Friday Post- June 26th

June 27, 2009

Getting a tire to burn so theres black smoke between the soldiers and us- i.e. no aiming at us 

Al thuletheen- the teargas cannon

flying kites in Bil'inA boy ducks to avoid being shot at a demo in Bil'in

Bil'in Demonstration


 This week the Israeli military raided Bil’in multiple times during the middle of the night.  These raids are for two purposes: to scare and intimidate the village so that eventually the Israelis make life so difficult for them that the people just decide to leave the rest of their land and the Israelis can build another settlement on it. 

 The other reason is arresting boys and young men, almost indiscriminately—although for the most part they arrest boys who attend the Friday demonstrations.  Every week the Israeli military has photographers at the demonstration to take pictures of the peoples’ faces who attend or especially those throwing stones.  Most of the boys who throw stones cover their faces with scarves, but sometimes they don’t.

 This week during the raids, the Israelis arrested 7 boys from Bil’in—I’m not sure about all of the ages, but the majority of them were around 15 years old, maybe younger. 

 What happens now?  No one knows where the boys are, what’s happening to them, or when they will come back.  According to the villagers, they usually keep the boys in jail for a month or two, but you can’t predict—it could be a year. 

 What’s happening to them in jail?  They’re definitely being beaten everyday.  Maybe worse…I haven’t asked anyone from Bil’in who’s been arrested for the demonstrations.  But I know people who have been in Israeli prisons and they’ve told me horrible stories about the torture methods the Israelis use.

 Throwing you off a tall wall over and over until you have broken bones.  Tying your hands above your head and attaching them to the top of a heavy door, so you’re hanging and your feet are off the ground—then slamming the door into the cement wall, over and over, until your nose is broken in several ways and your arms feel like they’re going to detach from your body.  And MUCH worse things that I wouldn’t even say on this blog.

 I’ve heard so many stories about the torture it makes me shudder to think what’s happening to these boys that I’ve seen every Friday for the past 4 months. 

 In the rest of the West Bank, the settlers have been acting really crazy for the past month.  Ever since Obama said that there had to be a settlement freeze, the most Zionist, extreme settlers have been moving into the West Bank and setting up “Obama Outposts”—trying to grab as much land as possible before Obama finally forces Israel to freeze settlement construction.

 Another side effect of Obama’s call for a settlement freeze is that the settlers have been extra violent towards the Palestinians who live near the settlements.  I just wrote an article for the Palestine Monitor monitoring all of the settler violence towards Palestinians, just in the past month.  If you want to look at it here is the link: http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article988  

 Basically, they have been beating up Palestinians for no reason, setting fire to Palestinian fields, cutting down Palestinian’s fruit and olive trees, and the craziest of all—releasing WILD BOARS on Palestinian villages and fields to destroy agriculture and injure Palestinian people. 

 And in the midst of all of this controversy over settlement construction, Netanyahu has just approved the construction of 240 more homes in an illegal settlement, called Talmon, east of Ni’lin—another West Bank village near Bil’in that has nonviolent protests against the wall and the theft of their land. 

 The international community and especially President Obama needs to understand that dealing with Israel is like dealing with a petulant child.  You can’t just ask Israel to stop doing something, even if its illegal, even if its immoral, even if the whole world agrees that its wrong. 

 Israel will continue according to its plan, acting in their own interests without thinking about the consequences on other peoples, until the world FORCES them to stop and actually abide by international and humanitarian law.  Because they just really don’t care, and they won’t stop unless they are forced.

 Anyways, this Friday in Bil’in was interesting.  Last week was really quiet, they barely shot anything at us.  So we were confused—until we found out that the military had ‘embedded’ Israeli journalists with them that day so they were actually following international law and being restrained—just to show Israel that the IDF really is the “most moral army in the world”.  What a hilarious and horrible joke.  I’d actually put them near the most Immoral armies in the world, but hey, that’s just me.

 So this Friday we were thinking they might want to go a little crazy to make up for not being able to injure or kill us last week.  There were a lot of internationals and Israeli activists this week—but not too much press.

 Most of the boys from 15-25 that usually go to the demonstrations didn’t go this week.  My friend from the village who we usually go with decided not to go this week either because he doesn’t want to get arrested.  So the boys throwing stones today were really young.

 Anyways, the Israelis started us off with a little teargas.  Then they didn’t do much for a while.  The boys throwing stones were off to our right in a field of olive trees, so most of the teargas was aimed that way.  Although there were a few times when the IDF shot teargas canisters like bullets at the people in the front of the demo—they didn’t shoot the canister in an arc, as is required by international law (but when did Israel ever care about that silly thing?).  So I was pretty surprised that those didn’t hit anyone.

 I only had one teargas canister come anywhere near me, I was standing in the one spot with shade, ha, it was extremely hot that day.  I was talking with my roommate who is a photographer and one came our way.  So we stood there watching it—there’s no point in trying to move out of its way because it changes direction unpredictable in the air.  So at the last minute we could tell where it was actually going to land and my friend calmly stepped to the side, while I leaped to the side.  Haha…the difference is he got a bulletproof vest this week so he was safe.  He was also wearing a helmet and a gasmask.

 We got a new intern at the Palestine Monitor, and she moved into the apartment this week.  And so we took her to Bil’in with us.  She and my other friends stayed in our ‘safe spot’ back from the action and behind a little wall.  But there was one rogue teargas canister that was changing directions sporadically in the air and went over my head and landed right in the middle of where they were all sitting- “safe from everything”  haha.  They jumped out of the way in time, luckily, although it bounced off of a rock and either the rock or hit my new roommate’s foot.

 They shot the cannon that shoots over thirty teargas canisters at the same time, but they shot it to our right where the boys were in the fields.  So I was getting some really good pictures of the gas streaming though the sky and people running…then the wind changed and started blowing the gas towards me.  So I started walking down the hill but I was already in the smoke.  Then I was saved by the PMRS (where my new job is…) ambulance that was driving past me.  They opened the door and I jumped in just in time…but I tasted the gas—and it was STRONG.  I only had about 2 seconds of it and my skin was stinging for like 15 minutes, and my eyes were watering pretty badly.

 After the cannon, everyone left except the hardcore photographers and the boys throwing stones.  I watched from a safe distance because my roommate was one of the photographers still up there.  Then I heard them shoot a round of live ammunition.  Luckily no one got hurt by it.

 On the Israeli side, ha, the only injuries were self-inflicted.  4 or 5 of their teargas grenades exploded before they shot them at us.  So they got a taste of their own medicine! And Im sure they were just dying back there, ha whereas we are almost immune.

 Anyways, no one from our side got injured besides teargas so that was good, it was a pretty short demonstration because it was so hot outside. 

 That’s about it for this week…keep an eye on settler violence and arrests around Ramallah.


One comment

  1. Renee, that’s such a tragedy what is happening over there. I can’t believe it. Keep doing what you’re doing- more people need to know. You’re amazing!

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