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News Bulletin - Friday March 7, 2003

International Press Center

News Bulletin

Friday March 7, 2003

http://www.ipc.gov.ps


Breaking News:

17: 00 —Israeli occupation forces commenced random fire targeting Palestinian residents’ houses in the town of Beit Lahia.

Palestinian Directorate of general security reported that the Israeli occupation forces stationed in the new occupied area north Gaza Strip opened fire at residents’ houses resulting in setting fire in some of them and causing grave damages to others.

16: 00-- Three Palestinian citizens were killed Friday, illegitimate Jewish settlement of Netzarim built on Palestinian own lands south Gaza Strip. Israeli reports claimed that three men planed to fire on an Israeli army patrol on the Karni- Netzarim road.

15: 00 Israeli occupation forces closed Al Tufah checkpoint in west Khan Younis for the second consecutive day.

The closure adds to the suffering of the residents trying to return to their homes in Al-Mawasi area.

Main Headlines:

One Palestinian Dies of Wounds in Nablus and 15 Civilians Injured By IOF from New Military Outpost in North Gaza Strip

NABLUS +NORTH GAZA STRIP, March, 7, 2003, IPC – A Palestinian citizen Baker Said Hawash, 17, died today morning in Nablus, of his wounds he sustained yesterday, meanwhile fifteen Palestinian civilians were shot and injured, including two children in critical condition, Friday noon in the towns of Beit Lahia and Jabalya by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) random gun fire, Palestinian medical and security sources reported.

Medical sources in Nablus said that Hawash was in coma before he died of critical wounds caused by gunshots fired when Israeli occupation forces opened fire at Palestinian houses in the neighborhood of Rass Al Ein in Nablus. Hawash was standing in front of his house at that time.

Meanwhile, medical sources at Shifa Hospital said that the injured were shot when IOF from the newly built outpost in the occupied area of “Talet Qalibu” in northern Gaza Strip opened their heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian residents’ houses.

Israeli occupation forces stormed the northern area of Gaza Strip Thursday night and established a new military outpost overlooking the northern Gaza Strip towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia and the Jabalya refugee in the early hours of Friday.

Close to midnight Thursday, approximately 100 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles, supported by combat helicopters, began advancing toward the Beit Lahia, Jabalya and Beit Hanoun areas. The Israeli soldiers took up sniper positions around the fields on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun and around Jabalya, the forces commenced heavy firing from tanks and helicopters’ gunships.

Furthermore, Israeli bulldozers started razing vast areas of cultivated lands and uprooting citrus trees.

It was unclear how long the operation would last, but if the troops plan to stay indefinitely, then this would signal a major departure in Israel's military policy in the Strip, which in recent weeks has taken the form of raids inside Gaza. But in every case until now, the operations have never lasted more than several hours, Israeli sources elaborated.

"We will remain for as long as is necessary... and if we decide to hold on to this territory for a long time, we will," Colonel Yoel Strick, commander of Israel's northern Gaza brigade, told Israeli Army Radio.

The new escalation in occupying territory in northern Gaza Strip began less than a day after a previous onslaught in the camp, which ended at daybreak Thursday, in which eleven Palestinians civilians were killed and more than one hundred injured.

In the city of Tulkarim, Fadi Salem Mazamra, 20, was shot and injured with live bullets in his entire body by Israeli occupation forces gun fire, WAFA reported.

Eyewitnesses said Mazamra was in his farm when the Israeli soldiers opened direct fire at him.

European Consuls Watch Destroyed Nablus

NABLUS, March 6, 2003, Al-Ayam daily newspaper-- The first sentence uttered by the Greek General Consul in Jerusalem Elini Sourani, heading the European Consul Delegation of 15 members, at the end of their visit to Nablus City yesterday was, "We visited today the area most destroyed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

The consuls of the European Union saw with their own eyes the scenes of destruction left behind by the occupation army in the Old City, after withdrawing from it at dawn yesterday.

They listened to dozens of stories, of people who lost their refuge in moments; each carried their own impression of what the city is subjected to from brutality that aims at people, homes, schools, factories, workshops and shops.

"The real destruction which we witnessed in Nablus, is not that of buildings, but an emotional destruction that struck the people here," the leader of the delegation said.

The European Consuls visited Nablus upon the request of the Mayor of the City, Mahmoud al-Aloul, who invited them to organize periodic visits to the city to witness closely the practices of the occupation army, continuous systematic destruction.

The Israeli army invaded the Old City of Nablus twice in the past 2 weeks, during which dozens of homes, commercial shops and factories were destroyed by the Israeli army.

The soldiers left the city at dawn yesterday, after three days of wide-scale raids and searches in the Old City, during which they destroyed dozens of homes and establishments.

This is the seventh time in which the Israeli army invades Nablus since last April.

Al-Aloul told the consulate representatives that 5000 homes and establishments were destroyed in Nablus completely or partially, during the invasion, including 280 homes completely demolished. He pointed out that 400 people were killed in Nablus since the beginning of the Intifada and 4500 were wounded.

Al-Aloul said, "But the major loss was moral, the killings that took place led to the death of the idea of peace in the minds of children and the new generations."

Al-Aloul said that Sharon escalates attacks against the Palestinian people greatly at this time, taking advantage of the attention of the world being focused on the war which is being prepared against Iraq, wondering what would happen when the war break out.

Al-Aloul asked the consuls to portray the situation to their governments, to put an end to attacks against the Palestinian people.

On their part, the consuls promised to carry what they saw to their governments.

The Greek Consul said, "We here will portray what we saw on the ground to our governments."

She expressed the support of the European Union to the Palestinians saying, "You are not alone in this, we support you and stand by you."

The representative of the consul delegation asked Nablus institutions to establish a committee that would estimate the amount of losses and to submit a list to the European Union to help rebuild the city.

She said, "We have been in other destroyed places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and felt the same, we try to carry with us the same message."

The delegation listened to Nablus institutions representatives about the destruction that fell upon all the sectors in the city. Jumana Qarman, director of the Education Ministry said that 14 schools were subjected to shelling and demolition activities and that the cost of rebuilding them reached $340,000. Qarman said that 31 students and 5 teachers were killed, 33 were arrested and 69 wounded, including 4 made permanently disabled.

World Bank: Half the Palestinians Live on Less Than Two Dollars a Day

Washington, DC, March 7, 2003, (IPC + Agencies) -- Israeli-imposed closures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are continuing to cause severe economic problems for Palestinians, according to a new report from the World Bank (WB).

The report says more than half the Palestinian population is now living on less than two dollars a day and that only massive foreign aid is preventing full economic collapse.

In a report meant to quantify in facts and figures the enormous human suffering the conflict with Israel is causing the Palestinian people, the WB says the main cause has been Israel's closure of routes from Palestinian areas into Israel and the imposition of curfews and closures in Palestinian cities and villages.

In Palestine, half the workforce is without a job and 60% - about two million people - live on less than $2 a day, the report said, adding that the private sector has borne the brunt of Israel's incursions, with agriculture and commercial assets suffering more than half of all physical damage.

The actions of the Israeli government have a direct impact on the Palestinian economy, the World Bank stresses. "The West Bank and Gaza has absorbed levels of unemployment that would have torn the social fabric in many other societies.

"For the long-term, the World Bank is concerned that the Palestinians' competitiveness is being eroded with each passing month."

Fathi Tobail Director International Press Center Gaza, Palestine Office Telefax: +972-8-2838778 Personal Mobile: +972-59-740575 Office Mobile: +972-59-709526


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