By: Daniel Breslau
Week 1,987 of occupation
Under a set of mysterious circumstances, a large Israel force entered the city of Nablus on Thursday, June 30. The incursion involved over twenty jeeps and personnel carriers and helicopter cover. Various news sources had reported that someone from the Al Aksa Martyrs` Brigade had announced that the group had captured two Israeli soldiers. While troops surrounded the city, the force entered under helicopter cover. Five Palestinian residents of Nablus were wounded during the incursion. The IDF later announced that no kidnapping had taken place, although its soldiers remained in and around Nablus and the adjacent refugee camps.
Incursions continue - every day
The Nablus mini-invasion was just one example of the incursions that take place daily in Palestinian towns and villages throughout the occupied territories. The Palestine Center for Human Rights reports 38 IDF military incursions in the occupied Palestinian territories over the week. These incursions include curfews, raids on houses, arrests, and searches. Typically, makeshift checkpoints are set up and impromptu military observation posts are established on upper floors and roofs of Palestinian homes, preventing the residents from using their houses. The residents are often confined to one or two rooms of the house, or, as in a raid in Tulkarm on Friday, July 1, residents are told to simply evacuate their homes.
Home demolitions in Jerusalem
On Sunday and Monday, July 3 and 4, the Jerusalem municipality and the Interior Ministry demolished nine homes and a gas station in East Jerusalem. These included two inhabited homes, of Bassam Ramlawi and Nur al Din Damiri, in Beit Hanina.
The municipality said that the homes were build without the proper permits, and that they would be replaced with `green areas` for public usage. The demolitions were part of a renewed campaign to destroy Palestinian homes in the city, where it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits.
Then on Tuesday morning, Israeli bulldozers entered the al-Ashqariyya section of Beit Hanina , north of Jerusalem, and leveled two homes.
The WAFA news agency reported that soldiers surrounded the neighborhood, imposed restrictions on the movement of the residents, and destroyed two homes without allowing the residents to evacuate their belongings and furniture.
Also on Sunday, soldiers handed 12 residents military orders informing them of intentions to level their homes located in Beit Hanina, al-Tour, al-Esawiyya, Jabal al-Mokabber, al-Sawahra, Ras Khamis and Shuafat refugee camp.
The annexation wall - legal challenges continue
The Israeli Supreme Court is preparing a new ruling on the annexation wall, nearly a year after the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that the wall`s construction is contrary to international law.
In East Jerusalem some sections of the annexation wall should be called an exclusion wall. By the Defense Ministry`s own admission, it is being constructed in order to remove some Palestinian neighborhoods out of the city`s jurisdiction. On Sunday, residents of Anata and Ras al-Hamis, and of the Shuafat refugee camp, petitioned the high court of justice to have the route of the wall changed to include them on the Jerusalem side. The neighborhood of Kfar Akab has already been separated from the rest of the city by the fence, and now no longer receives any municipal services.
Meanwhile, in response to a petition to the High Court of Justice by the residents of the town of Azun, the state claimed that it would be expensive to move the wall to a location that the court could approve. The state thereby admitted that the wall`s location is not justified solely by security considerations. The court has already ruled that the wall in Azun does not have a valid security purpose.
Here is a partial listing of nonviolent demonstrations against the wall during the week:
Thursday, June 30: Arab al-Ramadin village, near Hebron
Friday, July 1: Hirbat Emneizil, South of Hebron
Friday, July 1: Bil`in, near Ramallah
Monday, July 4: Marda, near Salfit
Tuesday, July 5: Qutna, north of Jerusalem
Gaza Strip reopened to Israelis
Following the violence around the evacuation of a Palestinian house in Al Mawasi, that settlers had turned into an outpost they called `Tal Yam,` the IDF briefly closed the Gaza Strip to Israelis who are not residents of the settlements there. The closure lasted only one day, and was lifted on Saturday, as the army gave in to threats from settler organizations. Extremist settlers will continue to be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip, although they will not be allowed to bring equipment for construction or supplies for an extended stay.
The main settler activist groups immediately announced campaigns to bring as many right-wing activists as possible into the Gush Katif area.
Journalists arrested and handcuffed
In two separate incidents this week, IDF officers have detained journalists and prevented them from photographing and reporting on events in the occupied territories.
During a confrontation among police, settlers, and Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip, police arrested and handcuffed Channel 1 reporter Viko Atouance and Ma`ariv photographer Edi Yisrael. The two were detained in an area that had been declared a closed military zone, but in which numerous pro-settler activists were allowed to operate freely. The army later apologized for the arrest and detention by force.
In a separate incident on Friday, July 1, an Israel Defense Forces deputy brigade commander confiscated the press card of an Israeli journalist, Shai Carmeli Pollak, informing him that he was revoking his card and ordering that he be arrested for terming him `insolent.` The director of the Association of Israeli Journalists, Yossi Bar-Moha, issued a complaint, referring to the action as one that `can only take place in totalitarian states.` Pollak is filming a documentary on the anti-wall nonviolent protests for Channel 8 television.
Sources: Ha`aretz, Palestine News Network, ISM, B`tselem, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Wafa