Home / Bethlehem villagers pray on bulldozed land and appeal for international solidarity

Bethlehem villagers pray on bulldozed land and appeal for international solidarity

1. Bethlehem villagers pray on bulldozed land and appeal for international solidarity
2. Bethlehem Villagers Resist Occupation Bulldozers
3. Ten-year old girl brain dead after border police shooting
4. Thirty Days Against Checkpoints Underway in Nablus
5. Foreign Nationals still denied entry to West Bank by Israel
6. Tel Rumeida resident walks home along street…twice
7. “You have to get your lawyer to go to the court” – IOF continue to deny Palestinians access to Shuhada Street
8. Palestinian child beaten in head in Bil’in
9. Sarra Village under Siege

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1. Bethlehem villagers pray on bulldozed land and appeal for international solidarity

by the ISM media team, January 19th

Today in Um Salamuna, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists gathered together on the recently bulldozed land of the village to hold prayers and protest against the confiscation of the land. In other words, it’s business as usual in the West Bank, nothing new here, really. It’s the same story in village after village since construction began on the wall 5 years ago, only the names of villages and families affected change.

On January 2nd, the village of Um Salamuna was greeted by IOF bulldozers which began bulldozing their grape vines to clear the way for the apartheid wall but were met with resistance from villagers. The villagers have filed a petition in the Israeli court to challenge the route of the wall.

Last Monday the bulldozers arrived in the neighbouring village of Wadi Annis and again villagers tried to protect their agricultural land with their bodies and were beaten by the IOF.

Today was a beautiful, clear, warm day and fortunately the army only graced us with their presence from afar, we could only see them peeping out from behind the trees on an overlooking hill.

Residents from 10 villages around the Bethlehem region came to participate; the wall is affecting all of these villages. These 10 villages will lose 70,000 grape trees and 1000 olive trees.

The villagers are requesting help from Israeli and international activists in order to help them retain their source of income. Many families depend 100% on agriculture to exist.

These are people who have depended on agriculture as their only income for generations. Taking their land will cause them to be dependent on international aid.

Click here for photos: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/01/19/um-salamona-19-01/

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2. Bethlehem Villagers Resist Occupation Bulldozers

by ISM Hebron, January 15th

Around 9 this morning IOF bulldozers and dozens of soldiers invaded the land of Umm Salumuna and Wadi Annis villages south of Bethlehem to raze land for the Apartheid Wall. The wall is being constructed east of the illegal Efrat colony and will annex 700 acres of village land containing olive and almond trees, and grape vines.

As happened several weeks ago when the IOF arrived, villages decided to resist the bulldozers from the outset and tried to blockade them with their bodies. This time the IOF arrived with a warrant from an Israeli court authorising the theft of the land. The confiscated land belongs to the family of Ali Khader Issa Taqatqa.

Some of the 75 villagers resisting the destruction of the land were badly mistreated by the IOF who beat them with rifle butts and fired tear gas at them. Ali Mosa Wahre (28) was violently thrown to the ground by IOF soldiers and suffered a broken hand. Mostafa Yosaf Taqata (25) was badly hurt by a rifle butt blow to his chest by IOF forces and was taken away by an ambulance for treatment.

After the bulldozers had managed to flatten village land, creating a lenghty visible footprint for the Wall from the horizon, villagers prayed on the land. The IOF left soon after.

Click here for photos: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/01/15/wadi-annis-bulldozers/

Click here for PNN coverage: http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1458

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3. Ten-year old girl brain dead after border police shooting

by the ISM media team, January 18th

Abir Aramin, ten years old, who was wounded by an Israeli border policeman Tuesday the 16th, was announced brain dead this morning at the Haddasa Ein Karem hospital and is being examined by a committee to determine whether or not to unplug her from life support machines.

Bassam Aramin, the girl’s father, is a member of Combatants for Peace, the Israeli-Palestinian peace organisation. Israeli and Internationals supporters have gathered at the girls School in Anata to express their solidarity and protect the traumatised students from the ongoing threat
of the Israeli border police.

Hassan, a sixteen-year old student who witnessed Abir’s injury and carried her back to the girls school stated “the students of the girls school and the boys school had both just come out of an examination. A border police jeep approached the gathering of girls. The girls were afraid and started running away. The border police jeep followed them in the direction in which they were retreating. Abir was afraid and stood against one of the shops at the side of the road, I was standing near her. The border policeman shot through a special hole in the window of the jeep that was standing very close to us. Abir fell to the ground. I picked her up and took her to the girls school. I saw that she was bleeding from the head.”

According to Avichai Sharon of Combatants for Peace and a friend of the family “The Israeli border police have been entering Anata frequently when students go and return from school for the last year and eight months. This began with the construction of the Wall near Anata,
supposedly in order to protect the construction workers from the students, but construction of the wall was completed over a month and a half ago”. According to Wael Salameh, a close friend of the family and a member of Combatants for Peace, “This week border police would invade
the village twice a day when the students were going and returning from school.”

Click here for photos: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/01/18/abir-shooting-pr/

Click here for PNN coverage: http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1471

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4. Thirty Days Against Checkpoints Underway in Nablus

by the ISM media team, January 14th

Today, around 11am, a group of almost 100 people gathered at Huwwara checkpoint for the launch of the 30 Days Against Checkpoints campaign, organized by the Palestinian Body for Peace, Dialogue and Equality (HASM) and other organizations. Some Palestinians, mostly children, dressed as Native Americans in order to draw parallels between U.S. genocide against Native Americans and Israeli genocide against Palestinians.

Demonstrators carried signs including one which said “Checkpoints destroy Palestinian Life.” Other signs were addressed to Condoleeza Rice, who visited Ramallah today, including one which said “The Indian wars are not over Mrs RICE….We are still here too!!” Palestinians, Internationals, and Israelis chanted and demonstrated for about an hour in front of the checkpoint, where many people were waiting to cross. Both demonstrators and IOF remained peaceful throughout the demonstration.

The next action will be a musical one, featuring a youth band next Saturday at Huwwara checkpoint at 12 noon.

Click here for photos: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/01/14/huwwara-native-americans/

Click here for YNet coverage: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3352236,00.html

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5. Foreign Nationals still denied entry to West Bank by Israel

by Mohammed Mar’i, January 16th

Although Lana K. is an American national, and a mother of 2 children, she was denied entry on January 3rd and again on January 9th by the Israeli Occupation Forces ([IOF). Lana is married to a Palestinian and has been living with her family in Nablus for 10 years and used to renew her visa periodically. When Lana was first forced to return to Jordan, her children, carrying their Israeli-issued Palestinian residency IDs, were refused re-entry into Jordan. The children were permitted transit via the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge and their father arrived from Nablus to take them back to Nablus. Despite the new Israeli entry procedures announced nearly 2 weeks ago, Lana’s attempts to join her family in the West Bank failed.

In a letter delivered to chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erakat on December 28, 2006, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT), Major General Yossef Mishlav states changes in Israel’s policy of denying entry to foreign nationals traveling to the West Bank. The letter states that foreign nationals from countries that have “visa agreements with Israel” may enter the West Bank but “they are required to keep the military commander’s consent form with his or her passport.” The letter further explains that a restricted number of foreign nationals will be ‘eligible’ to apply for temporary entry into the West Bank as well as periodic visa renewals.

Fadah Ihlal Thum is another case of suffering due to the Israeli policy. She came to live in the West Bank in 2001. She is married to a local Palestinian and has a five-month-old baby. Fadah is studying at Bir Zeit University and is one of Bir Zeit’s best students. She is in her final year and has twice received Bir Zeit’s rare and prestigious ‘honor’ award. She has a bright future ahead of her if she is able to complete her degree in French and English, particularly as she already fluently speaks Arabic and Portuguese.

Fadah had been renewing her visa internally as is permitted to some residents until her last renewal in September 2006 when, along with hundreds of others, she was suddenly given a ‘last permit’ stamp on her visa and was forced to leave her home, husband and baby in December. She went to Jordan for four days with her husband and baby. When she returned, the (IOF) allowed her husband and baby to enter while she was ordered to return to Jordan. “When my husband took the baby who was sick at the moment, and put my luggage in the returning bus I burst into tears” Fadah said. “They allowed me to enter just for seven days, and know I have to leave in order to renew my visa” she added. Fadah fears that once she leaves, Israel won’t allow her re-entry.

The West Bank’s Bir Zeit University also suffered from the Israeli policy. The Bir Zeit University Right to Education Campaign in a press release on 6 January 2007 said that the Israeli ” policy has brought tremendous insecurity to Bir Zeit University and its financial and academic well being.”

In addition to two of Bir Zeit’s faculty staff, Somida Abbas and Bahgat Taiam who are already outside and have ‘denied entry’ stamped in their passports, the University fears the risk of being unable to continue teaching in some fields by losing irreplaceable lecturers or about 383 students who fear deportation or prison sentences if they are caught at checkpoints.

The Arabic language and culture program is particularly at risk as it is entirely self-sufficient and dependent on their foreign students’ access to the University. In the last term alone, four students were not allowed to complete their studies as they were not allowed to enter or re-enter the OPT. The program is also a major source of emergency funds for the university, which has recently come into use to cover staff salaries since the economic blockade after the 2006 elections. Since Israel’s restrictions on access to Palestinian education, applications for the next term’s course fell by 50 percent – taking with it 50 percent of the program’s income.

The Campaign for Right to Entry/Re-entry, based in Ramallah, regarded the new Israeli policy in a press conference in Ramallah “as a rare moment where the Israeli Authorities acknowledge in writing the severe humanitarian crisis brought on by Israeli policies of denying foreign nationals the right to family reunification and entry to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)”. But it considered that Mishlav’s letter “leaves many questions unanswered and the crisis unresolved.

The Campaign said that “several foreign nationals with family in the oPt have been denied entry under circumstances that indicate,the implementation of the newly announced procedures remains arbitrary, abusive and internationally unlawful”, and that the “procedures for granting residency to foreign nationals whose life and livelihood is in the oPt remain unanswered” it added.

The Campaign also considered that the “CoGAT’s” letter to Erekat “does not offer a solution to the thousands of individuals who have remained in the oPt after the expiry of their permits, fearing they would be denied re-entry. The notice also fails to indicate if foreign nationals seeking entry into occupied East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip will be eligible to apply for temporary admission or visa extensions”.

Israel is refusing to consider over 120,000 applications for family unification, forcing many families to relocate abroad. Together with many foreign nationals who have established their primary business or professional activities in the West Bank, or otherwise aspire to build their lives in the West Bank, these new procedures place them in a state of continuous uncertainty under constant threat of expulsion and exclusion.

Whereas the new Israeli policy regarding entry to foreign nationals traveling into the West Bank, applies to nationals from countries ‘friendly’ to Israel, the Israeli policy towards nationals from enemy-classified countries or those that do not have ” visa agreements with Israel”, which includes tens of thousands of foreigners, including 60,000 Jordanian-born women, as well as women from other Arab countries, Russia and the Ukraine, is vague. Israel used to grant them six -months permits. However, Israel stopped granting them family unification approvals after the outbreak of the second intifada.

Faruoq, from the Salfeet area, has been engaged to a Palestinian relative residing in Jordan and bears its nationality. Since his fiancée doesn’t have a Palestinian ID, and wasn’t granted a visiting permit, Farhat postponed his wedding several times. He filed an application for unification with his fiancée but was denied by Israel several times.” I have been engaged for a long time”, he said. “If the situation doesn’t change and my fiancée doesn’t get a permit perhaps we will have to get divorced”, he added.

* (Mohammed Mar’i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at [email protected])

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6. Tel Rumeida resident walks home along street…twice

by ISM Hebron, January 17th

Yesterday Hani Abu Haikel walked up Tel-Rumeida st. to his home for the first time in over a year, accompanied by Israeli media. His family’s access to Tel-Rumeida st., which is the main route to his home, has been severely restricted for over three years. During the course of the past six years, settlers from the Jewish-only colony directly across from his home have attacked him and his family using a variety of methods, including violent guard dogs, aggressive physical attacks (punching and kicking) and stone throwing. In June last year the IOF declared the street leading to his home a Closed Military Zone for Palestinians but not for the settler-colonists. This meant Hani and his family had to use a dirt path leading to the back of their home.

The continued media pressure caused by Palestinians, the ISM, other international human rights organizations, and Israeli activists has finally forced the IOF to allow Hani to start using Tel-Rumeida st. once again. His ability to continue to use this road in the future is tentative at best, though a second trip up the street accompanied only by a single Israeli activist was successful.

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7. “You have to get your lawyer to go to the court” – IOF continue to deny Palestinians access to Shuhada Street

by ISM Hebron, January 18th

Hebron peace activist Issa Amro attempted to walk down Shuhada Street in the centre of Hebron today, armed only with the Israeli High Court order confirming the right of Palestinians to use the street.When Issa reached the IOF military post outside the Beit Hadassah colony he was stopped by soldiers who denied him passage. On showing them the order soldiers informed him that there was a ‘new’ military order in force but refused to present this to him. The commander told Issa he would have to get his lawyer to go to court to view this ‘new’ military order.

Last week when Palestinians attempted to walk down Shuhada Street acccompanied by an Israeli TV crew, they were also told about the existence of a ‘new’ order. An IOF spokesperson later on TV denied the existence of this order and promised to investigate but so far no explanation has been offered. In ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ High Court orders can be ignored at will by the IOF.

In another show of where the real power in Hebron lies, Israeli Peace Now activists were today banned from holding a rally in Hebron against settler violence, and were confined to the outskirts of the city.

Today, at around noon Amira Dotan, a member of the Knesset, came to visit Tel Rumeida. After walking up Tel Rumeida st. she spent some time speaking to Abu Samir about the situation his family faces dealing with the settlers that live across the street from his home. During the discussion Abu Samir conveyed the miserable situation he and his family live in thanks to the settlers’ continued violent aggression against them. After speaking to Abu Samir, Amira Dotan spent some time speaking to other locals, including peace activists, about the situation in Tel Rumeida. Once she reached Shuhada st. the Palestinians speaking with her had to leave as they are still not allowed to walk down this street past the settlement, as reported above. A few international human rights workers were allowed to follow her down Shuhada st., which was a first for them, while she spoke to settlers.

Click here for photos: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/01/18/shuhada-lawyer-court/

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8. Palestinian child beaten in head in Bil’in

by the ISM media team, January 19th

Brutality towards children was the theme of today’s weekly demonstration in Bil’in. In light of this theme many children walked hand in hand with other demonstrators as they chanted anti-apartheid sentiments while proceeding toward the Apartheid Wall.

Around 70 Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists marched to the gate in the wall where they started chanting and asking to be allowed through. Many activists began pulling the razor wire from the gate, symbolizing Bil’in’s continuing resistance to the wall that has annexed their land. The IOF soldiers quickly fired tear gas at the non-violent activists dispersing most of the crowd.

They continued their hostile assault on those retreating with round after round of tear gas and sound bombs, showing greater than usual animosity towards a peaceful and relatively small crowd. The soldiers fired into the crowd, frequently with particular intent towards the children present at the demonstration.

Several activists walked through the gate when soldiers opened it and they were quickly rebuffed by the IOF soldiers. One Israeli activist was repeatedly thrown against a chain-link fence by the soldiers and he fell to the ground limp. A group of several soldiers held his body down while others began to violently beat the activist with their batons while kicking him in the stomach.

A second Israeli activist suffered the same fate. He was thrown to the ground, his head held, while a gang of soldiers beat his struggling body. Both Israeli men, a third Israeli, and member of the Popular Committee in Bil’in Mohammed Khatib, were arrested during the demonstration, but later released.

As the demonstrators began to disperse up the road they came across a second group of soldiers standing on higher ground firing sound bombs and tear gas, as well as rubber bullets, into the olive groves were a group of children had congregated. The soldiers fired several canisters of tear gas into the road halting the traffic of activists and Palestinians wishing to move freely back to their homes and to the center of the village. Other canisters of tear gas were rifled directly into neighboring houses where Palestinian families, completely uninvolved with today’s demonstration, were made to suffer unnecessarily at the hands of aggressive and trigger-happy soldiers.

Four children were shot with rubber bullets and another child, Saji, was hit in the head with a baton and hospitalised. Many others suffered severe tear gas inhalation.

Today was a bitter reminder of the hostile and forceful occupying grip the IOF continues to exercise on the village of Bi’lin.

Click here for photos: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/01/19/bilin-19-01-07/

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9. Sarra Village under Siege

by IWPS, January 19th
http://www.iwps-pal.org/en/articles/article.php?id=1006

Sarra village is a village under siege by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces). This village of about 3000 people suffers daily and nightly army incursions and harassment. The village is situated on the hills south west of Nablus. The main road to the village has been closed by the IOF for the past 5 years. A left turn from this road and Nablus is only a 2km ride away. The villagers are now forced to go through the village of Tel and use a road that is 15km away from Nablus. Abu Islam travels this road every day to the college he teaches in, in Nablus. What used to be a 10km ride to get to work, now takes 25km. That is an additional 30km travelling per day and means a much bigger expense for the taxi ride from home to work. In addition, a flying checkpoint is set up each day which delays the people of Sarra even further. The Occupation wastes so much of peoples’ time and adds a constant expense to their daily lives –making life difficult or practically impossible, and forcing people to leave. Almost every family in this village has a member living abroad.

Last year, with the help of the organisation B’Tselem, the village managed to get the main road opened for a period of 42 days. But the Army closed the road again at the beginning of the Olive Harvesting season on the September 1st 2006. The road separates the villagers from their land that lies to the west of the Nablus road. Villagers who have land on that side of the road are faced with problems from the Israeli army, as well as a group of violent, armed settlers, that stop them from getting to their land. The settlers, who come on horseback, carry guns and have been known to fire on the people of Sarra when they attempt to access their land.

The house at the now deserted main entrance suffered an entire year of the army occupying and using their first floor as a checkpoint to the entrance of the village. The family lived on the ground floor while the army used the first floor and roof. The eldest son of the family had to postpone his wedding because of this Occupation of his apartment. The first floor of the house had been built for him for when he got married. The soldiers stayed on the first floor and used a basket attached to a rope for people to hand their Ids over to them. Anyone entering or leaving the village had to put his or her ID into the basket, wait for it to be pulled up and then wait until the soldier decided to return the ID.

When I went to speak to the mayor and people of this village, three army jeeps had entered the village and were driving around, doing little but making their presence known. The day before I got there the army had entered the village at school dismissal time and fired teargas into the school grounds of the boys and girls schools. Army jeeps regularly enter the village when schools close for the day and the children are returning home. This is a deliberate provocation to the people of the village and the schoolchildren, who most certainly do not welcome this presence in their village. A lot of the young boys throw stones at the armoured vehicles that deliberately enter the village to provoke this kind of response.

The people of Sarra live under the constant stress of not knowing when the soldiers will wake them up at night on their nightly incursions into the village. The soldiers usually drive into the village after midnight, throw sound bombs and bang on the doors of different houses, demanding that the owners open them. Once opened the families (men, women, children and old people) are forced out into the cold while the soldiers go and rummage through the houses, always causing some damage or other. Soldiers have even been seen taking pictures inside the homes, of what exactly, the people do not know. As they leave the homes, the soldiers are always seen laughing and joking with each other.

One villager told the mayor that he has taken to wearing three sets of clothing when he goes to sleep, because on the two times his home was recently invaded, he and his family were forced to stand in the winter cold for more than two hours. The villagers never know when it will be their turn to be harassed when the army comes on its nightly incursions and this naturally results in high levels of stress and anxiety.

There are no people currently wanted for any resistance work from this village. Twenty six of their young people are already in prison, however, imprisoned for merely talking about what they would do against the Occupation, and one even for relating a dream he had about resisting the Occupation. All arrested are in their late teens and early twenties, and are currently serving sentences of between 12 and 18 years.

On the January 9th a 20 year old was arrested from Sarra village and taken to Huwarra prison. He has been arrested and imprisoned before. Since his previous imprisonment he has had numerous stomach ailments, for which doctors cannot find any explanation. Nobody in his family has been allowed to see him or speak to him. The family had to get a lawyer to call and find out where he was being held.

Two homes in this village have been demolished by the army. A collective punishment inflicted on the families whose sons had already been captured and imprisoned. These families have been prevented by the army to clear the demolished homes and have had to rebuild a home for themselves on the tiny land left on the side of the ruins of the demolished ones. One family I visited had a two-roomed house, with a kitchen for a family of six, where previously they had had a two-storey house.

On the night of the January 9th a young schoolboy (12-years old) was shot in the head by a rubber bullet as he was walking home at around 8pm. He was taken to the hospital in Nablus and is now back home. He is still suffering from dizzy spells and there is now a blot clot in his brain that cannot be removed.

The people of this village ask that the army stops harassing them and stop their daily incursions and that their main entrance be opened. And this is a lot to ask in the middle of an illegal Occupation.

Click here for a previous report from Sarra: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/12/03/sarra-school-terror/

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