Despite the ceasefire of sorts between Israel and the Palestinians, and despite the understandings that were reached at the Sharm summit on 8 February 2005, in which Israel committed itself to refrain from attacking Palestinian civilians, the reality on the ground proves that Israel is not respecting those commitments. Taking advantage of the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv two weeks ago Friday, an attack in which 5 Israeli citizens were murdered, Israel is continuing to carry out daily military operations deep in the Palestinian territories on the claim that it is searching for the Islamic Jihad cell that was responsible for the attack in Tel Aviv. Under this pretext raids are conducted on villages daily, imposing curfews and tightening the closure, the army bursts into the homes of civilians, carry out violent searches, arrest wanted people and sometimes use civilians as human shields - all this in violation of international law and against Israel’s public undertakings.
Below is a summary of the events of the past week in the occupied territories:
Sunday 6 March 2005:
At 3 AM army forces entered the village of Naameh, west of Ramallah. The army raided the home of Abdul-Hakim Abu-Adi, age 27, and arrested him.
Monday 7 March 2005:
Army forces entered Ramallah at 1 AM, raided the home of Umar Muhammad Shalash, age 22, and arrested him.
At 8:45 AM on Monday four shots were fired near the military position at the entrance to the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. An Israeli soldier was wounded by Palestinian gunfire. The Palestinian was shot and killed on the spot. The army immediately imposed a curfew on the entire Old City of Hebron around the Cave of Machpelah. According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, Israeli soldiers fired in the air to frighten people. Raids were conducted in private homes in the course of which about 200 residents ages 16-40 were forced to leave their homes, and according to eyewitnesses soldiers struck some of them.
Tuesday 8 March 2005:
At dawn the army entered Yatta village in the South Hebron Hills and conducted a search in the home of the Abu-Zahra family. The son of the family was arrested and taken for investigation.
At 2:20 AM army forces entered Qabatya village, south of Jenin, and raided several houses and arrested 7 Palestinians. At 3:00 AM the forces moved into Azzoun village east of Qalqilya, raided a number of houses and arrested 2 Palestinians, ages 52 and 35.
On the afternoon of the same day, around 2:30 PM, two Palestinians were wounded in Rafah. The incident occurred when Israeli army forces stationed on the Egyptian border opened fire towards a Palestinian residential neighbourhood. Yusuf Kamal Abu-Jazzar, age 46, was wounded by a live bullet in the abdomen as he was driving a cart drawn by an animal a few hundred metres from the border.
Wednesday 9 March 2005:
At 3:00 AM army forces entered the village of Simba near Hebron. They conducted a search in the home of the family of Nayef Abdul-Aziz Abu-Aqeel, 45, and arrested him.
At about 6:00 PM army forces entered the village of al-Batan, northeast of Nablus. They surrounded a civilian car in which three Palestinian civilians sat. They opened fire on the car. Ahmad al-Khalili, age 30, was wounded by the shots. He was arrested by the army together with two other passengers in the car: Yasir Sabah al-Faris, 28, and Ghassan al-Mash, 30. Later the army arrested two other Palestinians in the same area: Imad Rabah Shalhat, 26, and Abd al-Hadi Ibrahim Shalhat, 27.
Thursday, 10 March 2005:
The curfew continued in the Old City of Hebron for the third consecutive day, and the settlers continued their attacks on the houses of Palestinians in the full view of soldiers who observe their actions and make no move to stop them. According to the testimony of Mr. Adel al-Muhtasib, a neighbourhood resident, settlers threw stones at his house and at the neighbours’ houses without any constraints from the soldiers in the area.
Settlers in the vicinity of the “Avraham Avinu” compound in Hebron, destroyed parts of the home of the al-Sharbati family that borders on the compound, in order to prevent the family from returning to the house.
At sunrise on Thursday army forces raided the village of al-Samia; they conducted a search in the home of the Abu-Aqeela family and arrested Nayef Abdul-Aziz Abu-Aqeela.
Friday 11 March 2005
There were non-violent demonstrations by Palestinians and international activists against the construction of the Wall in Bil’in. Army forces arrested a demonstrator. Military orders were issued for the confiscation of 26 dunams in Dahyat al-Barid in northern Jerusalem.
Saturday 12 March 2005
Settlers in Hebron continue to attack the homes of Palestinians, this time mostly in the neighbourhood of Wad al-Nasari and neighbourhoods near the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Army forces arrested a young Palestinian woman.
Large army forces accompanied by helicopters raided the villages of Saida, Alar and Ateel north of Tul Karem. A curfew was imposed on the villages and soldiers deployed to a number of houses in which prolonged searches were carried out. In the village of Alar three people were arrested: Abd al-Karim Khandaqji and his son Samer and Lutfi Abu-Hafiza, and two others were wounded by army gunfire.
In Nazla Sharqiya a curfew was imposed and the citizen Hasan Nayef was arrested.
Notable incidents in the Gaza Strip:
The army continues to impose serious restrictions on the movements of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip, and all the border crossing-points continue to be closed.
The army continues to impose an absolute siege on the Muwasi area in the southern Gaza Strip, and male Palestinians between the ages of 16 and 35 and are prevented from crossing the Tuffah checkpoint at the entrance to the area.
The harsh closure continued on Palestinian communities that have the bad luck to be close to Israeli military positions or settlements. Conditions are particularly harsh in the as-Siafa area near the Dugit and Alei Sinai settlements. An iron gate has been set up at the entrance to the Palestinian area and the army controls the movements of the Palestinian residents to and from the area. This causes much suffering to the residents of the area and they cannot live their lives in a normal and regular way.
Continuation of restrictions on the movements of Palestinian residents:
The policy is continuing of restricting the movements of Palestinian residents by means of permanent and mobile checkpoints throughout the occupied territories. Therefore it is obvious that there has been no change in the web of suffering and humiliation in which the Palestinian residents are entangled as a result of what happens to them at those checkpoints.
Over the course of the past week occupation forces set up many surprise checkpoints all over the West Bank, especially around the city of Nablus. In addition to checking ID papers, searches were conducted of the vehicles of the travellers, which produced long lines at the checkpoints, leading to serious disruptions.
Continuation of the construction of the Separation Wall:
The army continued the construction of the Separation Wall and for that purpose additional Palestinian land was expropriated this past week. The army also continued to “clear” and destroy agricultural lands in the village of Beit Sureiq, where 50,000 dunams are about to be seized, of which 29,500 are agricultural lands.
On Monday, 7 March 2005, occupation forces continued to clear agricultural areas of the Bil’in village, west of Ramallah. According to Palestinian sources, based on notices that were given by the occupation authorities to the residents, the army is to seize 2,300 dunams of agricultural land there. On Monday at the place of the seizure there was a peaceful demonstration by village residents. The army violently broke up the demonstration, fired gas bombs at the demonstrators, and dozens were injured by smoke-inhalation.
Settlers continue to attack Palestinians and damage their property:
On Saturday, 5 March 2005, seven armed settlers from Tapuah attacked Ma’aruf Issa Hassan, age 55, from Yasuf village south of Nablus, as he was working his land. They cruelly struck him until an army jeep arrived and rescued him, but the soldiers did not take descriptions of the attackers. The assaulted farmer had to be hospitalized at the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus.
On Tuesday, 8 March 2005, armed settlers from Kedumim prevented Palestinian farmers from getting to their lands and forced them to leave the area.
Again, throughout the week there were attacks by settlers in Hebron against Palestinians. Settlers threw stones at the houses of Palestinian residents and on one occasion even partly destroyed a house that was near the Avraham Avinu compound to prevent its owners from returning.
Translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall