Home / Reports / Arafat marches in Bil’in

Arafat marches in Bil’in

1. Continuing arrests and IDF harassment in Bil’in: 1 beating, arrest of the Bear
2. Tel Rumeida settlement expands during olive harvest while Knesset tour area
3. Bil’in on anniversary of Arafat’s death: link to World peace struggles
4. Bil’in demonstrators: 14-year-old hit in the head by rubber bullet (Haaretz story)
5. IDF Gives Settler Tours Of Palestinian Checkpoint
6. More than just Olives: testimonial from Nablus area
7. What’s so special about Nablus: Activist’s account

1. Israeli Military response to Non Violent demonstration: One Palestinian activist beaten and “The Bear” arrested

Written by an ISM activist
November 14th 2005

Saturday night, November 12th, a military force of around fifty Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Bil’in.

The army entered the house of Hazem Shukat Khatib (26) and arrested him. His three brothers Wajdi, Khaled, and Basel were all already arrested in the recent wave of nighttime incursions into Bil’in, and remain incarcerated. Hazem was severely beaten by the soldiers during his detention. He was eventually taken to Givat Zeev police station for questioning, and was then released.

During the same raid, Ashraf Ibrahim Abu Rahme “the bear” (22), a well known and much loved anti-wall activist from Bil’in, was also arrested in his home and continues to be detained.

Meanwhile Hamza Samara (22) is still detained. The Judge at his trial at Ofer Military Base on Thursday November 10th offered his release on bail of NIS 10,000. The prosecution was given 72 hours to appeal against this decision, during which time he remained in custody. The prosecution lodged such appeal with less than 2 hours remaining, and Hamza continues to be detained while waiting court hearing on Tuesday.

This brings to eighteen the number of Bil’in activists currently held in Israeli military prison.

In addition, the Israeli military entered and searched a further four homes in the village. The harassment of the head of the village council, Ahmed Issa Yasin, and his family continued when once again they were woken by soldiers banging on their door. These soldiers were fully aware that Ahmed Issa Yasin’s sons Basem and Abdullah were
not at home, as they were all recently arrested (along with 14 other Bil’in villagers) in similar raids and remain in detention.

Mohammed Ali Burnat and his five small children were also woken and compelled to endure soldiers forcing their way into their home and searching it in the middle of the night.

For the last ten months Bil’in has launched an ongoing non-violent campaign against the annexation barrier, supported by hundreds of Israeli and International activists, which is repeatedly met by violence from the Israeli army. Israel designed the current route of the barrier to annex 60% of Bil’in’s agricultural land, and to expand the settlement of Modi’in Elite. Plans for Modi’in Elite’s expansion have yet to be approved by the Israeli government.

On October 21st, in such an act of non violent resistance, Bil’in villagers began to implement the decision of the International Court of Justice, that Israel’s illegal wall should be dismantled, by removing metal foundation posts on Bil’in land. The Israeli military reacted with arrests and distributed a document in Arabic warning people not to take part in direct action against the wall. In the text the army claimed that “every Friday for the last six months, the IDF has allowed the people of the village to conduct non-violent protests against the construction of the wall on their lands”, despite regularly firing on non-violent demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets. The text concluded with the threat that “the acts of the people violating the law will disturb your daily lives”.

2. Settlers Attack Olive Pickers in Tel Rumeida, while Knesset members tour nearby.

Written from reports by ISM activists
November 11th, 2005

Armed settlers from Tel Rumeida repeatedly attacked 4 Palestinian families as they tried to harvest their olives in Tel Rumeida today.

The Palestinians, accompanied by 4 members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and 3 ISMers were initially attacked in the morning, by a group of settler kids throwing stones.
By afternoon, Settler leader Baruch Marzel and three other adult settlers with assault rifles arrived at the Syag family property where the group was picking and inspecting the home.

The family property had been occupied over seven months ago by IDF, the family prevented from entering. They did not receive compensation or indication of when it would be returned. When the Syag patriarch died, the family had regularly tended the property and olive groves while they arranged his estate, until they were evicted.

The IDF vacated two days ago and this was the first time members of the Syag family managed to survey the damage. The IDF squatters had burned as firewood all the furniture, ie tables, beds, chairs, sofas. Every window pane had been smashed. All toilet facilities on the ground floor were destroyed including every cistern and faucet. There was recent defecation in the shower. All electric wires and switches had been torn out of the walls. Profane graffiti was daubed on the walls with large Stars of David painted beside Gargoyle heads. All doors had been removed including metal ones. Upstairs explosives had blown holes in walls and all mirrors were broken. The inside of the roof had been torn down.

In this current incident a settler (in plain clothes) produced a military I.D. and demanded that the Palestinians and Internationals leave the olive groves and the house. They began yelling “This is our land now. This is Israel”, throwing stones at, and pushing the Internationals. Three soldiers arrived at the behest of the settlers, and commanded the Palestinians and Internationals to leave the property, whilst ignoring the violence of the settlers. During this time, several of the Palestinians and Internationals were hit with stones and an Australian woman from the ISM was pushed and slapped.

When the IDF soldiers came, the team were forced to retreat behind the house where they were held back at gunpoint by the IDF. The settlers occupied the house and began throwing its contents and the rubble at the Palestinians and Internationals outside.

Eventually 10 officers of the regular and border police arrived, called to the scene by neighbour and human rights lawyer Yehayah Abu Zeineh. The Palestinians complained about the attacks and the failure of the soldiers present to even attempt to protect them. Once told that there was also video evidence to support these complaints, the police promptly arrested Yehayah, who was unlawfully detained for four hours. The settlers were not arrested and it seems the Tel Rumeida settlement has just expanded approximately two hundred square meters of land, courtesy of the IDF.

Meanwhile nearby Shuhaddah street was closed to the Palestinian population today. Neither community leaders nor the local population were informed of the reason for this closure. The road was not closed to settlers.

It transpired that this was due to the surprise visit of members of the Knesset. While these visitors were shown the closed shop fronts and the Star of David graffiti daubed on the walls by Settlers, all Palestinians were either prevented from entering Shuhaddah street or told to remain indoors. The visiting Knesset members may have gotten the false impression that this area was devoid of Palestinian life and the settlement was occupying empty real estate. In truth Tel Rumeida is the home of a vital but embattled Palestinian community whose property is being slowly invaded by Settlers, and their businesses closed by a process of intimidation and violence, aided and abetted by both the IDF and police.

While the tour passed along the Shuhaddah street, accompanied by a large number of IDF and police, Palestinians approached the members of the Knesset and invited them to attend the olive picking and witness the settler violence occurring only a few hundred meters away. They declined citing reasons of personnel safety.

3. Bili’in on Arafat’s anniversary: Struggle in the World peace context.

Written by ISM activist Jesse
November 11th, 2005

This Friday, the West Bank villagers of Bili’n, joined by around 150 Israeli and International activists held their weekly demonstration against the Apartheid barrier which will claim much of the village’s land. The protesters marched from the village mosque at about 12pm out to the site of the construction, intent on bringing light to the injustice of this land grab in the name of “security.” This week, the non violent struggles of other nations were highlighted and linked to the struggle here in Palestine as demonstrators carried pictures of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, as well as Yassir Arafat.

When the demonstration approached the construction site there was an armed battalion of Israeli border police waiting, so the demonstrators quickly turned right and headed into the active construction area where bulldozers and large dump trucks were working on the barrier site.

Soldiers tried to prevent the demonstrators from penetrating the construction zone but were unsuccessful as many of them rushed past and into the path of the construction vehicles, delaying their work. The soldiers began pushing and shoving people out of the area, and some were being dragged and thrown around brutally causing bruises and cuts.

A sound bomb was used at one point and the demonstrators were dragged away from the work vehicles. An hour passed with demonstrators chanting and peacefully protesting against the land grab and barrier creation. At about 1:30pm one of the soldiers used a loudspeaker to announce something that was unintelligible, probably a warning to disperse. The demonstrators continued to chant and stand their ground as the soldiers loaded up with tear gas grenades, launchers, sound bombs, and rubber bullet attachments for their weapons.

All of a sudden, without provocation, the soldiers attacked the peaceful demonstration as one, with the vicious ferocity of a beast waiting to pounce on it’s prey. Sound bombs, tear gas, and physical beatings were unleashed on the demonstrators as the soldiers chased the them into the olive groves nearby.

For a half an hour or so the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued to launch rounds of tear gas into the fields as well as into the yards of houses on the edge of the village. The children of the village began throwing stones in retaliation for the unprovoked attack, and the soldiers responded with rubber bullets and according to one witness; some live rounds. One child was hit in the head with a rubber bullet and was hospitalized, his condition still unknown.

The demonstrators then regrouped near the construction site and attempted to stop the violence, which did eventually abate. The soldiers then rushed the crowd with an extraction crew of about 5 soldiers, arresting and beating one of the demonstrators, renewing a round of violence which was much shorter lived.

A few Israeli Occupation Forces troops and a number of protesters were injured and one was arrested twice. Among the wounded was the chairman of Bil’in council who fainted after inhaling teargas. The detainee was released the second time on condition that the demonstration return to the village. Just before 4pm the detainee was released and the demonstration returned to the village.

4. Bil’in demonstrators: 14-year-old hit in the head by rubber bullet

By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent,
November 12th, 2005

A 14-year-old demonstrator was hit by a rubber bullet in the head in clashes with security forces during what has become Friday’s weekly protest against the separation fence near the West Bank of Bil’in, demonstrators said. The teen was taken to hospital and his condition is still unknown.

Five Israel Defense Forces troops were also lightly injured in the clashes. At least 15 protesters were injured and three were arrested during the clashes in the security fence area in the West Bank village.

Among the wounded was the chairman of the Bil’in council who fainted after inhaling teargas. The demonstrators claimed that they were beaten by soldiers and policemen, and that security forces threw stun grenades at protesters without provocation. Around 100 Israelis and Palestinians participated in the demonstration against the construction of the separation fence in the area, and some of them succeeded in stopping construction work on it.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the protesters blocked one of the engineering vehicles in the area. The IDF said that when the protesters refused to get away from it, they had to use special means to disperse the demonstrators.

5. IDF Gives Settlers Tour Of Palestinian Checkpoint

By ISM Activist
November 13th, 2005

Today in Tel Rumeda, a focal point for Settler aggression to Palestinian citizens, Isreali Defence Forces were giving tours of the Security facilities to armed Settlers. The previous day the IDF were defending members of the Knesset on a tour of the area from these same settlers.

The first party of Settlers were filmed entering the cabin of the Checkpoint at the bottom of Shuhadda street. They were allowed inside the cabin to observe Palestinians pass through metal detectors. Many of the Palestinians had to remove their trouser belts and expose their abdomen while these Settlers were allowed observe. The Settlers were then shown the internal workings of the checkpoint metal detector and communications equipment by an IDF soldier.

The Settlers themselves do not have to use this checkpoint, having free access to Tel Rumeida from other points in Hebron.

When asked to comment, the Hebron Army branch of the IDF said they ‘would look into the matter’. Yet only two hours after this incident, another group of Orthodox Jews were brought to the same checkpoint, again brought inside the checkpoint cabin and again observed Palestinians dressing and undressing.

The presence of both tours was not hidden: Palestinians leaving the checkpoint merely had to look through the cabin window to see the Settlers or Orthodox Jews behind the counter. This humiliating and intimidating experience again typifies the local IDF’s attitude of accommodating Settlers, at any cost and their total inability to deal with the Palestinian community in Tel Rumeida with any understanding.

6. More than just olives

By an ISM activist, Henry
November 2005

I picked olives with a family in Roujeeb, a village just outside Nablus, and we all had a wonderful time. The daughter in the family, Ghadeer, spoke excellent English and we had some great conversations, about the world, about politics, American TV shows; she learned her English in school and by watching Seinfeld and Look Who’s Talking, which explains her sharp comic wit. She and her husband Sami have 3 children, Ahmed, Imad, and Ale, and while we were there they were either in school or with us in the olive groves playing. Before we left today, she asked me if she could write a letter to my mother. I was so overwhelmed by what she wrote and the kindness of her family, I wanted to share it with you all, so here it is;

Dear Sue,
You don’t know me. My name is Ghadeer. I’m a Palestinian young lady who has the honor to have Henry at her home, I just wanted to raise my hat to the mother who raised such a son, you should be proud of him. I know that you must have been very worried about him, but believe me you shouldn’t. I and my family would protect him with our lives, he is kind and so sensitive. I also wanted to say that if you have a previous idea about Palestinians and Arabs we aren’t all terrorists and criminals or at least I know I’m not. We’re a simple people who wants to live in peace. We have a saying “May Allah protect the tummy carried you to life,” so thank you , you have done an excellent job.

We loved your son and he loves you so very much. I’m a mother myself so I understand your worry,


7. What’s so special about Nablus?

By ISM Activist Henry
November 2005

I just traveled from Nablus to Ramallah, which on a good day is no more than an hour, or an hour and a half drive. Of course, on a bad day, who knows, it could take you all day, or worse; the key of course is getting past the checkpoints that lie between them, particularly Huwwara checkpoint, just outside Nablus. Myself and a random collection of ISMers got through Huwwara without a problem. The checkpoint a collection of bars, cages, concrete barriers, a makeshift roof and areas for cars and buses to be stopped as well. When I arrived in Nablus a week ago, it was a rainy not so pleasant day, which was probably one reason that the soldiers were shouting at the Palestinians trying to leave Nablus; it was a pretty ugly scene. Once an Israeli told me that in the army they learn what he called “oppressor Arabic;” shouting various commands, get up, stop, turn around, open the door, etc. Really, what do you expect when you give an 18-20 year old boy a rifle and have he/she spend the next few years holding the power of life and death over another people that they know little about?

On our way back to Rammallah, we went threw Huwarra, with minimal comment from the soldiers. Once an Irish girl I was traveling with was asked at a checkpoint, are you from Ireland? Do you drink beer? Anyway, we got a van and a Palestinian man joined us, so off we went… until we reached the next checkpoint, at the village of Zaatara. There the van driver nervously collected our passports and brought them up to the soldier before driving then van up, ran back and then brought the van up to the checkpoint. The soldier then noticed that there was a Palestinian man in the van and his ID was not with the passports that had been brought to him. He asked him “why did you not include your ID, why” in very gruff, patronizing (to say the least) tone. Hell, this kid could not have been a day over 21, sounded like he was Russian, and he was talking to this man who was obviously middle aged like he was some stupid child; but, the Palestinian man responded calmly, intelligently, and in much better English “you did not ask for it, you only asked for the passports, if you want my ID, you can ask for it and I will give it to you.” Seeing that he was not going to intimidate him, and probably a bit unnerved in the presence of 6 internationals emerging from Nablus, he then turned to us, well, me since I was closest. He asked me, “where did you come from” and I said “from Nablus” (One thing you learn fast, it’s to keep your answers short and simple, no need to go into details!). He then said “what’s so special about Nablus?” in such a condescending tone; so I replied, well, it is an old city. Now, those familiar with Nablus know that it is true, it is an old city; but it was also a joke of sorts, because the Arabic name Nablus derives from the Roman name for the city, Neopolis, which actually means “New City.” But of course when he said that, his attitude was like, “why did you go to there, what’s so special about the ghetto?” But, without further ado and us stating we were going to Jerusalem we were off.

After some venting and cursing of the soldier, the Palestinian man, who was in the front seat turned to us and said, “so, what IS so special about Nablus?” Of course we laughed, and he introduced himself; his name is Khaled and he runs a restaurant in Abu Dis. He then told us that he was just returning after his first visit to Nablus in 5 years. His friend in Nablus is cannot travel to Abu Dis, and he was unable to get to Nablus during the past years. This is a common story throughout Palestine, as the Israeli army and settler “matrix of control” in the words of Jeff Halper (ICAHD), slice up the territory into cantons and limit the ability of Palestinians to travel from place to place. And of course, this is a process that began not a year ago, and not a few years ago, but in earnest since the times of “peace.” Although settlements began in the hours after the 1967 war, and increased dramatically from the late 70’s on, nothing could compare to the settlement and settlement infrastructure (roads, walls, etc) expansion of the Oslo era; that is where the obvious on the ground scheme for ethnic and national separation began, and it has not stopped since.