Home / Family’s trees uprooted in Artas, Palestinian Information Minister attacked by Israeli soldiers

Family’s trees uprooted in Artas, Palestinian Information Minister attacked by Israeli soldiers

1) World Bank condemns roadblocks, 5 activists arrested for dismantling them
2) Two internationals hospitalized after Israeli settlers attack
3) 40 Children Without a Roof
4) IWPS: Family home in Al Funduq to be demolished in three days
5) The children of Al Hadidiya live here no more
6) Commemorating the Nakba in Ramallah
7) Destroying the Wall in Umm Salamuna
8) Showered with tear gas on Nakba day
9) Please don’t shit on the apricots
10) Don’t s**t on our apricots!”
11) Family’s trees uprooted in Artas, Palestinian Information Minister attacked by Israeli soldiers
12) In the belly of the wailing “democracy” called Israel
13) The Losers are Too Numerous to Name
14) IWPS: Palestinian banker detained
15) Israeli police to human rights workers: “Don’t do anything stupid!”

1) World Bank condemns roadblocks, 5 activists arrested for dismantling them
by the ISM Media Crew, 16 May 2007

UPDATE, May 17 From Kobi Snitz: All 5 of us were released thanks to the excellent work by Gaby Lasky who made the prosecution seem especially ignorant today. We were not required to deposit any money and the conditions of release are that we stay 500 m away from Dahariya junction and (the Israelis) to not participate in illegal assembly. The internationals will have to stay in a specified home of a friend (but not be under house arrest). The prosecution still say they will try to deport them but that is a lot less likely now that they are not under arrest anymore.

Thanks to everyone who came to court to support us, collected evidence did legal support and brought food.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
16 May 2007

Three Israelis and two international solidarity activists were arrested today at a non-violent action in Daharia, removing an Israeli roadblock. The roadblock has been installed since the late 2000. It prevents the 90,000 Palestinians in Dhahariya and neighboring villages from accessing Route 60, the main road into Hebron. This forces them to take a longer alternative route, turning what would be a 20-minute journey into an hour and a half. The nearest hospital to Dharirya is in Hebron, so this roadblock added more than an hour onto the journey time for an ambulance, effectively cutting off the village from emergency medical care.

All activists are currently spending the night at Kiryat Arba police station. The Israelis are accused of illegal assembly, interference of a police officer in duty and property damage. They will be brought to court in Jerusalem tomorrow at around noon (exact hour TBA).

As for the 2 internationals, it is still unclear what may happen to them. Gaby Lasky, the lawyer defending the activists, said that they may be sent today to the ministry of interior and face deportation or may be brought to court tomorrow in Jerusalem along with the Israelis.

On May 3, protesters dismantled a temporary roadblock in the Hebron Hills, close to the town of Dahariyah. In response to this non-violent action, armed Israeli soldiers violently attacked Israeli protesters. The military police criminal investigations division has launched an investigation into the incident. Video of the attack can be seen HERE: http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//1104277

According to a May report released by the World Bank, “Currently, freedom of movement and access for Palestinians within the West Bank is the exception rather than the norm contrary to the commitments undertaken in a number of Agreements between GOI and the PA. In particular, both the Oslo Accords and the Road Map were based on the principle that normal Palestinian economic and social life would be unimpeded by restrictions. In economic terms, the restrictions arising from closure not only increase transaction costs, but create such a high level of uncertainty and inefficiency that the normal conduct of business becomes exceedingly difficult and
stymies the growth and investment which is necessary to fuel economic revival.”

Full World Bank report HERE: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWESTBANKGAZA/Resources/WestBankrestrictions9Mayfinal.pdf

For more information, contact:
ISM Media Crew, 02-297-1824, 0599-943-157, 0542-103-657

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2) Two internationals hospitalized after Israeli settlers attack
by the ISM Media Crew

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
19 May 2007

Tel Rumeida, Hebron– Today, May 19, at 2:30pm, a group of 6 Israeli settlers, aged 15-17, attacked a group of Palestinian children and two human rights workers (HRWs), one from Germany and one from Greece.

The settlers were walking from the illegal Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida towards Shuhadda St. When they crossed a group of Palestinian children, the settlers started to harass the children and push them around. The HRWs followed the settlers further down onto Shuhadda St., near the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah.

The settlers then started to throw rocks at the HRWs. When George, from Greece, opened up his camera to start filming, the settlers attacked him from behind.

George said, “They hit me several times in my head and then I fell to the ground. Then, the settlers started to kick me while I was on the ground. They broke my camera and tried to steal it. The Israeli soldier who was standing right in front of me yelled at the settlers but did not stop the attack from happening.”

Trudy, from Germany, said, “I went to go and help George when the settlers kicked him to the ground, then 2 settlers started to attack me. The settlers kicked me in the stomach. They were big boys, 15-17 years old. I started to scream. The settlers didn’t leave when the soldier yelled. They left when they saw the police arriving.

The Israeli police took Geroge and Trudy to the police station to file a report. George, however, was very dizzy and in pain and asked that the police escort the two of them to the hospital. The police, however, refused to do so and let them outside of the police station where the two HRWs took a taxi to the hospital.

At 15:00, George and Trudy arrived at Al Ahli hospital, where they are currently receiving treatment.

For more info, contact:
ISM Media Office, 0599-943-157, 0542-103-657
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3) 40 Children Without a Roof

Demolition of Palestinian homes in Attir
by Yeela Raanan, Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, 21 May 2007

Today, Monday, May 21, 2007, again the government of Israel again demolished homes of its citizens. This time in the village of Attir, north of the town of Hura. The government demolished four homes. About 40 children were left without a roof over their heads and with harsh memories they will carry their entire lives.

In the 1950s the government of Israel uprooted the Abu-Alqian people and relocated them in the location they are living until today.

Ahmad built his home in the 1990s. The government wanted to move him and his entire extended family to the town of Hura. Despite wishing to maintain a rural community way of life, despite living off animal husbandry, despite the government’s wish to build a village for Jews in the place of his village, because of the threat of his home being demolished, the extended family – several brothers – agreed to move to Hura. They came to an agreement with the Authority for the “Advancement” of the Bedouins on the location of a neighborhood in Hura that will host their extended family.

There were two final points to settle with the Authority: the Authority was willing to allow single young men from the age of 23 to purchase land for homes, while the family wanted the young men from the age of 18 to have this right. Especially since the Authority was not willing to allocate space for future family home purchases. The second point was the amount of compensation that the families should receive. The government decided that $25,000 was the cost of the large stone buildings the families were leaving behind, and the families had no legal way to refute this. Of this half would go towards the purchase of the land on which the new house was to be built. This left the family the ridiculous sum of $12,000 with which to build a new home. The family requested a true estimate of the cost of building a new home similar to that they had to leave.

At this point the Authority lost patience and decided that instead of negotiations, they will demolish. Now Ahmad and the others don’t have a negotiation chip – they have no home to leave…

Police come to Attir to demolish homes, RCUV

There are several questions one may ask from what occurred today:

· Was it really less expensive to employ a helicopter, eight buses full of police people who were brought from the center of Israel, five bulldozers, scores of large cars full of more police people – hundreds, or maybe thousands of police people, rather than agreeing to the requests by the families for more fair compensation?

· Will this line of action by the Authority bring forth many more people happy to give up their lives in the villages, and negotiate with the Authority on the conditions of transfer to the new locations demanded by the government?

· Do we really want the gangsters who run the Authority to be those who define for us the relationships with our neighbors in the Negev?

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4) IWPS: Family home in Al Funduq to be demolished in three days
by Sue, IWPS, 16 May 2007

report with photos here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/17/funduq-home-demolish-3days/

A family in Al Funduq had a demolition order delivered to their home while both were at work yesterday, 16th May. The paper was left on the door. It was the third final order and it left them three days to leave before destruction of their home.

The man, 29 years old is a worker for the Red Crescent Society. The woman, 25 years old, is a school-teacher. They have two children, four years and 8 months old. The house, which had been built for them to move in after their wedding, is 150 square meters and an approximate value of NIS 180,000 or USD $45,350.

The International Women’s Peace Service, Haris, Salfit, Palestine.

Tel:- (09)-2516-644

The house has been under threat of demolition since February 2006, when the first demolition order was delivered. The second demolition order followed in May 2006. Each time, the family has retained an attorney in an attempt to appeal against the demolition. They paid out approximately NIS 12,000 or USD $3020 USD to the lawyers and nothing was achieved. The order which had been left by Israeli soldiers on the door of their house yesterday, the family retained a third lawyer for NIS 7,940 or USD $2000.

Last year, one of the man’s brothers had his home demolished (see IWPS HR Report No. 279) nearby to this house. The reason given then was lack of a permit to build. Reasons given for this year’s slated demolition is also lack of a permit to build. The family has a deed to the property dated from 1964.

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5) The children of Al Hadidiya live here no more

by Daphne Banai, 15 May 2007

A month ago we went to see the people of El Hadidiya. They have been living in the Israeli Occupied Jordan Valley for over 100 years, but have been expelled – to accommodate the needs of the illegal Israeli settlement that popped up around them. For the last 10 years, Palestinians in Hadidiya have been living near the settlement of Ro’i, growing wheat and tending to their sheep. But their Israeli settler neighbors demanded their removal because they fancied their land.

In despair the Hadidiya family turned to the Israeli Supreme Court looking for justice, for protection, from the colonizers’ judicial system. What a joke ! Claiming they were nomads (they are not – they try to settle and own the land !) – the court said it would not matter where they settle, and rejected their claim…

They turned their hoping eyes to us, and we had nothing to to offer them. What could we do? What could we say? That we’ll help?

Today we came again to see what’s happening with those gentle people and found ruins, destruction and lots of medications (for a broken heart?)

An old bike, some coins that are not in use any more, men’s shoes coupled up tidily – as if waiting for a couple of bare feet to make their way in, a dovecote – all the doves flying around it, a child’s toy.

The place still smells of life, carried on the sounds of death.

Everywhere I looked I could see the eyes of these little children piercing me. Will they come haunting us forever? And how does one live with the pain, with the shame?

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6) Commemorating the Nakba in Ramallah
from Kim and Anjelka, IWPS, 17 May 2007

report with photos here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/20/59-year-nakba-ramallah/

Al Nakba, which means “the catastrophe” in Arabic, is the name given by the Palestinians to the 1948 UN partition of British Mandate Palestine, establishment of the state of Israel and the resulting ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population from major parts of the territory. Between April and May, 1948, as a result of attacks by Zionist militias and the first Arab-Israeli war, more than 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from their ancestral homes and forces to flee to refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Today, Israel continues to deny the Palestinian Nakba and the right of return of more than 6 million Palestinian refugees worldwide.

More than a thousand people attended the largest commemoration rally, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Demonstrators marched from the “Camp of the Nakba”, near the Palestinian National Headquarters, to Manara Square in the city’s centre. At Manara Square, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) addressed the rally, warning against the renewed factional fighting and saying that Palestinians didn’t need a new Nakba.

A number of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship made the journey to Ramallah to participate in the rally. One young woman, Siwar, who ravelled with her family from Jerusalem, said she was marching “to remind the Israeli people that their ‘independence day’ was our al Nakba and we can never forget that”.

Siwar said that even though she and her family “are forced to have Israeli ID, we are still Palestinian and we will never forget al Nakba”. “We are still all Palestinians”, she said, “whether we are in ‘48’, in the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Jordan or Syria, and we are united in the memory of al Nakba”.

Dozens of other women joined the Ramallah rally singing traditional Palestinian song remembering the 1948 catastrophe. One participant, Mona said that the reasons she and the other women were marching was because “we want to remember the refugees”.

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7) Destroying the Wall in Umm Salamuna
by the ISM Media Crew, 18 May 2007

On May 18 2007, a demonstration commemorating the Nakba (the “Catastrophe,” when Israel forcibly displaced three quarters of a million Palestinians from their homes, massacred civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages) took place in the village of Um Salamuna near Bethlehem. Around 100 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals gathered for prayers near the settlement road cutting the village off from its land. The army, border police and riot unit showed up with around eleven jeeps and 60 well-armed men. The aim of the demonstration was to cross the settler road and reach the village’s land in a show of peaceful defiance against the many years of occupation and oppression.

Following speeches from Palestinian villagers and members of the public, in which they detailed their wishes for peace and justice for their people, we all started walking the short distance to the gate between the village and the road.

Basha, a Palestinian demonstrator, said, “We were stopped almost immediately by the special riot unit, who pushed us back with much force. Two Israelis were arrested for “violating” the closed military zone order that had been imposed. Much violence ensued on the part of the riot unit.”

Two flying checkpoints were setup on the main road and the entrance of village stopping Palestinian vehicles and the residents of the nearby villages of Umm Salamuna to join their right to protest against the occupation and the thief of the their land. A group of Palestinians walked down the hill around the checkpoint to reach the demonstration.

The Palestinian leaders of the demonstration decided that we were to turn our backs on the soldiers and march along the route of the wall back to the village. A number of people spontaneously began to destroy the infrastructure of the wall, in order to make it more difficult for the Israeli authorities to complete their work. Once again, we were confronted by a line of many soldiers. A short and rather peaceful confrontation ensued and the demonstration was then ended by the Palestinian organizers.

One organizer of the event said, “the demonstration was a great success: we managed to get our message across. We were there to defy the Occupation and we did so.”

Palestinians will again be joined next Friday by Israeli and international solidarity activists.

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8) Showered with tear gas on Nakba day
from A-Infos, 19 May 2007

This Friday the theme of the demonstration in Bil’in was the Nakba. This week marked 59 years from the formal robbery of most of the Palestinian lands by the Israeli settler colonialists with blessing of the United Nation and the big imperial powers. We marched at noon on the road leading to the route of the separation fence – Palestinians from the village and the region; international activists; Israelis organized by the anarchists against the wall (AATW) initiative; and media workers of all kinds. Among the participants from Ramallah, were people of the Popular Democratic Front (of Naif Hawatme). One of them was old enough to remember the exchanging of texts between their journals and the Israeli anti-authoritarian anti capitalist (anti Zionist) journal Matspen….

Most of the marchers carried small placards – each with the name of one of the about 500 villages destroyed in 1948 by the Israeli expansionist forces.

When we arrived at the foot of the hill on its top is located the gate to the robed lands on the other side of the separation fence, we encountered a line of barbed wire and lot of soldiers half the way up the hill. Their commander declared with the loudspeaker that there is a military closed space just behind the barbed wire. He warned with retaliation and arrest people who will cross the line.

The people at the head moved aside the barbed wire spool and continued to advance – and got immediately a shower of tear gas canisters.

The tear gas detered most of the people who retreated a hundred meters and dispersed among the olive trees on the side of the road. A small group of comrades who succeeded to march up the hill got a special shower of tear gas and was forced to join the rest of us.

For more than two hours there were waves of people regrouping and advancing a bit, and showers of tear gas forcing us to retreat. At some point, olive trees in the groove were set on fire by the shooting of tear gas grenades, and demonstrators worked to extinguish the fire in spite of the tear gas.

In their efforts to disperse the demonstration soldiers even invaded the fringe of the built area of the village.

After the fires were extinguished the demonstration was ended. I could see one comrade carrying a 20 liter bucket full of tear gas canisters as a kind of trophy – a small part of the hundreds fired on us this day.

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9) Please don’t shit on the apricots

by: Yifat Appelbaum
report with photos here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/17/dont-poo-on-the-apricots-please/

Today I feel frustrated. I sat in a cute little apricot orchard in a village near Beit Lahem as the army watched us through binoculars from the hill, a menacing bulldozer in the background. They’re going to ‘doze this orchard to make way for sewage pipes from the Efrata settlement. New sections of Efrata are being built on the hill above the orchard. I was imagining all the problems that are going to happen once the settlers move in; villagers will need special permits to access their land. These permits will be difficult to obtain. Even if they do get permits, they will still be subject to the whims of the army who can either let them work the land or not, depending on their mood or the mood of the settlers controlling them. It will become like a hell, like so much of the west bank is already becoming. This has happened hundreds of times already.

The only way to look at this is warfare. Land is stolen, no one in compensated. If some kid so much as throws a pebble in the direction of the invading army he’s going to get shot or arrested. People whose families have supported themselves for generations off this land are suddenly without a source of income and forced to rely on handouts from various NGOs since, as we know, foreign aid is no longer coming into Palestine because of the international boycott of the Hamas government. Does Ismail Haniyeh look like he’s starving yet ?

It’s starting to feel ineffective to sit around for a few hours here and there and block a bulldozer while the army is patiently waiting for you to get bored and leave, and they know you will. So we save an orchard for one more day. Maybe a few extra hours here and there.

But I do know something. There is absolutely no way to justify this in the name of security for Israelis. No way at all.
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10) Don’t s**t on our apricots!”

by Martinez, 16 May 2007

Report with photos and video here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/16/dont-poo-on-my-trees/

Mohammad Abu Swai, who holds the deeds to this land, explains the situation in Artas village

Maybe it was because the word was spread, the call was headed, and 4 Israeli and 9 international solidarity activists joined Palestinians in the village of Artas today to resist the Israeli army’s demolition of a field of apricot trees in Jesus’ hometown of Bethlehem.

Or maybe it was because it started to pour down rain, equipped with lightning and thunder, causing not only the army, but also the activists to take shelter in the nearby caves.

Regardless, the Israeli bulldozers will be back tomorrow morning, and the Palestinians of Artas village are still seeking the help of solidarity activists to join them in resisting these abhorring actions on behalf of the Israeli army.

The illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat is in the distance. The army is destroying this field of apricot trees in order to pave the way for a new sewage system for the illegal colony. The day before we arrived, contractors and soldiers lined the trees and land with markers, reading “10 meteres, 40 meters, etc,” leading all the way up to 150 meters.

Some of us talked about making T-shirts that say “Don’t shit on our apricots!”

Artas is a beautiful village, as are her apricot trees and her people. As Israeli bulldozers ripped away the hilltop in the distance to make way for military roads, settler roads, and a place for the militarily-funded Bedouin security personnel to sleep at night and guard the construction site, farmers from Artas whipped up some delicious tea and thanked us all for coming to resist the demolition of their fields.

But the rain came and pushed all the soldiers away. Villagers from Artas believe they will be back in the morning.

Update to come.

We’ll be back there too.
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11) Family’s trees uprooted in Artas, Palestinian Information Minister attacked by Israeli soldiers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
20 May 2007
Report with video here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/20/barghouti-attacked/

On Sunday morning, May 20, Israeli Occupation Forces destroyed an apricot and date orchard comprised of 28 trees in the village of Artas near Bethlehem. Four Israeli activists were arrested.

At 5:30 AM, approximately 40 soldiers came and forcibly removed approximately 60 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists who had been maintaining a presence on the land since Wednesday, May 16. Soldiers hit and kicked activists who had chained themselves to trees, and forcibly threw others over a stone wall, including elderly Palestinian women. After the activists had been removed, the bulldozer entered the land and the army uprooted the trees and ripped apart the land.

Israel’s apartheid wall is being built through the village of Artas to allow for the expansion of the Efrat settlement and is confiscating approximately 4000 dunums of land. Two new settlement neighborhoods, Tamar and Dagan are being built on the land and will be attached to Efrat. This expansion is illegal under international law and the so-called “Road Map to Peace.” Sewage from Efrat will be piped out through this former orchard.

Later, at 1:30 pm, Palestinian Information Minister Dr. Mustafa Barghouti arrived at the demolition site in Artas. There, he held a press conference, highlighting speakers from the village and their recent trauma. Shortly after the media left, according to Mohammad Abu Swai, about 50 Israeli soldiers entered the site and started to brutalize the crowd. Dr. Barghouti was hit with a soldier’s club from behind.

Abu Swai explained, “The soldiers are acting like animals! They are hiiting anyone in their path, including the Minister!”

Soldiers are still currently stationed in the village. Palestinians were planning to replant their uprooted trees, including an additional 30 trees that were just purchased.

Like most settlements, Efrat was started illegally as an outpost but was later approved by the Israeli supreme court.

The orchard belonged to the Abu Swai family.

Video footage of demolition available upon request.

For more information:
Arabic: Awad Swai 0598305810
English: Jesus Martinez 0599943157
Hebrew/English/Arabic: Adar 0525444866

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12) In the belly of the wailing “democracy” called Israel
In this story, Hope may just be the name of someone I served coffee to in Pennsylvania

report with photos and video here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/21/in-the-belly-of-the-wailing-democracy-called-israel/

by Jesus Martinez, 21 May 2007

We start this tale on Friday, May 18th in Bethlehem, and end up back in Bethlehem on Sunday May 2o. Jesus would have been devastated seeing what I have seen in his birth town.

In 1948, Palestinians suffered from a major Catastrophe. They call it the Nakba. Three quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes and 531 villages, hundreds of which were razed to the ground, civilians were massacred, and they continue to remain as refugees, denied their right of returning home.

The right of return is an inalienable right. Denial of the right of return is a perpetuation of ethnic cleansing which is a war crime. The right of return is a basic right, derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international and regional covenants. It is an individual right derived from the sanctity of private ownership and a collective right derived from the Principle of Self-Determination. It has no statute of limitation and cannot be extinguished by a treaty or the establishment of a state. It is affirmed by the UN Resolution 194 and repeatedly confirmed by the international community over 110 times in 50 years, unparalleled in UN history. Legally, the Return can ONLY be implemented to the refugee’s home and land in 1948, not anywhere else, even in Palestine. Ben Gurion’s doctrine: “the destruction of the Palestinian Society in Palestine is a necessary condition for the establishment of the state of Israel on its ruins.”
from the Palestine Land Society

So, on May 18th, Palestinians from Umm Salamuna, a village near Bethlehem, were joined by 100 Israeli and international solidarity activists in a demonstration commemorating the Nakba and an action geared at dismantling the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the village. 1,500 dunams between Umm Salamuna and Wadi Rahal villages will be isolated because of the Wall, and Palestinians will on be allowed passage through massive iron gates controlled by Israel Occupation Forces.

Two flying checkpoints were established on the main road and the entrance of the village, preventing Palestinian vehicles and the residents of the nearby villages of Umm Salamuna to join their right to protest against the illegal occupation and the theft of the their land. A group of Palestinians and internationals walked down a rocky slope, effectively avoiding the checkpoint in order to reach the demonstration.

The army, border police and riot unit showed up with around eleven jeeps and 60 well-armed men. After Palestinians prayed on the land for Friday prayers, demonstrators attempted to cross the Israeli settler road and reach the restricted village’s land in a show of peaceful resistance to the many years of brutal occupation and oppression.

Speeches were made by Palestinian villagers and members of the public detailing their wishes for peace and justice for their people. Then, demonstrators made their way towards their restricted land on the other side of the road.

Basha, a Palestinian demonstrator, said, “We were stopped almost immediately by the special riot unit, who pushed us back with much force. Two Israelis were arrested for “violating” the closed military zone order that had been imposed. Much violence ensued on the part of the riot unit.”

The Palestinian leaders of the demonstration decided that we were to turn our backs on the soldiers and march along the route of the wall back to the village. A number of people spontaneously began to destroy the infrastructure of the wall, in order to make it more difficult for the Israeli authorities to complete their work. Pipes were pulled from their places and building materials were thrown down the hillside.

Dismantling the Wall in Umm Salamuna

Once again, we were confronted by a line of many soldiers. A short and rather peaceful confrontation ensued and the demonstration was then ended by the Palestinian organizers.

Mahmoud, one organizer of the event said, “the demonstration was a great success: we managed to get our message across. We were there to defy the Occupation and we did so.”

The Israelis who were arrested were later released.

Several of us loaded ourselves into a taxi to make our way down to the Israeli- Occupied neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, located in al Khalil (Hebron). The Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians
had a show to perform for the kids tonight. However, just as we were about to leave Israeli-Occupied Bethlehem, I received a call from Mohammad Abu Swai. Friends call him Awad.

He told me that Israeli soldiers were currently in his village of Artas, about 20 minutes from Umm Salamuna. The soldiers, Awad said, were taking pictures of the area and a handful of jeeps were in the village. Awad and his family’s trees were slated for demolition. Everyone, including me, sensed that the trees’ time was coming soon– and maybe it was at this moment.

So we flung ourselves from the al Khalil-bound taxi, hopped into one headed the other direction, and made our way through the curvy roads of Artas, wedged between two beautiful, large mountains. A “Closed Paradise” is what residents of Artas call their village. So we headed to Paradise to confront the Apartheid Mongers from destroying it.

Soldiers were gone before we arrived. But everyone there knew they would be back. Awad said that they were gathering evidence of who and what was in the land so the army would know how many jeeps, soldiers, and police were needed to expel the residents and activists and to cleanse the land of its fruit, Nakba-style.

We remained on the land until several other activists arrived and continued our trip back to Hebron.

A new welcome note had been added to one of the concrete blocks outside the checkpoint into the Tel Rumeida neighborhood:

These concrete blocks are seen all over Palestine, preventing freedom of movement between Palestinian lands, preventing farmers from reaching their lands, students from reaching their schools, and the ill from reaching their hospitals. Inside of the Palestinian neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, where we now lay our scene, these massive concrete blocks seal off the neighborhood from the rest of Palestinian al-Khalil. Palestinians are not allowed to drive cars of any kind in Tel Rumeida, including ambulances, taxis, and fire trucks. Only Jewish illegal settlers from such colonies as Beit Hadassah and Tel Rumeida are allowed to drive cars. They are also allowed to carry weapons, including M-16s, as they walk around the streets. Palestinians, of course, are not allowed to carry weapons of any kind.

But, although in the past we at the Tel Rumeida Circus for almost forced by Israeli police to halt our fire show (we had just ended anyways), the Occupation has not banned the fire performance on the streets of Tel Rumeida– yet.

So, at 9:00 pm, TRCDP revealed our new fire routine to the kids of Tel Rumeida.

We were joined by two additional TRCDP fire spinners.

At the end of the show, Israeli police arrived in their jeep. They watched us creatively resisting the unwritten law which prevents groups of Palestinians to gather in the streets of Tel Rumeida, especially so close to the Israeli colonies. They took in 30 seconds of the fire show, then they left. We couldn’t see them through their tinted windows, but I think they were smiling.

It was a fun night.
The next day turned into the saddest days of my activist life.

It was Shabbat, Saturday. Just hours after I arrived back to Ramallah I received a call from Hebron. It is more often than not that settlers attack on Shabbat. Today was no different.

The story goes like this: Israeli settlers started to hassle a group of Palestinians in Tel Rumeida, just near the spot where TRCDP had the circus show the night before.

Two international human rights workers began to follow the settlers. As the Greek volunteer pulled out his video camera to start filming the incident, settlers attacked him from behind, punching him in the head, then kicking him as he lay on the ground. Settlers broke the camera and tried to steal it.

When the German volunteer began yelling for the soldier, who was standing right in front of the whole scene, she was then kicked in the stomach and fell to the ground. The soldier yelled at the settlers but, although mandated by international law, did not physically intervene to stop them.

Both volunteers received medical attention at the hospital. One stayed the night under doctor supervision as they were worried about a skull fracture or concussion.

In a situation where Israeli soldiers want to stop Palestinians from doing something, they will most likely disperse them by using tear gas, sound bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets like in Bil’in, or live ammunition. Of course, when settlers attack, nothing ever gets done about it in Tel Rumeida, or Palestine as a whole. The campaign of harassment against the Palestinians by the settlers continues perpetuates itself while soldiers stand idly by. Eventually, and if the extremist settlers could have things their way, all of the Palestinians will be forced from Tel Rumeida if this abuse continues, if the rocks continue to be thrown at children as they walk to school, as settlers continue to torch Palestinian cars and olive trees. The Nakba hasn’t ended in Tel Rumeida. It hasn’t ended in Palestine.

You can read the full report of this settler attack HERE: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/19/2-intls-hospitalized-hebron/

The Cleansing of Artas

At 6:00 pm this night, I received a call from Mohammad Abu Swai “Awad” from Artas village. I paused for a second as the phone rang and before I answered. When his name flashed on my phone, it means something is wrong.

He told me the news: One of the Bedouin construction workers, a fellow Arab who was helping the Israeli army to demolish the land and construct the Apartheid Wall and sewage system for the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat in place of the beautiful field of apricot trees belonging to Abu Swai’s family, came to the field in order to give the Awad a cordial warning.

“The bulldozers will be here at 4am, Mohammad,” said the Bedouin worker, “It’s time for you all to evacuate the land.”

There were warnings like this before. Thats’ why internationals and Israelis have joined the Palestinians to maintain a presence on the field of apricot trees in Artas since Wednesday, May 16.

See past reports on Artas HERE: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/17/dont-poo-on-the-apricots-please/ and HERE: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/16/dont-poo-on-my-trees/

Today’s warning, however, I really felt it, as did Awad. “This is the night,” he told me. “This is the night our trees will die.”

Israel’s Apartheid Wall is being built through the village of Artas to allow for the expansion of the Israeli colony of Efrat and is confiscating approximately 4000 dunums of land. Two new Israeli settlement neighborhoods, Tamar and Dagan, are being built on the land and will be attached to Efrat. This expansion is illegal under international law and the so-called “Road Map to Peace.” Sewage from Efrat will be piped out through this former orchard.

You really get to know people under these circumstances. Camping out in a field of trees in Bethlehem, in an ancient land, surrounded by mountains and wild sage. I would have never thought while sitting through Bible class in my old Catholic upbringing and singing songs about Bethlehem that it could have ever translated to this: Bethlehem is under siege and the Israeli army is coming to uproot these trees under which you are sipping tea with the Abu Swai family in order to construct a wall of Apartheid and a sewage pool for an Israeli colony. No way. WWJD?

After making some calls regarding the settler attack in Tel Rumeida, I did my best to rally as many people as possible to make their way to Artas, at the request of Awad, in order to resist the events that were about to occur.

Qalandiya Checkpoint

In a private taxi, I made my way through twists and turns back to Bethlehem. Would have made it sooner had the fortress-style checkpoint of Qalandiya wasn’t there, which separates Palestinians in Ramallah from Al Ram and other Palestinian towns, including the spiritual, economic, and geographical center of Palestine: Jerusalem.

As we waited to exit the checkpoint, Jewish settlers could be seen entering the checkpoint through a separated entrance. Israeli soldiers waved them through without hesitation and the cars sped away as the line behind the car I was in grew longer.

40 minutes later we made it to the booth of soldiers. Normally, soldiers will rummage through the car and questions the passengers in the car. In this case, because the soldiers saw that one of the passengers had an American passport, a passport from the country who helped pay for this fortress and occupation, they waved us through.

8 minutes later, however, we reached a floating checkpoint (consisting of military jeeps, non-permanent). When they saw me and my passport, sitting in a car with a Palestinian driver, questions were raised.

“Where are you from!” demanded the soldier.

“You have my passport in your hand.”

“Are you getting smart with me!”

“No, but you have my passport in your hand. It says really big on the front ‘United States of America.’”

He disappeared with my passport and the driver’s ID. The soldier came back saying something in Hebrew. I stared at him blankly. He screamed it again and I stared back blankly.

“Are you stupid or something?” he asked me.

I responded that I do not speak Hebrew and kindly asked that he try again in English.

“Where is your huwiyya?” the soldier asked. (A huwiyya is a Palestinian ID card.)

I am not Palestinian, so I do not have a huwiyya. He apparently refused to believe this and asked me again and I responded that I am an American, hence the passport still clenched in his 18 year old hands. 18 year old disappeared again, came back, more or less throwing my passport from the driver’s side window to me, and let us go.

When I arrived in Bethlehem, one of Awad’s cousins came and picked me up in the market. It was now 11:30 pm, Saturday night, fast approaching the 4am warning time of the tree destruction. The cousin pulled over to a small restaurant and told me to follow him. I sat down and he came back with a piece of kanaffe (a Palestinian cheesy dessert). How could you eat at a time like this, I thought. I would be too nervous if some foreign army was coming into my home or land to forcibly expel me and then destroy it. But he ate away and so did I, then back down that windy road to Artas, Bethlehem.

The Bedouin security personnel were still up on the mountain near where the path of the Apartheid Wall is being paved. The trees were still there, too. In nearly five hours, they would be gone.

Apparently the call was heeded, because about 50 Palestinians from Artas and surrounding Bethlehem areas came to show their solidarity against the tree and land demolition. There were also 2o or so Israeli and international solidarity activists.

Tents had been set up two nights before to accommodate the growing numbers of activists. Campfires were boiling water for tea and coffee. People were eating pita bread and telling stories in Arabic, Hebrew, English, Spanish, French, German, Italian. People seemed to be having a good time, but if you looked deep into the eyes of Awad and others, you could see the truth. It was a nauseating, impatient, waiting feeling to the whole scene that night.

It wasn’t much longer that, around 2:30 am, a pack of Israeli soldiers could be seen walking the parameters of the village. The campers continued to drink tea and chat. The last ruffles of the apricot leaves were being had.

The soldiers then entered the village. There was no bulldozer in sight and it was too dark to go ahead with their operation, so what did they want? I’ll tell you.

“We are here to inform you that there is a Jewish sniper somewhere in the hills around here. We are here to protect.”

Basically, they wanted us all to go home. But they knew we wouldn’t. This was home to some of them. They were also gathering information: How many Palestinians are here? How many Israelis and internationals? How many soldiers would they need? How many police?

Nobody slept. The tents were empty. At 5:00 am, just the skies were getting bluer, a Palestinian boy came running into the village. “Jeish! Jeish!” The army is coming.

Thirty soldier arrived in six jeeps. They held a paper in Hebrew and showed it to everyone. Then they spoke to Awad and the group in Hebrew–the language of the Occupation.

The commanding officer said that in 5 minutes, if we didn’t voluntarily leave, we would be forcibly removed.

Abhorring Acts of Occupation

I guess this is what democracy looks like: Israeli soldiers throwing men, women, young, old, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, over a wall, kicking them to the ground, arresting them for non-violent resistance.

This is what a wailing, whimpering, yowling democracy sounds like: a sad, sad excuse for a “democracy.” It’s a word that no one who sees this with open eyes and open ears can dare title this form of government, that privileges one group of people over another, that destroys land and uproots trees for the betterment of one group of people over another, that destroys livelihoods in order to replace it with a pool of sewage.

Soldiers didn’t care about who they were pushing around this day. They didn’t care about press passes. They just cared about “doing their job.”

Seeing those trees being ripped from the earth, the short time I had spent underneath them, — the effect it had on me, I can’t even imagine the feeling that the Palestinians had. I couldn’t hold back my tears.

More photos from the destruction in Artas can be seen HERE: http://flickr.com/photos/joeskillet/sets/72157600239235836/

Continuing to Resist

Later that day, at 1:30pm, the Palestinian Minister of Information Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, held a press conference on the now-destroyed land. Shortly after the media left, according to Mohammad Abu Swai, about 50 Israeli soldiers entered the site and started to brutalize the crowd. Dr. Barghouti was hit with a soldier’s club from behind.

Abu Swai explained, “The soldiers are acting like animals! They are hiting anyone in their path, including the Minister!”

More on the Dr. Barghouti’s attack HERE: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/20/barghouti-attacked/

Palestinians from Artas were planning to replant the uproot trees, plus an additional 30 trees that were just purchased. Soldiers, however, refused to allow this to happen this day.

And just minutes ago, at about 5:00pm Palestine time, I received word that Awad and two other Palestinians, who were present at the demolition site and continuing to resist the ongoing demolition of their land in Artas, were just arrested.

The charges are unknown as of this moment but what is clear is that the policies of the Israeli government are determined to put an end to anything standing in their way, even if it means jailing the non-violent resisters attempting to halt their atrocities.

We are currently in contact with Gaby Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who will take their case. We are asking anyone out there who can contribute to the legal fees to do so by emailing:

Jonas at: [email protected]

And the demolition of Artas continues, and so does the non-violent resistance.

Please raise your voices and scream! Think of the magic of noise pollution. Silence is tragic!

Photos and Video editing by Jonas

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13) The Losers are Too Numerous to Name

by Anna Baltzer, 15 May 2007

report with photos here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/15/2-numerous-2-name/

Palestinian performers depict typical scenes of interrogation, abuse, and torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention centers.

A few weeks ago I attended an event commemorating Palestinian Prisoner’s Day at Al Far’a Refugee Camp in the Tubas area. To enter the theatrical and cultural spectacle we had to pass through a makeshift checkpoint with soldiers pointing their guns in our faces and screaming in Hebrew for us to get back. Although I knew these were Palestinian actors role-playing the harassment they experience daily, it was very frightening to have men with guns yell at me in a foreign language and stick killing machines in my face. I realized immediately that although I witness harassment at checkpoints constantly, as a white Jewish American woman of extreme privilege I can never really know what it feels like to go through one as a Palestinian. I suspected the actors had been instructed to especially focus on Western attendees to illustrate some of the abusive behavior we remain so shielded from. It was very effective.

Inside the spectacle, hundreds of locals and visitors were watching performers depict typical scenes of interrogation, abuse, and torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Some of the actors wore blindfolds, handcuffs, and chains and gave moving monologues about the injustice of abuse and imprisonment without trial in an occupier’s land. Others played Israeli soldiers and guards. After the play as a finale, young Palestinian boys danced Debka to signify cultural pride and continuity in spite of monstrous hardships and injustices.

The event took place in a former prison/torture center and afterwards spectators toured the old holding rooms, haunted by past inmates and painted over with graffiti and prisoner shadows.

There I met a mother holding a framed picture of her son, currently held in Israeli jail along with more than 9,000 other Palestinians, including many women and children. Near the old torture chambers was a holding center converted into an art studio, where I met Morshid Graib, an artist whose many stunning images depicted the suffering of the Palestinian people. His paintings and the performances reminded me once again of the extraordinary creativity of the Palestinians in their nonviolent resistance to the Occupation.

The next day I was going on a tour of the Northern Jordan Valley, about 10 km (6 miles) from Tubas the way a crow flies. By road it’s more like 22 km (13 miles), via Tayseer checkpoint, which only Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley are permitted to cross. Tayseer excludes most Palestinians and internationals, so I was forced to reach my destination the long way around, via Ramallah in the center of the West Bank. It’s hard to comprehend the absurdity of such a detour without looking at a map. Rather than a 10 minute ride, I traveled 6 hours southeast through 3 checkpoints the first day, and then 4 hours back up through 2 checkpoints the next to reach the other side of Tubas’ eastern mountains. 10 hours instead of 10 minutes.

I was cranky from the long ride when I got to Ramallah, but a kind shop-owner noticed my malaise and took me into his store for tea and fresh bread. His name was Ali, and he spoke perfect English. An East Jerusalemite, Ali lived in the United States for 19 years. He studied civil engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology and was one of the top engineers behind a new Chicago Metro Terminal. For 19 years, Ali flew back to Israel every 3 months to renew his Jerusalem ID, which wasn’t automatically renewed—although he and his family were born and raised in the city—because he is not Jewish. After Ali acquired US citizenship, he continued returning every three months until one day Israel revoked all Jerusalem IDs of Palestinians with another citizenship. This was the first Ali had heard of such a law, but suddenly his ID was confiscated and he was barred from ever returning to the city where his home and family remain (of course, all the American Jews who “make aliyah” and become Israelis never suffer penalties for dual citizenship). An extremely successful and well-educated engineer, Ali now works at a souvenir shop selling trinkets in Ramallah. He cannot get normal work because he doesn’t have a West Bank ID either.

Meeting Ali was a good prelude to my tour through the Jordan Valley where, like East Jerusalem, most Palestinians are not even allowed to enter, and those who live there are constantly threatened by house demolitions, ID-confiscation, and other actions that encourage or require them to relocate. According to our tour guide Fathi from the area, before 1967 there were 350,000 Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley. Now there are 52,000—less than 15%.

Much of the Jordan Valley indigenous population’s flight occurred after violent expulsions in the first five years of the Occupation, but the ethnic cleansing continues today as more and more Israeli Jews move in and Palestinians move out. Israel no longer accepts applications from Palestinians to move into the Jordan Valley, only out of it. A similar one-way transfer is occurring out of the West Bank: “since the outbreak of the second intifada, Israel ‘has not approved a single change of address from Gaza to the West Bank’” but Palestinians have been forcedly transferred in the other direction. Jordan Valley Palestinians who spend too long outside of the region also lose their residence permits, just like Ali did. And as in East Jerusalem, Israel’s annexation is so advanced that many Israelis don’t even know the area is occupied. Israelis come to the valley on vacation to enjoy the bountiful fruit orchards, the desert mountains, and the Dead Sea. The modern highways are lined with palm trees and nicely-groomed settlements, no Palestinians in sight.

At one point our tour bus stopped at a juice stand and we could just barely hear Fathi’s voice over the zoom of settler and vacationer cars speeding by: “I am 40 years old and from the Jordan Valley, but I have only seen the Jordan River twice in my life, on my way to and from Jordan. They say it’s about resistance, but Israel controlled this area strictly with checkpoints decades before suicide bombs or the intifadas began. As a Palestinian, I’m not allowed to go to the river, or even to the Dead Sea—that precious natural wonder which scientists now say will be gone in 12 years due to overuse… The valley is reserved for Jews and tourists. But it’s owned by Palestinians as far west as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and beyond.”

Traditionally, Palestinian families used to live in the Jordan Valley during the wintertime because of the mild climate and fertile land. But now, of the 2400 square kilometers—30% of the West Bank—half is controlled by Israeli settlements, and almost all the rest is split between military closed areas, border closed areas, and environmental “green” closed areas. The closed area strategy is familiar to anyone who has studied urban development in East Jerusalem: Israel declares large “closed” or “green areas,” bulldozes all the Palestinian homes and institutions within them, and after they’ve remained empty for a few years the state begins to settle Jewish Israelis inside.

Some of these “closed areas” in the Jordan Valley are villages where Palestinians have been living for generations. We visited Fasayel, a Palestinian village that Israel has refused to recognize for forty years since the Occupation began. Because Fasayel is unrecognized, villagers aren’t allowed to build or even repair their own homes. They have no water infrastructure for the same reason. The village recently got electricity but the electric poles are under demolition order since they were built without a permit. In nearby Al Jiflik village, Israel has refused permits to build a school, insisting that families should either move or bus their children more than an hour each way to Tubas town. In peaceful response, the teachers of Al Jiflik started holding classes in a large village tent. Last year, Al Jiflik finally constructed a real schoolhouse, which students will use until it is demolished by Israel for being illegal.

About 4,500 Palestinians live in Fasayel and Al Jiflik combined. Just 1,800 more make up the total settler population in the Jordan Valley: 6,300 Israelis living in 36 settlements. The tiny population controls the land of tens of thousands of Palestinians. Some settlements are just a family or two, but have taken over huge expanses of Palestinian farmland. Naama settlement replaced Ne’ama Palestinian refugee camp and is home to 172 Israelis controlling more than 10,000 dunums. Of the land-rich third of the West Bank, just 4% is left for the remaining 52,000 Palestinian inhabitants. That includes the city of Jericho and a few built-up Palestinian villages, but leaves next to 0% for agricultural use. This has been devastating for the agriculture-based society and explains the mass exodus of Palestinians even after Israel’s overtly violent expulsion tactics ceased. Having lost their livelihoods, Jordan Valley farmers can either move west, or stay and work as settlement laborers on their own land.

In Fasayel we met a young man named Zafar who works full-time packing grapes into boxes at Beit Sayel settlement because his family has lost all their land. Zafar said workers are paid between 30 and 50 NIS (US$7.50 – $12.50) for an 8-hour workday, depending on their age: 50 for adults, 30 for child laborers, sometimes 10 years old or younger. He said there’s no contract, no insurance, no holiday or sick pay, but they work like slaves because it’s the only alternative to leaving. We asked Zafar if he supported the boycott of Israeli products even though that could indirectly affect his job and he answered unhesitatingly: “Yes. I hope everyone will boycott. I only work for the settlement because I have nowhere else to work—they took all our land.”

Along our tour we met a farmer named Abu Hashem who used to be one of the richest landowners in Palestine. Of his 8,000 original dunums, only 70 are left after Israel built what Fathi calls, “the Forgotten Wall.” East of the major settler highway is a barrier similar in shape and effect to Israel’s better-known Apartheid Wall, this one built back in 1971 and reinforced in 1999. From his modest house, Abu Hashem can see past the Wall across the thousands of his dunums that he can never return to, spanning all the way to the Jordan River.

Abu Hashem’s sons alternate years going to university and working on the farm to support the family. Abu Hashem would hire Palestinian laborers so his sons could study full-time, but Israel prohibits Palestinians from bringing in outside workers. Another farmer we met said he needs 50 farmers to cultivate his land, but he only has 10, since so many locals have left. Settlements, on the other hand, are free to bring in as much cheap labor from the rest of the West Bank as they like, so long as the Palestinians head back west when they’re done so as not to throw off the Judaizing demographic trend.

Much of the produce harvested by cheap Palestinian laborers in Israeli settlements is then exported by the company Carmel-Agrexco, which is 50% owned by the Israeli state and brought in three-quarters of a billion dollars last year alone. Anyone who claims that Israel is not profiting off of the Occupation need only take a tour of the Jordan Valley to see truck after truck of local goods being sent off to the European market. Carmel-Agrexco boasts about getting produce from the Jordan Valley (which they often refer to as “Israel) to the United Kingdom in 24 hours, when it takes Palestinians three times as long just to get it through checkpoints. Israel has consistently prevented Palestinians from exporting their own produce, so it rots on its way from one village to another, while Europeans enjoy fresh “Israeli” citrus and avocados and the Israeli state’s stocks rise.

As always, Palestinians have explored nonviolent resistance to the monopolization of their land. We visited an agricultural cooperative where local farmers have pooled their dwindling resources to try and grow food to feed their communities so that they don’t have to rely on settlement products. Two representatives of the cooperative said that Israel—which controls all water in the Jordan Valley, as in the rest of the West Bank—only allows the farmers to use running water once a week, not nearly enough to sustain their crops in the desert heat (meanwhile, several settlements enjoy swimming pools to cool off from the desert heat). In addition, when the farmers produce enough to sell outside their communities, Carmel Agrexco and other Israeli companies lower their prices until the Palestinians are run out of the market. Then, secure in their monopoly, the companies raise their prices back up.

Politicians and analysts have called Jordan Valley the second priority after Jerusalem, but the most convincing reason is not border control. Carmel Agrexco is just one of many companies making a killing off of the Occupation, in the Jordan Valley and beyond. The electric, gas, water, and other governmental and private monopolies have greatly prospered since the Palestinian economy became a captive one in which Palestinians either have to buy directly from Israel or pay taxes to Israel for foreign goods. The latter isn’t always an option anymore, so millions go straight from Palestinians’ pockets into Israel’s. Outside financial support for Palestinians eventually feeds into the Israeli economy on top of the billions in aid Israel already receives from the United States, enough to offset most of the Occupation’s costs. Coupled with tax collection, a captive cheap unprotected labor source, and often unchecked industrial expansion using stolen land and resources, the Israeli economy as a whole has been profiting off the Occupation for many, many years.

Surprisingly—or perhaps not so surprisingly—it’s difficult to find this information all in one place, but a women’s coalition in Israel is working to do just that (Right now the best you can find are the first few bulletins HERE. Meanwhile, people continue to shrug off the near annexation of almost a third of the West Bank to “security,” never stopping to question who the real winners and losers are. Is the United States in Iraq for security? Or is it about big industries and private contractors? As in America’s war on Iraq, the driving force behind Israel’s policies in the Jordan Valley and all the Occupied Territories is not security; it’s power, control, and, money. The winners include the Israeli state, private sectors, the economic settlers and the ideological fundamentalists. The losers are too numerous to name: They are the millions of Palestinians living under brutal military occupation, each of whose stories is in some way as tragic as those of Ali and Zafar. They are the Israelis who live in fear, and who mourn the victims of Palestinian armed resistance. And they are us, the American people, who continue to foot the bill for so much of the carnage, many of us never knowing the difference.

Anna Baltzer is a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service in the West Bank and author of the book, Witness in Palestine: Journal of a Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories. For information about her writing, photography, DVD, and speaking tours, visit her website HERE: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/15/2-numerous-2-name/

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14) IWPS: Palestinian banker detained

by Beth, IWPS, 13 May 2007

report with photos here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/15/banker-detained/

When a young Ramallah bank employee returned home to Haris shortly after midnight on May 13, 2007, he was confronted by soldiers who suggested he was driving a stolen car and carrying stolen money. He was kept on the road for an hour and a half, subjected to searches and questioning, and finally allowed to leave after police had arrived and conducted another inspection.

The young man was first confronted in front of his house by soldiers, who demanded he back his car up to the entrance of the village a few metres away. There, they made him lie down on the ground, which was muddy from rain. They suggested that his car was stolen and searched it fully, making the young man open the hood and trunk. The man had purchased the car over two months earlier from someone in a neighbouring village; his father said police from nearby Ari’el settlement had been by the family home eight days earlier to check on the car, and did not consider it to be stolen property.

Soldiers also searched the young man’s bag and asked why he was carrying so much money. The man explained that his job requires him to travel throughout Salfit to collect money from bank customers wishing to make deposits into their accounts, as there is no branch of this bank in Salfit. The man must often visit customers late in the evening after they have returned home from their jobs, often in settlements in Salfit. He then makes the cash deposits the following day in Ramallah. The young man was carrying his bank ID card with him when he was stopped.

However, when IWPS arrived on the scene, a soldier was still suggesting the money and car might be stolen, and said the young man would be detained with his car near the village entrance until police arrived. At one point there were nine soldiers and three jeeps at the village entrance (compared to the young man, an older brother and their parents, a friend who was interpreting for the family, and two IWPS team members). One soldier positioned himself in a small field to the side of the road, pointing his gun toward the houses in the distance, prompting the young man’s mother to remark that “we are not afraid as they are, with their guns.”

Police finally arrived shortly after 1:30 a.m. and after yet another inspection of the car, allowed the young man to go home with his family.

The village of Haris has also suffered in recent days from army incursions and checkpoints, with so-called “flying” checkpoints having been set up after dark, near the entrance to the village, on May 4, 5 and 6. The young banker and his family live on the main road of the village just inside the entrance, and so are particularly affected by such army actions.

IWPS withholds this information as a courtesy to those involved. However, we will do our best to furnish you with all the relevant information you may require. Photos by Beth
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15) Israeli police to human rights workers: “Don’t do anything stupid!”

Tel Rumeida Report
by ISM Hebron, 17 May 2007

A Palestinian got arrested and brought into the Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida between 7 and 8 o’clock this morning. Three human rights workers (HRWs) started to film the incident and the Israeli border police from a distance.

Israeli soldiers at the Tel Rumeida army post told the HRWs to leave the street.

Two Israeli settlers, the local settler bus driver and Yifrad Al Kobi, came down to where the HRWs were standing and blocked them from filming and began to shoot photos of the HRWs. The driver claimed to have orders from the army to tell the HRWs to move back.

The HRWs refused to move and after a while the police showed up. The officer whose name is Avi Dubour was very upset and did not give the HRWs any chance to explain themselves, their reasons for not moving and so on.

The Israeli officer ordered the one who was filming to give him the camera and when another HRW attempted to take the camera away to copy the tape, the officer arrested both of the HRWs. The HRWs, along with the Palestinian, were driven to Kiryat Arba Police Station and detained there for between 3-4 hours. They were not told why they were being arrested.

In the end, the HRWs were warned “not to do anything stupid and released without an interrogation” and driven back to Tel Rumeida.

.