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News, March 2008

 

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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

 
Palestinians mourn slain Bethlehem fighters, Israeli peace bloc condemns the killings as grave provocations

50,000 Palestinians mourn four slain fighters in Bethlehem
Date: 13 / 03 / 2008  Time:  14:21

Bethlehem Ma'an

About 50,000 Palestinians converged on Manger Square in the center of the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday for the funeral of four Palestinian fighters who were assassinated by an undercover Israeli occupation forces death squad, on Wednesday night.

Mourners carried the bodies of the four men, Mohammad Shahada, Issa Marzouq, Imad Al-Kamel, and Ahmad Balboul on their shoulders to the homes families of the dead to the central square, and then into the adjacent Omar Bin Al-Khattab mosque.

Their bodies were wrapped in Hizbullah flags, in an apparent show of allegiance with the Lebanese resistance movement and political party.

Schools, shops, restaurants and other businesses shuttered their doors in observance of a general strike across the city. Bethlehem's normally bustling downtown streets were largely empty.

In a show of unity in the face of occupation, members of numerous Palestinian political factions attended the ceremony.

In speeches to the assembled crowd, representatives of the the Higher Committee of National and Islamic Forces, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Islamic Jihad denounced ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinians. The Palestinian People's Party, the communists, were also present.

Kamil Hamid from the Fateh movement called for collaborators and spies who aid the Israeli occupation forces to be apprehended.

Across the square from the mosque, the Nativity Church sounded funeral bells.

The four Palestinian resistance activists were gunned down by an undercover Israeli occupation forces death squad in their car on Wednesday night. Mohammad Shahada was a local leader in Islamic Jihad.

Israeli peace camp: Bethlehem and Tulkarem killings were "grave provocations"

Date: 13 / 03 / 2008  Time:  11:37
Bethlehem Ma'an

The Israeli peace bloc, Gush Shalom, has condemned Wendesday's assassinations of five Palestinian fighters in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Tulkarem.

An official Gush Shalom statement said that the killings prove that the Israeli government "does not want a ceasefire, but a new flareup."

"Those who sent the assassins to carry out 'liquidations' today, in Tulkarem and Bethlehem, knew what they were doing a grave act of provocation which might blow up the serious chance which had opened up, to reach ceasefire and calm."

Israeli peace activists said the attacks shattered hopes for a ceasefire with the Palestinians: "This is a wanton, completely irresponsible act, which might return the inhabitants of Sderot, Ashkelon and Gaza back into the hell from which they momentarily escaped."

Gush Shalom said that the killings were the latest in a series of provocations this week, including the announcement of more settlement activity in the West Bank, the Israeli government boycott of Al-Jazeera, and incitements to violence by Israeli politicians and religious leaders.

Al-Quds Brigades unleash barrage of projectiles from Gaza in response to West Bank killings

Date: 13 / 03 / 2008  Time:  11:17
Gaza Ma'an

"There will be no calm in the light of the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said the spokesperson of Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, Abu Ahmad, on Thursday.

"The Israeli occupation wants calm in Gaza and opened fire on the resistance in the West Bank," he added.

Three Islamic Jihad fighters were among four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in a shooting attack in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Wednesday evening. Another Islamic Jihad activist was killed by Israeli forces near Tulkarem.

The spokesperson, Abu Ahmad said that the Al-Quds Brigades will respond to the "crimes of the occupation," in the near future.

Abu Ahmed called on the Palestinian leadership to withdraw from peace negotiations with Israel, and 'stand by the Palestinian people.'

Since Wednesday night, the Al-Quds Brigades launched 18 homemade projectiles at Israeli positions and towns bordering the Gaza Strip. "No voice rises above the voice of rockets and resistance," Abu Ahmad said.

The Brigades launched an additional 25 projectiles and mortars at the towns of Sderot, Zikim, and Nahal Oz.

The Brigades claimed to have fired three mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom crossing point.

The Al-Quds Brigades also claimed responsibility on Thursday morning for launching three projectiles at the city of Ashkelon.

The brigades said that all of these attacks were in response to the assassination of five Palestinian fighters in the West Bank on Wednesday.

Egyptian-brokered backchannel negotiations appeared to be on the verge of reaching a formal ceasefire on Wednesday afternoon, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh publicly offering Israel a "bilateral, simultaneous and comprehensive" truce.

The attacks in Bethlehem and Tulkarem appeared to shatter hopes for an end to hostilities.

 


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