By: Daniel Breslau
Week 1,992 of occupation
4 August 2005 - 10 August 2005
We are inundated with reports of the trauma of the settlers, the nation, the thousands of illegal infiltrators in the Gaza strip, with barely a passing mention of the trauma of occupation. But the events that escaped notice beneath the hystrionics of disengagement are reminders that the occupation continues.
On Sunday afternoon, 7 August, IDF soldiers fired into a civilian area of Rafiah 500 meters north of their position along the Egyptian border. A Palestinian civilian, 23-year-old Mohammed Hamdan Qeshta, who was sitting outside his house, was hit by the gunfire and later died from his wounds.
On Monday, IDF soldiers opened fire on a group of youths who had thrown stones and molotov cocktails at jeeps moving through the town of Tul Karm. One of the youths, a resident of Saudi Arabia who was visiting Palestine with his family, was hit in the head with live amunition, and killed. Witnesses at the scene say that the victim was not involved in the stone-throwing.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports that, despite the impending evacuation, it was a routine week of occupation. In addition to the two Palestinian civilians killed:
- IDF conducted 45 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 4 incursions into the Gaza Strip.
- Houses were raided and 45 Palestinian civilians were arrested by IOF.
- 10 houses were transformed by the IDF into military sites.
- IDF continued to use Palestinian civilians as human shields during military operations.
- Israel has continued to impose a total siege on the occupied territories
- Israel has continued to construct the Annexation Wall in the West Bank; 4 Palestinian civilians were injured and 17 solidarity activist and two Palestinian farmers were arrested by the IDF during protests against the construction of the Wall.
- Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; an Israeli settler fired at a number of Palestinian workers and wounded two of them
The Gaza evacuation - from the Palestinian side
On Monday, 8 August, Israel decided to insist that the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt be closed and that a new crossing be opened further south near the Israeli town of Kerem Shalom. The move is to prevent the creation of a purely bilateral Palestinian-Egyptian crossing, and the assurance that any crossing of population and goods between Gaza and Egypt will be supervised by Israel.
Israel had proposed moving the crossing to Kerem Shalom during early negotiations on the disengagement in 2004, but the idea was rejected by the Palestinians and Egypt. Now Israel has threatened to exclude the Gaza Strip from the Israeli `customs envelope` if the Palestinian Authority and Egypt do not agree to moving the border crossing. Moving the border of the customs envelope to the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the north would deal a death blow to the already devastated Gaza economy.
In response to the Israeli decision, the Palestinian Authority announced that the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and military forces from the Gaza Strip will not change the legal status of the area, and it will remain under Israeli occupation.
Demonstrations against checkpoints in Deir Ballut
On Thursday, 4 August, the residents of the village of Deir Ballut, joined by 30 Israelis and internationals, staged a peaceful protest against the checkpoint that blocks the entrance to the village, and against the impending construction of the annexation wall. The demonstration was enlivened by street theater, including a mock checkpoint. The wall will separate the village from 80% of its agricultural land, and will cut off Deir Ballut and two villages to the north, Rafat and Zawiya, from the rest of the West Bank. The villages will be trapped between the green line and the annexation wall, with passage to their land and to the rest of their county at the pleasure of IDF soldiers.
Sources: Wafa, Ha`aretz, ISM, IMEMC, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information.