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Israeli army lays siege on Bethlehem following token withdrawal

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  • ummyakoub
    Israeli army lays siege on Bethlehem following token withdrawal Occupied Jerusalem: 3 July, 2003 (IAP News) No sooner had the Israeli occupation army made its
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2003
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      Israeli army lays siege on Bethlehem following token withdrawal

      Occupied Jerusalem: 3 July, 2003 (IAP News)

      No sooner had the Israeli occupation army made its token "withdrawal"
      from Bethlehem, then Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers
      took position around the town, with their huge guns trained toward
      the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

      The reimposition of the harsh closure on Bethlehem meant that the
      city would be effectively under siege and that the residents would be
      confined to their town, with nobody allowed in or out.

      According to Palestinian travelers, trigger-happy Zionist soldiers
      were manning several roadblocks erected at all entrances to Bethlehem
      for the purpose of preventing Palestinians from leaving or entering
      the towns.

      The Israeli army also reportedly erected roadblocks on intersections
      leading to the harsh Wadi an-nar road, the only exit left to the
      Jerusalem and Ramallah regions.

      Access to Hebron in the south was also closed, Palestinian sources
      said.

      The suffocating closure of Bethlehem is enforcing Palestinian
      suspicions about Zionist intentions.

      "We are glad the Zio-Nazis have left, but we are all under town
      arrest, we can't leave our town, we can't go to work outside, we are
      under siege," said Jeryes Bannura, a Christian businessman in
      Bethlehem's twin-town of Beit Sahur.

      "This entire peace process is a farce. When the Zio-Nazis respect our
      very humanity, then I can be optimistic, then I can give the peace
      process the benefit of the doubt."

      In the northern West Bank of Tulkarm, the Israeli occupation army
      reinvaded the city Thursday, imposing a strict curfew on its 80,000
      population.

      The Israeli army said the harsh home-confinement was necessary
      for "security reasons."

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      Hamas warns Israeli attacks could end cease-fire

      Occupied Jerusalem: 3 July, 2003 (IAP News)

      The Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, has warned the zionist
      occupation regime against continuing attacks on Palestinians, saying
      such attacks constitute a violation of the cease-fire between the two
      sides.

      The warning came from Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Dr. Abdul Aziz al
      Rantisi, who warned that the continuation of Israeli attacks and acts
      of killing would force Palestinian resistance groups to reconsider
      the cease-fire reached earlier this week.

      "If they continued to carry out acts of assassinations and attacks on
      civilians, it means the cease-fire is over," Rantisi told reporters
      in Gaza Thursday.

      The Israeli occupation army on Thursday killed at least one
      Palestinian, 32 year old Mahmoud Sharour, in the northern
      Palestinian town of Qalqilya during an army incursion into the city.

      Moreover, a car driven by a messianic Jewish settler ran over a
      Palestinian boy, 15 year old Omar Omar, killing him on the spot.

      Eyewitnesses described the incident as deliberate.


      http://www.iap.org E-mails: iapinfo@...

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      Israel defies peace plan with land grab on West Bank

      Bethlehem pullout is a cover for new settlements, say Palestinians

      Chris McGreal in Beit Eksa
      Thursday July 3, 2003
      The Guardian
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,989844,00.html

      The Israeli government has confiscated hundreds of acres of
      Palestinian land on the West Bank this week - for the purpose,
      Palestinians allege, of building settlements - in flagrant breach of
      commitments under the US-led road map to peace. Yesterday, an
      Israeli official and soldiers were marking out swaths of olive
      groves and other ground outside the villages of Beit Eksa and Beit
      Souriq, north of Jerusalem.

      "State land. Entry prohibited," read a sign erected on village land
      in the name of the civil administration of Judea and Samaria, the
      Israeli body that oversees military rule in the West Bank.

      The Palestinians say the Israelis plan to build settlements to link
      two Jewish towns constructed on land seized from the Arab villages in
      the 1980s. The accusation would fit with existing Israeli plans for
      a "greater Jerusalem".

      The new land seizure came on the day Israel handed over the West Bank
      city of Bethlehem to Palestinian police. Church bells pealed in
      celebration and Palestinian police patrolled the town with their
      sirens blaring.

      One Palestinian cabinet minister, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said Mr Sharon
      was using the military's withdrawal from Bethlehem yesterday, and
      Gaza earlier in the week, as a cover for land seizures.

      "It's robbery," said Mr Abed Rabbo. "What they are doing is trying to
      practise ethnic cleansing on the outskirts of Jerusalem. When they
      steal the land of villagers, they tell them they have no future with
      nothing to live on.

      "The road map says they should stop the confiscation of land, they
      should stop the demolition of homes, but all the Israelis do is talk
      of the difficult decisions they have to make."

      The first phase of the road map requires Israel to stop confiscating
      Palestinian property and to freeze all settlement activity. It also
      obliges Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes - but yesterday
      an Israeli official accompanied by soldiers was touring Beit Eksa and
      Beit Souriq, marking out the confiscated land and handing out
      demolition orders.

      The soldiers arrived on Monday without warning. Although a seizure
      order was made, it was only displayed in the headquarters of the
      civil administration, and the residents of Beit Eksa and Beit Souriq
      say they knew nothing about it.

      "They didn't tell us anything," said Fateh Hababa, a teacher and
      member of Beit Eksa's village council. "Some people went to speak to
      them. They told us we could pick our olives but we cannot plough our
      land or repair the terracing because it's not ours any more.

      "All this started 20 years ago ... they have taken 4,000 acres of
      land over the years. We are being squeezed out. There were 20,000
      people living here in 1967. Now there are 1,300."

      The seizure was supervised by an Israeli official, Mikha Yaven. He
      declined to say which department he worked for or to discuss what he
      was doing. "This is nothing special. My work is enforcing the law. I
      can't talk," he said.

      The Guardian sought an explanation for the land seizures from Talia
      Fomeh, a spokeswoman for General Amos Gilad, the military
      administrator of the West Bank.

      "It's a bit sensitive," she said. "It's not something we want to
      respond to without knowing the complicated legal issues involved."

      Ariel Sharon and others on the Israeli right have made no secret of
      their desire to expand Jerusalem deep into the West Bank by building
      new settlements and incorporating them into the city.

      Large Jewish towns, such as Ma'ale Adumim several miles east of
      Jerusalem, are already administered as though part of the city.

      Last month, the Israeli prime minister told his cabinet that
      settlements should go on expanding despite the road map, but quietly.

      "There is a master plan, that doesn't have official status but is
      widely accepted, to create a Jerusalem metropolis using settlements
      and roads - a Jewish metropolis," said Yehezkel Lein of the Israeli
      human rights organisation B'Tselem. "Palestinians have been
      restricted from moving to Jerusalem since the 1990s but they are
      bringing in more and more Jews with settlements."

      Mr Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas,
      raised this week's seizures at his meeting with Mr Sharon on Tuesday
      but the issue was not resolved.

      Mr Sharon's spokesman was not available for comment. Officially, the
      land was seized under an Ottoman empire law permitting the
      confiscation of abandoned property. The Israelis say the original
      owners fled to Jordan in 1967, and have not returned - and so forfeit
      their properties.

      But two of the owners of the confiscated land, one of them Mr
      Hababa's father, Abdul Karim, were sitting in their homes in Beit
      Eksa with the deeds to prove their claims.


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