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Stop The Bulldozers In Kharbatha Bani Harith


Stop The Bulldozers In Kharbatha Bani Harith/Updates from Jenin

1/ Press Release: STOP THE BULLDOZERS IN KHARBATHA BANI HARITH 2/Journal: All Palestine, One Prison – Nablus, Tubas, Jenin…

Palestinians and International peace activists gather to stop the construction of the wall

[Kharbatha Bani Harith, RAMALLAH] Tomorrow, Sunday, March 21, 2004, people will gather in the surrounding lands of Kharbatha Bani Harith village, northwest Ramallah, at 6am to prevent the bulldozers from destroying more agricultural lands. The Israeli army started to work on the wall in this village after the work was ordered to stop for a week in the neighboring villages of Deir Qaddis and Al-Midya by a court decision on Monday, March 17.

During the last demonstration in Kharbatha Bani Harith, 4 Palestinians were injured by the Israeli military, 2 of which wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets in the upper part of the body. The villagers in the area of Budrus stand to lose thousands of dunums of land, including olive groves. The planned route of the wall will eventually turn the cluster of villages around Budrus into a prison for its residents, cutting them off from Ramallah, where most education and health facilities are located.

Villagers in the region of Budrus have been mobilized against the construction of the wall over the last two months and remain committed to nonviolent struggle for the preservation of their communities.

For more information, please contact: Anwar Nazne (local contact): +972.52.877.230 Abu Ahmed (local contact): +972.67.924.952 Erik (ISM volunteer): +972. 66.556.749 ISM Media Office: +972.22.77.46.02 =================================================================== 2/ All Palestine, One Prison – Nablus, Tubas, Jenin… By Kole 16 Mar 04

Today the Israeli army rolled into Balata camp once again, occupying two houses and declaring curfew on the residents who suddenly – once again – found themselves trapped in their homes. Today a ten-year old boy was arrested by the Israeli military for allegedly carrying 'explosive materials' from the agricultural village of Zawata into Nablus. Today, the Israeli army deployed an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), a Border Police jeep and razor wire, while issuing an order declaring the Salem crossing/base a 'closed military area' (CMA) to the 30 Palestinians and two internationals that had come to hold a peaceful vigil in solidarity with political prisoner Hussam Khader.

On Saturday, we witnessed an Israeli military raid on the village of Taluza. For six hours Israeli army and Border Police jeeps enforced a curfew on the village. Occasionally the bored soldiers would simulate sex over the loudspeakers installed in the jeeps, or make screeching noises. Off in the distance on the road towards Assira Shamaliya one could see a group of soldiers, in two jeeps, jumping up and down on the roof of their vehicles, which were parked near two Palestinian homes. Such antics were occasionally punctuated by the sound of gunfire in the village, coming from the barrels of the soldiers M16s.

A driver who had the misfortune of driving down the road at that very moment was detained by this same group of soldiers for half-an- hour. He was made to get out of his vehicle approach one jeep, then the other, then sent back to the first jeep and then back to his car, and on, and on, and on. While sitting in the car, waiting for these 18 year old kids with guns to determine if they should let him go or if they will detain him, the soldiers would flash their roof- mounted spotlights into his car and play with the intensity of the beams or the pitch and volume of their sirens.

Eventually, the troops had enough with the cruel power that they were exercising over the driver and let him pass, although not everyone in Taluza was so fortunate on that day. Ali Shoukad El- Fares, 35, died in his home of a heart-attack after the Israeli military called his name over the loudspeakers, making him the villages thirteenth martyr during the Intifada. The local Imam, Sheikh Mazen, told us that the heart-attack was probably induced given Ali's fear of returning to Israeli military prisons were he had suffered greatly at the hands of his jailers. That night Ali was buried in the dead of the night. Like in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, this was yet another death that current history – which is shaped by the international corporate media these days - would pass by without a mention.

In Jenin yesterday, at the offices of the General Union of Palestinian Women, we attended an exhibition of traditional Palestinian needlework. Two sisters explained to us the story behind a corner of the room infused with intensely political pieces. They told us that their sister Arij Mustafah Uruq – one of the 78 Palestinian women held in the complex of IOF prisons that span the length of the area from the Mediteranean to the Jordan river – was arrested on the 27th of July, 2003 for alleged involvement in militant activities. Her military trial will be on the 13th of April of this year and they hope to see their sister then. The occasional letters that the family receives from Arij inspired the older sister to make a needlework piece depicting a chained arm pulling at a wall within which a map of Palestine seems lodged. The slogan above the piece sums up the feelings of many in Palestine: "It is better to die than to face the hell of these prisons."

And all over Palestine, the confinement of a prison has increasingly become the norm for ordinary workers, peasants, teachers, students, men and women of all ages and political affiliations. Palestinians confined in the Gaza strip. Palestinians confined in Al-Mawarna, a ghetto within the larger ghetto that is Gaza. The Palestinians caught in the new enclaves created by the wall, like Qalqilya, behind Um al Rihan, the villages around Baqa ash Sharqiya, the Palestinian villages near the colonial settlement of Alfe Menashe, the people of Azzun Atma and so on and so forth. Not to mention all the villages in Palestine that are closed to vehicular traffic and cut-off from the main urban centers of the West Bank and Gaza; Palestinians trapped in 'closed military areas', in areas designated as 'Area C' during Oslo; Palestinians trapped in Hebron's old city; Palestinians trapped in Nablus under closure; Palestinians trapped in their homes during curfews; Palestinians detained at checkpoints; Palestinians in prison, including hundreds of child prisoners like Tareq Mahazne (12), Jafa Dararme (12) and Ibrahim Sawafta (14) who were arrested on February 26th of this year in the Tubas region.

There is hardly a man one meets in Palestine who hasn't been to prison at some point in his life. There are 600,000 such stories since the beginning of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. There are also more than 3.8 million such stories from the Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed from their homes in 1948, who suffer from another form of confinement – unable to return to their villages, their lands, their pastures, their homes that they were forced to abandon in haste. Maybe this is why Hussam Khader is so threatening to the Israelis? A refugee, from Balata, a critic of the occupation, and someone who persists in resisting even while in prison or brought before a military tribunal that is a travesty of justice.

Yet there are 7,500 cases like Hussam's at the moment. On early Thursday morning, 5 more men were arrested in the Balata refugee camp, three brothers from the Assi family and two members of the Harb/Odi family. One of them was Ahmed Ismail Harb Odi (21) who has never spent a day in prison, as his father explained in a state of shock. Ahmed was an accounting student at Al-Quds Open University in Nablus. He was also a local organizer with the Youth Charitable Care Society (YCCS), which seeks to improve the condition of youth in the camp. In so much as helping set up safe spaces like a women's-only Internet Café, working on creating a youth centre and hanging out with friends or studying is a 'security threat' Ahmed seems to have fit the bill of a typical 'subversive' for occupation regimes. It's now more than four days since the arrest and his family and friends have still barely heard a word from their son and why he was arrested, other than the fact that he's being held at the Huwwara detention facility.

There are more statistics like the ones cited above, more figures, more additions to the calculus of occupation. Each figure with a human face attached to it, a name, a story. These are the stories of the occupation, and they continue every day. "If you remember all the sadness you will be suffering all your life," says a student from the Al-Quds Open University in Jenin as we pass a shot-up falafel shop aptly named 'New Beirut.' Amira Hass recently wrote that words have failed us, that the surreal fantasy that is life in Palestine cannot be conveyed to those who have never tasted it, who've never had to drive through olive groves, and off the main roads, with lights turned off in the dead of the night in order to bring one's wife to the nearest city in order that your child could be born.

This is a reality in which Umm Mohamed adopts internationals visiting her home with great care and generous portions of home made bread, cheese and jam because she hasn't seen her own children in months, even though they study less than 10 km away. A reality in which Wadi-el-Bidan, the main thoroughfare from Taluza to Nablus, is sealed off by earthmounds, crushed roadway and guarded by a tank. A reality in which a new watchtower, colonial settlement, military base, by-pass road, wall, gate, fence, barrier, is being built, erected, expanded, moved, etc. every day in order to further hem you in. A reality in which these processes are dubbed 'democratic', 'visionary', 'moderate' and 'peaceful' – a reality in which a largely non-violent resistance to these acts is dubbed as 'terrorist' and in which those opposing such policies are branded with all sorts of epithets. A reality in which patients at the Red Cross clinic in Tubas weigh themselves on a scale that is punctured by a bullet hole, in which bullets occur as frequently as change on the street, and in which the streets are punctured by the markings of tank-threads.

It's a pity that those peddling justifications for colonial domination are currently given more space in public debates in North America and Europe than are those voices demanding justice. Justice not only for Palestine, but for the entire South, which is being systematically stripped of the fruits of hundreds of years of anti- colonial struggle and is being denied meaningful forms of self- determination. This is a tragedy that is not only besetting Palestine, but is also infusing the logics of occupation in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti. It is a logic that informs the relations between conqueror and conquered, between oppressor and oppressed. It is a logic in which the native inhabitants of settler-colonial societies must be prevented from exercising real freedom, in which the logics of apartheid dominate, in which a system of global and borderless capitalism imposes a regimented order of confinement and militarization on a burgeoning and impoverished mass of humanity. It is these logics that are at play here, with both their regional particularities and their universally relevant lessons. Can all these tragedies be recorded without registering any note of doubt among their authors?

Given the current 'peace initiatives' and 'peacemaking' projects on the table, initiatives that leave no room for real Palestinian self- determination, that have resulted in the invasions of Iraq, the overthrow of Aristide, the left's silence during the US-backed genocide in the DR Congo, one can only pause and wonder what the next steps need to be in building true international solidarity that can stem this threatening offensive. As the colonial logics that informed the dispossession of Palestinians in the early part of the 20th century are being revived and globalized the call to globalize the Intifada has never been more pressing....

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