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A Non-Violent Victory

1. A Non-Violent Victory, January 3rd, 2006
2. Harassment of Political Leaders by the “Only Democracy in the Middle East”, Jan 3rd
3. Beit Iba Checkpoint Occupied by Peace, December 31st, 2005
4. Steadfastness and Solidarity in Bil’in, December 31st, 2005
5. The Tale of Two Outposts- A story of Israeli Apartheid, December 29th, 2005
6. Bil’in: Land Grab thanks to the Wall, December 29th, 2005

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1. A Non-Violent Victory

As a result of the village of Bil’in’s ongoing campaign of non-violent direct action and protest, an unprecedented action was taken today by the Civil Administration in regards to the illegal settlement outpost of Matityahu Mizrah, which is being built on Bil’in’s land. The Civil Administration issued a stop work order, thus sending away the construction workers at the outpost, a rare act by the Civil Administration in regards to settlement construction. Despite this, the illegal work is still being allowed to continue on buildings where tenants have already moved in.
This unusual event follows an investigatory report in Israeli daily “Haaretz,” written recently by Akiva Eldar, The Real Organized Crime and Documents reveal illegal West Bank building project, that can be viewed at:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/665425.html and
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=Akiva+Eldar&itemNo=665422

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. However, the article exposes that the Israeli Civil Administration has done nothing to stop or restrain the settlement of Mod’iin Illit’s continuing construction and expansion, despite admitting that even by Israeli standards, illegal construction has been taking place on a massive scale.
The article also shows how the Civil Administration serves as a tool for laundering land taken illegally from it’s Palestinian owners, mainly by announcing it to be state land and then transferring it to private hands. Specifically in the case Of Bil’in, attorney Moshe Glick, who is known to be involved with other similar real estate scandals, signed in the stead of the Bil’in village Muhktar, testifying that the land belonging to a resident of Bil’in was paid for by the settlers.
Mr. Glick justified signing in the stead of the Muhktar because “any Jew entering Bil’in will be killed” and because he claimed there was a military order forbidding Israelis from entering Area “B”. Both statements are, of course, totally false, seeing how Israelis legally and safely visit Bil’in (located in Area B) every day. Clearly, there is no way that Mr. Glick could know to whom the land that his clients were interested in belongs, having never been to Bil’in. Yet the Civil Administration has claimed that the supposed land sale was legitimate.
The villagers of Bil’in have been protesting the theft of their land by the annexation barrier, which allows for the expansion of the Mod’iin Illit settlement, and for the last ten months the protests there have become a symbol for the Palestinian non-violent resistance and joint struggle with Israeli and international activists. The route of the wall runs meters from the last houses of Bil’in and thousands of meters away from the last houses in the expanding illegal settlement, thus allowing for further settlement expansion.
In a recent non violent direct action, the people of Bil’in built a Palestinian outpost on their own land across from the settlement, and on the Israeli side of the annexation barrier. The Israeli authorities responded by forcefully removing two caravans and immediately issuing a stop work order for the latest structure that the Palestinians erected. The Palestinian ‘outpost’ has since been under 24 hour surveillance by the Israeli Military in order to insure that no further building takes place. The contrast between the quick concrete action taken to stop Bil’in villagers from building on their own land, with the lack of action taken against the quickly expanding settlement has put the Israeli civil administration in an embarrassing position.
This is a clear example of how the non-violent actions of the villagers and their many supporters have finally forced the Israeli Authorities to take concrete action and curb its illegal settlement expansion in order to save face. But the real victory is yet to be had on Feb 1st 2006, when the Israeli Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by villagers against the route of the wall on their land.

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2. Routine Harassment of Palestinian Political Leaders by the “Only Democracy in the Middle East”
January 3rd, 2006
Today, Tuesday January 3rd 2006 the third, is the official opening day of the election campaign for the Palestinian Legislative Council. In spite of Israel’s reputation as the “only democracy in the middle east,” Palestinian political leaders still face harasement and arrest by the Israeli Police and Military.
At an election rally held by electoral candidate Hannan Ashwari in Occupied East Jerusalem today, Israeli Police demanded that a banner promoting “The Third Way ” be removed. Hannan Ashrawi refused to remove it, so the banner was confiscated by the police and Mrs. Ashrawi’s assistant was arrested. The rally was forcefully dispersed by the Israeli police, and four Jerusalem residents participating in the rally were arrested for waving Palestinian flags (referred to by Ynet as PLO flags), which is still an illegal offense in Occupied East Jerusalem.
On the night of the January 2nd, the Israeli police in occupied east Jerusalem arrested two residents of the city for displaying posters of electoral candidates. The two were released after being interrogated. The Israeli military also prevented Candidate Neda Taweer from Tul Karem from crossing a checkpoint on her way to the site of the annexation Wall at Dir Al Soon.
At noon today, January 3rd, Candidate Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, head of the Independent Palestine coalition list, was arrested in East Jerusalem whilst on a tour of the Old City as part of the his election campaign of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Dr. Barghouthi was approached by six undercover Israeli security agents, arrested, and taken to the Russian Compound jail. He was released at the Al Ram checkpoint three hours later.

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3. Beit Iba Checkpoint Occupied by Peace
December 31st, 2005
For pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2005/12/31/613/
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Palestinian, Israeli and international activists from ISM and IWPS celebrated the new year and their continuous determination to jointly fight the occupation by peacefully taking over Beit Iba checkpoint, north of Nablus. Following a call of local activists from Nablus over one hundred Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, many of them dressed up as clowns and Santa Clauses, marched to the checkpoint from both sides chanting and playing drums and trumpets.
They succeeded to join each other in the middle of the checkpoint and to deliver their demand for freedom and to end the occupation to the Israeli soldiers on the spot. Activists, including one dressed as Santa Claus, handed out chocolates to the Soldiers, calling on them to drop their guns and join the peaceful struggle against the occupation.
Beit Iba is one of several checkpoints isolating the city of Nablus and its 200,000 inhabitants from the surrounding villages and the rest of the West Bank, and is notorious for daily harassment and other abuses faced by Palestinians. As a result of the continuous siege of Nablus since the beginning of the Intifada, all aspects of live in the area are severely interrupted: teachers and students face daily difficulties on their way to school and universities, patients are delayed or stopped on their to hospitals and doctors and farmers are often unable to bring their products to the market. Recently Nablus residents under the age of 35 are denied their right to leave the city, but depending on what the Israeli army calls the ìsecurity situationsî this can also apply to all Nablus residents regardless of their age.
By taking over the checkpoint and crossing it without showing their ID-cards to the soldiers, the activists confirmed the right of all Palestinians for freedom of movement, without being at the mercy of the Israeli military and its illegal occupation. In an attempt to regain control of the checkpoint the soldiers started closing the checkpoint with barbed wire and pushing the activists, separating them from each other, and prevented many activists from Nablus from coming back into the city.
Two Palestinian activists were detained and arrested by the Israeli military; one is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, the other a Palestinian man from the Nablus region. They were released after paying bail in the amount of 2000 shekels and were accused of having assaulted a soldier, despite the fact that the demonstration was peaceful and non-violent.

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4. Steadfastness and Solidarity in Bil’in
December 31st, 2005
By Anna and Henry

For pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2005/12/31/village-of-bilin-continues-its-struggle-against-israeli-apartheid/

On 12.30.05 the establishment of Western Bil’in was celebrated in defiance of Israeli apartheid policies which are demanding its removal. Last week Palestinians from Bil’in, with their Israeli and international supporters, established the Palestinian “outpost” of “West Bil’in” which they are calling “The Center for Joint Struggle.

Palestinians, primarily women, children and whole families, arrived at 8AM at the center, bringing food and water for the day, including a stove for making bread, along with olive oil and zaatar. They were also ploughing their land throughout the day and tending to their olive trees, which have been either destroyed or damaged in the past year due to the construction of the wall.
By 9AM the center and the surrounding land began to fill with media from around the world. The Israeli activists arrived

by 10 PM, and very soon there were close to 50 activists there from groups such as Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall, Gush Shalom, and others

At 11AM Sheikh Tayeer Tammimi, the imam of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem arrived to Western Bil’in, and soon a he led the mid-day prayer for the village on the Bil’in land which had been destroyed by the process of illegal settlement construction. The village was also joined in the prayer by Palestinian political figure Kaddoura Fares.

At 1200 the parents of Rachel Corrie, along with approximately 40 more internationals came to stand in solidarity with the families of the village of Bil’in. The Corries and many of activists had been in Bethlehem for the past three days attending the Celebrating Non-Violence International Conference, and came to Bil’in in order to wittness the ongoing construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall, as well as the Palestinian-led non-violent movement against it.

While attending the demonstration they spoke with members of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, Sheikh Tayeer Tammimi, and spent the rest of the afternoon with the people of the village, enjoying their hospitality while being able seeing up close the destruction and theft of Bil’in’s land.

On the way to the construction site, the Corries stopped to photograph multiple Caterpillar bulldozers and construction vehicles working on the wall. It was a Caterpillar built D-9 Bulldozer which killed their daughter Rachel Corrie. She was a peace activist with the ISM and United States citizen, and was murdered in the city of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, on March 16, 2003 while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home. The D-9 bulldozer is produced by Caterpillar Inc. and sold through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program (armored plating is provided by state-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI)).

Throughout the day the Israeli military was present in small groups at the perimeter of Western Bil’in, in groups of 4 to 7 soldiers, numbering from 30 to 40 in total. Despite stopping people a few times during the day, there was very little interference by the Israeli military on this day. This is in contrast to the nearly year-long non-violent struggle of the people of Bil’in which has seen extremely violent treatment by the Israeli Military, including beatings, shooting of rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition, and night arrests of boys and young men from the village itself.

The day was a great success for the people of Bil’in, who with their families and friends, were able to join with Israelis and Internationals on their land and defy its ongoing destruction by the juggernaut of Israeli illegal settlement construction. Israeli government efforts to monitor and remove the Palestinian outpost of Western Bil’in contrasts starkly with Israeli government support for the establishment of hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements and outposts throughout the West Bank. The construction of Israel’s wall in Bil’in and other villages is being used as an excuse to annex Palestinian land throughout the West Bank to Israel, in violation of International Law.

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5. The Tale of Two Outposts- A story of Israeli Apartheid
December 29th, 2005

The fallowing is a description of a photograph that you can view at: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2005/12/29/the-tale-of-two-outposts/

On the left of the photograph is the simple brick room that Bil’in villagers have built on their land in an area that they are calling “Bil’in west”. On the right of the pictures are the massive apartment building complexs under construction in the Modi’in Elite settlement outpost also known as “Metityahu East”.
The Palestinian structure that houses “the center for Joint struggle” has received a “stop work order” from the Israeli civil administration and is threatened with demolition.
The settlement apartment buildings, despite being built without permits or plans from the Israeli government on land that belongs to the village of Bil’in , have yet to receive such an order.
The Israeli military have placed the Palestinian house under twenty four hour surveillance to insure that no additional construction take place.
By constructing Bil’in west the villagers have effectively Turned the Tables on the Occupation. The people of Bil’in are using the symbols and language employed by Israel for the theft of Palestinian land in a bid to hold onto village land that Israel is attempting to annex for the Wall and settlements.

The Palestinian “outpost”, built on Bil’in’s land with a permit issued by the Bil’in village councile, sits only a few hundred meters away from new Israeli settlement housing units that even the Israeli government views as illegal.
The Center for Joint Struggle in Bil’in West is holding ongoing activities including Guided Tours of Bil’in’s lands with explanations by the village’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, meetings between Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, screening of video materials about the joint struggle against the annexation barrier and Hanuka candle lighting.

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6. Bil’in: Land Grab thanks to the Wall
December 29th, 2005

Bil’in is a small village located six km east of the green line, west of Ramallah. The village rests on 4,000 dunams (about 1,000 acres) and is home to 1,700 residents, whose livelihood depends on agriculture and work outside the village. Most of the villages land lies between two streams (the Modi’in stream in the south and the Dolev stream in the north); the western tip of the lands of Bil’in are covered with the houses of the Kiryat Sefer section of the Israeli settlement Modi’in Illit.

The barrier Israel is building confiscates about half of the lands of the village. According to the Israeli government, 1,700 dunams of Bil’in’s land will remain west of the wall. In addition, the route itself – whose width is between 50 and 150 meters – takes about 250 dunams. In sum, the wall confiscates from Bil’in at least 1,950 dunams (the actual figure is expected to be even higher). It stretches near the last house of the village, surrounding it from three sides.

A Real Estate Wall under the Guise of Security

The Modi’in Elite settlement outpost is currently under construction
As in other villages, the Israeli government argues that the route of the wall in Bil’in was determined purely for security reasons. However, a brief visit to the village shows this to be false. The fence is mostly down the hill, in a topographically low point, easily allowing shooting above it. It goes six km east of the Green Line and 1.8 km east of the built and populated area of Modi’in Illit. The route crosses two streams, which necessitated complex and very expensive engineering work.

Had the aim of the fence been to defend the residents of Israel, it would have been put along the Green Line. Had its aim been to protect the present residents of Modi’in Illit, it would have been erected in superior topographic conditions near the built and populated area of the settlement.

The only reason for the route chosen is the expansion plans for Modi’in Illit. Right now, two new sections are being built in the settlement: the Matityahu East (also known as Heftsiba and Green Park) area, on 870 dunams of the lands of Bil’in west of the barrier; and the Neot Ha’Pisga area, on 560 dunams belonging mostly to the nearby Palestinian village Kharbata, but also confiscating some land belonging to Bil’in north of the Dolev stream.

In Matityahu East, 3,008 housing units are being built, while in Neot Ha’Pisga, 2,748 flats are planned. According to the plan, the Matityahu East section will reach the route of the fence itself so that its outermost houses will be located meters from the barrier! A master plan prepared by the Israeli Ministry of Housing allocates the remaining 600 dunams of the lands of Bil’in west of the fence, between Matityahu East and the Dolev stream, for another new section in Modi’in Illit, in which 1,200 housing units will be built.

Hence, the route of the wall in Bil’in was determined in light of the various construction plans of the settlement Modi’in Illit. Recently, the Israeli Government admitted, in response to a High Court of Justice petition, that “the route of the fence on the lands of Bil’in was designed, among others, to safeguard two new neighborhoods of Modi’in Illit, one which is already in advanced building stages… and the other… where building, on the western side, already began.” In other words, the route of the fence was designed to protect the future settlers who will live in the future areas to be built on the confiscated lands of Bil’in west of the barrier.

From a Small Settlement into a City

The story of Modi’in Illit started in 1992, when the small ultra-orthodox settlement Kiryat Sefer was established on the lands of the villages Kharbata, Deir Qaddis and Ni’lin, as well as on the western tip of the lands of Bil’in. In 1996 the name of the settlement was changed into Modi’in Illit, and it began to expand. At present Modi’in Illit is a 5,800-dunam (more than 1450 acres) settlements, all located east of the Green Line.
According to the master plan prepared by the Ministry of Housing, 150,000 settlers will live in the area by 2020 – most of them in Modi’in Illit itself. The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that in September 2005, 29,300 people lived in Modi’in Illit – 12.7 percent more than in 2004. Modi’in Illit is the second largest settlement (with respect to its population) in the West Bank, following Ma’ale Edomim, and will soon become the most densely populated settlement.

Unlike most settlements, Modi’in Illit is not an ideological one. Its ultra-orthodox residents came here only since the Israeli government offered them cheap housing. In many respects, the residents of this settlement are a victim of the policy of the government, which decided to bring them here and to inevitably create a conflict between them and the Palestinian land owners. This process was greatly enhanced recently, with the expansion eastward of Modi’in Illit, outside the boundaries of its built area. This expansion also violates an explicit commitment, given by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to U.S. President George Bush on December 2003. According to that agreement all building outside the already built-up areas of the settlements will cease.
Matityahu East: the Largest Illegal Outpost in the Territories

In the midst of procedures at the High Court of Justice, it was revealed that the Matityahu East section – the main reason for the route of the fence in Bil’in – is being constructed in violation of Israeli planning laws and without legal permits. In addition, the section violates international law in general, and the Fourth Geneva Convention that forbids the settlement of the occupying population in the occupied areas in particular.

The Matityahu East section is being built according to plan number 210/8/1, which was not approved yet by the Israeli planning authorities in the West Bank. The section has an approved building plan from 1999, plan number 210/8. However, the later allows only 1,532 housing units to be built (compared with 3,008 according to the new plan), and the division of lands therein (public areas, streets etc) is different than in the new plan. In reality, the construction in Matityahu East is being done according to plan number 210/8/1, which has no validity under Israeli law. According to the Israeli government, 750 housing units have already been illegally built in Matityahu East.

A letter written by the Comptroller of the Local Council Modi’in Illit in March 14, 2005 shows that the Comptroller sent warnings against the illegal building in Matityahu East already in January 2004, to both Council members and the Ministry of the Interior – but nothing was done to stop it. Following the complaints of the Comptroller, the local Council decided to fire him rather than address the violations.

While the authorities allow large-scale illegal building to continue in Matityahu East, the Civil Administration was quick to issue a warrant against building in the Bil’in Center for the Joint Struggle for Peace – a small building, sized seven square meters, which the residents of Bil’in and Israeli peace activists erected near Matityahu East on December 25th, 2005. Just a few hours after the walls of the building were completed, a warrant was delivered to the people of Bil’in forbidding any further building there and summoning them to a hearing at a planning committee of the Civil Administration. In addition, the army forcefully evacuated two caravans put in the place – one on December 22nd and the second on December 25th. This is a clear example of double standard in the enforcement of the law in the West Bank.

The High Court Petition

The issue of the fence in Bil’in is now in the High Court of Justice, where a hearing on the subject is to be held on February 1st, 2006. A petition against the fence was issued in September, by attorney Michael Sfard; it includes an extensive discussion of the future building plans of Modi’in Illit, some of which were only recently exposed.
In the petition, attorney Sfard claims that the route of the fence in Bil’in was not determined by security considerations, but rather by the interests of the settlement and of real estate companies. The route carefully follows the existing and future construction plans of Modi’in Illit, and was designed to allow unscrupulous real estate developers operating in the settlement (among them the companies Heftsiba and Green Park) to collect huge profits, on the backs of the people of Bil’in, whose lands are being stolen from them before their very eyes.