1. Thousands Challenge Israeli Apartheid in Bil’in by Henry
2. IOF Evacuated Human Rights Workers Instead of Illegal Settlers
3. Carmel Agrexico on Trial in Britain
4. A Gun in one hand and the Torah in the other by Caroline
5. 15 hurt in fence protest – from the Israeli press by Ali Waked
6. The Occupation Will Not Be Sugar-Coated by Katie
7. Sharon, the man of war by the Palestine Solidarity Committee
1.Thousands Challenge Israeli Apartheid in Bil’in
January 20th, 2006
Today, Friday the 20th of January, candidates from all Palestinian political parties and factions, including Hamas, Fatah, Al Mubadara, Democracy Front, Independent and others came to the villagers of Bil’in. There they were joined by over 300 Israeli activists, 100 Internationals and many Palestinians from the surrounding area. It was one of the most impressive gatherings of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals in Bil’in, in what is now close to a year-long struggle against the theft of their lands by the Apartheid Wall.
At 12:30 PM, close to 2000 people marched through the lands of Bil’in to the construction site of the Apartheid Wall. At the site were over fifty Israeli Military, Police, and Border Policemen. They became violent towards the crowd very quickly, using their batons, sound bombs, against unarmed demonstrators.
Beyond the wall, which is still the land of Bil’in village, the people of Bil’in have built an ‘outpost,’ adjacent to the illegal Jewish settlement outpost Matityahu Mizrah. That has been rendered inaccessible to the villagers by the annexation barrier. After an hour of non-violent struggling with the Israeli Military, 200 to 300 demonstrators were able to break through the lines of the Israeli Military and continue past the site of the wall towards the Palestinian ‘outpost.’
Demonstrators walking to the Palestinian ‘outpost.’ In the distance is the illegal settlement outpost of Matityahu Mizrah They were followed there by approximately 20-30 soldiers, but they were powerless to stop the crowd from gathering at the Bil’in outpost. Joining the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in were electoral candidates, Qais Abu Leila from Democracy Front, Abu Ala from Fatah as well as Uri Avnery and other members of Gush Shalom, and other Israelis and internationals.
Soon the people left the outpost to rejoin the rest of the demonstrators at the wall site, where soldiers had been firing tear gas canisters and some rubber-coated metal bullets as well. Once the groups had rejoined, the international and Israeli activists gathered with the people of Bil’in near a metal gate located near the wall and continued the demonstration against the Wall.
This was met by a coordinated attack by the Israeli Police and Military forces, who were determined to detain Palestinian and/or Israeli activists by force. In the past months, this has been a favorite tactic of the IOF; they detain and beat Palestinian demonstrators and then use them as leverage to end the demonstration.
Despite their use of force and beatings, the IOF was unable to arrest any of the Palestinians, as the activists were able to de-arrest as many as five Palestinians that the IOF attempted to detain. One Israeli was arrested, and beaten in the process, but he was released after the conclusion of the demonstration.
According to Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in, “We marched towards the Separation Wall construction site, and the army met our peaceful procession with extreme violence”, Abu Rahma also reported that “dozens were injured after soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs; Israeli soldiers also hit several residents with batons”.
By 4:00 PM, the demonstration was at an end and the people were returning to the village. It was a successful day of unity and solidarity for the Palestinians and their supporters in the struggle against the Wall, but it was even more important for the people of Bil’in, who have continued their struggle without fail for almost a year.
Abdullah Abu Rahma also stated that “the people, and the candidates of different factions, and the independent candidates, proved that in spite of our differences we remain a united nation, joint in its struggle against the occupation and the annexation policy.”
2. IOF Evacuated Human Rights Workers Instead of Illegal Settlers
January 19th, 2006
While the evacuation of illegal settlers from the Hebron market has been postponed, the IOF has not halted its campaign of indimidation and lies against Human Rights Workers. At 2:20 on Thursday January 19th, David Parsons, a Human Rights Worker from Canada, was arrested by the Israeli Police in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron and taken to Kiryat Arba Police station, and is currently awaiting deportation at Ben-Gurion Airport.
David stated from the airport detention center that “during the last week, the incessant settler attacks on the Palestinian residents have increased dramatically. International observers insist that the Israeli Military and Police fulfill their responsibilities of protecting the Palestinians; however, they clearly resent this and have been doing everything to remove witnesses from the area.” David had been working with other Internationals and Palestinians in Tel Rumeida, trying to decrease settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the area. Among other things, they escort Palestinian children to and from school, thus preventing settlers from throwing stones and harassing them, as normally happens several times a week.
There has been a concerted effort by the Israeli Military and Police forces to remove International HRW’s from Tel Rumeida, Hebron. David was one of 4 internationals arrested on false premises in early November 2005 in Tel Rumeida. “I would like to express outrage and contempt for the behavior of the police,” were the words of Judge Rafi Strauss in his final statement, before releasing the four Human Rights Workers falsely accused of assaulting an IOF soldier in Tel Rumeida. The police officers tried their hardest to bend the law in order to get the Human Rights Workers deported, but did not succeed in their quest at that time.
Since being taken to Ben-Gurion Airport, a deportation hearing has already been held for Mr. Parsons. The hearing has found grounds for deporting him, citing his expired visa, despite his having an appointment with the Ministry of the Interior to extend it. His lawyer Gabby Lasky is trying to prevent his deportation.
For more information see:www.telrumeidaproject.org
3- Carmel Agrexico on Trial in Britain
January 20th, 2006
UK Criminal Trial Examines Export Company Carmel Agrexico’s Complicity in Israeli Apartheid
Seven Palestine solidarity protesters from London and Brighton were arrested on 11th November 2004 after they took part in a non-violent blockade outside the UK base of an Israeli agricultural export company Agrexco (UK) Ltd, Swallowfield Way, Hayes, Middlesex.
Agrexco is Israel’s largest importer of agricultural produce into the European Union, and it is 50% Israeli state owned. It imports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The protestors will face trial at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, between the 23rd-31st January 2006. They are each charged with two offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Section 68: (Aggravated Trespass) and Section 69: (Failure To Leave Land). The defence team will be advised by Palestinian QC Michel Abdel Massih of Tooks Chambers.
The protesters will argue as a defence that they were acting to prevent crimes against international law, that are also offences in the UK under the International Criminal Court Act. The defendants will argue that these offences are being supported by Agrexco (UK).
In a well planned operation, using wire fences and bicycle D-Locks the protesters succeeded in blockading the Agrexco (UK) distribution centre, blocking all motor vehicle traffic in and out of the building for several hours before being arrested.
One of the Israeli expert witnesses in the trial, Dr Uri Davis, will be calling for a boycott of apartheid Israel at a press conference and public meeting on Weds 25th January along with defendants of the trial. They will be joined by Sue Blackwell, who recently spearheaded the AUT campaign in the UK for an academic boycott of academic institutuions.
Other witnesses at the trial will include Professor George Joffe (Centre for International Studies, Cambridge University) and Palestinians affected by the occupation who will be present in court to give first hand testimony about the effect of Agrexco’s business in the occupied Jordon Valley.
Carmel-Agrexco is 50% owned by the state of Israel, and imports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. At the same time Israeli forces have blocked Palestinian exports on grounds of ‘security’.
Israeli state sponsored settlements have appropriated land and water resources by military force from Palestinian farmers in a deliberate policy of colonial settlement.
In a hearing in September the judge ruled that Agrexco (UK) must prove that their business is lawful.
Before taking part in this action many of the defendants had witnessed first hand the suffering of Palestinian communities under the brutal Israeli occupation, having served as volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), documenting human rights abuses by the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza, and taking part in non-violent civil resistance to the occupation organised by Palestinian civilian committees.
The international campaign to boycott Israeli goods is growing across Europe. In December 2005 a whole region of Norway voted to cut economic relations with Israel. The US administration has threatened ‘serious political consequences’ against Norway if the boycott should develop into a national policy.
For information on events related to the trial, visit palestinecampaign.org.
4- A Gun in one hand and the Torah in the other
January 21st, 2006
BY Caroline BOSTONTOPALESTINE
HEBRON – From January 11 to 15, I was about an hour south of Jerusalem, in the city of Hebron, where four hundred settlers of the most extremist militant ideological faction of the settler movement live amongst more than 120,000 Palestinians.
The once bustling historic old city remains eerily quiet, covered in racist anti-Arab graffiti. A fence ceiling lines the narrow streets, placed between the shops and the settler-occupied apartments above because of the constant showers of garbage aimed at the Palestinians and streets below.
Many of the Palestinians who once lived and worked here have fled. Since the IDF protects the interests of these heavily-armed fundamentalist settlers, Palestinian families who live in the old city and the near-by neighborhood, Tel Rumeida are often virtual prisoners in their home, subject to violent settler attacks and destruction of property.
The Israeli High Court has recently ruled that eight settler families must be evicted from the Palestinian-owned whole-sale market in Hebron starting on the 15 of January. This resulted in the appearance of a few hundred more of Israel’s most militant, ideological settlers in Hebron.
International, Israeli, and Palestinian Human rights workers and activists also gathered to observe and document the situation, as well as intervene when the safety of Palestinians was in danger.
Although most settlers despise the presence of international observers and media (numerous members of the media and human rights workers were attacked and harassed), I was approached by a few curious settler girls the day before the protests were scheduled to begin. One, who had immigrated to Israel two years ago from the United States, told me that Hebron and other Palestinian land belonged to her. “Just read the bible,” she said. She told me that she wanted all Palestinians to “leave”. When I asked her where all of the Palestinians should go she responded, “There are thirteen other Arab counties”. Another young girl said that “Arabs only came to these lands when the state of Israel was declared”, indicating her belief in the
right-wing cultural myth that no one lived in Israel when European Jews began to immigrate.
Over the course of the weekend, mobs of teenaged settlers (some wearing black ski masks) roamed the streets of Tel Rumeida and forcefully entered a closed Palestinian part of the old city. These mobs attacked many of the Palestinians and human rights workers they encountered with spit, paint bombs, insults, and physical force. I spent much of the days accompanying Palestinians returning from the Mosque or the old city to their homes on a route that these settlers were also using to move back and forth between the site of the eviction and the temple.
It was truly disturbing to see scores of teenaged boys walking freely with a gun in one hand and the torah in the other with faces and eyes that carried expressions of utter hatred, which I am struggling to properly describe. Perhaps the most difficult thing to cope with was the fact that we are all human and capable of this sort of hatred. These children have been taught to hate just like the Palestinian children I escorted have been taught to flinch at the sight of a settler. I don’t know how far we have come since slavery and Nazi Germany and I wonder if any of this will ever stop. I don’t think it is enough to educate. We must fight harder. We must not turn away from these horrors. We must not forget the oppressed and acknowledge our roles as oppressors.
Caroline works at Haley House soup kitchen in Boston and with the Boston Direct Action Project. She is now working with the International Women’s Peace Service in Haares, Palestine.
5. 15 hurt in fence protest-from the Israeli press
January 21st, 2006
by Ali Waked for Ynet
Anti-fence protesters, security forces clash near Palestinian village of Bilin.
About 15 protesters have been injured on Friday in clashes between security forces and protesters against the West Bank security fence during a weekling demonstration held by Palestinians and Israeli leftists in Bilin, a Palestinian village between Ramallah and Modi’in.
Fatah candidates for the upcoming Palestinian elections joined hundreds of protesters who claimed they had managed to dismantle five meters of the wired fence.
Protesters defied an IDF ban on entering the fence stretches near Bilin, scuffling with security forces who used tear gas to disperse the crowd who attempted to force its way to an outpost set up by leftists near Bilin.
Demonstrators complained of excessive force applied by security forces, saying certain individuals were beaten up. Despite stringent security measures a number of protesters permeated the line of riot police and reached the outpost, where they held signs condemning Israel’s confiscation of Beilain land to build the fence and expand a nearby Jewish settlement.
The High Court of Justice is set to rule early next month on a petition against government orders to expropriate Bilin land, but many protesters fear the IDF will defy the court.
Mohammad Khatib, a member of a Bilin council leading the campaign against the fence, said: “If there is justice in Israel, the court should rule that the expansion of the settlement is illegal and it should rule that the fence should be rerouted near the settlement. We have no faith in the justice system of the occupation and I do not believe a decision will be made in our favor.”
The IDF said protesters instigated the riots as they hurled stones at security forces.
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report
6. The Occupation Will Not Be Sugar-Coated
January 19th, 2006
At the entrance to Qalandia checkpoint there is a sign with a big flower on it that says “the hope of us all.” The insanity of this cheerful phrase in front of an illegal checkpoint was not lost to an Israeli Jewish activist friend of mine. It reminded her of the Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei,” meaning “work will set you free” which was posted at the entrace to concentration camps in Poland. She thought it would be a great action if we spray painted “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the Qalandia sign; so I made a stencil of it and bought a can of spray paint as soon as I could. I met her at Qalandia today and by chance ran into another American Jewish activist friend of mine.
We were a little bit afraid we would get arrested but there were no soldiers in sight and I was feeling a little bit giddy like a kid who knows she’s about to do something bad like eating a whole tub of ice cream before breakfast. We quickly painted it and handed out flyers in Arabic and English to onlookers explaining what we were doing. Then we left without so much as a single IOF gun pointed in our faces.
7. Sharon, the man of war
Media Release: On Sharon: a man of war
Issued by the Palestine Solidarity Committee
8 January 2006
Unlike Zionists (and their American friends) who gleefully proclaimed after the mysterious death of Yasser Arafat that the world will be better place, the Palestine Solidarity Committee will not express glee at the death – or impending death – of any human being. However, with all the recent platitudes about how Ariel Sharon was ‘a man of peace’ and how his death (physical or political) will negatively affect ‘the
peace process’, we believe it necessary to set the record straight:
far from being a man of peace, Sharon was a man of violence and a war criminal!
For Palestinians and justice-loving people around the world, Sharon will be remembered in the same way that we remember Hendrik Verwoerd, General Franco, Mobutu Sese Seko and Saddam Hussain. Sharon’s military and political career has been marked by numerous acts of terrorism and various atrocities. He believed in the language of bloodshed, racism and the practice of brutal oppression and ethnic cleansing, not in peace and justice. Throughout his military and political career, Sharon distinguished himself as a brute and a bully. The fact that he is gravely ill does not absolve him from the numerous war crimes he is responsible for. Nor should it cause us to rewrite history to make him look other than what he was.
We regard Sharon as a war criminal because his crimes against humanity
– as determined by the Geneva Conventions and by international law
1953: he was the leader of the Israeli army’s Unit 101 that herded 69 civilians into their houses during a raid against the Palestinian village Qibya – before dynamiting all the houses. There were no survivors.
1971: he promoted a policy of bulldozing and demolishing Palestinian houses in the Gaza under the pretext of security. Destroying the houses of an occupied population is a war crime under Geneva Conventions.
1982: he was the architect of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon which became known in Israel as ‘Sharon’s war’. His invasion resulted in the deaths of more than 15 000 Lebanese civilians and he earned the epithet ‘the Butcher of Beirut’.
1982: during the invasion, Sharon cooperated with and provided protection to the armed militias of the extreme right wing Phalange fascist group when they massacred over 3 000 unarmed refugees (largely women and children) in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. An Israeli Commission of Enquiry found him “personally responsible” for the massacres and ruled that he was not fit to be the Israeli minister of defence.
1990-92: he served as Israel’s housing minister. This period saw the rapid and deliberate expansion of Israeli colonies (or settlements) on Palestinian land. The building of settlements / colonies on occupied land is illegal under the Geneva Conventions.
2000: Sharon triggered the second intifada by deliberately and provocatively swaggering into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, supported by thousands of Israeli security personnel.
2003: he was responsible for initiating the building of the apartheid wall, a grotesque 8-metre high wall which, on completion, will be 750km long, imprisoning thousands of Palestinians and stealing large tracts of Palestinian land. The International Court of Justice ruled that the wall was illegal; Sharon refused to accept the ruling.
Through his prime ministership, he championed extra-judicial assassination of Palestinian leaders and the wanton bombings of Palestinian residential areas – both of which are illegal under international law.
When he was taken ill, Sharon led the world’s fourth largest army and sat atop more than 200 nuclear warheads, continuing to refuse the International Atomic Energy Agency any access to nuclear facilities.
Many observers are now referring to Sharon’s Gaza redeployment to argue their contention of him as a man of peace. Clearly, his decision to remove the Israeli settlers from Gaza (whose presence there was, in any event, illegal under international law) was calculated to strengthen the occupation of the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and was certainly not a move towards peace. The redeployment was
precipitated more by the Gaza resistance than by any concern for peace on Sharon’s part. There is also talk about how the “Road Map” will suffer with Sharon’s death. Does no one remember that Sharon refused to accept the Road Map?
Finally, it is necessary for us to note that if Sharon’s “peace plan” sees the light of day on the ground, Palestinians will end up with 13 percent of their land! Quite a testimony for a man concerned with peace. The only solution for a durable peace in which Jews and Palestinians can live peacefully, with the security of both being
guaranteed, is one where all Palestinians and Israelis are able to live together in a single democratic state which ensures human rights and equality for all its citizens.
For more information see: http://psc.za.org