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When Settlers Attack

When Settlers Attack

1. Action in al Khas and al-Numan villages dazes Israeli forces
2. Settlers attack Palestinians with stones, assault four human rights workers
3. Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers and Israeli policemen
4. The roadblock went tumbling down the gorge
5. ACRI Successfully Challenges Movement Restriction in Jordan Valley
6. We’re Not Moving!
7. To Azmi Beshara
8. Protestors rally in Jaffa against move to evict local Arab families
9. Nonviolent Activism Gathers Steam in Southern Bethlehem
10. Leftists say violently attacked by settlers
11. Art Under Apartheid in Tel Rumeida
12. End the Occupation Now
13. British human rights worker arrested in Tel Rumeida under false charges, released unconditionally
14. Israeli settler attacks Palestinian girl
15. Just can’t quell the non-violent resistance (Journal)
16. Taking the piss out of war games in Hebron (Journal)
17. Prelude to the Third Intifada? (Journal)
18. Outsmarting the Occupation in Bil’in

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1. Action in al Khas and al-Numan villages dazes Israeli forces
by Abu Loi, 5 May 2007

For photos, click here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/05/al-numan-dazed/

Residents of Al-Nu’man and Al-Khas villages today took part in a non-violent demonstration at the Israeli Apartheid Wall, which divides families and relatives between the two villages. The two villages were practically one before the building of this fence. In fact, the municipal offices were centered only in Al-Khas, as was the mosque and the school.

Al-Nu’man is a small village situated southeast of Jerusalem and northeast of Bethlehem, a few hundred meters north of Beit Sahour. In 1967, Israel illegally de facto annexed East Jerusalem and surrounding areas, including the land of al-Nu’man village. However, the inhabitants of the village were recorded as West Bank residents and given West Bank IDs, rather than the Jerusalem IDs received by most Palestinians in the illegally annexed areas. As West Bank ID holders, these residents are considered by Israel to be illegally residing in Jerusalem simply by being in their homes.

A petition submitted by residents of Al-Nu’man village, supported by the Al-Haq and Defence for Children International- Palestine Section humanitarian agencies will be heard by Jerusalem High Court of Justice at 9:00am on Sunday 13 May 2007.

Today’s demonstration comes as part of the “Stop the Bleeding of Bethlehem” campaign, which aims to mobilize residents of the Bethlehem area to non-violently resist all forms of the Israeli occupation, including the wall, military checkpoints and land confiscation.

At around 11am, some 80 protestors, including Israeli and foreign peace and solidarity activists, converged on either side of the fence, which has besieged both villages. Activists from Tayyush came from the Israeli side with posters against the occupation, calling for peace. On the other side, people from the Christian Peacemakers’ Team, the International Solidarity Movement and the Alternative Information Center, held posters and banners about the occupation in Bethlehem, and both groups started their march to the Wall.

The Israeli group attempted to arrive at the checkpoint, walking along the main street from the village of An Numan, but were met by Israeli troops. The soldiers were prepared in advance and blocked the street, just a few meters from the outskirts of the village. At that point, the demonstrators started to run down the hill and managed to arrive at the fence, despite the presence of the Israeli military.

At the same time, on the other side of the fence, activists armed only with Palestinian flags started their march to the fence through the village’s agricultural lands. Upon arrival at the razor wire barrier, just five meters in front of the fence, they trampled the barbed spikes, crossing the temporary barricade to arrive exactly in the shadow of the fence.

From the Israeli side, demonstrators were met by three military vehicles and two jeeps of border police, full of Israeli soldiers and policemen. The Israeli forces shot tear gas and sound grenades at the unarmed protesters in an attempt to disperse them. Two unarmed demonstrators were injured when tear gas canisters were shot into their legs. Each suffered minor cuts and light burns.

After a few minutes of confusion, the situation calmed down and on both sides, demonstrators started throwing colored ribbons and strings from one side to the other, while relatives from each village shook hands through the fence and spoke of their lives since their enforced separation.

The demonstrators started singing in Hebrew and Arabic, but soldiers and police officers drowned out their songs by screaming at the peaceful activists “to go far from the fence”, threatening to shoot those who did not comply. The demonstrators managed to remain in place for half an hour, while arguing with soldiers and policeman, but no further clashes were reported.

The Israeli soldiers then started pushing people away from the fence from the An Numan side, while a military Hummer and a jeep entered Al Khas village to meet those demonstrators who were withdrawing. The troops argued with the protesters for almost twenty minutes, trying to prevent them from taking pictures, before giving up and leaving the scene.

Behind them, the fence was covered with colored ribbons, alongside posters calling for peace and the end of the occupation. From both sides, dazed soldiers struggled to understand how to remove the ribbons from the fence and were left looking at each other in confusion.

The demonstration ended peacefully, and no arrests were reported.

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2. Settlers attack Palestinians with stones, assault four human rights workers
by the ISM Media Crew, May 5

On Saturday May 5, Palestinians and four international human rights workers (HRWs) were attacked by Israeli settlers in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron.

At approx. 15:00, three Israeli settlers, around the ages of 10-12, approached two female HRWs. According to Astrid, an HRW from New Zealand, the settlers were screaming, “Get out of here!” and “Stop filming!” Astrid claimed that she was not filming when the settlers attacked. The HRWs backed away from the scene “so that the settlers wouldn’t see us as provoking them,” said Astrid.

According to the HRWs, the settlers then started to throw stones at Astrid and the other American HRW. Two male settlers in their 20’s and one additional settler youth joined the three other settlers. Together, the settlers started to beat and poke the HRWs with a long pipe. HRWs yelled for help from the Israeli soldier that was stationed nearby. The soldier intervened to stop the settler violence against the HRWs.

The American HRW asked the soldier if he witnessed what had happened. The soldier, according to the HRW, confirmed that he saw the incident, stating, “I know you were not filming. But you are allowed to anyways. You can do whatever you want.”

Palestinian women from the Hadad family’s house were viewing the scene from their yard. When they started to film the incident, the settlers then turned their attention to the Palestinians and began to attack them with rocks. Though, according to the HRWs, the soldier was trying to prevent the stone throwing, settlers managed to throw a few stoned before the Palestinians that were filming retreated inside the house.

The Palestinians then handed the tape over to the HRWs in order to transfer, and should be available soon.

Aprrox. 2 hours later, a group of 8-9 settlers, settlers attacked two more human rights workers– one from Greece and one from Germany.

Describing this recent incident, Astrid, who was attacked earlier, said that she heard screaming coming from up the hill. She said that two more HRWs were physically attacked by Israeli settlers. According to Astrid, there were 8-9 settlers, including children and adults. “They were all screaming and carrying big sticks,”she said. The HRWs managed to get the latter part of this incident on video, which will be available soon.

Ortrud, from Greece, described the incident: “Israeli settlers were blocking the pathway from the Palestinians. When a Palestinian woman wanted to cross, we joined her while walking past the violent settlers. When the woman was to safety, Israeli settlers attacked us. They kicked me on my feet and all over. They kicked George in the stomach too.”

George, from Greece, described the incident: “I was walking a Palestinian woman past the settlers. She was afraid of being attacked. When the Palestinian crossed to safety, settlers attacked me from behind. There is a shoe print on the back of my shirt from the settler that kicked me.”

In Tel Rumeida, Palestinians are not allowed to drive any type of cars, including buses, taxis, ambulances, and fire trucks. Israeli settler civilians are allowed to carry guns, while Palestinians are not allowed to have weapons of any kind. Palestinians are subjected to random detentions and ID checks (Israeli settlers are not). Israeli soldiers frequently invade Palestinian homes or use their roofs as outposts the security forces in the neighborhood are Israeli only and ignore complaints by Palestinians. Last month, Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian resident’s car. Israeli soldiers refused to allow Palestinian fire trucks to enter Tel Rumeida to extinguish the fire.

More on this incident here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/05/stones-and-pipe/

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3. Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers and Israeli policemen
by the ISM Media Crew, 4 May 2007

Two weeks ago, villagers from al Khader tore down razor wire surrounding an abandoned Palestinian-owned building near their village. The building which has been standing since before 1948 is for use by the residents of al Khader.

On May 2nd, settlers from the Hanael settlement came into al Khader and beat up villagers as retaliation for the cutting of the razor wire the previous week. The settlers have been trying to gain control of the abandoned Palestinian building.

Today approximately 200 settlers trespassed on the village farmland and beat up two Palestinian farmers from al Khader who were demonstrating against the recent violence and lack of access to their land. Two Palestinians were detained and later released by the army. Soldiers were also assaulted by the settlers. The army did not respond to settler violence against the Palestinians, citing the fact that they were on a holiday as the reason they were unable intervene.

The settlement Hanael gets its name from Hanan, a settler who was given permission to serve 2 years out of an 8 year prison sentence for armed robbery of a bank in Israel on the actual settlement itself. The settlement has been ruled illegal by the Israeli court.

Farmers from al Khader are planning an upcoming tree planting event on the village farmland and will be seeking volunteers.

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4. The roadblock went tumbling down the gorge
by Kobi Snitz, 3 May 2007

Today, villagers from Ras Karkar, Budrus, Beit Likya, Bilin, Deir Ibzia and other villages marched towards an intersection on the main road to Ramallah which until 7 years ago used to serve about 15 villages in the area. The part of the road which is blocked connects the Palestinian villages of Ras Karkar and Deir Ibzia and does not lead to Israel or to a settlement. Because of the obstacle, the villagers were forced to drive about 45 minutes along an alternate road instead of 15 minutes along the direct route to get to Ramallah. Two weeks ago the alternate road was also closed making the trip take and hour and a quarter and cost about 15 shekels instead of 3 – 5. In response, the villagers decided to open up the main road which has been closed by concrete slabs.

At a demonstration, along with Israelis and Internationals, the Palestinian villagers faced off against a group of soldiers who seemed eager to provoke a violent confrontation. The organizers of the demonstration decided not to grant their wishes and managed to prevent a confrontation. After asserting their right and ability to stay on the road the demonstrators decided to head back. Along the way back, when the concrete slabs blocking the road were reached, they were grabbed by the crowd which tried to push them to the side. The blocks seemed immovable at first but with some ingenuity and shouts of “Allah Huw Akbar!” the blocks were finally rolled away and tumbled down into the gorge.

For the first time in 7 years, car were able to drive up from Ras Karkar directly to Deir Ibzia and were still passing through when the demonstrators left.

Israel is working on the creation of16 tunnels which would create an ‘apartheid’ road network for Palestinians in the West Bank. Many existing main roads are reserved for settlers and Israelis, linking settlements to each other and to Israel. This forces Palestinians into circuitous travelling routes.

For a map of the existing Apartheid road system in the West Bank, click: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/WestBank_April07.pdf

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5. Association for Civil Rights in Israel Successfully Challenges Movement Restriction in Jordan Valley
by Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 2 May 2007

In response to ACRI`s appeal to the Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, in December 2006, demanding the cancellation of the directives banning all Palestinian residents of the West Bank from entering the area of the Jordan Valley (with the exception of those Palestinians whose registered address is in one of the communities in the Valley), the Defense Ministry examined the claims made by ACRI and have decided to cancel the movement restrictions by the end of May 2007. From then on, all residents of the West Bank will be allowed to enter the Jordan Valley subject to undergoing security checks.

ACRI`s intervention laid emphasis on the fact the prohibition on Palestinian movement in the Valley, which violates the basic rights of the Palestinian population, has never been authorized by a written order. The directives are enforced by the Israeli security forces through IDF checkpoints on the main roads, mobile checkpoints, earth mounds, and the destruction of roads and paths to make them inaccessible to vehicles, and prohibit Palestinian vehicular and pedestrian movement and entry in the area of the Jordan Valley. This area comprises large tracts of agricultural lands which are the primary source of income for thousands of Palestinian families, many of whom do not live in the closed Jordan Valley area and are therefore denied access to their lands. ACRI further stressed that while the Palestinian population is prevented from entering the area, Israelis are permitted in the area without any restrictions whatsoever. The sweeping ban therefore constitutes discrimination against Palestinians on the basis of national origin, in addition to violating basic human rights and isolating the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank.

ACRI welcomes the Defense Ministry`s decision to cancel the sweeping and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinian movement in the Jordan Valley area. It is the responsibility of the Israeli authorities to ensure that this decision is implemented by all the relevant security bodies, and to ensure that such illegal restrictions are not reintroduced in the future.

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6. We’re Not Moving!
from IWPS, 30 April 2007

For a video of al-Hadidiya, click: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/01/before-the-demolitions/

On April 21st, an Israeli court decision ordering the demolition of all the homes of the approximately 100 inhabitants of the Bedouin hamlet of Al Hadidiya, in the northeast West Bank, came into effect.

An’am (40) and Omar (50) have seven children, of whom the two youngest, boys ages three years and seven months, are at home with them. The family is refusing to leave and move their tent-home and flock of 140 goats and 100 sheep to where the Israeli Civil Administration has suggested.

Al Hadidiya lies in the Jordan Valley, which comprises almost one third of the West Bank’s territory and provides access to the water reserves of the River Jordan. Israel regards it as strategic and a buffer between it and the Arab states to the east, and wants to keep it for itself.

Of the 2,400 square km. of land in the valley, 455.7 square km. is considered “closed military areas,” and 1655.5 square km. is occupied by 24 illegal Israeli settlements. These “facts on the ground” affect the traditional lifestyle of the Jordan Valley Bedouins and deprive them of their livelihoods. The grazing area for their animals is becoming ever smaller, and consequently the flocks are smaller than they used to be. Also, travel restrictions hinder the shepherds from going to neighboring towns to sell cheese, and reduce the number of merchants coming into Bedouin villages to buy sheep or goats. All of this has affected the earnings of Bedouin families.

Yet the confiscation of Palestinian land and the attempt to expel the Bedouins are not the only measures Israel is taking to transform the Jordan Valley into a land without Palestinians. Another element has been the isolation of the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank. Four principal checkpoints separate the valley from the rest of the West Bank, and since March 2005 only those Palestinians whose home address is in the Jordan Valley, as entered in their identity cards, are allowed to pass. This means that some two million Palestinians from the rest of the West Bank cannot enter the Jordan Valley.

An’am and Omar married and settled in Al Hadidiya two decades ago. They have already suffered two home demolitions. This time they are determined to stay in the tent and resist the demolition, even though they face a danger of being arrested. They have invited international solidarity activists to support them and possibly to document the expected brutality of the Israeli occupation, when and if the bulldozers come through. Omar’s words reflect sadness, more than bitterness, when he speaks of the previous demolition some years ago, when several of their sheep were run over by the military vehicles and An’am was assaulted while trying to prevent this. Grazing the herd and producing cheese from the milk is their way of life, and how they provide for their family.

After supper and over a glass of warm, sweet milk, An’am and Omar show family pictures and recount how Arif, their firstborn son, was killed by the Israeli army at the age of 13. He had been throwing stones at soldiers with other boys; the soldiers opened fire on the youngsters and shot Arif in the head. He died six days later, in February 2003. The couple’s four daughters and eldest surviving son attend school in the nearby town of Tammun. An’am and Omar are scared for their two smallest sons, who live with them, and Omar is aware that his resistance to demolition may get him into an Israeli jail, but he repeats they will stay in this house and “will sleep under the stars until they rebuild a new one at the same place.”

As we prepared to leave Al Hadidiya we were given homemade cheese and newly laid eggs. Despite our insistence, An’am and Omar would not take any money; smiling, they kept saying that we were most welcome. The next day, Omar telephoned to ask about our journey home to Haris. They have lost a child to the occupation, the state of Israel has been denying them their basic human rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a livelihood, freedom of movement; bulldozers may come any day to demolish their home; and yet they remain hospitable and think of their guests even after they are gone. We are humbled.

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7. To Azmi Beshara
by Juliano Mer Khamis, 29 April 2007

Azmi, My Brother,

You had the good sense to see what was coming – the security forces in cooperation with the judicial system of Israel decided to take steps against, what they call the “strategic threat”, of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to do away with their leaders. They want to return us to the days of martial law – to fear, to the permits, to the dark cells of the security forces, to the era in which only collaborators could claim at least some of their rights.

Inside the 1967 borders, Israel was not yet employing the methods it now uses in the occupied territories. It did not execute people without trial, condone mass arrests, cause starvation, or destroy infrastructures. Now, as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel claims to function according to just and lawful means.

But “the law” is the security forces and the police; the judicial advisers to the government and the judicial system are its full-time employees. Your sentence was passed even before the accusations against you were announced, and you have no way of establishing your innocence before these war criminals. They speak a language different from ours – in their eyes, anyone who is against war and aspires to the peaceful coexistence of two nations is classified as a criminal, and persecuted. You cannot conduct a political struggle from the witness box. They will not allow you to insist that you are fighting for both nations. In the courts of the police state, they will tie a rope around your neck.

The agonizing failure of the Israeli Army against the Lebanese Resistance maddens them. In the face of such a defeated and cruel establishment we must act wisely, intelligently. After all, it is more sensible for a freedom fighter who is cut off by a military unit to withdraw, or to escape, and to wait for a more favorable time to return fire – and here I am not speaking of live fire, but of the “fire” of thought and the written word.

Azmi my brother – THEY ARE AFRAID. The terrified commanders and their soldiers are afraid. I encounter them frequently in Jenin Refugee Camp where they fire on children who dare to glance from an upstairs window, or from round the corner.

Apparently you represent a ’strategic threat’ to the “Jewish State”. It seems that your vision of a ’state for all its citizens’ is a threat to the actual existence of Israel, a country that has been created out of force, control and discrimination of another nation. Ideas of equality or of the coexistence that the Balad Party represents, deprive the government of Israel of the main ideological elements it uses to justify its existence – power, despotism, segregation, racism, barriers and fences.

Azmi my brother, you did not run away!

You made clever use of conditions and circumstances, and managed to evade the execution squad with which the ‘judicial system’ confronted you. As a seasoned warrior you dodged the bullets of the security forces and went underground. And it makes no difference whether it was to the caves of the Galilee or to Qatar, Dubai, or Cairo.

Many will urge you to return. Many others would rejoice to see you rotting in the cells of the security police. There will be others who would sacrifice you – your courage concealing their helplessness and fear. All sorts of mud-slingers will sprout like mushrooms after rain, insisting that leaders do not abandon their flock. They will call you a coward and many other things. Ignore all their remarks about ‘courage and sacrifice’. Do not listen to your political opponents at home, who will call for stringing you up in the Town Square. Carry on with your struggle from abroad, like so many illustrious others. What is exile if not sacrifice!

And be assured – the day will come when you can return, borne on the shoulders of your comrades.

We have always praised the freedom fighters who succeeded in escaping the dungeons of the security forces. We rejoice when guerilla fighters are released by their comrades from behind prison bars. We applaud your successes in this puppet government and in revealing its true face.

You did not escape from arrest. You avoided being executed without trial – “targeted elimination” in the local jargon. Bless you for that!

Yours,
Juliano Mer Khamis

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8. Protestors rally in Jaffa against move to evict local Arab families
By Yigal Hai, Ha’aretz, 28 April 2007

Hundreds of Jaffa residents on Friday participated in a march to protest measures that the Israel Lands Authority and the Amidar housing company have taken in the past year to evict Arab families from Jaffa.

The Israel Lands Authority and Amidar claim the families invaded the properties and built on them illegally.

The march was organized by The Popular Committee to Defend the Land and the Right to Residency, which was established by the Arab residents of Jaffa several weeks ago.

According to the committee’s leaders, the Authority and Amidar in the past year issued 500 eviction notices to Arab families from the Al Ajami and Givat Aliya neighborhoods, and some of the notices have evolved into eviction lawsuits.

The organizers of the march questioned why the Authority and Amidar have taken a sudden interest in the matter in the past year, when the families have been living in their homes for several decades. They say the families have held a status of protected tenants who pay rent.

The residents’ representatives say the authority and Amidar are attempting to Judaize Jaffa while also making a profit from selling the properties, which are near the seafront, to an affluent Jewish population.

The protesters in the march shouted various slogans such as “Jews and Arabs against house demolitions” and “The transfer won?t happen.”

According to the “This is a tsunami of evictions and demolitions,” said Al Ajami neighborhood chairman, Camel Agbaria. “The struggle for a roof over one’s head should be the ultimate struggle. Instead of firing bullets, they fire dollar bills here.”

March participants included Meretz MKs Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen and Hadash MKs Dov Khenin and Hanna Swaid.

Throughout the past week, the Popular Committee handed out flyers to Jaffa residents, calling on them to join the protest. The flyer, entitled “The residents of Jaffa are at risk of being evicted and expelled again,” presented a picture from 1948 of an Arab family reluctantly leaving its Jaffa home along side a picture from 2005 of a tractor demolishing the home of an Arab family in Jaffa.

“500 families are at risk of being expelled,” the flyer read. “Thousands of people remain with no roofs over their heads for the benefit of the wealthy and rich entrepreneurs.”

The Housing Authority and Amidar reject the accusations. A statement issued by the Housing Authority said, “The documents in question are warning letters issued by the Amidar company, which manages the Authorities properties and deals with invaders.” Only several dozens of letters have been issued.”

“If anyone has any complaints, they are welcome to visit the Amidar offices and prove they have a legal claim to the property,” the statement read. “The claims that this is a transfer are demagoguery. No person will be evicted without a court order.”

According to the head of the Amidar directorate, Doron Cohen, Amidar rejects “with scorn the demagogic attempt by the ‘Popular Committee’ to use the events of the War of Independence to protect those who break the law. Amidar works to protect the State’s property rights regardless of the tenants character, religion or nationality.”

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9. Nonviolent Activism Gathers Steam in Southern Bethlehem
by Sami Awad, April 27th, 2007

To see video, click: http://samiawad.wordpress.com/2007/04/27/nonviolent-activism-gathers-more-steam-in-southern-bethlehem/

For photos, click: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/27/gathering-steam/

The southern villages of Bethlehem have been organizing weekly nonviolent resistance activities to the building of the Apartheid Wall that will ultimately separate the farmers from these villages from 70% of their agricultural land.

The activity this week witnessed an evolution of size and strategy. For the first time, over 200 participants (Palestinians, Israelis, and International) joined in the direct action; for the first time, the committee responsible for organizing the action included new members from villages in the South of Bethlehem and activists from the northern villages of Hebron (Beit Umar), and for the first time their was a clear increase in the number of International and Israeli activist.

On the strategic level, the success of the previous actions empowered the organizers to target a location that was perceived as impossible to reach, the Bethlehem-Hebron Road (also know as Road 60). Once the wall is completed in this area, Palestinians will not be able to travel on this historic route which will only be used for the cars of Jewish settlers. Palestinians will only be allowed to use back and side roads increasing the duration of any trip by over 200% at minimum (i.e. to go from Bethlehem to Hebron will take 1 hour instead of the usual 15 minutes).

The goal of this nonviolent action was to go and protest on this road and to express our opposition not only to the building of the wall but also to the continued existence and expansion of settlements that are the cause for building the wall, (the wall guarantees the land for future settlement building and expansion).

As soon as we began the procession, tens of armed Israeli troops came and attempted to stop the protest from moving to the land. The demonstrators broke into the army wall that was created and we continued our procession to the land near the main road where the Israeli soldiers used violence again to try to suppress the action (several were injured including journalists). Several people gave talks denouncing the building of the wall and called for a real and justice peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Friday prayer was then conducted on the land. On the return back to the location where we began the action, the Israeli soldiers again pushed and yelled. It was truly wonderful to see the commitment to nonviolence by the more than 200 participants.

The level of frustration by the Israeli army to the success of the nonviolent activity was not witnessed on the site, but the retaliation took place on our way to our homes. Israeli army check points were placed on the entry ways to all locations where the participants came from and cars that were at the sight of the action were stopped, the people were insulted, some were forcefully removed from the cars and then cars and individuals were searched for almost an hour. Of course the Israeli army knew there was nothing to search for, but that seemed to be the only response they can think of to “punish” the participants for being successful in this action.

My hope is that nonviolent action does not only give us an opportunity to show the world our rejection of injustice, but to also give us an opportunity to open the eyes of those who are doing the injustice to truly think about what they are doing. Yes, at first it may be frustrating to them as we challenge their believe system and ideologies, but then their humanity will overcome their prejudice.

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10. Leftists say violently attacked by settlers
from Ynet, April 27

Two Israeli left-wing activists claim to have been beaten by settlers from the Pnei Hever settlement Friday morning.

“One of the settlers saw me filming him and tried to grab my camera” Vivi Zuri, one of the two attacked, told Ynet. “He beat me with a club, and I lay on the ground to prevent him from taking my camera. Still, he kept kicking me.”

Rabbi Arik Asherman and two more left-wing activists arrived this morning, along with a group of international activists, to fields surrounding the village of Bnei Na’im, to help residents with their plowing and protect them from potential assault by settlers.

They were attacked by a group of settlers upon arriving at the village fields.

Zuri told Ynet she was attacked after one of the settlers noticed she was filming them. According to her, the beating did not stop even after she lay down on the ground. She was severely beaten and suffered contusions to the face and shoulders.

Rabbi Asherman, said Zuri, was also badly beaten by the settlers.

“They hit him horribly and threatened to harm his family”, she said. Police arrived after 40 minutes or so, she added, and asked them to arrive at the Hebron police station to give their statements.

Both Palestinians and international activists present at the scene confirmed the incident.

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11. Art Under Apartheid in Tel Rumeida

ISM Freedom Summer 2007 invites you to teach creative workshops with Art Under Apartheid in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron.

Art Under Apartheid workshops were started as a result of the international boycott of aid to the Hamas government and the resulting strike of Palestinian public sector workers including public school teachers in the fall of 2006. Palestinian children in Tel Rumeida already had to deal with enough problems from soldier and settler violence, having no school was just not fair. We want to continue to provide the children of Tel Rumeida with fun and creative distractions from the violence on the street.

You are welcome to do activism work with ISM or any other organization while also teaching the workshops for the kids.

Facts of life for Tel Rumeida Palestinians:

* Palestinians are not allowed to drive any type of cars into the neighborhood (busses, taxis, ambulances, fire trucks) because the Israeli military has declared this a threat to the Israeli settlers
* Palestinians are not allowed to have weapons of any kind (their Israeli settler civilian neighbors are allowed to carry guns)
* Palestinians are subjected to random detentions and ID checks (Israeli settlers are not)
* Israeli soldiers frequently invade Palestinian homes or use their roofs as outposts
* the security forces in the neighborhood are Israeli only and ignore complaints by Palestinians

Some activities that the children would enjoy include art, crafts, dance, theater, circus, English lessons, or any other fun and creative activities you can come up with. The sky is the limit ! Please visit the website for more information: www.artunderapartheid.ps

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12. End the Occupation Now
by Mairead Corrigan Maguire, 26 April 2007

On Friday April, 20th, 2007, my friend Ann Patterson and I joined the Bil’in Peoples Committee, a Palestinian peace group (based outside Ramallah) for their weekly nonviolent protest and march to the Apartheid Wall. We were joined by Israeli peace activists and some two hundred other activists from over 20 countries, including France, America, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, and India.

Before the peace vigil, I participated in a Press Conference with the Palestinian Minister for Information, Mustafa Barghouti. Minister Barghouti praised the nonviolent vigil of the Bil’in people and the nonviolent resistance of many people around Palestine. He said that the Bil’in resistance movement was a model and example for all. He called for an end to the building of the wall, and for upholding of Palestinian rights under International Law.

I supported his call and thanked the people of Bil’in. I offered my support for the nonviolent resistance to the Wall as it contravenes International Law, including the International Court of Justice decision in the Hague. I also called for an end to the Palestinian occupation, which will mark 40th years in June, and full recognition by the international community of the Palestinian Government, together with restoration of economic and political rights to the people.

Both Dr. Barghouti and I called for the release of the BBC Journalist Alan Johnston. I also called for the protection of journalists all over the world, whose ability to cover the truth, is being daily infringed.

During the conference, the Israeli military drove through the main gate onto Palestinian land. Israeli foot soldiers also came through. They surrounded the journalists and warned us all that if we did not disburse, they would attack in five minutes. Dr. Barghouti and I condemned this threat as an abuse of freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the peoples right to protest peacefully.

During the press conference, an activist from San Paulo climbed to the top of the surveillance tower and released a Palestinian flag. He planned to stay there for 2 days.

So we returned to the village and joined the peace vigil. We walked down the road toward the wall. Several hundred people participated in the walk. Palestinian men and women led the march. Young Palestinian males are often arrested and beaten at these weekly vigils. I walked with my Palestinian interpreter who told me his home was on the other side of the wall. His 12 acres of land was confiscated by Israeli Authorities and his 400 year old olive trees were uprooted, taken to Jerusalem and planted in a new Israeli settlement.

Half way down the road, Israeli soldiers started firing a mystery gas at us, and aimed plastic bullets directly at us. Later, they used water cannons. We were a completely unarmed. It was a peaceful, nonviolent gathering. This vicious attack upon civilians by the Israeli soldiers was totally unprovoked. The soldiers blocked the upper part of the road, thus preventing Dr. Barghouti and some of the Palestinians from joining the main vigil. Then we were tear gassed.

As I helped a French woman, I was shot in the leg with a rubber-covered steel bullet. I was targeted by an Israeli soldier and shot from a distance of 20 metres. This itself was illegal because such lethal weapons, under Israeli military law, are not allowed to be used within a 20 metre range.

Two young women, one from the US and the other New Zealand, helped me to an ambulance. An elderly Palestinian mother was carried away on a stretcher to another ambulance. She was shot in the back with a plastic bullet. I saw one man whose face was covered in blood; he was overcome with the gas. About 20 people were injured.

Afterwards, Ann and I went back to the protest while people were still being viciously attacked with nerve gas and plastic bullets. This time, I was overcome with gas. My nose bled terribly and I was carried again to an ambulance for treatment.

The medical staff advised us to return to the vigil, so we were obliged to leave our friends who were still heroically trying to get near the wall. On the road outside the village, we watched two Palestinian children playing in their garden, oblivious to the nerve gas floating down on the wind toward their home. The gas permeates their clothes, their lungs and their lives, and the question has to be asked–What the health of these children will be like in a few years time?

This is not only an abuse of human rights and international law by the Israeli government; it is a health and environmental issue. We were all traumatized by the Israeli attack. With the gas on the air, I remembered the words from a Palestinian doctor, who said, “the whole Palestinian people, after 40 years of occupation, are traumatized. It is time for the International Community to act and put a stop to this suffering and injustice.”

I agree. Enough is enough. It is time for action to force the Israeli Government to enter into unconditional talks to end this tragedy upon the good and gentle Palestinian people. End the Occupation Now!

Mairead Corrigan Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her peace work in Northern Ireland. She is the author of “The Vision of Peace,”

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13. British human rights worker arrested in Tel Rumeida under false charges, released unconditionally

by ISM Media Crew, April 26

Today at 10:45am, Joanne Crouch, a British human rights worker (HRW), was arrested in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron. Israeli police at the Kiryat Arba police station tried to charge her with spray painting “Free Palestine” on a wall in the Palestinian neighborhood.

The graffiti happened late last night. Israeli soldiers attempted to invade the home of the human rights workers, but, without a warrant, HRWs did not let them enter. Last night, HRWs video recorded the soldiers, who were demanding to know who made the graffiti. According to an HRW on scene, soldiers threatened to call the police. HRWs welcomed this, but police never showed up.

This morning, however, around 10:45, Israeli police detained three HRWs who were observing the streets of Tel Rumeida. Two HRWs, one Danish and one American, were released. Joanne, however, remained in questioning at Kiryat Arba police station.

Joanne said that “I was not even involved with this graffiti! I had nothing to do with it! Israeli settlers have told the police it was me, so it is my word against theirs.” Joanne asked for the police to review the tapes from the military video cameras, which are scattered throughout the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and are on continuous recording, day and night. “This will prove my innocence,” Joanne said, “but they are refusing to do so.”

Joanne then said that the police officers handed her a paper to sign. “I refused to sign it,” she said, “because it is in Hebrew and I do not read or write Hebrew.” She then noted that the police officer said that her refusal to sign the paper proves that she is lying and guilty. “They are being really aggressive with me,” she added, “and I’ve been nice and kind to them this whole time.”

Joanne contacted an Israeli lawyer who then spoke with the police. She also contacted her embassy.

“I kept saying, ‘You are falsely accusing me’,” Joanne stated to the police officers, “you are just going to have to put me in front of a judge because I didn’t make the graffiti.”

Police told Joanne that if she didn’t sign the papers, she could be placed in front of a judge and deported. The orders that police were trying to force Joanne to sign supposedly state that she will not enter the Tel Rumeida neighborhood for 15 days or will not enter all of the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 15 days—it is still unclear.

“You have no grounds to deport me,” Joanne told the police, “just check the military cameras and you will see.”

At around 13:15pm, Israeli police rescinded the orders and Joanne signed an English translation, stating that she is being unconditionally released.

The whole district of Tel Rumeida is under complete military control. Palestinians in Tel Rumeida suffer from an ongoing campaign of violence and harassment, geared at forcing the Palestinian residents to flee the area. Violent Israeli settlers often attack Palestinians and damage property, especially on Jewish holidays and Saturdays (Shabbat). Israeli soldiers and police, who are mandated by Israeli and international law to protect the Palestinians from settler violence, often refuse to intervene.

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14. Israeli settler attacks Palestinian girl
by ISM Hebron, 28 April 2007

On Tuesday, April 24, just after 11 am, two human rights workers (HRWs), an Israeli and an international, saw a settler boy from the Tel Rumeida Settlement beat a Palestinian girl as she was making her way home from school. The six border police standing close by did nothing to intervene. The HRWs were standing at a military post a block away from the military post that sits at the edge of the settlement area. The attack occurred just beyond the second military post, inside the settlement area. The settler boy was sitting on a curb watching the Palestinian girl as she was walking toward him. He then sprung up, rushed toward her, and began hitting and kicking her. The Israeli HRW, legally able to enter the settlement area, ran toward the settlement, however he was stopped by the border police and threatened with arrest. In this time the settler boy’s mother pulled him away from the Palestinian girl. Another Israeli HRW ran up toward the border police shortly after the first. He was also stopped and threatened with arrest.

Israeli police detain four human rights workers

On Wednesday April 25, the soldiers entered a residence housing a number of international HRW’s in Tel Rumeida. They attempted to make a search for both persons and evidence of involvement in a recent incidence of graffiti in the locality. Initially, there were two HRWs on the roof. Another HRW came out soon after following the commotion. Having established they had no papers to qualify their search and refusals by the army to outline the reason for their presence, they were repeatedly asked to leave. It was only after several minutes the HRWs were able to get the military out of the building. Even after the military were leaving a soldier was intent on causing continued harassment by preventing the HRW from closing the door by putting both his foot and gun in the way. The HRW emphasized that if the military felt there was a problem then they should call the police and have it dealt with correctly.

On Thursday, April 26, three HRWs were detained by the Qiryat Arba Police. At 9:00am, a female HRW had began duty at the Tel Rumeida checkpoint to keep watch over the locality. During the following half hour, she noticed a local settler from the Beit Haddassa settlement drive past and stare at her on a number of ocassions. This was initially dismissed as passive aggression by the settler. However, at 9:30am, the police arrived at the checkpoint and requested the attention of the female HRW. Two army personnel were present at the checkpoint and a further two police officers were present as well as the HRW. The police first questioned the HRW about an incident of graffiti that had taken place in the locality and the HRW denied any knowledge or involvement of the incident. Her passport was requested and given immediately and obvious attempts were shown that she was willing to co-operate into their investigation and their concerns.

To the police inquiries, she explained her whereabouts, who she had been with and the exact times that she had been in the street. She was ordered to go to the police station for further questioning. Despite repeated statements that she had not been involved in any way and a desire for the CCTV camera videos to be checked to demonstrate her lack of involvement, the police stated that as the settler had specifically pointed her out as being involved, they must take her in for questioning. (The CCTV cameras are militarily run and record the whole of Tel Rumeida, day and night). Further to this, the HRW in cooperating gave the name of the only person she had been speaking with in the street the previous evening, another male HRW. The police demanded that this other person attend the police station for questioning. Both HRWs felt confident that their innocence would be proven and cooperated fully.

The female HRW went into the police van to be taken to the station. While doing this, she further alerted fellow HRWs of the incident to request support and guidance. Arriving at the police station, she spent some 15 minutes waiting in the back of the police van before being taken into the police station. She was also asked to call her fellow male HRW to cooperate and come to the police station. She fulfilled this request by asking her fellow HRW to attend the police station and it was agreed he would attend on the condition that it was the police only and not the army that he would attend with. The female HRW was left to wait for around 30 minutes, during this time she was introduced to the Commanding officer, Yusef. After this wait she saw her male HRW arrive at the station and he was requested to sit some 15 meters away and that they were not to talk to each other. The male HRW had his passport number taken. However, when the settler saw the male HRW, the settler indicated the HRW was not the one involved in the grafitti. The HRW was released and driven back to Tel Rumeida.

After waiting another 30 minutes, the female HRW was taken into a set of offices and asked to wait for another officer, Adiel Shalom. Only after waiting for some time did Adiel request for the HRW to attend his office where he advised that he wanted to ask her a number of questions relating to the graffiti incident. He seemed determined that she had undertaken this act despite her refusals. It was only when the HRW inquired whether she had been arrested that the officer confirmed that she had been arrested under suspicion of writing “Free Palestine” on a number of walls in the Tel Rumeida settlement. The female HRW once again described where she had been the previous evening and who she had been with and re-asserted several times that she had not been involved and that she was being falsely accused. The police officer claimed that she was a liar and that he “knew what people like her were like.” The officer was aggressive in his questions and demanded that she told the truth, stating that she was a liar and that she had been involved and told her repeatedly that she had done the graffiti.

To his allegations, the HRW continued to protest her innocence. The officer made threats relating to her being pulled in front of the judge to be deported for this incident. The officer had been making notes from the interrogation which he requested the HRW to sign. Because the document was in Hebrew, she was unable to read it and therefore did not sign it. The officer considered this a sign of guilt and he continued to harass her with claims she was a liar and raising his voice to her.

The female HRW then spoke with the British embassy who offered her support and further a legal adviser who spoke with the officer and was able to advise that the police were moving towards a release solution. This consisted of military orders prohibiting the female HRW from entering the Tel Rumeida area for a period of 14 days. The HRW declined this offer and despite repeated threats of being deported and being taken to jail the officer finally agreed to release her “without conditions.” The HRW was required to sign a document for her release which held English translations and was left to go free after a total period of 4 hours.

Shortly after the male HRW was taken by the police, a second female HRW was asked for her passport. After a few minutes of questioning she was asked to get into the police jeep to come to the police station for further questioning and to have her visa information checked. After an hour of waiting, an officer returned her passport and warned her if she was caught once again in Tel Rumeida she would be arrested.

On Friday, April 27, 2007, a fourth HRW was at the top of Tel Rumeida street, just a block from the Tel Rumeida settlement. The same settler of the previous day implicated who implicated the HRWs stopped his vehicle and spoke to the army. Soldiers then detained the HRW. Present were two army patrol officers, three HRWs, two journalists and a handful of Palestinian children. The HRW was brought to Qiryat Arba police station and detained for four and a half hours, then released. The police questioned the HRW for a half hour on the grafitti incident and appeared to accept that he was not involved. The remainder of the questioning dealt with visa issues. The settler who implicated the HRW was also present at the police station and interviewed by the police for approximately a half hour.

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15. Just can’t quell the non-violent resistance
by Martinez, April 27

For photos, click: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/27/april-27-bilin/

Once a week for 26 months, Palestinians from the village of Bil’in have been non-violently resisting the Israeli Occupation and the Apartheid Wall has ripped through the village. This Friday, Palestinians were joined by international and Israeli solidarity activists. They joined the demonstration outside of the mosque in Bil’in but, instead of taking the normal route to the gate in the Apartheid wall, the demonstrators took a side route.

Last week, the Israeli occupation forces shot at least 20 non-violent demonstrators, including Mairead Maguire, the Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner. This week, demonstrators were hoping to catch the army off guard by taking this alternate route.

When the demonstrators reached their destination at the Wall, Israeli soldiers were 200 meters away, awaiting the demonstration to arrival from its normal direction. Even the high-powered water tank was on the inside of the Wall. Little did they know, we were catching them by surprise further down the route of the illegal barrier.

Palestinians were shouting, “No to Occupation, No to the Wall!” Internationals and Israelis joined in, throwing chants in the direction of the few soldiers who made their way to demonstration. The bulk of the soldiers were still up on the hill, too far to shoot rubber-coated steel bullets or sounds bombs.

These few Israeli soldiers who were across the Wall from the demonstration threw a couple tear gas cannisters. The peaceful demonstrators did not budge.

Instead, Abu Sadi, one of the elders of Bil’in, crossed through a torn portion in the fence and walked towards the soldiers on the other side of the Wall. There are actually two walls at this point. The space between, a sort of no-man’s-land, serves as a military access road. And from up the hill, soldiers were entering this access road, speeding towards the demonstrators.

The high-powered water tank arrived on the other side of the Wall as well. A couple other Palestinians followed behind Abu Sadi. The water tank revved up and began blasting the peaceful demonstrators on their faces and backs. Last week, Mohammad Khatib was blasted in the chest and received medical attention for his injuries. He said it “felt like my ribs were broken.” And now, Abu Sadi, probably in his late 60’s, lay on the ground after being smashed by the force of the water.

Four street medics rushed over to help Abu Sadi from the ground. The army continued to shoot at Abu Sadi, the medics, and the demonstrators during this process. A handful of other demonstrators then crossed through the opening in the fence.

As more Israeli soldiers arrived, the started to shoot tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and sponge bullets at the demonstrators who had not crawled through the fence. According to a Palestinian who was hit by one before, sponge bullets stick into your skin until you get it medically removed or it just comes out on its own, and they go for $55 a round.

The water tank revved up again but this time started to squirt dark blue water at the demonstrators. Sometimes this water is laced with some sort of chemical which makes your skin feel like it is on fire. Today, it seemed to stain clothes and hands and faces, not to mention staining the earth and trees. It also burned a bit when it entered the eyes.

The line of demonstrators in between the two fences marched forwards towards the several more soldiers and jeep who had arrived. The army tried to arrest one of them but demonstrators intervened to de-arrest him.

Abu Sadi crawled atop the hood of the jeep and soldiers continued to fire at the demonstrators still inside of the Wall.

For half an hour, demonstrators sung to the soldiers to “Free Palestine,” to “tear down the wall,” to “end the Occupation,” and asked, “Hey soldiers can you say, how many kids did you shoot today?” The soldiers gave no reply. They just kept on shooting.

At the request of the Palestinians, the internationals and Israelis joined the Palestinians in retreating from the area between the fences and made their way back through the fence, hands in the air, with some attention on the sponge bullet gun aiming in their direction.

Further towards the gate in the Wall, some of the demonstrators continued to non-violently resist and attempt to reach the other side of the Wall. Abdullah, a Palestinian from Bil’in, was detained by the army but later released.

And soon the demonstrators made their way back to the village, many of them covered from head to toe in a dark blue substance, aimed at quelling their non-violent resistance.

But, like every Friday, Palestinians and their international and Israeli solidarity colleagues will be back, to demand and end to the Occupation, to dismantle the Apartheid Wall which the International Court of Justice has already deemed illegal and calls for it immediate destruction, and to keep up the on-going non-violent struggle towards justice.

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16. Taking the piss out of war games in Hebron
by Yifat Appelbaum

Israeli soldiers in Hebron sometimes do exercises to practice for combat situations. Ok, I can accept that. They need to always be on their toes in case there is a terrorist, right? *wink wink nudge nudge* But when they do it around Palestinian homes it is just a form of harassment, the purpose of which is to scare and intimidate the residents. Remind them who’s boss, so to speak.

Last night we were walking down the street at about 9pm and we saw about 10 Israeli soldiers playing their war games in the street. They were prancing around, running, ducking, hiding and pointing their guns at all of us. But you have to put your foot down when they enter onto Palestinian property and start doing this thing in people’s front yards.

When they entered a yard, we followed, wondering if they were going try to force their way into the house. I asked the commander how he would feel if 10 armed Palestinians started raising hell at the front of the door to his home. He told me he could not talk to me. So I let him sniff a rose my friend Issa had given me. Because everyone needs to stop to sniff the flowers, even if you are a commander performing a military exercise, right?

At this point, one of our activists, lets call him “Snufkin” decided to take the piss out of the war games and began dashing about, performing somersaults on the ground in front of the soldiers, hiding, pointing an invisible gun all over the place and yelling “where are the terrorists.” He climbed up on walls, got on a roof, where he was joined by another “soldier.” They waved their guns around and then Snufkin jumped off the roof, ran down the street and dropped down with his stomach to the ground in front of an Israeli police jeep which had just pulled up.

This performance continued for a few minutes and the soldiers left the Palestinian yard and went out onto the street where they sat huddled in a corner watching the parody of their military exercise.

The cop questioned Snufkin for a few minutes and then let him go. I guess there’s no law against taking the piss around here, thankfully.

I wish I had photos or video of this but unfortunately I don’t.

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17. Prelude to the Third Intifada?
by Anna Baltzer, 30 April 2007

For photos, click: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/30/prelude/

It’s been more than three weeks since I last wrote. The reason is simple: things have been awful on the ground here in Palestine, leaving little time for reflection. As usual, Passover—the Jewish holiday celebrating freedom from oppression—was accompanied by tightening restrictions on Palestinians. While Jewish Israelis were feasting nearby, travel within the West Bank became difficult if not impossible, except of course for settlers who would breeze by the hundreds of Palestinians waiting for hours at checkpoints on their way home, to work, to the hospital, or elsewhere. Calling the Army was no help since most offices and services were closed for the holidays. Palestinians urgently requiring permits to reach hospitals were forced to wait as well.

A quick look at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ weekly report shows that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)—among other activities—killed 9 Palestinians (including 2 children and 4 extra-judicial assassinations), injured 20, conducted 30 incursions into West Bank Palestinian communities, arrested 44 Palestinian civilians (including 8 children), demolished 8 houses rendering more than 48 people homeless, and continued to impose a total siege on the Occupied Territories… all in the past week. This is about average. In the past few weeks, Israeli settlers have also moved back into an evacuated settlement in Nablus.

Meanwhile, several hundred Jewish settlers took over a massive building in the heart of Hebron, and Israel immediately deployed soldiers to protect the new Jewish-only colony. The nearby Abu Haykal family, friends whom I visited last month in Tel Rumeida, had their car torched by Hebron settlers who want nothing more than for them to leave so that a new Jewish settlement can be set up next to the already existing ones.

The ongoing brutality and harassment are fuelling a growing tension that I predict will one day explode into a third intifada (Arabic for “uprising”). The signs are there—intense frustration but an even stronger determination to throw off the Occupation’s yoke. Demonstrations have been happening all over the West Bank, sometimes several per day. Israel’s excessive force and continued colonization are unsustainable, because the Palestinians will never stop resisting. To stop resisting is to have no future—it is national suicide. The worse the Occupation gets, the stronger the resistance.

Although it is not reported as such, most of the current Palestinian resistance has been nonviolent. At the Arab American University of Jenin, the “Green Resistance” student group succeeded in banning the Israeli-produced Tapuzina fruit juice from the AAUJ campus, part of a growing Palestinian campaign to support local products rather than paying for their own Occupation. My neighbor Abu Saed in Haris, whose trees have been uprooted by settlers three times over the past month from his land near Revava settlement, continues to replant them week after week, with support from Rabbis for Human Rights and IWPS.

And about a month ago, more than 350 people—Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals— gathered for the first-ever Palestine International Bike Race from Ramallah to Jericho, an event organized by the East Jerusalem YMCA for people from all over the world to protest human rights violations in Palestine, demand freedom of movement for Palestinian civilians, and “support the values of peace and tolerance in the area.” The event was projected to be the longest ever international sporting event protesting the Occupation, but Israeli jeeps cut the race short by closing traffic to two-wheelers and the “Bikes not Bombs” enthusiasts were forced to turn back.

Near the Quaker Friends School where the bike race commenced is a cultural center where dozens of Palestinian youth come together every week to make short films and dance together. After watching an intensely physical and emotive modern dance rehearsal when I visited one day, the students explained that for them “art is not a luxury—it’s a must.” The Occupation not only threatens Palestinians’ homes, land, livelihoods, time, and future, but also creativity and expression. The cultural center is tool to prevent Palestinian culture from being lost or distorted, and students described how they would meet in secrecy to practice quietly during invasions and curfews as their own form of creative nonviolent resistance.

In the Salfit region where we live, a new center has been established to conduct trainings and workshops in strategic communication, peace-building, conflict resolution, and techniques of nonviolent resistance. I spoke with the director Fuad, who explained that nonviolent resistance in Israeli jails (hunger strikes, etc) has recently increased, and that many Palestinians—particularly those returning from prison—have been building what he called “a nonviolent movement for freedom, equality, democratic values, and human rights.” His organization aims to develop programs suitable for each section of Palestinian society, as well as human rights and democracy awareness workshops and resistance trainings, but they lack the proper funding to do so. Fuad told me his own story of transformation from a soldier in Arafat’s “Sabahtash” Army to a committed nonviolence advocate after his brother was killed. Fuad was particularly inspired by the first intifada, during which all parts of Palestinian society joined in nonviolent civil disobedience to demand freedom with one loud voice. When I told Fuad that IWPS could offer no financial support (although you could—please contact [email protected] if you can help), he replied, “We have no money, but our strength is in our beliefs: our commitment to nonviolence. Violence kills the spirit, pushing it towards more violence or submission, but nonviolence will always prevail in the end.”

Fuad said he chose to work in the Salfit area because of its history of nonviolent resistance. Indeed, the past few weeks have seen a number of major actions in our oft-forgotten rural region. On Land Day, hundreds gathered in Rafat village to protest the Wall that is slowly enclosing their village, but when they found the cage unguarded they grabbed hold and began to rock it, back and forth, all together, until finally the gates exploded open. When the soldiers arrived, protesters retreated to their homes, not a single stone thrown. They had made their point: Rafat will not accept collective imprisonment.

The next day in Salfit town a group of demonstrators found the Wall unguarded and began removing the electric sensory wire that lines the fenced sections. Soldiers arrived quickly and began shooting into the air, but protesters held their ground and raised Palestinian flags above the cage that cuts off their main road and annexes much of their land. Salfit, too, will not accept collective imprisonment.

Nor will the rest of the West Bank, where many other actions took place on Land Day weekend. In Qaffin town in the north, thousands of demonstrators gathered and marched, danced, and drummed their way to the Wall to show their spirit and resolve to resist the illegal barrier and Occupation.

In Nablus, hundreds marched to Beit Furik, one of the six city exits—all Army checkpoints—through which men 16 to 45 years old are not allowed to pass without a special Israeli-issued permit that can only be obtained outside the city. The march, organized in part by the Nablus Women’s Union and a society for local handicapped people, continued through the checkpoint past stunned soldiers unable to hold the cheering protesters back.

After succeeding in pushing through Beit Furik checkpoint, Nablus residents occupy the checkpoint, climbing up onto the waiting pens and hanging freedom signs around the base.

The group then occupied the checkpoint, first by sitting down and later by climbing atop the waiting pens and hanging Palestinian flags and freedom signs around the base.

Injustice is unsustainable. It cannot be normalized, because there will always be resistance. The third intifada will come. It may be nonviolent as the first, or it may be more like the second. Is it a coincidence that Israel began construction at the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem just as warring religious and secular Palestinian factions were coming to a truce? Israel prefers that Palestinians resist one another rather than their oppression, but Palestinians in the West Bank and at the negotiating table have shown their resolve to work together against their common enemies: Zionist racism and the Occupation. United, they will prevail. If the third intifada does not succeed, there will be a fourth. And then a fifth… As many as it takes, until justice is served.

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18. Outsmarting the Occupation in Bil’in
by Martinez, 4 May 2007

For photos, click: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/05/04/outsmarting-the-occupation/

For 27 months, villagers from the West Bank village of Bil’in have been non-violently resisting Israel’s Apartheid Wall and land theft. Palestinians have been joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists at Bil’in’s regular Friday demonstrations against the Wall.

Today, activists met outside of the mosque in Bil’in and started their usual march to the Wall. Chants, songs, and slogans were sung as the demonstrators marched through the heat to reach the Apartheid structure.

There were even two members of the Tel Rumedia Circus for Detained Palestinians who showed up to lighten up the atmosphere and try to squeeze some smiles from the otherwise grumpy soldiers.

The demonstrators made their way three quarters of the way to the Wall without incident. Then, up ahead in the distance, one could make out a hurdle of barbed wire, splitting the path into two sides: one path symbolized non-violent resistance, Ghandi-style; the other path symbolized violence and occupation, police state-style.

Israeli Occupation Forces on the police state side of the barbed wire aimed their guns towards the protesters, whose weapons came in the form of video cameras and peace signs and circus equipment.

In Arabic, Hebrew, and English, demonstrators yelled, “No to the Wall!” and “Don’t shoot!”

As one Palestinian demonstrator began to pull away the barbed wire which was preventing the crowd of reaching the bigger Wall behind it, Israeli forces began to fire tear gas.

Demonstrators rushed into the olive grove, hands and handkerchiefs covering eyes and mouths to prevent the suffocating gas from reaching their corneas and lungs. I myself heard rubber-coated steel bullets whizzing through olive branches. Everywhere you looked projectile tear gas cannisters were either dropping like heavy flies from the sky or screeching through the trees.

The peaceful protesters retreated after 20 minutes but regrouped further up the path. Some quick decision making was made on behalf of the Palestinian organizers and their solidarity colleagues. And soon the crowd bolted down some rugged terrain.

The goal was to reach another side of the Apartheid Wall- to possibly dismantle some parts of it, but at least to reach the Wall and cross it.

On the other side of the Wall, of course, the Israeli settlements of Mod’in Ilit and Mattityahu East are illegally constructed. These colonies, and the Apartheid Wall in this story, have been built on nearly 60% of land that has been confiscated by Israel from the Palestinian village of Bil’in. This is Apartheid at its finest.

So, through the mountain side, about 30 demonstrators, a blend of Palestinian, Israeli, and internationals, quietly hustled on over to another portion of the extensive Wall of Apartheid.

Luckily, most people had their boots and tennis shoes on because it was a rocky road. The military camera was facing the road on which the demonstrators had marched. It was not facing this covert action against a different portion of the Wall.

Once the hikers regrouped, they placed tires and branches on the barbed wire and were able to make their way across the first wall. At this point, the demonstrators were between Walls. One a wall of barbed wire and the other electrical fencing and barbed wire.

Further in the distance, Israeli forces were firing into the remaining demonstrators who stayed behind in the olive grove. Signs in Hebrew at this part of the wall read in Hebrew something like this: “If you come any closer, there is a threat of death.” So, demonstrators cut the wires and flung the posts down the rocky slope.

This small march made its way between walls towards the Occupation forces. Soldiers did not even notice the crowd until they were just meters away. When they were spotted, however, soldiers turned their fire from the olive grove and onto the pack of 30.

“Don’t shoot!” was screamed in a handful of languages. Soldiers were caught off guard. Their unsynchronized reactions proved this. Soldiers were coming right up to the fence and pointing their guns at the non-violent demonstrators.

Soldiers could not throw the tear gas over the first wall because it would have tumbled down the mountain so they threw it on the road near the jeeps.

It dissipated quickly. Mohammad Khatib from the Popular Committee walked further up the path. A soldier confronted him at a gate in the Wall. Mohammad recounted:

“The soldier was pointing his gun right at me. He was just centimeters from shooting me. I told him we were non-violent and not to shoot. You can arrest us if you want but don’t shoot. I then heard the commanding officer tell the soldier in Hebrew to stand down.”

After some negotiating with the soldiers, the Palestinians were able to get the army to agree to let the thirty demonstrators exit through the main part of the wall, without shooting them. This is the location in the Wall where, every week, demonstrators have been trying to reach.

Over the past few weeks, Occupation forces have not allowed the demonstration to reach this gate in the Wall, and have prevented the marchers from doing so by using tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, just like they were using today.

Two weeks ago, Israeli forces shot Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mariad Macguire in this same way– she was part of the demonstration that was trying to reach the gate in the Apartheid Wall. About 25 peaceful protesters were injured by demonstrators that day.

So, it was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. The demonstrators outsmarted the army and crossed the wall. They walked past Israeli soldiers on the right side of the wall, firing into the mountainside. And they walked past soldiers on the left, who were still firing tear gas at the Palestinians in the olive grove.

One member of the Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians swirled around her circus poi as she passed the absurdity of the Occupation.

When asked to make an official statement about TRCDP’s role at the demonstration, she said “If we can make one soldier smile at us, it’s a success because that means he is not shooting a Palestinian during that second.”

More on TRCDP here: http://trcdp.livejournal.com