This Week in Palestine May 26-June 1, 2012

by Husam Qassis and George Rishmawi for IMEMC News

Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

HAVANA TIMES — Palestinians prepare for general elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Israel released the bodies of 91 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military decades ago, these stories and more, coming up.

The Nonviolence Report:

Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank. Four civilians were injured this week when Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly anti-wall and settlements protests organized in a number of West Bank communities on Friday. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura with the details:

Four villagers, all young men, were lightly wounded when Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly protest at the village of al Nabi Saleh, central West Bank.

Villagers and their international and Israeli supporters marched until the entrance of the village before Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets injuring four local men. Later troops invaded al Nabi Saleh and fired tear gas into residents’ homes. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Staying in central West Bank, at the villages of Bil’in and Nil’in residents anti wall protests were met by tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets by Israeli troops as well. At the village of Nil’in this week was the 4th anniversary of the weekly protests there.

Villagers and their supporters reached the wall before troops fired tear gas at them. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. Meanwhile in the nearby Bil’in villager tear gas fired by soldiers’ cased fires and damaged olive tress owned by local farmers.

Elsewhere in northern West Bank, many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when soldiers attacked the villagers of Kufer Kadum and their international and Israeli supporters. The villagers are demanding the opening of the road that connects the village with its surrounding. The army closed the road a number of years ago and refusing to reopen it.

The Political Report

Palestinians will meet next week to work out means to begin elections in the occupied Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, U.S advises Israel of resuming peace talks IMEMC Rami Al Meghari has more.

Representatives of both Hamas and Fatah parties are slated to meet next week for working out means to start up elections across the occupied territories. The meeting is a part of the unity deal reached in Cairo in May.

Meanwhile, the elections committee is expected Saturday to start preparing ballots for the elections that will include presidential and parliamentary. The ruling Hamas party in Gaza offered help to the committee to smoothly work in Gaza. Yet, no date has been set for the elections.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, PA sources said that a current Egyptian election is an Egyptian concern that the PA has nothing with. This came after some media sources reported that the PA supports presidential candidate Ahmad Shafiq, who is a former member of the deposed regime of Husni Mubarak.

In the meantime, Israel released on Thursday bodies of 91 Palestinians who have been killed during violence in the past four decades. Gaza received 12 of them, while the remaining were returned to the West Bank.

Sources within the PA said that Israel will send more of those corpses in the course of June, but it is unclear when these will be released. According to the PA, Israel still holds more than 250 other bodies of killed Palestinians.

In Washington, US Secretary of States, Hillary Clinton, advised Israel to take such an opportunity to resume stalled peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. Clinton was quoted as saying that talks are the only means towards a peaceful settlement in the region.

The West Bank & Gaza Report

Israeli forces conduct 50 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, meanwhile a Palestinian fighter and an Israeli soldier were killed in clashes in the Gaza Strip, the details and more with IMEMC’s William Temple.

In its Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the last week, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said that Israeli soldiers had conducted 50 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which 10 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded and 13 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, were arrested and abducted. In addition, Israeli forces summoned 12 Palestinian civilians for interrogation.

Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

With reference to Gaza, the PCHR states that Israel has continued to impose1 a total closure and isolation of the Gaza Strip from the outside world which has been steadily tightened since June 2007vThe siege has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza and has caused a crisis of human rights and dignity for the population. Measures declared recently to ease the blockade are vague, purely cosmetic and fail to deal with the root causes of the crisis, which can only be addressed by an immediate and complete lifting of the closure, including lifting the travel ban into and out of the Gaza Strip and the ban on exports.

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations last week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were (1) that the international community recognize the Israeli Gaza disengagement plan, which was implemented in September 2005, for what it was – not an end to occupation but an escalation of the occupation and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. And (2) in recognition of the International Committee of the Red Cross as the guardian of the Fourth Geneva Convention, PCHR calls upon the ICRC to increase its staff and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including making visits by family members to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails

An example of the Israeli abuses in Gaza is that Palestinian fishermen working off the coast of Gaza are frequently attacked and arrested, and their boats and equipment confiscated by the Israeli military. Now the General Union of Palestinian Workers in Gaza has demanded that human rights organizations intervene immediately to stop these attacks.

On Thursday May 31 2012, Palestinians held official ceremonies for prayers and burial of 91 Palestinians, killed so many years ago, and buried in what Israel calls “Numbers Graveyards”, where each person is buried with a number attached to the body. Skulls and bones were buried Thursday. Bereaved families had to live so many years not knowing whether their loved ones were among the living simply because the State of Israel killed them, dumped their bodies in these graveyards, and didn’t even report their deaths. Some of them were fighters, but a significant number of them were prisoners of war, or injured and killed, tortured to death in brutal Israeli interrogation facilities.

Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, suggested, on Wednesday, that Israel might consider what he called a “unilateral move” for establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders. A Palestinian spokesman said this would lead to the continuation of the occupation, and put a stop to a Palestinian state rather than being a final and comprehensive solution to the conflict. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti said that Barak’s remarks are serious and reflect Israel’s intention to destroy the possibility of a Palestinian state by dividing the Palestinian territories into smaller, isolated ghettos on less than 40% of the West Bank, without Jerusalem and without the Jordan Valley.

In other news two Israeli oil companies have signed 2 year contracts with the PA which will supply all of the gas/fuel requirements of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and continue Palestinian dependence on an Israeli monopoly for its fuel supply. Such a monopoly is an easy way for Israel to exert political pressure on the PA and ordinary Palestinians and to enforce their compliance with Israel’s interests. And yet 13 years ago off-shore gas fields were discovered off the coast of Gaza. Although small they would supply Palestinians’ needs for 15 years, but have not been developed.

An example of the pressure that Israel can apply is the fuel crisis in Gaza, now in its fifthmonth. The Gaza Power Plant produced electricity at less than 30 per cent of capacity in April, causing severe disruption to basic services such as water, health and sanitation, and the fuel-dependent fishing industry. The Coastal Municipal Water Utility says the situation is critical, with up to 40 per cent of the 1.6 million populations under blockade getting water in their houses only once every four days, and this will get worse as summer approaches.

In Political news After years of rivalry, Hamas and Fatah start working towards Gaza elections with news that the Central Elections Commission was granted permission on Monday to begin working in Gaza. The government that will oversee the elections will be agreed upon by President A’bbas and Hamas leader, Khalid Masha’al, and should be announced sometime next week.

Mahmoud al-Sarsak, a 25-year-old soccer player from Gaza who played for Palestine’s national team, has been on hunger strike for more than 70 days in protest at his detention without charge and is now close to death. He was detained in July 2009 while leaving the Gaza Strip to join his team in the West Bank, and has been detained without charge under a form of “administrative detention”.

On Sunday, Palestinian Airlines carried 27 passengers on a flight between El-Arish in Egypt and Marka Airbase in Amman, Jordan, with 44 booked on the return flight later in the day, the first flights for 7 years. The new route means Gazans no longer have to travel to Cairo, some 350 kilometers away, to board planes.

That was just some of the news from This Week in Palestine, for more updates; please visit our website at Thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem.