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Mas'ha Peace rally, Rafah home demolition


Mas'ha Peace rally, Rafah home demolition

Contents: 1-Hundreds rally Against Wall and for Unity 2-House demolished in Rafah ISM activists and Palestinians shot at by tank nearby

1- Hundreds Rally Against Wall and for Unity May 4,2003, Mas'ha, Occupied Palestine Four hundred Israelis, Palestinians & International peace activists participated in a rally yesterday in the village of Mas'ha to fortify the existence of the Mas'ha peace camp located in the West Bank, Occupied Palestine. Founded one month ago, the peace camp exists in order to draw attention to the construction of the new Israeli "security" wall within the western border of the West Bank. This wall, commonly referred to as the apartheid wall, will confiscate over 30% of Palestinian land within the West Bank, including villages, water access and agricultural areas.

Despite sweltering heat and a rocky climb, demonstrators walked from the roadblock near Mas'ha through the village itself and converged on top of the hill where the camp exists. At the peace campsite, speeches were made by representatives of many groups including, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, the Land Defense Committee, Mas'ha Village Council, the International Women's Peace Service, the International Solidarity Movement, Gush Shalom, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, the Alternative Information Center, and Black Laundry. Many mentions were also made in support of the international peace activist presence that has recently come under fire from the Israeli Government.

Tanya Reinhardt a professor at TelAviv University said that 'Behind the smoke screen of "the road map" - a new fake "peace initiative", Israel is stealing Palestinian land. The wall is not built on the border line of 1967. When the plan for the wall was approved by the previous government in June 23, 2002, Peres said in protest that it amounts to annexing 22% of the Palestinian land to Israel. The route of the wall was since extended even deeper into Palestinian land. The military junta that rules Israel is driven by one goal - get as much of Palestinian land and water as possible. Farmers who are seperated from their land and means of livelihoods will be forced to move out of their villages. Thus the fence is a form of cruel transfer. What is happening in the Mas'ha camp is a new form of struggle. Palestinians and Israelis unite to break the barriers of the occupation and the Israeli military junta, to protect together Palestinian land, and to carry the message that a different future is possible of coexistence based on justice.

I salute the members of the international community who are present with us today. I admire your courage and determination, in these dark days, when Israel is killing members of the ISM, and declaring that their presence is illegal. Your presence carries the message that this is not just a local struggle of Palestinians and Israelis, but the struggle of all people of the world, who have not lost their conscience. Your presence gives us hope. The combined will of the people of the world, is bound to win.'

Together, this rally and these groups can stand as an example of true peace and cooperation between peoples, and work to build an international campaign against the Apartheid wall and the subsequent transfer of thousands of Palestinians.

Declaring the rally a success, organizers from all represented groups pledged to continue this campaign and work in support of unity amongst the people of Palestine, Israel and the world.

2-House demolished in Rafah ISM activists and Palestinians shot at by tank nearby Rafah, Gaza Strip.

At Approximately 7:15 PM on Friday, May 2, 2003, ISM Rafah was informed that the Israeli Military had begun to demolish a home in the Barazil area. In addition to the demolition crew, a tank was stationed nearby shooting, as it usually does, into the area. Two ISM activists approached the area to assess the situation. Using a strip light and megaphone, and wearing flourescent jackets, the ISM volunteers cautiously approached the tank and requested a pause in bulldozing to enable the family to remove their furniture. When the volunteers were approxamitely 20 meters from the tank, two or three Palestinians approached. The tank opened fire; the red flashes of two gun barrels were seen by both activists, who flung themselves to the ground. Further shots were fired, even after Palestinians retreated. The two internationals crawled through the dust and sand to a safer place behind a mound of earth, where they waited about ten minutes before walking across the road to relative safety.

ISM activists had been sleeping with the family in the targeted house for five weeks.

The IOF has been systematically demolishing houses in Rafah to clear a 100-meter "no-man's land" between the city and the Occupation Wall being built along the Egypt border. Thus far over 700 homes have been demolished in Rafah.


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