International Solidarity Movement http://palsolidarity.org Nonviolence. Justice. Freedom. Sun, 20 Apr 2014 19:39:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Settlers set fire to Palestinian chicken farmhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/settlers-set-fire-to-palestinian-chicken-farm/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/settlers-set-fire-to-palestinian-chicken-farm/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 19:39:01 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38780 20th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team| Madama, Occupied Palestine

On Friday 18th April, during the night in the village of Madama, settlers from a nearby illegal settlement entered a Palestinian farm and sat fire to a newly built chicken house. The damage totaled $12,500 for the 3,500 chickens and their food, as well as $100,000 for the building itself. The Palestinian owner of the chicken house sold his car and some of his land in order to buy this costly farm, it is now completely destroyed.

The farmer described the day this incident occurred, stating how he finished his work and went home, passing two Israeli military jeeps on the road. When he returned to the farm at 4am on Friday, he found his chicken farm burnt to the ground, all 3,500 chicks dead. The fire was started near a window of the farm, most likely started with gasoline.

The owner said that he recently brought a lot of new chicks, and that he felt the attack was probably was planned. As a result of this attack the farmer now has no income.

The village of Madama has been continually attacked by settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Yizhar, as have the nearby villages of Burin and Assira. In Madama, the settlers have recently burned several cars, two houses, and several olive trees; vandalism on Palestinian property is unfortunately common.

The illegal settlement of Yizhar is notorious for its violent settlers, in 2011, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded the largest number of attacks against Palestinians from this settlement.

Photo by ISM

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/settlers-set-fire-to-palestinian-chicken-farm/feed/ 0
“A message of peace” from the village of Qaryut met with violence from the Israeli armyhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/a-message-of-peace-from-the-village-of-qaryut-met-with-violence-from-the-israeli-army/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/a-message-of-peace-from-the-village-of-qaryut-met-with-violence-from-the-israeli-army/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:40:37 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38775 19th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team| Qaryut, Occupied Palestine

The people of Qaryut began weekly demonstrations three weeks ago, due to the Israeli military’s decision to close the main road near to the village.

Yesterday, the 18th April, approximately 300 from the village, of which 100 were children, decided to come to the hill to pray rather than to march. Israeli soldiers arrived immediately, with one soldier yelling: “Go back home!” A resident of Qaryut responded; “Insh’allah [If God wills it], this is our home.”

The prayer began despite the provocative military presence on the hill, during the prayers Israeli soldiers surrounded the gathering, one solider removed a Palestinian flag from its place in the ground.

As prayers finished, one of the villagers declared to the army that it was their intention to leave the area, repeating over and over that they brought “a message of peace”.

However, within a few steps of the people’s return to the village, Israeli soldiers started shooting tear gas at their backs. Due to the rocky terrain, many were unable to get away from the tear gas that the soldiers continued to fire. 15 people had to be treated by paramedics due to several tear gas inhalation, however it was difficult to access those in need because of the difficult conditions underfoot. Stun grenades were also used extensively by the Israeli forces.

Qaryut is surrounded by a number of large illegal settlements, including Eli and Shilo. The road closure could mean losing the part of the hill where prayers took place today. Loss of the road leading to the main route from the village to Ramallah has already caused significant economic hardship and many other problems.

Photo by ISM

Photo by ISM

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/a-message-of-peace-from-the-village-of-qaryut-met-with-violence-from-the-israeli-army/feed/ 0
Jewish holiday increases violence in Hebronhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/jewish-holiday-increases-violence-in-hebron/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/jewish-holiday-increases-violence-in-hebron/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:28:01 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38768 17th April 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil Team | Hebron, Occupied Palestine

Pesach, or Passover, started Monday 14th April and is a seven day long holiday where many zionist tourists and settlers from illegal settlements travel to al-Khalil (Hebron). Increased violence and attacks towards Palestinians occurs during many Jewish holidays. During the holiday, entry into historic Palestine (the current state of Israeli) is completely closed to Palestinians, even those with the correct permits.

Restriction of movement is also inflicted on the Palestinians living within al-Khalil itself, as checkpoints and many local shops are forced to close, while settlers and Zionist tourists go on ‘tours’ guarded by Israeli soldiers and border police. The amount of tourists in al-Khalil during these seven days is estimated to be approximately 7000 people.

Yesterday afternoon, Israeli forces closed the main road in the center of al-Khalil, in order to allow settlers access to the Tomb of Othniel Ben Knaz, which is located in H1. Thousands of Hebronites were hugely disrupted as the major Palestinian access road was blocked by a mobile barrier and then occupied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Many Palestinians in the recent days have expressed anxiety over the escalating violence during the holiday. In al-Khalil there is normally one “settler tour” every Saturday, when settlers from the illegal settlements enter the souq (market) accompanied by soldiers. During the tours they often harass the shop owners and Palestinian souq visitors. During Pesach, and particularly today, Thursday the 17th, many groups of tourists and settlers have toured through the market.

The checkpoint between the souq and the mosque has been closed since yesterday morning, stopping the Muslim population from entering the mosque. The closing of the checkpoint also means that local children are forced to walk a much longer path to school.

The school children in al-Khalil have suffered this holiday in several ways. Due to the increased military presence of Israeli soldiers, schools have finished earlier, although the children have still been forced to pass through large groups of soldiers while leaving and entering their schools. This morning ISM witnessed children forming ‘chains’ to avoid being split up while passing the soldiers. One teacher from a local primary school stated that only 25% of the pupils has been present in school today. An ISMer noted: “We see the kids walk through these checkpoints every day, but it is obvious that they have been even more scared these past days.

Israeli soldiers close to a school in Hebron (photo by ISM)

Israeli soldiers close to a school in Hebron (photo by ISM)

In addition to Pesach today it is also Prisoners Day, which has been highlighted with demonstrations all across the West Bank. In al-Khalil, families was gathering outside the stadium to pray for their imprisoned loved ones. Many had brought pictures of their family members and friends, and the people of al-Khalil, together with many organisations and political parties, was there to show their support for the prisoners. An ISMer at the demo said: “There was a lot of different speakers, drums and music, and I think the participants in the demonstration shows how Palestinians unite in solidarity for the prisoners.”

Prisoner Day demonstration (photo by ISM)

Prisoner Day demonstration (photo by ISM)

Click here to view the embedded video.

In recent days, stun grenades have been echoing through the city, accompanied by rubber-coated steel bullets and much tear gas. For the past three days, clashes have broken out between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army, with young Palestinians throwing stones, while the Israeli military fires their weapons. At the moment ISM has no exact information about how many people were injured in the clashes, but today an ISMer was informed by a participant in the clashes that rubber-coated steel bullets injured five young people today.

]]> http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/jewish-holiday-increases-violence-in-hebron/feed/ 0 What will Gaza’s Ark face from the Israeli navy as it challenges the blockade?http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/what-will-gazas-ark-face-from-the-israeli-navy-as-it-challenges-the-blockade/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/what-will-gazas-ark-face-from-the-israeli-navy-as-it-challenges-the-blockade/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:00:52 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38764 17th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Charlie Andreasson | Gaza, Occupied Palestine

 

An Israeli gunship cruises near the Gaza seaport. (Photo by Rosa Schiano)

An Israeli gunship cruises near the Gaza seaport. (Photo by Rosa Schiano)

The heavy bang is heard clearly, and I have to resist the impulse to climb over the breakwater to try to get a view of the attack in the haze. And a new round of bangs is heard. It can’t be far off the port of Gaza. Instead, I look up at the sky, squinting, and there it is, the drone that been circling around all morning. And I return to my work to completing Gaza ‘s Ark.

Shall I write about this, I wonder to myself? That thought pops up every time I hear machine-gun fire, or even heavier bombardments, from the sea. We expect some influential people to sail with us to break Israel’s naval blockade, and I do not want to scare them off. It is important that they are on board. It’s one thing to know about the abuse from a report, but another when you it happening a few nautical miles away, in the same water we will sail in a few months. I am afraid of painting too vivid a picture of what awaits us.

What is it that awaits us? Will we be boarded, have the ship ransacked by heavily armed and masked marines searching for Palestinians? Will they seize the Ark? Or will they let us pass, allow us to break the blockade only to close it behind us, and then continue shelling fishermen as if nothing happened?

And what responsibility do I have to inform our prospective passengers about the various potential scenarios and what the risks are? Stun guns. Blows with rifle butts. Gunshot wounds. I do not want to scare anyone away from participating, but I cannot lie, pretending everything will necessarily go well.

It should be fine. There is no legitimate reason to stop us. But that does not mean they will let us pass. They can claim that one of the Palestinians on board is wanted, that no Palestinian can leave without permission from them, the occupying power, accuse us of trafficking. Perhaps we will hear machine gun fire at a very close range. Perhaps the Ark will be hit. It has been shot at before. I carved through the wood for bullets earlier, and have given two of them away, as Israeli souvenirs from Gaza. Will there be more?

I do not want to scare anyone, but how will they react when they hear the heavy shelling as they get on board? They can’t say they did not know anything – then they would not come here! – but it is quite different when you hear and see what happens, rather than reading a report. And above, the annoying drone is heard.

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/what-will-gazas-ark-face-from-the-israeli-navy-as-it-challenges-the-blockade/feed/ 0
An area of land and an olive tree planted in Asira, in memory of Vittorio Arrigonihttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/an-area-of-land-and-an-olive-tree-planted-in-asira-in-memory-of-vittorio-arrigoni/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/an-area-of-land-and-an-olive-tree-planted-in-asira-in-memory-of-vittorio-arrigoni/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:57:46 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38756 17th April 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Asira, Occupied Palestine

On the 16th of April, the children of the Retaj Centre for Women and Children in Asira planted an olive tree on a piece of land which has been named after Vittorio Arrigoni. This symbolic act was made to remember the Italian volunteer killed on the 15th of April 2011.

Asira is located south of Nablus, and is a village that is frequently attacked by settlers from nearby illegal settlements. The children of the Retaj Center for Women and Children took part in an emotive memorial for Vittorio, gathered in the small center, joined by volunteers from ISM and other organisations. The song “Bella Ciao” is an Italian resistance song that Vittorio taught the children of Gaza before he died, and the children of Asira sang it together. The assembly also watched a short movie entitled, “Un fiore per la liberta” by Samantha Comizzoli.

The gathered people marched from the Retaj Centre to an area of land that the owner has named after Vittorio Arragoni, where a young olive tree was planted. The crowd screamed “Stay Human” into the sky, Arrigoni’s best known quote. The people decided that they will plant a new olive tree on this land each year.

A quote from Vittorio before he died, including a line from the Italian poet, Enzo Biagi: “Enzo Biagi said ‘Truth is like poetry, it doesn’t need any adjectives, it is freedom.’ We will keep making poetry of our lives until freedom will be declared over the broken chains of all oppressed peoples”.

This quote from Vittorio illustrates his willingness and passion to fight for freedom and to defend human rights. During these past days, Palestinians in Gaza have remembered the Italian volunteer. Vittorio loved Gaza, his memory lives on, and should serve as one reminder to continue the struggle for a free Palestine.

Photo by ISM

Photo by ISM

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/an-area-of-land-and-an-olive-tree-planted-in-asira-in-memory-of-vittorio-arrigoni/feed/ 0
UPDATED: 20-year-old Mariam Barghouti has now been releasedhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/20-year-old-mariam-barghouti-threatened-and-arrested-by-israeli-forces-hearing-tomorrow/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/20-year-old-mariam-barghouti-threatened-and-arrested-by-israeli-forces-hearing-tomorrow/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:59:18 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38712 15th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement | Occupied Palestine

Update Friday 18th April:

Mariam was released yesterday evening and is now home with her family.

*****

Update Thursday 17th April:

Mariam had a military court hearing this morning and the military judge agreed to release her on bail. Mariam’s bail has been paid and she is expected to be released later this evening.

*****

Update Wednesday 16th April:

At Mariam’s military court hearing today, an Israeli military judge stated that he “has doubts if the evidence supports the prosecution charges” and agreed to her release on bail. Nonetheless, he ruled that Mariam should remain in military detention until tomorrow morning, April 17th, at 11:00, so that the military prosecution has a chance to appeal his decision.

*****

On Friday, April 11th, 2014, 20-year-old Mariam Barghouti, a university student at Birzeit, was arrested by Israeli forces. She was brought to court on Sunday, April 13th where she was charged and her detention extended until Wednesday, April 16th.

Mariam was arrested while leaving the village of Nabi Saleh. Mariam, along with Abir Kopty (a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who was later released on bail), and three foreign journalists were detained by soldiers and searched. Mariam had been in Nabi Saleh accompanying some of the journalists on their assignments and translating for them. Soldiers on the scene fabricated charges against her and handed her over to the police who arrested her along with Abir. At her hearing yesterday Mariam was charged with stone-throwing and entering a closed military area; her detention has been extended until Wednesday. Mariam sobbed throughout the whole hearing and told her lawyer that the charges are simply lies.

Mariam is a student at Birzeit University where she is majoring in English Literature and Psychology. Mariam is also active in community work and organizing and received a two-month residency scholarship in the UK, part of a program supporting women.

Abir said that during the arrest incident on Friday, “one of the soldiers who detained us looked at me and with a big smile said, ‘I’m going to mess up your life.’ It was obvious to me then that not only will he fabricate everything for his own purposes, but he knows he has the power to do so.”

Mariam Barghouti

Mariam Barghouti

 

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/20-year-old-mariam-barghouti-threatened-and-arrested-by-israeli-forces-hearing-tomorrow/feed/ 0
Remembering Vikhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/remembering-vik-2/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/remembering-vik-2/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:52:18 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38744  

 

15th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement| Occupied Palestine

Vittorio Arrigoni was a human rights activist (Italy, February 1975) and member of ISM, who was murdered on the 15th of April 2011, aged 36, whilst supporting the struggle for a free Palestine.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Below is a tribute from an Italian ISMer:

I want to remember Vittorio Arrigoni with his words, and for once the words are not just wasted air, but are synonymous with practice, of a real life spent standing in solidarity with Palestinians.

Palestinians will always remember him, and so will I, like a friend that I never had the pleasure of knowing.

Thank you, Vittorio.

“I was shocked and determined to see what a foreigner could do besides the Palestinians to defend human rights. I’m often asked ‘Why did you decided to sacrifice a part of your life to stand with the Palestinians struggle?’

‘Why did you leave an easy and comfortable life to come to Gaza?’

My answer is always: ‘How is it possible to do otherwise? How is it possible to lie to ourselves about what is happening to our neighbours across the Mediterranean sea?’ 

‘I’m more impressed in how it’s possible to continue to live this kind of crystal ball life with indifference about the agony and injustice that the Palestinians  are suffering, instead of my decision to leave everything behind me and come here.’”

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/remembering-vik-2/feed/ 0
“We leave without expecting to return” – meeting the firefighters of Gazahttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/we-leave-without-expecting-to-return-meeting-the-firefighters-of-gaza/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/we-leave-without-expecting-to-return-meeting-the-firefighters-of-gaza/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38727 15th April 2014 | Paramedics in Gaza | Gaza, Occupied Palestine

(Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

(Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

Yesterday I visited the Civil Defence Directorate, which provides the fire and rescue service in Gaza, as well as some emergency ambulances and marine rescue. These guys have a reputation as being fearless, as well as being the most vulnerable to attack during times of war. In the 2008-9 war, 13 Civil Defence workers were killed in the line of duty, with 31 injured. This includes medics killed in their ambulances by snipers and firefighters injured by secondary drone attacks while rescuing victims of the initial strikes. These risks are additional to jobs which are considered dangerous even in peaceful countries like the UK and USA.

(Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

(Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

I found out plenty about the Civil Defence’s ambulance service, including interviewing staff and looking around the ambulances and equipment stores, but I’m going to save that for a later post and just write about the firefighters. In the UK, the ambulance service and fire service are separate so please forgive any ignorance about the equipment and vehicles I saw. I knew they were fire engines because they were big and red, and I knew it was a fire station because there were some weights in the corner and a ping pong table. Beyond that, it was all new to find out. Let’s start with a familiar theme in Gazan emergency services: shortages. After meeting with the Red Crescent and Department of Health, looking around a few dozen ambulances, an Emergency Department and interviewing a variety of health care workers, I’ve seen the same issues occurring endlessly. No equipment, limited or no drugs, no electricity, expensive fuel, training problems and unacceptable risk in times of conflict. The impact of each issue varies according to the service (for example, the electricity cuts are a huge problem for Al-Shifa hospital, whereas the fuel crisis has more of an impact on the emergency services) but the end result is the same – hamstrung services and an impossible situation for managers and workers.

Fire engine cab with gear (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

Fire engine cab with gear (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

I met with Yousef Khaled Zahar, the general manager of the Civil Defence, who broke down the issues facing his service while we drank sugary coffee. Firstly, the fire service vehicles are old and outdated – ‘every day the vehicles age’ as Zahar said. They are mostly from 1988/89, meaning their safety features are wildly outdated. Half of their fleet were destroyed during Cast Lead, with little chance of replacements reaching Gaza. Since then they have done some pretty unreal mechanical work to keep vehicles on the road despite the lack of spare parts. They have also converted some old Kamaz trucks into fire service vehicles – they have welded water tanks including internal baffles from scratch then installed them on the back, plus the water pumping mechanisms and other necessary machinery. Then it’s all been painted red.

The converted Kamaz truck (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

The converted Kamaz truck (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

It was astonishing to see the creativity and technical skills behind these vehicles, and the solutions that they’ve found with such limited resources. They’re far from ideal compared to a purpose-designed vehicle – the centre of gravity is dangerously high because of the position of the water tank – but they help to keep the ambulance service functioning. They were previously only used to resupply fire engines, but after some water pumps were found that could run off a spare drive shaft, they are now used as fire engines themselves. Additionally, the fire service had issues getting a steady supply of expensive foam for fighting fuel fires, so they designed their own foam that can be made locally for 10% of the cost. The workers in the fire service workshops and garages must be some of the most resourceful and creative engineers in the profession, and they seem deeply valued by their managers and the firefighters themselves. As I mentioned earlier, fuel is a huge issue for the emergency services and especially the Civil Defence. The fire engines are amongst the biggest vehicles in Gaza, so restricted fuel supplies have a magnified impact. In the past, much of their fuel came through the tunnels from Egypt along with firefighting equipment, protective clothing, vehicle parts, medicines and medical disposables. Since they were destroyed last year, none of these things can get through. Fuel costs are now the largest part of their budget – a massive issues considering that their staffing levels are at 40% of what is needed due to lack of money for wages. They’re looking into alternative fuels at present, but the current situation is dire.

eek! (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

eek! (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

After talking, Zahar took me around the Civil Defence centre, which is their administrative centre as well as an ambulance and fire station. We looked in on the medical clinic and dentist  who provide cheap care for employees and their families. They offered me a dental check up while I was there – admitting to a load of tough firefighters that I was scared of dentists wasn’t my proudest moment. To finish my visit I interviewed a Mohammed, a firefighter pushed forward by his colleagues as the one who liked to talk the most. Happily, the rest of his watch also came and sat with us and added alot to the conversation. Their hard-won camaraderie was strong and humbling to be around. Mohammed has been a professional firefighter for four years, after previously working as a volunteer. He wanted to be a firefighter since he was a kid, a vocation fortified by growing up amid the volatility of Gaza. His favourite part of the job is when they reach a scene, enter and are able to rescue people. He described the feeling of rescuing children, and his family’s pride in his work. We talked about the relationships between firefighters, who work in a watch system similar to the UK. At this point others joined the conversation, describing each other as brothers and friends. They talk about how they enter a scene together and stay together in the risk, knowing that they can rescue each other and be rescued themselves. They have families who worry about the risks of their job but know they can’t prevent them from doing this work – but they also have a second family at work, and a second home on station.

Some of the firefighters I met yesterday (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

Some of the firefighters I met yesterday (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

Nearly every one of the ten or so people I talked with had been injured while working, including the general manager Yousef Khaled Zahar. Mohammed was seriously injured when he and other firefighters entered a family home after a drone attack to rescue the family. A secondary attack hit the house and the firefighters were caught in the explosion. He was left unconscious, and while he has recovered, his chest injuries mean that he is still missing ribs. He and other injured colleagues says the decision to return to work was not a difficult one – they knew the risk when they joined, and know they can die at any time. Firefighters who are not physically able to return to work are given desk jobs in the Ministry of the Interior.

Bullet holes in the front door of the fire station (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

Bullet holes in the front door of the fire station (Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

The targeting of the emergency services in Gaza has been systematic and brutal. During Cast Lead, Civil Defence buildings were specifically targeted in airstrikes that caused $2.5m of damage. The station that I visited was occupied by tanks, forcing fire crews to continue responding from the street. Rows of bullet holes remain across the front of the station. Gazan infrastructure is repeatedly considered a valid target in Israeli airstrikes, including the emergency services. This is an intolerable situation, putting the lives of firefighters, rescuers and medics at risk while they work to preserve life. I asked the firefighters I met yesterday if there was anything they’d like to add to our interview. Firstly one of them said ‘If we die here in our service, we will die in peace. This does not stop us working’. They then spoke together to ask that international emergency workers try to defend and protect them in the case of another war. They know that international law should protect them, but they also know from direct experience that in reality it does not. Yet they continue to work in what must be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, motivated by the desire to rescue and protect their community. They need better vehicles, more staff, safer working conditions and better protective equipment to do their jobs. But most of all they need the protection they are entitled to as rescue workers, and they need our solidarity.

(Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

(Photo by Paramedics in Gaza)

Many thanks to the management and staff of the Civil Defence for their time and hospitality.  As ever, most conversations were had via a translator, creating some margin of error. Big thanks to Fady for translation and coordination, and to this article by Joe Catron for additional statistics and information.

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/we-leave-without-expecting-to-return-meeting-the-firefighters-of-gaza/feed/ 0
Village of Qaryut without reliable access to vital roadhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/village-of-qaryut-without-reliable-access-to-vital-road/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/village-of-qaryut-without-reliable-access-to-vital-road/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:11:44 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38737 15th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team| Qaryut, Occupied Palestine

The village of Qaryut, located almost halfway between Nablus and Ramallah, has been waiting for the last year to have a reliable and secure connection to Road 60. This road is essential to connect the village with the city of Ramallah, where most of the population carries out daily activities, such as working and studying.

Currently the people of Qaryut are trying to access this road through a two-kilometer dirt road that finishes directly beside Road 60. Only half of this road is properly paved, the rest of it is uneven and rocky, where vehicles need to slow down to travel safely. This dirt road was recently blocked by an earth mound, recently removed by the people of Qaryut to allow vehicles to get close to Road 60. The local Palestinian population then waits to be picked up at Road 60 by buses or taxis travelling to Ramallah.

According to Raed Muhsen (Local Councilor), this wasn’t always the case. The road was built in 1983 and the people of Qaryut could travel freely. This arrangement ceased in 1991, during the First Intifada, when Israel forces alleged “security measures” to withdraw the permits and close off the road.

Qaryut and Road 60 could be easily connected if Israeli authorities granted the permits that are requested from Palestinian local authorities. According to Mr. Muhsen, the Local Council presented all the necessary documentation to the Israeli authorities three years ago, however the Israeli legal system continues to delay the issue, claiming that there are important “security measures” to be taken into account. The permits necessary to finally establish a connection between the local road of Qaryut and Road 60 need to be granted by the Israeli Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Settlement Security Council.

Given the current situation, the local population of Qaryut has grown impatient with Israeli authorities. Mr. Muhsen states that a non-violent demonstration has begun in the last month to demand a reliable and secure access to Road 60. The last demonstration took place on the 11th of April, when people from Qaryut reached Road 60 on foot and held their ground on the road for approximately one hour. The Israeli army shot tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the demonstrators, despite the non-violent nature of the protest.

The village of Qaryut, with a population of approximately 3,000 people, is surrounded by several illegal Israeli settlements such as Eli and Shilo. Taking into account nearby Palestinian villages, it could be up to 8,000 people that are forced to find a lengthy alternative route to reach Road 60. This could be approximately 20 kilometers in length, compared to the two kilometers between Qaryut and Road 60. Such distances in case of emergencies can have a critical impact on the local population, on top of the obvious economical effects.

Map from OCHA

Map from OCHA

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/village-of-qaryut-without-reliable-access-to-vital-road/feed/ 0
Nabi Saleh successfully end three day siege of their village with peaceful protesthttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/nabi-saleh-successfully-end-three-day-siege-of-their-village-with-peaceful-protest/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/nabi-saleh-successfully-end-three-day-siege-of-their-village-with-peaceful-protest/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:18:27 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=38719 15th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team | Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine

Yesterday, The Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee of Nabi Saleh called for a demonstration at 3pm against a siege enforced on their village by Israeli forces. The demonstration was an overwhelming success with the re-opening of the checkpoint and a withdrawal of the additional forces deployed in the area by the Israeli military.

Photo by Tamimi Press

Photo by Tamimi Press

Mohammed Tamimi, the media officer for the village’s Popular Resistance declared that this was: “The first truly successful demonstration in Nabi Saleh”. He went on to say that “others villages should think about this and how to act towards closed checkpoints in the future.” Palestinian activists, internationals, and ISM activists responded to the protest call out, and joined the villagers themselves.

Internationals traveling to Nabi Saleh reported the presence of many “flying” checkpoints on route from Ramallah. These were deployed in an attempt to prevent people from outside the village joining the protest. Nonetheless the demonstration did take place and was well attended with approximately 50 people beginning to march from the middle of the village down to the checkpoint.

The Israeli army began to shoot tear gas canisters and throw stun grenades as soon as the demonstrators reached the main road. Despite this, the demonstration arrived at the checkpoint and refused to move until the road was opened, and the siege lifted.  While people were peacefully demonstrating in front of the barrier, the Israeli army used a large quantity of stun grenades, however after approximately one hour the army agreed to withdraw and open the checkpoint. In addition to this, the western checkpoint, which had been closed since 2002, was also re-opened adding to the already hugely successful day.

The siege itself began on April the 12th when a large number of Israeli forces closed all entrances to the village of Nabi Saleh with roadblocks, and declared the village a Closed Military Zone. The village was in this state for three days until this afternoon’s action. During the siege, workers and students have been unable to go to work or school. The Israeli army also employed brutal tactics against the villagers themselves over the last few days. One Palestinian man was shot in the face with live ammunition, though after surgery was described as being in a stable condition. Additionally, a Palestinian woman sustained various fractures and heavy bruising after being assaulted by soldiers whilst being detained with her child for three hours. Israeli forces threw stun grenades at cars attempting to approach the checkpoint throughout the siege.

It is believed the military began this illegal action due to the demonstrations at Nabi Saleh that have occurred every Friday since 2009. These demonstrations take place to protest against the theft of a water spring, and village land by the nearby illegal settlement of Halamish.

One Palestinian man was arrested during the demonstration today but after negotiations the village secured his release at 9.30 PM. The Popular Resistance Committee from the village has promised that should the Israeli military close the checkpoint again, they will call another protest immediately. In the meantime demonstrations will continue every Friday.

Photo by Tamimi Press

Photo by Tamimi Press

Photo from Tamimi Press

Photo from Tamimi Press

 

]]>
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/04/nabi-saleh-successfully-end-three-day-siege-of-their-village-with-peaceful-protest/feed/ 0