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Mohammed Saqer Escapes Death

1.Mohammed Saqer Escapes Death
2. Shofat Camp Non violent action for Right to Worship Successful
3. Bil’in: Un-cage Palestine!
4.Border Police Lash Out
5. Police probe building of West Bank settlement neighborhood
6. Tel Rumeida Journal
7. At last, a peaceful Shabbat in Tel Rumeida
8. “That terrible feeling inside “
9. Tul Karem to Rammalah3 road blocks, 5 check-points, 7 cars

1.Mohammed Saqer Escapes Death- From Israeli Bullet to the Brain
May 2nd, 2006

An update from ISM activists in Nablus on Mohammed Saqer (17), the boy shot in the head a week ago with a rubber-coated metal bullet by the Israeli army:
After being kept in a medically induced coma for 72 hours following emergency brain surgery Mohammed successfully regained consciousness and, amazingly, is able to talk. This is an extremely positive development given the original opinion of his doctor that he was likely to be seriously brain damaged, if able to regain consciousness at all.
His improvement has been so rapid he has been transfered to the “intermediate intensive care” unit.

His entire family are ecstatic, including his mother and aunt who kept a bedside vigil during his coma and was distraught at the seriousness of his condition. The family said that when he fully came out of coma he opened his eyes and immediately said “Marhaba” – arabic for hello!

This is the second time in two years Mohammed has been shot in the head by Israeli forces, and as his aunt said at the time “The first time was much better. Now, I think its worse. It’s bad”.

Certainly, even though he is alive, awake and able to talk he needs constant medical attention and his long term condition is not known. He cannot move the left side of his body and it is uncertain what mobility he will regain. But his delighted mother said his situation is improving everyday.

Extraordinarily he asked us how we were doing, even greeting us in English and asking our names. He talked of how he hopes he will be better soon and how we can visit him in his home in Askar Refugee camp saying “You are always welcome at my home”
As ISM activist Lauren says “It is really amazing that he is even alive. It was surreal to even talk to him. What a miracle that he will laugh and smile again.”

2. Shofat Camp Non violent action for Right to Worship Successful

May 5th, 2006

For photos please see :http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/05/05/shofat-families-first-demonstration-for-right-to-worship-successful-tear-gassed-by-iof/

Residents of Shofat refugee camp in Jerusalem, along with international and Israeli supporters, today demonstrated non-violently against the Israeli Border Polices’ often violent suppression of the camps residents’ right to cross the checkpoint at the camp entrance to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque on Fridays.

Palestinian men women and children marched peacefully alongside Israeli and international activists to the checkpoint carrying banners declaring their right to worship at Al Aqsa Mosque and protesting against construction of the Apartheid Wall next to the Camp.

Upon reaching the checkpoint Border Police and soldiers, including two mounted officers, attempted to physically block the marchers’ progress. The residents’ leaders asked the Border Police commander why they could not pass and complained about the denial of a basic human right. Unprovoked by any aggression on the part of the demonstrators, the Israeli forces resorted to using sound bombs and tear gas.

Scared but undaunted, the Camp residents continued to press their right to worship and accompanied by Israelis and Internationals over 60 people were able to make their way past the checkpoint, despite continued harassment by the Border Police.

Local resident Ibrahim said: “I am grateful for the people who joined with us today. It’s a first step and we will continue to demonstrate as long as they treat us this way. Today, they held back because of the presence of press and internationals, normally they are asking 10 yr old boys for documents or will not let them pass [documentation is not issued by Israeli authorities to Palestinian children until age 13] and they always treat worshippers brutally. They refuse to let buses through so the people have to go by foot whether it is hot or raining. It’s real suffering every day”

Residents of the camp have been complaining for many months about the behavior of the Border Police in the camp, which included cursing, pushing, beating and throwing concussion grenades. These are common procedures at the checkpoint at the entrance to the camp. The situation deteriorates in particular on Fridays when many worshipers try to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Border Police attack those waiting in line with particularly harsh violence. The violence of the Border Police in the camp is not limited only to the checkpoint. In the previous months Border Policemen have injured dozens of residents, mostly children. Among them is Abdel Malek Zalbani, an 8 year old child, who was critically wounded by a concussion grenade thrown during a demonstration against the wall.

The violent behavior of the Border Police in the Jerusalem area is not a new phenomenon. In East Jerusalem the last year alone, Samir Dhari from Essawiya and Mahmood Swara from Noaaman have been murdered by Border Policemen. This violence would not be possible without the agreement of silence by all the parties involved, primarily Marhash (the department for investigating Police), which is not attempting even to pretend to have an investigation in response to the many complaints that have been filed in the last year.

3. Bil’in: Un-cage Palestine!
May 5th, 2006

For photos see :
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/05/05/bilin-un-cage-palestine/
May 5th- The non-violent demonstration against the Apartheid Wall on the land of Bil’in village this week was themed around the economic siege of Palestine by western powers. Israeli and international activists with pictures of western leaders taped to their chests carried a barbed-wire cage in which a Palestinian dressed in Palestinian flags was symbolically trapped. This was to signify the fact that Palestine is being made a prison created by the Israeli state and it’s western financiers.
The demonstration reached the fence gate which was closed to prevent the villagers accessing their own land. As has been the case for the last few weeks, the Israeli military enforced the closure of the gate by lining up jeeps and Border Police behind it. The demonstrators with the cage tried to open the gate and pass, but were prevented by the Border Police who beat those who got close to them with clubs. After a short while of trying this, the demonstrators gave up and instead dumped the cage on a jeep.
As was the case last week, the chanting group of demonstrators was broken up when the Border Police threw sound bombs at us. In response, several shebab from the village started throwing stones at the soldiers, who then opened fire on them with rubber-coated metal bullets. Most of the demonstrators moved out of the way of this unequal crossfire, shouting at the soldiers to stop firing at children, or talking to them in Hebrew to the same effect. Some from the village Popular Committee convinced the shebab to stop throwing stones. The demonstration regrouped and some tried to start a noise demo (banging in rhythm on a metal barrier which is part of the barrier), but the soldiers tried to arrest one of them – an international activist. Israeli international and Palestinian demonstrators prevented the arrest, simply by piling on the international. The soldiers gave up after a short while.
After a while, the demonstration was declared over by the Popular Committee. The demonstration left peacefully, making sure that the military jeeps were prevented from following us. Shebab from the village exchanged stones with tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets with the soldiers.
No one was arrested this week. One Israeli demonstrator was mildly bruised (we think by a ricocheting rubber-bullet).

4.Border Police Lash Out
April 28th, 2006

For photos please see the link below:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/04/28/1063/
For Audio Report: https://publish.indymedia.org.uk/media/2006/04/339190.mp3
April 28th – The weekly non-violent demonstration against the Wall in Bil’in was attacked by the Israeli soldiers, as usual. The demonstrators reached the gate in the annexation wall that is stealing some 60% of the village’s land. The gate was blocked by several jeeps with Israeli border police standing on top and menacingly waving their clubs and pointing their M16 rifles at the demonstrators.

The crowd of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals chanted and sang against the wall and called on the soldiers to leave the village. Mohammed Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements stood on the gate and was beaten by three soldiers at once, seriously bruising him on the arms. Several other Palestinians were also beaten, although there ended up being no arrests this week.

Eventually, the military dispersed the demonstration using sound grenades, which, in conjunction with the beatings, provoked a few stones from some of the shabab. The soldiers then shot rubber bullets and teargas at the crowd. A 14 year old boy was wounded and Many tear gas suffered from tear gas inhalation.

This exchange repeated itself few times. Each time most of the demonstrators moved out of the line of fire. Israelis and internationals tried to stay close to the soldiers at the sides, talking to them and shouting at them – trying to convince them to stop shooting at children. The presence of internationals and Israelis, along with large amounts of journalists and photographers means that they rarely use live ammunition, unlike in places such as Nablus. There, very few internationals and press are present, and they regularly use live rounds against unarmed protesters – often children.

The Popular Committee is expecting the Wall in Bil’in to be completed in July, so they now fear an escalation in the oppression of the army against the village – in terms of both arrests and general levels of violence used against the villagers. Abdullah Abu-Rahme, co-ordinator of the Popular Committee called for as many Israelis and internationals as possible to join them now – both on the weekly demonstrations and to stay overnight in the village and the outpost to act as an presence in case of army entering the village.

5. Police probe building of West Bank settlement neighborhood
April 27th, 2006

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent 27/04/2006

For the original article See: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/709887.html
The Israel Police’s National Fraud Squad has opened a criminal investigation into the illegal construction of hundreds of housing units in the Matityahu East neighborhood of the Modi’in Ilit ultra-Orthodox settlement. A statement to this effect was submitted on Tuesday to the High Court of Justice in response to an injunction issued at the request of the Peace Now movement.

The police investigation is focusing on Modi’in Ilit council head Yaakov Gutterman, other senior council officials, entrepreneurs and large construction companies, Jewish real estate dealers who acquired privately owned Palestinian land, lawyers and settler organizations involved in “land redemption.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars are believed to have changed hands in the affair.
According to police suspicions, a lawyer at one of the settler organizations purchased the land in question based on an affidavit submitted by the mukhtar of Bil’in, who claimed that because of the security situation, he was unable to get to the village and collect the signatures of the landowners.

During the course of Tuesday’s legal debate, the High Court was told of a land-laundering system that allowed the real-estate dealers and settler organizations to convert private land – purchased sometimes through dubious means – into “state land.”
Ahead of the construction of the separation fence in the area, the land was “returned” to the buyers so that they could establish facts on the ground and press the Defense Ministry into moving the route of the fence to the east of the new neighborhood.

Peace Now attorney Michael Sfarad, who is also representing residents of Bil’in on whose land Matityahu East is being built, has provided the state with documents allegedly indicating that Gutterman and other council officials had a hand in illegal construction on an unprecedented scale. The documents include a letter in which the council’s legal advisor warns the council engineer that entrepreneurs are constructing “entire buildings without permits, with your full knowledge and in total disregard for planning process and the law.”

Furthermore, a report sent to the Interior Ministry by the council’s comptroller notes that construction in the new project is going ahead contrary to the state’s approved urban master plan.

Following a Haaretz report on the affair early in the year, and in keeping with a directive from the State Attorney’s Office, the Civil Administration in the West Bank took over law enforcement duties at the new building sites in the settlement, issuing injunctions to cease all the construction work and sending out inspectors to ensure that these were upheld. At the same time, the head of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch unit, Dror Etkes, submitted complaints to the police against all those involved in the affair.

At Tuesday’s High Court debate, the state said it had no objection to extending the construction ban, but said it was opposed to razing the illegal structures that had already been completed or were near completion. The state also said it saw no cause to evict individuals who had already moved into their apartments.

6. Tel Rumeida Journal
May 4th, 2006
For photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/04/28/settlers-vandalise-school-property-in-tel-rumeida/

Monday, April the 24th

Today was a quiet day. Volunteers doing a lot of work preparing for the press conference on Wednesday. A Press release and open letter to the police and army about rising settler violence are being drafted.

Jerusalem Post visit Tel Rumeida and visit two families who recount stories of settler and IDF violence. I hope their words get through to the journalists because it is obviously painful for the people to tell their stories. While we are with the journalists and international and a Palestinian are spat at and threatened by settler children on Schuhada Street.

Tuesday, April the 25th

The morning school run goes well. Three settler visitors wearing the orange threads signifying opposition to disengagement come to talk to the soldiers.

As we are leaving a soldier comes to check our passports, he grabs our passports out of our hands and tells us we are being detained. We try to reason with him but he is obviously intent on causing us as much trouble as he can. In the end five internationals from CPT and ISM are detained for three hours at the Bab-a-Zawiyye Machsom. After three hours the shift changes and we are released immediately – it is patently obvious that this particular soldier does not like the internationals and wants to cause as much trouble as he can, his peers do not seem to share his animosity.

The Jerusalem Post are here again and watch what we on the school run with interest. Surely they must wonder why so many internationals are needed to watch this group of schoolchildren walking home.

The soldiers stationed near the Tel Rumeida settlement stop three schoolgirls from walking home. The family that these girls belong to has won a court battle for access to the land below the Tel Rumeida settlement. However, today the soldiers are not aware that the family have permission to use the path to their home and they have to wait by the guards post dangerously close to the settlement buildings. A settler child emerges and throws a stone before he is shooed away by the soldier. This exact same situation occurred last week and could be avoided if IDF soldiers were properly briefed.

Wednesday April the 26th

Settlers from Beit Hadassa settlement in Tel Rumeida on the outskirts of the old city of Hebron vandalised a school path at Qurtuba school which is used by local Palestinian children. The path was being built with money from TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron). The builders had just laid bricks along the path above Beit Hadassa settlement.

At 2pm on April 26th builders had stones thrown at them by children from Beit Hadassa. Shortly afterwards international Human Rights Workers (HRWs) saw an adult settler looking at the building work and making several calls on his mobile phone. Between 6 and 7pm yesterday a group of 20 adults and children from Beit Hadassa climbed the steps to the school and began tearing up the bricks and throwing them down the steps. Soldiers are stationed at a guardpost 50 feet away. Local Palestinians said soldiers did try to intervene but did not stop the vandalism. Police attended but no arrests were made.

7. At last, a peaceful Shabbat in Tel Rumeida
May 4th, 2006

This Saturday, the 30th of April everybody was apprehensive about further settler attacks. Over the last three shabbats settlers have mounted more and more organised attacks against internationals and Palestians in Tel Rumeida. There was a large intrernational presence in response.

Internationals and Palestinans have been active this last week in trying to draw attention to the increasing level of violence in Tel Rumeida. On Wednesday a conference was held highlighting the escalating violence and an open letter was sent asking the police and army to protect Palestinans in Tel Rumeida.

Throughout the week international volunteers have been speaking to the army units in Tel Rumeida and impressing on them the danger posed by settler attacks and asking that they intervene if attacks occur.

Settler violence has been covered in the mainstream media including the Jerusalem Post and some TV stations.

On Wednesday an organised group of settlers attacked workers at Qurtuba school in Tel Rumeida and later destroyed school property. Palestinians and internationals made calls to the DCO and the police asking for more policing near the school.

On Saturday an unprecedented number of border police were present at Qurtuba school stationed close to the place where the attack occurred on Wednesday. We can only assume that at least some of our efforts were worthwhile.

The day passed without any trouble whatsoever. It seems that the large numbers of police coupled with the numbers of internationals and the fact that the settlers know that the media is watching has had a preventative effect… My only hope is that we an maintain a focus on Tel Rumeida in weeks to come.

8. “That terrible feeling inside “
April 30th, 2006

By Leila ALHaddad from Gaza
For the photo please see the link below:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/04/30/that-terrible-feeling-inside/
or a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/

Ok I admit I’ve been a little lazy this week. Part of that is has to do with the fact that, wrapped up in my pre-travel anxiety as it were, and my mad rush to tie up as many loose ends as possible and write as much as possible, I think I burnt myself out.

That and being here can be overwhelming at times; this week has been one of those times. Sometimes I’m too caught up to notice, but then on a “down” week, it catches up to me. I feel powerless, even crushed, in the face of an ugly, foreboding, larger than life force that seems to grow and mutate with every passing day. It is everywhere and nowhere at once. And try as you might, you cannot hide from it.

It squeezes you tighter and tighter, instilling within you a feeling of helplessness and dejection and isolation, until you begin to feel you are alone, even among 1.5 million others. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Sometimes I don’t want to do anything about it. I just want to run away, somewhere I hope it can’t reach me. Sit on the beach, listen to the troubled stories that the Gaza’s lonely Mediterranean is desperately trying to tell. “Take me to the beach at sunset, so I may listen what the beach says…when it returns to itself, calmly, calmly.”

Yousuf frolicked about in the sand, building and destroying his imaginary creations, pleased with his new-found prowess. He glanced over at me, sensed something of sadness in my eyes, and patted me on the shoulder-“ma3lsh, mama, ma3lish” he said… “It’s ok”…and suddenly, just like that, everything was.

9. Tulkarm to Ramallah: 3 road blocks, 5 check-points, 7 cars
April 29th, 2006

by Abdel-Karim Dalbah

How long does it take to travel from the north-east of the West Bank, to the centre? In such a small area of land, you might think not long. A Palestinian ISM co-ordinator gives an account of a the realities of trying to get out of the prison that the Israeli military is turning the north into.

An average journey
Drive distance: 90 km
Drive time: 90 min max – directly in one car.
Cost: 15 shekels by bus or 20 to 25 shekels by car (service)
On the 23rd of April 2006 and for more than five months
Drive distance: more than 300 km
Drive time + walking + waiting at checkpoints: 5 hrs, 30 min
Cost: 65 Shekels
WHY
Because of the Israeli policies of closure and checkpoints and the fact that I am a Palestinian from Tulkarm (in the north of the West Bank).
HOW
I left my home at 8:30 am and walked to the bus station. There were no buses, and no direct cars so I had to take the sevice to Innap checkpoint (15 km east). Before we reached it, we were stopped by a flying checkpoint after 5 km. We waited about 15 min in a long line of cars before our driver decided to go back and take another road, going around the checkpoint. This added another 15 min as we had to go 200m east around the check point and continue to Innap (the main checkpoint). We reached Innap and waited there about 15 min when the soldier came and told our driver that it was forbidden for anyone to pass today. So the he had to use another road to drive around . We reached a road-block just 1 km east of the checkpoint. The cost had increased from 5 to 10 shekels by then.

The end of the first part.

When we reached the road-block we had to walk about 200 m to cross it. We started waiting for a car to take us to Ramallah. When one arrived the driver was asking for 50 shekels each which is too much – it’s normally 20 or 30 maximum. After 10 minutes, I took a taxi with four others to a village called Funkuk, halfway to Ramallah. This cost 10 shekels each. From there, a taxi driver offered to take us to Borgeen road block for another 10 shekels. We agreed to this but after driving for about 20 minutes we were stopped by another flying checkpoint near Haris. The soldiers prevented us from passing, so the driver took us back to Funduk. He offered another choice – to try another long road through different villages. Along the way we had to get out of the car several times because the parallel road we were taking to avoid the road-blocks was so rough. After driving more than an hour we reached the Borgeen road block – it cost 20 shekels to get there.

The end of the second step.

After we passed the road blocks, we felt like we were about to reach Ramallah, taking one last service. However, the drivers said not it would not be that simple. The soldiers at Attara checkpoint near Bir Zeit were apparently not allowing people from the north of the West Bank to get into Ramallah.

However, at the road-block before Attara, we would be able to pass and then get another car to Ramallah. What should we do? We agreed to this plan and drove (10 shekels each) to Attara checkpoint which we reached after 45 minutes, passing through some villages that I’ve never been though before. Instead of a car waiting on the other side of the road block there was a Border Police jeep which stopped anyone from being near by. We stayed there about 30 minutes, trying to pass though the main checkpoint, at first with a taxi and then by trying to speak to the commander. We tried to point out to him that we were all over forty years of age. After a long time he said “sorry. You can go and try to get in through Qalandya”. When we asked about going that way we discovered that it would cost 20 shekels more.

The end of the third part.

Eventually, we decided not to go that way but also not to go back since by this point we were less than 4 km from Ber Zeit [which is just north of Ramallah]. Instead, we decided to get past by walking. This meant we had to go over the mountain – but we would have to pass away from the checkpoint so that the soldiers at the military tower couldn’t see us. So after we had walked about 3 km, we finally reached Ber Zeit town, from which we caught a car for only 4 shekels each.
We finally reached Ramallah at 2:30 pm, tired and hungry, but happy.

The end of the fourth step.

The ministry of education was closed, where I needed to go to sign a paper for my sister. I missed it for today. I also missed the training of new ISMers, so I decided to go to my nephew’s house to have a rest for a while, but because I was so tired I slept for about 2 hours.
The day is over.

I spent the next day doing some work till 6.00pm before I went back to the car station to leave for Tulkarm. After 15 minutes the car filled up and we drove directly to Tulkarm. On the way we passed through the roads that were forbidden for us to pass on the way to Ramallah. Not one check-point stopped us! One of the men in the car said “it is very easy to get into the prison”.

This situation has lasted for over five moths for Tulkarm and Jenin residents – it is a collective punishment. The Israeli government claims this is for security reasons.