Home / Water cannon fails to dampen spirits on Bil’in second anniversary demo

Water cannon fails to dampen spirits on Bil’in second anniversary demo

1. Water cannon fails to dampen spirits on Bil’in second anniversary demo
2. IOF occupies Palestinian house in Tel Rumeida – “We can do whatever we want”
3. Hebron colonists occupy Palestinian hilltop home
4. Anarchist activist Jonathan Pollak given 3 month suspended sentence
5. Yifat Alkobi leads colonist trespass on Tel Rumeida Hill
6. South Bethlehem village marked out for the Wall
7. The Wall – The Battlefield in Bil’in
8. “Israeli settlement sale in Teaneck discriminatory, may violate international law and the roadmap”
9. Normal Life, Destroyed Homes, and Israeli Apartheid

************************

1. Water cannon fails to dampen spirits on Bil’in second anniversary demo

by the ISM media team, February 23rd

Around 1500 demonstrators attended today’s second anniversary protest against the Apartheid Wall in Bil’in. Despite the peaceful nature of the protest the IOF used violent means to try to disperse the crowd, including firing sound bombs directly at protesters at close range. Several needed medical treatment for injuries incurred when the sound bombs exploded on them.

Before today’s march to the Wall protesters had a chance to view a photo exhibition of the two years of resistance in Bil’in as well as some of the props used in various creative actions. Bil’in villagers were joined by other Palestinians, including two Palestinian Legislative Council members and Member of the Knesset Jamal Zahalka, as well as 200 Israeli activists and 50 internationals.

On reaching the gate in the Wall the villagers chanted resistance slogans and waved Palestinian flags. When some protesters climbed onto and walked along the gate soldiers tried to push them off. The restraint of the soldiers lasted longer than usual, perhaps due to the large media presence, but a few stones thrown at them was the trigger for them to use tear gas and sound grenades against all the protesters. Several were hit directly with the sound grenades . They then invaded through the gate and started firing rubber bullets at children throwing stones. Some activists went down the hill and started dismantling some razor wire.

A water cannon was brought up and used indiscriminately against everyone, including the media, but this didn’t have much effect.

When a small group of 20 protesters sat down in front of the gate soldiers tried to remove them violently but failed.

Then several bursts of water were sprayed at them but they remained steadfast.

Others standing near them had sound bombs thrown at their feet, which exploded causing deep cuts on their shins and ankles. Two had to be carried away to have their injuries bandaged. One Israeli activist was arrested.

There were 20 injuries from sound bombs and rubber bullets, including three journalists.

Click here for photos:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/23/bilin-23-02-07/

Click here for coverage from the BBC and the Guardian:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6390531.stm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,2020347,00.html

*************************

2. IOF occupies Palestinian house in Tel Rumeida – “We can do whatever we want”

by ISM Hebron, February 17th

Today at 12.30 pm a group of human rights workers (HRWs) returned to Issa Amro’s house on Tel Rumeida hill, which was yesterday declared a “closed military zone” by the IOF. The HRWs wanted to find out whether the house was still a military area. Yesterday police showed them a document stating that the house and its surroundings were closed until 12 pm today.

When the HRWs arrived, three IOF soldiers were present. They called for back-up on the arrival of the HRWs. Moments later six soldiers appeared who occupied the house. The HRWs asked the soldiers what they were doing in the house, since the rightful occupant, Issa Amro, wanted to come and start doing repairs. The IOF soldiers replied that the house was still a closed military zone, but couldn’t show any document. The HRWs demanded that they be shown this document, as is their right under Occupation law . The soldiers promised that “the document is on its way”. They also mentioned that the Israeli army could get a new document anytime and could repeat this procedure at will. “We can do whatever we want” , a soldier told a HRW.

Half an hour later a group of six border police arrived who confirmed that the document about the “closed military zone” was coming. The HRWs waited for another hour, until suddenly all the IOF soldiers and border police left the house in a hurry, without clarifying the status of the property. The HRWs waited for another half an hour in the “closed military area” and then decided to leave to coordinate the next step with the owner of the Tel Rumeida hilltop house.

At 1 pm HRWs heard people shouting in the street outside the flat for HRWs . 50 meters up Tel Rumeida road, a group of colonists had gathered. Residents told the HRWs that a group af 4 Palestinian children returning home from school had been confronted with a young colonist, aged about 10, who had started to throw stones at them. More colonists came out of their houses as IOF soldiers and police arrived at the scene.

HRWs were told to back off, because the situation “ is already heated”. The HRWs saw a young colonist trying to throw stones at the Palestinian children, by slipping through the line of soldiers, but he was stopped. After long discussions with a few notorious colonist women, they returned to their houses. The Palestinian children were forced to walk back and take another route to their homes. Again a colonist attack on Palestinians ended without the aggressor being punished.

After a visit to the hospital it was confirmed that a 15-year old boy was shot in the leg with live ammunition and not a rubber bullet by the IOF in Hebron yesterday.

Click here for photos:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/17/settler-stoning-tr/

************************

3. Hebron colonists occupy Palestinian hilltop home

by ISM Hebron, February 18th

Today at 4 pm human rights workers (HRWs) in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron were alarmed that colonists had entered local resident Issa Amro’s house on the hilltop overlooking the olive grove. For the third time this week a group of about 10 colonists illegally occupied this Palestinian property. Today they stayed in and around the house for an hour, while nearby soldiers didn’t take any action to get the trespassers out.

When the HRWs arrived to join Issa Amro and Israeli HRWs, the colonists reacted by making disgraceful remarks. Colonist Yifat Alkobi, who became infamous starring in the “Sharmuta Video”, said to one of the HRWs : “You are a Nazi, go back to Auschwitz! “.

After this brief stand-off the IOF soldiers did arrive and also entered the house and garden. The colonists carefully took pictures of international and Israeli HRWs present. Finally they left the house and its garden. Issa Amro and the HRWs were then told to leave by the police.

This latest episode in the struggle against colonist occupation and IOF complicity ended today, but Palestinians residents are determined to keep on fighting for their rights in Tel Rumeida.

Click here for photos:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/18/tr-colonist-occupation/

*************************

4. Anarchist activist Jonathan Pollak given 3 month suspended sentence

Jonathan Pollak, an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall was sentenced to 3 months in prison, that will be activated if he is convicted at a similar charge again. Pollak was sentenced today after he was convicted together with 10 other activist for blocking a road in Tel Aviv in protest of the construction of the wall. He asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to sentence him to jail time, rather than community service or a suspended sentence, saying he has no intention to stop resisting the occupation. The ten other convicted activists were sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

In his sentencing statement Pollak said ” This trial, had it not taken place in a court of the occupation, in the democracy imposed on 3.5 million Palestinian subjects devoid of basic democratic liberties – was supposed to be a trial of the wall. The same wall defined as a illegal by the highest legal authority in the world; the same wall that serves as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing Israel is running in the occupied territories.”

“It was not us who were supposed to stand here in the dock, but those who plan and carry into action the Israeli apartheid,” Pollak continued. He also stated that while he is not surprised by his conviction, he does not recognize it as legitimate, explaining that is the reason he refused community service or cooperation with the probation authorities.

To end his statement Pollak asked that the court punish him with a prison sentence and not a suspended one. “In a state of things where any gathering in the territories is considered illegal because of a widespread anti-democratic policy of closed military zones, any suspended sentence given to me will quickly become a prison term” pollak said, then turning to the judge personally, saying “if your honor believes one should be sent to prison for such acts, please take the liberty and personally send me to prison here and now”.

The state prosecutor quickly responded by asking not to send Pollak to prison, but rather to pose a conditional sentence and a fine.

Jonathan Pollak’s full sentencing statement

From the first moment of this trial we took responsibility for our acts. We’ve never denied, even for an instant, that we sat on the road. Quite the opposite – we fully admitted this, and we explained why we did so. The defense was revolved around two central axes – exposing the police’s lies and their invention of fictional accusations, which the court has already addressed, and on the principals of civil resistance. In its decision, the court stated that we were attempting to drag this court into the political arena, which it should avoid like fire, lest it get burned. In fact, the state prosecution was the one doing the dragging. In every crime and in every trial, the question of motive is a central one. Our so called crime is clearly a political one, and so are its motives.

This trial, had it not taken place in a court of the occupation, in the democracy imposed on 3.5 million Palestinian subjects devoid of basic democratic liberties, would have been the trial of the Wall; that same wall that was defined as illegal by the highest legal authority in the world; that same wall that is used as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing being undertaken by Israel in the Occupied Territories; that same wall that in its previous route, that route of the relevant days, was thrown out even by Israeli courts! It was not us who should have been standing accused here, but rather the architects and enforcers of Israeli Apartheid.

To our assertion that there is a duty to violate the law at times, the court answered that in such times, one must accept the punishment as well. This response contains an obvious moral failure. The correct response would be that those who violate the law must expect punishment. Expect it, but under no circumstances accept its legitimacy.

I am not surprised that we were found guilty. But in spite of that, I cannot accept the legitimacy of the punishment. That is the reason I refused to cooperate with the parole agency, and I will refuse community service as well.

I believe that at this stage of the trial the defense tends to state that this is the defendant’s first conviction, that he is a normal human being, who is well within the bounds of civil society, that he works a steady job and so on and so forth. I will argue otherwise. I will state that while this is indeed my first conviction, it is unlikely to be my last. I still believe that what I did was necessary and morally correct, and that resistance to oppression is the duty of every human being, even at a personal price.

It is customary to ask for leniency – not to impose an active sentence, and to be satisfied with a conditional sentence. I will ask not to have a conditional sentence imposed on me, but an active one, since as things are, any demonstration taking place in the Occupied Territories is declared illegal assembly, according to the extensive and anti-democratic system of closed military zone warrants. In this state of affairs, any conditional sentence imposed upon me will quickly become an active one. If your honor believes one should be sent to prison for such acts, please take the liberty and personally send me to prison here and now.

click here for photos:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/18/jpollak-sentence/

**********************

5. Yifat Alkobi leads colonist trespass on Tel Rumeida Hill

by ISM Hebron, February 19th

Today at 4 pm human rights workers (HRWs) decided to pass by local resident Issa Amro’s house on Tel Rumeida hill. In the past week colonists had occupied this Palestinian property several times.

When the HRWs arrived at the house, they noticed a group of colonists, 2 men, 5 women and 15 children, had entered the house and garden again. It was only yesterday that they were sent away by the police. The colonists took pictures of the HRWs and one of the women, Yifat Alkobi, videotaped them. Yifat Alkobi is notorious from the “Sharmouta video”.

A group of about ten colonist girls then approached two of the HRWs and started throwing stones at them. The HRWs continued taking photos and filmed the children attacking them. The children, aged 6-12 shouted “Monkey, monkey!!” to one of the HRWs of Indian origin. When a colonist woman saw that the children were throwing rocks, she told them to stop.

15 minutes after the arrival of the HRWs, the colonists left Issa Amro’s house and garden and returned to the Tel Rumeida colony, just 50 meters behind the hilltop house.

IOF soldiers didn’t show up during the occupation, neither did the police, although they were asked to come by and stop the repeated colonist trespassing.

Click here for photos:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/19/yifat-trespass/

*************************

Colonists invaded Hebron Old City this morning, accompanied by the IOF. The invaders broke into the Al Aqbat mosque, several Palestinian shops, damaging some doors, and destroyed the wing mirrors and headlights of some parked cars. They also threw stones at local Palestinians.

click here for Ma’an coverage:
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19666

***********************

6. South Bethlehem village marked out for the Wall

by ISM Hebron, February 21st

Human rights workers (HRWs) in Hebron received a request for international presence in Umm Salamuna village south of Bethlehem as the IOF had invaded the village. They arrived in Umm Salamuna village around 9:30 am and joined internationals from other groups. At a Palestinian vineyard about 8 Israeli soldiers, 2 security guards, and 2 surveyors were trespassing.

The Palestinian locals asked them why they were there, because the initial plan for building the Apartheid Wall was supposed to be on top of the hill. They claimed a court order had been given to build the Wall down the hill in the vineyards and surveyors needed to measure the land. The two armed security guards who came along with the surveyors were Arabic speaking Israelis who got this job recently.

The surveyors protected by soldiers and security guards marked the rocks and land with blue spray paint and blue tape. The HRWs documented their illegal activity. Soldiers pretended not to be able to understand English when questioned. The DCO* arrived but was not able to give any convincing explanation for this action, except that it was a court order. No official document was presented. All of them eventually left the site around 12:00 pm.

It later transpired that the Israeli Supreme Court had decided to reject the village’s appeal for work on the Wall to be stopped pending a court hearing on the route of the Wall through Umm Salamuna and other South Bethlehem villages. Villagers expect demolition work to commence soon.

*District Coordination Officer – the civilian administration wing of the Israeli Military in the West Bank

For photos click here:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/21/umsal-surveying/

***************************

In Tel Rumeida at around 4:00 pm, a group of colonists consisting of 5 women, 1 man, and about 10 children trespassed in Issa Amro’s garden on Tel Rumeida Hill. They had kept coming to his garden on and off since the morning, but stayed in the garden for about half an hour in the afternoon. Soldiers said the colonists had permission to stay there. Around 4:30 pm, as the colonists saw police on the way, they left.

At around the same time groups of women and children were walking to the Jewish cemetery on Tel Rumeida street and back. At 5.20 pm two women from the Abu Aisha family were pushed and grabbed by colonists who were part of a larger group as they walked home past the Tel Rumeida settlement. Soldiers quickly intervened and the women were able to get into their house. A crowd of colonists gathered and were shouting abuse at the Abu Aishas. Police arrived five minutes later and eventually cleared all the colonists off the street. It would seem that no arrests were made.

**************************

7. The Wall – The Battlefield in Bil’in

by Abdullah Abu Rahme,

Bil’in is a small, peaceful village surrounded by hills and valleys, lying halfway between Yaffa and Jerusalem and is among the villages that fall under the governorate of Ramallah, 16km west of Bil’in. It has a population of 1800 in an area approximately 4000 dunums in size. Its people are known for their simplicity, hospitality and for being good neighbors to each other. They love peace and freedom, and reject injustice and oppression.

The territory which makes up Bil’in has stood up to confiscation time after time, exploited for the purpose of illegal settlement. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Matityahu settlement was built on a portion of Bil’in land and, at the beginning of the 1990s, another portion of land was confiscated on which the Kiryat Sefer settlement was built. And at the start of the millennium in 2002, yet another new settlement (this one named Matityahu East) was built on Bil’in’s land.

In April 2004, Bil’in’s Village Council relayed the Israeli government’s intention to build a “separation wall” on the village lands. The Council delivered this message to the citizens of the village, who in turn compelled them to form a committee to resist this wall and additional resulting settlements. The committee’s aim was to represent the largest section of the village’s residents, to prepare daily and weekly actions, maintain close relations with international and Israeli solidarity activists, keep track of the legal suit filed on behalf of the citizens, and keep in contact with the lawyers and legal advisers in relation to this.

The Israeli army bulldozers began work in Bil’in on February 20, 2005. The wall now traverses the village at a length of 2 kilometres, a breadth of 30 metres, and is 5 kilometres inside the “green line”, the supposedly legal border separating the West Bank and the lands occupied by Israel in 1948. The wall is being built under the pretence of protecting Israel, but as the citizens of Bil’in have made no threat to the lives of the settlers, the goal is not truly security (as claimed) but rather theft of land and settlement construction on that land once stolen. Approximately 1000 olive trees, the life-blood of the community, have been uprooted and destroyed to make way for this wall, which separates the citizens from their own land and orchards. Most of the village’s land (2300 dunums) lies west of (i.e., inside of) the wall, and is planted with olive trees, which is considered the primary source of livelihood. The actual number of olive trees falls somewhere between 100,000-150,000. The rest of the land is used for sowing seeds/grains, planting vegetables, and sometimes as grazing land for livestock.

Throughout this land confiscation we have noted that the wall has considerably affected the village’s economic resources. The land that has remained on the eastern side of the wall is limited (1700 dunums) and is the space on which the houses of the village are built. The section of land nearest the wall is barren, as use for residential purposes is forbidden, and thus has pushed many village residents to buy land from neighbouring villages or emigrate to the city or to Western or foreign countries. All of the aforementioned choices require large financial sums, and by virtue of the destruction of economic resources, fulfilling them is often impossible.

Bil’in’s citizens face two choices – either living in disgraceful circumstances that force them and their grandchildren to live at the lowest level of poverty, or even worse, voluntary migration. Since most have refused both these options, the only remaining choice for them is the popular resistance, expressing their rejection of Israel’s planned encroachment. With this non-violent resistance, they express their attachment and devotion to their land. And they will strive to come onto this land, whatever the cost they may pay, and work to destroy, pull down and remove this wall from their homeland.

click here for the rest of the article:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/22/bilin-battlefield/

*************************

8. “Israeli settlement sale in Teaneck discriminatory, may violate international law and the roadmap”

Press Release from ADC New Jersey and 11 other Civil and Human Rights groups

February 23, 2007, Clifton, New Jersey – The New Jersey Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC New Jersey) was joined today by 11 civil and human rights groups in warning New Jersey public officials that the February 25 planned sale of Israeli settlement homes in Teaneck, New Jersey may violate international law and the US government’s Roadmap to Peace, and introduce discriminatory sales practices in New Jersey. Groups joining ADC in this warning included The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccr-ny.org), The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (www.endtheoccupation.org), Jewish Voice for Peace www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org), and The International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild (www.nlginternational.org). ADC New Jersey’s expression of concern was sent to Teaneck Mayor Elie Katz, Congressman Steve Rothman, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Robert Menendez, Attorney General Stuart Rabner, and Teaneck Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurn.

The sale of Israeli settlement homes in the Occupied Territories by the Yesha Council is planned to take place at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, New Jersey on Sunday February 25, 2007. Property in Israeli settlements has historically been sold exclusively to Jewish people. Palestinians who live in the area are not permitted to purchase such property because of their religion and their ethnicity. ADC New Jersey and the 11 other civil rights groups warned against the toleration of such discriminatory sales practices in New Jersey.

Pursuant to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, an occupying power is prohibited from transferring civilians from its own territory into the occupied territory, and from creating permanent changes in the occupied territory that are not for the benefit of the occupied population. There exists broad international consensus that that all Israeli settlements in the West Bank – including those in East Jerusalem – violate the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 49) and constitute a war crime. Any sales of settlements are therefore presumably illegal. Liability attaches under international law for aiding and abetting the commission of a war crime.

The illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been affirmed by the UN Security Council the International Court of Justice, major human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli organization B’Tselem, and affirmed by the US government throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The rental and sale of Israeli settlements at the event in Teaneck, New Jersey may also contradict US government foreign policy as outlined in the United States Government’s “Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” which, in Phase I, requires Israel “to freeze all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).”

CONTACT: Samer Khalaf – ADC-NJ at (201) 280-3434; Hany Khoury (973) 246-7474

***********************

9. Normal Life, Destroyed Homes, and Israeli Apartheid

by Schlomo Bloom,

The other day, I got a tattoo. Actually, I should say that I got another tattoo, as it is not my first, or for that matter, my last. The day I got my tattoo, was more or less like any other; I got to work by my usual bike route (uphill, unfortunately), had my morning latte, and fortunately got off of work early. Of course, there were the occasional annoyances, stupid co-workers, anxiety about the tattoo (yes, this one hurt!), but for the most part, there was nothing terribly abnormal about my days events; so what the hell, let’s call it a ‘normal day.’

On February 14th, I received confirmation through a CPT report, that the homes of friends of mine in Palestine were destroyed. In one sense, this is also normal, as they were not the first, and won’t be the last homes destroyed in Palestine by Israeli soldiers (or Palestinian homes destroyed in Israel for that matter). But truly, how can the demolition of your home by an illegal military occupation ever be considered normal? How can such brutality be carried out by human beings who are just following orders, without some semblance of reflection and disgust? And how do my friends, and countless other Palestinians, find the strength to survive such violence, and not only carry on, but rebuild and hope for the future?

click here for photos and the rest of the article:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/02/24/sh-demolitions-journal/

***************************

For more reports, journals and action alerts visit the ISM website at www.palsolidarity.org

Please consider supporting the International Solidarity Movement’s work with a financial contribution. You may donate securely through our website at: www.palsolidarity.org/main/donations/