Palestine

Addressing Palestinians for the first time since he declared a state of emergency a week earlier, in a nationallly televised speech on June 21, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas denounced Hamas’ leaders as “murderous terrorists” who had carried out a “coup” in the Gaza Strip.

In a June 19 joint press conference in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, US President George Bush said: “It’s interesting that extremists attack democracies around the Middle East, whether it be the Iraq democracy, the Lebanese democracy, or a potential Palestinian democracy.” He was referring specifically to the popularly elected Hamas-led government of the Palestinian people taking action in Gaza to prevent a bloody coup by their defeated rivals, Fatah, which since the January 2006 elections has been armed, funded and trained by Israel and the US.

Following the near-complete seizure of military control of the Gaza Strip on June 14 by armed supporters of the Hamas party, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of the rival Fatah party, issued a decree dissolving the PA Hamas-Fatah “national unity” government, dismissing Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh and declaring a “state of emergency” in both the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

More than 30 delegates from around the world attended the Jerusalem Initiative conference held in occupied East Jerusalem to call for an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The three-day conference from June 2-4 was organised by the Palestinian People’s Party and the Communist Party of Israel and was attended by representatives from European, Scandanvian and Australian socialist parties as well as members of the international peace movement, trade unions and women’s organisations from around the world.

On June 5, thousands of Palestinians and international solidarity activists throughout Palestine marked the 40th anniversary of al Naksa (the calamity), the beginning of the 1967 war and the illegal seizure of the Palestinian territories.

June 5 marks the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, during which Israel attacked and defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, seizing the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank from Jordan.

Israeli military death squads assassinated two members of the Fatah-aligned Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Ramallah and Jenin on May 29. The public executions, which resulted in at least seven Palestinian civilians injured in Ramallah, were part of Israel’s escalating campaign of assassinations and military assaults in the West Bank and Gaza.

Between May 16 and 24, almost 100 Palestinians died and more than 340 have were injured in Gaza through a combination of renewed Israeli military attacks and fighting between Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah.

Thousands of Palestinians joined rallies on May 15 throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories to mark the 59th anniversary of al Nakba (“The Catastrophe”) — the establishment of the State of Israel and the consequent expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes — as renewed fighting took place between Fatah and Hamas.

According to a report by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights, between September 2000 (the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada) and July 2006, 68 pregnant women were forced to give birth at Israeli checkpoints in the Occupied Territories after Israeli soldiers barred them from crossing the road blocks to access hospitals and medical centres. Thirty-four infants and four pregnant women died at these checkpoints.

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