26 July 2010 | International Solidarity Movement
Al Ma’sara (23 July 2010): Strong turn out for the second week running
Over 100 people participated in Al Ma’sara’s demonstration today in a successful protest against the Israeli Apartheid Wall which saw one person injured.
With the support of many internationals, including a large French contingent, the village – known for creatively themed protests – chose ‘European solidarity’ as the slogan this week.
The demonstration in Al Ma’sara against the wall which annexes land from eight surrounding villages has been going since November 2006, when construction of the wall in the area began.
For the last year and a half Israeli soldiers have erected barbed wire and forced protestors back. However the army were surprised by the number of demonstrators today and although they threw tear gas and sound bombs at the peaceful protestors spirits and solidarity remained high, partly thanks to the presence of 6 piece drumming band.
The marchers approached the entrance of the villages while chanting ‘Free free Palestine, occupation is a crime’ and singing songs in French, English, Italian and Arabic. Despite the violent reaction from soldiers which forced the group to retreat some way, they stood they ground, dancing and singing – eventually the soldiers gave up.
One young woman from France, part of a group from Generation Palestine, was injured when a sound bomb exploded by her ear. She was taken to hospital where piece of shrapnel had to be removed from her ear. She required four stitches, and will be kept overnight to test for hearing problems.
Soldiers also detained one journalist and photographer for some time, in an unwarranted attack on freedom of the press.
Although the Israeli Occupation Forces have been more violent towards peaceful protestors in recent weeks, the determination to keep protesting is stronger than ever in Al Ma’sara. Protests will continue until the theft of thousands of dunums of agricultural land – which represents the villagers’ livelihood – for the illegal Gush Etzion settlement ends.
Beit Ommar (24 July 2010): Peaceful protest met with cynical military violence
In Beit Ommar, following last week’s attack on a journalist from Associated Press another member of the press – this time from Reuters – was injured due to the reckless and irresponsible use of weapons by the Israeli army. Around thirty soldiers intercepted the demonstration throwing sound grenades and tear gas cannisters directly at peoples’ heads and torsos, injuring several.
The 50 demonstrators (including twenty international activists) at this Saturday’s demonstration in Beit Ommar were met by a large military presence on their way to the land which has been confiscated by the military and nearby settlement since 2006. A few minutes were given to the protesters to leave the area declared to be a “closed military zone” – the commander counted the seconds on his watch whilst the soldiers prepared sound grenades behind their backs.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nisbw6Uf6w
The Palestinians and internationals present responded to the conditions by sitting on the floor and asserting their non-violent resistance against the decision. Suddenly a succession of ten or more sound bombs exploded in the crowd and it was clear that soldiers had been instructed to throw them at the fleeing protesters. Two international women were targeted from close range; one being hit in the back and the other in the head.
The severe response from the military caused many to run back, more soldiers appeared from the sides and threw tear gas into the crowd again injuring an international activist in the back of the head and wounding her.
Ni’lin (23 July 2010): Large international presence reduces military violence – until later that day
This Friday’s protest in Nil’in was both extremely lively and unusually peaceful, as the Israeli Occupation Forces, against all expectations, refrained from shooting both tear gas and other weapons. The outstanding number of demonstrators – more than one hundred, and including many internationals and Israeli activists – seemed to have taken the soldiers by surprise. However, a military incursion followed in the early evening.
Around one o’clock, the approximately hundred locals and internationals met at an olive field in the vicinity of the Apartheid Wall, which, along with the building of illegal settlements, has annexed about 30% of the farm land of Nil’in.
The demonstration was also a protest against the decision of an Israeli military court in sentencing the coordinator of the popular committee, Ibrahim Amireh, and two other committee members, Hassan Mousa and Zaydoon Srour. Each was sentenced to eleven and a half months in jail – having already been imprisoned for 7 months – and a 9000 shekel fine, for the crime of being key organizers of the peaceful resistance in Ni’lin.
As always, the protest was initiated by the traditional Friday noon prayer, after which the crowd approached the wall, waving flags and banners and chanting pro-Palestinian slogans in several languages.
Following the usual pattern of the Nil’in protests, some villagers began throwing stones against the wall built on their farm land, but the army for once didn’t answer with the usual tear gas and sound bomb attacks. This surprisingly peaceful reaction was probably thanks to the strong international presence. The protest ended around 3 o’clock, with no injuries or arrests.
However, later that evening, when internationals and media were no longer present, the army came to the village. At about 8pm four jeeps arrived and threw tear gas and sound bombs around and at people’s houses. A Ni’lin resident reported that two children were shot directly with tear gas canisters.
Having around 30% of their farm land annexed by illegal settlements and the wall – that also was declared illegal by The International Court of Justice in 2004 – Nil’in has become one of the most important sites for resistance against the occupation. The first suggested route of the wall was judged illegal by the The International Court of Justice as well as Israel’s own supreme court, as was another suggested route. The present route is still stealing large parts of Nil’in’s farm land and is still in conflict with international law.
After the verdicts against the wall in 2004, the construction stopped, but was commenced again in 2008. Since then, five villagers of Nil’in has been killed in the weekly protests, among them a ten-year-old boy. Many more have been injured and arrested.
An Nabi Saleh (23 July 2010): Soldiers fire low-flying tear gas but fail to deter protesters
The demonstration at An Nabi Saleh this week started out with a gathering at a local coordinator’s house. South-Korean and South-African Press, local people and international and Israeli activists had lunch before going to the city centre near the mosque to meet up with the rest before the demonstration started.
At about 13.30, the group moved towards the city crossroad where soldiers blocked their way. The local coordinator as well as other citizens discussed for about 15-20 minutes with the soldiers before trying to go around the blockade. Soldiers responded with sound bombs, aggression and an arrest of an Israeli activist. He was soon released since no police were present.
Since the group didn’t manage to break the soldiers’ blockade, they instead jumped a small wall to get to the crossroad. Around 14.30 a group of mainly children sat down and sung in front of the soldiers for a while. When the group moved back, the shebab immediately threw stones from higher ground at the army vehicles and soldiers, who quickly fired tear gas canisters back.
For the next hour or two the shebab and internationals were spread around the city top and soldiers were firing tear gas canisters in different directions setting a field on fire. At about 16:00 the demonstrators met again at the house where the group met at the beginning. There was a new group of about 6 soldiers standing at the hilltop behind the house. Bushes were burning from the tear gas they were shooting, but the fire was quickly put out.
Lots of tear gas canisters were fired at close range near the house, in which people were retreating to. Videos uploaded on to youtube clearly show the soldiers firing tear gas canisters directly at people and making no attempts to fire it in the air as it is supposed to be used.. Soldiers came in jeeps to the front of the house in order to make arrests, but the shebab had by then disappeared. Shortly after, the jeeps left and the situation was normal again.
Iraq Burin (25 July 2010): Protesters defy Israeli Occupation Forces
Iraq Burin can be quite difficult to reach since an Israeli flying checkpoint is located on the main road to the village. To avoid the checkpoint internationals and Palestinian protesters this Saturday (24 July 2010) had to climb up hills in order to get there. As a consequence of the checkpoint two Palestinian boys were arrested before the demonstration even started.
About an hour before the demonstration began people gathered at the edge of the hill on which the village is located. The goal was to get to the nearby settlement which is causing trouble for the local farmers and city water supply.
Due to the killing of two Palestinian boys in Iraq Burin in the autumn, tensions are obvious. When the group started moving shabab immediately gathered rocks and scarfed themselves in order to avoid being recognized. About 20 soldiers where located on a hilltop which the demonstration had to move towards to get to the settlement.
Shabab and soldiers where equal in numbers and about 10-15 internationals where present. Fights immediately broke out and lasting for around 2 hours with lots of rocks being thrown and tear gas canisters fired. No further arrests were made or any injuries reported. The only damage caused was to the already quite burnt hill.