International Solidarity Movement Nonviolence. Justice. Freedom. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 21:05:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Israeli forces target 2 armed group members wounding 13 Palestinian civilians, including 5 Children, in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip Thu, 24 Apr 2014 21:05:57 +0000 25th April 2014 | Palestinian Center for Human Rights | Gaza, Occupied Palestine

In an extra-judicial execution attempt, Israeli forces targeted 2 members of an armed group on a motorbike wounding them and another 13 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, in a densely-populated area in the northern Gaza Strip.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 16:45on Wednesday, 23 April 2014, an Israeli drone fired 2 missiles at a motorbike near Beit Lahia Sport Club in al-Manshiyah Street in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, which is a densely-populated area.  As a result, the two persons on the motorbike were wounded by shrapnel throughout their bodies; one of them was in a critical condition.  It was found out later that they are members of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – Martyr Nedal al-‘Amoudi Brigade.  Due to the scattering shrapnel, 13 civilian bystanders, including 5 children, sustained shrapnel wounds throughout their bodies, and they were transferred to hospitals to receive medical treatment.  Their wounds were described between minor and moderate.  (PCHR keeps the names of the wounded)

The attack caused minor damages to 7 stores and around 10 houses in the vicinity of the targeted area.  Moreover, Palestinian civilians living in the street, especially children and women, were terrified.  It should be mentioned that this street is known as one of the most densely-populated areas in Beit Lahia.

Israeli forces declared later, via the Israeli media, that the Israeli Air Force targeted, as they described, a Palestinian cell that intended to launch rockets at the Israeli towns, while PCHR’s investigations confirmed that when they were targeted, they were not in a position to fire rockets.

PCHR strongly condemns this crime, which further proves the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinian activists in disregard for their lives of civilians as the attack took place in a densely-populated area.

PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate and effective action to stop Israeli crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

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Mass Hunger-Strike Launched by Palestinian ‘Administrative Detainees’ Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:00:56 +0000 24th April 2014 | Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association | Ramallah, Occupied Palestine

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association can confirm the launch of a mass open-ended hunger strike involving over 100 Palestinian political detainees. All those involved are being held under administrative detention, which is a procedure whereby detainees are held without charge or trial.

Today’s hunger strike can be traced back to May 2012 when an agreement was reached between the Israeli Prison Service and representatives of the prisoners, which brought an end to a mass hunger strike involving approximately 2,000 political prisoners. As part of this agreement Israel agreed to limit its use of administrative detention to only exceptional circumstances. However, since then Israel has reneged on the agreement and has continued to use administrative detention on a systematic basis leaving the detainees with little choice but to launch a fresh strike.

The strike is currently taking place in Ofer, Megiddo and the Naqab Prisons and there are plans to escalate the strike should the striking detainee’s demands not be met. The general demand of the hunger strikers is an end to the use of administrative detention. The hunger strikers are also specifically demanding that extensions to administrative detention orders are limited to one extension only.

As of 1 March 2014 there were 183 Palestinians being held without charge or trial under administrative detention, including 9 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members. This number has been steadily increasing over the last year. In 2014 alone, Israel has used administrative detention against 142 detainees, including renewing existing orders and issuing new orders.

Addameer lawyer Samer Sama’an today visited a number of administrative detainees, including PLC member Yasser Mansour, at the Naqab Prison. It was confirmed that 55 administrative detainees being held in the Naqab Prison have launched a hunger-strike. All striking detainees were immediately isolated by the Israeli Prison Service from the rest of the prison population and are currently being held in tents.

As mentioned administrative detainees are held without charge are trial. They are detained on completely ‘secret evidence’ and neither they nor their lawyers have access to such evidence. Some detainees have spent over eight years in prison, never knowing
what was contained in the ‘secret evidence’. While administrative detention is legal under international law, it must be used in very Mass Hunger-Strike Launched by Palestinian 'Administrative Detainees'specific circumstance and on a case-by-case basis. This is clearly not the case given Israel has used administrative detention against tens of thousands of Palestinians.

In another development Mr. Sama’man reported that prisoners and detainees being held at the Naqab Prison wishing to meet their lawyers are forced to wait for long periods of time in tiny cells which lack any sort of ventilation. As a result many are choosing not to meet with their lawyers due to the humiliating procedures that the Israeli Prison Service has imposed on them.

Addameer holds the Israeli authorities solely responsible for the health of all hunger strikers. Addameer also demands that all contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention pressure Israel to immediately release all administrative detainees and cease the use of administrative detention. Furthermore, Addameer calls on global civil society to mobilize without delay in support of the striking detainees and 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.

For more information please see Addameer’s recent administrative detention factsheet and visit

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Palestinian girl badly injured by Israeli settler attack Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:38:23 +0000 24th April 2014 | Operation Dove | At-Tuwani, Occupied Palestine

Photo by Operation Dove

Photo by Operation Dove

On Thursday April 24 at around 12 pm, two Israeli settlers coming with a quad-bike from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked with stones four

Palestinian children and the mother of three of them, as they were returning from school to their homes in the villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed. A seven year old girl child was hit by a stone and fell while attempting to run away, badly injuring her head. 

Her father, who witnessed the attack as he was harvesting his land situated on top of the Old Havat Ma’on hill, immediately brought her to the nearby village of At Tuwani, where an ambulance came to rescue her and bring her to the hospital.

The girl required five stitches and is now resting at home with her family. 

The five Palestinians were coming from the village of At Tuwani, where the children attend school, through the only path they can use without the military escort that everyday accompanies the children from Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed on their way to and from school since 2004. On this path Palestinians cross the hill where the outpost of Havat Ma’on was situated before it was dismantled in 2000 and moved to Hill 833. Through this hill passes a paved road used by Israeli settlers as a hiking trail. The five Palestinians were attacked by two Israeli settlers who were riding with their quad-bike on this trail.

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.]

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VIDEO: Israel Border Police detain 6-year-old child in Hebron Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:52:59 +0000 23rd April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil Team| Hebron, Occupied Palestine

At approximately 7 am this morning, Rami Rajabi, a six-year-old child, was 20 meters away from checkpoint 29 when he threw several pebbles in al-Khalil (Hebron).

Click here to view the embedded video.

As Rami walked away towards his school, three Israeli soldiers burst out of an alleyway, grabbed his arm, and detained him in the street.

Rami then burst into tears and was clearly terrified, the Israeli soldier tightly gripped his arm and began to pull him back towards checkpoint 29.

ISM activists tried to intervene, trying to convince the soldiers to release the child. The soldiers dragged him back to the checkpoint where local Palestinians implored the soldiers to release the boy.

While ISMers were filming the incident, Israeli Border Patrol watched on as a settler from a nearby illegal settlement to aggressively confront the ISMers, calling one activist a “killer” and tried to grab the camera.

Click here to view the embedded video.

After approximately 20 minutes of pressure from locals and activists, the child was released and was taken home by a friend of his family.

An ISMer present said, “What happened today is part of an ongoing campaign to intimidate the local population: Israeli soldiers harass children here in Hebron all the time”.

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An overview into the lives of Palestinian prisoners and their families Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:47:59 +0000 23rd April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Occupied Palestine

The 17th of April was declared a day of commemoration and remembrance of Palestinian political prisoners in 1974. According to updated statistics from Addameer (Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association), there are currently over 5,200 Palestinian political prisoners, 28 of which are under 16 years old.

These prisoners are systematically transferred in most cases to prisons or facilities located within the current state of Israel, which is against the Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Article 76. Geneva, 12 August 1949). The Israeli state has ratified this Convention and is therefore bound by its obligations.

Palestinian Authorities attempted to access this Convention in 1989, but the ambiguity of Palestine’s status in the international community has hampered the protection of its population by international law. As part of mobilisations that have taken place these days, both internationally and in Palestine, it is always worth taking some time to get to know the stories behind the statistics.

Name: Maroan Mahmmod Salim

Town: Azun

Age: 36

Arrested: 26th December 2001. Has been in prison three times, the first time when he was 17 years old.

Sentence: His current prison sentence is 1 year and 8 months. The first time he served 10 months. His second time in prison was 22 months, which was without a legally precise accusation. The Israeli army found an Al-Quds magazine on his roof, thus sentencing him to 4 months and an additional 18 months for being a “reoffending” convict.

Prison: Naqab

Story: Belonged to a political organization (Fatah), which led to problems with Israeli forces. Accusation alleges that he shot at settler cars.

Visits: His parents, due to their advanced age, find it very difficult to travel all the way to the prison; they have not seen their son in 6 years. However his brother visits him every month. 

Name: Abu Ali (family)

Town: Azun

Age: 18 when arrested

: 3 years (Saed)

: August 2013, approximately

Prison: Meggido

Story: The Abu Ali family has a history of repression from the Israeli forced because of their involvement with the PFLP (Popular Front of Liberation Palestine). There are four sons in the family. One of them was shot in the head by Israeli forces and now suffers from schizophrenia: he has lost 69% of his mobility. His left hand is incapacitated; he also suffers from insomnia, sleeping during the day, and has isolated himself from both family and acquaintances.

The second son was wanted by the Israeli forces but is now under the protection of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Their third son was murdered on the 9th of October 2000 at the main entrance of the village: he was shot in the back of his head. He was an active member of the PFLP and involved in prisoner support networks.

Finally, Saed had been sent to prison with a sentence of 3 years, although it is not his first time in prison. During this time the family was not allowed visit him, possibly because of the family’s involvement in the PFLP.

Visits: None allowed. 

The third son of the family, who was murdered by Israeli forces in October 2000

The third son of the family, who was murdered by Israeli forces in October 2000

Name: Mages Hajim

Town: Azun

Age: 22

Arrested: 2nd April 2014

Sentence: Currently unknown. He could face 2 to 5 years according to his father.

Prison: Huwwara and al-Jalami. Exact location unknown, but it’s very likely he is under interrogation.

Story: The Israeli army arrested Mages on the 2nd of April at 02:30 in the morning. According to Mages’ father, he had a rib broken during the arrest. The Israeli army has accused him of possessing a gun and pointing a weapon at illegal settlements. One of the witnesses is a captain in the Israeli army. The family did have a gun, but handed it to the PA when they were asked about it, no weapons have been found by the Israeli forces.

Visits: None so far, possibly once a month if convicted.

Name: Tamer Besan

Town: Azun

Age: 18

Arrested: 4th May 2014

Sentence: Currently unknown, next court hearing in approximately 1 month.

Prison:  Huwwara, Meggido and Shita

StoryTamer spent the first two weeks in Megiddo prison where he was able to send news to his family through the prison doctor. Once transferred to Shita, no contact has been possible and the family doesn’t know much about Tamer’s situation. His lawyer says that in a month the family will know the sentence. He is still under interrogation and is therefore not allowed to have any contact with his family. 

Right before he was arrested he was planning to sign in to university in Tulkarem. He is accused of stone throwing at the Israeli army, however this accusation relates to events that occurred a year ago. The town of Azzun receives almost daily visits from the Israeli Army since there are illegal Israeli settlements less than a kilometer away.

Visits: None since he was arrested.

Tamer Besan

Tamer Besan

Name: Mohammed Abdull Alaziz

Town: Azun

Age: 25

Arrested: 10th April 2013

Released: 14th April 2014

Sentence: 1 year and 3 days

Prison: 8 months in Megiddo, 2 months in Ofer and 2 months in Naqab

Story: Mohammed was arrested on the 10th of April 2013 while he was sleeping. The Israeli army assaulted his house both through the door and the roof. He woke up with an automatic weapon pointed at his face.

That same night, the Israeli Army began looking for money and visa cards around the house. Two mobile phones and a computer were confiscated which have not been returned. The accusation against Mohammed was that he was politically active against the occupation.

Mohammed described the food within the prison as both “unhealthy and insufficient”. They could buy groceries and other utilities but these are at least twice the retail price. Prisoners were allowed out of their cells twice a day, for two hours each time.

Visits: Once a month, however frequency of visits depends on the prison.

Mohammed (on the left)

Mohammed (on the left)


Name: Raes Abdat

Town: Awarta

Age: 25 (22 when arrested)

Arrested: 2011

Released: 21 March 2014

Sentence: 3 years, although he was imprisoned for 2 years and 2 months without a sentence

Accusation: Stone throwing and belonging to an organization, PLFP

Prison: 2 months of interrogation in Betah Tikfa, then 2 years and a half in Megiddo before a further 5 months in Naqab

Story: Arrested in Awarta at 14:00. At the time there were no witnesses in his house to witness his kidnapping. Raes was interrogated for 2 months. The judge accused him of stone throwing and belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and called for a sentence of 5 years in prison. During the trial he refused to testify and with the help of the lawyer the sentence was reduced to 3 years.

Belonging to the PFLP is synonymous with high sentences, since the Israeli state considers this organization as a “security threat”.

Life in prison is “difficult to describe in words” said Raes. Prison guards and management don´t consider them human. For instance strawberries are forbidden inside prisons since they are considered a “security threat”.

Prisoners cannot speak to their families until they have visit permits granted and there is limited amount of food to eat or buy.

Interrogation takes place in a dungeon of approximately 1 square meter, without lights and with black walls. There are around 12 or 13 rooms like this in Betah Tikfa. Raes has breathing problems but he was confined with another prisoner, which exacerbated his condition. Soon both prisoners asked to be taken out of that cell due to the precarious conditions brought about by the lack of oxygen/air. The interrogator arrived with a soldier (carrying pepper spray, no gun) to address the air issue. Since it wasn´t resolved, they began a hunger strike (18 days), which then lead to a reaction by prison management.

During interrogation there is no access to a lawyer. If you do not answer the interrogator´s questions, prisoners are forced to sit down with their hands and legs cuffed, sometimes on a chair or even the floor. This can carry on for days leading to serious pain, especially in the lower back. Interrogators may continue with this exercise for as long as two weeks.

Direct physical torture may also happen, beating prisoners in sensitive areas.

After interrogation he was taken to prison. He recalls being woken up at 6AM, at that time prisoners had to be standing up, if not, beatings were common. The Israeli army then counts the prisoners at 10 am and 8PM, doing cell searches at 9 am and 6 pm.

Finally, some spontaneous visits can happen at 1 am in the morning. Israeli soldiers generally don´t carry live ammunition weapons inside prisons, although sometimes they do.

On the 11th of April a prisoner was shot dead in Naqab according to Raes. Inside prisons, the use of pepper spray and rubber coated steel bullets is common.

Food is both of low quality and quantity. Prison management, according to Raes, has banned eggs and potatoes, leaving only beans for breakfast every day. Dinner was 2 yoghurts to be shared between 10 prisoners. A third meal would generally consist of fruit and/or vegetables, sometimes in bad condition, such as tomatoes and peppers. For 6 months, prisoners would be given oranges, for the remaining 6 months of the year, apples. Sometimes some bread was also given with the meals, although this is not the case during Passover.

Raes went on a second hunger strike, lasting for 23 days, to liberate an imprisoned leader of the PFLP (Ahmad Sa’adat) from solitary confinement.

Visits: Megiddo once every two weeks, Naqab once every month.

Raes Abdat

Raes Abdat


Name: Ahmed Hussein

Town: Nablus

Age: 33 (21 when arrested)

Arrested: November 2002

Accusation: Injured an Israeli soldier, armed resistance.

Sentence: 30 years, sentenced without a lawyer.

Prison: Hadarim and Gilboa

Story: During the Second Intifada, Ahmed was a police officer of the PA. Nablus was under attack from the Israeli army, an Israeli military tank was mobilized and stationed near the Old City Market in April 2002, where Ahmed lived. Ahmed’s father, Hussein, was in fact injured at this time. He has live ammunition bullet injuries in his legs, and shrapnel affected other parts of his body.

In August 2002, the Israeli army was stationed in a hill overlooking Nablus. The Israeli army opened fire on the city market and killed Hussein’s brother (Ahmed’s uncle) while he was standing on the roof of his house. Ahmed managed to jump out of the line of fire to save his life. At this point, Ahmed decided to defend his city at a time when there was no clear leadership in the PA, according to Hussein. He planted a bomb to avoid Israeli incursions getting further into the city of Nablus. Ahmed got into crossfire with Israeli soldiers, injuring one of them.

In November 2002, Ahmed was arrested while he was sleeping in his sister’s house. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison without the right to a legitimate legal defence (Article 72 of the Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949). The Israeli soldier claimed that he fired warning shots, but that Ahmed fired upon them.

According to his father, he was attacked by dogs in the prison of Hadarim, which has had led to internal bleeding, possibly related to anxiety and physical injuries. Only in the last two years has Ahmed had access to a lawyer, which has been provided by the family at a very high cost. Given Ahmed’s case, the lawyer and the family are fighting to get him out of prison this year. Ahmed has a 10 year-old sister whom he has only met through the prison’s windows.

Visits: None during the first 4 years. Currently one every 6 months but can be up to 2 years without a visit. Father and sister have permits for visits.

Ahmed Hussein

Ahmed Hussein

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Israeli forces shoot tear gas into houses in Awarta village Tue, 22 Apr 2014 10:58:34 +0000 20th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team| Awarta, Occupied Palestine

One child of Awarta after suffering from tear gas inhalation (photo by ISM)

One child of Awarta after suffering from tear gas inhalation (photo by ISM)

On the 20th of April, five Israeli jeeps entered the village of Awarta. The Israeli forces broke into four houses and shot several tear gas and stun grenades inside the houses, leaving several families with no other alternative than to sleep elsewhere until the tear gas clouds dispersed, which could take weeks.

The Israeli soldiers beat several people and broke furniture during this event. A 26-year-old Palestinian was violently arrested and detained for two hours with no reason given.

Two days later, Israeli soldiers once again entered houses in Awarta and shot several tear gas grenades inside. 20 Palestinians, including children, were taken to the hospital due to large amounts of tear gas inhalation

Palestinians from Awarta state that vandalism of their property and violence from the Israeli soldiers is not uncommon, but this exact approach from the soldiers seems somewhat planned. “They just come and shoot, and then they leave” said a Palestinian after having his house filled with tear gas, used stun grenades covering the floor.


Photo by ISM

Photo by ISM

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Khan-al-Luban: Israeli army attack Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:52:30 +0000 20th April 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team| Khan al-Luban, Occupied Palestine

On Monday 21 April 2014 two International Women’s Peace Service [IWPS] volunteers were playing uno [a card game] outside with two children of the Abu Jamal family in Khan al-Luban, close to the Nablus-Ramallah road. Their elder brother Jimmy was plastering the bathroom and their mother was inside doing house chores.

IWPS and ISM volunteers have kept a permanent presence in Khan al-Luban this past week, as the family has been the target of attacks by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers from the surrounding illegal settlements. The family has been especially worried since the father,was arrested last Wednesday. Their fears proved to be well founded.

Below is the eyewitness account by IWPS volunteers of yesterday’s events:

At 6:45pm an Israeli army jeep pulled in front of a building across the street from the family house, then backed out of the driveway and drove along the road towards the back of the house. We all went into the center area and shut the doors, but went outside to photograph what they were doing as the three Israeli soldiers got out of the jeep and started coming over the fence and onto the roof. We climbed to the roof area where they had come onto the property. They asked one of the human rights volunteers to show her passport but she refused.

Jimmy stayed inside because he thought they might be looking for him. One of the young sons talked to the soldiers on the roof and the army called for back up.

After the soldiers began shouting at the mother and her child, Jimmy came out to the roof area, no longer able to stay hidden. He told the soldiers that they were on his family’s property and that they should stop yelling at his mother and younger brothers.

The soldiers became belligerent and hit him with their hands. They then attempted to handcuff Jimmy, and dragged him partway across the roof; by that time the cuffs were fully on. At that point they knocked him down and hit him on the head with the back of a rifle. Jimmy was unconscious from that time on and appeared to convulse slightly. They continued to beat him after he collapsed.

We all yelled at them that he needed an ambulance and the mother attempted to get one; she also called the neighbours on the phone. Some passing cars pulled over and three Palestinian men came to try to help the family. The soldiers responded by throwing a stun grenade.

Two more jeeps arrived, bringing an additional 8-9 soldiers; one of the jeeps had a siren on, leading us to believe that it was an ambulance until it arrived. The soldiers were fully armed with rifles, tear gas, and stun grenades. One threw a stun grenade that landed on the roof, a few feet away from unconscious Jimmy and his hysterical mother. The ambulance that she had phoned also arrived. At this point several soldiers grabbed Jimmy, still unconscious, by his arms and legs, attempting to put him in one of their jeeps, however the emergency services and the other Palestinians were able to take over, and got him into the ambulance instead. The mother went with her son to Rafidiya hospital in Nablus. An army jeep followed the ambulance.

The soldiers arrested one of the Palestinians and took him away in the first jeep. Another stun grenade was thrown directly at those of us on the roof as the army drove away.

As of 9:30pm, Jimmy was awake and in stable condition, although x-rays showed that he suffered from several broken ribs and multiple fractures.

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British war cemetery not immune to Gaza siege Mon, 21 Apr 2014 18:05:00 +0000 21st April 2014 | The Electronic Intifada, Joe Catron | Gaza City, Occupied Palestine

Ibrahim Jeradeh is the Gaza War Cemetery’s longtime caretaker. (Joe Catron)

Ibrahim Jeradeh is the Gaza War Cemetery’s longtime caretaker. (Joe Catron)

On a recent, sunny afternoon, Kath Henwood, a Yorkshire paramedic volunteering in the Gaza Strip, walked through rows of headstones at the Gaza War Cemetery with a camera and notebook.

“My regular crewmate at work, in his spare time, researches World War II,” she said. “He’s really passionate about it.”

When Henwood learned of the cemetery, she said, “my first thought was to tell him about it.”

The cemetery, off Saladin street in northern Gaza City, is one of thousands maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), a consortium of AustraliaCanada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

It contains 3,691 graves, all but 474 of them for First World War troops from the Commonwealth of Nations. A further 210 are from the Second World War.

Others include Egyptian and Turkish soldiers, as well as Canadian United Nations peacekeepers.

Their memorials, from simple headstones to an imposing “cross of sacrifice” — a memorial found in numerous CWGC cemeteries — reflect their varied faiths: Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and secular.

And the careful landscaping and quiet solitude around them make the cemetery an attractive destination for everyone from picnicking families to students looking for a place to study.

After she told him about it, Henwood’s colleague sent her a list of 19 graves, and asked that she photograph them.

Ibrahim Jeradeh, the cemetery’s longtime caretaker, helped her find them quickly.

Later, sitting on a marble bench in the shade of the cross of remembrance, he spoke about the cemetery and his life taking care of it.

“Killing is no good”

“War is war, and killing is killing,” he said, passing a hot cup of sugary tea. It was a theme to which he would return again and again.

“In my mind, war is no good. Killing is no good.”

Now 77, Jeradeh started working at the cemetery, then overseen by his father, when he was 20. He officially retired as its head gardener at 65, when his son Issam replaced him.

“I don’t know about politics,” he said of the changes that have affected the cemetery over nearly a century since its founding by British forces after the Third Battle of Gaza in 1917. “I know about the trees.”

But politics have rarely left Jeradeh or his trees alone for long.

Headstones destroyed

In 2006, Israeli troops bulldozed the cemetery’s perimeter wall and six of its headstones. Months later, an Israeli military helicopter fired its cannon at one of the large memorial stones.

“Two dozen other headstones have been pockmarked by shrapnel from Israeli artillery and several have been completely destroyed,” The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported (“Fury as Israelis damage war cemetery,” 13 November 2006).

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009, Israeli forces bombarded the cemetery, striking it with at least five shells and singing its grass with white phosphorous (“Israel shelled UK war graves in Gaza,” The Daily Telegraph, 20 January 2009).

The bombing again damaged the perimeter wall, along with 363 headstones (“The mighty march of progress: British war graves in Gaza,” Ma’an News Agency, 9 November 2010).

“There were no fighters here,” Jeradeh said.

Rare demands for compensation

After each of these attacks, the British government lodged rare demands that Israel compensate it for the costs of repairing the cemetery.

Israel ultimately complied, paying £20,600 ($34,400) in 2008 and £40,000 ($67,000) —less than half the £84,000 ($140,000) requested — in 2011.

“We repaired it,” Jeradeh said. “All of it. Alhamdulillah [Thanks to God], it is like new.”

The Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip has also affected the cemetery. In February 2009, a year after Paul Price’s appointment as CWGC’s regional supervisor for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, he had yet to be allowed by Israel to enter Gaza (“Battle still rages where my great-uncle fell in Gaza back in 1917,” The Observer, 22 February 2009).

In May 2013, a year after a seemingly simple pump failure had left the cemetery’s grass and flowers parched, the CWGC said that finally replacing the pump “proved challenging” (“Gaza war cemetery returns to former green glory,” Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 30 May 2013).

Moshe Dayan sought to exhume the five Jewish graves in the Gaza War Cemetery. (Joe Catron)

Moshe Dayan sought to exhume the five Jewish graves in the Gaza War Cemetery. (Joe Catron)

Despite its foreign affiliations — which ultimately afforded it some protection — the cemetery has also been targeted by Israel culturally, as well as militarily.

Following Israel’s 1967 seizure of the Gaza Strip, Moshe Dayan, then Israeli defense minister, sought to exhume the cemetery’s five Jewish graves and take them to Israel.

The attempt came as Israeli forces looted thousands of historical artifacts, particularly Jewish ones, from their newly-occupied territories, an effort in which Dayan participated enthusiastically as both a military official and a private collector (“Stealing Palestine’s history,” This Week in Palestine, 1 October 2005).

“I refused,” Jeradeh said, his eyes bright. “I was young then. I told him, ‘Go to our office in London.’”

“No difference”
“They are buried here. How could he take them? The Jews here are Jews, not Israelis. There is no difference here between Jews, Muslims and Christians. They are all human.”

Surrounded by fields of grass and rows of colorful flowers and polished stones, the troubles of occupation and siege seemed as distant as Jeradeh’s clash with Dayan.

Maintaining the cemetery’s immaculate condition is hard work, Jeradeh said, even in retirement.

“This is the best, cleanest place in Gaza,” he said. “I work hard to keep it nice.”

Officially, since his mandatory retirement, Jeradeh has served as the cemetery’s night watchman. “I keep this place completely safe,” he said.

In practice, his work as a gardener has continued, if not at the same rate.

“I don’t buy plants,” he said. “I use the ones from my nursery. And I teach the people who work with me.”

“You see all that?” he asked, his arm sweeping across the cemetery. “My drawings.”

“I am always here. Where else should I go? Twenty-four hours a day.” Still, he acknowledged that his pace may have slowed. “Seventy-seven years is a long time.”

He also spends time with visiting family, including four sons and nine daughters. When asked how many grandchildren he had, he laughed.

“I don’t want to remember,” he said, gesturing at a group of small girls peering curiously from behind a row of headstones. “More than a hundred. But they live outside, in Gaza.”

“I like to study,” he added. “I read books on history, geography, horticulture, medicine, everything. I am always reading. And I like writing. Every day, I write what happened to me.”

When asked how long he has kept his journals, he laughed again. “I don’t remember. I have books like this,” he said, gesturing at the height of his shoulder.

“But I started when I was young, and continued day by day, year by year.”

“You are happy writing here,” he said, pointing to a notebook. “The head is clear for it.”

He showed his study, a detached building, behind the larger gardener’s quarters at the cemetery’s edge, equipped with a personal computer and filled with stacks of books and printed articles.

“The pencil is dangerous,” he said. “The man who succeeds in his life writes the facts.”

Returning to the lush greenery of the cemetery, he said, “I don’t feel any problems here … Any man, if he likes others, the others like him. If you do good for others, others do good for you.”

“Everybody knows that war is war, and killing is killing,” he repeated, gesturing again at the thousands of stones surrounded by his carefully-tended flowers.

“Now everything here is history. No one here hates anyone else.”

Joe Catron is a US activist in Gaza, Palestine. He co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange. Follow him on Twitter: @jncatron.

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Settlers set fire to Palestinian chicken farm Sun, 20 Apr 2014 19:39:01 +0000 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

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“A message of peace” from the village of Qaryut met with violence from the Israeli army Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:40:37 +0000 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

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