Posts Tagged ‘protest’

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Weekly Update—3/7/10

March 7, 2010

This week the Israeli military, police and settlers stormed Al Aqsa mosque…afterwards they boys from the Old City started protesting and throwing stones. There were a couple people injured. When will Israel stop provoking the Palestinians????

Abbas is supposed to be starting negotiations again soon because Mitchell is coming back to the area to force Israel and Palestine to start talking again–despite the fact that settlements are growing at 6% (way more than the natural growth in Israel that is 1.5%) and thousands more housing units in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were just approved. So which side doesnt have a “partner for peace”?

This is how it goes, its all for show. Abbas will throw something back at Israel that he knows they won’t agree to like “Without Jerusalem there are no negotiations”…in the meantime, Israel is just confiscating more and more land and building more and more settlements.

This Friday I didn’t go to the protests. But in Nabe Saleh a 14 year old boy was hit in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet- it hit him right in the forehead and entered his skull. Does that sound like a RUBBER BULLET to you?? A few others were injured as well but not seriously. Didnt hear anything about Bil’in or Ni’lin so they must just be the usual teargas inhalation injuries.

We planned a trip to the Dead Sea for Friday afternoon since everyone has that day off. We were planning to go to the monastery by Jericho thats up on the hill (the place where Jesus was tempted by the Devil after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights). Now there is a cable car that takes you from Jericho up to the top and theres a nice restuarant up there too….

Anyways, we didn’t make it there because we got stranded at this “Israeli beach” on the Dead Sea. The northern half of the Dead Sea is technically in the West Bank, but most of the Jordan valley has been occupied by Israel…besides the city of Jericho the land is unofficially Israeli now all the way down the eastern side of the West Bank. So the good beaches have been occupied by Israelis as well.

So we went to one of those, because the Palestinian beaches dont have showers or anything at them. The one we went to was called “Lido” and is surrounded by like a million Israeli flags–just to make sure people realize its Israeli. ha.

It was really crowded with lots of Israelis, Palestinians, Europeans, Indians/Pakistanis, and Japanese tourists. Haha it was such a random mix of people. We stayed there all afternoon for lack of a car….but at 5 our friends finally came over from the waterfall they were at thats a little before Jericho.

They picked us up and we drove further down the Dead Sea towards Ein Gedi. We stopped right before the checkpoint that leads into actual Israeli territory at the Palestinian beach I went to like 6 months ago–the one infected with West Nile virus, ha, because the official Ein Gedi beach was closed since it was sunset.

So I was pretty much the only one who had made the trek down that steep rocky mountain to get to the beach and I tried to tell them it was a bad idea and that since it was sunset there would be billions of west-nile infected mosquitos…but they wouldnt listen.

I stayed up at this little picnic area right next to the soldiers at the checkpoint while the rest of the group went down in the dark. I was being eaten alive by mosquitos and finally asked my friend who stayed up with me to ask the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint for mosquito repellent.

So he walked straight over to the checkpoint manned with Israeli soldiers armed with M-16s and chatted for a minute. Then they gave him their military strength mosquito repellent and made sure to tell us to “put it on our faces too”. hahahahahaha…one minute they’re pointing a gun at you because your in a Palestinian car and the next they’re worried about you getting bitten on your face. If we could all just unite against a common enemy like mosquitos all the time!

Next weekend I am going to the “Roman cave”…one of my friends knows a Palestinian man who discovered roman ruins on his property, in a cave and under his house. He hasnt excavated or anything. There is a small ministry of antiquities in Palestine but they are really ineffective. Most of the time priceless artifacts are found by people building houses, or whenever they dig into the ground for any reason. I met someone in Bethlehem that has a whole collection of artifacts in the space under his stairs. Haha…he is an engineer and whenever they build he finds new artifacts. I know another guy in Hebron who found a very very old human skull and he keeps it on his desk in his office, sometimes painting it different colors. Who knows how old that is!

The Roman Cave guy (and the others) can’t really get anyone official involved because if they find something valuable and the Israelis find out about it, they will confiscate his land. So we are going to document the ruins and everything, without exposing who he is and where he lives.

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Weekly Report….

March 1, 2010

This week there was a lot of trouble in Hebron–a city in southern West Bank. Hebron is notorious for having crazy and aggressive Israeli settlers, even the Israeli soldiers hate being there to protect the settlers because they are provoking the Palestinians all the time. I read in an article that a soldier stationed in Hebron said that it was the place they send soldiers to punish them.

The settlers have been becoming more and more of a presence in the old market place in the middle of Hebron because of the Ibrihimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarchs–to Jews the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob along with their wives are burried there. For Muslims it is a mosque built by Abraham and his and Sarah’s tombs. It is holy for both religions.

The settlers have been slowly taking over the market place because that’s where the Ibrihimi mosque is located. So an area that was almost 100% Palestinian and an important economic center for Hebron has been almost entirely shut down by the settlers. They have taken over the upstairs apartments of the stores in the market, along with whole areas of the center (H2) around the market.

The settlers throw garbage, stones, glass, sewage water and other things on the Palestinian stores, homes, and people below. They have forced many stores to shut down. The Israeli army, who is required to be there to protect the settlers from themselves, has set up checkpoints within the market, so walking from one store to another you have to go through a checkpoint where the soldiers almost always mess with the Palestinians–many times making them wait 30 minutes while they “check” the IDs.

Meanwhile, you walk through alleyways with chainlink fence hung above to protect the shoppers and Palestinian shopowners from getting hit with debris thrown down by the settlers.

Now, they have taken the judaization of the area around the mosque to a new level. The Israeli government has declared that site, along with Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to be National Israeli Heritage Sites. Both sites are ouside of “Israel”, they are in the West Bank in the middle of Palestinian towns. Israel seems to be claiming the sites. It will probably make it more difficult that ever for Palestinians to gain access to these sites now, which are holy to them too. The Israeli government will say they want to do “renovations” on the sites, then deny access to everyone while they’re repairing things, everyone except the settlers.

And the government’s timing on this was impeccable as usual. It is simultaneously the annviersary of the Intifada, the Prophet’s birthday, and the anniversary of the Goldstein massacre of Palestinians while they were praying in the Ibrihimi mosque. About 50 people were killed and 100 wounded in this joint operation between Israeli settlers and the IDF. In the following days about 20 more Palestinians were killed when clashes erupted around the West Bank.

After the declaration of the mosque as an Israeli Heritage Site, the Israeli government was just waiting for the Palestininas to react. There were some clashes between the Palestinian youth and the Israeli police/settlers. Teargas, soundbombs, rubber bullets…A couple dozen injured.

My roommate Lazar went down there for a couple days to take photos and he told me that the Palestinian Authority was working with the Israeli police/IDF to control the Palestinian youth. The PA and the IDF…working together against Palestinians protesting a new aspect of the occupation. Its completely ridiculous–and its the guys who the US have been helping to train in Jericho and Jordan.

The clashes ended up slowing down despite Haniyeh (Hamas) calling for a new Inifada. I think thats what Israel wanted anyways, a lot of my friends agree with that too. Israel is getting so much pressure from the international community to restart the peace process that they are looking for any excuse to say “We dont have a partner for peace”–even while the PA is working with them to punish their own people.

Luckily, the Palestinians are either too tired from the still fresh memory of the last intifada or just being patient until they can actually stand a chance in an Intifada.

Just another proof that the Israeli government is trying to provoke the Palestinians into reacting in an Intifada, as soon as the Hebron mess calmed down, the Israeli settlers and police in Jerusalem stormed Al Aqsa mosque (the third holiest site in Islam). They clashed with Palestinians inside and more of the youth that came to throw stones after they invaded the mosque.

Anyways, the situation is getting tense because of all the Israeli provocations but so far the Palestinian people seem to be staying as calm as possible. An Intifada would be the worst thing for them right now, and Israel knows that. Soon, hopefully, the world will put enough pressure on Israel to continue negotiations, final status negotiations.

The EU is working on an initiative to support Palestine in declaring statehood. Israel came back at them saying if the Palestinians declare a state then they won’t have to negotiate anymore so that couldn’t work for anyone. But obviously, declaring a state doesn’t make the Israeli soldiers, checkpoints, and settlements disappear. It doesnt bring back the refugees either. So there will have to be negotiations, it will just prevent Israel from occupying more of Palestine as they pretend to negotiate.

Hopefully this initiative will work…

The protests this week were pretty much washed out by the weather, I didn’t go because of the hail and rain. But there were still small groups of demonstrators at Bil’in, Ni’lin, Nabe Saleh, Al Masara, and Sheikh Jarrah.

The protests were focused on the Israeli takeover of the holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem. The injuries were mostly gas inhalation, except in Nabe Saleh where a boy was hit in the head with a rubber bullet. I dont know exactly what his condition is, but if it was the rubber coated steel bullets–which is what the IDF almost exclusively uses now as “rubber bullets” then he should be in pretty bad shape.

In Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem protestors dressed up in Purim costumes to demonstrate against the house demolitions.

My roommates and friends and I also went out to celebrate Purim. We went to Jerusalem on Saturday night with wigs and checked out a few parties. The weather was pretty bad so there werent hundreds of people out in the street like last year but it was still fun.

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Experience a Nonviolent Protest in Palestine

February 24, 2010

Experience a  Nonviolent Protest in Palestine:

We gather at the center of the village in time for the Friday noon prayer.  The men and women from the village gather at the mosque to pray while Palestinians, Internationals, Israelis, and press arrive from Israel and all over the West Bank.

We wait outside the mosque in a growing crowd as the khutbah finishes in the mosque and the people pray. There are  familiar faces for those that go to the protests regularly—most times people that you don’t see any other time that at various protests around the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Everyone chats and mills around until the prayer is finished.

There’s always some new people—usually Americans or Europeans—who have never been to a protest before in their lives. They make sure their camera batteries are charged and adjust their colored kuffiyehs around their necks. They seem excited and a little nervous.

Then the shabab from the village and other places around the West Bank show up…usually wearing kuffiyehs or some other kind of scarf or shirt over their faces. They do this to avoid being photographed by the Israeli army and subsequently arrested, and of course to protect themselves from teargas. A few hold slingshots and some are gathering stones from the side of the street. They are making jokes and relaxed, but ready for the soldiers.

The village popular struggle committee leader arrives with a loudspeaker that he tries, usually in vain, to control the protest. We start by marching all together towards the site of the Apartheid Wall.

As we march, the leaders chant slogans in Arabic, Hebrew, and sometimes English like “La, la al jidar”…phrases about the wall falling, Israel being fascist (chanted most emphatically by the Israeli activists), and an end to the occupation.

We get closer to the site of the wall, and the soldiers come into view ahead of us. (In some villages, there is a fence between the soldiers and the protestors, in most though, the soldiers meet the protestors in the street, fields, or even inside the village before we even have a chance to march to the wall).

In most cases, we go as far as we can, still shouting for an end to the occupation, and the leader with the loudspeaker has managed to keep the shabaab from throwing stones so far. The Israel military is usually the one who starts the violence first—either because we walk “too close” to them or make it across to the villagers’ stolen land (which is now used as a security buffer zone, or for a settlement to be built on, or for a “Jewish only road”).

Sometimes the Israeli military ‘warns’ us over their own loudspeakers that our demonstration is “illegal” and that we are in a “closed military zone” and that if we don’t leave we “will be hurt.” These phrases pretty much mean that we are demonstrating at our own risk and if anything happens to us, the Israeli army, as usual, has its ‘out’ because they ‘warned’ us.  

They have a range of ‘sound effects’ to use during the demonstration if they are bored or just in the mood. One is a piercing high pitched sound that is emitted over the loudspeaker and forces you to go as far away as possible or else your ears will be in a lot of pain. On the humorous side, they also have what sounds like the sound effects from a military training video game or something- from the Americans of course.  It has an alarm noise, then an American-accented military official says “Warning, small boat approaching a navy vessel!” It’s so strange.

IDF Response

The military usually opens up with some teargas grenades shot straight at the protestors, not at the internationally agreed upon 45 degree angle for civilian crowd dispersal. At the first shots, we usually lose about half of the protestors—the ones that have never been teargassed before and aren’t excited about trying it.

So even though the grenades and canisters land nowhere near them, those demonstrators are halfway back to the village in seconds and don’t come back to the front.

After that, the man with the loudspeaker can’t do anything to stop the shabaab from throwing stones at the Israeli military. They are the ones in the front, the ones who aren’t afraid of being face to face with a soldier who is aiming a gun in your direction—that situation is familiar to them even for preteens.

They fan out to different areas in the fields to get some kind of protection from their position behind a rock terrace or near an olive tree. They sling stone after stone at the soldiers behind the fence or behind their riot gear (including a full length plastic shield, padded uniforms, helmet and plastic mask for their faces.  The soldiers seem scared. SCARED behind their gear, not to mention ammunition. They are literally scared of a 10 year old boy holding a slingshot who is more likely to hit another boy than a soldier.

But every once in a while we hear cheering and “Allahu Akbars” when the shabaab hit a jeep or a soldier’s shield with one of the stones. Sometimes they throw balloons full of pink paint at the soldiers too…which is funny because I see Israeli jeeps every once in a while on the roads with pink paint splatters on the side.

Darban Truck

After the first volleys of stones and teargas, the Israeli army gets serious. In the summer time, they bring in the ‘Darban’ truck. This is one of the most ridiculously base and evil thing the Israelis have created—it is a white truck that drives up and starts shooting a huge spray of what looks like green water. For someone who hasn’t experienced the darban, they would think it was basic crowd control with a water hose.

Not in Palestine—imagine the worst smells you can think of, ones that would make you want to puke. Now mix all of those together and you still have no idea what this is like. We don’t know for sure how they make it, but the theories are that it is a mixture of sewage water (from settlers), sulfur and other chemicals, and animal parts (cow intestines is a popular rumor).

Regardless of what it is made of, it smells like shit and skunk mixed together and multiplied by a million in terms of foulness. If you get a drop on your skin you will smell for days. If you step on the ground where it has been sprayed your shoes will smell for days.

There are always a few people who either don’t know to run as fast as possible or think it is just water or who are just trapped and can’t get away. They get completely drenched in this shit water. I will never forget the scene from last week at Bil’in after the soldiers shot the shit water.

Bil’in 5 Year Anniversary

It was the beginning of the protest, the soldiers were not even at the wall yet. And it was the 5 year anniversary of Bil’ins protests against the wall, so there were about a 1000 protestors (usually a couple hundred) and lots of international press. The more press and internationals there are the safer the protest because the Israelis wouldn’t want to get caught doing anything too crazy by someone who can show it around the world.

So the shabaab took advantage of that fact and started literally tearing down the two fences that are the future site of the wall. These are strong metal, barbed wired, razor wired tall fences with surveillance cameras on them and everything. The boys just started pulling the fence, then jumping on it, and eventually pulled down both fences and made it to their stolen land on the other side!

When the soldiers saw this, they went crazy and drove up in jeeps and brought the darban truck. It was too fast for the press or the shabaab in the front to get away and about 50 people got completely showered in the shit water! It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before at a protest.  Mass retching and puking. People pulling off their clothes to try to get rid of the smell. I saw one very tall Palestinian man walking around dazed without his pants—he had the longest legs, and short boxers, and big hiking boots. It was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen in my life.

The smell of the shit water dominated the entire area, and got worse as the people who were soaked in it mixed in with the rest of us. Just when we started to recover from the darban attack, the IDF shot “Al Thuletheen” the teargas cannon that shoots out over 40 teargas canisters simultaneously. They shoot in all directions, like rockets with teargas smoke behind them in trails.

When we hear the popping noise of 40 gas canisters being shot within seconds of eachother, everyone panics. The ones who have never seen that type of teargas attack run back to the village as fast as they can and don’t dare to come back. The more seasoned protestors have two options. You can try to outrun the canisters and the huge teargas cloud that occurs after it, or if you know you can’t outrun them through a cloud of teargas and falling canisters all around you—you find a spot by a wall or something out of the way, crouch down, put a scarf over your face and wait.

You will feel panicked, and you think that you can’t breathe. But the trick is to stay calm and remember that within minutes, the cloud will disperse.

Israeli Army Targeting Nonviolent Protestors

Other times the IDF will shoot individual teargas canisters or grenades or bullet shaped high velocity canisters like missiles at the shabaab and press. You can see them flying right past people’s heads. Sometimes they hit people though. And if they hit you in the head, it can cause at the very least a severe injury, if not coma or death.

Tristan Anderson, an American protestor who was demonstrating at Ni’lin last spring, was hit in the head by a high velocity teargas canister that was shot straight at him, instead of up in the air at an angle. Typical.

After he was hit, his head was bleeding profusely and he was knocked to the ground unconscious. People came to help, but they were in a field and the Israeli army had invaded the village and wasn’t letting any ambulance in to help. His friends were screaming for help, and the IDF was STILL shooting teargas at him and those trying to help him. When the ambulance arrived, the IDF shot teargas that hit the ambulance and created a cloud of teargas around those trying to get Tristan into the ambulance.

He’s just now coming out of his coma, after almost a year. They aren’t sure how much of “Tristan” is left though.

Ni’lin Deaths

Another time in Ni’lin, this past summer, during a particularly violent protest where the soldiers were shooting live ammunition instead of the rubber coated steel bullets (which can still kill you if they hit you in the head or neck, or break a bone in another place).  A young boy from the village was shot in the stomach with live ammunition. Yousef Aqel Srour ran out to where he lay to take him back to the ambulance. As he tried to pick up the boy, the IDF sniper shot Yousef directly in the heart with live ammunition—killing him instantly.

A total of 5 nonviolent protestors have been killed in Ni’lin so far, the youngest was just 10 years old and was shot in the head with a so-called rubber bullet.

Bassem Abu Rahmeh

I wasn’t there for either of those events, but I had one terrible experience at Bil’in about a year ago. It was a small protest, it was cold so a lot of people didn’t want to come out and protest. We had no ambulance because it wasn’t a special protest with lots of internationals or important people.

This was the last protest where most people felt safe in the front, standing face to face with the soldiers.

I was already a bit back behind a wall because I had been shot in the back of the legs with a teargas grenade a week or so before. And the soldiers were shooting the high velocity teargas canisters that are shaped like bullets. As I was waiting for the shooting to slow down, I heard a lot of shouting all of a sudden and thought maybe a stone had found its mark.

Then I was able to understand what the guys were shouting. “ASA’AF!” and “SAYARA!!”….over and over and over in upset and desperate voices. The guys in the front yelled it back to the people in the back, and then they would shout it to people further back towards the village until someone with a car got the message.

This went on for what seemed like hours, but was really about 6 minutes. Then a little beat up 2 door car came speeding down the road towards the wall and by this time I had gone further towards the wall (there were only about 20 people left at the protest at this point).  I saw what I thought was one of the boys from the village laying on the ground surrounded by people. The fucking Israeli army was still shooting teargas at them.

When the car got to the front, the teargas canisters were shot at the car too. The men from the village were completely freaked out. I thought maybe the boy had been shot in the leg or something. But then I saw them pick him up to bring him to the car. He was completely limp. He was wearing a neon yellow jersey and it was covered with bright red blood. Absolutely covered. That’s when I realized that this guy was probably going to die.

They finally got him in the car; men were crying and shouting trying to get him to the hospital. The car sped off in a shower of teargas canisters and the men from the village ran up to the fence and started yelling at the soldiers in Hebrew and the boys threw more stones than I’ve seen before. The soldiers just took it. They knew they had fucked up.

The older men from the village ended the protest as news started making its way to the village that someone was badly injured. On the way back, I was really shaken up. I didn’t recognize who it was but I had never seen someone injured that badly in front of me before, that much blood.

 A minute later, I found out it was a friend of mine from the village—Bassem Abu Rahmeh. He was the first person to say hi to me when I came to the protests and he came over to shake my hand every Friday and ask how I was. He was a big and strong guy, but with the heart of a child and a huge smile always on his face.  He used to yell at me to be careful in Arabic every Friday, yelling but winking and with a huge smile, carrying his cell phone blasting Arabic music.

As we got closer to the village, women from Bil’in were out of their houses, crying and trying to figure out who was shot. I saw my friend’s mom crying and walking towards us, asking about her sons. We told her they were fine, but Bassem was on his way to the hospital (the nearest is Ramallah hospital, half an hour away and not that great).

A minute later the sheikh started talking and reciting the Quran over the mosque loudspeaker and we realized Bassem had died. The whole village was weeping in the streets and wandering around looking shocked and confused.

My impression of the villagers of Bil’in is that they are some of the strongest, most resilient and brave people, but still with a sense of humor. That day I saw them falling apart and it was almost as disturbing to me as knowing a friend of mine had been murdered in cold blood in front of me.

Bassem had been standing in the very front of the protest, in front of the fence, with the soldiers on the other side. The soldiers were shooting at some Israeli activists in between the two fences and they injured one with a soundbomb that went off right under him. Bassem was yelling in Hebrew at the soldiers “Reka!” (Hebrew for ‘stop’). He had never thrown a stone in his life; he didn’t even have that capability in his personality.

As he was yelling for the soldiers to stop shooting, in a BRIGHT yellow jersey, less than 20 feet away, he was shot in the middle of his chest with a high velocity teargas canister that is shaped like a bullet. He fell on the ground with a huge hole in his chest and died less than 15 minutes later.

Targeting Protest Organizers and Village Leaders

After Bassem was killed, the IDF killed Yousef in Ni’lin. Bassem was one of the leaders of the Bil’in protests, always in the front. Yousef was also a protest organizer. A few months later the IDF started a massive arrest campaign in Bil’in focusing on the Bil’in Popular Struggle Committee leaders and teenagers in general—whether they had thrown a stone or not. They arrested at least 40 men and boys from Bil’in over the past summer, most were detained but never charged.

Just now, 6 months later, are some of the teenage boys being returned to the village and their families. Of course, the families had to pay tens of thousands of shekels for lawyers and the bail.

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Weekly Update:

February 8, 2010

 NONVIOLENT PROTESTS:

 Nabe Saleh

 So last Friday in Nabe Saleh it was pandemonium. The villagers blocked all the roads into the village so that the Israeli army jeeps couldn’t enter the village. The demonstration started out very violent—the soldiers shooting tons of teargas and rubber coated steel bullets. Before long, the boys from the village were throwing stones. Then the Israeli army called in the Border Police.

 The Border Police are called in when the army expects a lot of arrests to be made. They are also a more violent version of the soldiers who are usually stationed at the protests. My roommate Lazar said he saw one of the border policemen shooting rubber coated steel bullets like a machine gun at the kids while screaming and yelling like Rambo—completely enjoying himself. All that was missing from that picture was the “born to kill” written across his helmet like some of the soldiers have.

 The soldiers were spread out on a road that leads to the village while the boys and other demonstrators were on the hill that sits over the road. Lazar was taking photos with a few other press guys (wearing the bright press vests) about 50 meters away from the closest boys throwing stones. For some reason, the soldiers decided to shoot him in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet. Now, although it has “rubber” in the name, this bullet is metal and the size of a large marble. It has a paper thin coating of rubber over it—that’s the Israeli’s version of rubber bullets I guess.

 If one of them hits you in the head, you will either be severely injured with likely brain damage, in a coma, or dead. My roommate Lazar, for the entire year he has been here in Palestine and going to these weekly demonstrations, has never invested in a helmet. He has a gas mask and a borrowed bullet proof vest but never found a helmet—until a few days before last Friday’s protest. He bought a plastic construction helmet for 25 shekels (8 dollars). And it saved his life!

 Later during the protest, Lazar was talking to a friend of ours, Ahmed, in the field behind the boys throwing stones at the soldiers—who were shooting at the boys with rubber coated steel bullets, teargas, soundbombs, and some live ammunition. As he was chatting with Ahmed, another rubber coated steel bullet hit him in the stomach. Luckily, he was too far from the soldiers for it to do much damage. But it was definitely a dangerous day to be at Nabe Saleh.

 About a dozen were hit with rubber coated steel bullets on Friday, none serious. One boy was hit 5 times!

 (For pictures from Nabe Saleh this week, look on Palestinemonitor.org)

 Bil’in

 In Bil’in, the demonstration is a lot smaller now because of the arresting campaign the Israelis have carried out against the village. Over 40 boys and men have been arrested so far for “participation in an illegal demonstration”. Ha. What’s illegal is the settlement Israel built on their land. What’s illegal is the wall the Israelis built on their land, and to steal land.

 The court decision that was made when Bil’in brought their case to the Israeli Supreme Court and won looks like its finally going to be at least partially carried out. They won another 100 meters of their own land back a couple years ago in that court. But so far, the Israeli government has not acquiesced to that decision and has kept up construction on the existing route.

 One of the guys from Bil’in that everyone told us was a spy got arrested the other day by the Israelis. Don’t know why that happened? He was always in the front of the demonstration throwing stones at the soldiers, never taking cover or running away when they started shooting—it was so obvious that he was a spy. And he was never arrested even when all the others who regularly went to the protests were arrested—especially being in the front of the demo all the time where soldiers can easily take his picture and arrest him later. So, he will probably be kept for a few days, maybe weeks, then released. It could be a game by the Israelis to make the village trust him again, or it could be he wouldn’t cooperate with them anymore.

 Ni’lin, Al Masara

 Dozens were injured by teargas but there were no serious injuries.

 International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Arrests

 The ISM is an organization that was created at the beginning of the Second Intifada to get internationals over here to witness what was happening to the Palestinian people. At the beginning, they were a valuable group for Palestine because they would go and actually live in villages being oppressed by the Israeli military and see things first hand.

 However, now, the ISM people mostly gravitate towards the areas with the most “action” and where they have the greatest chance to fight with Israeli soldiers. For many of them, getting arrested or deported is a status thing—and its like a game to them to see how many times they can get arrested until they get deported. After that, they change their names and come back through Israel with a new passport.

 They chain themselves to olive trees and generally just increase the violence and anger from Israeli soldiers in any given situation. So now, I would say they are doing more harm than good—which would be different if they followed stricter rules on what they are allowed to do here.

 Anyways, there are a lot of them in the West Bank who have expired visas now because they know if they try to leave and come back on a new visa, the Israelis have their names and pictures from times when they were chained to olive trees and such so they have no chance of renewing their visa. So instead, they stay in the West Bank as long as they can.

 The Israelis have caught on to this—first by arresting ISM people at protests and looking at their passports and seeing they don’t have visas—unlike the rest of us who have jobs here and either have work visas or leave every three months to renew our ‘tourist visas’. Now the Israeli military has taken it so far as to raid Ramallah in the middle of the night to arrest these ISM people with expired visas.

 Last night they raided the Ramallah ISM office and arrested two ISM people—one from Spain and one from Australia. They will probably be detained for a few days then deported and banned forever from Israel (and thus Palestine).

 Al-Shufat Refugee Camp Arrests

 The Israeli military raided Al Shufat Refugee Camp—a camp on the outskirts of East Jerusalem that holds 25,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes in Jerusalem. The military arrested up to 60 people from the camp—most with political affiliations and some that the Israelis claim were ‘wanted.’

 Goldstone Report

 Israel once and for all dismissed the Goldstone Report “without apology.” They have won, because of the American veto on UN actions. So now, they will most likely get away with all the war crimes and murders of innocent men, women and children in Gaza. And they didn’t even apologize. Ha.

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Videos from Nabe Saleh Demonstration: House Teargassed 1/29/10

February 3, 2010

Nabe Saleh is a village north of Ramallah in the West Bank. About a month ago, they began organizing weekly protests against the illegal Israeli settlement that is built on their land. In addition to taking agricultural land from the village, the settlers recently took over a natural well that is on Nabe Saleh’s land. That is why the villagers decided to start protesting regularly.

PART 1:

PART 2:

click here:

PART 3:

3 weeks ago, the women in the house from this video were arrested for nonviolently protesting the theft of their village’s land. They were released on the condition that they would stay in their house during the Friday protests.

The next Friday, the women were in their house when the Israeli soldiers shot a teargas grenade through their window. Their house began to fill up with teargas, so the mother went outside to get some air and ran straight into the soldiers waiting for her. The soldiers started hitting her in the stomach with their automatic weapons, and her 2 daughters came outside to help her.

They started fighting with the soldiers and the rest of the villagers came to help. The women ended up being arrested and released on 10,000 shekel bail each (over 3,000 dollars) and that they would not attend the demonstrations.

The next Friday demonstration (1/29/10) is when I took these videos. I went into the women’s house to interview them as the demonstration was going outside. Suddenly, a teargas grenade came through the window and started filling up the house with teargas. There were about a dozen young children watching TV in the nursery.

Since the gas cloud was blocking the exit, we couldn’t get all the kids out of the house (plus the demonstration was right outside now, soldiers were shooting teargas, rubber coated steel bullets, the skunk water, and live ammunition….so you can’t just run outside blinded by teargas into that situation…).

We got everyone into a room and closed the door to wait out the teargas….

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Weekly Update:

January 23, 2010

I’m back at Palestinian Medical Relief Society, writing project proposals. But I just finished writing an article for the Al Jazeera English website!

I have a friend who has been working over there in Qatar with Al Jazeera and he mentioned my name and what I’ve been doing over here for the past year to the person in charge of the ‘focus’ section. She emailed me and asked if I had any ideas for articles since I’m living over here, so I pitched her a few and she wanted me to write about the Iron Wall that Egypt is building between it and Gaza.

It was an interesting topic that turned out to be much more complicated than I originally thought. Also, from the beginning I assumed Egypt was building it because Israel and the US pressured them to, and that it would be horrible for the Gazan people if they closed all the tunnels. After talking to some people in Gaza, I found out that the tunnels are mostly bringing unessential items, and marking up the prices (triple or more). So the Gazan people have lost most of their savings on these products—which are taxed by Hamas. While Hamas can get money, weapons, and people through to make them “stronger” and endanger the Gazan people more—if they get a long range rocket and shoot it at more Israeli cities, then the Gazan people are going to be the ones to pay for that when Israel flattens Gaza again.

Other than that, I’ve just been hanging out with friends, going over to Tel Aviv a couple times on the weekends…and demonstrations…

On Friday I finally went to my first demonstration since I got back. I was thinking I would go to Bil’in but my roommate told me about a new village that just started making demonstrations a few weeks ago—named Nabi Saleh. Its north of Ramallah, on the way to Salfit. So I decided to go there and check it out.

First of all, when we left Ramallah there were some checkpoints set up by the Israelis all over the West Bank meant to keep activists and Palestinians from getting to the various protests. We got to the first checkpoint, which is usually empty, and there were soldiers all over it, stopping all the cars. And the road to Nabi Saleh was blocked off.

So the soldiers motioned to the driver to pull off to the side, and they were pretty aggressive until they opened the door of the service (minibus) and saw there were three internationals in the back waving their passports at them. Then they let us go on…down a different road that would add 45 minutes onto our trip.

So the driver continues, and we get a little tour of the central West Bank. It is really beautiful right now; it’s been raining a lot so everything is turning green. We drove through some really beautiful valleys and saw some cool villages on the way. So it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

We finally made it to Nabi Saleh and we were a little early so we walked out in the fields and watched the soldiers set up the checkpoint outside the city and looked out at the settlement that is built on the village’s land.

Then we went back to the center of the village and started the march to their land. We didn’t get 400 meters (and were still in the village) when the soldiers appeared in front of the march and started shooting out teargas canisters at us. It was really strong and made a really thick cloud of teargas around all of us. I hadn’t been teargassed since before I left in November so I definitely wasn’t ready for that much at once. Everyone ran back towards the center and out of the smoke because the soldiers were still coming forward.

I didn’t know where the soldiers came from or where they were headed because I’m used to Bil’in where there’s a fence between the soldiers and us, and we can escape to the back and get away if we need to. But in Nabi Saleh the soldiers come into the village in small groups and are everywhere, so there’s no safe place.

Since I couldn’t open my eyes, I did my usual find a wall and sit against it with my scarf over my face until the cloud dissipates. It was really strong gas and there wasn’t any wind so I had to blindly walk towards clearer air. I still couldn’t open my eyes so I sat back down again and waited a few minutes. When I opened my eyes finally there were like three journalists filming me! Haha….I’ve done it before too of course, but when you’ve been teargassed really badly you definitely don’t want to be on camera.

Anyways, I looked around and everyone had scattered. I was near an intersection with a cement bus stop so I went in that for cover while I tried to figure out this demonstration. Up the street from me where some soldiers chasing the demonstrators back to the center of the village. Down the street to the right were the Israeli army jeeps and more soldiers. Down the street to the left were some boys from the village throwing stones at another group of soldiers who were on someone’s balcony. They were yelling insults back and forth at each other, and the soldiers would shoot a teargas canister at them every once in a while but other than that it was pretty calm for the moment.

I was with some other journalists from Reuters and AP, who were filming the demonstration, but they left half an hour after the demonstration started. I was still pretty teary from the teargas and a woman from the village tried to convince me to go to her house and recover. I told her I was fine where I was (and relatively safe…haha) but she grabbed my arm and tried to take me out in through the intersection where on my right soldiers were aiming at kids on behind us to the left. I was like “No!” and she was like “It’s ok, no problem.” But after seeing the soldiers aiming their guns at me I somehow released myself from her grip and ran back to my semi safe place at the bus stop. I waited there and had some soldiers run past me shooting teargas and rubber bullets at the boys and some other random exchanges.

Finally, most of the press had followed the other demonstrators and soldiers back to the center of the village while I waited in the bus stop with a few people because the street up to the center was full of soldiers.

While I was sitting there watching everything, some Israeli jeeps brought some soldiers up to a house about a 100 meters from me. They teargassed the house until the women inside came out. (These same women were arrested last week at the demonstration, and to get out had to sign a paper saying they wouldn’t be out of their house from 12-5 on Friday. But after their house filled up with teargas they went out the front door and ran into the 12 soldiers waiting there.

The women started screaming at them for teargassing them in the house. Then it turned into a fight where the women were pushing the soldiers and the soldiers were shoving the women. It got really out of control and their screaming attracted the attention of the rest of the demonstrators who tried to come back down from the center.

But the Israelis shot the teargas cannon and 30 canisters fell on the road between the people coming to help and the soldiers who were fighting with the women. So they continued shoving the women, some fell on the ground and were kicked by some soldiers. Then finally they arrested at least one of them, shoved her in the back of the jeep and drove off with the women and the other demonstrators running after.

Then it turned into a huge brawl because the women were fighting the soldiers and the men caught up so it was like a 100 person bar fight except one side has guns and the other side is women. Ridiculous.

To stun the people into not being able to fight the soldiers kept throwing sound bombs under people so they would scatter. They threw one under my roommate and his ear is all messed up now. They can also send shrapnel and injure people.

So finally the fight broke up because whoever was in charge of the soldiers decided it was getting too out of control so they drove the jeeps up and the soldiers retreated away from the group.

Then the demonstrators went down the hill throwing stones and the soldiers kept retreating and shooting as they got towards the checkpoint. Then gradually it died down and ended.

There were a bunch of people injured through…from being hit and kicked, teargassed, and “friendly fire” –someone got hit with a stone in the head. So he had to go to the hospital but he will be fine.

Anyways, afterwards when we tried to get back to Ramallah the soldiers blocked the main road and were detaining the activists so we took the long way back again to avoid trouble.

Well, that’s pretty much it for this week. Let me know how everything’s going and what’s new!

Renee

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Palestinian Activist Reveals Detention Conditions After His Release…

January 18, 2010

Palestine Monitor
16 January 2010

“I was detained in a tiny, narrow guardhouse, sleeping on a mattress less than 15 cm thick. 24 hours a day a yellow light was on. It was impossible to fall asleep because every hour I was awakened by noises, someone knocking on the door or shouting through the small window of the cell. Insects were everywhere.”

“The conditions in jail are terrible, I have talked with some other detainees who have been interrogated for 15, 16 hours with their legs and hands tied, or people who have prevented from sleeping for a period of 5-10 continuous days. When the guards move a prisoner from a place to another, he is blindfolded. I call on international media and organisations to pressurize and investigate what happens inside Israeli jails.”

This is what Jamal Juma’, Palestinian activist of the Anti Apartheid Wall campaign, explained to journalists who asked about his detention’s conditions in Moskobiyyeh interrogation center (in Jerusalem), during the press conference held last Thursday. He was released on January 13, together with another Palestinian peace activist, Mohammed Othman, who was detained in Israeli jail for more than three months. Jamal was called for interrogation and then arrested on December 16, with not a single charge being put forth. Although he is a resident of East Jerusalem, and therefore should be subjected under the Israeli civil system, he was detained and interrogated under a military system.

Mohammed was arrested at Allenby Border Crossing (from Jordan) entering West Bank whilst coming back from an advocacy tour in Norway.

Jamal Juma’ was released without any specific restriction, whilst a fine of 10.000 NIS (Shekels) was imposed to Mohammed Othman and he will not able to leave the country until investigations on his case end.

“Both of them have been arrested in an effort to curb the success of their peaceful activities in defense of Palestinian human rights” – said the statement released from the Addameer and Stop the Wall organisations. “It is an attack on those that are standing up against the wall and the occupation” Juma declared during the press conference.

Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, also attended the press conference and condemned the campaign adopted by Israeli Occupation Forces against popular activists and human rights defenders, declaring that “Israel clearly aims to dismantle the resistance movement against the Wall and settlement constructions, which has become a widely known symbol of struggle against the occupation forces.”

The Israeli campaign of repression and arrest against human rights defenders continues. Three Palestinian activists have been arrested by Israeli forces during night raids into the West Bank villages of Bi’lin and Ni’lin. Meanwhile; almost 30 activists remain in Israeli detention: amongst them, Abdallah Abu Rahme, head of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall.

Sahar Francis, a lawyer and Director of Addameer, told journalists that “psychological torture against Palestinian detainees is a distinguishing factor of Israeli occupation and a way to bypass the use of physical violent methods.” Following dozens of petitions issued by human rights associations, in 1999 Israeli High Court of Justice decided to prohibit the use of certain types of torture (allowing “moderate physical pressure”) and required the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) to enact a law for ruling the work of intelligence services. Such a law has never been approved.

But according to what Addameer witnessed, some methods of torture are still in use against detainees and constitute a clear evidence of human rights violation.

For further information about torture in Israeli jails, please click on:

http://www.addameer.org/detention/t…