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Take action against Israeli war crimes in Gaza

1. Take action against Israeli war crimes in Gaza
2. Gazan doctors pull shrapnel marked “Made in USA” out of Palestinian
3. Bil’in mourns Gaza atrocities
4. En Bil’in de nuevo (In Bil’in again)
5. Israeli High Court Approves Theft of Bil’in Land
6. “For Their Protection” – IOF Obstruction of Olive Harvest in Tel Rumeida
7. Israeli soldiers rampage through Hebron after Palestinian youth demonstrate
8. Three days of protest in Hebron over Gaza massacre
9. The blood of the martyrs will fertilize the earth
10. “I only listen to what they tell me” – a Palestinian account of what it takes to travel from Jenin to Ramallah

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1. Take action against Israeli war crimes in Gaza

by ISM media team, November 11th

Since the Israeli “redeployment” from Gaza on August 20, 2005, Israeli occupation troops have killed over 700 Palestinians and wounded four thousand others. Israeli is literally starving the Gaza strip. Israel has also taken advantage of the western media’s preoccupation with the US midterm elections to commit new war crimes including large scale home demolitions, indiscriminate firing on peaceful demonstrators and the massacre of civilians in their beds. The atrocities of the last few days could intensify unless we focus attention on them and insist they be exposed by the media and stopped immediately. Palestinians have also called for an international week of action against the Apartheid Wall, and against the ghettoization of Palestine for November 9-16: stopthewall.org/worldwideactivism/1328.shtml.

Please write about this subject to all national and local media outlets as well as to all elected officials (including newly elected officials). The following two links are lists of media contacts:

* http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/contact/media.asp
* http://capwiz.com/adc/dbq/media
Background information to use in your letters/communications:

Electronic Intifada reports on the massacres in Beit Hannoun:

* http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5993.shtml
* http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5973.shtml
* http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5951.shtml
* http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5939.shtml
* http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5927.shtml

People across the world are taking action against the atrocities in Gaza and the Apartheid Wall.

In London there was a protest on Thursday evening at the Prime Minister’s home at the UK government’s silence. A protest was held in the centre of the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on Friday evening and other protests are planned worldwide this weekend. Today, a joint Israeli-Palestinian protest is taking place at the Erez checkpoint into Gaza.

To kick off the international week against the Apartheid Wall, the Melbourne Palestine Solidarity Network erected a 3 metre-high wall in the centre of Melbourne containing photos and information about the Wall: stopthewall.org/worldwideactivism/1334.shtml

For more about events taking place worldwide visit:
stopthewall.org/worldwideactivism/1332.shtml

Take action against the Gaza atrocities at Israeli embassies, consulates and other institutions supporting Israeli brutality, and join the events taking place worldwide against the Apartheid Wall.

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2. Gazan doctors pull shrapnel marked “Made in USA” out of Palestinian

Gazan doctor Mona Elfaraa reports from Al Awda hospital, Jabalya on clearly marked American-made shrapnel found in a Palestinian now in critical condition during the current Israeli attacks on northern Gaza. According to Israeli newspapers, the so-called “Operation Autumn Clouds” has left 57 Palestinians dead so far. From a November 6th interview with the ISM media team:

“I have seen some of the shrapnel that was recovered from the previous day’s injuries, marked clearly with ‘Made in USA’. The shrapnel pieces seem unusual; our surgeons have not come across this before. Unfortunately, we do not have the time and facilities to investigate. Some of the bodies are totally burnt and have missing limbs and one them was covered with hundreds of pieces of small shrapnel.

“No-one is safe. This morning five and six-year old children wounded in a missile attack, were brought to our hospital. They were shaking and crying with fear. Their teacher Najwa Kholeef had been wounded in the head. A sixteen-year old boy and twenty-year old man had been killed.

“Tanks and armored vehicles have been surrounding the Beit Hanoun hospital for the last six days and preventing medical volunteers and victims of Israeli violence from reaching it.

“On Sunday our colleagues, 21 year old ambulance driver Ahmad Madhun and medical volunteer Mustafa Habib were murdered and Dannielle Abu Samra was wounded while trying to tend to the wounded.”

English-speaking media contacts in Gaza:

Dr Mona Elfaraa, Doctor at Al Awda Hospital in Beit Hanoun.
Tel: +972 599 410 741 and +970 82846602
fromgaza.blogspot.com

Dr Abu Ala’a, Professor at Gaza University.
Tel: + 972 599441766

Dr Asad A. Shark, Gaza Strip, + 972 599 322636

Dr Ayoub Othman, + 972 599 412 826

Yousef Alhelou, Journalist based in Beit Hanoun.
Tel: + 972599697254.
Email: [email protected]

Contact the ISM Media office for full resolution photos:
02 9297 1824 or 059 994 3157
[email protected]

Updated with photos November 7th. For photos visit:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/11/06/jabalya-06-11/

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3. Bil’in mourns Gaza atrocities

by the ISM media team, November 10th

Bil’in village today mourned the atrocities in Gaza as well as commemorating the second anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. The villagers, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched from the mosque led by a youth marching band, carrying a funeral tent and wearing black ribbons around their foreheads and across their mouths to symbolize the silence of the international community at the atrocities in Gaza. As the march reached the edge of the village soldiers could be seen in the olive groves beside the road.

The 150-strong demonstration marched to a gate in the fence and held a ceremony to commemorate the Gaza victims and Yasser Arafat. On the other side of the fence the usual array of Israeli military and security looked on. Most protestors then marched down the hill alongside the series of razor wire and metal fences and began to dismantle the illegal razor wire.

The Israeli military responded with multiple rounds of tear gas and sound genades and started firing rubber bullets at the protestors.

One international was hit in the arm and then face with the same rubber bullet. This military violence didn’t deter the crowd which managed to create a bridge over the razor wire using olive branches. Reinforcements quickly arrived to deal with this ‘threat’.

Once on the other side the demonstrators sat down and started chanting anti-Occupation slogans before deciding to disperse to avoid further Occupation violence.

After the demonstration the IOF invaded the village, shooting 8 of the village youth with rubber bullets, and hitting one teenager with shrapnel from live ammunition in the hand. Two children had to be hospitalised. Soldiers fired tear gas into and shortly afterwards raided the house of Ahmad Hassan and beat 3 members of his family. This arbitrary raid is yet another example of the collective punishment meted out by the Israeli military in their unsuccessful attempt to quench the spirit of resistance that refuses to die in Bil’in.

Injuries:
Basel Naem Burnat – shrapnel in hand from live ammo
Nour Yusef Samara – rubber bullet in back of the head, hospitalised
Saji Burnat – rubber bullet
Basel Mansour – rubber bullet
Khalid Shawkat – rubber bullet
Ashraf Jammal – rubber bullet
Yasin Mohammed – rubber bullet
Wi’am Mohammed – rubber bullet
Mohammed Ahmad Hassan – rubber bullet
Sam from UK – hit in arm and face with rubber bullet

For photos visit: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/11/10/bilin-10-11/

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4. En Bil’in de nuevo (In Bil’in again)

A journal entry giving more detail about Friday’s demonstration in Bil’in.

English version follows Spanish

by Maria del Mar, 10 Noviembre

Tengo 61 anos. Soy Espanola. Estuve tambien el ano pasado en Bil’in. Las Fuerzas de Ocupacion Israelies rompieron mi hombro en dos trozos y un tendon, durante la manifestacion pacifica, por nuestro lado, pero no quebrantaron mi confianza en la noviolencia activa que tiene que llevar algun dia a terminar con la ocupacion Israeli, con el muro, con los asentamientos ilegales…………a permitir que todos y todas puedan vivir en paz. Asi pues, gracias a Dios he podido volver y he vuelto. Llevo aqui tres semanas, pero eso es otra historia que espero contar tambien.

Hoy en Bil’in me ha impresionado ver tal cantidad de activistas de paz internacionales de todas las partes del mundo, desde jovenes de 20 anos a adultos de incluso 75, hablando idiomas diferentes, con creencias diversas, pero entendiendonos perfectamente en el idioma de la paz, de la solidaridad, de la determinacion a manifestarnos pacificamente junto a palestinos y activistas israelies que apoyan a los palestinos en sus justas reivindicaciones.

Ibamos coreando consignas contra la ocupacion, contra el muro. Bastantes han intentado y conseguido pasar el muro de alambrada de espinos con cantos que cortan como cuchillas y situarse al lado de los soldados reivindicando el derecho de estar en la tierra robada por el muro a los campesinos Palestinos. Mientras tanto los soldados israelies nos iban castigando con gases lacrimogenos, con bombas de sonido, con balas de goma.

Cuando finalmente ha podido mas el coraje que las armas, muchos activistas han conseguido situarse al lado de los soldados, al otro lado del muro, hablandoles de que la ocupacion tiene que cesar y otros que nos apoyabamos en la baranda mientras que otros, que no hemos podido pasar el muro, tambien les hablabamos desde el otro lado, diciendoles que podian rehusar a seguir siendo complices de su gobierno que podian abandonar el ejercito, que la ocupacion debia cesar, que el muro era ilegal, que no podian estar reprimiendonos, puesto que eramos civiles desarmados y que esto va contra la legislacion internacional.

Al mismo tiempo ibamos levantando nuestras manos desnudas en alto, ibamos repitiendoles que eramos internacionales y nuestros paises de procedencia. Los israelies les hablaban en su propio idioma.

En un momento dado ha sonado una voz de alarma. Un grupo numeroso de soldados israelies tambien fuertemente armado estaban bajando la montana, con la evidente intencion de cortarnos la retirada, de cogernos entre dos fuegos.

Pero ha podido mas la resolucion, y el coraje de los activistas de paz. No nos hemos apartado un milimetro, de nuestras posiciones aun a riesgo de resultar arrestados, heridos o quizas muertos y se han visto en la disyuntiva de dispararnos alguno de sus artefactos, con riesgo de alcanzar a sus propios soldados o buscar a otros activistas que pudieron estar desperdigados. Asi, despues de unos minutos de vacilacion, han ido pasando a nuestras espaldas, formando un angulo recto. Poco despues escuchabamos y oliamos ya a alguna distancia sus gases, sus bombas de sonido, sus balas de goma e incluso su fuego real.

Una vez mas el activismo noviolento, ha ganado una batalla para nosotros importante. Estar juntos Palestinos, Israelies que creen en la paz e internacionales juntos, dando un mensaje a los soldados, al mundo, de que la ocupacion debe cesar, que el muro debe caer, y que los palestinos tienen todo el derecho a vivir en paz y ganarse su pan en su tierra, libres de toda invasion, violencia y “apartheid”.

Somos solo personas solidarias con personas, ante la pasividad de nuestros gobiernos occidentales que miran hacia otro lado mientras aqui se continua matando en Gaza con mayor intensidad, e impunidad, pero tambien en el resto de territorios palestinos ocupados ilegalmente por Israel.

Hagamos correr la voz,. exijamos a nuestros respectivos Gobiernos que no permitan las ilegalidades, tenemos la fuerza de la razon, pero tambien la fuerza de nuestros votos, del boicot contra Israel, el boicot que termino con el “apartheid” en Sudafrica, y de nuestra solidaridad con el pueblo Palestino.

Y despues de lo que he estado observando, creo aun mas que la noviolencia activa puede conseguir lo que el ojo contra ojo no conseguira jamas, la justicia y la paz.

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by Maria del Mar, 10th November

I am a 61 years old Spanish woman. I was last here in Bil’in December 2005. In Bil’in the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) broke my shoulder in two pieces, during the peaceful demonstration. But they could not break my confidence in active non-violence that will lead some day soon, to the end the Israeli occupation, to the fall of the Apartheid Wall and to the end of illegal settlements. It will enable everyone to live in peace in this land. So, luckily, I’ve been able to come back, and have been here for three weeks.

Today in Bil’in I was pleasantly surprised to see such a number of international peace activists from all over the world. There were young people in their twenties and adults up to 75 years old, speaking many different languages. There were different beliefs represented, but we are all able to perfectly understand the language of peace and solidarity. We were determined to hold a peaceful demonstration with Palestinian and Israeli activists to support the Palestinians in their demands for justice. Even the Frenchman Jose wounded last week was there.

We were chanting against the occupation, against the wall. Some activists managed to cross the razor wire barrier and stand right beside the soldiers, thus showing their right to be on the land that the occupation, the settlements and the wall have robbed from the Palestinians who need it for their livelihoods. In the meantime, Israeli soldiers were punishing us with tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber bullets.

When nonviolent courage finally proved stronger than weapons, those activists who had dared to cross the razor wire and stand beside the soldiers, started to tell them that the occupation has to end. The others who weren’t able to cross stood beside another group of soldiers, trying to explain to them that they can refuse to continue in their complicity with their own government and that they can leave the army. They also said that the occupation has to end, that the wall is illegal, that they can not continue attacking us, since we are unarmed civilians, and that in doing so, they are violating international laws.

At the same time, we put our bare hands up, repeating that we are internationals and the countries from which we have come. The Israeli supporters spoke to the soldiers in Hebrew.

Just then, somebody told us that a large group of Israeli soldiers, also heavily armed, were going down the hill behind us. They wanted to cut-off our escape, putting us between a rock and a hard place.

But the courage of peace activists avoided this. We did not move a single millimetre. from our positions, risking arrest, injury or even death. The soldiers had to choose between shooting us, taking the risk of hurting their own soldiers too, or trying to find other activists in elsewhere. So, after a few minutes, they passed behind us in a straight line. Shortly after, we could hear and even smell at some distance their gas, their sound bombs and their rubber bullets.

Despite this, non-violence once more won an important battle. Internationals and Israelis in solidarity with Palestinians gave a message to the soldiers and to the world. The occupation has to stop, the wall must fall and all Palestinians have the right to live in peace, to earn their living on their own land, free from occupation, violence and apartheid.

We are only people in solidarity with other people. We have the awareness that we must do something while our governments are looking away, while here Palestinian blood is shed every day — mainly in Gaza but also in the rest of Israeli occupied Palestine.

Let us spread the word, let us demand that our governments not continue to permit these illegalities. We have the strength of being right, but also the strength of our votes. We can boycott Israel. Such a boycott helped South Africa to finish their apartheid. We have the power of our solidarity with Palestinians and with all peoples that are suffering injustice.

After having lived so many years, I believe more and more, that active non-violence, can achieve what the rule of “eye for eye” will never do: justice and peace for everybody.

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5. Israeli High Court Approves Theft of Bil’in Land

by the ISM media team

In a laconic verdict, the High Court of Justice yesterday rejected a petition filed by the residents of Bil’in and Peace Now, against declarations made in the early 90s where 900 dunams of the village lands were declared government property. Most of these lands were subsequently allocated for the construction of the Matityahu East neighborhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit.

The basis for the petition were documents recently exposed from which it was evident that the declarations were made in an attempt to conceal alleged purchases made by the Fund for the Redemption of Lands, a settlers company that claimed to have bought lands in Bil’in. The State declared the lands government property and immediately thereafter allocated the lands to the Fund, while bypassing the orders of the local law pertaining to land registration.

Despite the fact that documents submitted to the Court proved clearly that this happened, Judge Rivlin wrote in the verdict that the plaintiffs didn’t prove that “the declarations were done in an attempt to bypass the” law dealing with such purchases. Judge Rivlin adds that the State admitted that one of the declarations was made following the request of Israelis who claimed to have bought lands in Bil’in. However, the Court upheld the State’s claim that the decision to declare the land as government property was taken not due to the request of the settlers, but due to the fact the land was indeed government property, i.e., agricultural land that has not been cultivated for some time. And yet, Judge Rivlin added that “the material in front of us is not
unequivocal on this. There is evidence in both directions”. Despite this, the Court refrained from issuing an order nisi which would have involved further investigation of the issues to resolve them completely.

Two other petitions regarding Bil’in are still pending in Court: petition 8414/05 against the route of the barrier and petition 143/06 against the illegal construction in Matityahu East. In the latter, a temporary injunction issued about 10 months ago prohibits any further building and moving in of settlers.

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6. “For Their Protection” – IOF Obstruction of Olive Harvest in Tel Rumeida

by Mary, November 3rd

The day was mainly quiet. There was olive picking for the Abu Hekel family. Three Human Rights Workers (HRWs) were able to assist. About one hundred Israeli settlers passed by the Abu Hekel property but caused no trouble. The family said that this was due to the international presence. If HRWs had not been present, the settlers would have attacked by throwing rocks.
One HRW was on the street. At 10.20am, she walked down to checkpoint 56. Border police, with one policeman, were checking Palestinian IDs. Once she arrived, the Palestinians were processed with reasonable speed. The police left at 10.50 am. The HRW returned to the crossing at the top of the hill. The two Israeli soldiers on duty had detained a Palestinian man. He said that he had been there since 10.30am. The soldiers would not allow the HRW to talk to him long enough to find out his ID. The HRW waited about 10 minutes. She then asked the soldiers to release the Palestinian, whose name was Alein. She said that the soldiers had had enough time to check his ID. The soldiers refused. After another 15 minutes, the HRW spoke to the soldiers again. They would not release him. The man was forced to sit in the sun on the opposite side of the street to the soldiers. He had the collar of his jacket up to his face and was obviously not comfortable with the sun on his face for so long. It was a warm day and the HRW and soldiers were in the shade. The HRW asked the soldiers to let the man sit in the shade. They refused. She then called Machsom Watch, who agreed to try to help. Nothing happened. One of the soldiers said that the Palestinians skin was tanned enough to cope with the sun. The HRW tried to call TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) but could not contact them. She them called CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams), who agreed to try to contact TIPH. The HRW was filming the incident and could not keep calling. TIPH were busy elsewhere so three HRWs from CPT came. The soldiers would not let the man go. At 12 noon, the Palestinian walked across the road and sat in the shade next to the soldiers. The soldiers pushed him back across the road and handcuffed him. They told the HRW that the Palestinian was a criminal. With the handcuffs on he could not protect his face from the sun. Another HRW arrived and called the District Coordination Office (DCO – the civilian administration wing of the Israeli military in the West Bank). The DCO spokeswoman said that it was not her business. The HRW said that soldier behaviour was the business of the DCO. The DCO spokeswoman said that it was not her job to talk to the HRW. At 12.30pm, the handcuffs were removed by one of the soldiers and the Palestinian was released. He had been held in the sun for two hours and handcuffed. Obviously he had done nothing wrong.

November 4th

At 7.45am, Palestinian workmen came to prepare for the resealing of the apartment roof. Old camouflage netting and sandbags had to be cleared away. Water tanks and stands needed to be removed and the roof cleaned. After about half an hour, an Israeli first lieutenant with another soldier arrived on the roof. An International HRW, responsible for the work, approached the officer. She asked what the soldiers were doing there. He told her to go away. He spoke to the Palestinian workmen, probably in Arabic, but would not communicate with the people whose roof it is. The HRW asked a young Israeli HRW to talk to the officer in Hebrew. The officer was extremely rude and abusive to him. The two soldiers went to the top of the stairs. The International HRW told the officer that this was her house and that she wanted to speak to a polite officer, who spoke English. She said that there was a major who was polite. The officer replied, in English, that soldiers were coming to search her house. She said that he would need an order and the police to search her house. He said that the police were coming. This was not true. The officer and soldier went down the stairs and returned in 10 minutes with a patrol of six soldiers. The officer and soldier left.

The six soldiers were no trouble but were no help. A 75-year old HRW, who was moving a sandbag, complained that they were sitting while elderly people were struggling. A soldier asked what she wanted them to do. She said “help us”. They did not. However this may have been because it was Shabbat. When the work was done, the soldiers left.

There were many orthodox Jewish visitors on the street. At 2.25pm, a HRW arrived at checkpoint 56. Three Jewish visitors were sitting in the checkpoint with the soldier. The other soldier was outside. The HRW said that it was against the law for visitors to be in the checkpoint. The soldier said that they were no trouble. The HRW took out her camera to film. The soldier said that filming the checkpoint was against the law and shut the checkpoint door. The HRW said that she was making a note of the time and would report the law breaking. She then went out through the checkpoint to the shops. When she returned, the visitors had left.

November 7th

We’ve been busy with the olive harvest. Many of the families round here have trees which are close to the Israeli settlements and which the settlers, who have very little land, want to claim as theirs. There is an old Ottoman-era law against absentee landowners. If the landowner or leasee does not access the land for three years, the land becomes the property of those who occupy it. The settlers try to use this law to claim Palestinian land. To do this they try to stop the Palestinians working on their land, usually by violent means. The Israeli army seems to support this. They shut Palestinians out of their land “for their protection”. Recently, there have been two Israeli high court rulings. One is that shutting Palestinians out of their property for their protection is not acceptable. The ruling equates this action to shutting the people out of their house while the thief is in there. The other ruling is that the local DCO is obliged to arrange for the protection of Palestinians, while they are harvesting olives. The Israeli army here is useless at doing this. The settlers ignore the young soldiers, who tell them to go away but do nothing when they stay. Instead, the Israeli soldiers tell the Internationals to go away, which makes the Palestinians more vulnerable. However the border police are more effective. The settlers seem to be afraid of them and they allow the Internationals to stay. Everywhere else the border police are considered the worst of the worst but here, at this time, we are grateful for them.

These new laws are a sign of some increased awareness among the Israeli public of what is occurring in the West Bank at least. Several Israeli human rights groups are becoming very interested in this area and in our reports. This means that we have a greater responsibility to report in detail. Using Israeli law is slow but has some effect. As far as the Israeli government is concerned, there seems to be no sign that they want peace. What they want and take is more and more Palestinian land. There are always checks moving from place to place. Palestinian holidays, both Muslim and Christian seem to be particularly targeted. A Christian Palestinian man I know, who works in Jerusalem, left Jerusalem at 10.30am on Christmas day to go to his family in Zebabdeh. The distance is less than 80km. That is Melbourne to Geelong. He arrived at 6pm exhausted by the many extra flying checkpoints with long delays. Israeli soldiers at these checkpoints are generally very rude and often very rough. To try to discuss the holdup or even plead leads to a longer wait and further harassment. It is definitely not about security.

I am mostly on the street because of my experience. The Israeli soldiers are a mixed bunch of 19, 20 & 21 year olds. Some behave well and some behave badly. They are given orders not to talk to us but some still do. The DCO is being difficult and won’t accept telephone calls. Most of the officers are very rude to us if we try to ask them anything or give them any information. How I miss Oren, the nice young officer who left in May! The police are much better than the officers. Thank God! But they don’t all speak English. We now have a number of video cameras and are allowed to film except on Shabbat and at army installations. I have a little Sony DCR-Hc23E. It’s easy to use but I need to concentrate hard. When things are happening, I keep finding my hands waving around. The police and Israeli human rights groups need video material in order to get some action. However, even with it, the police seldom act.

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7. Israeli soldiers rampage through Hebron after Palestinian youth demonstrate

by ISM Hebron, 8th November

Palestinian youths demonstrated against the Israeli massacre in Gaza at the Israeli checkpoint on Shuhada street today. All shops in Hebron closed in mourning.

International Human Rights Workers (HRWs) arrived at 1pm to see Israeli soldiers firing live rounds at demonstrators who hid behind burning tires and threw stones. Two soldiers ran out from the checkpoint firing their guns. Ten minutes later five more soldiers ran out, followed by a further five riding in an armoured vehicle. They positioned themselves behind concrete road blocks, firing rapidly at the demonstrators.

The soldiers then closed the checkpoint for the next few hours.

At 1.12pm a milkman arrived on his donkey and approached the checkpoint but was sent back. Immediately after, a Palestinian HRW heading out of the Israeli controlled H2 area into the Palestinian market in the H1 area of Hebron managed pass the checkpoint with a video camera. International HRWs heading the same way, however, were refused passage by the soldier on duty. Two Israeli settlers tried to exit but were also sent back.

At 1.24pm soldiers fired live and rubber-coated steel bullets at demonstrating youth. Soldiers then moved away from the checkpoint and toward the Old City. They moved up a side street near Beit Romano settlement to attack a group of youths at the end of the street. They were hiding around a corner behind a burning tyre. Once again the soldiers shot at the youth, who threw stones at them.

At 1.36pm Israeli soldiers advanced along the side street. Suddenly several Palestinian children around 11 or 12 years old ran around the corner and threw rocks at the soldiers. One soldier was hit on the leg and fell to the ground.

More soldiers poured out through the checkpoint and five returned, clearing their rifles’ magazines of the empty live cartridges. At 1.30 the Palestinian with the donkey was allowed to unload his milk. International HRWs were again refused exit by the soldiers but Palestinians were allowed out.

By 1.37pm five Palestinians had been detained at the Shuhada street checkpoint along with the donkey. When asked by a HRW, the soldier on duty said there was still “ongoing trouble” and that he would let people through as soon as things calmed down. They were finally let through at 2.10pm. Only the exit side of the checkpoint was working at this point, though Palestinians were being allowed through it in both directions.

Inside the Old City market, four Armoured Personal Carriers (APCs) were driving around. At 1.48pm one of them pushed a fruit stall backwards along the street and spilled the oranges. By 2.30pm soldiers were patrolling the street randomly stopping Palestinian men and forcing them to lift their shirts.

At 2.40pm six Palestinian youths stoned an APC that was driving through the area carrying shooting soldiers. A soldier jumped out, shot at the youths, jumped back in and drove away. Five minutes later more stones hit a stationary APC which eventually backed away.

At 3.05pm six Palestinian youths threw stones at an army jeep from behind two burning tyres. The jeep drove around the area shooting at the protesters.

Israeli soldiers were moving along a street in the H1 area (which is supposed to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority) kicking parked cars. They were very abusive to journalists, both Palestinian and international. They screamed at them and tried to damage a car that belonged to one of them.

A soldier pointed his gun at a seven year old girl from about 300 feet away. She ran into her home scared. When she came back he shouted “sharmuta” (Arabic for whore) at her. He gestured dismissively at a HRW who said to him, “You just called a child a whore?”

“Get a life,” he said.

“And your life is calling children whores?”.

Soldiers then shot tear gas at a group of women and children, including six HRWs. The soldiers laughed at the painful effects it had on them. They spent the next three hours driving up and down the street, laughing and joking. They shot tear gas directly at children, hitting one ten year old boy in the leg. He had been riding past on his bike at the time, clearly not carrying any rocks.

Overall, they shot off more than 50 canisters of tear gas, at least 50 rubber-coated steel bullets as well as a significant number of live rounds.

Updated 10th November.

ISM Hebron also wrote a report from the second and third days of these protests.

For photos visit: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/11/09/hebron-rampage/

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8. Three days of protest in Hebron over Gaza massacre

by ISM Hebron

This report is a continuation from the report on the first day of protests .

Thursday 9th November

Everyone in Hebron is deeply distressed by the Israeli massacre of 18 Palestinian civilians in Gaza. All shops and schools are closed for three days of official mourning. Palestinian youths gathered in the souk (market) again at 10.30am for a second protest against the killings. They began to throw stones at the Israeli checkpoint on the end of Shuhada St. leading into Tel Rumeida (checkpoint 56 in military parlance). At 11.16am Israeli soldiers began to fire tear gas over the checkpoint causing the youths to run away.

At 11.25am Palestinian youths set a tyre alight in front of the checkpoint and threw two Molotov cocktails, one of which landed on the checkpoint but caused little damage. At 11.30am a boy of between 12-14 years of age was shot by soldiers with a tear-gas canister and hit in the face. This broke several of his teeth. He was bleeding profusely. According to Israeli military rules, soldiers are supposed to fire gas canisters into the air. In practice they routinely aim them directly at Palestinian children.

At 11:37am the checkpoint was closed and several Palestinian residents who were not involved in the demonstration were denied access to their homes in Tel Rumeida. Israeli soldiers continually denied access to all residents of Tel Rumeida on the grounds that a possible “world war” could erupt due to the demonstration in Hebron, along with other such ludicrous claims. A group of residents, including many women and young children were denied entrance to the neighborhood, and forced to stand next to the soldiers as they fired at children in the distance. This group of residents was affected by tear gas that continued to waft over. One of the woman continually pleaded with army captains to allow them to go to their homes. Finally, one captain agreed to do so.

Next, it took two international human rights workers (HRWs) 30 minutes of arguing with soldiers before they agreed to open the checkpoint for a sick elderly man. Later, it took about an hour of negotiating and arguing with Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint before they reluctantly agreed to let the Palestinians pass the checkpoint so they could go home. Soldiers had been telling these residents that they would have to sleep outside during the night and might not be allowed in “for months.” The checkpoint finally reopened around 6pm.

At 1:22pm tear gas was fired by the Israeli army at the demonstrating children. HRWs broke open onions and distributed pieces to the bystanders.

At 1:26pm a Molotov cocktail landed on the roof of the large vegetable market stand in the middle of the market square. The owner and bystanders rushed to put out the fire.

Early afternoon after the Molotov cocktail was thrown, soldiers took up positions in front of the checkpoint behind a large crowd of children who were bystanders to the whole situation. The soldiers pointed rifles loaded with live ammunition at the children. A HRW with a video camera went up to the soldiers and asked that they point their guns away from the children. They ignored the request but one soldier told the HRW to move back. He moved back a few paces and circled around the soldier in order to record on video the vantage point of the soldiers so as to prove that any rounds fired would have seriously injured or killed any child hit.

A soldier in front of the same crowd of children was seen to be pointing a primed gas canister at them. A HRW repeatedly asked him to point his rifle away from the children and was ignored again. The close proximity of the round would have seriously injured or possibly killed anyone it hit.

At 4 or 5pm the border police arrived and proceeded to clear most of Baab Zawiyye (the Hebron downtown area).

They fired several rounds of rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian children and several passersby who were hundreds of meters in the distance. At this point the demonstration was already coming to an end.

Friday 10th of November

The protest started after Friday prayers at noon. Israeli border police had set themselves up with two APCs on the H1 side of checkpoint 56 (H1 is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority). Children were protesting in the market area. This time the soldiers alongside the Border Police were better organized, riding in three border police vehicles and one army APC. They arrested one protester, a Palestinian youth of about 12-14 years of age. His arrest was photographed and videotaped by HRWs.

The Israeli vehicles and foot patrols forced the protesters further away by shooting at them with rubber-coated steel bullets. Further down the street protesters set up a barricade to slow down the soldiers and police. The police and army were less aggressive than previous days and seemed to be creating a barrier for the checkpoint. Several rounds of rubber-coated steel bullets were fired intermittently during the afternoon alongside two tear gas canisters.

A squad of Israeli soldiers came out of the checkpoint carrying rifles loaded with live ammunition. HRWs pointed out that it is a war crime to fire live rounds at civilians. Before this the officer in charge of the border police was asked why they were carrying live rounds when the children posed no real threat to them or the checkpoint. All afternoon, the police and army were less aggressive than the previous day.

By 5pm when the HRWs left, the protest was winding down. The market square was forcibly kept empty of Palestinians all day, and cars and taxis were not allowed through or into the market.

For photos visit: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/11/11/hebron-rampage-2/

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9. The blood of the martyrs will fertilize the earth

by Schlomo Bloom, November 6th

The finished mural, I wonder how long it will remain free of bullet holes?

On and off for the past few weeks I have been working on a mural in Balata refugee camp. The mural is to commemorate the approximately 350 martyrs from Balata since the beginning of the second intifada.

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) invade the camp almost every night and terrorize the residents by destroying houses, arresting people, creating explosions and killing people usually between the hours of 12am-4am making it impossible for anyone to sleep.

There’s not a single family in the camp that doesn’t have at least one tragedy: someone killed, someone in jail for 20 years, someone crippled or disfigured from a gunshot wound. Some families have multiple tragedies.

If Balata was a tourist destination, you’d ask for your money back if there wasn’t an invasion while you were visiting.

I arrived at the end of Ramadan and all the kids were out in the streets playing Jews and Arabs with their brand new toys guns, imitating not what they see on TV, but the reality of their life in the camp.

With the help of camp residents, the wall for the mural was carefully chosen and prepared.

Work on the mural was dependant on the weather and also on the forecast of whether there were invading soldiers or not.

Fi shitta ilyoom? (Is there rain today?)
Fi (There is)

Fi jaysh ilyoom? (Are there soldiers today?)
Fi (There are)

The morning of November 3 I woke up to the sounds of an invasion, an exchange of gun fire on and off from about 2:30am-3:30am. At approximately 3:30am the muezzin announced there was a new martyr. His name was Ibrahim Snakreh and he was 16-years old. He was unarmed and was killed while trying to help his brother Ahmad, aged 19, who had already been shot.

A witness at the scene of the murder reported that Ibrahim heard shouting out in the street, ran outside and saw some of Ahmad’s possessions scattered in the street including his mobile phone which was ringing. Ibrahim picked up the phone in order to bring it to Ahmad, ran a few steps and was shot by a sniper in the back. The bullet emerged through his thigh. He died of his wounds at the hospital. The next day the Israeli media wrote that Ibrahim and Ahmad were terrorists planning a terrorist operation. Witnesses came to the conclusion that it was a random shooting, that snipers were shooting at anything that moved and that they clearly saw that Ibrahim was not armed and was only trying to help his brother.

Ahmad is still in the hospital recovering from his wounds.

There were sounds of explosions on and off for the rest of the night. No one slept much.

I watched Ibrahim’s funeral procession from a roof the next day.

As I was finishing the mural, I photographed some young kids as they put up the new martyr posters of Ibrahim. I recognized him in the photo as one of the kids who was watching me paint the day before. He had asked me if I’d seen someone, I said no I hadn’t, and then he left. Now he’s dead.

A taxi driver took me from Balata to Huwara checkpoint and told me he had seen me painting the mural. He opened the glove compartment of the car and pulled out 6 photos of 6 different men. “Kullu shuhada,” he said, meaning ‘all martyrs’. I asked if they were his friends, he said one was his brother and the rest were his friends.

For photos visit: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/11/07/balata-mural/

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10. “I only listen to what they tell me” – a Palestinian account of what it takes to travel from Jenin to Ramallah

by Ashraf, 7th November

Today at 9 in the morning, a group of 30 students from my university in Jenin left to attend a conference and an exhibit of Information Technology held in Ramallah. IT students were invited to visit a joint Palestinian market of different Palestinian computer and software companies.

The first checkpoint we reached came a few minutes after leaving the campus just outside the village of Zababdeh. Two Israeli army jeeps controlled the road, stopping cars traveling in one direction. It was not long till we were stopped at our second checkpoint outside Buckram. The army forced us to leave the bus and wait on the side of the street. Two soldiers went inside to check our bags, while anther two soldiers checked our IDs. After 10 minutes we were allowed back in the car. The driver stopped just few a meters ahead waiting for them to finish checking our IDs.

We finally got our IDs back after 30 minutes of waiting. The next checkpoint was Za’atara, one of the biggest in the West Bank. It separates the central and southern regions of the West Bank. A large white sign acted as a propaganda message at the checkpoint. It has the picture of a large red flower along with a greeting written in Arabic “Kol A’am Wa Antum Bi Khayer” – “wish you good health every year”. In this way Israel hope to polish and consolidate the checkpoints, hoping to legitimize their daily humiliation of Palestinians.

Our bus was stopped again for more ID checks. Some students got bored of waiting and got out for a cigarette. I sat at the back of the bus watching the traffic. Soldiers denied the passage of an old man with an x-ray, and two women with a baby. Welcome to the “Kol A’am Wa Inta Bikhayer” checkpoint.

I recognized one of the female Israeli soldiers from the Huwarra checkpoint, just a few kilometers to the north. She is notorious for her humiliating treatment of Palestinian passengers. She was obviously in charge here. Three soldiers approached the bus holding our IDs divided into two stacks. We were told to move our bags off the bus for checking and to stand in a line. One soldier started calling our names. We were forced to walk forward a few steps, lift up our shirts so as to prove that we were not wearing explosive belts around our waists, then wait on the side with our backs facing the soldiers. I was the third to be called. I was given my ID back and told to open my bag. The soldier ordered me to lift up my shirt, but I refused to submit to that and instead I tucked it in and walked away without waiting for the soldier’s order. One of the soldiers laughed and said in Hebrew to the female soldier that I hadn’t lifted up my shirt.

After 5 minutes, only the students who had been given their IDs back were allowed to pass. The rest -almost half of the group- were turned back. I walked towards the soldier who it seemed was in charge and asked in English “are you the one who is in charge here?”. She smiled and answered she was. I explained the reason for our trip and that we are all students from one group going to a conference in Ramallah, “why can’t they come with us?” I asked. She replied in slow broken English that: “they shouldn’t be here, they are not allowed”.

“Why? You have a computer here, check their IDs and let us all go. You know what you are doing, right?” I asked

“I can’t do that – I listen to what they tell me to do”.

“Listen to who?”.

“Them, my boss” she said, raising her hand up. I asked again: “but you know what you are doing, right? Don’t you think this is injustice?” She ended the exchange with the answer: “this is my job, it’s orders!”

Orders! What kind of order asks every Palestinian passing through a checkpoint to get close to soldiers and lift up their shirt for “security checks”? What if a Palestinian was really hiding something? Can’t the soldiers see how stupid these procedures and orders are? Or maybe these orders are not really meant for security.

We headed back into the bus arguing what we should do at this point. Some tried to talk to the soldiers again, but made no progress. As we were talking, a young Israeli soldier, apparently from a different army unit came over. He yelled at the crowd of students and grabbed one of us aggressively by his bag and led him to the other side of the street. I got out of the bus and asked the female soldier loudly: “why is he doing this? Where is he taking my friend?” she said in Hebrew “he is Magav” (the notoriously brutal Israeli border police). Was this one of the orders too?

The students who were denied entry then split into two new vehicles. They headed back towards Huwarra so as to try and find a road around the Za’atara checkpoint they had been turned back from. When they found a road, the first car was turned back at a flying checkpoint “for security reasons”, but the second one was allowed through. Maybe there was an order for them to only let one of the two cars pass. The denied car eventually found another road that they were allowed to pass through.

We waited in a small village after Za’atara for our colleagues to arrive. While we waited we all (even the bus driver) went olive picking with a Palestinian family near Assawiya village. It was a new atmosphere to change our mood. We swapped jokes at the end of the day after 7 hours of traveling about how we finally made it all together despite the dehumanizing checkpoints.

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