International Solidarity Movement http://palsolidarity.org Nonviolence. Justice. Freedom. Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:19:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 29th August 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team |Kufr Qaddumhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/29th-august-2014-international-solidarity-movement-nablus-team-kufr-qaddum/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/29th-august-2014-international-solidarity-movement-nablus-team-kufr-qaddum/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 11:12:05 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40502 Demonstration in Kufr Qaddum (photo by ISM)

Demonstration in Kufr Qaddum (photo by ISM)

A hundred or more Kufr Qaddum villagers, accompanied by international and Israeli solidarity activists, participated in a regular protest after the prayer this Friday.

Several hours before the demo started, the village youth blockaded part of the main village road and monitored the movement of the Israeli army, who frequently positions themselves, amongst the village houses and on the surrounding hills, prior to the start of the protest

Their aim is to snatch the protesters. They fire rubber coated steel bullets and tear gas at them from close range and take pictures of the demonstrators, to use them as evidence in the occupying military courts.

When we arrived, just before the noon, there were lines of rocks placed by the villagers on the road just before where the road closure starts. The Israeli Army was in full force on the other side, with the bulldozer and Army vehicles visible from where we were.

Demonstrators in Kufr Qaddum (photo by ISM)

Demonstrators in Kufr Qaddum (photo by ISM)

What usually happens is that the Army showers the protestors with the tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets and then the bulldozer moves in, removing the lines of rocks, followed by the vehicle blasting a foul smelling ‘skunk water’ at the demonstrators and the surrounding houses.

This time the routine changed, as the army bulldozer broke down and the Israeli Army could not make an incursion into the village. Instead, they showered the protesters with wave after wave of tear gas, while the village youth threw stones at them and at their vehicles while burning tires.

Kufr Qaddum demonstration (photo by ISM)

Kufr Qaddum demonstration (photo by ISM)

The main village road was closed in 2002 to facilitate the needs of the illegal Kedumim settlement, which has been built around the road connecting Kufr Qaddum to the nearest West Bank city of Nablus, located 9 kilometres to the east.

The closure is one of the many examples of the disruption of Palestinian daily life to accommodate the needs of the illegal settler colonizers and the occupying army. It separates the villagers from their land and made Nablus reachable only via a massive detour, which increased a travel time from 15 minutes to up to 40 minutes, tripling the price of travel.

Kufr Qaddum Friday protests which started in 2011, have become known for extreme brutality of the Israeli army response, with scores of people being injured in recent times by the rubber coated steel bullets and the tear gas canisters fired at the bodies of demonstrators. We witnessed this ourselves on Friday, inspite of this practice contravening the guidelines of the occupying Army itself.

Army shower protesters with tear gas (photo by ISM)

Army fires tear gas at protesters(photo by ISM)

In addition in recent months, dozens of Kufr Qaddum villagers have been arrested for participating in the protests, including children as young as 10.

As we travelled back to Nablus form the demo, we had to go through two Israeli checkpoints, which were not there when we travelled to Kufr Qaddum. Long lines of Palestinian cars were made to wait, inching slowly in the afternoon heat towards where the Army blocked the road, to have their ID checked. On the second checkpoint, three soldiers were checking the IDs referring to a sheet of paper one of them held, likely with the names of the persons they were looking for. The fourth soldier was standing on the top of the nearby hill with his machine gun pointed at the line of cars and his finger uncomfortably near to the trigger.

 

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29th August 2014 |Bil’in Weekly demonstrationhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/28th-august-2014-bilin-weekly-demonstration/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/28th-august-2014-bilin-weekly-demonstration/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 10:16:18 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40496  

In celebration of victory in Gaza, and the thirteenth anniversary of   the martyrdom of  Abu Ali Mustafa this week, two activists were arrested at the Bil’in demonstration. Further to this dozens of demonstrators suffered from inhalation of tear gas.

 

Soldiers fire tear gas canisters from behind the wall (photo by Sameer Bornat)

Soldiers fire tear gas canisters from behind the wall (photo by FFJ Media Center)

The demonstration protests the Zionist military Occupation, against the Apartheid Wall  and the policies of Israeli colonization.  The inhabitants of the village are protesting against the consequences of the regime of Apartheid, joined by internationals in solidarity  with the resistance of the people of Bil’in.

Demonstrators in Bil'in (photo by Sameer Bornat)

Demonstrators in Bil’in (photo by FFJ Media Center)

Today the army and border police forces  were waiting for demonstrators,not behind the wall as usual, but in the hills and fields . The Israeli Occupation Forces brutally repressed the demo. Israeli Military forces fired hundreds of tear gas canisters at participants. They also shot a lot of teargas towards media press .

 Tear gas, rubber bullet ,sound bombs were fired by the Israeli Occupation forces from the Separation Wall, and   from a jeep that invaded the village. Israeli occupation forces have also tried to arrest protesters who attempted to peacefully reach the wall .Further to this they followed the participants  who were trying to run away shooting tear gas canisters at them and then arresting two activists .

Bil’in Demonstration (photo by FFJ Media Center)


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Even the sky belongs to ushttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/even-the-sky-belongs-to-us/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/even-the-sky-belongs-to-us/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:42:09 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40492 29th August 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus team | Burin, Occupied Palestine

On the 25th August, the village of Burin, in the south of Nablus, was closed by the Israeli army and declared a military zone.

A checkpoint was erected at the main access to the village, preventing the inhabitants from entering and exiting the village.

The blockade was imposed after clashes broke out the previous night when the military invaded the village, raided houses, and detained several villagers for interrogation.

A villager spoke to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) about the closure of Burin, “They always have the same excuse, someone threw stones at the settlers, or sometimes they say molotov cocktails, but that is only an excuse. When we do react, it’s only resistance, only to defend our families and ourselves. We are used to these situations in Burin, problems with the settlers or clashes with the army occur daily and the main road is blocked almost every week. It would be strange for us if this didn`t happen, as strange as if they failed to shoot tear gas and sound bombs during the demonstrations. It’s in our blood already.

When they block the road, going to Nablus for work or to school requires one hour more than usual, causing problems to students and workers.

This morning one of my neighbors had to stand for four hours at the temporary checkpoint without any reason, before getting the permission to enter his village. He just wanted to return back to his home but, when the soldiers saw in his ID that he was from Burin, they detained him.” 

Burin is surrounded by three illegal settlements and two Israeli military bases.

Settlers often invade the Palestinian lands around it, burning olive and almonds trees or poisoning them with chemicals.

They enter the village regularly, trying to break windows by throwing stones or to burn homes, always acting under the army protection.

The villager continued to speak to ISM about the situation, “In the last year alone, Burin lost 1600 olive trees and between 500 and 600 almond trees, but every year we collect money from the people in the village in order to plant 2000 new trees and to support our farmers.

As we don’t have access to large sections of our olive fields, except for couple of hours over a couple of days during the olive harvest and with an Israeli permit, I think that, sometimes, going for a coffee on our land can be even more significant act of resistance than a demonstration.

As Israel always tries to steal Palestinian land, with the excuse that it doesn’t belong to anybody, or is not being used, it’s meaningful just to go there to show that there is someone taking care and making use of the land.”

Once a year, hundreds of kites fly over the houses in Burin, with children and families making a stand together.

This is just another way to say to them that even the sky over our land belongs to us.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Self-healing in Gazahttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/self-healing-in-gaza/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/self-healing-in-gaza/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:36:07 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40487 29th August 2014 | Sarah Algherbawi | Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Sarah Algherbawi is a Palestinian citizen who was born in Saudi Arabia in 1991 and now lives in the Gaza Strip. She finished her BBA degree in Business Administration at the Islamic University of Gaza, and now works as a media project coordinator.

Nmandela

The killing and bombing is finally done. Yet I don’t think we in Gaza will feel like the war is truly over for a long period of time, if we ever can.

The killing is over but the pain of the missing dead is not.

The killing is over but the injures are not healed.

The killing is over but the houses are no longer standing.

The killing is over but our souls are not yet cured.

This is the third war I have witnessed in the last five years of my life. I wish I had never had to experience this, but it just happened, and all I can do now is to deal with the pain…once again.

My first experience with war was in my last year of high school, the year that is critical to anyone’s future. It wasn’t easy to go back to school and study again, it wasn’t easy to throw all the pains and bad memories behind my back and continue life normally. It took so long…but I did it, and I passed that year with satisfactory results.

The second war, I was a university student; I faced the same dilemma of not being able to get back to university and study. It needs an awakened brain to do so, and mine was not! It was full of dark thoughts and the constant question, ‘how could I survive again?’

This third war has been the most difficult. Now, I’m an employee. I have to deal with things faster to best do my job. I grew up, and realized that every time it only gets more and more difficult to accept and deal with such situations. This time, I think it will take too long for me to get back to life.

It takes too long to get used to the city’s new face, to not feel guilt every time we laugh, to not fear the sound of a door slamming…to dream of things other than death!

I write this, and I didn’t experience the loss of any loved ones, thanks to god, and I’m in a good health…but I can’t stop thinking of those who lost. Some lost everything and everyone, others lost their beauty, their vision, the ability to hear, and parts of themselves that can never be returned. They lost a life that they will never have again.

The war is over but to the survivors it has merely begun. I was jailed in my house for 50 days, it feels strange to deal with people again, to carry out the routine work we used to do…the simplest aspects of life are the most difficult now.

I didn’t experience death. But now, I have the belief that many things can be more painful than death.

For someone who is homeless, who lost the ability to walk, to hold a pen, to see the light, to hear the voices, to live with their love…for those and others, death would be mercy.

All we can do, all we have to do, is to try to continue, to heal our injuries, to heal our souls, our brains, and hearts…to heal the broken…and try to live, once again!

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Injured and forced to walkhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/injured-and-forced-to-walk/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/injured-and-forced-to-walk/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:22:01 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40481 27th August 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil team | Hebron, Occupied Palestine

It was a warm Saturday night in late August in al-Khalil (Hebron). For the Palestinian children school was starting the next day, and a feeling of anticipation and excitement for a new year of learning floated over the hot Palestinian night. A group of ISM members were invited to a barbecue with a local activist organization, which we happily attended.

After eating, I went with a group of from the organization that invited us, to a nearby kindergarten for Palestinian children from the neighborhood. The kindergarten had been created in an empty house last year so young children would not have to pass through a checkpoint everyday on their way to school. We went to bring some toys, clean up, and prepare for the coming invasion of toddlers. When I, along with the rest of the activists, wanted to leave the kindergarten again, three settlers from one of the illegal Israeli settlements of Hebron appeared and blocked the entrance. They accused us of bringing in building materials to the kindergarten, due to Israeli law, building an extension is forbidden for Palestinians in the H2 area of al-Khalil (H2 is under full Israeli military civil and security). The kindergarten was created in 2013, a bathroom was built, and then demolished by the Israeli army since it was an extension to the house and was therefore ‘illegal’.

As we tried to leave a group of settlers surround us and began to yell and scream in Hebrew. One of the settlers called the Israeli police and about 10 minutes later the army arrived. They escorted the settlers away and made space for the police on the narrow path up leading up to the kindergarten. The police then quickly searched the kindergarten for building materials and left after none were found.

Following this unprovoked confrontation, we drank tea on the fake grass of the outside kindergarten floor, a football was found, and the Palestinian kids enjoyed their newly renovated kindergarten in advance. Unfortunately I fell badly fall on my left side while playing with the children, resulting in a dislocated shoulder. Of course I had to go to the hospital and an ambulance was out of the question since all traffic, other than that of the Israeli settlers and the army, is forbidden in H2 except with explicit permission from the military.

Another ISM member had previously seen how injured Palestinians were carried through the checkpoint on a stretcher after a settler attack. The ambulance did not have the right permit to pass the checkpoint and the injured were forced to be physically rushed through.

Click here to view the embedded video.

I, and three ISM friends, decided to try to walk through the checkpoint and then find a taxi. The checkpoint we needed to cross in order to reach the hospital was Checkpoint 56 on Shuhada Street. During a clash a couple of days ago the checkpoint had been burned on the inside, and it was now closed for everyone except for the army. This is a form of collective punishment as it was still possible to cross if the soldiers decided to allow it. In recent days some people have passed and other have been denied.

The soldiers at the checkpoint could easily see that I was in pain. We asked the soldiers if we could pass, since it was an emergency, and the alternative route around the checkpoint would be extremely long and demanding. The soldiers did not really seem to take much notice of our situation; it even looked like they were having fun at my expense. When we asked a soldier for his name and ID, he gave two different answers the two times we asked him, even though the soldiers are required to provide that information when asked.

The encounter ended with the soldiers telling us, with plastic handcuffs in their hands that we had two minutes to leave the area or we would be arrested – even though it is out of their jurisdiction, and we hadn’t done anything illegal. We decided it was not worth it and started the long walk around the checkpoint to the Government hospital in H1 (under Palestinian Authority civil and security control).

Now I am sitting with my shoulder in a sling; the treatment was quick and very professional. The Palestinians at the hospital were extremely helpful, showing me the different places I needed to go in order to get the right treatment. Now I cannot help thinking of how it must be to live under these circumstances, when the way to the nearest hospital is hampered by several checkpoints, manned by soldiers who do not care about except settlers and their fellow soldiers. I was lucky that my injury was not more serious; in another situation the outcome could have been much worse.

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‘Legitimate’ targetshttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/legitimate-targets/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/legitimate-targets/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:58:05 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40474 26th August 2014 | Charlie Andreasson | Gaza, Occupied Palestine

This article was published before the recently agreed ceasefire.

High-rise buildings have now been declared as legitimate targets for F-16 aircraft attacks. Yesterday evening a 16 story house called Little Italy, home to 100 families, was destroyed.

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

No one was killed, but around 20 people was injured, and in the few minutes between the order to leave by a recorded voice on the phone and the attack with at least six rockets, people had time to save themselves but hardly time to save any belongings. Important documents, furniture, valuables, clothing, memories – all crushed and destroyed. Likewise, the streets were filled with shattered glass caused by the shock waves several blocks away from the building.

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

Little Italy was not the first high-rise building in Gaza City demolished by the Israeli military, and already UN schools, hospitals and universities have been military targets. Maan News quoted the Israeli prime minister, in an article on 24/8, “I call on residents of Gaza to immediately leave any structure from witch Hamas carries out terrorist activity against us. All such sites are a target for us.”

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

That was after a 12 storey house was bombed to rubble. But it is possible to interpret the words a bit if you want, and it may also be deliberately. It is extremely difficult to refute allegations after a house has been turned to rubble, and false accusations have been thrown around before. The only thing one can be sure of is that there is a danger to stay in the same house as someone from Hamas, and given the fact that Hamas is the governing body, all public employees have their paycheques signed by Hamas.

Netanyahu has made the civilian population in Gaza, as well as civil infrastructure, legitimate targets for the Israeli military. It is no longer possible as a civilian to opt out of the war, to remain neutral. In Little Italy, it meant keeping track of what the other 99 families were, where they work, their political affiliations, choosing sides, and being forced to take an active position. That there is a war against the civilian population is more evident than ever. A civilian population that under the Fourth Geneva Convention must be protected during war.

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

Photo by Charlie Andreasson

There is now an additional 100 families who must seek temporary accommodation somewhere else. Somewhere where they think they know that n one is hired by those who were elected by the peolple, and where they can prove their innocence before those who receive them. They will be happy if they take care of their trash, teach their children or perform surgical operations on their parents, but living in the same building can be fatal. You cannot opt out of the war, it is no longer possible to remain neutral. You cannot as a civilian remain civil. Not for Israel.

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Shepherds detained for crossing a roadhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/shepherds-detained-for-crossing-a-road/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/shepherds-detained-for-crossing-a-road/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:48:41 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40469 26th August 2014 | International Solidarity Movement | Qawawis, Occupied Palestine

While shepherding approximately 1 km south of Qawawis, a village south of al-Khalil (Hebron), on Sunday 24th near the illegal settlement and army base of Suseya, three shepherds were stopped by the Israeli army and detained for 20 minutes.

The three shepherds were just on their way back from grazing their sheep in the fields outside of the village when the Israeli army arrived in a jeep, stopping the shepherds who were attempting to cross the street. After shortly talking to one of the shepherds, the soldiers drove the sheep down the hill without any explanation. 

As the sheep began to run away, one of the shepherds asked to look for them, but was refused by one of the soldiers. The soldiers accused them of passing over into land prohibited for Palestinians. It is an open area with no sign marking any borders.

sheph firing zone copy

One of the soldiers claimed to have explained to the shepherds where the border of the ‘prohibited’ land was located in the morning, however ISM volunteers accompanied the shepherds in the morning and know that this did not happen.

After being detained for roughly 20 minutes and their documents checked, the soldiers threatened to arrest them the next time they are seen “trespassing”.

Afterwards the shepherds were allowed to collect their sheep and continue their way home.

Qawawis is located in a “Firing Zone”, surrounded by a growing number of expanding illegal settlements and illegal outposts. For most of the families living there, the income depends on shepherding. The shepherds report that they are regular harassed and attacked by both the Israeli army and settlers from nearby illegal settlements.

]]> http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/shepherds-detained-for-crossing-a-road/feed/ 0 VIDEO: 15 tear gas grenades and 5 stun grenades fired at schoolchildrenhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/video-15-tear-gas-grenades-and-5-stun-grenades-fired-at-schoolchildren/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/video-15-tear-gas-grenades-and-5-stun-grenades-fired-at-schoolchildren/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:08:21 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40463 25th August 2014 | International Solidarity Movement | Hebron, Occupied Palestine

Today in al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired 15 tear gas grenades and canisters, as well as five stun grenades at children as they waited to go to school.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Each morning and afternoon the children of al-Khalil, some as young as four-years-old, are forced to cross through a checkpoint manned by Israeli border police.

This morning, the second day of school after summer break, four young teenagers threw stones at the checkpoint and Israeli forces present threw two stun grenades.

An ISM volunteer who was present at the checkpoint stated, “I was standing with my fellow ISM’er next to two young boys who were both under six-years-old. We were all very close to the stun grenades. We tried to comfort them when they [the stun grenades] exploded close by, but what could we say? They were both terrified. We walked with them down closer to their school and they began to run. At that moment, a tear gas grenade was fired and there were no children throwing stones. The smoke was thick and I began choking, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I can’t imagine what this sensation would have been like for a child, and there were so many present. From there the situation just seemed to get worse, with so much tear gas in the air, children were unable to reach their schools.”

2014-08-25 07.55.04 copy

One young boy spoke to an ISM volunteer, with his eyes still red from tear gas, he pointed towards the checkpoint and said, “The soldiers from Gaza are here!”

2014-08-25 07.39.40 copy

Tear gas drifted into the courtyard and many children and teachers choked and spluttered in the playground. School was delayed for over an hour. At one point a Red Crescent ambulance had to be called as two teachers and two children, aged 10 and 12-years-old, required medical treatment for excessive tear gas inhalation.

Another ISM volunteer present this morning said that, “Overall the Israeli forces shot 5 stun grenades. I also counted at least 15 tear gas grenades and canisters, two of which were shot at a group of Palestinian teachers, myself, and my fellow ISM activist.”

International activists monitor the checkpoints the children are forced to pass through on their way to school, both to document the events and to stand with the children. Israeli forces’ firing military weapons at children is unfortunately common. Last school year ISM documented many cases of tear gas and stun grenades used against schoolchildren in al-Khalil, some as young as 4-years-old.

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Action alert: Open Rafah nowhttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/action-alert-open-rafah-now/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/action-alert-open-rafah-now/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:24:13 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40419 18th August 2014 | Open the Rafah crossing permanently and unconditionally | Occupied Palestine

In response to calls from human rights defenders in Gaza who ask that we bring an end to the Egyptian government’s complicity in Israel’s genocide of the people of Gaza an urgent call to action was issued.

The call was endorsed by renown anti-apartheid and freedom and justice activists such as: Former Robben Island inmate, and ANC leader Ahmed Kathrada, Former ANC Minister for Intelligence Services Ronnie Kasrils, Luisa Morgantini Former Vice President of the European Parliament and Italian MEP, Richard Falk Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Breyten Breytenbach,  a South African anti-Apartheid writer, painter, novelist and icon and civil society collectives from Egypt, Palestine and around the world.

Please continue to demand that the Egyptian government open the Rafah crossing. Send us your communications with the embassy along with a photo of yourself holding a sign with a slogan such as ‘Open Rafah Now-End Egyptian complicity in Israeli Genocide’ to: openrafahnow@gmail.com

Help us spread the call from and share the following translations via social media:

ArabicFrenchGermanDutchTurkish, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish.

The pictures and communications will be posted on the Facebook page Open Rafah permanently and unconditionally.

In response to calls from our fellow human beings and comrades in Gaza who asked that we bring an end to the Egyptian government’s complicity in Israel’s genocide of the people of Gaza.

We called upon people to take action and contact their local embassy, to protest Egypt’s complicity in an illegal and inhumane siege leaving those most suffering in Gaza alone and isolated.

Despite a call from Egyptian citizens to lift the siege, the Egyptian government has instead supported the Israeli plan for return to the status quo of slow genocide. The Egyptian government claims that The Rafah Border is open but the stark reality is that the crossing remains closed to all but too few exceptions.

For 7 years Gaza has been under a suffocating, deadly siege imposed by Israel and accommodated by the Egyptian government, that severely restricts all movement of people and products.

With the wanton destruction and devastation that Israel has wrecked in Gaza over the past 5 weeks, now more than ever is it essential to demand that the Egyptian government to fully Open Rafah.

Since July 7th more than 2016 Palestinians have been killed and over 19101 have been injured. The Egyptian government’s refusal to open the border makes them complicit in Israel’s genocide of a population held captive.

Thank you for taking action! Raise your voice for the besieged people of Gaza!
Open Rafah Now!

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Resistance and tear gashttp://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/resistance-and-tear-gas/ http://palsolidarity.org/2014/08/resistance-and-tear-gas/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:58:04 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=40439 21st August 2014 | Saeeda Al-Rashid | Occupied Palestine

It’s late May [2013], and the air is stifling. Heat sizzles from the pavement, and Khalili youth, though well-adapted to these conditions, can be seen wiping sweat from their brows as they trek home from school. A few trickle through Checkpoint 56 into the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, formally designated Israeli-controlled territory under the Hebron Agreement. Soldiers search their bags and detain one, but finding no reason to arrest him, release him an hour later, a routine form of harassment youth are all too accustomed to. At some point, a school-bus turns up the road. It’s labeled in Hebrew and English, “Air-Conditioned Video.” The school bus is only for settler children, whereas many Palestinian vehicles are not allowed to drive in Tel Rumeida.

The word “apartheid” is often used to criticize Israeli racism and the Israeli state’s policies of segregation. But on the street level, what does apartheid actually look like? While living in occupied Khalil under Israeli military occupation for a few months, I experienced only the beginning of the answer to those questions. The rest is in the lived experience of businessmen and women, school children, farmers and shepherds who have lived under occupation for forty-plus years.

Apartheid Defined

In his final report as UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the oPt [Occupied Palestinian Territories], Richard Falk called for an investigation into the Israeli practices, broadly referred to as hafrada meaning “separation”, that could constitute apartheid under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Offenses that come in conflict with the Convention include the unlawful taking of life, administrative detention, and torture, and also the segregation of land and parallel legal systems in the West Bank that “prevent participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the full development of a racial group” (18).

This invokes a flood of memories from my short time in Palestine, including a young couple in Masafer Yatta living in a former sheep pen because the Israeli Civil Authority won’t grant them a permit to build a house; shops forced to close down during Jewish holidays so that settlers can illegally pass into the Palestinian-controlled part of Khalil; a B’tselem caseworker laughing aloud when we asked whether any action would be taken after Abu Shamsiya documented Israeli settlers’ assault on his family and was himself arrested on false charges of spitting at the nearby soldiers throwing stones and a tomato, whilst at the same time an Israeli boy of similar age threw eggs at internationals and went unpunished.

Saeeda waits outside the IDF compound with the family of a child arrested for 'throwing a tomato' (Photo by Youth Against Settlements).

Saeeda waits outside the IDF compound with the family of a child arrested for ‘throwing a tomato’ (Photo by Youth Against Settlements).

Apartheid, as Falk points out, is not a recurrence of isolated crimes; rather, “the combined effect of the measures designed to ensure security for Israeli citizens, to facilitate and expand settlements, and, it would appear, to annex land, is hafrada, discrimination and systematic oppression of, and domination over, the Palestinian people.” Apartheid is in the rain that flooded the Khalil Souq (market), ruining goods that provide needed income for Khalili families, because Israeli authorities have prevented the construction of appropriate drainage facilities.

Women in Hebron shop flooded (photo by Women in Hebron).

Women in Hebron shop flooded (photo by Women in Hebron).

Apartheid is in the rocky, rat-infested paths Palestinians travel on to climb the prayer road because the main roads are only for settlers. Apartheid is in the children who inhale tear gas nearly every day on the way to school, and every family stuck in the Qalandiya checkpoint during Ramadhan, barred from entering Jerusalem to worship. Apartheid is the reason ISM volunteers on the ground believe strongly in only taking actions led by Palestinians – this is their home, and their lives are impacted every day by apartheid years after we’ve flown home to our respective countries.

Resistance and Tear Gas

Richard Falk’s final report also pointed out that persecution of those who resist apartheid practices falls under article 2(f) of the Convention. Upon investigating the types of tear gas deployed by the IDF against peaceful protestors, from an organic chemistry perspective with the help of a leading chemist who was my professor, I unearthed a plethora of information on this vile substance.

The IDF principally uses CS gas (o-chlorobenzilidenemalononitrile). Exposure to CS gas has been implicated in a number of deaths in the West Bank as well as South Korea because it’s a potent Michael acceptor, making it able to inhibit many important chemicals in our bodies including the amino acid cysteine, which can be found on the TRPA1 protein channel that mediates our continued responsiveness to a wide variety of irritants and has been implicated in the prolonged sense of irritation experienced by some who are exposed to tear gas. (This is potentially the reason biting into an onion, a popular on-the-ground treatment for tear gas exposure, also counteracts the toxicity of CS gas – the inert sulfur-containing compounds in onions serve as alternate Michael donors).

Additionally, CS and CN gas produce methylene chloride, which as a nervous depressant and mild carcinogen reaches dangerous levels at exposure above 250 ppm by the constant barrage of intense tear gas deployment I witnessed at demonstrations. Finally, CS gas has been shown to be a mild mutagen (via intercalation with DNA) and thus it is also a potential carcinogen. Much has been said about the disparity in living conditions that results from the Israeli military occupation; prolonged exposure to dangerous chemicals for not only activists who resist the wall but shop-keepers and schoolchildren intertwines with the many different ways the system of apartheid and physical and legal segregation impact the daily lives of Palestinian people.

I believe this apartheid in and of itself is violence; there is no state of peace from which the more obvious forms of violence such as stone-throwing and shootings arise. There will only be peace when real justice is served – when apartheid is nothing more than a history lesson for our children.

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