Archive for East Jerusalem

Palestinians killed in ‘Nakba’ clashes

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15/05/2011 by 3071km

Date published: 15th May 2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Several killed and dozens wounded in Gaza, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun and West Bank, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day.

”]Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the “Nakba”, or day of “catastrophe”.

The “Nakba” is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel’s declaration of statehood.

At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the “Nakba” were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.

“We are just hearing that one person has been killed and about 80 people have been injured,” Johnston said.

“There are about 500-600 Palestinian youth gathered at the Erez border crossing point. They don’t usually march as far as the border. There has been intermittent gunfire from the Israeli side for the last couple of hours.

“Hamas has asked us to leave; they are trying to move people away from the Israeli border. They say seeing so many people at the border indicates a shift in politics in the area.”

Separately in south Tel Aviv, one Israeli man was killed and 17 were injured when a 22-year-old Arab Israeli driver drove his truck into a number of vehicles on one of the city’s main roads.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the driver, from an Arab village called Kfar Qasim in the West Bank, was arrested at the scene and is being questioned.

“Based on the destruction and the damage at the scene, we have reason to believe that it was carried out deliberately,” Rosenfeld said. But he said he did not believe the motive was directly linked to the anniversary of the Nakba.

West Bank clashes

One of the biggest Nakba demonstrations was held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel, where about 100 protesters marched, Al Jazeera’s  Nisreen El-Shamayleh reported from Ramallah.

Some injuries were reported from tear gas canisters fired at protesters there, El-Shamayleh said.

Small clashes were reported throughout various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank, between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Israeli police said 20 arrests were made in the East Jerusalem area of Issawiyah for throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israeli border police officers.

About 70 arrests have been made in East Jerusalem throughout the Nakba protests that began on Friday, two days ahead of the May 15 anniversary, police spokesman Rosenfeld said.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that  the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.

‘Palestinians killed’

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that Israeli forces killed four Syrian citizens who had been taking part in an anti-Israeli rally on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border on Sunday.

Israeli army radio said earlier that dozens were wounded when Palestinian refugees from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border were shot for trying to break through the frontier fence. There was no comment on reports of the injured.

Meanwhile, Matthew Cassel, a journalist in the Lebanese town of Ras Maroun, on the southern border with Israel, told Al Jazeera that at least two Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon were killed in clashes there.

“Tens of thousands of refugees marched to the border fence to demand their right to return where they were met by Israeli soldiers,” he said.

“Many were killed. I don’t know how many but I saw with my own eyes a number of unconscious and injured, and at least two dead.

“Now the Lebanese army has moved in, people are running back up the mountain to get away from the army.”

A local medical source told the AFP news agency that Israeli gunfire killed six people and wounded 71 others in Ras Maroun.

‘End to Zionist project’

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Sunday’s demonstrations.

“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighbouring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage”, Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true”, he said.

Earlier Sunday Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.

Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.

“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.

Meanwhile, a 63 second-long siren rang midday in commemoration of the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.

Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.

Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live in refugee camps.

About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

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Netanyahu urges Palestinian ‘courage’

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 25 August 2009

Source: The Guardian

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Brown upbeat on Middle East peace prospects after Netanyahu talks

• PM ‘as realistic as ever but more optimistic than before’
• Brown reiterates call for end to Jewish settlement buildin

Benjamin Netanyahu and Gordon Brown at Downing Street

Gordon Brown said today he was “increasingly confident” that Israel was willing to end settlement activity in the Palestinian territories.

After talks with his Israeli counterpart, Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister said he was “as realistic as ever but more optimistic than before” about peace in the Middle East.

“We share a vision of a secure and confident Israel accepted and welcomed by its neighbour alongside – after decades of waiting – a secure and viable Palestine in a region at peace with itself,” he said.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu in Downing Street, Brown said he had reiterated his call for an end to Jewish settlement building on Palestinian land.

“I made clear that settlement activity was a barrier to a two-state solution,” he said. “I’m increasingly confident, however, that there is a genuine will to make progress, that a freeze in such activity would result in meaningful steps towards normalisation from Arab states.”

Netanyahu, who faces the same demands from the US president, Barack Obama, said he had made clear Israel would not build new settlements or “expropriate additional land”. But he stressed there was a need for facilities to enable “normal life” for Jewish settlers already in the West Bank. “This is very different from grabbing land,” he told reporters.

He said Britain and Israel had “common hopes and common challenges”, but stressed the threat from Iran and the need for Palestinians to recognise Israel.

Netanyahu said Israel had already moved to improve access to the West Bank. With the territory enjoying a period of calm, some Israeli military checkpoints have been lifted and permits for importing raw materials are being granted.

“We have moved, we expect similar movement from the Palestinian Authority and there has not been that movement. That’s an understatement,” he said. “But there has to be that movement. There has to be not merely a partner on the other side, there has to be a courageous partner.”

“They have to say unequivocally ‘it’s over, we are going to make a real peace, it will be a final peace that ends all claims to further conflict’.”

Brown said he deplored Iran’s aggressive comments about Israel. “Such diatribe has no place in a civilised world,” he said. “We also share Israel’s concerns over Iranian ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon.

“Iran needs to co-operate with the international community, to take up President Obama’s unprecedented offer of engagement. Until then, the international community will continue to view Iranian ambitions with suspicion.”

Netanyahu is due to meet the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, tomorrow, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin on Thursday. While Netanyahu will want to emphasise the potential threat from Iran if it acquires nuclear weapons, European leaders are expected to underline their concerns about the spread of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

In Washington the state department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said the US and Israel were “getting closer” to agreement on the resumption of talks. “I don’t want to go into the details of exactly why, but just to say that we’re hopeful that we can resume very soon,” Kelly said.

Hefetz said Israel believed talks could be resumed within two months. Israeli government officials say a compromise under discussion could see Israel freeze building for nine to 12 months, but this will not include East Jerusalem or building that has already begun.

The halt in approvals for new building was dismissed by Netanyahu’s critics. The settlement watchdog group Peace Now said there had been no real slowdown in construction and that settlers could keep building indefinitely, using plans that had already been approved. In a new report, Peace Now said Israeli defence ministry figures showed existing government approval to build more than 40,000 housing units in West Bank settlements.

In his meeting with Mitchell, Netanyahu is expected to stress that Israel will not accept limits on its sovereignty in Jerusalem, in particular in relation to building new housing units in the city, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has said he would resume peace talks with Israel, suspended since December, on condition of a freeze on settlement activity. Some 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, territory that Israel captured in the 1967 war and which is home to 2.5 million Palestinians.

Israel condemned over evictions

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , on 02/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 2nd August 2009

Source: BBC News

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Protester is removed by police from a demonstration outside the homes 2/8/09

The evictions by Israel sparked protests at the scene

The US has led international condemnation of Israel after it evicted nine Palestinian families living in two houses in occupied East Jerusalem.

Washington said the action was not in keeping with Israel’s obligations under the so-called “road map” to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish settlers moved into the houses almost immediately.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognised by the world community.

The removal of the 53 people was also condemned by the United Nations, the Palestinians and the UK government.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he was outraged at the action.

“Israel is once again showing its utter failure to respect international law,” he said.

“New settlers from abroad are accommodating themselves and their belongings in the Palestinian houses and 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.”

‘Deplorable’

The operation to evict the Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah district of the city was carried out before dawn on Sunday by police clad in black riot gear.

It followed a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court that Jewish families owned the land. Israel wants to build a block of 20 apartments in the area.

The families' belongings were put on the street - 2/08/09

The families’ belongings were put on the street

“I deplore today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel,” the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H Serry said.

“These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory.

“These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace.”

The UK government said the Israeli action was “incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace”.

“We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda,” the British Consulate in East Jerusalem said.

Sovereignty ‘unquestionable’

Israel considers a united Jerusalem to be the capital of the state of Israel.

“Our sovereignty over it is unquestionable,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month.

“We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy [homes] anywhere in Jerusalem.”

The BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem says the houses are in what is probably the most contested city on earth and the diplomatic ripples from the evictions will spread.

There are an estimated 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and 200,000 Jews.