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Updates- 'Anin/Nablus/Rafah/Jayyous


Updates- 'Anin/Nablus/Rafah/Jayyous

1. Press Release-Access Denied in `Anin 2. Systematic humiliation in Asira by Kelly 3. An Eyewitness view from Rafah by Emma 4. Optimistic Reality-A Report from `Anin Action by Greta 5. Report from Jayyous Action by Ora

Press Release August 17th 2003

ACCESS DENIED IN `ANIN! 12 Farmers Enter Land in Symbolic Victory

[`Anin, Occupied Palestine] 450 Palestinian, Israeli, and international protestors confronted over 50 heavily-armed soldiers yesterday near the Apartheid Wall surrounding `Anin yesterday. They succeeded in forcing the Israeli military to allow 12 Palestinian farmers, accompanied by two TV crews, access to the fields they own on the far of the Wall.

Meanwhile, 400 villagers were denied entry to their property. At gun- point, the villagers, peacefully demonstrating for their right to farm, had to negotiate for over three hours in the sun before the delegates were allowed through for a three-hour window. Previous attempts to pass through the gate, and others like it in Jayyous and Deir al-Ghasoon, have been met with violence from the military.

During the demonstration, Israeli activist group Ta'ayush was engaged in farming the fields on the far side of the Wall, in order to prevent the 15,000 olive trees there from withering and dying. One international, asking not to be identified for fear of problems with Israeli security, said "The Israeli occupation is trying to look humane for the cameras. The land is owned by the Palestinians, and they should not have to beg soldiers to remove razor wire in order to access it."

At one point, eyewitnesses report that a young soldier told the Palestinian negotiating team, "You can come back in October, when the trees are ready." The level of agricultural training of the soldier is yet unconfirmed.

The Apartheid Wall in `Anin has stolen more than 500 acres of land from the farmers, an area equivalent to over two-thirds of Central Park in Manhattan, or approximately one-third of George W. Bush's summer ranch. 4,500 olive trees were uprooted in the process of building the wall. Greta B., an activist from Los Angeles, after surveying the 50-meter wide swath cut into the landscape by the Wall, said, "This destruction is a form of terrorism."

The Mayor of `Anin, one of the symbolic delegation allowed through the military gate to the fields of `Anin, proclaimed, "We will not cease our demands because we have been thrown a bone. We will continue until our right to our own land is recognized."

August 11, 2003

SYSTEMATIC HUMILIATION AT ASIRA

42 Palestinians were detained by Sabah Tash mountain between the village of Asira and Nablus from 10.00 am until 10.00 pm today. This included 12 women, two young toddlers, a cancer patient and a man with a chronic heart condition. For 12 hours the people were continually threatened, humiliated and prevented from going to their homes.

Every day people travel from Asira to Nablus for work, university, medical care and supplies. The only accessible route to Nablus is over the mountain on the northern outskirts of Nablus. Passage is made impossible for automobiles by roadblocks while patrolling soldiers make access on foot extremely dangerous. Crossing is dependent upon the chance positioning of soldiers. Every day people are detained for hours; in the past two weeks, five Palestinians have been shot and injured on the mountain. Consequently, the villagers have begun leaving their homes at 2.00 am in an attempt to avoid the military.

When ISMers arrived at 5.00 pm, the soldiers were forcefully dragging a sick man on his knees to the valley where the detainees were being held. The man has a heart condition that was aggravated by the heat and was unable to stand by himself. The soldiers denied him medical care. During the next five hours, the soldiers continually marched the detainees up and down the mountain in the dark, forcing them to crawl through spikey brambles and dangerous rocks. The aggression towards the Palestinians was unrelenting, pushing and threatening them with their guns. The soldiers refused to allow the Palestinians to use toilet facilities, their mobile phones, or to smoke.

At 9.45 pm the soldiers informed the activists that they were planning to place the Palestinians in a circle to scream and frighten them before allowing people to leave. Before release, each Palestinian was isolated, made to stare into an interrogation light and threatened with being the only person sent back to Nablus. Finally, the soldiers made each person chant a self-degrading phrase in Hebrew.

Throughout the twelve hour ordeal, the soldiers attempted to force the Palestinians back to Nablus. However, the people refused, claiming their right to return to their homes. They refused to leave until they were allowed to pass. The women chanted in solidarity, "Yella! Yella!" [let's go! let's go!] to the soldiers, displaying their continued resistance to the occupation despite enduring daily terror and humiliation.

For more information:

Kelly [972] 055 735 158 Mika [972] 054 641 245

August 15, 2003 Rafah, Gaza Strip

Last night there was rapid machine gun fire, small explosions, and sniper shooting along the border, throughout the night. Many of the shots were aimed at the sky, and some at the sides of buildings. No one was injured. The other day my father called me to check in. He asked if I had heard about the recent suicide bombings in Israel. I said yes, and asked if he had heard about Israel's continued violations of the ceasefire. He hadn't. I thought about the media in the United States, and how it's hard for people to believe all of the heinous things that the Israeli military is doing to Palestinians, while the media are spoonfeeding the world an entirely different story. It is important to look at Israel's actions during the ceasefire in order to understand the acceleration of violence in the last few days. We cannot ignore the walls that are still being built entirely around the West Bank and Gaza, and the prisoners that Israel refuses to release, many of whom have still never been tried after years in jail. We must not ignore the assassinations and incursions that Israel was carrying out in the West Bank before Palestinians took any action outside of the agreements of the ceasefire. Two days ago, at our regular English lessons with high school students in Rafah, a conversation developed surrounding the word `violence.' There was a question asked about Palestinian violence. The students refused the question based on the assumption thatactions taken by Palestinians against the Israeli occupation are violence. The students explained to us that a people under occupation legally have the right to oppose this occupation, and that this is resistance, not violence. Since the conversation I have been thinking a lot about resistance. Considering the inhumane actions taken daily by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians, and the circumstances in which in the West Bank and Gaza they have been trapped inside small areas and occupied, do they not have the right to resist? If the choice is to resist in any way possible, or die silenced, what would you do? I reiterate that I believe 100 % in non-violent resistance, which is what I am currently doing in Rafah. I also believe we have a lot to learn from the voices of the Palestinians who are living under occupation on a daily basis.

Emma

16th August, Jenin

This computer room is air conditioned, a luxury in Jenin where water is scarce thanks to the Israeli settlers stealing most of it. They have dug under the Palestinian water table, draining off the water for their gardens and swimming pools, leaving the Palestinians with little to tend their fruit and olive trees. In mid-summer it is hot, dusty and oppressive. A group of 30 internationals went to Anin today to participate in an action against the Apartheid Wall enclosing the farmlands, making it impossible for farmers to tend their olive trees. We were joined by Ta'ayush, an Israeli peace group that was going to farm the other side, the side Israel has expropriated. We came face to face with 50 Israeli soldiers and the border police at the gate. Someone wryly said that the best thing the internationals could do was drive the Israeli military crazy and make them spend money coming to every action we design. The soldiers refused to allow Palestinians to farm their land, stubbornly saying they could only farm in October when the olive trees were ready. Of course, if they have to wait until October, many of the trees will have withered and died for lack of attention. A large group of us stood on the huge hill, waving Palestinian flags and banners, hemmed in on one side by the ubiquitous razor wire that defaces Palestine like some enormous gash across the countryside, and the steep drop-off of the rocks. We started to walk down to the gate. It's hard to visualize, but the gate is l5 feet high, set inside a 15-foot fence topped with razor wire, then sunk into a concrete base. Along each side is a wide road for military vehicles only, meaning acres of land have been stolen. Since the IOF feared we internationals would try to tear down the gate again, they have installed two huge rolls of razor wire in front of the wall. These cut across what was once the road to the farmers' fields. To go down the hill, we had to pass the sour-faced soldiers, sweating in their uniforms. The internationals held the banners, the Palestinians held the flags and the shovels to work their land, the military held the guns, gun belts, rocket launchers, stun grenades, and tear gas launchers. Every time I see this, I shake my head in disbelief that Americans are so damned stupid they actually think it is Palestinians who are the terrorists. During a radio interview two days ago, I told the interviewer that the only terror I have seen here in the past month has been against Palestinians. To equate two Israeli deaths from suicide bombers with l5 Palestinian deaths over these past six weeks is really quite evil. Finally, the soldiers agreed a three-hour window where 12 farmers could go and farm on the other side of the fence, accompanied by two TV crews. It is important to remember that this land belongs to Palestine, not Israel. The `security fence' is the most heinous device yet thought up by Israel, all in the name of some chimera they call `security'. More Israelis die on the road every year than have died as a result of the bombings. Maybe what Israel should really do is ban driving. In the face of so much aggression against the Palestinians, and knowing that a Palestinian will be killed as I sit here typing this, I wonder if we internationals make a difference. Today, the army held fire. Tomorrow we go onto the next action. And the day after the next. We're hot, sweaty and tired. But we always know that we have the luxury of leaving. The Palestinians don't, and the ethnic cleansing by the Israeli government continues. If they don't kill them, they will starve them out by taking their land, their water, their food, their animals. That the Palestinians are so persistent is the one optimistic reality I have learned, for nothing else even looks like hope. Greta

067-981126 _________________________________________________________________

August 15, 2003 Jayyous Region

Activists from Yesh Gvul, the ISM, Palestinian Peace Activists of Jayyous, and the Land Defense Committee, joined the villagers of Ras Atiya and Ras Tira in a 200 person demonstration against the wall that now divides the villages. The demonstration was organized by the Committee Against the Settlements. Demonstrators came from both sides of the fence and gathered in the road with songs and signs against the Occupation and the Apartheid Wall.

The village of Ras Tira, along with a number of other Palestinian villages, have been isolated on the side of the wall that Israel is claiming, as a result of Israel's attempt keep the illegal settlement of Alphe Menashe within their official borders. When the school that Ras Tira and Ras Atiya share opens on September 9, the children of Ras Tira will be at the whim of the soldiers at the gate who will decide whether or not they can go to school each day.

The demonstrators successfully blocked the road for an hour despite the attempt of a member of the security forces to break up the demonstration by driving his van through the crowd. The Palestinians then moved into the gate in front of the school while a line of internationals blocked the entry of the border patrol, police, and army upon their arrival. Palestinian and Israeli press present were harassed by soldiers, including the confiscation of a number of id cards and the destruction of equipment.

In the reclaimed space within the gate, Palestinian farmers and activists, along with an ISM representative, delivered speeches to the crowd. At around 1pm, despite increasing army aggression, the Palestinian demonstrators gathered for the Friday afternoon prayer as internationals continued to hold the gate open.

At one point, one of the Wall construction company's security guards grabbed an ISM activist by the throat, and later attacked a member of Yesh Gvul, resulting in the Israeli activist being detained for a half-hour. Despite this, the demonstration concluded with no injuries or arrests amongst Palestinians and internationals. After demonstrators headed towards home in Ras Tira or to the school in Ras Atiya, the soldiers closed the gate as punishment. Palestinian and international activists in the region have already begun to discuss future solidarity organizing with the school as it opens in September. The Palestinian Peace Activists of Jayyous expressed satisfaction that the protest was well-organized and powerful.

Ora

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