Home / Court Says No to Settlement Building in Bil’in (Digest)

Court Says No to Settlement Building in Bil’in (Digest)

1. A replay of tired lies
2. Judge to Court: No to settlement building in Bil’in
3. “I want to see Arab blood!”
4. The Tragedy of Hebron
5. (Video) Tree Planting at Huwara
6. (VIDEO) 4 Injured at Bil’in Demonstration, Greek-Chilean shot in head and leg with rubber-coated steel bullets
7. Israeli police confiscates Palestinian video evidence
8. Israeli Military Executes Elderly Palestinian Man in Hebron and Shoots at His Family Members
9. MEPs stand up for immediate release of 45 Palestinian MPs in Israeli Jail
10. Israeli military inflicts collective punishment on Palestinians in Hebron
11. Democracy for Bedouins postponed
12. In support of the economic and cultural boycott
13. A Hospitality Which Won’t Quit… Nor Submit to the Occupation
14. Taking it to the street in Um Salamona
15. Tear Gas canisters from Israeli army cause fires in Bil’in olive groves, 6 demonstrators arrested
16. The world will understand us more

1. A replay of tired lies
By Huwaida Arraf and Neta Golan, June 6, 2007, Published in the Seattle Post Intelligencer

It is sad that J.L. Greenberg recycles discredited propaganda to defame the memory of Rachel Corrie and the ongoing, important work of the International Solidarity Movement (”Corrie ignored Muslim atrocities,” May 23). It is shocking that he does so on behalf of the larger Seattle Jewish Committee.

Greenberg repeats tired lies that the ISM is a “Muslim organization” affiliated with the PLO and Hamas, focused on the “annihilation of the Jews” and unconcerned with other conflicts and repression around the world. The ISM is a non-violent resistance movement founded on the principles of Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It is not a religious movement and, in fact, a significant number of ISM volunteers are Jewish and Christian. Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, Pagans, Confucians and many other religions have also been represented in the movement. The ISM is totally funded by private donations from civil society around the world. It receives no money from Palestinian political parties or organizations. The ISM is focused on ending Israeli occupation and oppression, a precondition for fair negotiations to end this conflict and secure peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The ISM rejects all forms of racism absolutely, including anti-Semitism.

Greenberg takes specific aim at Corrie’s memory. Again, he repeats ridiculous claims — that Corrie was “supporting terrorists,” uninterested in protecting Israelis from Palestinian attacks (and thus a de facto anti-Semite) and preventing the destruction of weapons-smuggling tunnels.

In the series of e-mails Corrie sent home while in Palestine, she discussed in eloquent prose the anguish she felt about the violence she was witnessing. Corrie instinctively humanized all people involved in the conflict, Palestinian and Israeli.

Seattle P-I readers are well aware that the house Corrie was trying to protect when she was killed was the home of a pharmacist and his family. As the Israeli army was eventually forced to concede, there was no weapons-smuggling tunnel under the house. Had the Israeli soldiers present that day listened to what the non-violent ISM volunteers were telling them, that there were no tunnels, no terrorists, no violence at that house, Corrie would be alive today. Her death was no “tragic accident” as Greenberg wants us to believe. It was the predictable outcome of Israeli occupation, Israel’s wholesale policy of house demolition, and the kind of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims that Greenberg engages in.

Greenberg also attacks Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Irish Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who was recently wounded by the Israeli army at a non-violent demonstration in Bil’in village in the West Bank. Maguire was participating in the weekly nonviolent protests in Bil’in against the construction of Israel ’s apartheid wall and the expansion of an illegal settlement onto the village’s farmland. Greenberg, extraordinarily, labels Maguire a “Jew hater” without a single bit of evidence.

Greenberg’s essay overflows with distortions bordering on, if not crossing unabashedly into, racism and Islamophobia. He labels all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, as “Muslims” and calls Bili’n’s weekly protests “Muslim demonstrations” though they have no religious character and feature participants of all religions. Greenberg’s laughable claim that Israeli military attacks on non-violent protesters are justified because “guns, grenades or sticks of dynamite might be under the flowing robes” of male and female Palestinian protesters also plays on ugly stereotypes of Palestinians and Muslims.

To achieve real, lasting and just peace for Palestinians and Israelis, extreme voices such as Greenberg’s, which demonize and undermine all those standing for human rights and non-violent change in Israel and Palestine, must be rejected. On the contrary, the non-violent resistance represented by Rachel Corrie in Rafah, and the joint Palestinian, Israeli and international protests in Bil’in are examples deserving respect, praise and support.

Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian American living in Washington D.C., and Neta Golan, an Israeli living in Ramallah, Palestine, are co-founders of the International Solidarity Movement.

2. Judge to Court: No to settlement building in Bil’in
June 4, 2007

For photo and further background info, click HERE

The Supreme Court orders the State: explain why the new plan for the Matityahu East neighborhood shouldn’t be annulled:

There are two petitions concerning the Matityahu East neighborhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit currently in front of the Supreme Court: HCJ 143/06, filed in January 2006, in an attempt to stop the illegal construction there; and HCJ 1526/07, filed in February 2007, after the Higher Planning Board at the Civil Administration decided to approve a new plan (210/8/1) which will legalize most of the illegal construction done. The context for both petitions is the route of the separation barrier, designed to allow the construction of the neighborhood on approximately 80 hectares of the lands of Bil’in on the “Israeli” side of the wall.

At the end of a four-hour (!) hearing held yesterday (June 3), the Court issued an order nisi (in HCJ 1526/07), ordering the State and the other respondents (the real-estate companies Heftsiba and Green Park, the local council Modi’in Illit and representatives of the flats buyers in the Matityahu East project) to argue why, in their opinion, the Higher Planning Board in Beit-El and the sub-committee for Objections “shouldn’t annul their decision to approve the 210/8/1 plan for the Matityahu East neighborhood in the settlement Modi’in Illit”. The order was issued by agreement among all sides (following the recommendation of the Court), so formally it was written that the petition will be considered “as if an order nisi was issued”, but legally and for every other purpose this means an order nisi was actually issued. The respondents are required to respond in writing by July 5th.

At the same time, the Court rejected the request of the respondents to cancel the temporary injunction in HCJ 143/06, issued on January 12th 2006, which forbids any further building in Matityahu East and any new residents moving in to flats therein. Judge Prokachya told the respondents that the Court will not cancel the temporary injunction before a final verdict is given in both petitions. This means that at least for the time being, no building can take place in Matityahu East and no new residents are allowed to move in.

The hearing focused mainly on procedural and planning issues pertaining to the work of the Higher Planning Board at the Civil Administration. However, these issues have important implications for the planning system in settlements in general, and in Modi’in Illit in particular. The outcome of the hearing is due largely to the excellent performance of attorney Michael Sfard, who represents the people of Bil’in and the Peace Now movement in both petitions. During the hearing, Judge Prokachya asked about the linkage between the new plan for the neighborhood and the route of the barrier – to the disappointment of the State representatives.


The land in question was handed over to two private real estate companies, “Heftziba” and “Green Park,” after it was confiscated by the Israeli authorities. This follows a typical pattern of settlement expansion, whereby Palestinian land is first declared Israeli state property and then eventually distributed to Israelis for private use. In 2000, the Metityahu Mizrach settlement was built without permits not only on the land that was confiscated, but also on the land that the Israeli Supreme Court recognized as privately owned Palestinian land. The route of the wall in Bil’in is designed not only to protect the settlers of Matityahu Mizrah but was designed according to the master plan of the settlement to allow for its future expansion. See B’tselem Report

In January 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a temporary order in one appeal case (143/06), freezing the building and population of the Matityahu East settlement after the illegal building of 42 residential buildings – 20 of them without any building permits and 22 additional ones according to illegal building permits produced by the local committee of Modiin Elite.

3. “I want to see Arab blood!”
by ISM Hebron , 4 June 2007

At approximately 7:10 am, Sunday 3rd June, a female human rights worker (HRW) was positioned at the top of Tel Rumeida street opposite the IDF guard post close to the Tel Rumeida Settlement. There were two soldiers present alongside two policemen who were inside a police vehicle approximately five meters away, facing the HRW. A white van drove up the hill and turned around and stopped in front of the HRW, and also facing the police vehicle. The Settler inside the white van, wound down his window and started to shout abuses at the HRW. He said the following, “You want to see our blood?”, “you want to kill us?”, “I want to see Arab blood!” and “Fuck off”. He continued to shout various aggressive insults at the HRW who stated that she did not want to see any blood and that she was non violent.

During this time, neither the police nor the soldiers made any effort to acknowledge or prevent the situation from escalating. After the settler drove off, the HRW questioned the police into why they did nothing and they claimed that they hadn’t witnessed the incident despite directly facing the Settler and the HRW. They claimed they were speaking with a soldier at the time of the incident and therefore did not hear or see the attack.

At approximately 7:20, the same Settler stopped his van in front of the main Machsom (checkpoint) at the junction between Shuhada Street and Tel Rumeida Street. The Settler began shouting verbal abuse at the human rights worker who was present, however, the settler proceeded to get out of the vehicle to attack the HRW physically. It was only due to the intervention of a soldier who was present at the checkpoint that the Settler was prevented from being physically violent. The settler did continue to shout abuse until he eventually drove away.

Both HRWs who had been affected by the Settler decided to make formal complaints to the police about the settler who had been aggressive towards them. The police were open that they knew who the settler was and said that they would investigate the situation.

On Monday, 4th June, at approximately 7:20am, two HRWs were standing by the Israeli colony of Beit Haddasah. An Israeli police vehicle was present with two policemen and a further soldier was positioned at the guard post. Despite the complaint to the police the previous day, the same settler drove past, stopped his vehicle and proceeded to get out of the vehicle and start shouting at the HRWs. The police seemed reluctant to get involved although they did get out of their vehicle and approach the situation. A third HRW approached the scene. At this point, the settler turned his attention onto her and began to shout in both Hebrew and English. The settler then approached her aggressively and it was only when the Settler was completely upon the HRW that the police physically intervened by standing between the settler and the HRW. A second settler approached the scene and started shouting abuse at the three HRWs.

Speaking with the police afterwards, they acknowledged they knew who the settler was and that the settler’s aggression wasn’t justified. The police, however, stated that the HRWs should move further away from the settlement to prevent the aggression and that the presence of the HRWs was a provocation. He further stated that there would be an investigation into the settler’s actions, following the formal complaint from the previous day. Complaints are made often by Palestinians and human rights workers in Tel Rumeida, but further action by Israeli police is usually never taken.

4. The Tragedy of Hebron
by Feras SSA, June 5th, 2007

It is a nice thing to make a tour anywhere around the world since you will see and learn new things. But a tour in the old city of Hebron will be a tragedy for any one who belongs to humanity.

Once you reach the roadblocks which divide the city of Hebron into two parts, you will see that life changes 180 degrees. The streets in the area not completely occupied by the Israeli military (called H1 according to Hebron agreement in 1997) are crowded with hundreds of Palestinians and opened shops. Sometimes there is no place to put your legs with all the merchants, shoppers, Palestinian municipality workers and police working daily to organize these markets because the place is so small and limited.

Just few meters after the roadblocks things change. You will see empty streets and closed shops. While walking in the old al Shallalah Street you will see fences, settlements and soldiers just directly up to your head. You do not know you are in a closed military zone or inside a settlement there.

Directly you will face an Israeli checkpoint on the ground another one on the roof. Oh no another four soldiers making petrol there ! You do not know what is happening there? You think that hundreds of Palestinians terrorists (according to Israeli claims) are ready to attack these settlements, or may be you think that these settlements which surrounded with Palestinians houses are in permanent danger because of Arabs attacks. On the contrary, this is not the truth.

Surely this is not the truth. Unfortunately these settlements are planted in the heart of the city to control and occupy Hebron city for a long time. A few hundreds settlers supported with two thousands soldiers make the life of hundreds of thousands Palestinians like a hell. All kinds of apartheid system are used against Palestinians here.

It is really a tragedy. The hard situation here forced people to leave the old city to places away from those settlers who are the most extreme in the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinian families transferred and most shops owners were also forced to leave their shops. Eventually, this part of the city became a ghost town.

My family was on of those families which forced to leave after hundreds of daily attacks from settlers and soldiers. Living in that place is so hard especially when you feel that you are foreigner in your own home.

No one knows when this strange situation will end? Where is the occupation taking us? When will Palestinians be able to go back again to their houses, shops, streets and mosques? These questions and many others need answers. But for sure times change, and who is strong today may be weak tomorrow.

As I started with the importance of tours, I finish with the importance of making tours for all people who are interested in the Palestinian issue. The city of Hebron is a good example of Palestinian daily suffering from Israeli occupation.

5. (Video) Tree Planting at Huwara
by the ISM Media Crew, June 6, 2007

For video, click HERE

At 10:30am Palestinians were joined by international human rights activists outside the Nablus Municipal building to demonstrate in commemoration of Israel’s 40 years of Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights, and to protest against the Huwara Checkpoint. Approximately 100 activists traveled by bus to a point just outside the Huwara Checkpoint and proceeded to march towards it, chanting and protesting against the illegal army post which forces Palestinians to wait for hours to pass. The checkpoint is one of the most notorious both for it’s treatment of Palestinians and because it isolates much of the Northern section of Palestine, including Nablus, from the rest of the Occupied Territories. In a form of humiliation, Palestinians are often made to wait for hours to pass through the checkpoint which only has three points of passage, and often not all of them are open. Palestinians are often detained by Occupation Forces and Border police and face violence and intimidation from them.

The Demonstration passed without aggression by either the Border Police or Army and consequently the demonstration was able to achieve its aim of non-violent protest against the occupation and against the checkpoint. During the protest demonstrators were able to chant and approach the checkpoint and drew media attention to the hundreds of people waiting in line to pass.

Following the demonstration, protestors gathered by the road leading to the Checkpoint to plant olive trees in symbolic defiance of the 51,000 trees that have been uprooted and destroyed over the past five years in the Nablus region alone.

6. (VIDEO) 4 Injured at Bil’in Demonstration, Greek-Chilean shot in head and leg with rubber-coated steel bullets
by the ISM Media Crew

For video and photos, click HERE

For 28 months, Palestinians from the West Bank village of Bil’in have been joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists to non-violently protest the confiscation of Palestinian land and Israel’s Apartheid Wall.

Today, before reaching their destination at the Wall, the Israeli army set up a roadblock of razor wire, separating the protesters from the Wall. As demonstrators crossed the razor wire, Occupation soldiers started to throw tear gas and sound grenades.

Immediately, Israeli soldiers kidnapped Mohammad Khatib of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. As more activists arrived at the scene, soldiers became more aggressive and started to push and hit people, including camerapersons and activists.

Iyad, from Bil’in, was kicked in his groin by an Israeli soldier. Iyad fell to the ground in pain. Soldiers hovered above him, preventing other activists from helping, until another soldier took a tear gas canisters and threw it towards Iyad as he lay on the ground.

Martinez, an American activist, said, “They threw the tear gas right into Iyad’s lap. Even the soldiers above Iyad were surprised and had to flee from that spot. Three other activists intervened and helped Iyad from the ground and got him to safety.”

Soldiers continually fired tear gas until most of the demonstrators retreated into the field of olive trees.

As the demonstration made its way further back into the village, soldiers started to fire projectile tear gas cannisters and shoot rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstrators. Cristian, a Greek-Chilean cameraman was hit with two bullets simultaneously, one in the temple and one in the left leg. Cristian told the ISM, “I’m sure they took aim and shot me purposefully. They were about 25 meters away. I fell down and was knocked unconscious for a few seconds.”

Issa Mahmoud and Ibrahim Bornat, two other Palestinian activists, were also wounded by rubber bullets, Issa in the leg and Ibrahim in the arm.

After regrouping, demonstrators made their way to another location in the Wall. Soldiers redirected their attention to this small crowd of activists, and started to fire rubber bullets and tear gas in their direction. One tear gas canister managed to created a small flame. This then grew into a large fire and quickly spread about 150 meters towards the olive grove. Activists could be seen attempting to extinguish the growing flame with branches of leaves.

7. Israeli police confiscates Palestinian video evidence
Video shows Israeli settler throwing tomatoes and eggs at harvesters
by ISM Hebron

At approximately 10:00, four international Human Rights Workers (HRW), four Palestinian HRWs, five journalists and cameramen, and the Al-Jabari family gathered at the Al-Jabari home in Hebron just outside the Israeli colony of Kiriat Arba in order to accompany the Al-Jabari family to pick grass on the family’s land. Members of the nearby settlement recently have harassed the family members as they attempted to pick the grass on their land to feed their goats (who are no longer permitted to graze on the land themselves).

The solidarity group began picking grass in the field, and four Israeli soldiers appeared shortly thereafter. They were soon joined by three more soldiers, a police officer, and about five border police. The policeman approached all of the international HRWs, requested their passports, and proceeded to record the passport numbers and information on a notepad. About an hour into the grass picking, a female Israeli settler showed up and began to watch the scene. The settler then proceeded to quickly pull bunches of tomatoes and spoiled eggs out of her canvas bag and hurl them at the grass pickers, striking one Palestinian HRW in the back of the head with an egg. The settler then attempted to run away, but a soldier immediately ran after her and arrested her. She continued to shout menacingly in Hebrew as he escorted her back to a vehicle.

At one point, the settler attempted once more to throw tomatoes at the grass collectors. The police inquired whether the HRW who had been assaulted would like to make a formal complaint. The HRW agreed and went down to the station. One Palestinian journalist had evidence on film of the female settlers’ actions and was requested to go to the police station to provide the footage. When he reached the police station, his film was confiscated and he was detained for unknown reasons. Shortly after the female settler was taken away, a second settler trespassed onto the land and began aggressively taking photos of everyone on it. The army made a verbal attempt to remove him, although requests for him to leave were ignored by the settler and he continued to take photos at close proximity to both Palestinians and internationals. By midday, the task of collecting grass had been completed; however, two international HRWs maintained their presence at the Al-Jabari home until approximately 19:00 out of concern about further harassment by settlers.

8. Israeli Military Executes Elderly Palestinian Man in Hebron and Shoots at His Family Members

Palestinian Ministry of Information:

Ramallah, 06-06-07: Israeli soldiers executed a 68-year-old Palestinian civilian in his home in Hebron city in the early hours of this morning, a willful killing which Minister of Information Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi said represented a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and which he therefore condemned as a war crime.

Israeli soldiers stormed the house of Yahiya Itzhak Al Jabari in the Haram Ar Rama area of Hebron this morning as part of an ‘arrest operation’, and demanded to see his sons. When Jabari called his two sons, 30-year-old Kamel and 19-year-old Rajah into the living room, the soldiers began beating the two men.

When Jabari tried to intervene to protect his sons, an Israeli soldier shot him in the head, killing him instantly.

Rafah Jabari was also shot in the head. The bullet did not penetrate his skull and he was taken to the hospital where he remains in a serious, but stable condition.

His brother Kamel was shot in the legs and feet, while his two sisters aged 15 and 25-years-old were also beaten.

The dead man’s wife, Fatmeh Jabari was critically wounded after being shot by an Israeli soldier in the chest while trying to assist her husband. She is now in a coma.

No one was arrested following the attack.

While acknowledging the Israel military’s open policy of extrajudicial executions of Palestinians, Dr. Barghouthi said that Jabari’s murder was now indicative of the targeting of civilians through this policy.

He demanded an international investigation into the murder, saying that past investigations carried out by Israel into its military’s conduct had been whitewashes.

A total killed of 470 Palestinians have been killed in executions and targeted killings by the Israeli military since September 2000, of whom at least 166 were civilians, including at 52 children.

9. MEPs stand up for immediate release of 45 Palestinian MPs in Israeli Jail
from Luisa Morgantini, Vice President of European Parliament, 6 June 2007

Brussels– 45 Members of the European Parliament, from different political groups, have decided to express their solidarity towards the 45 Palestinian colleagues imprisoned by Israel, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.

All the 45 MEPs stood up symbolically in the plenary, right before the beginning of the debate with Mr. Solana on the situation on the Middle East, representing the 45 Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council detained in the Israeli jails in a clear violation of the international legality .

“Each of us, MEPs, is deeply concerned about the imprisonment of the President and of 1/3 of the Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, democratically and legitimately elected by the Palestinian people”, MEPs said in their declaration.

Through this initiative, MEPs want to strongly condemn these arrests by the Israeli Army, but also remind the anniversary of the beginning of the Israeli military occupation in the Palestinian territories, which is during 40 years exactly today.

“We are deeply worried not only for the plight of the 45 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council but also for the near 11000 Palestinian political prisoners currently imprisoned by the Israeli Army, without a true process and often brutally abducted by the Israeli soldiers.

They have to be released and, at the same time, also the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit must be freed by the Palestinian group that kidnapped him in Gaza Strip, as a change of prisoners- affirms Luisa Morgantini, one of the 45 MEPs participating to this initiative.

“40 years of military occupation are enough: now it’s urgent to implement a political solution of the conflict, based on “two People and two States” and it’s necessary that the Palestinian Legislative Council could continue its activity, instead of preventing its work because of the check points, the arrests, the summary killings kept on by the current Israeli policy of military occupation”, concluded Luisa Morgantini.

To view list MEPs participating to the initiative, click HERE

10. CPT: Israeli military inflicts collective punishment on Palestinians in Hebron
by Christian Peacemaker Teams, 2 June 2007

For photo, click HERE

On the afternoon of Saturday 2 June, in a clear violation of international law1, the Israeli military closed a gate in the H2 area2 of Hebron, preventing the free movement of Palestinians and international tourists. The gate, which leads from the Old City souq (market) to the Ibrahimi Mosque area was closed for half an hour.

At 3:55pm CPTers Jan Benvie and Mary Wendeln observed two Israeli Border Police detaining and verbally abusing three Palestinian men at the checkpoint beside the Ibrahimi Mosque. When Benvie and Wendeln stopped to monitor the situation a Border Policeman came towards them and told them to leave the area. Before the CPTers could reply he told them, “If you do not move from here I will close the gate”, pointing to the large metal gate that separates the checkpoint area from the old city souk.

Wendeln asked the Border Policeman his name and badge number, but he did not answer. Another Border Policeman came towards them and repeated the threat to close the gate. Benvie asked to speak to the commander who had given the order to close the gate. The two Border Police gave different responses, one saying that the commander was called Gadi, the other that it was not Gadi, but a “bigger commander”. They then repeated the threat to close the gate if the CPTers did not move. The CPTers tried to clarify the situation with an Israeli police officer on duty at the mosque, but he said that he did not speak English.

While Benvie and Wendeln were speaking with the police officer the Border Police closed the gate and told waiting Palestinians that it was closed because of CPT.

Although the CPTers left the area the Israeli military did not open the gate until prayer time, by which time there were about 60 people, mainly Palestinian residents of Hebron, but also some international tourists, waiting to pass through.

A Scottish tourist, visiting Hebron for day, told Benvie “I felt really trapped. The soldiers at the mosque shouted at us, it was quite frightening.”

1. International law prohibits collective punishment, i.e., the punishment of persons for acts committed by others (article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 50 of the Hague Regulations).

2. Under the Hebron Protocol of 1997 the city is divided into H1, under Palestinian Authority Control, and H2, under Israeli control.

11. Democracy for Bedouins postponed
By Yeela Raanan, Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev , 5 June 2007

Yesterday, June 4th 2007, the Internal Affairs Committee agreed: The first municipal elections in the Regional Council of Abu-Basma for the Bedouin villages is postponed a year – because of insufficient effort by the government officials.

The Regional Council of Abu-Basma was established by the Government of Israel four years ago as the municipality for the newly-recognized Bedouin Villages. Over the four years twelve villages have received recognition and are supposed to receive their services from their newly established regional council – “Abu Basma”.

However, the policies towards the villages and their residents have been only of oppression and deprivation: the government is still insisting on non-recognition of Bedouin traditional ownership of land and is confiscating from one only to turn around and sell to another. Of course the Bedouins refuse to buy their neighbor’s land from the government. The government is insisting that the planning of the villages be done without community involvement. The result is that the villages are planned in manners that are inappropriate to the culture and the needs of the population, with only one aim in mind – minimizing the use of land – so that the government can free up as much land to hand over to the Jewish citizens.

The Government of Israel has already confiscated since 1948 98% of the Bedouin’s land. Now, through the Abu-Basma regional council and the enforced planning the government is attempting to confiscate the rest.

Hssein al-Rafia, head of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages (RCUV – an NGO), together with residents of the Abu-Basma villages, and human rights activists gave testimony at the Internal Affairs Committee in the Israeli Knesset to the state of affairs within the Abu-Basma regional council and the communities it is supposed to serve. The Internal Affairs Committee chastened the high level administrators for the lack of community involvement in all levels of decision-making and administration, and for not accelerating development in the villages under its jurisdiction.

If the policies towards the Abu-Basma villages remain as they are, the result is fully predictable: the planning and the development will come to a standstill, and the Bedouins will be blamed for their lack of cooperation.

12. AIC: In support of the economic and cultural boycott
Written by Citizens of Israel, AIC, 5 June 2007

Citizens of Israel in support of the proposal for a UNISON Economic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

We Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel strongly support the proposal for UNISON to implement an economic and cultural boycott of Israel. We commend this proposal, especially in the wake of the historic decision by the University and College Union in Britain and similar proposals by the Architects for Peace and Justice in Palestine and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Actions such as these have an immediate impact within Israel. They receive wide coverage in the mainstream media and provide an extremely effective tool in our joint struggle to bring the occupation to a just end.

We are Israeli citizens active against our country’s occupation of Palestine. We refuse to accept the state of poverty, unemployment, oppression and violence from which our Palestinian brothers and sisters are suffering in the OPT. We stress the connections between the violent oppression of the Palestinians in the OPT, and the oppression of the working poor, women, immigrant workers, the unemployed, Arabs, and other minority groups within Israel. The ongoing conflict in the region prevents Israeli workers from effectively mobilizing against neo-liberal reforms and an accelerated process of privatization, under the guise of an ongoing state of emergency in which national security always take precedence over sectarian needs.

It is now evident that the so-called disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 has, in fact, kept the military occupation of the strip intact. Since the implementation of the disengagement plan in August 2005, the Israeli military has killed more than 590 Palestinians in direct conflict in the Gaza Strip, including 113 children, and injured over 1,600, including 103 children. It is also evident that the current situation in Sderot is the direct consequence of Israel’s continuing aggression in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Since the ruling of the ICJ court in Hague against the Separation Wall, and in blatant violation of that ruling, the Israeli government has accelerated construction of the Wall, leading to progressive violations of the human rights of residents of the West Bank. It also continues to build and expand settlements, including on land confiscated for the purpose of building the Wall, illegal according to international law.

As citizens devoted to the promotion of peace and democracy in the region, we are especially bewildered at the international community’s decision to punish the Palestinians and to withhold funds from the PA for having exercised their democratic right to elect the government of their choice. At the same time, the international community continues, through economic investments in Israel, to actively support Israel’s daily violations of international law and accelerated colonization of the occupied territories. We fear the potentially irreversible damage created by Israeli and international policy, and realize that the occupation will truly end only when its cost becomes higher that its gain for Israeli society. As Israelis, we stress that divestment and boycott actions taken by individuals or organizations against the occupation are neither Anti-Semitic nor Anti-Israel. We also recognize that boycott, divestment and sanctions constitute one of the few effective methods left to civil society in the absence of intervention by governments and official policy makers.

We salute UNISON for putting the proposal for boycott of Israel up for consideration, and strongly encourage others to take similar steps.

13. A Hospitality Which Won’t Quit… Nor Submit to the Occupation
Reportback from Daniel

Part 1: Checkpoints, and Violence Against Nonviolent Demos

I’m back from my whirlwind trip to Palestine. The trip was hectic and crazy and shocking. I think I accomplished my goal of seeing first-hand some aspects of the all-encompassing system of Israeli apartheid.

Among other things, my trip included participation in 2 very different demonstrations: the first one in Bil’in, where demonstrators are not allowed even to get close to the Israeli soldiers, and where tear-gas, concussion grenades, water cannons, and “rubber” bullets are freely used against un-armed demonstrators. The second demo was at a new land- confiscation site in a village south of Bethlehem, Artas, where the demonstrators went toe-to-toe with the soldiers. At both of these demonstrations, the goal is for the people of the village, along with Israeli and international allies to try to walk to their confiscated land. Both are mainly non-violent actions (on the side of the Palestinians), except that in Bil’in some of the young village boys use slingshots to throw rocks at the well armed and armored soldiers.

I had a meeting with Jeff Halper of The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and participated in one of their tours of the Jerusalem area that explains and shows concretely the Israeli project to detach and isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, a project which is effectively ripping out Jerusalem, the Palestinian economic and cultural heart, from the West Bank.

Around a bend in the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, bam, you run right into the 30 foot high concrete “security barrier.” It just cuts off the road and creates a dead end. The area was obviously formerly a very busy commercial zone which is now dying since this is no longer a usable route.

I had multiple visits to Ramallah and crossings of the Kalandia checkpoint. In order to get from Jerusalem to any point in the northern West Bank, you must first go to Ramallah and to get to Ramallah you must cross the Kalandia checkpoint. At this checkpoint, people with international passport can stay on the bus but Palestinians must get off the bus and go through a special scan and ID process.

I also had multiple visits to Bethlehem through a different checkpoint which you can’t even drive through. All people must walk through this checkpoint. It is no problem for someone with a US passport but for the Palestinians it is a different story with a very complicated system of permits and computerized ID cards. As part of the identification process, the Palestinians must submit to a computerized “hand-scan”.

I took a day trip to Hebron, which is a very special place. Very militant, ideologically-driven Jewish settlers have taken over sections of this city and a large contingent of Israeli solders is always there to “protect” them. This city is in the occupied West Bank; the transfer of a country’s citizens (Israelis) into an occupied territory is a grave violation of international law. There I visited members of an ISM team that monitors the situation and on a daily basis escorts a group of schoolgirls back and forth to school. The school is in a location near the settlement and quite often the girls are subjected to rock throwing by the children of the settlers. It is a very tense place with checkpoints right in the middle of the city. Palestinians and Volunteers from ISM and Christian Peacemaker Teams are often sent to the hospital with injuries from rocks and other physical abuse.

To view Part 2: the North: Agriculture, Theatre, a Cough to Kill for, click HERE

14. Taking it to the street in Um Salamona
by ISM Hebron, 9 June 2007

At approximately 1:00 pm, about 200 Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals gathered at a home in the village of Um Salamona to demonstrate against the 40 year brutal Occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights, and against the construction of the Israeli apartheid wall. On their way to the demonstration, two Palestinian men were arrested by Israeli forces for unknown reasons.

Following the village members’ Friday sermon and prayer, the non-violent demonstrators made their way to the gate of the home in an attempt to march in the street. As they approached the gate, they chanted for the cessation of the development of the apartheid wall and for the liberation of Palestine. The border police blocking the way responded with unprovoked violence.

Several peace activists were kicked, shoved, and thrown. Simultaneously, one Palestinian man in his 60s was plucked from the crowd, thrown to the ground, and kicked repeatedly before being arrested. Three Israeli activists attempted to reach the street by climbing over the fence, but they were immediately arrested. A nearby gate was then discovered to be open, so approximately half of the demonstrators ran through to the street, while the remaining half were blocked by border police who had reached this second gate. The demonstrators still inside the gate made their way to a third open gate and succeeded in reaching the street. The Israeli border police and soldiers then maintained a presence in the street, prohibiting the activists from going toward Hebron.

15. Tear Gas canisters from Israeli army cause fires in Bil’in olive groves, 6 demonstrators arrested
by the ISM Media Crew, 9 June 2007

Many internationals joined the Palestinians and Israeli activists during today’s demonstration at Bil’in village. The Israeli forces didn’t even allow the demonstration to approach the barbed wire they had put at the road at a point halfway between the first houses of the village and the Apartheid Wall. As soon as the demonstrators left the village chanting, holding Palestinian flags and a banner saying “F… the occupation”, the Israeli forces started to shoot tear gas canisters all over the place. The demonstrators dispersed into the olive groves and tried to avoid the gas by taking advantage of the direction of the wind, but it wasn’t always possible because of the huge amount of gas canisters that were fired. The Israeli forces used also rubber coated steel bullets against the demonstration and Palestinian young boys responded with stones.

Internationals who tried to hold the banner, walk on the road, and peacefully approach the barbed wire, were targeted. The demonstrators put rocks at the road and burnt a tire, in order to prevent the military and police vehicles to come toward the village. A man from the village holding a Palestinian flag climbed an electricity post. The tear gas canisters caused several fires in the fields. Internationals and Israeli activists who tried to approach were also targeted. One of them, despite the gas, managed to put out the fire on several occasions.

A group of about ten people, most of them Israelis, some internationals and a Palestinian, came from another direction and managed to pass the first section of the Apartheid Wall and walked peacefully along the road between the two sections of the Apartheid Wall, toward the border policemen. Six of the demonstrators were arrested and those who were attempting to de-arrest their friends were also targeted with tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets.

Several people have been injured by rubber coated steel bullets, one at the arm, one at the ankle, others in their legs.

When (after more than two and a half hours) most of the internationals and Israelis had returned to the village, some of the soldiers or border policemen chased the young Palestinians kids to the first houses of the village, shooting at them with rubber coated steel bullets and tear gas.

16. The world will understand us more
from The Guardian Unlimited, 6 June 2007

Audio can be found HERE

In the fields around the village of Ma’asara, south of Bethlehem, between the rows of vines, olives and almond trees, a long white scar has been carved across the face of the hillside.

For now it doesn’t look like much, but in a few months – when the bulldozers and workmen have finished – it will form the latest stretch of Israel’s vast concrete and steel West Bank barrier. Here it will push 9km deep inside the occupied West Bank, cutting the people of Ma’asara and the surrounding villages off from land they have farmed for generations. Within the barrier, and so effectively connected to Israel, will be the Jewish settlement of Efrat, part of the larger Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

In Ma’asara it has fallen in part to a school physics teacher named Mahmoud Zawahri to decide what to do about it. For the past six years, since the start of the second intifada – the last major uprising against the occupation – Palestinian opposition to Israeli policies in the occupied territories has been dominated by violence: waves of suicide bombings that claimed hundreds of Israeli lives, rocket attacks, abductions and shootings.

Mr Zawahri, 35, is trying to establish a campaign of non-violent resistance, a weapons-free protest. In making his argument he represents a small but growing number of Palestinians who look back with frustration and disenchantment on past militant violence.

“We need to continue to bring new ideas that reflect the effect of the wall,” said Mr Zawahri. “We believe in non-violence because we want to pass our message to the world through a way which is very white and very black. It’s good or bad, white or black. You have the rights, so there is no need to use violence. You have the right that this wall is illegal and built on your land.”

In 2004, the international court of justice said in an advisory opinion that where the barrier runs inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem it is illegal and should be dismantled. Israel argues that the barrier is a security measure necessary to stop the entry of suicide bombers.

Talk of non-violence is a challenge to the influence of the armed factions that dominate Palestinian society, an argument that says their suicide bombings not just failed to advance the Palestinian cause but set it back so far that now Israel’s military occupation has got tougher, with more checkpoints, frequent incursions and a rapidly growing barrier, and that it brought an economic and political crisis and a violent feud between rival Palestinian factions.

“The second intifada was necessary but the way we behaved? They showed the world that we are terrorists,” said Mr Zawahri. Many Palestinians are quick to compare the failings of the second intifada with what they perceive as the successes of the first, begun in 1987, which was more a popular uprising and far less dominated by the militants. Within a few years, Israel and the Palestinians had signed up to the Oslo accords that brought the creation of a Palestinian Authority and, however briefly, the hope of genuine peace between two states.

Every Friday, the villagers from Ma’asara and the surrounding area gather a few hundred yards from the route of the barrier, among them also activists from Israel and abroad. For now they have obtained a brief court injunction halting the construction so they gather for prayers first, before making speeches on megaphones and then marching back up the road towards their homes. On one Friday march earlier this month, young men from each of the political factions took turns chanting slogans against the occupation as dozens of armed Israeli soldiers walked behind the marchers. Mr Zawahri tried to keep the demonstrators in order, rushing in at one point to drag off a young Palestinian who was on the verge of scuffling with the troops.

Later, he admitted it was often hard to rein in the younger men. In other West Bank towns like Jenin and Nablus the militant groups are powerful forces. In Ma’asara, however, school teachers like Mr Zawahri have more influence. “We can’t control them all but we have to try and push them onto the right path,” he said. “We can guide them in the right direction.” Sometimes, he said, it meant allowing his protesters to throw stones and push the soldiers, but he insisted there should be no weapons at any of the rallies.

Most previous efforts at peaceful protest have faded away, except notably in the village of Bil’in, to the north of Jerusalem, where for the past two years, a regular Friday protest by Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners has been held against the barrier. However, although there are no weapons, there is frequent stone throwing which Israeli troops respond to with tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets.

The broader sense of disillusionment with the past decade is striking. Businessmen, particularly in Gaza, say the years since the second intifada have pushed up costs, cut salaries and badly damaged business. “People are getting poorer and poorer and that brings more violence,” said Fadi Liddawi, 31, who runs a business in Gaza City selling imported ceramics wholesale. “Where there is money there is peace. Were there is no money, no peace.”

Others sense the influence of the militant groups is beginning to wane. “Today these groups lack the unanimous respect of the people,” said Imad Ayaseh, who runs the Martyr Abu Jihad technical college in Ramallah that trains former political prisoners. “The people were given promises for the past 15 years but in reality nothing has been achieved. All these leaders in the end fight among themselves for a share of the government while the people are lost in the streets.”

One of the most prominent intellectual supporters of non-violence among the Palestinians is Ahmad Harb, a novelist and dean of the faculty of arts at Birzeit University, just north of Ramallah. At the start of the second intifada he and others like him wrote urgent articles promoting peaceful protest.

“The world understands us more when we use non-violent resistance,” he said. “I believe our strength as such lies in the fact that we are victims, that we are weak. This is the power you see in weakness.”

He argues that the political leadership failed to change their tactics from the days before the groundbreaking 1993 Oslo accords, when the PLO was an armed force living in exile. “I felt that part of the Palestinian leadership had a split personality. On the one hand they signed Oslo, and at the same time they maintained the old, revolutionary discourse of liberating Palestine from the river to the sea,” he said. “That was a deceit on the part of the Palestinian leadership.”

He notes that cultural factors may have inhibited peaceful protest, particularly in a collective psychology of pride and courage that is enhanced by religious exhortations to never give up. Peaceful protest is often regarded as cowardice, he said.

But he also argues that the Israeli response to any form of demonstration has become so tough that protest frequently escalates into violence, as now happens weekly at Bil’in. “The question is how much we as subjects of this occupation can control ourselves and stay peaceful regardless of how the other party responds, regardless of how many people will be killed in the demonstration,” he said. Students at Birzeit tried peaceful marches against the occupation in the past, but after they were met with tear gas and bullets, he said it was harder to make his case. “It begins peacefully and then turns into violence,” he said.