Peace Camp Against the Wall
Peace Camp Against the Wall
Jenin 9 Jul 03 Jordan
Palestinian villagers and international activists at Peace Camp in path of Apartheid Wall face harassment and threats of violence
Last Sunday, another solidarity camp went up in the West Bank in protest over the thievery of land and in an attempt to stop the apartheid wall being built by the government of Israel. Citizens from the USA, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK joined Palestinian villagers as they set up a peace camp in the village Arrabony in the north of the West Bank. In the two days since they started the camp, they’ve faced harrassment from the Israeli military and threats of violence from Israeli paramilitary forces.
Arrabony is a village by the northern border of the occupied West Bank, 8 km northeast of Jenin, with around 900 inhabitants. This small village is another one of dozens of Palestinian villages, towns and cities that will be affected with lands stolen and the livelihood of inhabitants devastated, by Israel’s Apartheid Wall. With the wall complete 800 dunums of land will be confiscated from the people of Arrabony, leaving approximately 2000 dunums in the hands of the villagers - with much of this remaining land difficult to access because of the Wall.
Since the camp was set up, activists have faced threats and harassment - from the Israeli Military, from heavily armed security guards working for the Israeli company building that section of the Wall, and from Israeli settlers. Activists have been threatened with violence, removal, or arrest.
Throughout, there has been steady and enthusiastic support from the people of the village of Arrabony. Men, women, and children have been a twenty-four-hour presence at the camp, and are coming every day in greater numbers. Activities at the camp include games and sports, music, and more. With the increase in harassment has come an increased determination.
In the first day, the camp was immediately visited by soldiers and armed guards, who threatened to arrest everyone present. The international activists responded that they were there at the request of the people of the village, and didn’t recognize Israeli military authority over the area. The military returned the following day - this time soldiers photographed international activists and local villagers, and attempted to single out and target one Palestinian activist.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the building contractors came early in the morning with armed guards, and began marking the ground in the center of the camp. Later in the day, armed guards threatened to destroy the camp. In the early evening, heavily armed Israeli settlers twice entered the camp.
Similar protest Camps have been set up and are maintained in Deir Ghosoon (Tulkarem region), Mas’ha (Salfit region) and Jayyous (Qalqilya region), where farmers are camping out on their land, which has already been isolated from them.
We invite all people to join us in one of these areas against the confiscation of land and the creation of Palestinian ghettos, and we invite journalists not to ignore the voices of the people and the devastating facts that Israel continues to create on the ground, despite talks about peace and a \"roadmap\".
2. Report from Qalqiliya
Qalqilia 8 Jul 03 Brooke
This morning a group of 5 international acitivsts went to the Qalqilia checkpoint for checkpoint watch at 9:00 am and upon arrival found that the Isaeli Occupyiong Forces had apprehended a taxi cab. Two ISM activists asked a local resident what the situation was and he informed us that the taxi driver had been detained. The activists agreed that to investigate the situation. They approached the man with success, he was told that he would be released shortly, and was released. The flow of movement of Palestinians trying to enter and leave Qalqilia was steady and constant for the most part. A delegation of 6 internationals came for a meeting from Jayous and were forced to wait at the entrance to Qalqilia for over an hour, they then attempted sucessfully to enter by just walking in without the soldiers’ permission. Shortly after this, a commander repeatedly asked the ISM group doing Later in the morning another group of internationals and the local coordinator went to meet with a community leader that works with the families of martyrs in Qalqilia (doing things like helping coordinate aid from NGO’s for things like the rebuilding of homes which have been demolished by the IOF and organzing support groups for family members) and who also acts as a liaison for NGO’s who need things from the Palestinian Authority. The purpose of the meeting was to dicsuss ISM’s role in the local community and plans for the Freedom Summer Campaign. The community leader welcomed the ISM activists to Qalqilia and thanked them for coming to Palestine. The community leader stressed the importance of ISM activists building relationships with the local community and local community leaders and that stability, credibility, and accountability on the part of ISM activists in Qalqilia wil The soccer match the ISM activists attended was historic, it was the first time Qalqilia’s team had been able to play against the team from Tul Karm in three years, even though Tul Karm is only 10km from Qalqilia, due to the restriction of movement imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli Occupying Forces. In oder to ensure that the game would happen, the soccer players from Tul Karm had come to Qalqilia the night before and stayed in Qalqilia overnight.
Later in the evening, the ISM activists met with six fathers of martyrs from Qalqilia and together all went to visit the family of the most recently killed martyr from Qalqilia. 30-year-old Mahmoud Shawar was assassinated by the Israeli Occupying Forces in the early hours of July, 3 2003 - a violation of the current cease-fire agreement. We met with his wife, four young children, his mother, his sisters, and his brother. Mahmoud was shot first in the legs and then the chest. A friend who was with him laid on top of him to try to save him and the soldiers shot the friend and arrested him. The soldiers killed Mahmoud by shooting him in the back of the head at close range after he had been left to suffer for some time from the earlier gunshots. The ISM activists have been invited to meet with other families of martyrs in Qalqilia to document their stories.
3. Report from from Qalqiliya Checkpoint
Qalqilia 9 Jul 03 Alex
6 ISM members arrived at approximately 10:00 to find a relatively smooth flow of people. After about 2 hours They were approached by two young soldiers, the junior of which told them, in English, that they had to leave. The soldiers were assured that there was no problem, and without being specific, that the group were waiting on some friends to arrive. After negotiating for 10/15 minutes, the soldiers agreed to give them 20 more minutes to leave. This would take them to 12:30, but at approx 12:25 they noticed two trucks full of soil, and two checkpoint police cars go past. They contacted the local coordinator to tell him, fearing that the soldiers may attempt to build another illegal roadblock, and were told to meet immediately at a convenient location. It later transpired that the coordinator had understood the trucks to be Special forces, and as this was not the case, and nothing
MEETING THE MAYOR
That afternoon, 8 members of Qalqilia’s ISM unit met with the mayor of Qalqilia. He received us in his office and began with a historical account of the suffering of the peoples of Qualqilia from the 1948 declaration of Israel until the present day. He told us of the systematic betrayal and exploitation this town has suffered at the hands of the Israeli forces. Between the years of 1956 and 1965, we were informed, the Israeli military had destroyed the infrastructure of this once bustling market town. In this period the police, water and gas stations were destroyed by the occupying forces. The mayor went on to tell us of the displacement of 17000 Qalqilia residents to Jordan and the evacuation of the city, after which only the refugees in the local area (not those relocated to Jordan) were allowed to return. In 1996, we were informed, the Israeli military seized The Western side of
At 2pm border police blocked a road. ISM members arrived to find four soldiers harassing civilians. Two Palestinian members of the group were isolated from other members who were ordered to retreat 100 metre’s and turn their backs. The two Palestinian members’ bags were searched, and they were \"frisked\" in the street. ISM members eventually retreated as it was apparent that the soldiers were adamant, and were gesturing toward their guns. After completing the search, the soldiers stopped harassing the civilians, and removed the temporary checkpoint. As ISM members returned, the soldiers drove away.
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