Home / Press Releases / Gaza Reoccupied, Settler violence in Hebron persists, Non-violent Efforts Continue

Gaza Reoccupied, Settler violence in Hebron persists, Non-violent Efforts Continue

1 – Gaza Action Alert
2 – Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Non-violent Palestinian Activists
3 – Israeli Soldier in Hebron: “I Hate Arabs!”
4 – Gaza Tonight
5 – Vacation in Balata refugee camp
6 – Farmers Fight Against Settlement Control of their Land
7 – Apartheid Wall demo at Al Khadr this Friday
8 – Israeli Court Rejects Wall Challenges


1 – Gaza Action Alert
June 28

Last night the Israeli Occupation Forces began the grotesquely named “Operation Summer Rain” on the Gaza Strip. Rafah, scene of the May 2004 Rafah massacre by Israel, was re-occupied by Israeli tanks.

Gaza City was bombed by Apache helicopters and F16 and V58 fighter planes. The main electricity grid for Gaza City was bombed as was the water reticulation plant. Almost 750,000 of Gaza’s residents have no water or electricity today. Three main bridges which connect different parts of the Strip have been destroyed, slicing the Strip into two parts, and separating its people from each other, their places of work, schools, colleges and universities.

In addition, the Israeli military used powerful sonic bombs throughout the night and during the day. These bombs damage eardrums, create extreme feelings of fear and anxiety and prevent the whole Gaza Strip population from sleeping at night. They also induce feelings of terror in children and babies, who are already exhibiting anxious and clinging behavior.

These air-strikes and sonic bombs which damage essential infrastructure and terrify the civilian population are a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people and are war crimes which are forbidden under international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prescribes the manner in which armies must treat civilians during times of conflict.

We call on the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli Occupation Forces to conduct itself within the boundaries of international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of all Palestinian civilians.

We also demand the immediate halt of the Israeli Occupation Forces’ attacks on the Gaza Strip and an end to the closure and isolation of the Strip, both of which are exacerbating an already desperate humanitarian situation inside the Strip.

Doing nothing will only allow Israel to get away with continued and escalated crimes against the Palestinian people. We trust that you will not be silent in the face of such oppression.

University Teachers’ Association

Gaza Strip


– MEDIA: Please contact your local media and request that they do not act as a mouthpiece for Israel by asserting that the aim of the Gaza invasion is to rescue the captured (not “kidnapped”) soldier. At the very least, they can say that this is what Israel claims, or they can use the word “allegedly.” It should also be made clear that the primary victim of this assault is the civilian population, and that this constitutes collective punishment of a captive population, which is a direct (and repeated) violation of the Geneva Convention.

– LOBBYING: Please contact your elected representatives and ask them whether they support Israel’s barbaric crimes against innocent Palestinian civilians. If they are in support of such atrocities, well, then they’re not different than the Nazis. If they oppose these atrocities, ask them what they’re doing about it. Make your voice heard.

– PROTEST: Protests are needed at Israeli embassies and consulates throughout the world. Even a one-person protest with a simple sign such as “Stop Israeli Terrorism” is good at bringing attention to the situation and letting Israel know that there is widespread opposition to its continued and escalating crimes against the Palestinian people. Believe it or not, Israel does care about its image, and if the government receives reports of a number of protests, they will feel pressured to limit the operation. Please take action on this TODAY – for the sake of the innocent civilians in Gaza.


2 – Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Non-violent Palestinian Activists
Palestinians active in non-violent struggle against the illegal Israeli annexation barrier were taken from their homes in the West Bank last night. This happens at a time when media attention is focusing on the taking of one Israeli soldier by Palestinians, and the mass-taking of 64 elected Palestinian representatives last night.
Israel took two Palestinians from Bil’in and 1 from Beit Ummar – villages active in the struggle against the annexation barrier.
The Israeli military took 28 year-old Yousef Abu-Marya from Beit Ummar, Hebron region.. He has been active in non-violent resistance in that region in the past two years and is a member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar. The Committee has recently been organising non-violent actions in the area that try to gain access for Palestinian farmers to their farm land after it has been is closed off by settler violence, or closure by the Israeli military.
In Bil’in, father of three, 29-year old Ahmad Katib (the brother of Mohammed Katib, one of the organisers of the weekly non-violent demonstrations against the apartheid barrier in the village) was taken by the army. Abdullah Abu-Rahme, from the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in said that another villager, Ayad Burnat, was being held hostage in order to pressure the family into “giving up” his brother Mujahid who they want to get hold of for reasons that were unclear.
Musa Abu-Marya, a member of the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar does not believe that they arrested Yousef for security reasons, but to continue a policy of threatening and arresting Palestinian peace activists. “They don’t like what we are doing in the Hebron region,” he said.
Arresting activists or threatening them with arrest or violence is not a new Israeli policy. It has often been used as a scare tactic against Palestinians active in non-violent struggle against the various forms of Israeli occupation in their daily lives.

3 – Israeli Soldier in Hebron: “I Hate Arabs!”
By Jonas
June 25
Two Human Rights Workers (HRWs) received a phone call around 8:45pm, asking them to proceed to the Abu Haikal house because there were settlers from the Tel Rumeida Settlement causing problems on the family’s land. The HRWs went to the land directly, arriving 5 minutes or so after the phone call.
The HRWs were greeted by the family, who then led the HRWs to the backyard. The Abu Haikal family explained that the settlers had ascended the stairs from the Tel Rumeida settlement, which is located at the base of the Abu Haikal house. The settlers, at this point, had already left in the getaway car, which was waiting at the foot of the stairs. Two soldiers were present at the scene, also at the foot of the stairs.
The family explained to the HRWs what had happened. The settlers stole the water pump from the backyard. In doing so, they cut the electrical cord and the water pipe, both of which were connected to the pump. One of the HRWs called the police, who said they would be en route to the Abu Haikal house shortly, while the other HRW photographed the scene.
While the family was relaying the information, including the make, model and license plate of the settler car (White Ford Van #39-538-51), the two Israeli soldiers came up the stairs onto the Abu Haikal property. They started screaming at the family, saying that they and the HRWs could not be there because they were posing a threat to the settlement. The HRWs assured the soldier that they were merely assessing the situation and would wait until the police arrived. The soldier again raised his voice, shouting for everyone to retreat back into the house. One HRW recorded the soldier’s words.
The soldier was screaming in Hebrew at one of the Abu Haikal family members. He was threatening to shoot the man if he did not retreat, later stating to a settler woman, “I hate Arabs!” This went on for a couple minutes. The police were called again and they assured the HRWs that they would be there shortly and to wait in the front of the house for the vehicle.
The HRWs and the family members went to the front of the house, where the police never came. Eventually, the police would arrive at the foot of the stairs in the backyard, where the soldiers and only one other Abu Haikal family member were waiting. He told the HRWs that the police came and the soldier that was present told the police that he didn’t see anything, i.e. the settlers or their getaway car. The police also found the White Ford Van and the driver who came to the scene at the request of the police. The settler denied any involvement and no water pump was found in the car. The police and the settler left before speaking with the HRWs who initially called them or any other family members involved.
TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) was called, who assured the HRWs and the Abu Haikal family that they would come tomorrow morning to record their story. The audio that was recorded of the soldier’s threats and the photographs of the scene’s stolen water pump and damaged pipes and wires were transferred to the Abu Haikal family’s computer and audio devices. They will use the evidence with their police report, to be filed at the Kiryat Arba police station at 9AM the following morning. The family said they would call the HRWs if any further problems arise.

4 – Gaza Tonight

Mona El-Farra lives in Gaza City and keeps and maintains a her blog “From Gaza, With Love” at http://fromgaza.blogspot.com

It is 7 a.m, June 28, 2006. This is an update in the morning from last night. It was very dangerous for me to reach the computer. The power was cut off. I stayed on the floor with my son and daughter. We didn’t sleep at all like all the residents in Gaza Strip. While trying to get some hours of sleep, we did not manage. The jet fighters sonic bombs started showering us. It is very loud and horrifying noise, they are continuing their attacks.
I contacted the hospital several times: no casualties yet. The operation is going on in different parts of the Gaza Strip, but it is focused in the south: Rafah. I have no idea about the casualties.
We are really surrounded with death and expect death all the time. The disengagement of the Israeli army last September left Gaza people facing their destiny alone, with the full control of the Israeli occupation army outside the Gaza borders. The disengagement and building of the wall in the West Bank, did not bring peace to Israelis.
It is 1:30 a.m., June 28th. The operation against Gaza, is continuing. The Gaza Bridge has been destroyed. The jet fighters are still in the sky hitting many targets. The Gaza power plant was hit by at least 7 missiles. I can see a big fire from my window and hear the sirens of emergency vans. The gun boats started shelling too. I live by the beach.
It is 10:30 p.m., June 27th. I am writing while the jet fighters are in the sky, with their horrible sound, bringing death and horror. I am still like everyone: waiting. I will not go to bed tonight, most of us in Gaza will not. I prepared my emergency bag, left it next to the front door. The hospitals declared high emergency status, the medical facilities resources are exhausted, and limited due to the sanctions.
We experienced all sorts of Israeli aggression in the last few months and throughout the Intifada. Since Ehud Olmert took over the government 4 months ago, 85 Palestinians were killed, economical and political sanctions were imposed and people here in Gaza have nothing to lose. Maybe they have only their chains to lose; they are frustrated and do not anticipate or look forward for any hopeful horizon.
I hope Israel will not go ahead with their operation into Gaza, the outcome could be horrible, the resistance movement is going ahead with their preparation too, but the balance of power is obvious to which side, any way Israel with Palestinian resistance or no resistance is attacking us all the time, but this time will be different, and in the process many civilian lives will be lost. I am listening to the local radio. It seems that the operation started in Khanyunis, the artillery started shelling, under the cover of Apache helicopters and jet fighters. I am able to write now, but I do not know what will happen next- the power might cut off soon.
A few hours ago, Mohammed and Sondos (my dear kids, I pray for the safety of all the children of the world, including Israeli children) had a narrow escape during their way home; a car exploded 150 meters from my home, close to the president’s home. One person died and 4 injured, I cannot help feeling worried. I am, after all, a mother. I shall stay strong.
Tomorrow I am going to the Red Crescent society office. We are supposed to get some medications to be used at Alawda hospital for the emergency department that was stopped at the closed borders. I am hoping to get it through with the help of WHO. I am not sure if we shall receive them in time, but I shall keep trying. Alawda Hospital is inside Jabalia refugee camp. Two weeks ago, it received the Galia family children, who lost their parents during the beach incident. Alawda hospital medicine supplies are enough for one week of routine use. If the operation continues and the casualty numbers increase, a health disaster will follow. I am just warning, since I am a doctor. The airplane’s sound in the sky is getting louder. I shall keep writing, it is big relief for me.

5 – Vacation in Balata refugee camp
By Lucretia R.
I decided to take a vacation to Balata refugee camp and give art lessons to children there. I hadn’t been there since the invasion in February and I recently completed a portrait of Ibrahim, a boy who died while I was there, and I wanted to give it to his family.
Because of all the roadblocks and closures, just getting from Hebron to Balata is an ordeal in and of itself. I took a service from Hebron to the junction near Bethlehem, another service to Bethlehem to meet up with my friend Chris, we crossed through the Orwellian Bethlehem checkpoint which is built around the concept of no human to human interaction between the people trying to get through and the soldiers giving them permission or not. You can’t see the soldiers, they’re behind tinted, bullet proof glass; you just hear them barking orders over a PA system at you in Hebrew.
Next we took a service to Jerusalem, got off and took another service to Qalandia checkpoint, got off, took a service to Huwara checkpoint. Ah Huwara, my least favorite checkpoint in all of the West Bank. Going through isn’t difficult but coming back out can take hours. Last time our friend Mohammad Farraj, a filmmaker, tried to leave through Huwara on his way to the airport to catch a plane to a film festival in the United States, soldiers refused to let him and told him if he tried to go through again, they’d put him in jail for six months.
All in all, it took three and a half hours from Hebron to Balata, a distance of 40 miles. This was about the best you can expect if you are an international. If you are Palestinian it would take longer.
Balata is a town of ghosts. You walk down any street and the ghosts stare back at you from the walls of all the buildings. These are Balata’s martyrs and this is how the residents of the camp choose to remember them. It’s a strange feeling to come back here and recognize faces of people you never actually met.
We stayed at Mohammad Farraj’s house. He’s a friend of Chris and I’d talked to him via email about coming to the camp and doing art projects with the children. The first person I saw when I walked into Mohammad Farraj’s apartment was Mohammad Issa, the brother of Ibrahim whose portrait I had brought with me. I’d never met Mohammad Issa formally in person but we had corresponded quite a bit over email while I was working on some paintings illustrating life in Balata. He was pointed out to me the day after Ibrahim died and I had never seen anyone with so much pain on their face in my life. I instantly recognized him and introduced myself. I told him I brought the portrait of Ibrahim for him and his smiling face instantly fell. I felt like shit. It took an hour before he finally asked to see it. I couldn’t look at his face for at least five minutes after I gave it to him. He didn’t speak for about five minutes either, he was just staring at the painting. I was trying really hard not to cry and feeling a bit ridiculous since I was sitting in a room full of Ibrahim’s friends and I was the only one who was losing my composure. Nobody said anything for awhile. Finally he told me, “Thank you, you gave me the feeling that he was alive again. It’s amazing.”
Ibrahim is the only person I have painted a picture of in life and in death. I never got a chance to scan the portrait I gave to his brother. Maybe next time I am back there.
Later we went to Mohammad Issa’s house and he gave the painting to his mother. She thanked me and told the story of how he died, how she heard screams and found him on the roof with his best friend who was killed by the same bullet. Her other son was also with them, he had been shot in the leg. Mohammad Issa asked very matter of factly, if I would like to see the pictures of the two boys at the morgue. It was almost as if he was asking if I would like tea. I don’t like to see pictures of dead people but I felt like it would be rude to say no. Their eyes were half open.
After leaving the Issa’s house we went to the neighbor’s of Mohammad Farraj. They were a very sweet family who made us coffee and asked us how the situation in Palestine is reported on in the United States. I told them people have absolutely no idea what is going on here. It never ceases to amaze me, the warmth and friendliness of people I meet in places like this. There’s not one family in Balata that doesn’t have a horror story of their own, yet they are so kind and welcoming. Ahmad, one of the sons, about 15 years old is missing all of the teeth on the right side of his mouth where he was hit with shrapnel. His face is also mildly disfigured.
There was gunfire on and off all night. Mohammad Farraj promised nonchalantly it was only Palestinian fighters shooting in the air. At some god-forsaken hour we all woke up to the sound of a bulldozer. I never found out what that was about.
The next day at about 10 a.m. we bought falafel sandwiches for 11 boys and girls, put them in two taxis, drove them out of the refugee camp to a playground in Nablus where I gave them an art lesson.
I asked them to draw pictures of their daily life. The result was heartbreaking, but at the same time it was nice to be able to give these kids something fun to do, something they were so grateful for, and also to be able to play with them in the park. We all had a great time. It was a much needed break.
I’m sitting here looking at these adorable kids and I’m wondering if any of these boys are going to live past 30.
Haroun said, “I drew the army and the martyr Khalil and some boys who threw stones at the jeeps and the sun.”
Amal said in her drawing, “The soldiers killed someone who is sitting in front of his building. And some helicopters were shooting the building.” She wrote, “We will return to our homeland and our original life.”
Noor said, “I drew my cousin who was killed by the Israelis. Some men are carrying the Palestinian flag.” She wrote “Occupied Palestine.”
Asil said, “I drew houses very close to each other. There are some soldiers who killed a martyr and soldiers who would not let the ambulance take the martyr away. People in the building are crying.”
Dalia said, “I drew my house, a tree, a Palestinian flag, Israelis, jeeps, two people, a martyr and a sun.” She wrote, “The sweetest flag is the Palestine flag, we hope the situation is fixed soon, inshallah. My mother, don’t cry, the days will come back to Balata camp.”
At 4 p.m. we left Balata. I plan to continue doing art lessons with the kids here. If anyone is looking to save the world I urge you to come to Balata and start a summer camp there for the kids. They need it so much.
Ahmad, the 15 year old neighbor of Mohammed Farraj, walked us to our taxi. He had a necklace around his neck with about six tiny pictures in it, sort of like a locket. I asked him about it, he said they were his friends.
I knew they were all dead.

6 – Farmers Fight Against Settlement Control of their Land
By Zadie

June 26
At 7:30 a.m. yesterday morning Abu Ayyash and his son Yousef, from Beit Ummar, were accompanied by three peace activists in order to go to their land to spray the grape vines with pesticides. Despite Israeli army and settler security forces attempts to stop them, they succeeded in working the land.
On the way to the land we met another farmer, Mahmoud A’akel from Halhul who asked if we could also accompany him. Abu A’akel and one international peace activist never made it to the land and just crossed the settler road when they were stopped by the settlement security. The security guards, equipped with M-16’s, told them that they were not allowed to enter.
The security then drove to the land of Abu Ayyash and tried to physically stop them from spraying the grapes. Abu Ayyash owns three dunums of land that borders the Karme Sur settlement road, which acts as a border to the settlement. The three security guards said we were not allowed to be on the land because we were too close to the settlement. When they noticed that the internationals were taking pictures they became less aggressive and retreated to call for army backup.
The farmers continued to work as the Israeli army arrived. The soldiers said that they must call the DCO for permission to work on their land. They conceded that there was no official order, but said that we couldn’t be on the land. The settler security and the army worked together to agree on a plan that we could stay on the land as long as the army stayed to watch.
The farmers continued to work until all their grape vines were sprayed. Abu Ayyash may not have a chance to harvest the grapes, however, because the settlement plans to put a wall around the settlement and confiscate most of his land. We pulled out the metal stakes that were marking part of the route of the wall. A soldier told us that his commander ordered them to remove us from the land because it was owned by the settlement. He said that the settlement purchased the land from Abu Ayyash to build the wall. We told him that this was a lie and he has not sold his land or received any money for his land.
Abu Ayyash has contacted a lawyer to fight this illegal confiscation and plans to continue to fight for his right to work his land.

7 – Apartheid Wall demo at Al Khadr this Friday
This Friday the villagers of Al Khadr will be joined by Israeli and international peace activists in a demonstration against the Apartheid Wall being built through the village. There will be a march to the construction site from the mosque after prayers at 1pm.
The Apartheid Wall in Al Khader will isolate 95 percent of the village’s land behind the wall. A tunnel is also being constructed destroying more of the village’s land and controlling movement from villages West of the Wall to Bethlehem. The route of the Wall though Al Khadr belies Israeli ‘security’ claims and reveals its true nature which is to annex as much land as possible while fencing Palestinians into ghettos.
Several peaceful demos have taken place on recent Fridays in this mixed Christian and Muslim village where both sections of the community cooperate in the campaign against the Wall.
A spokesperson from the popular committee against the Wall in the Bethlehem region said, “an aim of the demonstrations is to build bridges between communities and show that peaceful co-existence between both sides is possible.”

8 – Israeli Court Rejects Wall Challenges
Hisham Jamjom, an International Solidarity Movement local coordinator and a resident of East Jerusalem, talked about the effects of the Wall on the local residents of those areas: “When my children grow up and want to marry, they will not be able to build houses in Jerusalem and will thus be forced to move to the West Bank. In contrast, the settlements are allowed to build huge apartment buildings, that can house tens of families. Also, villages that fall outside what Israel defines as the Jerusalem municipality, such as Beit Furik and Biddu, are forbidden to build new houses. In order to even apply for a permit, you have to come up with thousands and thousands of dollars. All this is forcing Palestinians out of Jerusalem into the West Bank. The merchants here have no income, because they depend on both tourism and the Palestinians from surrounding villages and people from other Palestinian cities such as Hebron, Ramallah, etc.
“The Wall will force scores of Palestinian families to leave Jerusalem and loose their residency there. All of this comes as part of Olmert’s plan which is to create a Jewish Jerusalem, and he has implemented this policy in a wise way,” Hisham added.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israeli Supreme Court rejected two efforts to change the route of the Wall in the West Bank around East Jerusalem. In both cases, Palestinian residents argued that the Wall would be built on private land and cut them off from their “centre of life” in Jerusalem. One argued that part of the barrier would be built on a cemetery that is still in use.
The court ruled for the government, which argued that the “security” needs of the Wall outweighed humanitarian concerns. The government argued that residents could still enter the city through passages located near their neighbourhoods.
Daniela Yanai, a lawyer at Ir Amim, an Israeli advocacy group that deals with Jerusalem issues, said the decisions reflect Israel’s goal to strengthen its hold on East Jerusalem.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem, West Jerusalem occupied in 1948 and east Jerusalem and the surrounding villages occupied in 1967, as its capital. In 1980 Israel officially annexed “East Jerusalem”.
International law, governments around the world (including the UK and the US who both keep their official ambassadors to Israel in Tel-Aviv, not Jerusalem) and the Palestinians view the parts of Jerusalem east of the Green Line captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of the future Palestinian state.
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