August 2010 | ISM Media
Reports of all the weekend demonstrations in the West Bank attended by ISM activists.
Bil’in: tributes paid to Olympia and music from rappers in solidarity with Palestine (July 30th)
Dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation and stun grenades in Bil’in’s weekly demonstration, and two people were injured. On Friday 30 July the people of Bil’in were joined by several groups of internationals, including a group of rappers from Britain and the US. A large group of the demonstrators managed to approach the soldiers who had already entered the gate. Two people were detained for a while, following large amounts of tear gas, eventually forcing the protestors back towards the village. One Israeli protestor was hit by a tear gas canister in his leg, while a British citizen was dragged several meters by soldier, causing his back bruising and bleeding.
About 200 protestors – Palestinians, Israeli and internationals – were today carrying posters asking for a boycott of Israel, and also honoring Rachel Corrie’s hometown Olympia, where the co-op recently introduced a boycott of Israeli goods. There were groups of people from Spain, Italy and France, as well as individuals coming independently to show solidarity. People were singing and dancing all the way up to the road leading to the illegal Apartheid Wall. As the protestors were approaching the fence, a number of soldiers ran through the gate and lined up on the road, preventing people from getting close to the gate. A large group of protestors started singing, and a truck with speakers approached playing music. Protestors asked to cross the soldier’s barrier, but were prevented, and pushed back.
At one point the soldiers attacked one international protestor, and when people tried to help him, they detained another protester. This British citizen was dragged several meters by the soldiers, causing heavy bruising to his back. In the middle of the chaos the army started shooting and throwing tear gas and stun grenades at the protestors. As people ran back towards the village, tear gas continued to be shot, making it hard to see and breathe. One Israeli was hit by a low flying tear gas canister in his leg.
Once again the army showed that they don’t hesitate to use brutality and violence again non-violent protestors in Bil’in. There were two fires caused by tear gas canisters in the fields, but luckily people were able to put them out. The demonstration was ended by a performance from an MC, whose presence with a group of other rappers was a sign of solidarity with Bil’in and Palestine.
An Nabih Salih: one injury and one arrest as IDF violence continues unabated (July 30th)
This Friday around one hundred Palestinians, Israelis and internationals gathered in the village An Nabi Salih to protest against the illegal settlements stealing the village’s water supply and farmland. The demonstration was met by Israeli soldiers firing metal teargas canisters at body height – illegal under international law – hitting one international in the leg. A 13 year old boy was briefly detained and one Israeli activist was arrested during the three hour demonstration.
The group of protesters demonstrating against land and water theft by neighbouring settlements such as Halamish were just beginning to clap and chant when completely without provocation, the soldiers – who had arrived to prevent the villagers from accessing parts of their land that even the Israeli government admits belongs to them – fired a metal tear gas canister at directly into the crowd. One young British woman was struck directly in the calf, and had to be carried away from the soldiers to a safe place. She sustained severe bruising but doctors at Ramallah hospital confirmed that no bones were affected after taking an x-ray.
The protest continued; the soldiers started firing more tear gas into the crowd, again using the potentially lethal metal canisters fired at body height. They arrested a 13 year old boy, who they then used as a bargaining chip against the villagers, stating that they would only release him if the villagers agreed to call off the protest. The offer was refused, but the villagers managed to secure the boy’s release nonetheless. Minutes later, the army departed.
The protest resumed about 30 minutes later, with villagers marching peacefully down to the intersection with the main road, chanting loudly. Soon, around 6 military jeeps turned up, presumably from the base located inside the Halamish settlement, and soldiers jumped out and starting chasing protesters, looking for people to arrest, and firing tear gas at the fleeing activists. They then came into the village, and arrested an Israeli activist as he attended to a boy who had cut his knee while running from the soldiers. He was grabbed around the throat by one soldier, and viciously manhandled by two, taken into the jeep, and away to the Halamish settlement. Despite the typically violent repression of the An Nabi Salih protest, the villagers courageously continued throughout and the three hour protest was a success.
Ni’lin: calls for increased international presence in the village (July 30th)
On Friday, July 30, the village of Nil’in commemorated the second anniversary of the murder of Ahmad Mousa, a ten-year-old Palestinian boy. Mousa was shot in the forehead with a 5.56mm caliber live bullet in July 2008. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
The Friday demonstration, which began after midday prayers, was conducted in memory of Mousa, and in light of the constant oppression that residents of Nil’in are subjected to. A Popular Committee representative received a group of international activists at their media office. There, the representative relayed the recent history of Nil’in and the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).
Mousa was the first of five martyrs in the last two years of Nil’in’s resistance. Israel began construction of the Apartheid Wall on Ni’lin’s land in 2004, but stopped after an injunction order was issued by the Israeli Supreme Court (ISC). Despite the previous order and a 2004 ruling from the International Court of Justice declaring the Wall illegal, construction of the Wall began again in May 2008. Following the return of Israeli bulldozers to their lands, residents of Ni’lin have launched a grassroots campaign to protest the massive land theft, including demonstrations and direct actions.
Since then, the IOF has placed snipers on the rooftops in Nil’in, abused and arrested residents of the village, and destroyed property. According to the Popular Committee member, the army has also tried to force some Palestinians from Nil’in to become collaborators, in order to make them divulge information about the popular struggle.
On Friday, Palestinians were joined by international solidarity activists. The demonstrators marched to the Apartheid Wall where a confrontation arose between young Palestinians throwing rocks and Israeli soldiers shooting tear gas. After about thirty minutes, the soldiers entered the village and attempted to arrest the activists. However, the soldiers were not successful, and the demonstration ended with no arrests or injuries.
“Now more than ever, Nil’in needs international activists to join in our struggle against Israel’s land confiscation and illegal occupation,” said the representative from the Popular Committee. He said he has seen the effect that internationals have on the military’s decision to not use deadly force against the demonstrations.
Al Ma’sara: holding firm despite military violence (July 30th)
Approximately 60 people attended the weekly non-violent demonstration in Al-Ma’sara on Friday. Half of the demonstrators were internationals from mainly Italy, Denmark and Spain.
The internationals followed the Palestinians’ lead and chanted along, showing their support in the fight against the illegal Israeli occupation. The purpose of the demonstration was to reach the Palestinian land that the illegal settlement Efrata and the building of the Apartheid Wall has stripped the village of.
As usual the demonstrators were stopped by the IOF on the main road. The IOF momentarily surrounded the demonstrators with jeeps and threw sound-bombs at the unarmed participators. The Palestinians and the internationals then marched towards the main entrance of the village while chanting “Free, free Palestine.”
Three military jeeps blocked the road, preventing the demonstrators from reaching the Palestinian land. The soldiers allowed the demonstrators to pass by the jeeps, but immediately blocked the road behind them. More military jeeps arrived in front of the demonstrators, and as a result the demonstrators were almost surrounded by soldiers. Members of the Al-Masara Popular Committee spoke in front of the soldiers, demanding their right to the land that belongs to the Palestinians according to international law. The soldiers responded by throwing sound-bombs.
Al Ma’sara is one of nine intertwined villages which are surrounded by the illegal Israeli settlement Efrata, which is a part of the Gush Etzion settlement block. The 9000 Palestinian inhabitants of the nine villages are enclosed by almost as many illegal settlers. In November 2006, Israel began the construction work for the Apartheid Wall on the villages’ land, which would annex an additional 3500 dunums (35,000 square metres) if completed. This means that Al-Ma’sara and the eight other villages would be stripped of more than half of their land
Al-Ma’sara is an agricultural village, with the majority of the population relying on the land for sheep and goat farming, and for harvesting crops such as grapes, olives and seasonal fruit and vegetables. In addition to being the village’s main source of income, the land is also Al-Ma’sara’s chief source of natural water. Therefore, Israel’s plan to strip the inhabitants of a large part of this land would cut off their main water supply, thereby breaching international law both in terms of the individual needs of the villagers and of their crops and animals; violating the villagers’ human rights and their income.
Since November 2006, the Al-Ma’sara Popular Committee has been organizing weekly non-violent demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall, the illegal settlements, and against the occupation as a whole. The non-violent protest started as a reaction to the soldiers’ destruction of the grape and olive fields. Whilst in the beginning protestors were able to march straight to the construction site of the Apartheid Wall and temporarily block bulldozers from their work, the protestors are now stopped on the main road in the at the entrance of the village.
Beit Ommar: resistance again met with weapons used at close-range – one journalist hurt
The absurd use of force by the IDF against nonviolent demonstrations continued this weekend in the village of Beit Ommar. On Saturday, July 31, Palestinian men, women, and children together with international activists marched toward the Karmei Tsur settlement to protest the illegal settlement and the continued confiscation of Palestinian land before being stopped and surrounded by soldiers approximately 100 meters from the edge of the settlement. Standing together on privately owned, Palestinian land, the crowd was told that they were now in a closed military zone and had 5 minutes to get past the ambiguous boundaries of this arbitrary zone or they would be arrested.
When the demonstrators refused to comply with this act of intimidation, they were met with the typical onslaught of sound bombs and tear gas. Particularly shocking was the soldiers’ deliberate targeting of journalists and children. One journalist was injured after being hit by a tear gas bomb, and soldiers were photographed shooting tear gas canisters directly at young boys and girls standing up the hill. Even after the demonstrators had walked back into the village, soldiers continued to shoot tear gas into the village streets, in front of homes, and onto the residents’ porches – causing families to flee their homes in order to escape the choking gas.
Hebron: an IDF donkey ridden by a fanatical Israeli settler prove a point (July 31st)
On Saturday, 31 July, Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals gathered to demonstrate against the illegal settlements and closure of Shuhada Street in Hebron. The protestors were immediately met by about 50 Israeli soldiers and border police who prevented them from continuing the march through the Old City. During the second confrontation the army started pushing people backwards, but no injuries or arrests were made.
About 100 people joined the protest in, carrying posters asking for justice for the Palestinians in Hebron, and the opening of Shuhada Street. Among the protesters was a donkey dressed up as an Israeli soldier, with an Israeli flag strapped to the head. One Palestinian who was dressed as an Israeli settler was leading it. The idea was to show how the Israeli settlers in Hebron are protected by the army, even when they are attacking and harassing Palestinian citizens. Palestinians are likely to be arrested or mistreated further by the army in situations where the settlers attack them.
As the army blocked the way at the gate leading up to Shuhada Street at Bab al Balladyeh, with soldiers and border police lining up facing the protesters, the commander stepped forward and grabbed the Israeli flag and a poster reading “IDF” from the donkey. After about 20 minutes of singing and chanting slogans, the protesters turned around and went around the old city, still singing and playing a drum. At one point water was thrown from where settlers have occupied the second floor of a house.
Arriving back at the starting point of the demonstration, there were no soldiers present, but they came out from the gate soon after people gathered at Bab al Balladyeh for the second time. Even though the protesters were standing still, soldiers started to push people back, so people responded by sitting down in the street, still singing slogans. At one point the soldiers targeted an international photographer, but he managed to run away before they reached him. The demonstration ended without any arrests, but once again the army proved that they want to repress peaceful demonstration using force and threats of arrest.
Iraq Burin: large Israeli force fails to deter protestors (July 31st)
The Israeli army entered the village of Iraq Burin after the weekly protest against the theft of their land by the illegal settlement of Baracha on Saturday. This follows the arbitrary arrest of 2 members of the village the previous Saturday, who were released on Thursday, as well as the murder of 2 boys the last time the army stormed the village 3 months ago.
Around 40 villagers, joined by 4 internationals and journalists, started marching to the usual protest location, on the brow of the hill where the soldiers usually position themselves to block the protesters’ path. This time however, the villagers noticed that there was another unit of soldiers that had placed themselves to the rear of the usual protest point, potentially to advance on the protesters from the rear once the demonstration had commenced. Therefore the protesters marched up to the soldiers in their new position and chanted slogans. Some shebab were throwing stones from a long distance, and the soldiers responded with volley after volley of tear gas. As usual for Iraq Burin, they were using the potentially lethal metal tear gas canisters, fired at illegally at people instead of up in the air. They advanced half way down the hill to better target the demonstrators, nearly all of whom inhaled large quantities of gas. After about an hour, the army dispersed.
Shortly afterwards, around 8-10 army jeeps began congregating at the foot of the village, ostensibly preparing for a raid. The jeeps milled around for about an hour, after which point they made to enter the village. All but one stopped at the entrance of the village, and one jeep came in, circling through the village before leaving. The jeeps remained at the foot of the village for a further hour before leaving.