International Solidarity Movement
8 June 2010
Bil’inOn Friday June 4th, the village of Bilín’s own Freedom Flotilla ship was attacked by soldiers from the Israel military, after it had been driven to the site of the Apartheid Fence which separates the village from much of its lands. The ship had been accompanied by large numbers of Palestinian and international supporters, including a delegation of 12 from Brazil, who were forced to retreat hastily when the military, out in force and spoiling for a fight, fired repeated salvoes of tear gas canisters into the crowd. The sight of youth attempting to fasten a Palestinian flag and an Israeli flag adorned with a piracy symbol to the fence proved too much of an incitement for the brave troops, who added stun grenades and plastic-coated steel bullets to the rain of terror.
Fadi Jayyousi, a cameraman for Palestine TV was seriously injured and had his camera equipment destroyed. A Norweigan journalist, Karina Lapua, appeared to have suffocated by teargas inhalation but was, fortunately, revived. Several people were struck by teargas cannisters and many others were gassed but soon recovered their equanimity.
Three activists were arrested, including Huwaida Araf, a co-founder of ISM, who had just been released from detention in Israel following her participation in the most recent Gaza freedom flotilla, and a 72 year old Israeli activist, Ilan Shelef, who managed briefly to break free from his captors and legged it away down the hillside with soldiers in hot pursuit. After a good chase the septuagenarian was finally captured and taken back into custody.
The brave spectacle of Mr Shelef, and the attendance at the demo of Dr Mustafa Barghouti (highly appreciated by the swarms of press) buoyed the morale of the villagers of Bil’in, whose resolve and resistance after five years of repression has not waned.
An Nabi Saleh
Roughly sixty Palestinians gathered with Israeli and international activists for the village’s weekly Friday march towards confiscated village land. Flags were displayed from a diverse group of nations, commemorating the Gaza Freedom Fleet. Soldiers met the demonstrators on the main road, and immediately arrested an Israeli activist.
Tear gas was then fired straight at the heads of demonstrators, in direct violation of international law, which dictates that tear gas must be fired in high arcs. The purpose of gas canisters is to release an unpleasant gas which forces demonstrators to move away. It is not designed, nor is it legal, for tear gas to be fired directly at people. This use disregards the original purpose of tear gas, instead using the cans as extremely dangerous projectiles. Monday 31 May, ISM activist Emily Henochowicz was struck in the face by a gas canister fired in such a manner. The blow claimed her left eye and fractured cheek and jawbones.
In An Nabi Saleh, soldiers continued firing in such a manner for an extended period, causing grave danger to villagers who had begun by marching peacefully against the extreme violence against international activists earlier this week. The demonstration ended when participants chose to conclude, although soldiers continued to block the village’s intersection for the next five hours.
In commemoration of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Saturday, demonstrators in Hebron carried a boat with flags from countries represented on the flotilla as well as a coffin draped with a Turkish flag, bearing the names of the Turkish activists killed on Monday. The demonstration was contained to the entrance of Shuhada Street where protesters gather weekly, as police and soldiers blocked the procession from its normal route, threatening to shoot anyone who attempted to go further into the old city. Israeli soldiers destroyed the flag-draped coffin as demonstrators attempted to carry it past them.
Iraq BurinThis past Saturday, the village of Iraq Burin demonstrated against Israeli soldiers. Marching out to annexed farmland in recognition of the Israeli inflicted massacre of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, men, boys and International Solidarity Movement activists continue local resistance despite recent settler caused property damage.
The demonstration ended within two hours, A success: no injuries, no arrests. While the Israeli soldiers retreated to their jeeps, locals feasted on unripe plums picked prematurely in celebration. Locals paid homage to those whom died in the flotilla massacre by showing increased vigilance in the face of the oppression. Men and boys stood their ground despite tear gas canisters raining down and the imminent threat of arrests. This past week, however, marked the first time in several months that local settlers have invaded the village and caused property damage. A disgruntled local farmer showed me where settlers had entered and burned viable farmland, this solidifying the need for persistence, resistance, and justice.
Sunday morning, fifty Palestinians, internationals and Israeli activists demonstrated in the village of Beit Jala against the “Freedom Flotilla” massacre and the construction of the Apartheid wall.
The demonstrators, who were waving flags of the countries whose citizens were on board the boats, tried to reach the village when they were stopped by the Israeli military. After chanting some songs and unsuccessfully trying to move forward, demonstrators moved to the area where bulldozers were working. Soldiers began firing tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators’ heads, again, in direct violation of international law. When the crowd was dispersed, soldiers chased all nonviolent demonstrators and pushed them violently to the main road. One Israeli activist was arrested and taken to the police station.
When all demonstrators were in the main road soldiers threw more sound bombs and pushed them out of the area. After fifteen minutes internationals, Israelis and Palestinians left the village.