ISM: Mas'ha, Twane, Tulkarem, Brian Avery
1. Mas’ha: Peace Camp Catches Army Unprepared.
2. Save Twane
4. Brian Avery
1. Mas’ha: Peace Camp Catches Army Unprepared
At 12 noon yesterday about 150 peace activists from Israel, Occupied Palestine and more than a dozen other countries converged on Mas’ha for a peaceful march through the town which ended on a 30 metre strip of devastated land that the Israeli Army had cut through an olive grove outside the village and upon which it intends to build a “security fence”,
The alleged purpose of which is to protect Israel from the danger of Palestinian terrorism. Were this the real purpose of the wall it would be much simpler to build it along the Green Line separating Israel from the Occupied West Bank. At Mas’ha it is being built 7 km inside the West Bank and in such a way that it tightly surrounds the Palestinian villages of the region. This serves two major objectives for the Israeli government. Firstly, it grabs land for the Jewish settlements to the west of the proposed wall. Secondly, it deprives the Palestinians to the east of the wall of access to their farmlands, making their villages unviable. This is part of the Israeli government policy of “encouraging transfer” (ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinian population from areas that it wishes to colonise with Jewish settlers..
The demonstrators then set to work erecting tents on the devastated strip of land, upon which they intend to remain until the Israeli government abandons building the wall along its proposed course. Because of the secrecy with which the demonstration and the erection of the Peace Camp was planned and executed, the Israeli Army and Border Police were caught completely by surprise by the action so that the demonstration proceeded and the tents were erected without interference and the activists were able to settle down for a quiet night by their campfires in peace.
This morning at 7 am the bulldozers arrived to resume work. They were accompanied by the “guards” of a private security company responsible for their protection (the personnel for these companies are almost exclusively settlers and have been responsible for many attacks on Palestinians trying to work their fields).
The security personnel then walked through the camp and demanded that the peace activists relocate it, claiming that the land on which they had erected the camp was now Israeli territory. When the activists refused, the army was called in and a senior army officer arrived to demand the camp’s evacuation. When the activists again refused, he threatened to call the border police and have them arrested.
By mid-afternoon the officer had left the area and it had become clear that the border police were not coming so the activists stayed in the camp under the observation of Israeli soldiers.
Tonight 9 activists of the ISM and the IWPS (International Women’s Peace Service) are sleeping in the camp with three Israelis and one Palestinian. The international activists are from France, Switzerland, Germany, the US, the UK, South Africa, Austria and Canada.
For further information contact:
Mark on 059 753 203 Patricia on 067 529 587
2. Save Twane,
On Friday April 4, the International Solidarity Movement embarked on a new and successful endeavor to work with Tayush in protecting Palestinians who live the village of Twane. Twane is a village that survives off of it’s land. If not for the cell phones and limited electricity, you may think you had fallen into a time warp. It is truly a magnificent place. It brings the bible to life. The houses are built of stones from the area and are built into the hillside. It is one of those places where man and beast co-exist naturally. In the midst of the sheep, chickens, roosters, mules, and goats; there were plenty of beautiful children.
Then there is the established settlement of Ma’on. Like all settlements, it is an eye sore built on land confiscated (stolen) in 1982. Throughout that time, there have been ongoing problems, usually a result of the settlement’s desire to expand. In 1998 the first illegal outpost was built on Twane land. It was called Havat Ma’on. Soon after, Avi gayil followed.
Illegal outposts are outposts that are not officially sanctioned by the government. They are usually built by extremely violent people and protected by the army and the police. The settlers then go about terrorizing the native Palestinians until there is nothing for the Palestinians to do but leave. These settlers are very courageous, they know that they can assault Palestinians in any way they want, with no reprisal. If there is any amount of resistance by the Palestinians, the police arrest the them. Palestinians do not do well in Israeli jails.
For the past several months, the assaults by the settlers have increased. As a result, we have worked with Tayush and stayed in the village over Shabat. Last weekend there was a confrontation but it did not turn violent. This weekend, the settlers left us and the Palestinians alone. They did however, come onto Twane property to bath. They are forbidden from Twane property, except of course what they’ve stolen. Unfortunately, the villagers are also forbidden from some of their own land by what the army says is a closed military zone. This just happens to be one of the olive grove area of Twane.
Last week there was a film producer with the group who caught the army using their own techniques of harassment. They drove through the village at various times, blaring their sirens and filling the area with a smoke screen. This is a very thick smoke that makes one gag. They did this every day until it was filmed. They have not done it since.
The mayor of Twane explained to us that they have survived the rule of the Turks, the British and Jordan. All of these colonial powers had their own unpleasant methods of ruling. None however, have stolen their land and terrorized them until Israel. They now have a population of about 200. They used to have a population of 2000. Many people had to go live in the cities to support themselves. People were convinced that they would do better by working in Israel and in the cities. So they moved to Yatta, but still hung onto
There is an interesting phenomenon now. Because of the ongoing Intifada and lack of work in the cities and of course in Israel; people are beginning to come back to their land. It is all they have.
It is my strong hope that we can build on this mini success of the past two weekends and allow Twane to live in peace.
For further information contact:
Tom 02 277 4602 052 360 241
The evening curfew continues. Last night, the ISM crew heard that the army had again entered the camp, so they went out to investigate. The crew consisted of 2 US, 1 Irish, 1 German, and 1 Palestinian. They came upon 6 men in the street while their house was about to be searched. One of the men was told to go in and open all of the doors in the house so the army could search it. Heidi (German) went into the house with him.
The soldiers left shortly thereafter.
The group then went to check on a house nearby that is often occupied. The soldiers like this house because it is high and therefore provides a good view for snipers. The family who live in this house consists of an elderly man; his daughters, their daughters and one 6 year old boy. There are ten all together. The activists made noise and got the attention of the soldiers. Soon after, another jeep arrived. The activists convinced the soldiers to allow them into the house in order to check on the family. Once they entered, it was obvious that the family was quite fearful. The group then negotiated with the soldiers to allow Heidi to spend the night with this family. They thought this would help the family feel safer. Once again, the soldiers left shortly thereafter. While leaving, the soldiers informed the group that they had occupied this house many times before and will do so again.
It is of course against the Geneva conventions to occupy a civilian home unless there are circumstances requiring it. I don’t think shooting civilians who break curfew is one of them
As the activists moved on, they came upon another family out in the street. The army was in the process of taking an 18 year old boy away. He did not have his ID on him. Evidently, it was at another relative’s house. Today, the activists brought the ID to the DCO, and the boy was released.
For more information contact:
Heidi 067 657 349
4. Brian Avery
Brian Avery is in a stable condition at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa. He is conscious, has suffered no brain injuries and is able to communicate through sign language and writing.
Following four hours of surgery last night he is expected to undergo several more sessions of facial reconstruction surgery. Although Brian has explicitly requested information on his condition, the doctors at the hospital are withholding information as to the nature of his injuries, apart from admitting that he is suffering from extensive facial fractures.
In spite of his injuries, his friends report that Brian’s naturally cheerful character remains unaffected and he is in good spirits.
This Thursday Brian Avery will have his twenty-fifth birthday. His friends have opened an email account in which well-wishers may send him messages of support. His ISM companions in Haifa have undertaken to print out and read to him every message he receives and to stick them to the walls of his hospital room. If you want to wish Brian a happy birthday and a swift and full recovery you can send your message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information contact:
Eva on +972 67 361 679 or Bilha on +972 51 638 568
Tom Wallace ISM Media Coordinator Beit Sahour, Occupied Palestine 02-277-4602 052-360-241