By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,021 of occupation
16 February 2006 - 22 February 2006
Violence in Nablus
Starting the morning of Sunday, 19 February, a large Israeli force entered the Palestinian city of Nablus and the adjacent Balata refugee camp. The IDF reported that it had received intelligence of attacks being planned in the area. But this was used as an opportunity for a general crackdown against all Palestinian resistance groups. For three days, the force, consisting of soldiers, bulldozers, tanks, and armored personnel carriers, backed by helicopter gunships, conducted house-to-house searches. Youths who gathered to throw stones at the military vehicles were fired upon with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and live ammunition.
Thirty-six Palestinian civilians, mostly children and teenagers, were wounded during the course of the invasion. Twelve of them were hit in the head and upper body by rubber-coated metal bullets. At least eleven were hit by live bullets, mostly to the legs. Most were fired at when they threw stones at the Israeli troops.
On Sunday, two 17-year-old Palestinian boys in Nablus were killed by sniper fire in an uprovoked attack. Each was hit with a single bullet to the neck, indicating that the sniper shot with the intent to kill. The IDF claimed that the two were laying explosive charges, while the Palestine Centre for Human Rights, after investigating the incident, found that the boys were standing in front of their homes when they were hit.
On Monday, one Palestinian man was killed in an exchange of fire with the Israeli troops. As of Wednesday, the Nablus invasion shows no sign of ending soon.
The head of the Hamas list in the recent Palestinian parliamentary elections, Ismail Haniyeh, has been officially asked, by President Mahmoud Abbas, to form a new government. On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet decided to withhold the over $US 50 million it collects each month in taxes and duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, in order to make it difficult for the newly-elected Hamas government to function. The move has no legal basis, since the money does not belong to Israel, and may not be used as a political weapon against its rightful owners. Israel is also considering closures on workers and goods from the occupied territories, which would constitute a collective punishment of the Palestinians as a whole. Preventing Hamas from governing is the surest way to encourage the group to return to violent attacks within Israel.
The struggle against the wall continues
The Popular Committee Against the Wall has organized a conference in Bil`in to take stock of the nonviolent movement against the apartheid wall, which has now continued for an entire year. Participants included Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists, who discussed strategic and tactical options for the continuing struggle against the wall, which uses security as a pretext for a massive grab of land and water, and an attempt to unilaterally expand Israel`s borders. A new report by B`Tselem details many instances where the route of the fence was drawn to allow for the planned expansion of Israeli settlements.
Sources: Ha`aretz, IMEMC, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, International Solidarity Movement.