1. Protesters Hang Themselves on The Wall, Friday, March 3rd
2. Bil’in and Beit Sira March Together For Peace, Friday, March 3rd
3. Aboud Stops Construction on the Wall Friday, March 3rd, By Harry
4. Soldiers shamed by checkpoint, Saturday March 4th , By Harry
5. Beit Sira Replants Trees in the Shadow of the Wall Tues February 28th, By Henry
6. Israeli activist shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers at Beit Sira, Friday February 24th
7. Two articles on Matan from the Israeli press
8. Of Shabbat, Settlers and Destroyed Homes, Sunday February 26th, By Mary
9. Harassment of Palestinian Non-Violent activists – part one, Testimony by Monsour
10. Conversations at the Palestinian “Outpost,” Tuesday February 29th By Ashraf
1. Protesters Hang Themselves on The Wall
Friday, March 3rd
For pictures see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/03/protetors-hang-themselves-on-the-wall/
At 9:30 AM Friday morning, Palestinians and Israelis hung themselves from the annexation barrier being constructed illegally on Bil’in’s land. The protestors wrapped themselves in shrouds symbolizing the death sentence that the barrier represents to the Palestinian people and economy.
Other protestors chained their arms into metal tubes and attached themselves to the wall. Israeli soldiers beat the chained demonstrators with batons and rifle butts and wounded two of the protestors. Mohammad Khatib from the Bil’in popular committee and Yossi Bartal from Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall both sustained injuries from the beatings.
The route of the wall in Bil’in was designed to allow for the further expansion of the illegal outpost of Metityahu Mizrah on Bil’in land. The fence in this will annex the Modi’in Elite settlement block that is currently under construction.
After the protest in Bil’in the villagers of Bil’in joined the Beit Sira demonstration see report # : Bil’in and Beit Sira March Together For Peace
Abud village also had a parallel demonstration see report# : Aboud Stops Construction on the Wall
2.Bil’in and Beit Sira March Together For Peace
Friday, March 3rd
by Henry and Sara
For pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/04/bilin-and-beit-sira-march-together-for-peace/
The weekly non-violent protests against the Israeli Apartheid wall continued this Friday in Bil’in and Beit Sira, with Palestinians from both villages uniting once again with Internationals and Israelis in a display of resistance to the ongoing theft of their villages’ land for the construction of the Apartheid Wall.
After the morning direct action against the Wall in Bi’in, the focus moved to Beit Sira where the village has begun its wall struggle in the past weeks. The Route of the wall in Beit Sira is designed to annex the Makabim settlement and more of Beit Sira’s land to Israel. Ismael Mahmoud, a member of the popular committee against the wall, told ISM that the Israeli military previously uprooted more than 1500 of the village olive trees to build a barrier that will isolate more than 800 dunnms of land from the village.
Today’s march was attended by over 500 people, including many Palestinians from Bil’in and Israelis that were injured in the morning action, and International activists. The crowd marched from village to lands destroyed by wall construction, alongside the settlement of Maccabim.
Soon, the crowd approached Border Police and Israeli Military, but were able to pass them, despite their shoving and walk around to the adjacent road. A were dismayed to see some of the same border police unit who had shot from close range both Matan Cohen, 17, from Tel Aviv, and a member of the “Anarchists Against the Fence” organization in the eye and Hussni Rayan of Beit Sira .
After changing direction and moving onto the road, the demonstrators were able to surround a military jeep by Palestinians with only olive branches, flags and a megaphone against a full array of Israeli weaponry.
The Border Police stormed the demonstrators in an attempt to break the peaceful crowd up, using their batons and sheilds to beat the unarmed people as well as throwing sound bombs. While doing this, a few border police fell off the road into the olive orchards and number of people were injured by further Israeli violence.
In a few minutes the situation calmed down, and the people of Beit Sira were able to give speeches, discussing the wall and the political situation in Palestine. While this was happening, ISM volunteers observed the border police getting their sound bombs and tear gas ready for use against the unarmed demonstrators.
As the protest ended and the people began to walk away, they began their assault, which provoked stone throwing by the local young boys. The struggle of Beit Sira will continue, with more protests scheduled for the coming weeks.
Activists left for Bil’in after the Bet Sira demo ended, with reports of soldiers entering the village. When we reached, it turned out to be inaccurate, but the IOF was confronting stone throwing youth with tear gas and rubber bullets in a very dangerous manner.
About thirty Israeli, International and Palestinian activists then marched towards the soldiers and were able to draw the attention of the soldiers and stop their firing at the boys.
Once they reached the wall, the Palestinians showed court papers to the soldiers supporting their right to access land which has been closed off by the Wall.
Citing a closed military zone order, the protesters refused to leave and sat down in front of the army jeeps and a large number of Israeli Military.
After 20 minutes, the Popular Committee decided to leave the area and return to the village. Some tear gas was fired after the activists’ departure, but for the most part things remained calm.
Recently, Bil’in has expanded what is the first Palestinian settlement, located west of the barrier, as well as a second outpost nearby. Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, says that they installed the house near the Wall as yet another way to protest against land expropriation for settlement construction and expansion. With over a year of struggle behind them, their will to resist the Occupation and the Apartheid Wall has not diminished at all.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is inviting volunteers to come to Palestine for a conference on Joint Nonviolent Struggle in Bil’in and for ISM’s Spring and Summer Campaigns. ISM’s Spring Campaign is taking place between March 1st and April 23rd, 2006, and Freedom Summer will be from July 2 until August 5, 2006.
3. Aboud Stops Construction on the Wall
Friday, March 3rd
For pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/04/aboud-stops-construction-on-the-wall/
The people of Abud recieved a court decision on Thursday by the Israeli High court to cease construction og the wall in that area for 14 day. Despite this on Thurday at around 11am villagers still saw the bulldozers hard at work, destroying their lands. A rally of 100 Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals marched down holding the court decison in their hands to make sure the decision was enforced.
We marched down from the village and onto the road but the millitary were expecting us to march over the hill. When the Army couldn’t physically block us because they were too far away, they resorted to tear gas, but the rally pushed through. The army finally caught up with us. After a sound bomb was fired and a lot of shouting they were finally prepared to talk. They promised that they had ceased construction 1 hour ago and that they were no longer going to violate the court order (maybe it was just because it was the start of their weekend). The villagers said they would be watching and that they would be back if the court order was violated again.
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 Israeli Bet Arye and Ofarim settlements. These settlements were illegally established in the 1980’s on Aboud’s land. The separation barrier will annex more of the villages farmland to Israel in violation of international law.
4.Soldiers shamed by checkpoint
Saturday March 4th
For pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/05/soldiers-shamed-by-checkpoint/
Yesterday there was a demonstration against the wall and checkpoints in Tulkarem. All residents of Tulkarem region have been denied the right to leave their area and access the rest of the West Bank from four months now. We were at a checkpoint called Jebara where the wall has cut off the village of Jebara and its 500 residents. Obviously 500 people aren’t a self sufficient economy and they desperately need free access to the town of Tulkarem and surrounding villages for basic supplies and things like school. When we got there the army was hardly pleased to see us. They had already fired shots in the air and unlike most demonstrations where the army keeps their fire arms by their side, here they kept them raised upwards. They were rather annoyed by the fact that there were so many press and activists with cameras.
The Army kept threatening to have peoples camera’s confiscated and they even threatened to “break” me if I proceeded to take pictures. But there was nothing they could do as we continued to take photo’s whilst chanting and gathering around the checkpoint. ‘
The people of Tulkarem are planning on making this a weekly Saturday demonstration, which is great especially given that there are already so many Saturday rallies. There was also a very healthy number of women at this rally, which I think was in no small part due to an active Women’s Union in Tulkarem.
One thing which hit home for me just how this Apartheid system works was a sign at the checkpoint with the words “Dear Citizen: Entrance to this village is forbidden for Israeli Citizens by order of the IDF commander of the region. I could not help thinking about the South African Apartheid regime. They didn’t want White South Africans to see how the Black population lived, Israel also denies its citizens from seeing how the Palestinians live.
5. Beit Sira Replants Trees in the Shadow of the Wall
Tues February 28th, 2006
For pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/02/28/beit-sira-replants-trees-in-the-shadow-of-the-wall/
The demonstration today in the village of Beit Sira was a peaceful march of one hundred people to the village land where olive trees are being uprooted to make way for planned route of the annexation Barrier. The Route of the Barrier in Beit Sira is designed to annex the Makabim settlement and more of Beit Sira’s land to Israel. To the left of the crowd, on the hill bulldozers were seen working on the wall’s foundation throughout the day.
We walked in the direction of the site until they reached the line of Israeli soldiers waiting to block us. We were dismayed to see that the same border police unit who had shot Matan Cohen in the eye and Hussni Rayan from close range waiting for us.( see report# Israeli activist shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers at Beit Sira)
A stand off ensued in which both the soldiers and the demonstrators behaved in a restrained manner. A village elder negotiated that a group of us would cross the road (which had been partially destroyed by the Israeli Military) in order to replant trees. While one group planted trees, the rest of us chanted, while being flanked by mostly border police.
After finishing, the internationals formed a line between the border police and the demonstrators, and after approximately 20 minutes, the people all moved back to the village. As opposed to the previous demos in Bet Sira, there were no injuries at today’s demonstration Another demonstration in Bet Sira is scheduled for this Friday.
6.Israeli activist shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers at Beit Sira
Friday February 24th
for pictures see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/02/24/israeli-activist-shot-in-the-eye-by-israeli-soldiers-at-beit-sira/
17- year- old Israeli Matan Cohen and American Sara were both shot with rubber bullets in the legs and were retreating when Matan was shot again this time in the eye. Maria from Sweden who was standing next to them said later: “We were at least 200 meters away from any stone throwers. It was very obvious that we were Israeli and Internationals that we were completely peaceful and that we had separated from the demonstration.” Matan is currently in Tel Hashomer hospital. Doctors say that his eye is in danger but it is too early to assess the damage.
The demonstration today in the village of Beit Sira started with a peaceful March of three hundred people to the village land were olive trees are being uprooted to make way for planned route of the annexation Barrier. The Route of the Barrier in Beit Sira is designed to annex the Makabim settlement and more of Beit Sira’s land to Israel. No work was taking place today.
The demonstrators walked in the direction of the site until they reached the line of Israeli soldiers waiting to block them. A stand off ensued with both the soldiers and the demonstrators behaved in a restrained manner. Everything was peaceful but for some mutual pushing, until a group of border policemen arrived on the scene.
The border policemen began to beat the crowd with batons and when people dispersed as a result they shot at them with large amounts of rubber bullets and tear gas. When people tried to take cover between the olive trees the border police ran and shot between the trees. Some people including Israeli and International activists tried to walk away from the place the border police followed them and continued to shoot.
14 people were injured by rubber bullets during the demonstration. Including thirty-year-old Hussni Rayan who has a metal-coated rubber bullet lodged near his kidney and will be operated on tomorrow in Sheik Zaid hospital in Ramallah.
7. Two articles about Matan from the Israeli Press:
Injured anti-fence ‘anarchist’ speaks outby Meital Yasur Beit-Or
Originally published 25th of February on Ynet see: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3220888,00.html for the original article.
Matah Cohen has sustained eye injuries while protesting the security fence near Ramallah; Says: ‘I feel like the blood of Left-wing activists is cheap’
Matan Cohen, 17, from Tel Aviv, and a member of the “Anarchists Against the Fence” organization, was injured while demonstrating against the security fence near Ramallah.
“My feeling is that the blood of Left-wing activists and the Palestinians is cheap,” he said.
Cohen was shot by Border Police and injured in his eye, and has been hospitalized in the Tel Hashomer Medical Center since Friday.
If bleeding does not stop within 24 hours, Cohen will undergo surgery. In either case, doctors believe his eye has sustained damage. In the best case, his visual range will be affected, and in the worst case, he would lose complete vision in the eye. “Up until now I can’t see out of the eye, and they’ll be able to see if there’s damage only in a few days. I’m worried about damage in my eye and I really hope the bleeding stops,” said Cohen.
Members of the organization have begun documenting their demonstrations due to past experiences with violence. “We have recordings of an army commander who said that he doesn’t want the situation to turn violent, and who tried to calm things down, saying not to shoot. But a Border Police is also heard saying ’shoot everyone one of them with a rubber bullet.’ When I was shot I was standing with three people, within around a 20 meter range from a Border Police force. We said: ‘Don’t shoot, we are not threatening you and we are not endangering you,’ but they opened fire, and also directed it to the head, violating all of their rules of engagement. I felt the impact in the eye, and with the remainder of my strength, I managed to run from them. My entire hand and head were filled with blood,” said Cohen.
‘No connection to Amona’
Cohen says there is no connection between violence of soldiers against Right-wing demonstrators in Amona and Left-wing demonstrators: “In our demonstrations, they shoot live bullets in order to kill. In Right-wing demonstrations, no gas or shock grenades have ever been thrown. This is violence which is many times larger. The feeling is our blood is cheap. But violence which takes place when the life of a police officer is not under threat should be condemned, it doesn’t matter from which side it occurs.”
Three soldiers and Border Police officers were injured by rocks thrown at them. One police officer was taken to hospital.
According to police, two disturbances of the peace took place on Friday in the Ramallah area, as part of protests against the construction of the security fence. Hundreds of Palestinians, Left-wing activists, and foreigners took part in the disturbances, whom entered a closed military zone. Demonstrators threw rocks at security forces, who responded with crowd dispersal means.
Soldier lost eye
A few months ago, a soldier lost his left eye in similar protests after a rock was thrown at him by demonstrators.
Cohen, who completed his high school studies, has been taking part in protests against the route of the fence for three years, and says he witnessed harsh violence on the part of soldiers and Police officers. “The approach is that it’s legitimate to fire at demonstrators, even when they are nonviolent. The IDF and Border Police use live ammunition, tear gas, and rubber bullets, and hundreds of people have been injured in this period. In yesterday’s demonstration another 11 Palestinians were injured, one of them was even operated on at a hospital in Ramallah,” he said.
Youth, 17, says shot in the eye by Border Police officers
By Jonathan Lis
Originally published in Haaretz see the original article at www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=687066&contrassID=1&subContrassID=5
Matan Cohen, an Israeli demonstrator against the separation fence, told Haaretz on Saturday that doctors are not sure if he will be able to see out of his eye again after he was reportedly shot the day before by a Border Police officer during a protest.
Cohen said he was shot Friday in his eye with a rubber bullet during clashes between anti-fence demonstrators and Israeli security forces in the West Bank village of Beit Sira, southwest of Ramallah. He was taken to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
“We went to a nonviolent demonstration against the separation fence on portions of the village land. We reached an agreement with the military representative that the demonstration would remain nonviolent. We told them we wanted no confrontations. The request was honored until a Border Police force arrived,” Cohen said.
“At that point, the clashes began and the Border Police officers fired live fire into the air and rubber bullets from point blank range. Ten officers then began running toward the demonstrators that had already begun dispersing. Me and three other international activists were standing far from the demonstrators. A Border Police officer stood 20 meters from me, and I heard him cock his weapon. I yelled to him, ‘Don’t shoot, nobody is endangering you,’ but he shot. I felt a sharp pain in my eye, lost my vision and fainted.”
“He simply shot me in the head. The bullet hit half a centimeter above my eye. It’s utter contempt for human life, when in the name of the defense of something or other the army has a right to hurt demonstrators,” Cohen continued.
Border Police sources refused to respond to the statements, saying that only Israel Defense Forces spokespeople had the authority to respond to the affair. IDF sources said a preliminary examination revealed Cohen was injured by a stone thrown by an unruly demonstrator. They said that since he was standing closer to the forces than to the demonstrators, it is likely that he was hit by demonstrators aiming for forces.
IDF sources also said that the demonstration in Beit Sira, along with one nearby in Abud, constituted a violation of order because the area had been declared a closed military zone. The demonstrators said the sources threw stones at the security forces, which prompted the dispersal by security forces.
During the clashes, three soldiers were lightly injured in Abud and one in Beit Sira.
8. Of Shabbat, Settlers and Destroyed Homes; Reports From Occupied Hebron
by Mary, Sunday February26th
It was Shabat (25/02/06). In the morning, I was at the crossroad at the top of Tel Rumeida hill, waiting to escort Palestinian children to their homes near the Tel Rumeida settlement. When two girls, who live opposite the settlement arrived, I walked with them up to the soldier outside the settlement. The soldier said to go no further and that he would see the children to their house. I turned to come back to the crossroad. There were three teenage settler boys coming, followed by about ten settler adults. While the soldier’s back was turned, a boy of about 16 came over to me and spat in my face; he was laughing. I called to the soldier and showed him the spit on my glasses. I also indicated which boy was the offender. The soldier was shocked, and the settler adults spoke to the soldier as they passed behind the boys into the settlement.
Later, when I took another group of children up to the soldier, he seemed frightened and asked me to please not come up there. He said that he would see that the children were properly looked after and safe, and more soldiers arrived. I do not know who the settlers threatened – the children, the soldier or me. But I would not want to be the cause of danger so I stayed back.
Beer il Haia 25/2/06
I went with a Palestinian friend to Beer il Haia in H2 ( Israeli controlled Hebron), where the Ajlum and Gait families now live. Four years ago, they moved to Beer il Haia, when they were forced to leave their previous homes behind the Ibrahim (Abraham) Mosque. The families concerned need more accommodation and have been obliged to build without a permit from the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces). The IOF will not grant permits, saying that the land is zoned for agricultural use. A few days ago, the IOF came with a bulldozer and destroyed a house, a well and a stone shed, which provided shelter for sheep and goats. They are supposed to give notice for such action and they say they did. However, the notice was left on the ground and not handed to the owners of the land and buildings to be destroyed. The owners did not see it.
There are two more houses, which are inhabited but not completely built and which are to be destroyed because they have been built without a permit.
There is great inconsistency between the IOF behavior when dealing with settlers and Palestinians. Here, in Tel Rumeida, we have settler caravans assembled on a street, without permit, and left there for years. Palestinians families, living on that street, are not allowed to use the street and have difficulty reaching their homes. At Beer il Haia, there is plenty of space to build and the land is owned by the families. There are plenty of houses about and there seems to be no good reason why there should not be more. It’s not near a settlement, so that’s not the reason for the IOF’s decision. And, if it is to be agricultural land, why did the IOF destroy the well and animal shed?
9. Harassment of Palestinian Non-Violent activists – part one
Mansur’s Testimony, Monday February 27th
I decided to join some of my international friends and sleep in the new Palestinian houses built on the land that will be cut off from Bil’in by the wall. We were hanging out and chatting when an Israeli military jeep showed up around 8pm. After they left we went to sleep. At 3am, the Israeli jeep showed up again and I woke up to see who it was. They asked for my ID and then they left for around 20 minutes. On returning they told me to go to Ofer prison after 6 hours.
The morning came, and I start walking to the village, having to pass the construction site of the wall. Two Israeli security men stopped me and threatened that they will shoot people if we kept annoying them by coming to and from the Palestinian houses on the “wrong” side of the wall. I couldn’t argue with them because I didn’t want to be late for the interrogation in Ofer prison as it would result in a black point in my file.
I reached Ofer and waited about 1 hour outside until the soldiers called me and started searching me. They put me in a room with a camera on the wall where I stayed about an hour and a half, until they called me in. An Israeli soldier came who seemed to be nice .He informed me that his name was Captain Amjad and asked if I wanted something to drink. I replied “no thanks, I had some”,”What is your name?” he asked “Mansour Mansour” “What is your work?” “Different things” He started by pretending that he was a nice person talking in a friendly way. He said that he wouldn’t interrogate me but wanted to talk as “friends”. Of course, we Palestinians know this scenario and have much experience with these tactics. He asked me how I survive. , how I get money? what had I achieved ?.Who I was working with? Who are my friends and what was my relationship with the internationals? He asked about my group and about our relationship with Hamas. He asked what I was doing in Bil’in, in Bit Sira and in Aboud and wanted to know how we contacted internationals to join us. He asked many other questions which were intended to make me feel that they knew everything about me.
In fact I felt bored whilst he was questioning me, as both of us knew why I was there and why they wanted to interrogate me.
At some point I told him that he should be smarter than to believe his lying soldiers. He then spat in my mouth and told me to think again before they changed their “nice way”. He left the room and then two huge soldiers came in. They looked at me as if I were something disgusting and told me :” IT SEEMS YOU PREFER THE OTHER WAY OF TALKING, WE DON’T HAVE THAT NICE WAY OF THE FIRST GUY WHO WAS TALKING WITH YOU.” They held my arm and then pushed me against the wall. They hit me against the wall twice. Hard. I said “why are you doing that ?, I didn’t do anything wrong. They told me to shut up. Before long Captain Amjad came back and started questioning me about Hamas. He asked many questions, including what I would do with the new government, how I would work with them, what contact I have with them.
He told me that he would check what I said with my cousin who would be interrogated the following morning in the same place. They then gave me my stuff and led me out of the prison.
I walked calmly and didn’t look back. I expect I will be back. I headed for my house it had been a hard day and I needed to relax. I’m not trying to ignore their humiliating treatment or forget how they violated my human rights but I want to keep on doing effective work for our oppressed people. What they did to me actually inspires me to continue.
10. Conversations at the Palestinian “Outpost”
By Ashraf, February 28th, 2006
It’s been almost a year of the nonviolent struggle for the Bil’in residence against the illegal Israel wall. Beyond the wall, on land owned by the Bil’in community, the people of Bil’in have built a room referred to as the ‘outpost,’ adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement outpost Matityahu Mizrah. The land on this side of the wall will be rendered inaccessible to the villagers by the annexation barrier.
Palestinians, Internationals and Israeli activists maintain a permanent presence in the outpost which has since been described as a place for shared popular resistance against the wall over Bil’in’s land.
When I was staying in the outpost, we (a friend, a boy from the village and I) walked through a gap in the fence created during one the protests against the wall. As we reached the other side of the wall an Israeli Hummer Jeep followed us through the field and stopped a few meters ahead. Three soldiers got out of the jeep and asked the boy, who was around 17 years old for his ID.
Boy: “I don’t have my ID”
Soldier: “where is your ID, why you don’t have it?”
Boy: “there is no need for my ID, why should I have it on me when I’m in my village?”
Soldier: “this is not your village, don’t play dumb and give me your ID”
Boy: “I left it at home and we are going to visit friends in that small house (the outpost)”
Soldier: “your land is back there, and that room is not for you”
Boy (pointing with his finger): “do you see that land over there? It belongs to my dad and it’s our land!”
Soldier (making a rude look): “stop the crap, next time you bring your ID with you” The soldier then looked at me and my friend and asked the boy for our IDs, I was very nervous because according to the Israeli policy I am not allowed to travel outside Tulkarem, where I come from. The soldier looked at my ID for more two minutes and then he let us go peacefully.
That night while we were sitting around a camp fire night at the outpost, another Hummer Jeep stopped by and three soldiers walked towards our tent. One of the local activists I admire and respect very much, a farmer called Waji , was there to have this conversation in Hebrew with the soldiers for more than twenty minutes.
The first soldier (apparently the commander): “Hello, how are you?”
Wagi: “We are good, but it would be better if you drop your weapon and join us to drink tea”
The commander: “Why you still sitting here?, we gave you your land back”
Wagi: “You did not give me anything, this is all the land of Bili’n”
The commander: “Your land is the village, this land is not for you it’s for the government”
Wagi: “ How come this land is for the government, did you buy it? Did you earn it some way”
The commander: “I don’t care, this land is for the government and how you want me to drop my weapon when all Arabs hate me?”
Wagi: “ You are stealing our land, our water, our trees, and demolishing our homes and lives, how you want us to feel towards you?” “
The commander: “Well, I have to protect my country and it’s my duty to join the army”
Wagi again: “OK! there is something mentioned in the Jews history, the golden age, do you know about it?”
The commander said: “No, then the next soldier smiled and answered, “Yes, I heard about the golden age”
Wagi: “Do you know what is it?”
The soldier replied, “yes, but you tell me about it.”
Wagi: “It’s the age when the Jews where living under the Muslim empire and you never felt the justice and took all your rights like that time, right”
The soldier answered: “Yes, it’s true.”
Wagi: “Is this how you treat us back now, why we can’t live like we were in the past?”
The soldier: “You have started it, you want to fight us”
Wagi: “It doesn’t make sense, If you gave me all my rights would I fight you? Why you are here with your gun then?”
The commander: “What about the suicide bombers, do you want me to let them blow them selves up in Tel Aviv?”
Wagi: “Do you think a 100 years old man would prefer to die? Naturally people love life. Why you think these people blow them selves up, why do they want to finish there lives”?
The commander: “They do this because they hate us.”
Wagi: “They do this because you have killed their friends, maybe their family or someone close, do you think throwing a bomb in Gaza the most over populated place in the world and killing women and children is different than the suicide bombing?”
The commander again: “Yes, this is a military operation done by soldiers but suicide bombing is different”
Wagi: “Let me tell you this personal story, I have a disabled son moving in a wheelchair, few months ago your army invaded my house and one of your soldiers aimed at my son while he was sitting and shot him in the shoulder”
The other soldier: “Only the border police do that, they are crazy!!! We are not like them, we are regular soldiers”
Wagi: “Regular soldiers!! Don’t you have this saying in the army “Shoot then Cry”? What makes you different?.”
The soldier smiled and didn’t say anything, Wagi added “Do you know how my son became disabled?, at the beginning of this Intifada he joined a peaceful demonstration against an illegal checkpoint in Ramallah and he was shot with a “dumdum” bullet by an Israeli sniper”
The same soldier again: “What is a ‘dumdum’ ?”
Waji with a smile: “You don’t know what is a “dumdum”? It’s an explosive bullet, it makes an explosion once it hits something. This illegal bullet shattered my son’s spine”
The soldier: “We don’t have these kind of bullets in Israeli, we don’t use them maybe it was a rubber bullet?”
Waji: “Do you think that bullet came from the sky and hit my son?, Do you know my son was dying and I wanted to take to Jordan to get better medical care but your authority did not give me a permit to save my son’s life! Let me tell you something else, what weapons do you use against peaceful demonstrations in Bil’in? Rubber bullets, coated steal bullets with salt, bean bullets (an illegal bullet splits into plastic pieces to poison the body, used once in the US and killed one woman”,) sponge bullets, the scream weapon, electric weapons. my other 12 years old son was shot with a “dumdum” bullet too in one of the demonstrations? Are you going to tell me that you don’t have these weapons too? My other son is in prison now for three months because he participated in peaceful protests against stealing his land. If you were in my place as a father, what would you do?!!”
The commander (nodding his head): “It’s been good talking to you, we have to go now. I hope we can see again and talk”
Waji: “If you come next time, come with your car without your uniform and you are welcome to visit me in my house”.