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Dispatches from Palestine

2024 (rolling) | International Solidarity Movement | Occupied West Bank

As the Israeli occupation continues its genocidal war in Gaza and Western governments fail to take decisive action to end their complicity in the massacre, the mass movement around the world in solidarity with Palestine is growing stronger and larger. Students have occupied numerous university campuses around the world, often facing a brutal repression by police called by the same university complicit in the Israeli apartheid. Demonstrations have continued and pressure to boycott and divest from the occupation regime are mounting.

This post will cover the situation on the ground in the West Bank, with direct witnesses from Palestinians and international activists.

 

Settlers invade family house in Masafer Yatta

The settler-soldier who entered on May 14. @ISM

The account from international activists who were present when a family house was invaded by settlers on May 15, in Masafer Yatta.

The family here was violently displaced by settlers after Oct 7th, their home destroyed, wells poisoned, and car burned twice. It is difficult to convey the level of surveillance they experience at all times since returning to their home. Settlers surround them with their illegal outposts. New Israeli flags pop up illegally marking territory. Settlers harass them on a daily basis.

On May 14, we were here an armed settler soldier with a semi-automatic longarm walked onto the property. He looked at the family’s well and pet the family puppies. They often try to befriend the dogs so that they are less likely to bark if the settlers come to harass the family at night. The settler spoke into his radio and then stared at my comrade in a threatening way for several seconds. His face was covered. He was dressed in military fatigues but walked or held his gun as if he were untrained. He was most likely given the military fatigues for harassing Palestinians, and thus made de facto military as a reward for his violence. He was likely gathering information for some kind of plan regarding stealing or damaging more of the family land.

The following day was Nakba day, a significant day for Palestinians. Four settlers, all teenagers or young men, walked onto the property and into the family home. They looked into each room, most likely to collect information about the location of rooms and cameras for reconnaissance. Then they sat down on the patio and rolled themselves cigarettes which they then smoked in front of the family. The whole incident was scary since we didn’t know what they were going to do. The father of the family called the police, but the settlers left before anyone arrived.

Eventually the military arrived instead of the police, but they did not take any step regarding the incident.

 

Weekends in Masafer Yatta

May 11 – Saturdays are usually really busy in the occupied West Bank as it’s the holy day for settlers. They like to observe their Sabbath by terrorizing Palestinians.

We observed settlers grazing their sheep on Palestinian land which has been recently designated as a firing zone. To support the family, we joined them from the top of their driveway and waited for the police to respond to their call about the settlers. This is the same driveway a bulldozer used to gain access to and destroy a home just a few days ago. On our way there, we spotted two armed settlers skulking in the olive tree groves, watching us. When we reached the family, myself and one comrade stood by and documented settlers in three different parts of the valley so cavalierly shepherding on stolen land with impunity. The police arrived, made a report, and then went to remove the settlers (a rare event).

We thought it was over and done with until an armored vehicle pulled up to the top of the driveway again. Five soldiers got out and one was pointing at me, telling me to come over to them. My comrade and I responded and walked toward them and they demanded our passports. We refused, as the only legal entity with authority to see our passports are the police. Unluckily for us, the police were coming down the hill from the other direction and the army stopped them for backup. The police officer got out and started yelling at us for our passports. He took them and walked away and the soldiers told us we weren’t allowed to record. It was just my comrade and I and I was scared. They held us and our passports for a while and I stayed on the phone with an Israeli activist who coached me through how to handle the situation. At one point, the police demanded that I go fetch “the other tourists” and I told him there was no one else, and he said “if you don’t get them, I’m coming in and getting them myself” and it was super threatening. I swore it was just us over and over again.

They didn’t give us a reason for detaining us. We didn’t know if they were a part of Ben Gvir’s new task force that targets foreign activists. We didn’t know anything and it was terrifying.

When he finally returned our passports, he gestured widely to the valley and the illegal settlement next door. He said “you’re not allowed to go over THERE!” I was like… “uhhh.. ok, wasn’t planning on it” because why would I want to go to the settlement?

They got in their vehicles and drove away and my comrade and I took a back way out through some trees and rocky terrain.

I got back to the house we stay in and started looking through my footage when I noticed one of the soldiers that detained us was wearing an NYPD hat. How does that chant go again? “APD [NYPD], KKK, IDF, they’re all the same!”

Free Palestine 🖤🇵🇸

The 2 videos show the settlers grazing with Palestinians gathering to watch and documents; and then the police speaking to the settlers and them returning to the settlement. The settlement is clearly visible with non native trees planted around it.