This Week in Palestine (Through May 4)

by IMEMC News

Boy in Gaza. Photo: Julie Webb-Pulman

HAVANA TIMES, May 5 — Negotiations between Israel and hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners start as prisoners enter their third week, meanwhile Israeli military intensifies assaults on Palestinian communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Nonviolence Report:

Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank. Two injured, one arrested and many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation this week when Israeli troops attacked anti-wall and settlements protests on Friday at a number of West Bank communities.

This week all protests were in solidarity with Palestinian political detainees on hunger strike protesting ill-treatment and the use of administrative detention policies by their Israeli captives

In southern West Bank, villages of Al-Khader, Beit Omer and Al Ma’ssara, near Bethlehem city, organized on Friday anti wall protests. Villagers were joined by Israeli and international supporters at all three locations.

Two Palestinians were injured another one arrested and many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when soldiers attacked villagers and their supporters at the village of Al-Khader.

Witnesses said that soldiers opened fire at them as soon as they left the village. Later troops invaded Al-Khader and took over roof tops of local homes and used them to fire at protesters.

In Beit Omer and Al Ma’ssara villages troops stopped the protest at the village entrances and used tear gas to force people back. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

In central West Bank, troops used tear gas and sound bombs to attack protesters along with their international and Israeli supporters at the village of Bil’in, Nil’in and Al Nabi Saleh.

Local sources reported that many protesters were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. In Al Nabi Saleh village troops fired tear gas at residents’ homes causing damage.

The Political Report

Thousands of Palestinian detainees are on third week of hunger strike, in addition to two others who are in a critical condition after 65 days of hunger strike, meanwhile a major British food retailer joins the boycott Israel campaign. IMEMC’s William Temple has more.

The demands of hunger-striking Palestinians in Israeli detention were discussed at a meeting in the Hadarim prison between senior detained political leaders and the head of the Israeli Administration, Aharon Franco, it has been revealed in a report issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees. Franco called the meeting, and stated that the special committee tasked with discussing the detainees’ demands had concluded its work and will respond within 10 days. Marwan Bargouthi, a prominent Palestinian leader, was one of those who met Franco.

On their part, the Islamic Jihad movement warned that the Egyptian-mediated truce with Israel will be abandoned if any hunger-striking detainee dies in an Israeli prison or detention camp. Khader Habeeb, a political leader of Islamic Jihad, stated in a press conference in Gaza that should any detainee die “Israel will be held responsible for his death, and will bear the consequences of what will happen”. The press conference was held after a sharp deterioration in the health condition of detainees Thaer Halahla and Bilal Thiab as a result of which Thiab was moved to Assaf Harofeh Israeli Medical Center.

In other news, one of the largest food retailers in the UK has announced that it will boycott four Israeli produce companies which are operating in illegal settlement colonies in the West Bank in violation of international law. The Co-operative Group is the 5th largest food retailer in the UK, and supplies thousands of stores with fruits and vegetables from around the world. On Sunday, the company announced that it will “no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements”.

In the meantime, the Jerusalem City Council has decided to demolish seven buildings in the Silwan neighborhood, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Old City in Occupied East Jerusalem, as part of its plan to build the “King David Park” in this Palestinian area. The “King David Park” Plan was announced by Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, two years ago. The Israeli plan led to Palestinian, Arab and international condemnation, but Israel disregarded the outrage and said that the project will serve the city.

The West Bank & Gaza Report

This week the Israeli military conducted at least 60 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces conducted 9 limited incursions into Palestinian communities, during which they leveled areas of Palestinian land which they had already razed. They also opened fire at agricultural land and burnt some areas. The details with IMEMC’s Vika Awad

During this week’s incursions, Israeli troops arrested 29 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. Meanwhile Palestinian political prisoners have continued their open-ended hunger strike this week.

According to Palestinian human right groups, prisoners Bilal Thiab and Thaer Halahla have entered their 3rd month of the hunger strike. Both are currently being held at a military hospital in one of the detention camps in Israel, groups added.

Inside the detention facilities the hunger-strikes continue, while outside the facilities where the Israeli military keep Palestinian political detainees, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists continued to protest.

Israeli policemen kidnapped, on Thursday evening, more than 20 protesters during a massive protest held in front of the Al-Ramla prison in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian detainees. And on Tuesday many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation and soldiers attacked a Palestinian woman when they suppressed a protest near Offar detention facility near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

There are more than 4,600 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel according to latest figures published by the Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support Association on April 17 – Palestinian Prisoners Day.

Also this week one Hamas fighter was killed and three others wounded near Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip during what the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, described as a training mission. Medical sources at the European Hospital in Khan Younis stated that the body of 24 year old Ahmad Abu Warda was severely injured by an explosion and that three others were hospitalized.

The Al-Qassam Brigades stated that their fighters will always remain alert and will defend their country. Several fighters have been killed and wounded before in similar training accidents in the Gaza Strip.