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Another Non Violent Victory!

1. The Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction to stop Building illegal outpost on Bil’in land.
2.“Go in Peace”
3. Non violent demonstration stops destruction work in Aboud
4. Tomatoes as a security risk
5. Scare Tactics; Occupation Forces Distribute Intimidating Leaflets in Bil’in
6. Settlers of South Hebron Region Destroy Olive Trees
7. Wall and Demonstrators to stand trial this week
8. Palestinians, Israelis join together in Battle of Bilin

1. The Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction to stop Building illegal outpost on Bil’in land.

January 7th, 2006
Another Victory for Palestinian Non violence!
Wednesday January 6th 2006, Attorney Michael Sfard appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice, on Behalf of “Peace Now” demanding to stop the building in the Matityahu East neighborhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit.

Two days ago, following an extensive coverage in Ha’aretz, the building in Matityahu East was stopped, but yesterday construction there was renewed. As a result of the petition on January 6th, the High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction banning any further building without permits, in the Matityahu East neighborhood, in Modi’in Illit. None of the buildings under construction in this outpost have legal permits. The warrant also bans bringing more residents, i.e. settlers, to live in the houses in the neighborhood. The Court decided that on 12 January, a hearing on the request for temporary injunctions will take place, but until then, the above mentioned orders will remain in force.

The State Prosecution on Friday told the High Court of Justice it will look into the possibility of opening a criminal investigation pertaining to the illegal construction.

In the petition the Court is asked to order that the houses built illegally in the neighborhood be demolished; and also to cancel the construction plan number 210/8/1, according to which the building in Matityahu East have been going on.
The new petition is based on the material discovered following the petition of the people of Bil’in against the wall. Both petitions were filed by attorney Michael Sfard. Both became possible only thanks to the continued, high-profile popular struggle in the village Bil’in.

The petition was filed against ten bodies party to the illegal construction off the settlement:
Five of them are state authorities that had knowledge of the illegal construction but either aided or did nothing to prevent it, they are:
The Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz,
the military commander of operations in the west Bank,
the Civil Administration High Committee of planning in “Judea and Samaria”,
the commander of the Israeli police in the area
and the Modi’in Elite local council.
In addition to the companies who claim to have bought land, but have yet to provide any proof of ownership:
Green park inc.
and Green Mount inc. two Real estate companies registered in Canada.,
And the Israeli real estate companies:
The fund for liberating land planning and development of settlements inc.
and the “Ein Amy” development company inc.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law but outposts like Metiyahu Mizrah are considered illegal even by the Israeli authoraties. The petition asks that the above bodies explain both why the illegal building has occurred with their knowledge and why despite this, nothing has been done to stop the outpost’s illegal construction.

Bil’in has become a symbol of Palestinian nonviolent resistance and of cooperation between Palestinian, Israeli and International activists in a joint struggle for human rights.

The petition refers to a non violent direct action staged by Bil’in residents On December 25th. The villagers employed the tactics used by Israeli settlers for the theft of Palestinian land in a bid to hold onto their land that Israel is attempting to annex via the so called “security” Barrier for Mod’in Elite’s expansion . They established a Palestinian outpost dubbed “Bil’in West” on their own land only hundreds of meters away from the Metityahu Mizrah outpost.

The Palestinian outpost consisted of two trailers and a one room brick structure. Both trailers were removed by The Military within 24 hours of arriving on the land and the brick structure was issued an immediate stop work order by the civil administration.
The petition points out the Israeli authority’s selective law enforcement and that the efforts to remove the Palestinian outpost contrast starkly with the lack of action against the criminal acts being committed in Metityahu Mizrah just across the hill.

Approximately half of Bil’in’s lands are being isolated from the village by the Barrier. 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.

2.“Go in Peace”

January 2006

Written by Hannah

I’ve been here for 4 days, and I’ve already been through 2 of the newly opened terminals” that have replaced the “checkpoints” at the entrances to Bethlehem and Ramallah. I don’t know what language to use for these. They seem more like prisons to me than anything else. I asked my host father in Dheisheh camp (Bethlehem) if he’s seen it and he said, “Get me a permit, then I’ll go see it.” Because of course, no matter how badly people are treated at these terminal-prisons, the people who are there are mostly the lucky ones who have permits to go through, or Jerusalem ID cards.

I know it’s clichéd to say that the Wall is turning Palestine into even more of a prison, but this was the first time I’d seen the Wall completely closed around the entrance to Bethlehem. There’s an enormous metal door that can be opened and closed at the whim of the Israeli army, with a huge sign next to it saying in English, Hebrew, and finally Arabic, “Go in peace.” Underneath is written “Israeli Ministry of Tourism.” This is in an area separating Palestinian area from Palestinian area. West Bank on both sides. Entirely controlled by Israel.

And it’s the same at Kalandia. Palestinian areas on either side, entirely controlled by Israel. I don’t know which sign is more offensive, the Bethlehem one or the one at Kalandia that says in three languages “The hope of us all.” Next to this is a drawing of a tree, with the word “security” written in Arabic on the trunk, and each of the branches saying (in Arabic) things like “education,” “culture,”and “prosperity.” “Israeli Ministry of Tourism” was missing from this one, probably because Ramallah does not receive as many tourists as Bethlehem, especially at this time of year.

Passing back through Kalandia from Ramallah to Jerusalem last night was one of the most disturbing checkpoint experiences I’ve had. It was certainly the worst I’ve ever been treated personally. From entering to exiting the “terminal,” you are enclosed between metal doors, turnstyles, and windows, so at each moment you are essentially trapped in a different part until a soldier decides to let you through. Everything is done electronically.
The soldiers sit behind bulletproof glass and bark orders through loudspeakers. No face to face human interaction anymore. The girl (and yes, these soldiers look like girls and boys) barking orders at people last night was particularly unkind, When it came time for me, I placed my things on the newly installed conveyor belt and walked through the metal detector, like I saw the people before me doing. I held up my passport and the soldier ignored me and started yelling at me in Arabic. I couldn’t understand everything she said and I told her that (or tried to, although there seemed to be no mechanism for people to speak to her, only the other way around), and finally she yelled in English, “Put all your things on the belt!” I did so, then walked through, held my passport up, picked up my stuff, and got ready to leave. She said nothing to me, but began to yell at a man in front of me who was holding a small baby. She yelled at him in Hebrew to come back, and then he called me over and said it was because I hadn’t given her my passport, which she hadn’t told me to do.

There are times when I ignore soldiers’ authority because I believe they should have none, but this was not one of those times. I had never been through this contraption before and did not want to hold up the people behind me, but I really didn’t know what I was supposed to do. She began screaming at me in Hebrew when I went back, I told her I didn’t understand, and then she said in Hebrew, “Fine, I’ll speak in English! Give me your passport!” I put the passport down in the tiny hole, she took it, and the man with the baby told me she was saying “Fuck you” and other nice things to me in Hebrew. I got my passport back and she began to bark orders at others again, pressing the magic button to open the next turnstyle for me to exit. I walked out disgusted, with the man and his family watching to make sure I was okay.

I wanted to throw up. Or any number of other things I shouldn’t write here. I don’t know why I keep being surprised. Or maybe that’s not quite it. Maybe it’s just completely disgusted. And angry. I’ve been working in Palestine for just over 2 years, and I’ve seen the street next to Kalandia go from a street to the Wall to the terminal. I was here 5 months ago and it looked so different. And meanwhile I’m working for long-term change and leading groups around the West Bank for American Jewish people to learn about the situation and maybe change some of their understanding and maybe tell some others about that and… what about the here and now? As always, time is on Israel’s side. Palestinians cannot afford to wait. And yet what can they do? I watched all the young Palestinian men joking around inside the terminal as they waited to be yelled at in Hebrew and maybe let through, and I wondered, as I often do here, where all the anger goes.

I hope I never get so used to this that it doesn’t enrage me.

Happy new year to those for whom this is a new year – let’s hope it brings
more justice than the last one.

For Pictures and more on Kalandia terminal see Machsom Watch Roni Hammermann’s report http://www.kibush.co.il/downloads/qalandia.pdf”


3. Non violent demonstration stops destruction work in Aboud

January 7th, 2006

Friday January 7th- Aboud, Rammalah Area Occupied West Bank

This morning a new checkpoint was formed on the road to Aboud and Israeli soldiers were spread out in the surrounding fields to prevent international and Israelis from joining the demonstration against the theft of Aboud’s land by the annexation barrier.
At 12:30AM one hundred and fifty villagers together with Israeli and international activists who managed to access the village, marched towards a new construction site off the wall near an archeological site.

The Israeli army and the private security managed to block the demonstrators 100 meters from the building site where heavy machinery was being used to dig up the hillside. The demonstrators held a sit-in in front of the soldiers and the work on the barrier was stopped as the machines left the site.
A group of soldiers bypassed the front line of the demonstration and prevented most of the demonstrators from joining the group near the construction site. Soldiers also shot tear gas and sound bombs and attempted to arrest one of the Aboud popular committee against the wall and settlements members. A group of children who had been cut off from the march by the soldiers threw stones in the soldiers direction.

The barrier near Aboud has already been completed on the Green Line 6 kilometers west of the village and now an additional fence on Aboud land close to the village will annex the Bet Arye and Ofarim settlements, established in the eighties on Aboud’s land and more of Aboud’s agricultural land to Israel.

4. Tomatoes as a security risk

January 7th, 2006

Farmers of Tubas march to the Bardalla checkpoint
Today, at 12: oo AM farmers of the Tubas region will hold their third march to the Bardalla checkpoint. This checkpoint has served as the only venue where Palestinian farmers could sell their produce to Israeli traders for distribution. The fertile agricultural land of the Tubas region has served as the villager’s only source of income for many generations. For the last two months the checkpoint has been closed to the farmers produce and the region faces an agricultural and economic catastrophe.
Ahmed Sawaft Director of PARC (Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees) in Tubas warns: “If this closure continues entire villages and their traditional way of life will be devastated. With no hope of distributing their goods the farmers of Tubas region have not planted their fields for the next season.”

The villages of Bardalla, Ein Al Beda, Cardalla and Wade Al Malachi are in an enclave in the Jordan Valley. The only entry and exit point to this enclave is the Tayaseer checkpoint. In recent months anyone who is not registered on their Israeli-issued I.D. card as from these villages or has a limited-time permit is forbidden to enter by the Israeli military.


5. Scare Tactics; Occupation Forces Distribute Intimidating Leaflets in Bil’in

January 6th, 2006

Last night in the village of Bil’in, Military vehicles distributed leaflets warning villagers not to participate in today’s non-violent demonstration against the annexation of their land by Israel’s illegal apartheid wall. The leaflets, which were left in the village during the night, call on people not to demonstrate and warn residents:
-don’t follow the inciters
-security forces won’t let anyone hurt the wall
-don’t do things that will hurt your daily routine

Fifteen Bil’in residents are currently in Israeli prisons after being taken from their homes during the night for participating in demonstrations protesting the theft of more than half of the village’s land by the wall.

The people of Bil’in are not deterred by these threats, and plan to protest against the Apartheid policies that they are subjected to. Examples of these racist policies have been particularly blatant in Bil’in recently where Israeli Occupation Forces used violent means to remove two legal dwellings in West Bil’in, while refusing to react to the town-house style condominiums that are being illegally built on Bil’in land.

The caravans received permits from the Bil’in village council and were in place for less than a week before being removed; comparatively, the illegal Israeli outposts have been under construction for over a year.


6. Settlers of South Hebron Region Destroy Olive Trees
January 6th, 2006

On the morning of Friday, January 6th, the village of Jwaya, near Tuwani in the southern region of the West bank, awoke to find one hundred and twenty of their olive trees cut down. The trees were approximately 30-31 years old and owned by Ibrahim Ahmad Al E’ moor and represent an important part of the livelihood of the village.

This is just one incident in what has been a constant stream of abuse, attacks, and property destruction against the Palestinians by the settlers of the region. Villages like Qawawis, Tuwani and others have been under near constant attack and threat of attack from the settlers. The villagers of Qawawis were evicted from their village for a year, until an Israeli court ruled that villagers had the right to live on their land, but settlers continue to harass them with humiliation and violence. ISM and CPT and other organizations have been maintaining a presence in the villages of the region.

Settlers across the West Bank have used the cutting of olive trees, an important part of the Palestinian economy and culture, to intimidate and frighten villagers, in the interest of driving Palestinians off their land. These actions take place with the tacit support of the Israeli military and police forces, who rarely prevent or punish such attacks.

These latest acts of violence against peaceful farmers in the Hebron Hills come in the wake of Sharon’s most recent hospitalization, and are being overlooked by a media focused elsewhere.


7. Wall and Demonstrators to stand trial this week

January 8th, 2006

Two very different trials will take place this week that releate to non violence resistance to the Apartheid Wall.

On Tues, January 10th, at 8:30 Judge Alexander In the “Peace Court” in the Russian Compound, will begin hearing witnesses in the case of Mohammed Mansour, a non violent organiser against the wall from Biddu.

Mohammed was initially arrested in June 2004 at a nonviolent demonstration against the Wall in Al Ram. Undercover Israeli agents stormed the crowd and many, including Mohammed and a Palestinian photographer for “Yediot Ahronot, were severely beaten. He was hospitalised and then held for a week before his release on bail together with another three Palestinians. Five Israeli peace activists, also arrested at the demonstration, were released a few hours following their arrest.

Mohammed, a father of five, is being charged with assaulting a police officer, throwing stones and presiding illegally in an “Israeli area.”
The prosecution offered to close the case if Mohammed would agree to stop participating in demonstrations for the next two years and pay a 3,500 shekel fine. “I would prefer to go to jail than pay one shekel to the Occupation. “It is not I, but those that build the wall that are the criminals” said Mohammed.

This Thursday, January 12, at 9:00 am, the Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the request for a temporary injunction against building in the Matityahu East neighborhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit. This neighborhood is being built on the lands of Bil’in west of the barrier, and is the reason for the route of the wall there. The hearing will be held before Judge Ayala Prokachya, hall A.

Last Wednesday, attorney Michael Sfard filed, on behalf of Peace Now, a petition against construction in this new neighborhood. On Friday, the Court issued a temporary injunction forbidding in effect building in the compound and bringing new residents therein.

This Trial is taking place as a result of an ongoing nonviolent campaign led by the villagers of Bil’in. Meanwhile, fifteen nonviolent activists from the village of Bil’in are currently in jail in an attempt to deter the villagers from protesting against the theft of more than half of their land by the wall.

The International Solidarity Movement condemns the Israeli legal system defence of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and settlers and its criminalization of nonviolent protest against the Occupation and Apartheid wall.


8. Palestinians, Israelis join together in Battle of Bilin
January 7th, 2006

Weekly protest against barrier is rare example of co-operation,
The Globe and Mail


Friday, January 6, 2006

BILIN, WEST BANK — Nimrod Eshel is shouting out his disgust at the barrier his country is building through the West Bank when the tear gas starts to fly.
The 24-year-old student from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem pants mildly as he dashes through an olive grove to find a safer vantage point. The peaceful protest of a few minutes before is beginning to disintegrate; Palestinian youths, their faces covered with bandanas to protect them from the effects of the gas, hurl stones back at the helmeted Israeli troops, who respond with rubber bullets and more tear gas.
“I think it’s really important for Israelis to see this. It’s really sad what’s going on,” Mr. Eshel said, waving his hand in an arc that included both the ongoing barrier construction and the Israeli dispersal of the protest.
The Battle of Bilin, as the weekly anti-wall protest here in this tiny West Bank community is known, begins every Friday after midday prayers. Several dozen unarmed residents of the town, supplemented by foreign and Israeli peace activists, meet each week outside the local mosque and march together toward the bulldozers and front-end loaders that are preparing the ground for the next growth spurt in the 685-kilometre-long separation barrier.

Each Friday, they’re met by Israeli riot police and an angry dance of protest begins. The activists push forward as far as they can, singing and chanting anti-wall slogans. When they cross an invisible line, the police disperse them with tear gas and batons.
A longer-distance exchange of heated opinions, Palestinian rocks and Israeli rubber bullets then carries on for much of the rest of the afternoon.
Six people were injured, one seriously, in the clash in which Mr. Eshel recently took part. Three were arrested, including two Israelis.

The fight is a desperate one for this West Bank town’s 1,700 residents. When the barrier is completed, it will cleave away some 233 hectares — approximately half this town’s land — and append it to the Israeli side of the barrier, where the settlement of Modiin Ilit is rapidly expanding. It is one of 117 Jewish communities built — illegally, according to the United Nations — on West Bank land.

“According to the Israelis, this is their border. But we will continue to resist it,” said Rateb Abu Rahmeh, a 40-year-old teacher from Bilin. He waved his arm to indicate the mounds of freshly dug earth that are the precedent to a complex system of fortified fencing, motion sensors and security roads designed to keep Palestinians from approaching. “They took 60 per cent of our land. . . . We can’ t have a state with these borders.”

The weekly protest is intriguing in a couple of ways. First, the demonstrators, though few in number, have managed to draw international attention to their cause and slow construction to a snail’s pace. Second, the residents are joined each Friday by Israeli peace activists who are as ready and willing to get tear-gassed for the cause of Bilin as anyone who lives here.

They are only the most vocal of a large minority in Israeli society that is opposed to the barrier, or at least to its construction on the Palestinian side of the 1967 Green Line, Israel’s internationally recognized border with the West Bank. The barrier’s route, which the current Israeli government is believed to see as a prelude to a final border between Israel and a future Palestinian state, puts 8 per cent of the West Bank as well as much of East Jerusalem on the Israeli side, effectively annexing it to Israel.

Mr. Eshel said that like many Israelis, he is in favour of some kind of barrier, which Israelis attribute to halting the wave of Palestinian suicide bombers that have struck in recent years. “I can understand why they put the wall up,” he said. “The biggest question is where you put it.”

It’s a sentiment the Bilin residents share. If the barrier had been built on the Green Line, they say, there would be no riots.

Bilin’s case, requesting that the route be moved closer to the Green Line, is now before Israeli courts and a decision is expected in February. Construction is frozen on about 10 per cent of the barrier’s planned route because of some three dozen domestic court challenges, and the village council is hopeful that a landmark September ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court will help their cause.

In that decision, the court ordered the army to tear down a section of the barrier encircling the Jewish settlement of Alfei Menashe and five Palestinian villages. The court said the barrier can extend into the West Bank, but cannot impose undue hardships on Palestinians.

Though minor, the court successes and the international exposure gained by the weekly demonstrations have recently encouraged the activists to be more brazen in their challenge to the Israeli government.

Last week, a number of Israelis joined Bilin residents in setting up a Palestinian “settlement” next to Modiin Ilit, where the Israeli media has reported that 750 housing units were recently built on West Bank land without permits. Unlike the residents of the Jewish settlement, the Palestinians who moved in next to them were bearing a deed to the land and permission to build from the Bilin village council.

The Israeli army quickly removed the tiny outpost, but not before it made international headlines and drew more attention to Bilin’s cause. Mr. Abu Rahmeh said the village’s Israeli allies had been behind the idea, and even supplied the materials for the outpost’s construction. “They’re very good people. They help us more than anyone,” he said. “Without the Israelis and the other foreigners, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this.”

Friday afternoon, once the demonstration is over, Nir Shalev, an activist with B’Tselem, a well-established Israeli peace group, arrived in Bilin toting maps of the region to help the village council prepare for its day in court. He’s greeted warmly by his Palestinian allies, who clearly value his expertise on how the Israeli justice system works.

It’s a rare example of Israeli-Palestinian co-operation. After five years of bloodshed, hatred and distrust are far more commonly on display between the two sides, and Mr. Shalev acknowledges that most Israelis are quite happy the barrier is being built. Still, he and the other Israelis who have joined the Battle of Bilin are determined to fight on.

“In the long term, this wall will just initiate a third intifada (uprising). You can’t expect people who have their land grabbed to just sit peacefully and accept it. So there will be more terror attacks in Israel and more retaliation by the Israeli army. The whole cycle will continue.”

This is the final instalment of a five-part series by The Globe and Mail’s Middle East correspondent examining Israel’s security barrier, its impact on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and its implications for the peace process