International Solidarity Movement http://palsolidarity.org Nonviolence. Justice. Freedom. Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:29:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Help free 14-year-old Malak http://palsolidarity.org/2015/02/help-free-14-year-old-malak/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/02/help-free-14-year-old-malak/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:29:07 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41528 Dear friends,

On January 21st, 14 year old Malak Khatib was sentenced by the Israeli military courts to two months in Israeli jails. Malak has been in Hasharon prison for over a month now as her family continues to endure the unbearable absence felt in their small apartment home in the West Bank village of Beitin.

Malak was arrested by Israeli forces one morning on her way from school. Her imprisonment came based on a testimony from Israeli soldiers. Regardless of her young age, she was interrogated without legal representation or the presence of a legal guardian. Today Malak continues to remain incarcerated in Israeli jails. The court has also sentenced the family to approximately 1,500 US dollars in fines. If they are not paid her release may be prolonged by the court.

Malak Khatib, is one of 700 Palestinian children to be arrested and interrogated by Israeli forces annually. Due to the family’s inability to cover the fine’s expenses, we are attempting to raise the money in order to have Malak return home as soon as possible. Especially as more prisoners are complaining of the escalating harsh conditions in Israeli prisons.

Prior to her arrest, Malak enjoyed to play soccer outside her home and sketching. She used to walk to school every day and her favorite sweets consist of gummy worms. She is the youngest of 8 children and despite her older age continued to enjoy sitting in her mother’s lap. She found refuge in it. Paralleling to that, Malak now sleeps in a jail cell with blue barred doors and grey concrete walls.

If the fine money is not paid, Malak may continue to be held within Israeli prisons. It is essential that we put forth our efforts in order to raise the money required to have Malak return home to the arms of her family, where her main concern once more is not wanting to wake up for school or arguing with her siblings.

To donate money, please go to the ISM donation page (palsolidarity.org/donate/) and then send an email to palreports@gmail.com. In the subject line of your email, write: ‘Donation for Malak’. In the email itself please say how much money you have contributed.

In solidarity,

International Solidarity Movement

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Action alert: Help free 14-year-old Malak http://palsolidarity.org/2015/02/action-alert-help-free-14-year-old-malak/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/02/action-alert-help-free-14-year-old-malak/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41521 1st February 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team  | Occupied Palestine

On January 21st, 14 year old Malak Khatib was sentenced by the Israeli military courts to two months in Israeli jails. Malak has been in Hasharon prison for over a month now as her family continues to endure the unbearable absence felt in their small apartment home in the West Bank village of Beitin.

Malak was arrested by Israeli forces one morning on her way from school. Her imprisonment came based on a testimony from Israeli soldiers. Regardless of her young age, she was interrogated without legal representation or the presence of a legal guardian. Today Malak continues to remain incarcerated in Israeli jails. The court has also sentenced the family to approximately 1,500 US dollars in fines. If they are not paid her release may be prolonged by the court.

Malak Khatib, is one of 700 Palestinian children to be arrested and interrogated by Israeli forces annually. Due to the family’s inability to cover the fine’s expenses, we are attempting to raise the money in order to have Malak return home as soon as possible. Especially as more prisoners are complaining of the escalating harsh conditions in Israeli prisons.

Prior to her arrest, Malak enjoyed to play soccer outside her home and sketching. She used to walk to school every day and her favorite sweets consist of gummy worms. She is the youngest of 8 children and despite her older age continued to enjoy sitting in her mother’s lap. She found refuge in it. Paralleling to that, Malak now sleeps in a jail cell with blue barred doors and grey concrete walls.

If the fine money is not paid, Malak may continue to be held within Israeli prisons. It is essential that we put forth our efforts in order to raise the money required to have Malak return home to the arms of her family, where her main concern once more is not wanting to wake up for school or arguing with her siblings.

To donate money, please go to the ISM donation page and then send an email to palreports@gmail.com. In the subject line of your email, write: ‘Donation for Malak’. In the email itself please say how much money you have contributed.

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“We believe in a bright future…a future when our children will be free” – Kufr Qaddum resident released from prison http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/we-believe-in-a-bright-future-a-future-when-our-children-will-be-free-kufr-qaddum-resident-released-from-prison/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/we-believe-in-a-bright-future-a-future-when-our-children-will-be-free-kufr-qaddum-resident-released-from-prison/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:30:24 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41465 29th January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Nablus, Occupied Palestine

Murad Eshtewi was released from prison on January 22, 2015. He was arrested on April 29th, 2014, serving 10 months in Israeli military prison. In order to secure his release, he was forced to pay a fine of 10,000 shekels (approximately $2500 USD), a fine that reduced his sentence in jail. Murad, a resident of Kufr Qaddum, was charged with organizing demonstrations and encouraging Palestinians to participate in political action. The village of Kufr Qaddum has held a weekly demonstration every Friday since 2011, in protest of the closure of their main road to Nablus by Israeli forces for the neighboring illegal settlement Qedumim.

On April 29, 2014, at 2:30am, Israeli forces surrounded Murad´s family house. Knowing that he was going to be jailed for a long time, Murad asked the soldiers if he could kiss his children goodbye. Israeli soldiers then covered his mouth, and made him walk 1.5 km in the dark to a nearby illegal Israeli settlement, where he was detained for 9 days. During this period, has was given very little water or food, and he lost 10kg.

He was eventually transferred to Megiddo, an Israeli military prison. Murad describes the horrible conditions he faced there; prisoners were not given enough food or blankets and any other necessities had to be purchased from the prison canteen at grossly inflated prices. The food that was provided did not constitute a balanced diet. Food and blankets brought in to prisoners from visitors were not permitted. Existing medical facilities in the prison were extremely limited; Murad described his own medical issues and the failure to receive adequate treatment. Facing shoulder pain, he was given only moderate pain-relievers, and told to drink water. His pain increased to the point that he was unable to lift his arm. The medical practitioners distributing ´care´ were often the same soldiers who had beaten prisoners earlier that week. Prison conditions gave no opportunity for activity to those detained; Murad recounts having nothing to do except ¨count the days, seconds, until freedom. I could not see the sky.¨

Prisoners detained for legal violations, such as theft, are permitted to work and call their families, whereas those detained under Israeli military law (political prisoners) are not awarded the same privileges. Their contact with the outside world is limited to one 45 minute visit from family, every two weeks, if that. Murad expressed feeling like a ¨dead man¨ while imprisoned, and that he has been ¨born again¨ since his release.

This was Murad´s fourth arrest, with the longest sentence and highest fine. Before receiving his final sentence, he had 19 court dates over eight months in Israeli military courts. Despite all that he has endured under direct Israeli repression, Murad is adamant in his determination to continue the struggle for Palestine. He sees the issues facing his village of Kufr Qaddum as symbolic of the bigger issues of the Israeli occupation: restricted movement, injuries, house damage, arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and murder of Palestinians. But he asserts: ¨In the face of this bad situation, we will do anything. We do not deny the right of anyone to live happily in their land. Let Israel do that in their state. Just let Palestinians do the same. No one can prevent me from my right [to do this], except death. I will not be ready to let my son or friends live under occupation. [I have made] an internal promise between me and me, and between me and Palestine to fight for Palestine.¨

Murad´s house was flooded with visitors upon his release, happy to welcome him home and back to his village. Murad is ecstatic to be re-united with his family and children, and continue the struggle for Palestine´s freedom. ¨The smile is still on our faces, because we believe in a bright future. A future when our children will be free, and we will continue to fight for this future.”

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Village in Focus: As Sawiya http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/village-in-focus-as-sawiya/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/village-in-focus-as-sawiya/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 19:39:53 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41452 25th January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | As Sawiya, Occupied Palestine

On January 24th, 2015, ISM activists visited As Sawiya, a Palestinian village located near Salfit. The village is home to around 3,500 people.  Seven mountains surround the village; much of the land is occupied by three illegal Israeli settlements – Eli, Rechelim, and Ma´ale Levona. As Sawiya suffers many injustices under Israeli occupation, including military and settler violence against the village’s residents, lands, homes, and schools.

Construction of the illegal settlement of Eli began in 1982. Since settlement construction began, the village of As Sawiya has been subject to constant settler violence and expansion. During the olive harvest of 2005, Israeli settlers attacked farmers, leaving three Palestinians injured.  Israeli settlers also stole a resident´s horse. As a result of this constant settler violence, Palestinians have been unable to consistently plant or harvest their fields. The Israeli military has used this disuse to justify declaring many of the fields ¨unoccupied,¨ using this twisted logic to rationalise their confiscation for further settlement expansion. Approximately 1,500 dunams of land has been confiscated from the village for nearby settlements. In addition to intimidation and confiscation, village residents are robbed of their village spring, trees, and other agricultural resources by settlers.

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Nearby settlement as seen from the Palestinian village of As Sawiya – photo by ISM

The children of As Sawiya have experienced extreme violence at the hands of the occupation forces and Israeli settlers. Villagers described how the children are facing increased military presence and settler violence at As Sawiya’s local school. Israeli settlers have instigated many violent incidents.  Accusing children of throwing stones at them, Israeli settlers attacked children and called in the Israeli army, who then threw stun grenades directly into groups of children around the school. There have been recent incidents in which over 60 Israeli soldiers surrounded the school.

The villagers of As Sawiya have attempted to provide protection for their young by constructing a high wall around the school.  This has had the unfortunate side effect of isolating the students from the view outside their windows and inhibiting what was once easy street access to the building. This restricted access also makes students outside more vulnerable to attacks, as it limits their entry points into the building. In 2010, Israeli settlers set fire to the secondary girls’ school in the village, causing severe damage to both the building and local Palestinian girls’ education.

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The gate of the village school – photo by ISM

 The village of As Sawiya has sought to build a bus station in recent years, but have faced many difficulties. Located in Area C of the West Bank and therefore under Israeli civilian and military control, all construction requires Israeli approval, which is nearly impossible to obtain. Numerous requests by the village have been rejected, declared “illegal¨ because of ¨security reasons,¨ according to Israeli military authorities.

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Palestinian arrested in night raid on his family’s home http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/palestinian-arrested-in-night-raid-on-his-familys-home/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/palestinian-arrested-in-night-raid-on-his-familys-home/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 06:56:42 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41445 25nd January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Bruqin, Occupied Palestine

At around 4:00 AM on January 23, Israeli forces arrested 22-year-old Raja Sabra in the course of a violent raid on his family’s home in the Palestinian village of Bruqin.

His father was awakened by noises coming from outside. Twenty to thirty Israeli soldiers had surrounded the house, advancing past the gate to the family’s door. Soldiers broke the metal door open.

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Soldiers damaged the family’s metal door – photo by ISM

Israeli forces entered the house and forced all the women into one room and the men into another. Ten family members were present, including three young children. Some soldiers were masked and acted extremely aggressive. No soldiers gave any explanation to the family members, and when asked why they were there, they yelled at the family to “shut up and be quiet!”

The soldiers searched the house, turning over furniture and opening all the drawers and chests, destroying the family’s possessions including a dining room chair. One soldier stole about 3000 to 4000 NIS (about 750 to 1000 USD) from inside the drawer of the bedside table. The soldiers also took the hard-drive of the family computer, and Raja’s laptop and cellphone before arresting him.

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The Sabra family’s bedroom after the night raid – photo by ISM

The raid lasted about an hour. Before the soldiers left they arrested Raja, without giving any reason or details about the where they were taking him or for how long. “Where are you bringing Raja?” his pregnant sister-in-law asked the soldiers. In answer, she had a gun pointed at her was ordered to sit down and be quiet. Soldiers responded to any attempt to talk to them with similar aggression. When Raja’s brother tried to find out information about what was happening, a soldier stomped on his foot with his heavy military boots. The children started to cry from fear. The soldiers left with Raja, scratching the family´s car with their guns as they left.

The Salfit-area village of Bruqin lies next to the illegal Israeli settlement of Barqan. About two years ago, people from Bruqin held a demonstration against the settlement, which is constantly expanding, illegally claiming more land and destroying the land of Palestinian farmers. One night after the demonstration, approximately 100 Israeli soldiers invaded Bruqin, raiding thirteen 13 homes and arresting 12 teenagers. According to a village resident, after this incident Bruqin had been relatively quiet and rarely subject to military incursions.

One day before the January 23 raid, Israeli military vehicles entered the center of Bruqin in the late evening. They maintained their presence for numerous hours before leaving. The military’s raid on the Sabra family’s home was the first the family had ever been subjected to. Raja, a student taking his final year of Civil Engineering at An-Najah National University, had never been previously arrested or detained by Israeli forces. The family hopes a human rights organization can help to find Raja, and that he will be released soon. One day after the incident, they still had not heard anything about where Raja is being detained, or for how long.

 

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Released after over 10 years in an Israeli prison http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/released-after-over-10-years-in-an-israeli-prison/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/released-after-over-10-years-in-an-israeli-prison/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:35:30 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41436 22nd January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Awarta, Occupied Palestine

Two weeks after his release from prison, ISM activists had the opportunity to sit with Aiman Awwad and his friend, Samer Zaqah, in their hometown of Awarta. Aiman was arrested in June 2004, at the age of 20, and released in January 2015, jailed for a total of ten and a half years in multiple Israeli military prisons. He was previously arrested at the age of 14, and shot in the leg by an Israeli solider. Samer was imprisoned nine and a half years.

During the second intifada, Palestinian resistance was strong, and heavily repressed by Israeli forces. Both Aiman and Samer were involved in small resistance groups; as Aiman described it, ‘it was nothing big…I just wanted to do something for my country, my father, send a message to Israel to get out [of the West Bank].’ During our conversation, it slowly became apparent that everyone else in the room, including Aiman’s brother, friend, and mother, had also served time in Israeli prisons. Aiman’s mother would sit in the house and let ‘trees of tears fall’ from her eyes during her son’s ten year imprisonment.

For the first two years of his imprisonment, Aiman was not allowed any visitors or any contact with the outside world. His mother was later permitted to be his only visitor for the duration of his sentence; a visit which was allowed to occur only once a month. In the prisons, small rooms sometimes housed 8-10 men, with little, if any heat during cold months. On one occasion, a prison guard turned off the hot water on a cold, rainy day. After failed attempts to convince the authorities to turn it back on, a Palestinian prisoner broke a cup on a solider, and was shot directly. Medical care in the prisons was described as very limited, and the numbers of sick were often large. In cases of severe illness, prisoners were not allowed to leave to receive sufficient medical care.

On describing their experiences in prison, the two men recounted the problems with soldiers and arbitrary power given to them. They also describe the solidarity between prisoners. Aiman went on hunger strike three times while imprisoned. On one occasion, he refused food for one month, in an attempt to protest the detainment of a friend in solidarity confinement. Most people align themselves with a Palestinian political party in jail, for material and emotional support. In the walls outside of the many Israeli prisons, these parties rarely seem to agree, yet within the confines of the military walls, it seems that they all get along.

Israel is known for its use of administrative detention, a policy handed down from the British Mandate period. Under this policy, the state is able to detain and imprison people without charge or trial, often for indefinite periods. Once someone is released from administrative detention, it is not uncommon for them to be re-arrested shortly after. As of October 1, 2014, there were 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Amongst these, 500 were detained under administrative detention, and 182 were minors. Aiman described his own day in court as ‘like a picture,’ feeling that his fate was already decided before facing trial. The men described the fear of speaking or acting against the Israeli state, citing the extensive surveillance of Israeli intelligence and how this is used to control people’s behaviour. Living under Israeli occupation has definitely taken its toll; the men describe it as ‘[living where] we cannot breathe. The hands of Israel wring around our necks.’

When asked what they think the logic is behind Israel’s massive detainment of Palestinians, the men speak of the pressure and punishment Israel hopes to exert on Palestinians. Israel invokes fear and seeks to gain control over Palestine. But for Aiman, this has not worked; ‘This is my country. I love my country. Our land is like the soul. It cannot be taken, or crushed. Not after 10 years, not after 20.’

Upon his release, there was a celebratory parade throughout the village in Awarta, as has become custom across Occupied Palestine. Describing his feelings on his return home, Aiman said he was of two minds; he was very happy to be once again with his family, but felt very bad to leave behind his best friends in jail. Before his arrest, there were no settlements in the hills surrounding Awarta, and the annexation wall was just beginning construction. There was no facebook, no smart phones, and Aiman is adamant about hanging on to his cellphone with only calling and basic texting capacity. His cousins were children before his arrest, and he came home to full-grown adults. He wants to travel,  but Israel denies foreign travel to former political prisoners.

Our conversation is filled with appreciation for the kindness and hospitality of Palestinian culture. People take care of each other, and have respect for everybody, but Israel is determined to undermine that by dividing families and imprisoning young (and old) for large parts of their formative years, and in some cases their entire lives.

When asked what they want to do now, Samer and Aiman differ in their answers. Samer explains, ‘I  just want to build my life. I just want to be free. We dont have a problems with Jews, just the occupation. We dont want to struggle with guns. We need the help of other countries to pressure Israel.’ Aiman wants to go to university, and study. He is determined, however, not to give up on Palestine. ‘The solider thinks he can kill us, and we will give up the land. But we must continue for us. We have a message: we must be together, the parties must be together and strong for Palestine to be free.’ When asked if his views have changed on the Palestinian struggle and resistance, he is adamant: no. Israel will not break him.

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“We will hit your wife, your daughter, and your kids” http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/we-will-hit-your-wife-your-daughter-and-your-kids/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/we-will-hit-your-wife-your-daughter-and-your-kids/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:49:58 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41420 22nd January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil Team | Beit Ummar, Occupied Palestine

Early Tuesday morning January 20, 2015 at 3:00 AM, Israeli occupation forces invaded the home of the Abu Maria family in the village of Beit Ummar. The occupation army used explosives to open the front door, surprising the sleeping family. This is the second violent night raid the family has experienced this week. Israeli soldiers were looking for Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed Abu Maria, three brothers who were summoned by the Israeli intelligence for questioning.

Window broken during Israeli army nigh raid (photo by ISM).

Window broken during Israeli army nigh raid (photo by ISM).

The mother of the family, 42 years old, was attacked as soon as the invading soldiers entered the home. Her arms were violently jerked behind her back, and once she was tied up, she was beaten on her head, neck and arms. One of the family’s five sons, Mohye, 18 years old, was cut on his face, neck and fingers. The attacking soldiers demanded he tell them where his brothers were.

The family’s father, Ahmed Abu Maria, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces for four months. The morning of the attack, Ahmed was taken into interrogation where Israeli investigators informed him that his family would be targeted that night. Ahmed related that he was told: “Tonight we will go to your family’s home. We will hit your wife, your daughter and your kids.” He was not allowed to warn or communicate these threats in any way to his family. The next day, Ahmed was allowed to contact his family and hear what happened to them during the night raid. The family describes this as psychological torture, designed to put pressure on the imprisoned father.

Photo by ISM.

Photo by ISM.

The occupation forces remained at the family’s home until nearly 7:00 AM. When they finally decided to depart the house, the invading soldiers left behind two official requests in Hebrew for the appearance of Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed the following morning at 8:30 AM at the prison in the nearby illegal settlement of Kfar Etzion. The family tried to explain to the occupation forces that two of the sons did not live in Beit Ummar, but farther north and it would be impossible for them to make the trip in time.

The summons for Nidal and Mohammed (photo by ISM).

The summons for Nidal and Mohammed (photo by ISM).

During the violent invasion at the Abu Maria’s house, the occupation forces also searched the neighboring uncle’s home for the youths. When they did not find the boys there as expected, and the family refused to tell the authorities exactly where they were living, the occupation forces stole over 3000 NIS (approximately $760 USD) from the uncle. This money was his life savings; without it, he does not know how he will survive.

Next morning the 20-year-old middle brother Ghassan Ahmad Abu Maria presented himself at Kfar Etzion prison as requested and was arrested. He is currently being held without charges and the family has been unable to get any information on his condition.

]]> http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/we-will-hit-your-wife-your-daughter-and-your-kids/feed/ 0 Israeli forces detain a child and destroy four structures in the South Hebron Hills http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/israeli-forces-detain-a-child-and-destroy-four-structures-in-the-south-hebron-hills/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/israeli-forces-detain-a-child-and-destroy-four-structures-in-the-south-hebron-hills/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 19:31:28 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41413 21st January 2015 | Operation Dove | South Hebron Hills, Occupied Palestine

On January 20th, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian child near the village of Maghayir Al Abeed and demolished four structures in the Palestinian village of Ar-Rifa’iyya in the South Hebron Hills area.

Photo by Operation Dove.

Photo by Operation Dove.

At about 9.00 a.m. Israeli bulldozers started to tear down two houses and two animal shelters, belonging to the Palestinian Rabai family in Ar-Rifa’iyya. The demolitions affected a total of twenty-five people, included ten children.

Photo by Operation Dove.

Photo by Operation Dove.

The Municipality erected two tents to create temporary shelter for those effected, at least during the night. Only twenty days ago, on December 31, in the village of Ad-Deirat, close to Ar-Rifa’iyya, two settlers broke a window and threw a molotov cocktail inside a Palestinian-owned house, trying to burn it,

Ar-Rifa’iyya and Ad-Deirat villages are located in Area C, under full Israeli military and administrative control.

During the Ar-Rifa’iyya demolitions, Israeli army and police jeeps reached the area of Old Havat Ma’on Hill near the Palestinian village of Maghayir Al Abeed, where some young Palestinian shepherds were grazing their flocks. An Israeli soldier run to a Palestinian child, aged 14. The soldier chased away his flock, placed him inside the military jeep with one goat and detained him. After one hour, the Israeli army released him in a dangerous area between the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on and the illegal settlement of Ma’on. In this place several times, Palestinians, including children, were attacked by Zionist settlers.

Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies stated that during 2014, Israeli soldiers arrested 1200 Palestinian children, a 60% increase from 2013, when 750 children were arrested.

Despite demolitions and arrests, Palestinians from South Hebron Hills are strongly committed to nonviolent and popular resistance against the Israeli occupation.

Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.] ]]> http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/israeli-forces-detain-a-child-and-destroy-four-structures-in-the-south-hebron-hills/feed/ 0 Israeli forces weld shut the doors of an elderly Palestinian woman’s houses on Shuhada Street http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/israeli-forces-weld-shut-the-doors-of-an-elderly-palestinian-womans-house-on-shuhada-street/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/israeli-forces-weld-shut-the-doors-of-an-elderly-palestinian-womans-house-on-shuhada-street/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:10:41 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41389 19th January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil team | Hebron, Occupied Palestine

This afternoon in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces gathered on Shuhada street, surrounding the doorways to the two houses belonging to Aamal Hashem Dundes, an elderly Palestinian woman, and her family. A soldier, wielding a torch and various other equipment, welded shut the doors. Soldiers and police kept international and Palestinian observers away as the houses were sealed up.

 

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Photo by ISM

 

Soldiers claimed that Molotov cocktails had been thrown from the roof of one of the houses into the Israeli Zionist settlement. No one, however, could explain why this led soldiers to punish Aamal and her family, who had done nothing wrong, by welding shut their doors. “Isn’t that collective punishment?” asked one member of Christian Peacemaker Teams present at the scene along with ISM.  Israeli forces could give no satisfactory answer.

 

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Photo by ISM

 

Aamal’s family were not living in the houses at the time the soldiers came to seal up the doors – they rent an apartment across the street – but she and her daughter explained to international volunteers that the family had owned the houses for hundreds of years. Aamal sat near where the soldiers were working, sometimes weeping, sometimes speaking with journalists and local activists.

 

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Photo by ISM

 

As the incident progressed Israeli soldiers and police forced Palestinian and international observers back away from where the soldiers were sealing up the doors, and from where Aamal sat with her daughter arguing ineffectually with the soldiers and police. By contrast, Israeli settlers who had come up Shuhada street from the nearby settlement to observe were allowed to stay near and continue filming even as the rest of the people present were shoved first onto the sidewalk across from the houses, then to either side of the street, where they could no longer clearly see what was happening. Settlers joked and laughed with the soldiers, seeming quite pleased with the situation.

 

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Soldiers aggressively shoved journalists, international solidarity activists, and local Palestinian activists who were attempting document the behavior and actions of the Israeli forces. When international activists attempted to ask why they were being kept back from the scene, soldiers typically responded: “because I say so.”

 

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Photo by CPT-Palestine https://www.facebook.com/cptpalestine

 

By the time Israeli forces had finished welding her doors shut, Aamal, who suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes, was understandably overwhelmed. Not only had she witnessed the houses her family had owned for generations sealed up by gun-toting Israeli soldiers, she had also been pushed by soldiers when she tried to protest. She had to be taken to an ambulance, which drove her away to the hospital. As she was moving towards the ambulance she asked, as she had multiple times previously, for an international to accompany her. Then, as before, Israeli forces let no one through.

 

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Photo by ISM

 

Aamal and her family live on the short portion of Shuhada street where Palestinians are still allowed to walk. Most of the street has been entirely closed off to Palestinians, as part of Israel’s campaign of repression against those living in and around the area which once served as a thriving hub of Palestinian life in al-Khalil. Shuhada street, where once markets and shops flourished, is now a ghost town. Many Palestinians have already left the area; those who remain must bar their doors and windows against violence from local settlers.  The sealed off doors are just one more demonstration of the Israeli military’s repression of those Palestinians who dare to continue to live on al-Khalil’s apartheid streets.

 

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Photo by ISM

 

 

 

 

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Violence in Ni’lin village: Repression, tear gas and arrests http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/violence-in-nilin-village-repression-tear-gas-and-arrests/ http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/violence-in-nilin-village-repression-tear-gas-and-arrests/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 10:09:27 +0000 http://palsolidarity.org/?p=41370 19th January 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah team | Ni’lin, Occupied Palestine

The soldiers surrounding Ni’lin did not wait; they began firing tear gas as soon as the villagers walked down into their olive groves. Those who had braved the cold, rainy weather to attend Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration were forced to retreat, running choking from the clouds of tear gas launched at them from the hillsides. From the road overlooking Ni’lin’s fields, the tear gas looked like a layer of fog blanketing the olive groves. 

Photo by ISM

Photo by ISM

“They were either straight at us or at the ambulance,” said one ISM activist as the group moved away from a tear gas canister which had landed directly behind them, on the street bordering the olive groves behind and to the side of the protest. The soldiers fired indiscriminately, launching dozens of tear gas rounds at unarmed protesters and activists attempting to film the incident. 

Photo by ISM

Photo by ISM

Ni’lin residents, from the Palestinian paramedics to young boys participating in the demonstration, have been forced to grow accustomed to running, to tear gas, to the violence of the Israeli zionist forces enforcing the occupation of their land. The Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists present agreed that last week’s protest was comparatively quiet. This one week, unlike many other weeks at Ni’lin, no one was shot, no one needed to go to the hospital, and no one was arrested. Over the last few weeks, however, the village has endured a campaign of violence and arrests by Israeli forces, who engage in night raids to terrorise the Palestinian families of Ni’lin. 

Saeed Amireh, Ni’lin activist, and long-time spokesperson for the plight of his village, spoke with ISM volunteers about the recent situation. Ten people were arrested in Ni’lin in the last two weeks alone, he reported, in night raids occurring nearly every other day. Twenty-five have been arrested since November 4th. 

Saeed explained that under interrogation by Israeli forces in Muskubiya (the Russian Compound) prison in Jerusalem, a prisoner from Ni’lin had signed a paper implicating thirty-six people in the village. Those names now comprise a list of people wanted by the Israeli authorities – people who, if they have not already been arrested, must live in constant fear of being taken from their homes and subjected to the harsh procedures of Israel’s apartheid justice system.  

Saeed spoke of the conditions suffered by Palestinians arrested by Israeli forces and taken to Israeli prisons: months of solitary confinement inside tiny cells, torture, harsh treatment from other prisoners and entrapment by Israeli spies within the prisons. All are strategies employed by interrogators attempting to trap people into admitting to things they never did. In attempts to finally be released, prisoners will often sign lists of names of other villagers, who the Israeli military will then arrest and subject to the same treatment. Over forty people from the village are currently imprisoned.  

One ISM volunteer asked what people did to be put on a list of those wanted by Israeli authorities. “They go and join in the protests” Saeed replied. Even if a Palestinian is doing nothing at all violent, he explained, “They accuse you of joining illegal protests.” In yet another absurdity of the occupation, The Israelis authorities order the village to take permits from them in order to be allowed to protest against the illegal confiscation of their land. 

Photo by ISM

Photo by ISM

In the night arrest raids, Israeli forces not only surround and invade houses, leaving messes of Palestinians’ personal possessions and furniture behind; they have also begun to shoot inside the village. Saeed spoke of how “Last week, the soldiers came and shot live ammunition.” He explained that people sometimes run away from their houses, fleeing arrest when the soldiers come to surround them. Israeli forces fired live ammunition at one man as he ran away from his home at night. 

“When people are asleep, they come at night and start shooting tear gas, and make people suffocate.” Saeed described how the Israeli military have been entering the village with a machine that dispenses large quantities of tear gas when mounted on a military vehicle. “I don’t know how many,” he said, “It makes like a cloud on the ground. They shoot it at all houses.”

Saeed’s family live on the far south-east side of the village, beside the olive groves. These homes are the first in the line of fire for Israeli military incursions. His uncle’s house was burned, and his neighbours also suffered from the tear gas inside their home. “The neighbor’s house, they have a young baby,” Saeed told the ISM volunteers, “A one year old baby, who was suffocating . . . and they were thinking he was going to die, because tear gas entered inside the house.”

The baby had to be taken to the hospital; Palestinians injured with rubber bullets in the last few demonstrations have also had to travel to the hospital to be treated. Medical care in the village is sadly insufficient for the amount of violence its people routinely face, Saeed reported. There is not enough medical equipment, which means not enough volunteers can work alongside the two paramedics employed in the ambulance station. 

Nor have medical facilities been spared in previous army incursions.

A volunteer with the Red Crescent ambulances recalled the 2013 Israeli military attack which left a bullet hole in the ambulance station’s window and a scar in the ceiling of a fourth floor room above the street. The Israeli forces had aimed their fire at the building despite the fact that the people there were clearly medical professionals, and unarmed. “They don’t care,” the volunteer explained simply.

The bullet hole in the Red Crescent building (photo by ISM).

The bullet hole in the Red Crescent building (photo by ISM).

When someone is active in demonstrations, in expressing resistance, Israeli soldiers shoot to incapacitate them, explained one of the Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics. He himself had to undergo a year of physical therapy after Israeli forces shot him in the leg. Resistance is a long and proud tradition in Ni’lin, which participated in both the first and second Intifadas, as well as playing a major role in the more recent Palestinian popular nonviolent resistance against the Israeli Apartheid wall. He said the latest Israeli military incursions are an attempt to demoralise and divide people in the village, to keep them from resisting.

The village has already endured a high toll from participating in nonviolent popular resistance against annexation of their land by the Apartheid wall and by the five Israeli Zionist settlements surrounding Ni’lin. Five people were killed between 2008 and 2009, and many more have been injured and permanently disabled by Israeli military violence. Though both the wall and the settlements are illegal under international law, it is the people of Ni’lin whose homes are assaulted and whose expressions of their legal right to protest are criminalized. 

Saeed reported that the weekly demonstrations have recently been subjected to more brutality. In the last months he has seen little international and no media presence in Ni’lin, giving the army free reign to come closer to the village (often into the village itself) and use more violence against the nonviolent protesters. Israeli forces have spared no one in their campaign of repression. One Palestinian journalist, who endured both the rain and the tear gas in order to document last Friday’s action, spoke of his experience filming soldiers at a previous demonstration. A soldier had threatened him, he recalled, saying that if he did not stop filming, “I will break your hand, and I will break your camera.” 

Saeed spoke of the occupation’s enormous social and economic toll. “You can’t plan anything,” he told the ISM activists, as they stood with him watching the Israeli soldiers shoot round after round of tear gas into Ni’lin’s olive trees.  Studying, exams, work, family life – all are tremendously impacted by the occupation.

Saeed’s brother is engaged to be married, but his future, like that of all those attempting to continue with their lives in Ni’lin, is uncertain. Saeed’s brother is on the list of people currently targeted by Israeli authorities. “He is going to get married in two weeks, if he is not arrested.”

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