Homes Rebuilt by Peace Activist Demolished Again
25 April 2007
1. From Palestine to Virginia Tech: We are with you in this Time of Pain
2. Irish Peace Laureate Shot By Israeli Troops at Non-Violent Protest – Why Isn’t This News?
3. Video: Puerto Rican activist arrested at Bil’in demonstration against Apartheid Wall, judge throws out request to prolong arrest
4. Building Economic Independence
5. PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN’S ART STOLEN FROM LIBRARY
6. 17 Year old girl killed in Jenin refugee camp
7. Tree Planting in Biddu
8. Homes Rebuilt by Peace Activist Demolished Again
9. My name is Rachel on Al Jazeera
10. All we had for breakfast was tear gas
11. FREEDOM SUMMER 2007: Confronting Apartheid
1. From Palestine to Virginia Tech: We are with you in this Time of Pain
by Sami Awad
For photos, follow: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/25/from-palestine-to-virginia/
For video, follow: http://youtube.com/watch?v=NIZhfWLpz-4
Two days ago a tragic event took place in Virginia Tech in the US that shocked not only the people of the United States but people all across the globe. A violent massacre took place there that resulted in thirty two killed, individuals who presented different cultures, religions and nationalities. In a sign of solidarity the people of Palestine in general and those from the Southern villages surrounding the Holy city of Bethlehem dedicated their weekly nonviolent activity against the building of Apartheid wall to the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre.
Every Friday, Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli nonviolent activists gather in the Southern villages of Bethlehem to protest against the building of the Apartheid Wall that will eventually destroy the livelihood of these villages. This Friday, the protest began with a silent procession by the group of about fifty participants. We carried banners and leaflets with the Virginia Tech logo and statements supporting them in this time of pain. Thirty two olive trees were also carried in the procession to remember each person killed in the massacre. The olive tree is a global symbol of peace and hope.
Once we reached the path created by the by the bulldozers for the building of the Apartheid Wall we dug the earth and plated the thirty two olive trees in a row – instead of building an ugly wall that divides people, let us plant trees that bring people together. Several of the participants made statements condemning the violence that we all, as the human family are witnessing and condemning the building of the Apartheid wall and the killing of innocents. Over 150 Israeli soldiers came to dismantle our protest. Our commitment to nonviolence and to achieve our goal completely paralyzed their weapons and their goals and eventually our power made them withdrawal. The planting of the trees was followed by reciting the names of all those who were killed in the Virginian massacre followed by a fifteen minute period of silence before the group moved back to the villages.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “where there is an injustice somewhere … there is an injustice everywhere.” This also means that where there is violence somewhere there is violence everywhere… We need to work for peace somewhere so that peace can also spread every where.
2. Irish Peace Laureate Shot By Israeli Troops at Non-Violent Protest – Why Isn’t This News?
by Robert Naiman
For photos, follow: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/25/common-dreams-macguire/
Democracy now link here: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/23/1350224
If you listened to Democracy Now on Monday, you already know the following:
Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire was among a number of people shot Friday by Israeli troops at a nonviolent protest of the “apartheid wall” in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, near Ramallah.
But if you didn’t listen to Democracy Now Monday, you probably didn’t know that.
Maguire was shot with what the Israeli military – and some press reports – misleading refer to as a “rubber bullet” – that is, a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Why isn’t this “news” in the United States? There’s nothing on the web sites of the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times, not even a wire story.
Those who blame the Palestinian people for their fate, attributing it to Palestinian violence, and faulting the Palestinians for not emulating Gandhi, King, or Mandela (whose role in the “armed struggle” against apartheid in South Africa is always conveniently elided for the purpose of this comparison) should periodically ask themselves, when Palestinians do engage in nonviolent protest, and are subjected to brutal repression as a result, how come the mainstream U.S. media don’t pay any attention?
Wouldn’t this be a precondition for a successful nonviolent protest strategy? That people find out about it? Imagine if U.S. news organizations had not reported on lunch counter sit-ins in the South, Freedom Rides, or the Montgomery bus boycott – and the repression that resulted. What if no-one reported on the deaths of Evers, Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney. Would these protests have been as effective?
That U.S. political, diplomatic, and financial support for the Israeli government’s policies in the West Bank provide crucial support for these policies should be beyond debate. Don’t the American people have a right to know what’s going on?
And if a Nobel peace laureate is shot at a non-violent protest using weapons paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, isn’t that news?
A great deal of ink has been spilled about how the United States is perceived in the Middle East. Too little of that ink has addressed whether the perception of the United States might be the predictable result of unjust U.S. policies, and whether changing some of those policies might be part of a strategy for changing the perceptions.
A new poll from World Public Opinion.org finds that nine in ten Egyptians thinks that the U.S. is at war with Islam, and wants the U.S. to “remove its bases and military forces from all Islamic countries.” Eight in ten Egyptians support attacks on U.S. troops in the region to bring this about.
U.S. policy towards the Palestinians is surely not the whole story, but it is surely an important part of the story. If the U.S. cannot, in the short term, compel Israel to accept a political settlement with the Palestinians along the lines of the international consensus – withdrawal to the 1967 borders – can’t we at least get them to stop shooting unarmed demonstrators? Or, if even that is too much to ask, how about no shooting Nobel peace laureates?
Wednesday night Bill Moyers will examine on PBS how the U.S media failed us in the run-up to the Iraq war. Perhaps Mr. Moyers could look into how the U.S. media is failing us on our policy towards the Palestinians.
Israeli Military Shoots Nobel Peace Laureate, from the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maguire said today: “I was invited with my friend to attend a nonviolent conference in Bilin, a village outside Ramallah [in the West Bank], and to give a talk there, which I did. At the end of the conference, we were invited to participate in a nonviolent demonstration with some of the Palestinian members of parliament and Israeli peace activists and local villagers and international visitors.
“We walked along to try to walk up toward the separation wall, and it was a totally nonviolent protest. And we were viciously attacked by the Israeli military. They threw gas canisters into the peace walkers, and they also fired rubber-covered steel bullets.
“As I tried to move back and help a French lady, I was shot in the leg with a rubber-covered steel bullet, and the young Israeli soldier who shot me was only 20 meters from me. I was stunned by it, and then later on, after having some treatment by the ambulance medics, I went back down to the front line with the peace activists, and we were again showered with gas. I was overcome and had a severe nosebleed and had to be taken by stretcher to the ambulance and treated.
“And I witnessed there … an old Palestinian man with blood on his face. These were over 25 unarmed peace people who had been viciously attacked by the Israeli military. And it was a completely peaceful protest. It was absolutely unbelievable. I never in all my years of activism witnessed anything so vicious as from the Israeli military.”
The shooting of Maguire took place on Friday, April 20; she is now back in Ireland and available for interviews.
3. Video: Puerto Rican activist arrested at Bil’in demonstration against Apartheid Wall, judge throws out request to prolong arrest
by the ISM Media Team
Video and photos here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/24/tito-arrest-update/
After planting the Palestinian flag upon the Israeli army camera tower which watches over the village of Bil’in, Puerto Rican activist Tito was arrested and taken to jail. The military commander is using his authority to keep Tito in jail for 96 hours, a tactic which is regularly used on Palestinians. After the 96 hours and before seeing a judge, the military commander can extend the jail time for another 96 hours. Tito’s is a very rare case. In situations like this, with Israeli or international activists, arrestees are normally held for 24 hours or less.
Because Tito was scheduled to depart from Palestine on Sunday, it is suspected that Tito may be held in jail until sometime before his flight departs and escorted to the airport.
Alberto De Jesus, a Puerto Rican activist know as Tito Kayak, is under house arrest until 8:30 pm tonight, finishing the 96 hour period that was imposed on him by a military judge in Ofer Military Base, last Sunday night. Tito has been in the home of friends and cannot leave to the police station to get his passport until after the sentence is finished.
Tito was arrested Friday, April 20th, after unfurling a Palestinian flag on top of an Israeli surveillance tower of the Apartheid wall, next to the village of Bil’in , Palestine . His non-violent action took place simultaneously with a press conference at the weekly non-violent demonstration of the Apartheid wall. Bil’in has become the symbol of the non-violent struggle of the people of Palestine and Tito came in solidarity to stand with them in their non-violent resistance as he had done for the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Viequenses struggled non-violently for 60 years to remove the US navy and stop them from using their island as a bombing practice zone. They were successful by May, 2003. Tito expressed that the Palestinians will succeed as well through their non-violent struggle and through more support from the international community.
After he was detained by police, Tito Kayak was held under military code in a prison in Beth El Settlement, near the city of Ramallah until Sunday night. The 96 hours imposed on Tito is what is routinely meted out to Palestinians under this code. His lawyers, Gaby Lasky and Lymor Goldstein are negotiating for his early release so that he can return to the US with his delegation from Puerto Rico on his scheduled flight tonight at midnight. We heard from Mr. Goldstein that Tito sends his greetings to the people of Bil’in and all Palestinians from prison.
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mairead Corrigan Maguire from Northern Ireland , and Minister of Information for the Palestinian Authority, Mustafa Barghouti were the speakers at the press conference addressing the need for the removal of the wall and other issues caused by the occupation.
Five hundred where joined by two hundred and fifty internationals for the weekly march to wall. The afternoon demonstration was marked by violence initiated by the Israeli soldiers who fired rubber bullets, tear gas and used a water cannon on the crowd of over 500 participants. Mairead Maguire was hit by a rubber bullet in the leg and a Channel 4, British TV camera man was left unconscious until the next day after being hit by a soldier’s batton.
This is the first incident where an international has been held under military code for non-violent civil disobedience. All other internationals who have been arrested have been released after 24 hours.
Tito joined many internationals, including people from South Africa, Sweden , France , Spain , England , Germany , and those notables mentioned above at the invitation of the people of Bil’in to the Second Annual Conference on Popular Resistance. The village is a symbol of the non-violent struggle for the removal of the Apartheid Wall, the reclaiming of Palestinian lands, and the demand for an end to the military occupation of their towns and villages. Bil’in has had 60% of their land taken from them in 2005.
Tito was released from house arrest after 96 hours and had a court hearing. At the hearing, prosecutors filed a request to prolong his already 96 hour arrest for at least 24 more hours to further the harassment already imposed upon Tito for his direct action in Bil’in. The judge, however, disposed of the request and Tito headed straight to the airport to make his flight in the nick of time.
Puerto Rican activist arrested during protest of Apartheid Wall
from Associated Press
Israeli police arrested a well-known Puerto Rican activist on Friday after he climbed a tower near Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and planted a Palestinian flag on it, police said.
Alberto de Jesus’ protest took place during the weekly demonstrations by peace activists against the barrier near the town of Bilin in the West Bank.
Israel says the barrier, which dips deep into the West Bank, is necessary to keep Palestinian militants out of Israel. Palestinians say it is an Israeli effort to take land they want for a future state.
De Jesus, also known as Tito Kayak, is famous for leading protests against U.S. Navy exercises on Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island.
During the protest on Friday, he climbed a surveillance tower and hung a Palestinian flag on it, said police spokesman Moshe Fintzy. De Jesus then refused to come down, and only left the tower after lengthy conversations with police and other protesters, Fintzy said.
Mary Ann Grady Flores, a fellow protester from Ithaca, New York, told The Associated Press that de Jesus spent about five hours in the tower, before climbing down and being arrested.
Police said de Jesus damaged a security camera on the tower. He was to be taken to court Saturday night and would likely be deported, Fintzy said.
The Bilin protests routinely turn violent and Noble Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan was injured Friday when a rubber-coated bullet fired by police hit her in the leg, the Ynet news Web site reported.
Two border police were lightly injured by stones, police said.
4. Building Economic Independence
by Sam Bahour
Note: The following is a talk given at the Second Annual Conference on Non-Violent Popular Resistance in the Palestinian village of Bil’in.
First, allow me to salute the people of Bil’in. Your steadfastness is being registered in the annals of history with every meter of Wall being built and every olive tree ripped from it roots by this deplorable occupation.
I’ve been asked to speak briefly on Building Economic Independence. A complicated topic but let me start by posting a question.
How do we integrate a future Palestinian economy into a U.S.-dominated globalized world today, while yet still under foreign military occupation — an occupation operating in the full view of the international community? Yes, I speak of those 3rd parties that are signatories to the 4th Geneva Convention that, for the last year, and the majority through today, have opted to apply economic and political boycotts and sanctions against the occupied people, driving us to a nation of poverty, crime and lawlessness. How do we do all of this while our very own leadership drinks tea on a bimonthly basis with that very same occupier that is removing, by daily actions on the ground, the option of a meaningful Palestinian independence?
For 40 years, Israel linked the occupied Palestinian territory economy to its own. By design, an economic umbilical cord was weaved into every one of our sectors. To fast forward for the sake of time, it is worthy to note that the Oslo Peace Accords kept that umbilical cord fully attached, while at the same time laying on the Palestinian side the colossal burden of meeting the challenges of economic development without having the access to the full toolbox of economic resources.
State donors entered the picture. Instead of rising to the obligations placed upon them in the 4th Geneva Convention to ensure no harm be done to the occupied people, the ‘protected people’ as we are classified under international law, these 3rd party states began feeding us fish instead of assisting us to learn how to fish for ourselves. In short, donors have become accomplices to the economic repression and sustaining of the status quo that is simmering us to death as we stand and struggle here today.
Donors are not the only players in the equation. Sustainable development cannot be based on the agenda and political moods of foreign donors. Palestinian business and Palestinian consumers are, or should I say should, be the foundations in which we build our economy upon. It would be unfair to say the Palestinian business community has failed, it has not. Many businesses have remained steadfast in the face of unimaginable odds. Many others have been exceedingly successful. However, the success criteria of many of the movers and shakers in our business community needs scrutinized. Is success a single firm extracting an annual $100 million profit from the occupied people for a basic service? Is success considering building of industrial zones between this Apartheid Wall and the Green Line? Is success the monopolization of the various sectors and blocking new investments and new jobs from being created? As I noted, thousands of business are doing amazing things to keep their doors open, but a few movers and shakers have no intention of moving or shaking the occupation out of our lives and it is these elements of our own society we must hold accountable.
Accountability cannot come from an expired Authority, pre-occupied with factional politics, despite our love of those trying to make it an operational body. The Palestinian citizen, the Palestinian consumer, and those in solidarity with Palestinians must carry the burden.
I cannot comprehend how we can peacefully co-exist with Israeli settlement products on our shelves.
I cannot comprehend how we can allow Israeli firms to dump their products and services into our market with no repercussions whatsoever.
I cannot comprehend how 3rd party states refuse to take on their obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention when they see the economic roadblocks, checkpoints and Walls that Israel has constructed.
Our land is being grabbed by the hour. Through what our good friend, Jeff Halper, coined a “matrix of control” Israel is making sure land is not sufficient for daily life, let alone economic independence. The hand of occupation controls the lands we can cultivate and the destiny of the trees that we plant.
We are forced to buy our water from the Israeli water company, paying more than Israelis buying from the same source but using less per capita. The hand of occupation controls our water facets.
All of the West Bank electricity is bought from the Israeli Electric Company and resold to us. The hand of occupation controls our light switches.
Every telephone call all you make abroad is forced to go through an Israeli operator. The hand of occupation controls our conversations.
Every laborer wanting to work in Israel, or on their land west of the wall for that matter, must be issued an Israeli permit. The hand of occupation controls the sweat of our workers.
For the first time ever in our history, over a 1/3 of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem desire to voluntarily emigrate. Over a 1/3! I should note that International Humanitarian Law is clear about war crimes. The bloody events of 1948 and 1967 and 2002 were all war crimes no doubt – a military occupation, drunk on power – still drink on power – bent on destroying the fabric of Palestinian society with results well known to you all. But it is an equal war crime under the laws of occupation for the “occupying power,” that’s Israel if we have forgotten, to create the conditions for the occupied people to voluntary to be left with no option but to leave their homes in search of security and a livelihood. I add to this the new Israeli policy of outright denying entry to those of us that are prevented by Israel of ascertaining residency. This denied entry policy is separating families and contributing to faster pace of our brain drain. I tend to call all of this a sterile ethnic cleansing, one that happens one family at a time, far from any media and bloodless.
This is our reality. A reality many try to brush aside or under the carpet while pretending to be building or contributing to a viable state. Such a reality is incompatible with viability. Such a reality is not conducive to building economic independence.
So what do we do? Fold up? Hide under a rock and hope for the best? Accept and acquiesce the foreign military occupation that has kept its boot on our necks for the last 40 years and which has separated us from our people for 60 years?
NO. NOT THIS PEOPLE. We may not yet know how to win and end this nightmare, but I can assure you we definitely know how not to lose.
As we, as a community, make our structural adjustment to our internal politics, new leadership is bound to emerge.
As we learn and master the tools of our oppressors, our just case will be articulated online, offline, around the wall, and over the wall.
As we focus on what matters in life: people, family, community and our inalienable rights, more focus will be placed on our ability to create Global Development Partnerships, our own kind of GDP, rather than chase the World Bank’s traditional measure of GDP. Our GDP includes all of those laborious hours mothers spend up keeping their children’s sanity and maintaining family life. Our GDP includes the efforts that all our political prisoners spend remaining steadfast in Israeli prisons. Our GDP is Global in scope, Developmental in substance, and in Partnership with peace and justice loving people wherever they reside.
I’m sorry if I disappointed you by not talking about the many economic accomplishments over the last decade, several which I had the honor of contributing to. It is not that I’m not proud that, under odds most communities would have buckled under, we have built productive companies, a stock market, a banking industry, an ICT industry, an olive oil industry, a furniture industry, and a pharmaceutical industry, among others.
These are all important but they are all trappings of a status quo that is taking us to a level of despair, unknown to our struggle. In a normal environment, as a private sector player, I would yearn for return on investments. In Palestine, I challenge my peers to translate that return to:
The return to international law; The return to recognized borders; The return of our political prisoners to their families; The return of our refugees; and The return to community building.
These returns are the only returns that will put us on the path toward economic independence.
In closing, I want to note a quote passed to me by an Israeli friend of mine in Jerusalem. One of the Jewish sages, someone famous in Judaism, from the 17th Century; Rabbi Nachman from Bratzlav once said, “There is nothing that is more whole than a broken heart”.
My friend said that this is not so easy to see from within. I agree.–
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant and activist based in Ramallah/Al-Bireh and may be reached at [email protected]
5. PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN’S ART STOLEN FROM LIBRARY
from Birthright Unplugged
Organizers Suspect Political Motives
Boston Public Library Branch Reports First Time Ever Theft Of Art Exhibit
BOSTON, USA– On April 19, 2007, eighteen photographs were stolen from an exhibit documenting Palestinian children’s journey to Jerusalem, the sea, and their ancestral lands. The exhibit, which opened on April 14, was hanging in the Honan-Allston branch of the public library, and was scheduled to remain there until May 25.
The exhibit was created by children from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, West Bank. In January 2007, the Boston-based organization Birthright Unplugged took the children on a trip to areas that their grandparents were expelled from and that their families have been prohibited from returning to since Israel was established in 1948. The children documented their experiences and created an exhibit.
“An important part of our work is the ability to bring Palestinian voices to people in the United States,” says Birthright Unplugged co-founder Hannah Mermelstein. “This is a sad reminder that members of our community will resort even to theft to silence these voices.”
While the thieves of the artwork are unknown, Birthright Unplugged organizers suspect that the motives were political. The Honan-Allston library confirms that this is the first time a theft of this kind has happened there, although they often display art exhibits.
“We are grateful to the Boston Public Library for allowing us to share these children’s images and words,” says Birthright Unplugged co-founder Dunya Alwan. “We are working with library staff to replace and re-hang the photos as soon as possible.”
Birthright Unplugged has taken more than 80 children on these “Re-Plugged” trips since January 2006, and more than 60 North American people, mostly Jewish, on 6-day “Unplugged” trips through the West Bank since July 2005.
6. Ma’an: 17 Year old girl killed in Jenin refugee camp
Jenin in mourning for three miltary activists and a 17-year-old girl, all assassinated by the Israeli army Sunday
from Ma’an News
Jenin – Ma’an – Only a few hours separated the assassination of three Palestinian military activists and that of a high school student, a 17-year-old girl called Bushra Bargheish, from Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
The Israeli soldiers’ bullets penetrated her head while she was revising for her final school exams, the ‘tawjihi’. She had been dreaming of pursuing her higher education in political science in the hope of becoming an eminent Palestinian woman in the future. She was known amongst her peers as friendly and giving, and they were stunned to hear about her death.
The bereaved mother
Bushra’s mother, who is in her fifties, said: “At around 9:30 pm on Saturday evening, my daughter and I completed the evening prayer (’Al-’Isha’). After she finished, she sat down and began praying that she passes her exams, and then she kissed me. She said, ‘Mom, I need your prayers that I pass my exams.’ Then I kissed her for the last time in my life, and she continued with her studying.”
She added: “After a long day filled with bad news of deaths, I began thinking of my son Abdur-Rahman, who is being persecuted by the Israelis as a wanted resistance fighter. As I began worrying about all this, I heard a crack of bullets in my own home coming from Bushra’s room. I ran quickly, and saw the remains of bullets on the closet and the walls. I shouted at Bushra who was lying on the floor; I thought she got down to protect herself from the gunshots.
However, I saw a pool of blood spilling out from her head, and then I realized that she had been hit. I called her several times, yet I received no answer because her soul had departed. I hurried to the door in order to call for help, but an Israeli soldier stopped me at the door and ordered me to evacuate everybody from the house. I yelled at him, ‘You are the cold-blooded killer of my daughter!’”
Ambulance denied entry
The mother added that the soldiers prevented the ambulance from approaching the house to transfer Bushra to hospital until a paramedic approached forcibly against the soldiers’ will.
“He told me that my daughter has departed [this world],” Mrs. Bargheish said, “and he carried her body after he wrapped it, and approached the soldiers yelling that she had been killed.”
“Nevertheless,” added the mother, “the soldiers insisted on seeing the victim’s face and body to make sure she was a female, before they let the paramedic take her to the ambulance.”
Mass funeral and calls for revenge
Thousands of Palestinian mourners took part on Sunday in the funeral procession for yesterday’s four fatalities in the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Three Palestinian military activists had been assassinated by the Israeli forces and the high school student, 17-year-old Bushra Bargheish. The assassinated activists were Mahmoud Jalil, 21, an activist in the Al-Quds brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad; Abbas Ad-Damj, 21; and Ahmad Al-’Issa, 24, both activists in the Al-Aqsa brigades, the main military wing of Fatah.
The funeral started from the governmental hospital in Jenin. Thousands of local residents took part with brigades’ fighters in the lead, who fired gunshots in the air to express their anger at the Israeli criminal acts of assassination. The mourners condemned the Israeli practices and called for immediate retaliation.
The body of Ahmad Al-’Issa was taken to his village of origin, Sanur, located south of Jenin city, where he was buried. Meanwhile, the funeral rally continued with the other three bodies taken to Jenin refugee camp for burial. Both the Al-Aqsa and the Al-Quds brigades pledged to take revenge.
Young girl killed in Jenin refugee camp, eight Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in 24 hours
by Saed Bannoura, IMEMC,
Palestinian medical sources in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported on Saturday evening that a 17-year old girl was shot and killed by Israeli military fire during an invasion of Jenin refugee camp. The invasion is the third in less than 24 hours. A total of eight Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in 24 hours.
The sources identified the girl as Boshra Naji al Wash; she was hit by a round of live ammunition in the head causing instant death. At the time, Boshra was reportedly on the roof of her home revising for her final school examinations.
She was at home in the Jenin refugee camp when the army randomly fired at dozens of houses. . The invasion was carried out by thirty armored vehicles and jeeps, and was concentrated in Jenin refugee camp and the western section of Jenin city close to the camp.
Eyewitnesses reported that dozens of fighters exchanged fire with the invading forces. Several residents suffered after inhaling gas fired by the army, and several houses were hit by live rounds; damage was reported.
On Saturday evening, soldiers assassinated three fighters of the Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fateh and the Al Quds brigades the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad during an invasion of Kafer Dan town, west of Jenin.
Also in Jenin, one resident was killed on Saturday at dawn after the army invaded Kafer Dan village, west of the city. The resident was identified as Mohammad Abed, 22; he was hit by several rounds of live ammunition as he was standing on the rooftop of his house.
Two other fighters were assassinated on Saturday night after midnight in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The two were identified as Amin Abu Lubbada and Fadel Nour. They were killed after the army invaded Al Qasaba neighborhood and exchanged fire with resistance fighters.
Also on Saturday, one resident was killed and two others were injured after the Israeli air force fired missiles at a vehicle they were driving in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The resident was identified as Kamal Anan, 37.
The army claims that the fighters fired homemade shells at the Israeli Negev town of Sderot. Israeli sources reported that three homemade shells were fired at Sderot after the army assassinated three fighters in Jenin.
Two Israelis were reportedly injured and damage was reported to some houses.
Several armed groups said that these assassinations and attacks put an end to the fragile truce, and vowed fierce retaliation.
Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyya, slammed the military escalation and said that these “crimes show the brutality of the occupation and the clear Israeli intentions of escalation in the area”. The Palestinian legislative council also slammed the attacks and the assassinations.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson of the Al Quds Briagdes stated that fighters of the brigades along with fighters of the Al Aqsa brigades carried out several attacks against military targets near Jenin.
He added that these attacks come in retaliation “to the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.”
7. Tree Planting in Biddu
by Tom Hayes, Brighton Palestine
For photos, follow: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/23/tree-plant-biddu/
Today the people of Biddu marched to the site of the annexation wall to plant trees in a nearby military area. Biddu has been the site of one of the longest struggles against the wall and has been successful in moving the route of the wall through popular struggle.
The demonstration marched through the center of the village to the site of the wall where speakers reaffirmed the commitment to the right of return and the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Demonstrations in Biddu have often been met with violence, several nonviolent activists have been shot dead with live ammunition at previous actions.
The demonstration took place under the gaze of Israeli soldiers and police standing at the gate of the wall. At one point soldiers fired rubber bullets into the crowd.
The villagers then planted several olive trees in an area close to the annexation barrier.
Villagers then visited a Palestinian home inside the settlement which is enclosed by a military fence on four sides and can only be accessed through a military gate.
Today’s demonstration reaffirmed the people of Biddu’s commitment to struggle against the wall and the illegal occupation .
8. Homes Rebuilt by Peace Activist Demolished Today
On the morning of April 19, Israeli Forces accompanied bulldozers to the Home of the Abu Kabatya Family near Um Nazel which was rebuilt with donations collected by peace activists. They demolished the families’ home and then proceeded to the land of farmer Ali Rabia near Twani and uprooted fifty olive trees, fifteen almond trees and destroyed a water well. From there they continued to Qawawis and destroyed six homes including all the homes recently rebuilt by ISM and a coalition of Israeli groups.
The shepherds and farmers of the south Hebron hills are not granted building permits to build on their own lands by the Israeli occupation authorities. Anything they build without a permit is promptly demolished. At the same time they are surrounded by what Israel calls “illegal outposts”, who do not receive demolition orders, and instead are immediately hooked up to electricity water and roads that are barred to Palestinians, and provided with a constant military presence.
Solidarity activists will again start to rebuild these demolished homes in the upcoming days.
9. My name is Rachel on Al Jazeera
For photos, follow: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/19/rachels-parents-al-jazeera/
Rachel Corrie’s parents and Braden Abraham, the director of My Name is Rachel Corrie, were interviewed last night on Al Jazeera. Several cities, including one of the most recent in Florida, have censored the play.
Director Abraham said that Rachel was not only a humanitarian, but that she was also an artist, two things that make the play a wonderful experience.
When a man called in to the station during question and answer from Israel, he stated that “Rachel Corrie was a member of the International Solidarity Movement.” The caller claimed that the ISM supports suicide bombers because he said that on the website, the ISM says that Palestinians have the right to use “any means to resist Israel.”
Cindy Corrie answered this. She said she met ISMers all over the world, including the seven that were present when Rachel was murdered. Mrs. Corrie said that none of them condoned violence, let alone suicide bombers. She said that the ISM believes in rights granted by international law and that ISM works with non-violent resistance. Corrie said that she stood side by side with Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, resisting non-violently in villages such as Bil’in, where 60% of the land is being confiscated by the Apartheid Wall.
“They come together to do non-violent resistance– these are their principles,” said Mrs. Corrie.
Mrs. Corrie mentioned that international law recognizes the right of Palestinians to resists– and that it is not limited to non-violent resistance.
10. All we had for breakfast was tear gas
by ISM Martinez
For photos, visit: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/21/april-20-bilin-protest/
“Thanks to the media here for telling the truth…Bring this truth to whatever country you come from!”
These were Mairead Maguire’s words, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Northern Ireland, just one hour before she was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Occupation Forces.
At a press conference next to the Apartheid Wall in Bil’in, she stood beside Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Information Minister.
“Non-violence will solve the problems here in Israel and Palestine,” Ms. Macguire continued. “Often, the world sees only violence. But Palestinians are a good people, working towards non-violence. This Wall must fall! It is an insult to the human family and to the world– that we are building Apartheid Walls in the 21st Century! More than forty years of Occupation and Land Appropriation”
Ms. Macguire demanded her viewers of the world to stop Israel’s “mild dictatorship” and “total Israeli government control.”
Dr. Barghouti thanked her and the 500 attendees of the Second Bil’in International Conference on Non-violence. Regarding the Wall, he stated that it was an “instrument of ethnic cleansing, the same as what happened in 1948.” Barghouti suggested to read Illan Pappe’s book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine for a clear explanation.
Barghouti stated that the Apartheid Wall is being used to suffocate the idea of a 2-state solution and an independent Palestinian state.
Describing the Wall, Barghouti said that it was 850 km in length, which is three times the length of the Green Line (the 1967 Armistice line), that the wall surrounds and imprisons cities and villages. Qalqilia was mentioned, a city of 46,000 Palestinians, which is completely surrounded by the Aparthied Wall.
“This Wall is being built between Palestinians and Palestinians,” he said. “It is not being built between Palestine and Israel. 850,000 Palestinians are behind this wall. It is destroying Palestinian social, economic, health, and educational systems.”
“It has been condemned by every major legal body, including the International Court of Justice, and it must be removed!”
“You will see the Israeli military practice violence here today.”
After 60 years of dispossession and 40 years of Occupation, Dr. Barghouti joined Ms. Macguire in Bil’in, as “a symbol of the Palestinian non-violent struggle,” he said. He also demanded the release of British BBC journalist Alan Johnson, “who did everything he could to bring the truth, a wonderful being which (he) knew well, a fantastic journalist. We demand his freedom. It continues to hurt the image of the Palestinian people.”
Barghouti closed by saying that there is no propaganda needed– just to show the pictures of the wall and checkpoints, for they speak for themselves.
Just before the press conference ended, a huge Israeli high-powered water police-tank rolled through the opening in the Wall, demanding that all the vehicles of the press leave the premises.
Further beyond the Wall, Tito, a Puerto Rican activist was waiting for his cue. After the press conference ended, he climbed the sky-scraping Israeli military tower housing the military camera, which watches over the village of Bil’in like the all-seeing-eye of the pyramid, recording every movement of the cages Palestinians in Bil’in.
Cheering, “Tito! Tito!,” friends and activists snapped photos and a crew of supporters lingered below the massive tower. Military vehicles dispatched themselves to try and prevent the too-quick climber of Puerto Rico.
As he reached the top, the cheers grew louder and waving high and proud over the beautiful village of Bil’in were the colors of red, white, green and black.
It would be another five hours before Tito descended the tower.
On the other side of the village, Friday prayers at the mosque were ending, and hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis, and international solidarity activists would march down the road towards the Apartheid Wall.
But even with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti present and with the Irish Nobel Peace Prize Winner joining the non-violent demonstration, Israeli Occupation Forces utilized their usual violent tactics to try and quell the resistance.
Blocking the path with armed soldiers about 100 meters before the Wall, soldiers began to fire tear gas into the crowd of 400 or so protesters. The crowd would disperse, covering their faces with bandannas and onion slices to dilute the suffocating gases. But the crowd would regroup and continue, Ghandi-style, their non-violent procession to the Apartheid structure.
Israeli forces kept this up for quite some time, but as demonstrators reached closer to their goal, the occupiers added more ingredients to their recipe– this time using rubber-coated steel bullets.
Several patches of demonstrators in different parts of the olive grove were screaming in Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, English, and others, “Don’t shoot! We’re non-violent!”
But the triggers of the occupier’s guns pulled anyways– the weapon of non-violence needed to be dismantled.
And from 10 meters away, filmmaker Asusena Fernando from Spain was hit on the left leg with one of these rubber-coated steel bullets. She said to me, “He looked straight into my eyes. I asked him not to shoot but he took aim anyways.”
Moments later, Masid Abu Tamer, a Palestinian Israeli a journalist for British Channel 2 was shot in the head with a rubber bullet. The Palestinian Red Crescent placed him on the stretcher and loaded him into the ambulance.
“He’s the second one it 3 minutes that they’ve shot in the head!” yelled someone next to me.
It is illegal under Israeli military law to shoot rubber bullets from a distance under 40 meters. They are considered lethal otherwise. Lymor Goldstein was shot by Israeli forces in the head last August from a distance of 10 meters with a rubber bullet. The bullet penetrated his skull and entered his brain. Luckily, he is still around and is serving as Tito’s lawyer right now as I am writing this.
I saw Tomas from Denmark fall to the ground, Dawood from the UK hit on the inner thigh near his groin, Ali from Palestine hit in the leg, and tear gas canisters were oozing with white smoke from what seemed like every inch of the land.
I exited the street to find a group of 8 Palestinian, Israeli, and internationals with their hands raised high to the sky, shouting not to shoot. Because of my medic background, and because of the recent shootings previously mentioned, I hovered nearby.
Suddenly, Ms. Macguire, the Irish Nobel Peace prize winner was shot in the leg.
Two other street medics carried her to safety and the army continued to fire into the non-violent crowd.
The resilience was astounding. The demonstrators kept regrouping. Even Ms. Macguire, after being shot and with red, watery tear-gassed eyes– she rejoined the march.
Eventually, there was an ad-hoc town hall meeting. Habibi, a Palestinian from Jenin stood atop a dirt mound and announced that we were moving forward. “We need internationals to join us! We are going to cross to the other side. Let’s just move quickly as one group and we will make it!”
On the other side of army lines stood Dr. Barghouti, the crowd below Tito, and other activists who were being harassed by the soldiers.
So we charged forward, through clouds of tear gas, and reached the hill toward the Wall. Soldiers refrained from firing tear gas now since we stood just inches away. The canon of the water tank moved its aim from the demonstration towards this new crowd of activists forming on the hill near the jeeps.
Occupation forces started throwing people around, threatening them with arrest. Soldiers were swinging their batons. A young Palestinian boy was hit and was carried away over someone’s shoulder.
“Shame!,” someone exclaimed to a soldier, “Is that how the moral Israeli army treats Palestinians children?”
The soldiers were trying to force the activists apart but they locked arms and became one solid unit that the army just could not dismantle. When the soldiers turned their attention on a singular activist and charged at him, the line of activists unlocked arms and puppy-piled on top of him, saving him from the soldiers’ abuse.
Tear gas and rubber bullets continued to be fired at the demonstration back across the path. Those who saw that we made it across attempted to join us but the army was determined to not let this happen. And there was Tito was up on that tower.
When a Palestinian teenager fainted from tear gas inhalation, demonstrators called for Dr. Barghouti. He came to the boy’s assistance, checked his jugular pulse, splashed some water on his face, and helped him off to safety. Others throughout the demonstration were treated with tear gas inhalation.
Three internationals were detained, handcuffed, and brought to one of the army jeeps. Another was de-arrested by the group who made it to the hill. Soldiers were confining these activists to a small space.
I could see them whispering to each other and it became clear to me that the water canon was pointing directly at the activists. (Water canons can knock the wind out of you and cause serious damage). And the soldiers kept backing away as if they didn’t want to get splashed. “Follow the soldiers!” one of the activists yelled. The soldier in the water tank would be less inclined to shoot at the activists if they were adjacent the soldiers. So no water was fired as the activists followed the soldiers’ steps, still locking arms.
After some time, a Palestinian from the organizing committee amplified his voice over the bullhorn, saying that the demonstration should come to an end. He negotiated with the soldier that they would not fire at the activists during the retreat.
As they left, they moved away the barbed wire that the soldiers had used as a roadblock. The demonstrators from the other side of the road marched towards the ones who had crossed the army line.
Chanting ensued and the two groups rejoined. After a quick decision, the whole of the group marched back towards the jeeps and soldiers and immediately sat on the ground, locking arms. Over the loud speaker, someone told Tito’s story— of a man who came all the way from Puerto Rico to stand in solidarity, to climb the tower to hand the Palestinian symbol of independence, and to risk arrest and deportation. The crowd answered back, “Tito! Tito! Tito!”
Then, the three men who were arrested were released and rejoined the demonstrators.
At this point, the Bil’in’s Second Annual Conference on Non-violence came to an end. The soldiers exited the gate in the Apartheid Wall. The demonstrators went to tend their wound, to expel the tear gas powder from their noses and lungs. Others, like Ursula from Switzerland, went to the hospital because she was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet.
Ana Maria, a 63 year old retired lawyer from Spain, tended to her stomach after also being hit with a rubber bullet.
An estimated 25 people were either hit with rubber bullets, soldier batons, or received medical care from tear gas inhalation.
And Tito remains in prison. It is the first time that the military commander has used a practice for an international that is normally used against the Palestinians. When a Palestinian is arrested, the army usually hold the person for 96 hours before even seeing a judge. The commander can then extend that 96 hours for and another 96 hours. With Israelis or internationals who are arrested in similar situations, they are usually released before 24 hours.
Lymor Goldstein, Tito’s lawyer, has said that the court may deport Tito tomorrow, even though Tito was scheduled to leave Palestine on Sunday (tomorrow) anyways.
The people of Bil’in and their Israeli and international solidarity friends will be back next Friday, to continue their non-violent struggle against Israeli Apartheid and land theft.
11. FREEDOM SUMMER 2007:
(Please forward widely)
For over 40 years the people of Palestine have endured a brutal military occupation.
Apartheid and military occupation make every day life almost impossible, whether it’s tending crops and livestock, passing through an Israeli military checkpoint, or going to school when illegal Israeli settlers attack.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and U.S. President Jimmy Carter described Israel’s Apartheid policies as “worse than South Africa’s.”
There’s always plenty of argument and hot-air generated about Palestine, but the ISM gives you the chance to act. Palestinians ask international volunteers to support their non-violent demonstrations, to confront policies of land theft and destruction, and to intervene whenever necessary.
This June marks the 40th anniversary of the military Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Now, more than ever there is a need for an international presence in Palestine.
International volunteers help reveal to the world the truth on the ground from Occupied Palestine—a truth that the mainstream media disguises or simply ignores. The world needs to understand that when the Israeli government says they are going to “starve” the Palestinian government into making concessions, the ordinary people do the starving and no political progress is made.
The world may believe that the Israeli occupation ended with the Gaza pullout, but volunteers who witness settlement expansion on Palestinian land know that the occupation in the West Bank gets worse.
Volunteers with ISM’s Freedom Summer 2007 will stand side by side with villagers in Bil’in as they continue their two-year struggle to save their land from Israel’s Apartheid Wall. They will also join demonstrations in the village of Um Salamuna, where a large amount of village land has been confiscated for the construction of the Apartheid Wall and expansion of nearby illegal settlements. Volunteers will also protest the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley and South Hebron, where Israeli forces are currently demolishing homes.
When international volunteers are absent, the Israeli army use lethal tactics of repression, such as live ammunition on unarmed protesters. Your presence means Palestinians can peacefully protest without being threatened with death.
ISM volunteers also serve as human rights monitors in the Hebron neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, where Israeli settlers harass and often attack children and teachers. Israeli soldiers in Hebron sometimes detain Palestinians for hours at checkpoints and arbitrarily invade Palestinian homes.
You can make a difference, as our volunteers have in the past, to help hold Israeli soldiers and settlers accountable for their actions.
In addition to the important field work, there are many other tasks that must be done. You may be able to join Palestinian communities in providing emergency medical services, help to disassemble restrictive roadblocks, or assist in the ISM Media Office.
One of our most important and undervalued skills as internationals is listening to and witnessing what Palestinians have to say about their current situations and how their lives have been ruined by the illegal occupation of their land.
There is plenty of room to share your creative skills with the Palestinian and international community, whether you can help run an art workshop for children or utilize your circus talents to de-escalate military harassment, both of which are current projects in Tel Rumeida.
Join the ISM for Freedom Summer 2007 and encounter first-hand the courage and the generosity of the Palestinian people as they continue to exist and survive under Israeli Apartheid and occupation.
On the day of the Summer Solstice, let us join Palestinians in non-violent struggle to end the Israeli Occupation. Let the whole world come together here in Palestine to confront Apartheid and to sustain the solidarity which remains unbroken.
Your presence in Palestine this summer, for a week or for three months, is an important part of maintaining the bridges that have been built with the Palestinians, and for new ones to come.
Freedom Summer 2007 kicks off June 21 and ends August 15. Volunteer training sessions are held every Thursday and Friday.
Further details to come…
For more information on how to join us in Palestine, see:
Contact: [email protected]