This Week in Palestine (May 5-11, 2012)

By Husam Qassis and George Rishmawi for IMEMC News

HAVANA TIMES — Israel will not need early elections as the two major parties Kadima and the Likud join a coalition, meanwhile Palestinian prisoners continue with their hunger strike for the third week, for these stories and more, read on.

The Nonviolence Report:

Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities organized in several locations in the West Bank this week in solidarity with the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

One Palestinian was injured in the village of Aboud near Ramallah during clashes with stone-throwing youth and Israeli troops who attempted to prevent a nonviolent protest in the village in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

Local sources said that Majed Barghouti 18 years old was hit with a rubber bullet in his eye. Barghouti was moved to the hospital for treatment in Ramallah and wound was described as serious.

In the meantime, residents of the nearby village of Nabil Saleh, in addition to international supporters marched in solidarity with the prisoners after the friday midday prayers. Israeli troops stopped the marchers at the entrance of the village and fired several rounds of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and chemical water. Dozens were treated for the effects of gas inhalation and some of the close fields caught fire.

Clashes erupted afterwards between stone throwing youth and Israeli soldiers who blocked all entrances of village and prevented the ambulance to enter the village to treat the wounded.

In the nearby village of Bil’in Israeli and International peace activists joined the villagers in their weekly anti-wall protest which was dedicated to the Palestinian prisoners.

The march started after the mid-day prayers and was faced by Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets and showered the protestors with sewage and chemical water. Several protesters suffered effects of the gas inhalation and the chemical water and were treated by field paramedics.

As a response some of local youth threw balloons with animal faecal inside them at the soldiers. The troops responded with more gas, metal bullets and sound bombs which caused fire in the nearby fields.

In Kufur Qaddum, near Nablus, three journalists were wounded when Israeli troops attacked the prisoner-solidarity march in the village with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters.

The three journalists are the reporter and camera men of the Palestinian Satellite Channel.

In the southern part of the West Bank, over on thousand Palestinian, International and Israeli protesters gathered in the village of Al-Walaja to protest against the wall Israel is building of the villages land and to show solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli troops attacked the protesters with tear gas causing dozens to choke and were all treated by field paramedics. Meanwhile in the nearby village of Al-Maasara several were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when Israeli soldiers attempted to stop the nonviolent anti-wall protest organized in the village.

The march started after the mid-day prayers from the mosque and managed to reach the lands close to the settlement of Efrat near Bethlehem, which is built on Palestinian confiscated lands.

The Political Report

Palestinian Political Prisoners on their third week of Hunger strike in Israeli jails meanwhile Israeli Kadima and Likud form a new coalition to save the current government.

Hunger-striking Palestinian detainees and demonstrations in their support were again top news stories this week. Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel are demanding an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, allowing visits to Gaza Strip Detainees, provision of medical care and education, and an end to strip searches of their families before visits. All demands are consistent with International law and the 4th Geneva Convention.

Hundreds of Palestinian residents, mainly youths and families of political prisoners, held a massive protest in front of the UN office in Ramallah on Wednesday in support of Palestinian detainees held by Israel and conducting open-ended hunger-strikes. They demanded that the UN take serious measures to save the lives of the detainees. A second protest was held outside the UN Office on Thursday.

The Palestinian Centre for Defending the Detainees (PCDD) issued a press release stating that, contrary to media reports earlier in the week, no agreement has been reached between the hunger-striking Palestinian detainees and the Israeli Prison Administration.

It was reported Friday that Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, had stated that Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike and held under administrative detention without trial should ‘be brought to trial or released’. He noted ‘the importance of avoiding deterioration of their health’ and ‘urgently requests all concerned to find a solution without delay.’

Prime Minister Netanyahu shocked Israel with Tuesday’s news that the Kadima party, leader Shaul Mofaz, will join the government coalition and the expected early election will not be necessary. The most immediate questions are what the Government will do about the Israel High Court decisions to evacuate the unrecognised Migron outpost and Ulpanah neighbourhood, and how to replace the law that exempts religious Jews from National Service. Netanyahu spoke early in the week of the need to find a solution for the settlers which would avoid the Ulpanah demolition, but the basis for any change in the law was removed when it was revealed Thursday that settler leaders and the construction company knew that purchase of the land from the Palestinian owners was never finalised, and that construction in any case began 2 years before the claimed purchase of the land.

Israel has also taken action against two Palestinian Bedouin communities living east of Jerusalem—although one was stayed by a court injunction after international protests—as part of its plan to forcibly transfer Bedouin living in Area C (Jerusalem periphery, Jordan Valley, and south Hebron Hills) to other areas in defiance of international law.

EU Foreign Ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday 14 May. They will discuss issues including the demolition of Palestinian homes, forced displacement, and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Area C of the West Bank which threaten Palestinian economic development.

The West Bank & Gaza Report

12 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded and 19 Palestinians were abducted in 65 separate Israeli invasions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Centre for The International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights reported that 29 Palestinians were abducted by Israeli Military at roadblocks in April.

Despite repeated Israeli claims of easing restrictions on roadblocks in the West Bank, and claims that it has already removed many, freedom of movement of Palestinians remains severely restricted especially due to dozens of ‘flying’ roadblocks that the soldiers install and dismantle at will.

Ahmad Tubassy, a lawyer and a legal researcher at the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights reported that Israeli soldiers are deliberately humiliating the residents at roadblocks, closing them at will, and deliberately forcing the residents to wait several hours in some cases.

Also in the West bank this week, Israeli soldiers kidnapped five Palestinians in different parts of the West Bank on Monday at dawn, and took them to unknown destinations; the kidnappings took place after the army invaded several cities, towns and villages and searched dozens of homes.

Local sources reported that the army invaded the towns of Tammoun and Al-Far’a in the northern West Bank district of Tubas, and the towns of Zabbouba, Methalon and Raba near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped one resident in addition to interrogating two others

Meanwhile further revelations with the unauthorized outpost of Ulpana have emerged. Damning new Israeli Police evidence surrounding the original decision to start building in Beit El’s Ulpana area poses serious problems for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party, who have openly campaigned and petitioned against the removal of the settlement.

Yoel Tsur, the CEO of the company which was one of the original contractors in building the community, admitted to police during an interview three years ago that the settlement was built on land whose purchase was never finalized. Settler leaders knew from the start that the land was privately owned by Palestinians, which counters their claims that settlers bought their houses in good faith.

In 2008 after petitions to the Israeli High Court and complaints to Israeli Police for trespassing, Tsur was interviewed by Police where this information was revealed.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in Khan Yunis on 5 occasions. On 05 May 2012, at approximately 08:30, Israeli naval troops abducted two Palestinian fishermen when they were fishing nearly 2.5 nautical miles from Gaza seashore: Mohammed Mohyi al-Din Bakr, 62; and his son Mohammed, 18. The Israeli naval troops also confiscated the fishing boat. The two fishermen were released at approximately 91:30 on the same day after they had been interrogated by Israeli forces.

On 05 May 2012, Israeli forces positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast of Khan Yunis opened fire at Palestinian agricultural land in al-Qarara village. As a result, a camel was killed.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces conducted a limited incursion into al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, during which they fired two artillery shells at open areas.

On 06 May 2012, Israeli soldiers positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east of al-Maghazi refugee camp abducted two Palestinian civilians, including a child, when they attempted to cross the border to search for jobs in Israel.

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.