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ISM Updates-House Blown Up/Activist Released

1. Prestigious family house blown up by Israeli forces in Nablus

2. Susan Barclay, ISM Activist released from prison

3. The spirit of resistance lives on in Nablus

Abusur Family House Blown Up in Nablus

The day begins at 6.30am with Sherry coming to the door and telling me that the Abusur family's house, one of those we're supposed to be protecting, has been blown up by the military. She was only in there for a meeting the day before yesterday. Apparently the two activists who had been posted there weren't been able to get back from Jerusalem in time last night.

The Abusur house, once one of the most widely admired in the Karbota refugee camp of Nablus, is now little more than broken stone and debris. Small boys from the neighbourhood, braving the cracks in the collapsed ceiling above their heads, try to rescue any family possessions that remain.

"The soldiers came at 2.00," Mrs Aisha Abusur explains.

"They put the whole family into one room except for my husband. They took him outside and they interrogated him out there in the freezing cold rain."

Mrs Abusur's second son, Mohanad, died in May last year after going into a nearby West Bank settlement and killing three of the residents there before other settlers shot him dead. His act of fury was a response to his friend and neighbour Mohammed Titi being assassinated by a nail bomb in the ancient city of Nablus.

When the soldiers asked Mr Abusur how Mohanad died, they were told. By way of riposte, they smashed the picture of him hanging on the wall.

Since he died, his two teenage brothers have been imprisoned. But the Israeli soldiers still asked Mr Abusur where his three teenage sons were. He spent two and a half hours trying to convince them of their whereabouts and that there was no terrorist activity being carried out in his house by either him, his wife, his nine year old son, or any of his four daughters. Disbelieving him, the commanding officer told the family they had no more than five minutes to collect any possessions they wished to salvage before the house was demolished.

This gave Mrs Abusur and her daughters enough time to collect a couple of mattresses, some blankets, a bag of clothes and some school books, while her husband, aided by their young son, struggled down the stairs with the home computer.

After Mr Abusur's interrogation, the soldiers went on the rampage through the house, overturning everything in sight.

They may as well not have bothered, as the twelve sacks of dynamite they brought in to the house would have done it with less fuss.

The soldiers brought the explosive material and locked the doors. Neighbours were ordered to evacuate their houses and made to stand outside or seek refuge outside the neighbourhood. Mrs Abusur tried to phone an ISM co-ordinator or a human rights group, but to no avail. The phone lines had been scrambled. Two ISM activists staying in a neighbouring house were ignored and told to evacuate the area when they tried to intervene and negotiate on behalf of the family.

Approximately three hours after the family was initially woken up, at 5.15, the explosives were detonated.

"I can't express my feelings right now," Mrs Abusur says bitterly.

" I have two sons in prison, one in the grave, my other children terrorised, and now my house demolished. I feel like all the other Palestinians. Sad, and angry."

When asked whom she feels most anger towards, her answer is a little surprising.

"I'm angry at Sharon of course, but that's natural, he's our enemy. But more towards the collaborators! The Palestinian Authority, working with the Israeli government is trying to finish the resistance and leave us without any armed defence!"

This is not a reference to the Palestinian Police Force, but to Yasser Arafat's deputy, Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to initiate a peace project. This project would involve signing up women to mobilise against armed resistance.

Looking round at the other children in the family, my eye falls upon the second daughter, ten year old Tesnim. She's wearing a pendant containing a shaheed portrait of her late brother.

I ask Mrs Abusur whether she thinks her three remaining sons will want to take revenge in future for the family's mistreatment.

She shakes her head.

"I cannot speak for them, but I'm sure they don't forget."

Story by David Watson

Susan Barclay Released After Dramatic Stand-off at Airport

In a major coup for the forces of peace and justice, Susan Barclay, the ISM peace activist who had been imprisoned without trial and threatened with deportation, has been released after a dramatic turn-around in events which has left the Israeli security forces totally discredited.

Events started to look ominous for the Israeli police after Susan had refused to take a seat on the KLM plane that she had been forcibly dragged onto. Susan explained to the pilot and flight crew that she was being illegally deported as she was in the process of appealing against a deportation order. Consequently, the flight crew refused to fly with her on board. In spite of the efforts of a police officer who threatened her with an even more brutal deportation, she heroically walked off the plane and back into the airport.

Looking forward to her first night out of prison for over a week, a jubilant Susan said, "He threatened me with handcuffing and a gun at my head the next time. In response, I said, 'Well after [what we went through in] Nablus, that would be nothing!'"

The appeal hearing later that morning vindicated Susan's determined stance in the face of the state's attempts at intimidation by ordering her immediate release.

Judge Michaela Shidlovsky-Or ruled that the state did not have the right to demand Susan's immediate deportation and that subject to certain conditions, she could not be removed from the country until 10th March. The principle condition is that a copy of an outward bound ticket from Israel to Turkey be faxed to the court by Sunday 2nd March, for a flight on that day.

Susan is at present discussing her options with legal counsel.

In the face of what often seems like an uphill struggle against the forces of evil oppression in Israel, this piece of news can be considered an important victory for justice.

Story by David Watson

The Spirit of Resistance in Nablus

In recent episodes of Israeli continuous operations in the Old City of Nablus, eight people have been killed and more than 50 injured. The army demolished one two floor building, damaging hundreds of houses all around the Old City. Rat holes have been blown open in walls of the houses to allow passage from house to house in the destruction operation. The army hasn’t yet arrested one wanted person in this operation. On the contrary, the resistance has become stronger and all inhabitants of Nablus were involved in a mass demonstration, shouting and whistling on the evening of the fourth day of this operation. Hundreds of thousands of people were passionately shouting and whistling for more than an hour, showing their opposition to the occupation. Thousands of people took to the streets in spontaneous demonstrations. They were marching and shouting, 'Allah Akhbar' and entering the Old City from different directions. I was walking in the street and I heard a woman saying to her daughter,

"In April they managed to make us afraid but not anymore. They are stupid if they think that this can scare us."

When we were walking in the street during the demonstration, a good friend, Maria, said ,

"I have never seen anything as beautiful as this."

It was a very emotional experience for me and it took me back to the first Intifada. Now I really have a strong feeling that all this destruction and military presence in the streets of Nablus make the people stronger than ever and increase the resistance. It makes the people create new ways of resisting. Every day there are clashes around the occupied houses and in the streets, hundreds of shabab attack the military vehicles with stones and molotov cocktails, many demonstrations are organized from different places to the Old City.

After six days, the army changed their strategy and to hiding in selected houses, trying to confuse the people but the people pass information about where the soldiers are to each other. In this operation, it was clear that the people knew how expensive freedom is and they know that to end this brutal occupation they need to pay a price. They are ready to pay more.

The volunteers from the UPMRC (Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committee), the Red Crescent and the Health Care Committee have been working 24 hours a day, rescuing injured people, delivering food and medicine to people in occupied houses. Many locals have been forced to strip in the rain and many others have been detained without trial. The volunteers have refused to give up, in spite of the rain, risking their lives to help other volunteers. These people are the heroes during this operation. Words cannot adequately describe how great they are.

After six days, the resistance in Nablus continues.

Story by Hussein

David Watson ISM Media Coordinator Beit Sahour Occupied Palestine Phone: +972-2-2774602 Cell: +972-67-862 439 web: http://www.palsolidarity.org


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