By Mark Marshall
On Monday 21 March Israel handed Tul Karem to the Palestinian Authority. It was agreed that the villages of Seida and Alar would remain under Israeli control for the time being. The matter of the villages is to be discussed again after a month. Meanwhile, on Monday 21 March, Israel confirmed plans to build 3,500 new homes in the settlement of Maale Adumim just east of Jerusalem. Ariel in the northern West Bank and the Gush Etzion settlements south of Jerusalem are also to be expanded. Arab leaders meeting in Algiers proposed on Wednesday 23 March to relaunch the Saudi peace initiative, according to which the Arab states would normalize relations with Israel if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories and agreed to a just solution to the refugee problem. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that there appeared to be nothing new in the proposal.
A survey of Palestinian public opinion conducted by al-Najah University in Nablus reveals widespread support for the ceasefire among the Palestinian population. 89% of those polled support the de-escalation agreed to by the Palestinian factions, but 85% feel that Israel’s foot-dragging will lead to a renewal of armed attacks against Israeli targets. 81% support the complete cessation of attacks on Israeli targets by all the Palestinian factions. 76% expressed general support for the ongoing peace process. 25% felt that their personal security had improved since Abu Mazen’s election, whereas 48% felt that there had been no improvement.
RAIDS AND ARRESTS
On Thursday 17 March 17-year-old Muhammad Ghaleb Fuqaha was arrested by Israeli soldiers at Anabta near Tul Karem. Bilal `Abdullah al-Tamimi, 22; Ra`fat Hassan al-Tamimi, 23, and Munjed Muhammad Hassan, 20, all of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah, were arrested on the same day after a confrontation with settlers from the Halmish settlement. Male residents of Wad al-Husain in Hebron were removed from their homes and confined in a school from 22:00 on 17 March until 03:00 the next morning. On Friday 18 March Mohammed Eshtaiwi `Aabdin, 27, was arrested at his home in Khan Yunis. On the same day male residents of Bardala and Kardala near Jenin, ages 15-60, were forced to gather in the school at Bardala. On Saturday 19 March the Israeli army raided Alar near Tul Karem and imposed a curfew that lasted until Mon 21 March. Also on the 19th, Azzoun near Qalqilya was raided and Khaled Ahmad Sukkar arrested. On the same day the Israeli army arrested Shadi al-Hawarin, 20, in al-Zahiriya near Hebron, and `Abdul Latif Abu Khalil, 23, in ‘Attil, near Tul Karem. Three minors were arrested as they tried to enter Israel from Gaza Strip: Fares Hussein Abu Humaisa, 17; Saber Mohammed al-Khaldi, 17; and Salah al-Din Hassan Abu Maktouma, 17. On Sunday 20 March the village of Budrus, near Ramallah, was raided. The brothers Hassan and Ahmad Muhammad Khalil (ages 18 and 20), the brothers Mu’ayyid and Ihab Ahmad ‘Abdu (ages 20 and 21), and Ahmad Shukri ‘Ali, age 17, were arrested. Local resident Nuzhi Khalifah reported that Israeli soldiers photographed houses and village residents. On Monday 21 March Hikmat `Ouda, 25, was arrested in Saida near Tul Karem. On the same day Firas Mahmoud Khalifa, 26; and Nihad Ahmed Harb, 21, were arrested in the Tul Karem refugee camp, and Baker `Abdul Ra`ouf Khaled, 20, of Jayyous, was arrested near Qalqilyia. On Tuesday 22 March Mahdi Al-Hanbali, 40, was arrested at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus, and Lo’ay Hamdi Abu Shukheidem, 27, was arrested at a checkpoint near Hebron. On Wednesday 23 March Nimir Hussein Al-Sweiti, 14, from Beit Awwa, Amin Tayyim al-Rajoub, 33, from Dura and Samer Salem Abu Sharkh, 27, from Al-Zaheriyya, were arrested near Hebron. In Qalqilya the army arrested Nimir Thieb Al-Hindi, Mohammad Mustafa Milhim, Mahmoud Numir Al-Hindi, and Mohammad Mahmoud Abdul-Hadi Milhim.
WALL CONSTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION OF LAND AND PROPERTY
On Sunday 20 March residents of Khillet Hamama and Bir ‘Awna north of Beit-Jalla issued a public appeal for relief from the constant harassment caused by the Wall construction. Spokesman Jamal Jawarish stated that the bulldozers are working around the clock, stripping farmland and uprooting trees and preventing residents from sleeping at night with their noise. He added that local residents had been issued fines totaling 14 thousand shekels, in what he characterized as a campaign to force residents from their homes so that the area can be annexed to the settlement of Gilo, within the city limits of Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities allege that the residents, who have Palestinian ID cards, are illegally residing in Jerusalem. Jawarish said that Khillet Hamama, 300 people on 200 dunams, had had 50 dunams confiscated for
The mayor of Sureif, northwest of Hebron, reported that in the past week over 20 dunams of land have been affected by land-clearing operations related to the separation fence which have destroyed hundreds of olive trees. The affected lands belong to the following citizens: Sami Naji Brad’ayeh, Musa Muhammad Brad’ayeh, Abd al-Aziz Brad’ayeh, Abd al-Aziz Hadoush and Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Ghneimat.
Four dunams of agricultural land belonging to Mohammed Abu Rajab in Jabal Jowhar, near Hebron, were destroyed on 21 March to prepare for a new military facility.
On Thursday 17 March Husni `Abdul Hai Abu Es`eifan, 38, was beaten by settlers from Kiryat Arba, in Hebron. On 18 March a group of settlers from Nahaliel near Bethlehem attacked a group of Palestinians who worked in the settlement. One of the workers, 40-year-old Muhyi Shakarna, was seriously injured. On 19 Mar: settlers from Maon attacked Palestinian farmers in al-Tuwani near Hebron. 70-year-old Fatima Salama al-Harini sustained injuries.
Also in al-Tuwani, residents discovered on 22 March that settlers had spread poisoned fodder on the pastures used by villagers’ sheep. This caused the death of six sheep, with others showing signs of illness.
On Thu 17 March Ahmed `Abdul Rahim Tawfiq E`mar, 17, was shot by Israeli soldiers in Anabta near Tul Karem and seriously wounded by a live bullet in the face (pchrgaza.org). On 18 March Manal Musa Salem, 28, from Qaryut village near Nablus, was on her way to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque when she was struck in the face by an exploding sound bomb thrown by a Border Policeman at the Shu’fat checkpoint near Jerusalem. She was evacuated to Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital, and said in a phone interview that she would be scarred for life. The bomb was thrown after the Border Police said that only women over 50 would be allowed to proceed to Jerusalem. At the hospital Manal was operated on for 3 hours, where she had a skin-graft on her face. Doctor said she would take at least 3 months to recover. Also on 18 March: 21-year-old Tariq Samara was seriously wounded when struck on the head by a rubber-coated bullet during a demonstration against land seizure in Bil’in, near Ramallah. A foreign journalist, Ian Rick, passed out from tear gas in the same incident. Hassan Khalil Mousa al-Sheikh, 70, of Deir al-Asal near Hebron, was beaten by Israeli soldiers as he worked his land near the Wall.
On Sunday 20 March 3 Israeli soldiers and a policeman were wounded when they were shot at by Palestinians in the al-A’mari refugee camp near Ramallah as they were looking for stolen cars. Two of the soldiers were injured seriously.
Maher Issa Ali al-Qaymari, 34, of Yatta, near Hebron, was wounded on 20 March when shot by an Israeli Border Policeman at the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Border Police alleged that the man tried to grab a policeman’s gun. His brother Ali stated that he was seriously injured and taken to Shaar Tsedek hospital in Jerusalem where he underwent extensive surgery.
Three boys were injured near Bil’in west of Ramallah, when they were shot by Israeli soldiers. Nayef Ghazi, 16, from Bil’in, was struck on the spine by a tear-gas projectile canister and his condition is described as serious. Yassin Fares Ash’ab, 16, from Bil’in, was struck on the head by a rubber bullet, and his condition is described as moderate. Zaki Muhammad Zaki, 17, of Safa village, was struck in the eye by a rubber bullet, in serious condition. This happened following a demonstration against the construction of the Wall on the lands of Bil’in.
Sources: al-Ayyam, Haaretz, pchrgaza.org, al-Quds, imemc.org, news.bbc.co.uk, Ynet/Yediot Ahronot