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Shoot-out in Net-café/Where shopping is a crime...


ISM Updates-Shoot-out in Net-café/Where shopping is a crime/Protest March

1.Shoot-out in Jenin Internet Café

2.Where Shopping Is a Crime

3. Marchers inTulkarem Protest Against Apartheid Wall

4. Activists Help Thwart Destruction of Medical Clinic

Shoot-out in Jenin Internet Café

Lasse Schmidt

A botched attempt Tuesday afternoon by Israeli Special Forces to assassinate a Palestinian resistance fighter ended in the death of an innocent bystander in an Internet café in Jenin and eight injuries, including six Palestinians and two of the soldiers. At the end of the operation, the café's floor was smeared with blood and locals were trying to come to terms with what had happened.

Eyewitnesses said three men approached the café dressed in civilian clothes, two of them taking guard on the stairs outside while one descended the stairs, entered the café and shot several rounds of live ammunition. "After some shooting, the man came out again, clearly wounded and fell to the ground. I ran to him and asked if he wanted me to call an ambulance, but he threatened me with his gun and told me to go away. I had thought he was Palestinian, but then I realized he was an Israeli soldier. As I ran, I heard him calling for backup," Mohammed, a 25-year-old taxi driver, told the ISM activists (from Sweden, USA and Denmark) in Jenin. An ISM activist saw a tank and several army jeeps arrive within minutes. According to a local source, the wanted Palestinian fighter escaped from the café through a window on the rear side. The army presence attracted local fighters and a shoot-out went on for approximately twenty minutes. Civilians crowded in the nearby streets looking for safety. One of them was Hisham Amer, 18. He was standing with a group of civilians some 200 metres from the café when he fell to the ground. The ground was blood stained red and he died shortly after from a shot to the heart. "It was a sniper on the roof over there on top of the taxi building," an eyewitness said, pointing at a building across the street. While giving his account, he repeatedly looked at the pool of blood at his feet. Hisham Amer was a student at the Salam Secondary School and a medical volunteer for the Red Crescent in Jenin. Just an hour before the Israeli army entered Jenin, the Red Crescent had paraded through town in memory of Doctor Khalid Suliman, the former leader of Red Crescent in Jenin. He became a martyr one year ago during the army invasion of the refugee camp in Jenin, when Israeli soldiers refused him entrance to the camp in an ambulance, despite being called to assist a severely wounded Palestinian. Doctor Suliman tried an alternative entrance to the camp but never got inside the camp. The ambulance was hit by rockets and exploded. 'Pay respect to the Geneva Convention for the sake of medical personnel,' One of the banners said when approximately 200 people walked through town. 3rd March is not a date they will soon forget at the Red Crescent in Jenin.

During the army operation, Tariq Faroq Youres,17, Noor Ibrahim Arqawi, 17, Fathi Ali, 26, and Saleh Qasas, 25, were arrested at the Internet café, two of them being injured in the process. Four passing Palestinians were injured; Ayman Farhan Sadi, Ameen Sowity, Mojeeb abu Zahra and Qosay abu Ahyija. One of them is in a serious condition. One of the two soldiers was injured critically.

Where shopping is a crime

Arthur Neslen

Awad Shawket Hamel was trying to get home to Jaba last June when he was shot in the back by Israeli troops. “I was travelling with my co-workers when the soldiers asked for my ID,” he said. “I showed it to them, but it didn’t make any difference.” Awad was turned back and, when he tried to enter his home town by another entrance, he was shot from behind and hospitalised for four weeks.

Jaba is a village of 3000 people but it is not a welcoming place. Since ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ last April, it has been fenced off by barbed wire and all but one of its entrances has been closed. A hill town less than 30 minutes from Jerusalem, Jaba has the misfortune to exist on land near two Jewish settlements - and the road from Ramallah to Jerusalem.

When the wire went up, the Israeli army said they feared that the village could become a staging post for suicide attacks on civilian targets. Today, Jaba is still garrisoned. Only residents aged over 50 are allowed to travel to Ramallah; fewer than 15 villagers have been given permits to visit Jerusalem.

Young men do travel the road to the nearby Ar-Ram checkpoint for food and other necessities but they risk arrest or worse as they go. In one case last July, villagers report that a car trying to leave Jaba was stopped by soldiers who opened a door, threw a CS gas canister in, and slammed it shut again.

“We do get food here, little by little,” one village elder, Sami Twan conceded. “But every day, people who go out are imprisoned for breaking the order. Four days ago, my daughter was arrested and made to stand in freezing rain all night because she tried to come here from Ramallah.”

Like so much of the West Bank, the story of Jaba is a welter of ‘before and after’ statistics. Before the Intifada, 90 per cent of the town’s population worked in Israel. Now none can get in. Before the neighbouring settlements were built, Jaba’s residents owned 24,000 dunums of land. Today their holding is just 700 dunums.

Most poignantly, before the barbed wire went up, Jaba was a confident village. Today, its psychology has been reshaped in a way that might become commonplace after the ‘Separation Wall’ between Israelis and Palestinians has been completed.

The Likud government claims it is building the 215-mile long concrete barrier to prevent suicide bomb attacks on Israeli civilians. Palestinians point out that the Wall annexes more than 10 per cent of pre-1967 Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.

What is indisputable is that in Jaba, where a separation fence has stood for nearly a year now, basic human rights are being neglected. Last Friday, a joint Israeli-Palestinian protest against the barbed wire that had been planned for early March, was postponed until after the war in Iraq.

“People are scared that if they demonstrate, they will be punished with total imprisonment,” Abu Ashraf, the silver-haired mayor of Jaba said. “Even the one crack we have in the fence is not legal. They could close it at any time.”

“People see the entrance as a gift that they don’t want to lose,” another Jaba’ite agreed. “The soldiers tell us ‘you have water and electricity, why do you need to go out?’”

The majority view in Jaba is that the protest should go ahead in the near future, but villagers feel acutely vulnerable. They say that soldiers recently put up loud speakers at the town’s sole entrance and blasted the town with loud music until 2am. “They spat and screamed and cursed our God through a microphone” one man complained.

At a meeting to discuss preparations for a joint demonstration with Israeli peace activists from the Ta’ayush movement, Abu Ashraf announced: “We would welcome any visitors who want to come to see how we live.” But behind the wire of separation, the people of Jaba still fear what might happen when the protestors go home.

Tulkarem Protest March Against Apartheid Wall

Tuesday in Deir Al-Ghussun near Tulkarem, a group of approximately 250 people marched peacefully to protest against the building of the Israeli Apartheid Wall through the area. This group consisted of 200 Palestinians and 12 internationals from Sweden, USA, UK, Canada, and Japan. The marchers were stopped by Israeli soldiers in an armoured personnel carrier and a Hummer jeep. However, they negotiated successfully with the military, obtaining permission to proceed to the Wall site where speeches were made by representatives of various Palestinian rights organizations. Work on the Wall stopped for about an hour. As the rally concluded and the protestors began the march back to the village, the border police joined up with the Israeli military, construction security guards, and civil police present already present. Individual marchers interviewed said they were satisfied that all had demonstrated their united and continuing opposition to the building of the Wall, a symbol of Israeli oppression, stealing land from the richest agricultural area in Palestine and precious water sources, and isolating/annexing various Palestinian villages. As the speakers at the rally pointed out, "The construction of the Wall is seen by us as nothing but blatant theft."

Activists Help Thwart Destruction of Medical Clinic

Brian Avery

As the Israeli Occupying Forces continue their second invasion of the central district of Nablus in two weeks, armed resistance is scant. Palestinian casualties are not. Ambulances have been ubiquitous for the past two days in the Old City district of Nablus, which contains the dense central market and tightly packed residential quarters. Under the pretence of ferreting out "terrorists" and members of extremist organizations such as Hamas, Israeli forces have only succeeded in terrorizing the local population and wreaking widespread destruction on civilian property. Displaying the overall fear of all Palestinians shamefully indoctrinated into them by the architects and perpetrators of Israel's obscene military apparatus, the occupying forces move about in dense squads. They traverse not only the residential, but also the market area of this city, more than 2000 years old, in a

The terrorization of the residents of Nablus is achieved by occupying and frequently destroying houses and business properties, all the while providing the "terror" they are supposedly seeking out and serving up massive doses of collective punishment to the local civilians.

The common tactic of the soldiers has been to force their way into residencies, illegally occupying the apartment for unspecified periods of time. During these occupations, they psychologically and sometimes physically abuse the families inside, as well as stealing family possessions, vandalizing, and sometimes total demolishing buildings. Generally the members of the families are prevented from moving in or out during the occupation. They are often deprived of food and medicine, as the soldiers then ransack the dwelling in what is invariably a futile search for weapons and explosives. They maintain their position there before receiving orders to move out, which is often after several days. In the worst cases, it is not unheard of to last several months.

As this ancient quarter of the city consists of densely packed multiplex buildings and winding mazes of corridors, the soldiers find it to their benefit to ease their passage by blasting (appropriately named) "rat-holes" in the walls between apartments. These passageways, measuring between one and two metres, cause immense destruction to the properties and usually receive only cursory use by the terrorizing soldiers.

The only recourse to these occupations has been the intervention of medical volunteers and ISM activists, who attempt to negotiate with the soldiers and provide the family with essential supplies of food and medicine. Thanks to the tireless efforts of these volunteers, vulnerable people such as infant children, the elderly and the sick have sometimes been able to re-locate into better conditions.

The arrogant attitude taken by the military to local medical and emergency personnel means that without the international volunteers, the supplies would seldom be forthcoming to the needy. Indeed, it is not unknown for Israeli forces to fire on ambulances and emergency co-ordinators. It is also one of many situations the ISM seek to prevent via their presence.

Another activity of the ISM volunteers is to take up a presence in some of the residencies so as to deter violence, destruction and fallacious arrests by the marauding soldiers.

This tactic was used on Tuesday night in the case of the UPMRC (Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees) clinic in the Old City. A volunteer-based organization, the UPMRC and ISM have been increasing their co-ordination efforts to allow the medical personnel to do their jobs more effectively without being thwarted by Israeli soldiers. After having their clinic trashed, staff harassed and randomly arrested during the Israeli Forces invasion of two weeks prior, the UPMRC staff had requested that ISM volunteers take up a continual presence in the clinic this week in case the soldiers should return.

At about 7pm Tuesday night, the soldiers came on cue. Threatening to make arrests and blow rat-holes in the wall, workers also feared a second ransacking of the clinic. After some negotiation with UPMRC volunteers and some Swedish and South African ISM activists, however, the soldiers backed down and retreated from the building, much to the joy of everyone inside. As is often the case, nevertheless, the soldiers came back later in the evening (perhaps expecting the ISMers to have left). Once again, the volunteers peacefully persuaded them to leave.

According to the latest reports, hundreds of additional soldiers entered the Old City overnight Tuesday, either to reinforce or replace the hundreds already there, suggesting that Israeli high command is not planning to leave anytime soon. Gunfire and explosions have been constant throughout the invasion, with casualty numbers as yet undetermined and many houses and businesses being completely or partially destroyed.

The absurdity of these incursions by the Israeli state reaches no end, and the suffering of the Nablus people is the only result. Local ISM activists have no intention of abandoning their peacekeeping presence and will continue to be involved in the clean-up and distribution of essential supplies, support for detainees and a deterring presence to the collective punishment of the invading Israel army.


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