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Weekly Post: 4 Boys Killed in 24 Hours

March 21, 2010

 1,600 Illegal Settlement Housing Units Approved in East Jerusalem

 Well, this week has been especially violent. The Israeli provocations began with the announcement of the approval of 1,600 more housing units for illegal Jewish settlements on occupied territory around East Jerusalem. This announcement coincided with the visit of Vice President Biden of the U.S.—who was visiting the region in an attempt to restart the stalled indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestine—and is seen by many Americans as a slap in the face.

 Because of this announcement, and Netanyahu’s failure to call President Obama to tell him whether he would allow the plan to proceed, the Quartet meeting which was supposed to decide the next step in the peace process couldn’t accomplish anything. Works out well for Israel…

 Ibrihimi Mosque Takeover, Protests in Hebron and Beit Ummar

 The other provocation was the Israeli takeover of the Ibrihimi Mosque in Hebron—a site that has religious importance to both Judaism and Islam because it was built by Abraham/Ibrihim, a patriarch of both religions. Many Palestinians see this as the first step of the Israeli government’s takeover of more Muslim religious sites in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

 There have been violent protests in Hebron in response to the takeover. Most of them have been subdued by the Palestinian Authority—reinforcing the common belief that the PA is working with the Israeli military against their own people.

 Residents of Beit Ummar, a village near Hebron, have also organized protests against the Israeli policies. Dozens have been injured and arrested.

 Hurva Synagogue Reopened

 These fears were somewhat realized when the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem was opened last week. This synagogue is symbolic of the Jewish people returning Jerusalem to them as their “undivided, eternal capital.”

 There is also a prediction from the Vilna Gaon that the third time this synagogue is rebuilt, the Jewish people will start construction on the Third Temple—which would have to be built on the same place as the 1st and 2nd temples, meaning the place where Al Aqsa stands (the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam).

 The opening of the Hurva Synagogue was supposed to be followed by an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish march around the Temple Mount (Al Aqsa compound) which would culminate in them laying the cornerstone of the Third Temple—symbolizing the destruction of Al Aqsa and the coming of the Messiah.

 Luckily, the Israeli police decided that would be too much of a provocation considering how much protesting had already been going on around the Old City. It is still a planned event, but it is not sure when they will be able to do it.

  East Jerusalem Protests

 Because of these events, along with the closure of the Old City to any Palestinian men under the age of 50, there have been protests all over East Jerusalem (in the Old City, Shuafat Refugee Camp, Qalandia, Eisawiyya, and Wadi Joz) over the past week. So far, over 250 Palestinians have been arrested (many of them teenagers who were suspected of throwing stones). There have been almost 100 injuries.

 Shuafat Refugee Camp

 I went to the protest at Shuafat on Saturday. The Israeli soldiers closed off the entrance to the camp. In the early afternoon, young kids began throwing stones at the soldiers who had closed their camp.

 The Israeli soldiers shot teargas and rubber coated steel bullets at the children, ending with 11 injuries and 15 arrests.

 Qalandia Refugee Camp

 On Friday, I went to the Qalandia protests. There were hundreds of teenagers and young Palestinians out in the street leading to the checkpoint. They were throwing stones at the occupation soldiers.

 The soldiers were shooting a lot of teargas, at head level, like rockets shooting down the street. There were dozens injured who were protesting, none serious.

 Palestinian Man Beaten and Thrown off Balcony by Israeli soldiers

 There had been protests all week at Qalandia, and the Israeli soldiers had taken positions on top of an apartment building in order to be able to shoot the kids more efficiently. They invaded the home of 25 year old Abdullah Lafee on the third floor, and beat him while he was sitting in his home.

 After they had beaten him to the point that his face was split open, they threw him off the 3rd storey balcony. And didn’t stop there…

 They went to where he fell and beat him again. He is still alive, but nearly every bone in his body is broken and at least one organ is ruptured.

  Bil’in and Ni’lin

 Earlier this week, the Israeli military declared Bil’in and Ni’lin to be “closed military areas”. This means that no international or Israeli activists are allowed to be in the protest areas on Fridays—effectively stopping the nonviolent resistance movements there.

 At Bil’in on Friday, there were hardly any international or Israeli activists there. The few protestors that were there marched to the wall to find there were no Israeli soldiers. The protest ended soon after.

 In Ni’lin, the entire village was closed by the Israeli military, preventing any activists from reaching the demonstration. One Palestinian protestor was shot and injured, but is in stable condition.

 Nabe Saleh

 Because Ni’lin and Bil’in protests were prevented by the Israeli military, most of the international and Israeli activists went to Nabe Saleh instead. This Friday was one of the most violent protests so far in the village.

 10 village homes were attacked and invaded—reinforcing the Palestinian belief that Israelis don’t differentiate between protestor and civilian.

 25 protestors were shot indiscriminately by the Israeli military with teargas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets. Several American and Israeli activists were among those shot, and several were also arrested.

 A 14 year old Palestinian boy was shot and is not in a coma.

 An 82 year old woman was shot in the head with a teargas canister and has been brain damaged.

 4 Boys Dead in Nablus Area

 In Iraq Bourin, a village close to Nablus, 2 teenage boys were killed by the Israeli military while nonviolently protesting the theft of their land. One was shot in the heart with live ammunition and the other was shot in the head with live ammunition.

 Their funerals were held today, and were attended by thousands of Palestinians.

 Earlier today, 2 more teenage boys were killed while working in their fields outside of Awarta village near an Israeli checkpoint. They were approached by Israeli soldiers asking for their IDs, and then were shot in cold blood.

 The first IDF statement was that the boys attacked the soldiers with pitchforks. That statement was immediately denied by all the villagers. Later, the IDF spokesperson admitted that the boys had been working in the fields with farming tools and that the soldiers had gunned them down without being attacked.

A third boy was injured in the Israeli attack, and taken away by the soldiers. He was thought to be dead, but has just been returned alive—as the only Palestinian witness to what actually happened, the fact that he is alive and returned may be why the IDF changed their statement about the “attack” on the soldiers.

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