Home / Peaceful Bil’in Protestors Attacked by IOF

Peaceful Bil’in Protestors Attacked by IOF

1. Peaceful Bil’in Protestors Attacked by IOF
2. Bil’in Cameraman release delayed
3. Bil’in Cameraman Finally to be Released Tomorrow
4. Donkey Forced To Go Through Tel Rumeida Checkpoint
5. Eid in Tel Rumeida
6. Settler Colonists Beat Palestinian Family – One Palestinian Arrested
7. Olive Harvest Faces Obstacles from Israeli Army: Three Nablus Region Reports from the 25th and 27th of October
8. Olive Harvest in Tel Rumeida under Threat from Settlers

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1. Peaceful Bil’in Protestors Attacked by IOF

by ISM media team, October 27th
for video and audio footage of the demo visit www.palestinewitness.net
for photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/27/bilin-27-10-06/

Twelve-year old Ibrahim Ghazi Beit-Ilo was hit in the neck by shrapnel from a live bullet following a peaceful protest march against the Apartheid Wall in Bil’in today. He underwent surgery at the Ramallah goverment hospital and the shrapnel was successfully removed. Another 16 people were injured by shrapnel from exploding tear gas and sound bomb cannisters or were beaten with military truncheons. Two Israeli protestors were arrested.

The, 600 protestors, comprising Palestinians, Israelis and internationals, Palestinian flags flying, marched behind political and religious leaders . Palestinian Legislative Council members Kayes Abu-Leila and Mohib Awad, Israeli MKs Mohammed Barakeh and Dov Hanin, Taysir Tamimi a Muslim religious leader and village leaders marched at the head of the protest from the Bil’in mosque to the massive razor wire fortifications that divide the village from its agricultural lands. When they arrived they were met by fully armed Israeli soldiers in battle dress and border police.

The focus of the protest was a symbolic breach of the wall created by placing two ladders across the first razor wire fence. Using the ladders as a bridge, a group of protestors moved into the next line of wall fortifications. As they crossed they were attacked by tear gas and sound bombs.

The army turned on the massed demonstrators who were chanting “No to the Wall.” Soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs into the crowd, which began to retreat. As the marchers moved back toward the village, soliders penetrated into the village olive groves, gassing the retreating protestors. One gas cannister was fired at the ambulance parked on a hill distant from the wall and soldiers penetrated into the edge of the village where another tear gas cannister was shot into a house, injuring grandmother, Intisar Burnat.

The villagers of Bilin have lost more than 50% of their agricultural lands to the Apartheid Wall. The Israeli government illegally expropriated their lands without compensation. Although the seizure of the lands was done in the name of security, in fact, research has found that corrupt army planners eased the transfer of Bilin’s land to a billionaire Russian real estate mogul who belongs to the Lubavitcher Hassidim. Bilin lands are now the site of the illegal settlement of Modin Elit.

Adeeb Abu Rahma -beaten on the leg
Basem Ahmad Issa -rubber bullet in the back.
Zohdiya Ali Alkhatib -teargas
Mohammad Alkhatib -beaten and leg injury
Naser Abu Rahma -shrapnel from a sound bomb in the hand
Ahmad Mohammad Hassan -rubber bullet in the leg
Oz Marinov -hit in the ankle by a sound bomb
Amir Sidi -wounded in the forhead by shrapnel from a sound bomb
R. – foot cut by razor wire
G. and L. – beaten with truncheons

For more information:
Abdullah Abu Rahme – 054 725 8210
ISM media office – 02 297 18 24

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2. Bil’in Cameraman release delayed

For photo see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/22/release-delayed/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bil’in cameraman Emad Bornat will be spending Eid, the Muslim feast that marks the end of Ramadan (the holy month of fasting) separated from his wife and four children. The military prosecution has appealed his release which means that Emad remains in detention despite a military judge’s decision to release him on October 19th.

The judge had agreed to release Emad on 15,000 NIS ($3,500) bail to house arrest in a neighbouring village to Bil’in. The judge, however, also gave the Israeli military until today to appeal the decision.

Emad was seized after a demonstration on October 6th and has been charged with throwing stones and assaulting a police officer, although he was filming at the time. Whilst in the border police van Emad sustained severe head injuries needing hospital treatment and stitches. A judge ordered an investigation into the origin of these injuries, finding inadequate the border police’s explanation that communication equipment fell on him.

A hearing on his case was set for Tuesday the 24th of October.

For more information:
Mohammed Khatib, Bil’in Anti-wall Popular Committee: 054 557 3285
Attorney Gaby Laski: 054 441 8988
Israeli video-journalist Shai Polack: 054 533 3364
ISM Media office: 02 297 1824

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3. Bil’in Cameraman Finally to be Released Tomorrow

by ISM media team, October 25th

A judge at Ofer military court ordered Bil’in cameraman Emad Bornat to be released tomorrow after almost 3 weeks in detention. Emad was seized in the village after a demonstration against the annexation wall on October 6th as he was filming Israeli forces. Whilst in the border police van Emad sustained serious head injuries requiring hospital treatment. A military judge ordered an inquiry into his injuries, casting doubt on the explanation of the border police that communications equipment fell on him.

Whilst in detention at Ofer military prison the Israeli military refused Emad medical treatment in defiance of the instructions of the court. Today a judge ordered the head of the military police to give account to the President of the Appelate Court as to why Emad didn’t receive the required treatment.

Emad will be released on 15,000 NIS bail and into house arrest in a neighbouring village to Bil’in. Emad, whose footage featured in the award-winning “Bil’in habibti” is charged with throwing stones and assaulting a border policeman. No date has been set yet for his trial.

For more information:
Mohammed Khatib, Bil’in Anti-wall Popular Committee: 054 557 3285
Attorney Gaby Laski: 054 441 8988
Israeli video-journalist Shai Polack: 054 533 3364
ISM Media office: 02 297 1824

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4. Donkey Forced To Go Through Tel Rumeida Checkpoint

by ISM Hebron, 21st October

After a few hours of quiet and calm at the guard post on the top of the hill, one Human Rights Worker (HRW) worker went inside the HRW flat very briefly to retrieve a few things. Just a few minutes after she went upstairs, a group of 6-8 soldiers and a group of 4-6 young settler men (ages 17-22) walked down from the Tel Rumeida settlement and soldier station, walking about 20 yards apart. The settler men came towards the stoop where the HRW and two Palestinian men were sitting; some of them sat near the Palestinian man. The HRW soon noticed that the group of soldiers had stopped just up the hill, formed a line, and were all pointing their guns towards the top floor of a Palestinian home. There was no apparent reason for them to be doing so, so the HRW walked towards them to inquire, but was stopped by the settler men, who had formed a line across the road and would not let her pass. She walked towards the end of the line to get around them, but a settler stepped in front of her path, and pressed his shoulder towards hers to keep her from passing. She persisted, and eventually passed him as he put his tongue in her face and said rude-sounding comments in Hebrew. By the time she got through the line of settlers, the line of soldiers had dispersed. The HRW phoned the flat to request the return of the other HRW and to let another HRW know that there was a potential for problems to arise so she could film from the roof. As she filmed, the settlers continually yelled at her and gave her menacing looks. Soon, one settler walked to the door of the residential building and looked inside. At that point the HRW came down and asked the settler what he wanted, to which he replied, “Do you speak English? FUCK YOU!”, and laughed with his friends.

The HRW came down the stairs at about the same time that another HRW walked up from his post on Shuhada street. All three HRWs observed as the settlers stood around and then were joined by the soldiers. After 10 or 15 minutes, the settlers and the soldiers walked down the hill towards Shuhada street; the male HRW followed them down the hill. A group of five settlers in their mid-twenties loitered directly in front of the main checkpoint in to Tel Rumeida. As Palestinians entered through the checkpoint the settlers positioned themselves so as to obstruct the Palestinians, glaring at them and in one instance shouting at an elderly lady. When the threatening behavior of the settlers was pointed out to the soldier on duty he simply shrugged his shoulders. When a Palestinian was prevented from bringing his large crates of food through the gate that adjoins the checkpoint, the settlers shouted with glee and raised their middle fingers to the Palestinian. On complaining to the soldier on duty, the soldier replied that the settlers where allowed to be there. When it was pointed out that they were making obscene gestures he claimed that he had not seen them. After around 15-20 minutes the settlers departed.

Every afternoon a Palestinian man arrives at checkpoint 56 with a heavily loaded donkey and goes through into the Israeli-controlled H2 section of Hebron. In order to be allowed to take his donkey through the small gate at the side of the checkpoint, the man had to get an Israeli court order as otherwise the soldiers at the checkpoint might refuse to allow him to use the gate. On the afternoon of Saturday, 21 October, the four Israeli soldiers on duty at checkpoint 56 refused to open the side gate for the man and his donkey to pass through, and instead insisted that the donkey pass through the checkpoint itself, through the metal detectors. Once the man had managed to get his donkey through the checkpoint, three HRWs had to negotiate with the soldiers in order to be able to get the man’s many goods through the checkpoint too, in the end
each making two trips through the checkpoint in order to carry the goods through. The soldiers at the checkpoint made the HRWs go back through the metal detectors and empty their pockets of metallic objects, despite the fact that they were clearly heavily weighed down with boxes of bananas, large bags of flour, etc.

The HRWs first contacted the District Coordinating Office (DCO) about the soldiers, who were also only allowing Palestinians to pass through the checkpoint very slowly, but were told they must contact the police. They were told this despite border police and one policeman being present at the time, all standing around doing nothing to ease the congestion at the checkpoint. One of the border policemen overheard the telephone conversation with the DCO and the HRW’s criticism of the inaction of the border police and laughed and said, “Thank you”. The HRWs then contacted the Kiryat Arba police about the soldiers’ overly obstructive attitude but when the police arrived, they first of all stopped two HRWs further down Shuhada Street before even approaching the checkpoint. The policeman who was driving the jeep asked both HRWs their names and where they were from. After answering the questions, one HRW pointed towards the checkpoint, letting the police know that the HRWs at the checkpoint were the ones who made the call, assuming that the police had stopped because of the call, but the police merely acknowledged that they knew who called and proceeded to ask the HRWs questions. They asked how long the HRWs had been standing where they were standing and then said that they shouldn’t stand there because it could make the situation worse. The police more or less said that they want to keep everything calm and that they didn’t want the HRWs to stand there. The HRWs said that they were working for the same reason and that they are allowed to stand on the street. The police asked when the HRWs were leaving, the HRWs answered and once more reminded the police that the HRWs at the checkpoint had made a call and wanted to talk to them. A third HRW walked from the checkpoint to the police car and spoke with the police briefly before the police finally drove towards the checkpoint.

After eventually speaking to the soldiers at the checkpoint, one of the two policemen said that unless the soldiers did something “extreme, we are not allowed to interrupt their activities”. The policeman also said that the man with this donkey needed to carry the original of the court order with him in order for him to pass through the side gate of the checkpoint, although this man comes to the same checkpoint every afternoon with his donkey. After speaking to the soldiers again, the policeman said the soldiers claimed that the donkey having to go through the checkpoint was a “misunderstanding” as the Palestinian man had not understood that the donkey could go through the gate but that the goods had to go through the metal detector in the checkpoint. The policeman even maintained that the soldiers had been trying to help the man. This was not true and the HRW said this to the policeman. Another HRW was later threatened with arrest by the police for allegedly obstructing the soldiers – she had been trying to get them to ease the congestion at the checkpoint by letting the Palestinians pass through more quickly.

22nd October

In the afternoon two soldiers manning checkpoint 56 between Palestinian-controlled H1 and Israeli-controlled H2 continuously harassed Palestinians passing through the checkpoint by not opening the checkpoint doors for them to enter, half opening then closing the checkpoint doors in front of their faces, not opening the checkpoint doors once Palestinians were inside the checkpoint and making even very small children go back through the metal detector one at a time. When challenged by two HRWs as to why they were behaving in this manner, one of the soldiers answered, “because it is fun; it is the best fun”. Security was clearly not the reason for their behaviour as at approximately 5.10pm the checkpoint doors were left open and both soldiers stood outside the checkpoint while one took a photo of the other with his mobile phone as a couple of Palestinians passed through unchecked. At one point the HRWs called the police regarding the soldiers’ behaviour but they failed to arrive.

At 7.05pm a female HRW alone in the ISM/Tel Rumeida Project flat in Tel Rumeida heard voices outside the door and, on opening a window in the door, saw soldiers outside peering in. The HRW asked if she could help the soldiers, to which one soldier answered, “no”. The HRW closed the window again but heard one of the soldiers saying that they wanted money. The soldiers then moved to the staircase and then, after a few minutes, they left the building and moved up the street towards the Tel Rumeida settlement. There were 12 soldiers in total. The reason for the appearance of the soldiers at the flat is unknown, although the HRW did recognize one of the soldiers at the door as one of the ones from the checkpoint with whom she had argued that afternoon about the harassment of the Palestinians at checkpoint 56.

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5. Eid in Tel Rumeida

by ISM Hebron, 24th October

Today was the second day of Eid, the three-day holiday after Ramadan. During these three days, families visit each other, something made very hard by the soldiers stationed in Tel Rumeida.

Internationals walking up the hill saw a group of Palestinian residents at the top of the hill and learned that soldiers had yelled at a young Palestinian child who walked by with a toy gun. The boy ran away and was very scared.

The soldiers then detained a man who was walking by and said they were going to hold him until the child was brought back. Some residents went and brought the toy gun back and gave it to the soldiers, showing that it was a toy gun. They explained that the boy was scared and would not be coming back. The soldiers refused this and said they would hold the man until the boy came back.

Internationals repeatedly told the soldiers that their behavior was unreasonable, that it didn’t make sense to threaten a passerby because a child had a toy. The soldiers then started removing Palestinian residents from the street, screaming at everyone and going to the door of the shop, screaming for everyone to leave.

A car of settlers stopped in the street outside the store and started accusing one of the internationals, saying “You cause problems here. Your filming causes problems…”

At this point, the soldiers detained a second man who was in the store. They made him go to the soldier station and tried to take his phone, however an international was able to hold the phone and gave it back to the man. The soldiers again tried to take the phone and were successful.

The man was taken across the street next to the first man who was still being detained. He stood against a wall, but the soldier spent the next few minutes demanding that he sit on the ground, though he was wearing new clothes for the Eid holidays. Eventually he was forced to sit on the ground.

Internationals called Machsom Watch, the DCO (without answer) and the Israeli police.

The soldiers then began telling the internationals to turn their cameras off. Two soldiers went after two internationals, pushing the male international, trying to knee him in the groin, and hitting the camera multiple times. Another batted at the second international’s camera.

The Israeli police arrived and refused to talk to any of the internationals. Instead they initially spoke only to soldiers and then eventually a resident, the brother of the detained men. During this time, the first detained resident got his ID back, and then soldiers demanded the internationals’ passports. One international refused, saying she would give it to the police if they asked, but not to a soldier, who was not allowed to ask for it in the first place.

After the police left, two soldiers began yelling at an international watching from the roof with a Palestinian woman. They told the two repeatedly to go inside and though the international told them she was simply on the roof of her home, the soldiers then started saying in a monologue, “You are refusing to go in? You are refusing? Fine, you have refused,” Two soldiers then entered the building, while others outside blocked the door and prevented other internationals from entering. When one international told the soldiers that there were children in the home and the soldiers would obviously be scaring them, he also asked, “You think scaring the children is funny?” he said, “Yeah.”

After looking around on two levels of the roof (the international and Palestinian woman were in the apartment with the door bolted), the soldiers left and three of them went into the building across the street. Other soldiers stood in front of this door as well, preventing anyone from entering while they looked around on the roof.

When family members tried to leave the building, they refused to let them out, slamming the door in their faces. They were in the home for five minutes.

The police arrived at this moment and began shouting at the soldiers. The police then asked for the ID from the remaining detained resident and gave it back to him. The soldiers continued to remove the Palestinian children from the area.

Dave, an international, sitting in the middle of Shuhada Street watched as soldiers came down the hill and gathered at the checkpoint. They began pointing at Dave on Shuhada Street. Five minutes later, at 2:10pm, two soldiers walked over and stood in front of Dave, asking him to take their photo, which he did.

He was then called to the checkpoint and was told that the commander wanted to talk to him. The commander told him that they would close the checkpoint if he was in the area and not allow anyone to go through. At this point, the checkpoint was already closed, and a family was waiting to leave the neighborhood.

Dave then left the checkpoint and walked to the end of Shuhada Street. However, soldiers shortly forced a Palestinian child to walk down to him and tell him that the soldiers wanted him to come back to the checkpoint. The family was still there waiting, and the commander threatened Dave again, telling him the checkpoint would be closed until he left the area. At this point, after much argument, Dave left the area.

K then went down to the checkpoint and the commander came to the door and asked her what she was doing. He told her to leave and that she makes too much trouble. She explained that she just arrived, to which he replied, “Well, I don’t like the look of you and if you don’t go, I will keep the checkpoint closed until you leave.” After telling him that children such as himself shouldn’t have so much power, she also left.

Another international then went down and walked with two kids down Shuhada Street. She was at the end of Shuhada Street and could not even see the checkpoint, and was filming three small children who were playing for the camera when a soldier at the checkpoint shouted at her to come down and said the commander wanted to talk to her.

At this point, people were waiting on both sides of the checkpoint. The commander threatened her, saying, “You’ve crossed the line today. I have orders that the checkpoint will be closed until you leave.” At this point she also left.

Beth then went down to the checkpoint, taking her time. When she got close enough to see, she saw between 8-10 people, including women and children, being detained across the street from the checkpoint by border police and a policeman. Other residents who were walking towards the checkpoint at this time turned around and went back when they saw what was happening.

Another international came down and the two went closer together, though they were still some distance away. Soldiers saw them and called one international down, saying again that the commander wanted to speak to him. He said, “I told you before to go away. I’ve closed the checkpoint because you’re here. I’m not letting anyone go to your home until you leave.”

A few minutes later, those who were being detained were released, but then 8-10 men who had just come through the checkpoint were detained. A settler boy walking by at this time, simply kept repeating, “Fuck you, fuck fuck.”

Five internationals then went down to the checkpoint where some Palestinians said they had been detained since 3:45. At 4:30pm Machsom Watch was called, who called the DCO, and at 4:45 they were released.

An international asked the soldier, “So you’re punishing everyone because of us.” To which the soldier replied “everyone.” A family came and the soldier said he was stopping this family and wouldn’t let them through the checkpoint until the HRWs left. The soldier confirmed repeatedly that he was willing to punish the entire community if the HRWs didn’t leave. When the soldier began laughing at the situation he was asked if he thought it was funny. To which he replied “Do you think it’s funny my face being on the internet?” Seeing that an entire family was being detained the HRWs were left with no choice but to leave the checkpoint area.

K stayed above the checkpoint with border police, and the commander again told her to leave. He then forced a woman who was waiting at the checkpoint to go over and ask her to leave and said to K, “I can make the Arabs turn against you.”
Then she left.

Internationals came up the hill and saw three toddlers throwing rocks at a Palestinian house. An international yelled at them and they ran away.

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6. Settler Colonists Beat Palestinian Family – One Palestinian Arrested

For photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/27/burin-settler-attack/

by ISM Nablus, October 27th

Palestinian farmers were today harvesting olives on their land between the quarry at Huwarra checkpoint and Berakhya settlement. A Palestinian house stands uninhabited in the middle of this area, casting a desolate shadow over the settler bus stop on the road below. The man who used to live there is longing for the day when he can move back to his home but remains pessimistic. The entire land has remained untouched for over 6 years, as Israeli colonists always threaten any Palestinians who dare to even approach it.

Today, however, a family of farmers from Burin decided to brave the Berakhya settlers and set off early this morning to harvest their olive trees. At twelve o’clock, six Israeli colonist men trespassed onto the land and, wielding a knife, proceeded to threaten the Ghazzal family, shouting at them to leave the land immediately. In front of their children, the father and mother were pushed and pulled around by colonists and beaten on the arms and chest.

A volunteer from Rabbis for Human Rights, Zachariah Sadea, was contacted. Upon arrival at the scene at around half past one, he immediately contacted the DCO in Nablus. Frightened by this, the Israeli colonists finally left the land, only to go to the police station in Huwarra military base in order to file a complaint against the family’s 18-year old son, Fatih Ghazzal. Claiming that Fatih had beaten, or threatened to beat up the Israeli colonists, they demanded that he be arrested.

At three o’clock, two Israeli soldiers drove up to the land where the family were harvesting; still recovering from the shock of the colonist attack. The soldiers arrested Fatih, beating him severely over the head as they did so. Zachariah Sadea, explaining to the soldiers that Fatih had not beaten the colonists but in fact had been attacked by them, attempted to physically prevent the arrest and was then also beaten by the soldiers.

Devastated by the kidnapping of Fatih, the family carried the day’s harvest down to the checkpoint to wait for their beloved son and brother. As the rain poured down and friends of the family stopped to commiserate with them before passing through the checkpoint, Fatih was transported from Huwarra to the Ariel colony police station. Finally, the family left the checkpoint, hauling the sacks of olives onto their backs and piling into a taxi in teary-eyed silence.

The RHR volunteer will, as an eye-witness to the colonist attack, testify against their blatantly false accusations. The prospects of success are, however, bleak since a senior military commander is now claiming to have witnessed Fatih’s attack on the colonists, even though he was stationed on the other side of the hill at the time. Fatih is currently still being held at Ariel, awaiting legal assistance from Yesh Din.

For more details contact:
ISM Nablus 0599076568

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7. Olive Harvest Faces Obstacles from Israeli Army: Three Nablus Region Reports from the 25th and 27th of October

For photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/28/3-reports/

by ISM Nablus affinity groups and ISM Media team

Harvest Continues in Salim Despite Occupation

Wednesday 25th October: With Eid celebrations complete, the annual olive harvest continued today in villages across the West bank. In the village of Salim near to Nablus city, volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement were invited by local Palestinians to help with the harvesting of their olives in the groves close to the Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh.

On the approach to the olive groves, villagers were stopped by soldiers of the Israeli occupation forces. They were controlling the gate through which Palestinians must go to cross the settler-only roads, which stand between their village and their land agricultural land. After requiring the villagers to show their IDs, the Palestinian villagers continued their journey on to the olive groves.

Salim’s olive groves are situated in the beautiful valleys to the east of Nablus, commanding stunning views of the city and on a clear day, the hills of Jordan. However, this local environment has been marred by the sprawl of Israeli settlements, and colonial outposts on the hilltops surrounding the olive groves (all structures Israel builds in the occupied territories in order to house its civilian population are illegal under international law). In the course of the construction of these illegal settlements and settler-only apartheid roads, some 80 dunnums of land have been confiscated by the Israeli army from Salim.

One Palestinian family from the village told volunteers how they had had 350 olive trees, which had been destroyed last year by settlers. They also indicated the loss of large areas of fertile land which they were no longer able to access due to the continued construction of the illegal settlements and settler-only roads. The lands had been previously used for growing cereals and vegetables. This land now lies unused – a vexatious waste of natural resources and a serious blow to the economy of Salim.

Olive picking in Salim today progressed without serious incident, and in spite of the numerous obstacles put in the way of the villagers by the Israeli army and the continued colonisation of their land, villages were in good spirits. However, as volunteers were returning to the village, reports were coming in of a violent settler attack on Palestinians, also out picking olives on their land in a village west of Nablus. With several weeks of the olive harvest to go in the occupied west bank, it remains to be seen whether or not settlers and soldiers will continue the violence, intimidation and theft that have marred the olive harvest of 2006 so far.

“This is not peace!” – Olive Harvesters in Awarta Face Obstacles from Settlers and Soldiers

Friday 27th October: Sitting in the shade of an olive tree, drinking tea out of a thermos, it is easy to forget where you are. Walking among a throng of chatty, giggly children in a stunningly beautiful valley framed by gently rolling mountains, you could be forgiven for letting your guard down for a moment. That is, until a military jeep comes careening down the road at 100km/h and an 8-year old Palestinian boy hangs out of the window of a car driving toward it – his face distorted and feigning terror, screaming at the top of his voice. Then you are reminded that this is Awarta, a village south of Nablus city and adjacent to the ever expanding and notoriously violent Israeli settlement of Itamar, and that the calm moments always precede a storm.

Awarta’s olive groves are located between the Palestinian village and the Israeli settlement, the latter’s caravan and watchtower outposts spread out on hilltops in every direction. A dirt path leading up to the gate in the outer perimeter settlement fence divides the land directly facing the settlement into east and west, while a tarmac road leads deeper into the groves in the south-west. All of the land is under direct threat from Israeli colonist attacks and Itamar has recently erected a second perimeter fence around its original border, thus confiscating even more fertile land and further decimating Awarta’s olive harvest.

The Palestinian villagers are now afraid of even approaching the fence to pick olives from the trees. “If we go within 50m of the fence, the settlers go mad. They will cut down more of our trees and pollute our water. This is what they always do”, says one anonymously speaking villager with land adjacent to, and on the far side of the barrier. In light of these obvious risks, the harvesters’ resolve to pick every last olive this year is especially impressive. Even if the Israeli army decide not to protect the Palestinians villagers in accordance to the Israeli High Court decision taken earlier this year, where it was stipulated that Palestinian farmers have a right to enter and work their land, with or without DCO* permission, and that the military commander in the area must defend this right. In the past, the Israeli army have often opted for declaring Palestinian land that deem likely to be target by Israeli colonists “closed military zones.” They have justified this by saying that the law is aimed to protect the Palestinian residents, but has in reality, saved them from any real confrontation with Israeli colonists, while at the same time often preventing Palestinians from farming their olives. The court ruling clearly says that this is no longer allowed and that territorial closure is subject to a number of strict preconditions.

This decision is important to many Palestinian farmers. It provides them with a legal weapon to use in fighting for their rights to their land. Apart from land in “red zones,” which are not subject to such rapid changes as “closed military zones,” and can be checked on military maps, all farmers should in theory be unhindered and protected in working their land and harvesting their olives this season. The result on the ground in Awarta has been that a large number of military vehicles carrying soldiers and police patrol the area during the day, driving back and forth and occasionally stopping in certain areas. This is truly a schizophrenic experience for many of the villagers. Accustomed to avoiding any contact with the Israeli military, they are now forced to rely on them for protection against Israeli colonists. Old habits die hard and the children still squeal “jeish” (“army” in Arabic) and move closer to their parents whenever a jeep speeds by.

As was clearly illustrated yesterday, scepticism as to the military’s motives is warranted. A family of olive pickers was chased away by Israeli soldiers while attempting to harvest on land near one of the outposts west of the dirt path. Colonists from Itamar claim that this land has been sold to them, while the Palestinian owners dismiss this as malicious lies and carry with them deeds to the 187 dunums concerned. Their work on the land having been brutally interrupted, the family has now contacted the DCO in Nablus, requesting that they act as arbitrator between the disputees and offer protection to the family during the harvest. “We are expecting a reply from them on Tuesday, but will go to harvest our olives regardless of their decision”, says one of the family’s adult sons.

It is also clear that the Israeli military has a very limited capacity and/or will to prevent colonists’ attacks on Palestinians. The day before yesterday, two armed colonists from Tel Hayim wandered down the mountain at around four o’clock in the afternoon to threaten olive pickers and force them to leave their land. The military were at that time not present in that particular area of the massive expanse of olive groves. It also seems that no measures will be taken to prevent this from happening again.

Apart from the impracticalities of military protection, it is clearly not a politically or morally viable solution. The pretense that the Israeli military forces are maintaining a presence on the land “on the people’s orders” as one police officer put it, is just that – a pretense. The situation is better summed up in the words of a hard-pressed Awarta farmer, eager to finish the work as soon as possible: “We are happy the soldiers are here because the settlers may not come then. But this is not a solution. We, the Palestinians, want peace. And peace is not having soldiers shoot at our children one day and then wishing us a good day’s olive harvest the next.”

Awarta will continue its struggle for a good harvest and international supporters are more than welcome to join in. For a practical and powerful act of solidarity, come to Palestine. Harvesting is resisting!

* DCO: District Co-ordination Office. Formerly joint Israeli Palestinian institutions for the administration of civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Palestinian Authority was kicked out at the start of the second intifada. DCOs are affectively the civil administration wing of the Israeli military.

Beit Iba Overcomes Obstacles from the Israeli Army to Harvest Olives

Friday 27th October: Today, olive harvesting continued at Beit Iba. Villagers, including their 82-year-old grandmother and volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement and the International Women’s Peace Service, spent much of the day picking olives close to the Israeli army’s checkpoint at Beit Iba, to the Northwest of Nablus city. This site is also close to olive groves where villagers have been repeatedly driven off their land by the Israeli occupation forces in recent weeks. Today’s picking continued peacefully, and a large quantity of olives were harvested in between rain showers and lunch breaks (where international volunteers were invited to sample amazing homemade humous, cheese and bread brought by the villagers). However, harvesting could only begin once villagers had been given permission to enter their land by the Israeli occupation forces, and to do so, villagers had to climb over rolls of razor wire which were installed by the Israeli army a month ago. Children and a man with an amputated leg were among those who had to negotiate this obstacle. The Israeli occupation forces also told villagers that no vehicles could be brought close to the olive grove, thus making it difficult for the sacks of olives to be taken from the site. Despite these obstacles, and intermittent rain, villagers and volunteers persevered, and remain determined not to be denied access to their land.

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8. Olive Harvest in Tel Rumeida under Threat from Settlers

For photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/29/olive-picking-tr-settlement/

by ISM Hebron

Thursday 26th October

Our Palestinian neighbour, H, lives only 2 metres away from the Tel Rumeida settlement. On Wednesday night he came over to explain to the internationals living in Tel Rumeida the situation as they had offered to help him with an olive harvest. H has experienced continual harassment from the settlers who want to force him out and occupy his house and land. They have put razor wire across a path so that he cannot access a safer way to his home and have built their own steps down onto this land so that they can work it themselves. One of the main people responsible for this is a woman who recently moved to the Tel Rumeida settlement after having been evicted from the settlements in Gaza.

Under Israeli law, if a Palestinian does not work his land for 3 years it is forfeited to the state who are then free to dispose of it as they see fit, including giving it to settlers. This was why it was so very important that the land be accessed. Extra people from the International Solidarity Movement, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Tel Rumeida Project, Rabbis for Human Rights, International Women’s Peace Service and photographers from B’Tselem all agreed to come to Tel Rumeida to help with this potentially very dangerous operation to allow H to access this land. Picking the olives was not the main objective: the most important goal was to access the land and have proof that Palestinians have worked on it.

H has a High Court order saying that Palestinians must be allowed to access and work his land. It also says that the army and police must protect them while he does so. The army agreed to allow this to happen at 13.30.

Before this planned operation, in the late morning, one international went to the start of the track from the Palestinian man’s house which leads to his olive trees. This track has been blocked by razor wire put there by the Tel Rumeida settlers to stop him accessing his own land. After a few minutes, the international was spotted by a settler woman, who started to throw rocks down at her. The settler woman was later joined by two other settler women, who also threw rocks down at the international, some of them very large. A soldier went up to the settlers at one point but did not take action about their violence and at one point he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the settler women as she threw large rocks at the international. One of the settler women was also observed gathering rocks in a blue bucket, presumably to throw at the international later and also attacked the international with a large stick and insulted and shouted at her.

Another international then approached the track and the olive trees from the Tel Rumeida road and shouted loudly at the women to stop throwing stones at the international. A woman settler then came up to her very aggressively and told her to go away. When the international refused and told the settler that it wasn’t the settler’s land to be on, the settler demanded to see the international’s passport. The international refused to do this, and asked what the settler’s religion had to say about throwing stones at people and trying to steal their land. The settler shouted that it was the international and her religion who were responsible for the Holocaust. When challenged by the international to explain this, the settler started aggressively pushing the international down the hill away from the settlement. At one point another settler woman joined her, and both pushed and assaulted the international, at one point bending the international’s fingers back to make her let go of a wire fence she was holding onto. At this point the police arrived, but instead of attempting to restrain the attacking settler women, they removed the international down the hill, but not before a settler woman spat once in the international’s face and once in her hair. The police, and the two soldiers present, took no action about any of this.

Other internationals had filmed the stone throwing and assaults but although they showed this clear footage to the police, the police insisted that they could not take any immediate action but that the internationals would have to go to Kiryat Arba police station in order to make a complaint, a constant refrain, despite the fact that they are legally supposed to take complaints at the scene of a crime and make arrests immediately. One of the policemen said that he knew one of the settler women because she had assaulted many people in the past. However they took no action.

At 1pm the international’s gathered at H’s house. A large group from Belgium were there doing a tour of the West Bank and H was explaining to them his situation. At 1.40 H led the whole group onto the land around the razor wire. They began to pick olives and to dig the ground around the trees. One group worked at clearing the razor wire from the path and clearing away the vines so that the path was open again.

10 minutes after the Palestinians entered the land, settlers came down the staircase from the settlement. They sat or stood under the olive trees reading the Torah. Soldiers were at the top by the settlement. Three women came down, one with a baby on her hip. They began to shout, saying that this is their land. H has documents to prove Palestinian ownership of the land. When the woman was asked to produce her papers she said the Bible gave her ownership of this land. She very recently moved to Tel Rumeida having been evicted from Gaza. Soldiers came down onto the land and stood among the crowd instead of removing the settlers.

A settler then began shouting at Issa, a Palestinian man who joined the olive harvest, telling him not to work the land and the suddenly hit Issa very hard on the left cheek.

Instead of stopping the settlers’ attacks and removing them, the soldiers ordered all the internationals to leave the land. H asked the internationals to leave for a few minutes. As the internationals were leaving, a settler youth jumped from a wall to attack them. A soldier picked him up, using a Hebrew term of endearment, and moved him away.

Eventually, after a lot of arguing with the soldiers all the internationals left the land. The settlers went back up the stairs and the Palestinians returned to work on their own, the children climbing the trees and the adults picking the olives.

Ten minutes later the three settler women came back down to the land and began to shout at H and the Palestinians. They seemed very aggressive. A settler woman holding a baby attacked H’s 13 year old niece, kicking her. H then called for the internationals to come back which they did.

Again, the soldiers focused on removing the internationals, trying to get them to leave the land, but they refused unless the settlers were removed out of fear for the Palestinians’ safety. The soldiers refused to remove the settlers and the police did not get involved. The internationals all sat down in a group. The settler women were walking around and throwing water from bottles onto various people. One international woman with a video camera was drenched.

The same settler youth from the earlier attack, again jumped off the wall, this time directly onto an international cameraman who the settler began kicking and hitting profusely. After falling off the cameraman, the settler youth ran after him down the path, trying to attack him again. The settler youth was again picked up and removed by a soldier who shook the youth’s hand as he was carrying him away.

H asked all internationals to return to his house and he decided to stay off the land for a few minutes until the situation calmed down. He returned repeatedly to the land throughout the afternoon with his family and other Palestinians and they continued to work the land and pick the olives.

Although he was not able to do all the work he wanted to H was very happy at the end of the day. He has achieved his main objective of asserting his right to work the land and has video proof that this has happened. There is also video evidence of settlers trespassing and assaulting a Palestinian as he attempted to work the land. There will be a court case to charge the settler with assault and this will bring additional pressure about the ongoing theft of Palestinian land.

Friday 27th October

Nine HRWs (two from TRP, two from ISM, four from CPT, one from IWPS) – met a Palestinian at the Siyaj family’s home at 8am. By 9am the family members started to arrive with the materials to begin the olive harvest; the HRWs and a fluctuating number of Palestinians ranging from two to eight including children and young men, began harvesting olives from the two trees closest to the home but furthest from the settlement and military outpost. The first few hours were peaceful and productive: some people helped knock olives out of the tree with sticks and others gathered the olives from the catch-blankets below. The trees seemed to have an endless amount of olives which were piled in large woven plastic bags. At approximately 10am, just as soon as some Siyaj family members offered everyone tea and Eid cakes and people began to relax from their work, a stone was thrown by a young male settler (age 18-25). He lingered on the side of the house closest to the settlement until multiple HRWs turned on their video cameras and four or five soldiers arrived, at which point he retreated to the settlement. Paying no attention to the settler, the soldiers walked straight towards the Palestinian men near the olive trees; HRWs followed with cameras. A Palestinian presented “The Right to Access Agricultural Lands” document to the soldiers, who agreed to speak with a Palestinian once the HRWs turned off their video cameras. After reading the document they said we could continue harvesting as we were, as long as we did not film, so the harvesting proceeded. The soldiers stayed nearby and were soon joined by a few police who did not approach the harvesting group.

At approximately 11:30am another HRW arrived and was directed to help the Abu Heikel family with their harvest. Not long after the HRW left for the Au Heikel home, several soldiers left the area and moved towards the home; one HRW followed. At the house, the soldiers initially told the family they would have to stop harvesting as they were in a closed military zone. Soldiers were shown the order of the Israeli High Court guaranteeing Palestinians access to their land and requiring the army to protect this right, but still attempted to stop the harvesting. HRWs made phone called to the Israeli DCO (District Co-ordination Office), and some moments later further soldiers arrived and spoke to their colleagues, after which time the family were able to continue harvesting for the rest of the day, with HRWs, soldiers and at times Police and Border Police present. There were no incidents involving settlers.

At the Siyaj home, the harvesting continued smoothly until the group completed the harvesting of the first two trees and moved to the side of the house closer to the settlement to begin harvesting two more trees. Again, the harvesting began peacefully and productively – people were enjoying the work and there was much laughter. Sometime around 1:30pm another settler threw a stone: this time it was a boy (age 10-13) who threw the stone from the settlement yard and was captured on film (see attached photographs A and B). The HRW who photographed the boy was in the tree harvesting olives so he shouted to the special police as two other HRWs grabbed their video cameras. The special police and local police slowly came to where the HRW stood with two Palestinian men who were reviewing the photographs. The police recognized Baruch Marzel and the boy from the photograph and went to the settlement, presumably to speak to them, but the results of are unknown.

Two special police men stayed at the house and observed from the porch as the group continued to harvest olives. Abu Siyaj brought pita bread with cheese to all the people harvesting olives, which now consisted of four HRWs and six to eight Palestinians, mostly children and teenagers. The harvesting continued uninterrupted until just before 4pm, as we began to pack up the catch-blankets, when the HRWs in the trees noticed the settler children in their yard with a bucket which had been used the day before to hold stones for throwing. The HRWs drew this to the attention of the police on the porch, who then stepped off the porch onto the stairs where they were visible to the children who seemed to change their posture slightly once they saw them. A man joined the children and after standing around for five minutes or so, walked back towards the home with the children at hand. The children remained outside, waving and staring at the HRWs in the trees, and began climbing a tree. After 10 minutes are so, three settler boys came down the path and picked olives from a Siyaj family tree while the police stood nearby, doing nothing in response to their actions. The HRWs remained in the trees with cameras on and photographed as the family finished packing up to leave. Everyone departed without problems.

Saturday 28th October

Today was rainy and cold and perhaps less active because of it. When the two international arrived on Shuhada street the Police jeep was at checkpoint 56 and police were asking young Palestinian men for identification after they came through the checkpoint. They briefly stopped four men before driving away shortly after noon. At 3 pm a young male settler (age 14 – 18) walked by two HRWs and attempted to spit at them, but spit on himself instead. A few minutes later a young Palestinian boy (age 5-9) who we see often on Shuhada street walked by alone, holding a plastic bag. He was much less cheerful than usual, and did not stop when the HRW said hello. He walked on with a very serious look on his face, and the HRWs walked slowly behind as he walked towards the Qurtuba School steps. When he came close to the stairs, he picked up his pace and ran around the corner before the HRWs made it to the corner, and before they did, the boy ran back onto the street chased by five to seven settler boys. The HRWs went towards the settlers with a camera and the soldier walked from his post into the street. The settlers just lingered and made faces until walking back towards the settlement. The HRWs asked the boy if he wanted them to walk with him – he looked very frustrated and said no, even when asked by TIPH – he explained that he wanted to walk around the long way. Later, the HRWs saw him without the bag; hopefully he delivered it successfully.

At 3:30pm two young settler women (ages 14-18) had a verbal confrontation with an older Palestinian woman. The HRWs ran towards them shouting at the soldier and the soldier walked to them just as the settlers left the woman alone. At 4:45 two young settler men and a Palestinian man began a verbal confrontation that looked as though it could become physical but a soldier from checkpoint 56 walked to them and broke it up. The settlers and the Palestinian walked away, both still saying things loudly to each other. The same soldier then proceeded to make the checkpoint more pleasant by throwing stones into the puddle and then placing cardboard on top so the Palestinians would not have to walk in the mud. The HRWs said thank you as they left the street and headed home.

The Al Azzeh family suffered further deprivation today. Probably during the night, their water pipes were smashed where they pass, on the road, by the Tel Rumeida. This is the fifth time that the pipes have been cut, within the last 2 months. In this time no one has been arrested for this offence. This has occurred even though the Israeli command has cameras covering the area. Israeli soldiers constantly restrict Palestinian and International movement in the locality of the Tel Rumeida settlement. They justify this because of the proximity of the military base. In spite of this, the DCO claim that a cut water pipe, in a location to which Palestinians and Internationals do not have access, is not their responsibility. Cut razor wire on Palestinian land is however! As happened yesterday, the wire must be replaced by bare handed Palestinians under threat of arrest! Israeli settlers or soldiers, who destroy part of the water pipe, are allowed freedom do repeat their offense time and time again.

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