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Students Unite Against Checkpoints

1-Students Unite Against Checkpoints
2- Ha’aretz: “With a little help from the outside”
3- Palestinian Unity Against Military Brutality
4- Beit Ummar Farmers Struggle to Work Their Land
5- Two Houses Demolished in Brukin, Salfit
6- The impact of the financial crisis on the Palestinian community
7- Sunbula’s Journal: “Normalised Occupation”
8- Tel Rumeida, Hebron: Recent Settler Attacks

Students Unite Against Checkpoints

June 3rd, 2006

For Pictures see the link below:
A nonviolent demonstration was held at Atara checkpoint today to protest against the Israeli Occupation Forces’ preventing students from reaching their universities and schools.
Palestinian and Israeli students, including Palestinian Israelis, were joined by international solidarity activists. The Atara checkpoint is located on the road to Bir Zeit University, north of Bir Zeit village.

The area directly in front of the checkpoint was cordoned off by Israeli Border Police prior to the demonstration. The protest commenced with Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli students and anarchists chanting “Red Blue Green White, Palestine is going to fight!” in English and “Refuse!” in Hebrew. The latter slogan reflects the growing popularity of the refusenik movement, Israeli youth who reject conscription in the IOF to serve in Occupied Palestine.
Soon after, Palestinians students from al-Quds Open University and Bir Zeit University arrived. The atmosphere was one of festive resistance. The protestors sang Palestinian revolutionary songs and Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals danced in front of the Border Police, who appeared more like sulky guests at a party and not an occupying military force.

The general message of the protest was, “Out with the Occupation. This time is the last time.” The call to move forward towards the checkpoint was given. Immediately afterwards, an Israeli commander presented ISM coordinator Abdullah Abu Rahme with an order that apparently stated that the area was a closed military zone, and that the presence of the protestors was forbidden. The commander then attempted to announce on a bullhorn that crowd had ten minutes to disperse.He was, however, drowned out by whistles and booing from the crowd.

Two soldiers could be seen photographing and filming the protestors from a short distance.
There was relatively little violence. Only once was an Israeli protestor shoved by a Border Policeman. At one point, several taxis carrying passengers were stuck behind the demonstrating crowd. The drivers asked the crowd to make enough room for them to pass, and they complied. However, the military refused to let the taxis through the checkpoint, blaming this decision on the protestors. The Palestinians present chose not let this turn of events deter the remainder of the protests. They began to shout, “It is not the protestors, but the checkpoint and the Occupation, that will not allow the taxis to pass.”

The demonstration continued in this way until it ended in stalemate. The demonstrators were not able to break the gauntlet of the military, nor was the IOF able to disperse the crowd of protestors. The spirit of solidarity was evident in the unity shown by protestors coming from different backgrounds sticking closely together.
Demonstrations will be held this evening simultaneously in al-Manara square in Ramallah and in Tel Aviv.

Ha’aretz: “With a little help from the outside”

By Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz. 4th June 2006

The laugh of fate: The state waging a broad international campaign for a boycott is simultaneously waging a parallel campaign, no less determined, against a boycott. A boycott that seriously harms the lives of millions of people is legitimate in its eyes because it is directed against those defined as its enemies, while a boycott that is liable to hurt its academic ivory tower is illegitimate in its eyes only because it is aimed against itself. This is a moral double standard. Why is the boycott campaign against the Palestinian Authority, including blocking essential economic aid and boycotting leaders elected in democratic and legal elections, a permissible measure in Israel’s eyes and the boycott of its universities is forbidden?
Israel cannot claim the boycott weapon is illegitimate. It makes extensive use of this weapon itself, and its victims are suffering under severe conditions of deprivation, from Rafah to Jenin. In the past, Israel called upon the world to boycott Yasser Arafat, and now it is calling for a boycott of the Hamas government – and via this government, all of the Palestinians in the territories. And Israel does not regard this as an ethical problem. Tens of thousands have not received their salaries for four months due to the boycott, but when there is a call to boycott Israeli universities, the boycott suddenly becomes an illegitimate weapon.

Those calling for a boycott of Israel are also tainted with a moral double standard. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) in Britain and the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ontario, which have both decided to boycott Israel, did not act similarly to protest their own countries’ war crimes and occupations – the British army in Iraq and the Canadian army in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the handful of human rights advocates and opponents of the occupation in Israel should thank these two organizations for the step they have taken, despite their flawed double standards.

It would have been preferable had the opponents of the occupation in Israel not needed the intervention of external groups to fight the occupation. It is not easy to call upon the world to boycott your own country. It would have been better had there been no need for Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, bold people of conscience who paid with their lives after standing in front of the destructive bulldozers in Rafah. These young foreigners did the dangerous and vital work that Israelis should have done.

The same is true for the few peace activists who still manage to roam the territories, to protest and offer assistance to the victims of the occupation in the framework of organizations like the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) – which Israel fights – preventing its members from entering its borders. It would be better if Israelis mobilized to fight instead of them. But except for a few modest groups, there is no protest in Israel and no real mobilization. Thus, it only remains to hope for the world’s help.

The world can help save Israel from itself in limited ways. In a situation in which the governments of the West effectively support the continuation of the occupation, even if they declare their opposition to it, this role moves to civil organizations. When a group of American attorneys, including Jews, calls for a boycott of the Caterpillar company, whose bulldozers razed complete neighborhoods in Khan Yunis and Rafah, it should be thanked for this. The same applies to the boycott of the universities: When an association of British university lecturers boycotts Israeli colleagues who are not prepared to at least declare their opposition to the occupation, we should appreciate it. Each group in its field, and perhaps this will someday also include tourism officials, business people, artists and athletes. If all these boycott Israel, perhaps Israelis will begin to understand, albeit the hard way, that there is a price to pay for the occupation – a price in their pockets and in their status.

The occupation is not just the domain of the government, army and security organizations. Everything is tainted: institutions of justice and law, the physicians who remain silent while medical treatment is prevented in the territories, the teachers who do not protest against the closing of educational institutions and the prevention of free movement of their peers, the journalists who do not report, the writers and artists who remain mum, the architects and engineers who lend a hand to the occupation’s enterprises – the settlements and the fence, the barriers and bypass roads and also the university lecturers, who do nothing for their imprisoned colleagues in the territories, but conduct special study programs for the security forces. If all these boycotted the occupation, there would be no need for an international boycott.
The world sees a great and ongoing injustice. Should it remain silent? It is not, of course, the only injustice in the world. Nor is it the most terrible. But does this make it any less necessary to act against it? It is easy to exempt ourselves from our moral responsibility and attribute, as usual, any criticism to anti-Semitism. There may indeed be some elements of anti-Semitism among those calling for the boycott. But also among them are groups and individuals, including quite a few Jews, for whom Israel is close to their hearts. They want a just Israel. They see an Israel that occupies and is clearly unjust, and they believe they should do something. We should thank them for this from the bottom of our hearts.

Palestinian Unity Against Military Brutality
June 2nd, 2006
For Pictures see the link below:
This week’s demonstration a call for greater Palestinian unity against the occupation. It was also a recognition of the 39th anniversary of al-Naksa, “the great disappointment” which marked the beginning of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza strip and the Golan Heights in 1967.
About 300 demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags marched to the wall together. Among them were Palestinian Legislative Council members Mustafa Bargouthi and Kais Abu Leyla; al-Quds University President Sari Nusaybah; Knesset member, Muhammed Baraka, and Israeli supporters from Anarchists Against the Wall, Gush Shalom (including Uri Avnery) and other Israeli anti-occupation groups. International supporters from ISM were also present.

As they approached the gate in the annexation barrier, demonstrators found that Israeli soldiers had positioned themselves behind journalists, as well as in front of the gate, surrounding them. Some of the demonstrators tried to non-violently cross the gate. Soldiers attacked the demonstrators from all sides with sound bombs and serious beatings. The soldiers then rushed forward, violently pushing everyone back causing widespread injuries. The soldiers then proceeded to fire tear gas at Palestinians and internationals attempting to extinguish a fire which the explosion from a sound bomb had started in the olive groves.

Amongst those known to be badly injured by beatings and evacuated in ambulances so far are: Mohammed Mansour- who was hit with two rubber bullets in the arm and a sound bomb in his abdomen, Mohammed saw a soldier aiming for his head from close range and covered his eyes with his arm, Akram al-Katib- who was beaten, Abdullah Abu Rahme- from the Popular Committee, was beaten as well as a woman named Yahia Abullah Yasin. Two Israelis were also seriously injured. And there were many minor injuries from beatings.

Beit Ummar Farmers Struggle to Work Their Land
June 1st, 2006

For Pictures see the link below:
by Zadie Susser
We visited the land of Samer Shahdah Abu Asara, a Beit Ummar farmer who owns land directly next to the illegael Israeli settlement of Efrat. In part of his land he used to grow grapes. Another part, 25 dunums in size, has been annexed and enclosed by the settlement. This section of his land is surrounded by an electric fence, which was built about 6 months ago. It has been ten years since he used his land for growing grapes because settlers have erected a barbed wire fence inside and put up a tent that is used for vegetables. The tent has been there for about 4 years. Efrat settlement was built 27 years ago on the land of Abu Brekoot and now spans 3000 dunums. Samer Asara is intending to take his struggle to the Israeli courts to show that he has legal right to the land and the documents to prove it.

Later we visited the land of Mohammed Abu Solebey on the wadi Abu Reesh. He has 200 dunums of land near the Beit Aian settlement and suffers from the settlers there. The settlers bring their sheep to his land to graze and the sheep eat the new growth on his grape vines, fruit and olive trees. The settlers have pushed over many of the grape vines and destroyed them. He has gone to the police and they have written eight different police reports dating from 2004 to this year. On the 3rd of February last year he was severely beaten by a settler and was admitted to the hospital for his injuries.

Two Houses Demolished in Brukin, Salfit

May 31st, 2006
30 May 2006: Two houses were demolished by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the village of Brukin, Salfit, West Bank, on Tuesday morning, 30 May, 2006. They were among 70 houses that have received demolition orders, according to Brukin’s Mayor Ekremah Samara. The village, which has lost 8000 dunums of land to Israel, is designated as “Area C” under the Oslo Accords and is along the route of the Apartheid Wall.

According to eyewitnesses, 25 military vehicles comprised of hummers and two bulldozers entered the village at 6:30 a.m. They split into two groups, one heading for Buk’an, the northwestern part of the village, and the other to a hill overlooking the Mosque.
In Buk’an the bulldozer demolished a half-completed home being built by a local man who works in Jordan. He had planned to house his family of ten in it. None of his relatives witnessed the demolition. The home was among five other houses in the same neighborhood under threat of demolition.

Simultaneously, the IOF razed a newly-completed 130-square-meter home valued at approximately 150,000 NIS. It was to house a 26-year-old unemployed man and his wife after their marriage this summer. The family had hired a lawyer to appeal the demolition order but no action had occurred.

In both locations, soldiers prevented other villagers from entering the areas. Local residents were ordered to remain in their homes on threat of being shot.
According to Ekremah Samara, if all notified homes are demolished, nearly 700 people could become homeless.

For more information and photos contact:
The International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS)
Office: 09-2516-644

The impact of the financial crisis on the Palestinian community
May 30th, 2006

by Qusay Hamed, Nablus, Palestine. 13th May 2006

The term “Financial crisis” is an old/new term in the Palestinian dictionary; this occupied territory – that has scanty resources – is economically bounded with Israel.
Nowadays Palestine lives a dramatic financial crisis that is considered one of the worst in the nation’s history.

Palestinians have been punished for their democratic choice, where the Palestinians practiced choosing their representatives to the Palestinian Legislative Council; this choice practically brought Hamas up to the power by majority.

This choice that has been embodied by the democracy became as a pretext to refuse this choice and stop the international community subsidy to the Palestinian Authority.
I personally understand the term “Democracy” as the people’s choice for their representative in a civilized, transparent and highly credited manner.

The main and most important factor of the crisis is the external stipulated subsidy that has been cut by the American government and the European countries, in addition to the huge pressure that they practice in order to not transfer money to the newly elected government.
At the same time, Palestinian Authority has no control over their borders to import or export, That leaves Palestinian people depending on the international aid to keep the Palestinian economy and the infrastructure alive.

Political and security impacts


There is no doubt that the crisis came out as a result of the American, Israeli and European pressure upon the Palestinian authority in general and upon Hamas government particularly, in order to force the government to change its political agenda. The continuation of this crisis means that the Palestinian authority will not be able to maintain it’s authority on the economical, social, health and security institutions; Which could be simply represented by the disability of what has remained from the security force, in securing the essential needs like food, health services etc, whether for it’s members or even the prisoners. In addition to that, the government is not able to pay the police force salaries. Therefore, the police force will not be able to practice its high demanded job, thus disorder, revelry and robbery will spread out and prevail.

Compulsory resignation

The other political impact is that the government becomes forced to resign or to be deposed.
This scenario is approaching for sure as this crisis continues, where the government will be forced out or will have to resign which will bring the region to a complex problematic situation that will inflame the anarchy and will have unacceptable and unpredictable results.
The economical impact of the crisis.

The external financial subsidy equals 85 % of the total Palestinian income, a part of that goes to feed 150,000 employees’ families, which is the soul source of life for them. These salaries help to keep the Palestinian economy surviving, which is also considered as the main factor that keeps the Palestinian economy functioning; since these subsidies were frozen, families are not able to secure their essential life necessities. Thus the economic life is frozen also; it’s clearly embodied in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron as the biggest cities in Palestine territories; factories, supermarkets and companies were closed as a result of the economical stagnancy and not being able to bear extra cost. Consequently that means what is called Palestinian economy will collapse at any time.

Humanitarian impact

The health sector can also clearly show the suffering which caused by the current financial crisis, whereby this institution is not able to offer its health services, in addition to the huge lack of medical staff and medicine. Therefore they are not able to give the very basic needs of life, children’s milk and health care services to the people, where also the problems of isolation and lack of mobility make it difficult for people to access essential services.

On the other hand, the education sector is highly affected by this crisis, Transportation is almost impossible because people would rather save money for basic needs of food.

Finally, the continuation of the crisis is mainly harming the lower class, Poor families are barley managing; about 150.000 families are having no money for the past three months and not clear future in the horizon, make it almost impossible for them to survive.

All this require a serious stand from the international community in order to stop the continuous suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of this financial sanction.

Sunbula’s Journal: “Normalised Occupation”
May 30th, 2006

Saturday May 27th: I have returned to Ramallah. I feel a little worried I’m getting used to certain things I shouldn’t really be used to. When I was coming back in the taxi from al-Quds/Jerusalem, driving through Ar-Ram and Qalandia, the Wall is alongside us on our left, and separates people’s homes from stores and vice versa. The sight of the Wall, the fucked up Qalandia “terminal” – it’s not occurring to me anymore to describe or write about these “small” things because they don’t seem to me to be anything worth noting anymore. They’ve become “normal”. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad, whether this means I’m “stabilizing” or getting more numbed in regards to the situation. But I’m reminded I do need to write about these small things. Like I wrote in my last trip, getting into the West Bank from Jerusalem is much easier than vice versa. Still part of the road to Ramallah is blocked off for no ostensible reason and we had to drive through the side roads. The Qalandia “terminal” is still as messed up as ever, still the soldiers barking orders through microphones, sitting behind windows in cubicles, still metal revolving gates and sanitized apartheid. It’s getting really hot here now as well and the sun is pretty strong. When I was going back to Jerusalem a few days ago, we had to get off from the shared taxi to walk through this “terminal”. A young woman with a baby asked in a somewhat sarcastic tone, can’t people with small children stay on? Unfortunately not.
Because of getting asked by every single new person I met, I decided to take out my nose and lip ring. When I was putting my bag into the back of the shared taxi at the stand in Jerusalem one of the drivers recognized me and starting telling me how much better I looked and how happy he was to see much without the piercings. Yay, victory for gender conformity and heterosexism.

Our friends in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of the old city in Hebron/al-Khalil are getting stoned, spat on, assaulted almost daily by the little kids of fanatical ultra rightwing Jewish settlers who deface houses with slogans such as “gas the arabs” and yet when they do this the supposedly law enforcing Israeli police just looks the other way. The most pathetic thing is they send their children to harass Palestinians, because the army/police won’t arrest minors under the age of 14. Talk about cowards.

There were lots of PA security forces of different kinds on the streets of Ramallah today. I just read that Israel has allowed transfer of light arms to forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas – talk about local enforcers of the occupation. Between all the different kinds of Palestinian Authority and Israeli occupation forces, I’m getting a little confused.

I visited Birzeit yesterday where I will be taking Arabic classes later on and liked the look of the place, it is really pretty and a small village, quiet and green unlike noisy bustling Ramallah that reminds me more of neighborhoods in New Delhi (not that that’s a bad thing). I’m looking forward to being based out of there though and living in a more quiet green area, plus its only about 20 minutes (and 3.5 shekels ie less than $1) from Ramallah. The people that I met in the program were nice, seemed on top of their stuff, but somewhat condescending and power-trippy, kind of like at Columbia – birzeit is supposed to be the “Harvard of Palestine” whatever that means, maybe it’s a similar complex. I detest hierarchies and power in general, if I could only get rid of my own personal dependence on them sometimes. I didn’t really like the way they intimidated me about my level of Arabic and made me feel like my Arabic education was inferior to theirs (funnily, my professor in the US said the same thing about them!) and told me to review for the “placement test” which will decide which level of Arabic I can be in. Blah, blah. I met another international student from Japan and sat with her and a Palestinian student. He was really nice to me and gave me friendly advice to not tell anyone if they asked me my religion that my mother is Jewish because: a) there are some folks around who don’t distinguish between Zionists and Jews, unfortunately; and b) the Palestinian security forces monitor international students at Birzeit for spies and saying something like that would make them more suspicious. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, but probably a wiser thing.
Walking back to the ISM apartment in Ramallah, I bought Ghassan Kanafani’s story “Returning to Haifa” in its original Arabic. I had read it in English this semester for a class on Israeli and Palestinian literature I took that was awesome. It’s short enough that I think it’s a reasonable reading project in Arabic. Everyone should check out his writings for the best of Palestinian resistance literature, especially this story.

I was also taken out to a nightclub in Ramallah and got to observe from close quarters members of the occupied Palestinian upper class. Seeing people dance to reggaeton in the occupied territories was an interesting and amusing experience. It was something light and fluffy that I felt I needed for a while. Let’s see what the next few days bring. Distilled excitement, hopefully.

Tel Rumeida, Hebron: Recent Settler Attacks

May 30th, 2006

29th May 2006. Tel Rumeida, Hebron

5:30 pm, Shuhada St, near Bet Haddasah settlement
Four settler children were throwing stones at a Palestinian home. The two youngest were less than four years old and the older two were between 7 and 8 years of age. A Danish Human Rights Worker (HRW) approached the Israeli soldier on duty, and asked him to stop the children. The older two settler children then turned on the Danish HRW, and began throwing stones at him, one of which hit an Australian HRW who was filming the incident.
The entire incident lasted about five minutes, and ended when the soldier on duty called for backup.

7:30 pm, Tel Rumeida St, just outside the ISM apartment A Spainish HRW was in the street playing football with some Palestinian children. Ten or twelve settler children, around thirteen years of age came up Shuhada st, swearing at the Palestinian children. The HRW and a Palestinian man went to stand in the entrance of a nearby Palestinian store. The children threw stones at them, until the soldier on duty shooed them away. They moved up Tel Rumeida road, to a nearby Palestinian house, taking a table from the front yard and tossing it into the street.
When they moved further up Tel Rumeida strett, the HRW tried to return the table, at which point the settlers threw stones at him again.

A Quiet Shabbat in Tel Rumeida

June 4th, 2006

by Shlomo Bloom

One of the Palestinians said today that he thought most of the settlers were in Kiryat Arba and there were very few of them on the street so there was hardly any trouble.
At about 3pm, three settler boys of approximately 10 years of age began throwing rocks at two Human Rights Workers (HRWs) on Shuhada street. One HRW began filming and the other tried to get the boys to stop and encouraged the soldier to help. The soldier was able to get the boys to stop throwing rocks. A few minutes later a police jeep came by, asked if everything was OK and a HRW told him 3 boys were throwing rocks. The officer said he would look into it. After that, about three border police appeared at the stone stairs that lead to the Qutarba girls school.
At approximately 4pm the old man with his donkey attempted to pass through the checkpoint. The soldier on duty would not let him. A HRW inquired to see what the problem was. There was one nice soldier and one mean solder. The HRW spoke at length to the nice soldier who told her his commander had ordered them not to let the man through. The HRW told him the man goes through that checkpoint everyday. The soldier said he could not go through today. Attempts at reasoning with the mean soldier were futile. An HRW called Machsom Watch (the Israeli human rights group that monitors the behaviour of soldiers at checkpoints), who said she would see what she could do.

Eventually a deal was reached wherein the Palestinian man with the donkey would show the soldiers what was in the saddlebag and then he could go through. He was allowed to pass after approximately 20 minutes.
Q: What if you live in Tel Rumeida and you have a heart attack ?

May 29th, 2006
A: You die.

By Shlomo Bloom

I had a pretty bad case of stomach flu for the last few days and was reluctant to even try to go to the doctor because it meant leaving Tel Rumeida on foot, as Palestinians are not allowed to drive cars here. Not even taxis, buses or ambulances. The entrances to the neighborhood are blocked off by checkpoints and roadblocks. Settlers are, of course allowed to drive cars, buses, taxis, ambulances and can leave the neighborhood through settler-only roads that Palestinians are not even allowed to walk on.

I had decided it might be better to just stay in bed than to try to walk out and catch a taxi but then some friends came over and told me they had a car parked at the roadblock outside Tel Rumeida and would take me to the hospital. It was at night so the temperature outside was not so dreadfully hot and I decided it might be a good idea to at least get some fresh air.
As we were walking to the roadblock, about a quarter of a mile away from where I live, I asked my friend “What happens here when someone is really sick and cannot walk to the checkpoint or to one of the roadblocks ?” He told me that they have tried to call for ambulances to come in here but they are not allowed. Last year his uncle had a heart attack. They had to carry him out to the checkpoint where an ambulance was waiting. But by the time he got to the hospital, he was already dead.

So that was the answer to my question. Some observations about this Palestinian hospital:
At first I was reluctant to go at night because it meant going to the emergency and stomach flu was not an emergency and I didn’t want to get in the way of people who were really sick, but my friend said, no it was ok and not to worry. I was expecting to wait like 4 hours like you do when you go to the emergency at night in the United States. What happened when I got there shocked me.

I literally did not even sit down in the waiting room. I was seen immediately but two nurses and a doctor. They did a blood test and gave me an injection. I was in and out in about 40 minutes (the blood test took half an hour to process).
Total cost for an uninsured foreigner ? $10

This is of course if you can make it out of the Israeli controlled part of Hebron into the Palestinian controlled part without dying first. So, Americans.. you go to the emergency with no health insurance, get a blood test and an injection.. I think it would be safe to say that you can count on paying minimum $400 for this. This is democracy ! We can give billions of dollars to Israel and spend God knows what on a war in Iraq but we cannot afford to give all our citizen health insurance.