By: Vera Reider
This week Passover was celebrated in Israel. As is usual during the Jewish holidays, even tighter restrictions were imposed on the Palestinian freedom of motion at the military checkpoints. That included - as usual - the freedom of motion from one besieged Palestinian village or town to another, deep inside the Occupied Territories, end even inside some of the towns (Nablus, Hebron).
At least 5200 laborers from the Gaza Strip, with valid work permits, were prevented from reaching their work places in Israel through the Erez crossing, as a result of the tightened closure measures. This constituted a breach of agreement between Israel and the PA.
Despite the fact that the agreement to allow access of these Gaza laborers to Israelhad been made several weeks before, many of the workers were not able to work at all. The reason is simple: after months of closure, their Israeli employers found replacements. Thus, even Gazans with work permits in Israel face the problem of finding employment. And contractors are not very eager to hire them as there is a high likelihood for a repeated long term closure during the forthcoming `disengagement`.
Besides the workers, several dozen Gazans with medical problems were prevented from reaching treatment in Israeli hospitals or West Bank ones.
But despite the holidays and the daily protest demonstrations, the construction of the `Separation Fence` continued in the West Bank, which implied continued confiscation of Palestinian lands. Confiscation orders were issued by the army for 80 dunams of land of the El Jab`a village South of Bethlehem, and 181 dunams from the Bet Suriq village north-west of Jerusalem.
Demonstrations against the Fence were dispersed as usual by the Israeli army, using gas grenades and rubber-coated bullets. On April 28, `novel` methods were introduced at a large Palestinian-Israeli demonstration near the Bil`in village: salt bullets, which left large tell-tale abrasions; and agents-provocateurs. The latter, disguised as Palestinians, threw stones from the crowd of the demonstrators in order to provoke a violent response by the soldiers. It should be noted that most of the demonstrators who were hurt, were hit by the salt bullets in their backs. That is, they were shot at while running away from the gas granade attack.
This week, the British Association of University Teachers declared boycott on two Israeli academic institutions - Bar Ilan and Haifa - after concluding that these institutions `actively collaborate with the occupation`.
Military raids took place in Bet Jalla and Bet Tamer, and in a refugee camp in Gaza. The soldiers paid nightly `visits` in homes, arrests were not reported.
In the evening a man was arrested in Dir Qiddis during a raid.
Gush Shalom publicized a case of a 30 year old patient, Jabar Dalani, who was returning home after a 5 day hospitalization in Nablus to treat meningitis. He was detained at the Hawara checkpoint for 9.5 hours, outside, while his medical condition deteriorated. Despite that, he was arrested and escorted to Salem, where the medical doctors diagnosed first a stomach ulcer, then heart problems, and finally meningitis. After spending two days on the floor with other detainees, without proper nourishment, he was finally sent to a hospital in Afula, where he had to be fed by a feeding tube. Mr. Dalani works in the Ministry of Finance in Ramallah.
In the evening of 21 April, a soldier was wounded by an explosion near a military jeep, near the `security fence` in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic Jihad accepted the responsibility.
Five men were arrested in a night raid on houses in Hebron. The soldiers took over two family houses in the Old City of Hebron and converted them into military posts.
A military raid took also place at the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. Two members of the Palestinian resistance were wounded during an exchange of fire.
Three people were arrested during a night raid in Jenin, and one in the Tul Karem area.
In Dura village south of Hebron, a 22 year old Palestinian was arrested during a night raid.
In the village of Yasid south of Nablus soldiers searched a Hamas photo exhibition, using two Palestinians as `human shields`.
Near Hebron University, soldiers beat up several students.
Four Palestinians were arrested: one in Hebron, one in Jenin, and two in the Nablus area.
During the night a Palestinian driver hit a soldier at a `flying` checkpoint in Hebron. Other soldiers opened fire which killed both the driver and the soldier who had been struck by the car. According to the Israeli press, the ensuing inquiry suggested that the driver simply did not see the soldier in the darkness. A photo-correspondent from a German agency was beaten and hurt in the head while attempting to reach the scene.
On the same day, Itamar settlers attacked Palestinian farmers working in a field, along with Israeli volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights. Rabbi Arik Asherman of the RHR, and two Palestinians were attacked and their IDs were taken away. After that one of the attackers called Rabbi Asherman`s wife threatening to `visit` her at home.
Ten Palestinians were arrested in Qalqiliya, and one in the Hebron area. An additional two Palestinian houses in Hebron were converted into military posts.
Three Palestinians were beaten by settlers in Hebron.
Haaretz newspaper reported that the Jerusalem section of the Israeli Ministry of Housing continues to develop the project of the E1 settlement between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim. This project was opposed by the US administration as an obstacle to the establishment of a future Palestinian state. Minister of Housing Herzog claimed that this project is not included in the plans of the Ministry, and that he does not know anything about the ongoing work.
The army invaded a flour mill in El Qarar, north of Khan-Yunis in the Gaza Strip. The soldiers searched the building, using one of the workers as a `human shield`. Then they occupied the fifth floor of the building, converting it into a military post. The purpose seemed to be in order to provide military cover for a nearby “settlers only” road.
A Palestinian was arrested south of Hebron.
Sources: IMEMC, Israeli press, PCHR and other human rights organizations.