrations were held throughout the West Bank to protest the continued construction and expansion of the separation wall cutting through the heart of Palestine.

Palestinians were joined by participants from around the world in the villages of Kufer Kadum and Bil’in in the north, Al Ma’sara in the south, and N’aliin and Nabi Salih in the central West Bank.

In Kufer Kadum, a 40-year old man, Majid Jum’ah, was arrested during the non-violent demonstration. Many other protestors were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation after they were bombarded with canisters.

In addition, a house had to be evacuated after part of it was set ablaze by the heat of a tear gas canister.

A joint group of international and Palestinian protestors, including several Israelis, was stopped by Israeli military forces at the entrance to the village. Soldiers fired tear gas at them to drive them away before storming the home of Majid Jum’ah and arresting him.

Israeli troops used tear gas and rubber-coated bullets against demonstrators in Bil’in, N’aliin and Nabi Salih as well. Protestors, including Israeli and international participants, were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation at each location.

Protestors in Bil’in and N’aliin managed to work through barricades and razor wire to reach the illegal concrete annexation wall before being driven away with gas and gun fire. In Nabi Salih, Israeli soldiers cut off the protest march at the entrance of the village, preventing its further progress to the wall.

In the southern West Bank village of Al Ma’sara, Israeli troops forced people back into the village using rifle-buts and batons. No injuries were reported among the demonstrators.

Finally, in the besieged neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, a protest composed entirely of Israeli citizens and international participants called for peace and reconciliation. Sheikh Jarrah has witnessed the illegal eviction of several Arab families in the past decade at the hand of Orthodox Jews.

The protest in Sheikh Jarrah felt no police or military presence by one non-violent demonstrator, herself an Israeli citizen, was attacked by the illegal occupant of an Arab family home.

The Political Report

Palestinians who turned out to protest the planned visit of the Israeli deputy-Prime Minister to Ramallah were met with you violence by Palestinian security forces, meanwhile new information surfaced about the death of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, the details and more with IMEMC’s Kelly Joiner.

On Saturday, Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank came together in Ramallah to protest the scheduled meeting of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Mofaz. Activists were clear to state that they objected to Mofaz, a man accused of war crimes against the Palestinian people, being received in Ramallah and wanted the meeting cancelled.

Several protestors were detained and allegedly beaten during custody on both Saturday and Sunday, including accredited journalists covering the demonstration. As a result, several protestors had to be taken to hospital for treatment, as was journalist Mohammed Jaradat.

Renewed protests on Tuesday remained peaceful although Ma’an news agency reported that security forces in civilian clothes took pictures of demonstrators.

Startling news surfaced this week concerning the death of President Yasser Arafat in 2004. Following a report Tuesday by Al-Jazeera, the Palestinian Authority announced its support Wednesday for an international investigation into the late president’s death including the exhumation of his body.

After a nine month investigation reported that the Institut de Radiophysique in Switzerland found abnormally high levels of a rare radioactive element called polonium-210 on Arafat’s personal belongings, his widow, Suha, called for the exhumation of his body and a thorough investigation.

Later in the week, Al-Mayadeen TV, based in Lebanon, published a video reportedly documenting the confession of a collaborator with Israel, operating in the Israeli Negev detention camp, in which he said that “Israel recruited him to poison dinner meals of late President Yasser Arafat.” The alleged collaborator detailed how he smuggled poison, and with the aid of others at the then besieged presidential headquarters in Ramallah, he managed to poison one of Arafat’s meals, and even personally handed the meal to him.

In other developments this week, Israel released two legislators of the Change and Reform Bloc, a wing of the Hamas movement, after imprisoning them without charge at the Negev Detention Camp for 18 months under Administrative Detention.

The released legislators are Dr. Mahmoud Ar-Ramahi, from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and Nizar Ramadan, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Israel kidnapped Dr. Ar-Ramahi on November 10, 2010, and Legislator Ramadan was kidnapped on November 4, 2010. Both were placed under administrative detention and these orders were repeatedly renewed.

There are nearly 4,700 Palestinians imprisoned in 17 Israeli prisons, detention camps and interrogation centers; this includes six women and 185 children. Of these, an estimated 320 Palestinians are held under Administrative Detention orders. There are also approximately 26 legislators currently detained by Israel.

In other news, Uri Blau, who published accounts of illegal assassinations in the West Bank, has been sentenced this week to four months of community service in a plea bargain deal. The journalist for Haaretz newspaper, was charged with being in possession of leaked Israeli military documents, outlining violations of Israeli law. The documents were handed to him by Anat Kamm, an assistant at the Israeli military central command. Kamm was later sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment for espionage.

The West Bank & Gaza Report

Israel is moving ahead with building the wall around Jerusalem, and a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner is in risk of dying, the details and more IMEMC’s Jack Muir.

A video showing an Israeli soldier grabbing a Palestinian child while another soldier kicked him went viral this week. The attack took place in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank.

Israel revealed plans to continue construction of the separation wall in Jerusalem. Despite international condemnation, the wall continues to be used for illegal land grabs and expansion of illegal settlements.

In the meantime, The Israeli army decided to confiscate 2500 square meters of Palestinian lands south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, in order to build a military base in the area.

Abdul-Hadi Hantash, an expert in maps and settlements, stated that the Central Command of the Israeli army decided to confiscate the privately-owned Palestinian lands close to the Ath- Thaheriya roadblock.

Further destruction of Palestinian farmlands occurred in Nablus, where Israeli settlers uprooted and destroyed 41 Olive trees.

Diabetic Palestinian prisoner Akram Rikhawi has been on a hunger strike for 87 days and is at imminent risk of dying. According to the World Medical Association, in most cases death occurs between 42nd and 72nd days of hunger strike.

Rikhawi suffers from various chronic conditions: diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, kidney problems, deterioration of his eye lenses, high cholesterol, and immune deficiency.

Elsewhere in Palestine, a number of armoured Israeli military vehicles accompanied by military bulldozers invaded an area east of Rafah city, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and bulldozed Palestinian farmlands.

In the Gaza Strip this week, Israeli warplanes targeting resistance fighters missed their targets and caused damage to two nearby houses south west of Gaza city.

On Thursday a 20 year old man was shot in the leg in the northern Gaza strip. Mohammed Akhrat was collecting scrap iron when he was fired at by the Israeli military near Beit Hanoun.

In other news from Gaza, the Palestinian energy authority in Gaza urged residents to limit consumption due to a drastic shortage of fuel. Since the siege of Gaza began, Israel limits the amount of fuel which enters Gaza.

As the siege of Gaza continues to tighten, On Friday, Israel closed the Beit Hanoun crossing point into Gaza. Palestinian crossing director, Maher Abu al-Ouf stated that Israeli authorities closed the terminal without prior notice, leaving patients, traders and elderly people unable to cross.