Planned settlement expansion around Bethlehem focus of dailies

RAMALLAH, Wednesday, The planned expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat that would surround Bethlehem hit the front page headlines in Palestinian Arabic dailies on Wednesday.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported that Israeli occupation authorities have allocated 1,200 dunums (300 acres) of Palestinian-owned land to expand Efrat settlement.

The step, which according to al-Quds would completely surrounds Bethlehem with settlements, will enable the planning of a new settlement neighborhood called Givat Eitam.

The Israeli military raid into the central West Bank city of al-Bireh also dominated the front page headlines in the dailies.

They reported that Israeli forces injured several Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and caused dozens others to suffocate from tear gas during the raid.

According to al-Quds and al-Ayyam, Israeli forces raided several towns across the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

They added that Israeli settlers chopped down 30 olive trees to the east of Yatta town, south of Hebron.

Additionally, the dailies said that Israeli forces detained former prisoner Assem Barghouthi during a raid into Abu Shkheidim village, northwest of Ramallah.

They explained that Barghouthi was detained for being suspected of carrying out an attack, killing two Israeli soldiers on December 13, one day after his brother, Saleh, was reportedly shot and killed by Israeli forces north of Ramallah.

According to al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida, Israeli troops detained 17 Palestinians during multiple raids across the West Bank.

Highlighting the cabinet’s weekly session, al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida said that the cabinet decried the Israeli raids into the West Bank cities as well as the attack against the headquarters of the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) in Gaza.

Moreover, al-Quds said that Egypt is exerting efforts to address Rafah border crossing’s crisis and reduce Fatah-Hamas tensions.

Al-Ayyam reported the Palestinian government stating that they decided to pull out staff from Rafah crossing as a result of Hamas’ practices against them.

Furthermore, Head of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Commission Hussein al-Sheikh was reported in al-Ayyam saying that there was no justification why the current national consensus government remain in place due to Hamas’ position vis-A�-vis it.

According to al-Ayyam, Hamas security forces have released Fatah members whom they had recently arrested following the intervention of other Palestinian factions.

Highlighting the situation in Jerusalem’s Old City, al-Quds reported Palestinian clerics denouncing Israeli excavations and settlement construction at al-Buraq Square, also known as the Western Wall plaza.

Al-Quds said that the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior has broadcasted the confessions of several collaborators with Israel.

It added the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior announced that they have arrested 45 Palestinians since the November botched Israeli operation in Khan Younes for collaborating with Israel.

It also reported that a new anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement was submitted to the US Senate.

Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida spotlighted the Jordanian House of Representative’s recent decision to exempt children of Jordanian women married to foreigners and Palestinians of the Gaza Strip from work permits.

Besides, al-Hayat al-Jadida reported member of Fatah Central Committee Azzam al-Ahmad vowing more steps to undermine Hamas’ rule in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency