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International Solidarity Update


International Solidarity Update

1. Freedom March Challenges Matrix of Control: Non-Violent Protestors Overwhelm Israeli Army, Palestinians Pass Freely for First Time

2. Report on Freedom March: Resistance to the Wall in Beitunia and Budrus

3. Nablus Update: Violence and Death Continue

4. Gaza Radio: Life and Death in Rafah Refugee Camp-the Importance of Independent Palestinian Media

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1. Freedom March Challenges Qalandiya Checkpoint: Non-Violent Protestors Overwhelm Israeli Army

Today, for the first time since the establishment by the Israeli military of the Qalandiya checkpoint at the beginning of the second Intifada, Palestinians, internationals and Israeli activists marched through the Qalandiya checkpoint without showing any identification to Israeli soldiers. This successful rejection of Israeli efforts to imprison Palestinians came during the final days of the Freedom Walk along the path of Israel's Apartheid Wall from Jenin to Jerusalem. Qalandiya checkpoint is a heavily fortified checkpoint of concrete and barbed wire separating Ramallah from Jerusalem where thousands of Palestinians are forced to line up daily in the sun and rain and to show ID in order to pass. Qalandiya is now becoming the only gateway in Israel's Apartheid Wall for Palestinians wishing to travel between their homes, work an places of worship in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Today, approximately 1000 Palestinians, internationals and Israelis marched from Ramallah to Qalandiya checkpoint to protest Israel's strategy of imprisoning the Palestinian people through the Apartheid Wall, checkpoints and other measures. The peaceful marchers were met at Qalandiya by Israeli military jeeps and more than one hundred soldiers. The Israeli Soldiers fired live ammunition directly over the heads of the protestors and at the ground near their feet. Despite teargas, shooting and efforts to physically bar the marchers, approximately 40 Palestinians, accompanied by 80 international and Israeli activists, managed to move through the crowd of Israeli jeeps soldiers and reach the Jerusalem side of the checkpoint. The activists took over the checkpoint, raising a number of large Palestinian flags and spray painting anti-occupation messages all over the illegal concrete barriers. The marchers celebrated and chanted upon reaching the other side of the checkpoint. The marchers then returned to the Ramallah side of the checkpoint to aid Palestinians who had come under assault by the Israeli military. As the marchers had approached the checkpoint earlier, some Palestinian boys began throwing rocks from a long distance at the heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Over 30 soldiers then began firing rubber bullets and some live ammunition at the boys and the crowd of Palestinian women, men and children who were attempting to pass through the checkpoint. Palestinian, international and Israeli activists stood beside and in front of the soldiers to deter them from injuring civilians. Eventually the group of activists formed a human chain of about 100 meters directly in front of the soldiers, de-escalating the violence by forcing the soldiers to stop shooting. The activists blocked a jeep that attempted to force its way through the crowd and surrounded a group of ten Israeli soldiers that sprinted around the chain of peace activists. With the gunfire halted, the activists then gradually withdrew from the area, accompanying the residents of Qalandiya refugee camp back to their homes. The Freedom Walk is highlighting the theft of Palestinian land and the devastation to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian lives caused by the Apartheid Wall, and is supporting Palestinians in non- violently resisting the Wall. The Freedom Walk is expected to reach the city of Jerusalem on Friday.

For Photos of the march on Qalandiya:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/pictures/ismphotos.php

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2. Report on Freedom March: Resistance to the Wall in Beitunia and Budrus

The Freedom March reached the town of Beitunia outside of Ramallah on August 17. The 60 international and 20 Palestinian participants walked peacefully towards the intended path of the Israeli Apartheid Wall to find one bulldozer clearing away more of Beitunia's lands for the construction of the Wall.

The several members of Beitunia's popular committee to resist the Wall and local council told those present in the March that Beitunia had not mobilized its people for a large, popular demonstration, but they did say they were supportive of any action agreed upon by the marchers.

While the community was describing the devastating effects of the Apartheid Wall, two private security trucks arrived and told everyone to leave the construction site. The international and Palestinian activists then made a decision to continue to walk forward along the path of the Wall currently tearing the town of Beitunia away from its land.

As the marchers began to advance towards the bulldozer along the path of the Wall, more private security and at least three-four jeeps of Israeli soldiers arrived and attempted to keep the march from nonviolently progressing through Beitunia's land. The internationals and Palestinians were aggressively and violently pushed back by the security and soldiers, with some of the demonstrators being punched, choked and kicked. Despite this violence the marchers continued walking and chanting until they were about 20 meters away from the bulldozer.

The March then turned and continued to walk along the Wall path in the direction opposite of the bulldozer. While still posing no threat to the soldiers, security officers or Wall construction present, the international and Palestinian activists were treated with the same violent tactics. At one point, a soldier fired four- five live rounds of ammunition into the air to threaten the activists.

The March continued peacefully for another several hundred meters until walking back towards the town of Beitunia for a midday rest.

The violence used against completely peaceful demonstrators is typical of how the Israeli military has attempted to crush nonviolent resistance. Beitunia is one example of this.

In April 2004, bulldozers began uprooting trees on Beitunia's lands. The town leaders estimate that 16,000 of Beitunia's total 20,000 dunams will be either isolated behind the Wall or completely destroyed to make way for its path.

During the second demonstration protesting the land destruction and confiscation caused by the Wall, the Israeli military responded by shooting 17 year old Hussein Al-Ayan, in the head, killing him instantly. The Israeli military claimed they only used rubber bullets at this demonstration and fired at someone throwing a Molotov cocktail, but eyewitnesses and medical experts counter this claim and state that Hussein could have only been shot by live ammunition from the gun of a sniper (since the demonstrators were at least one hundred meters away from the military – this distance also makes it impossible to throw a Molotov cocktail). Since the murder of Hussein and the devastation it caused for the local community, Beitunia has been unable to mobilize for any anti-Wall demonstrations.

Today, Beitunia once again saw that nonviolent peaceful resistance to the Wall is possible. All those present once again witnessed the repressive policies of the Israeli military as it attempts to suppress any resistance to the Israeli Occupation and Apartheid Wall, even if it is completely nonviolent and poses no threat to Israel or its inhabitants.

For Photos of Beitunia protest see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/pictures/ismphotos.php

Update from the March in Budrus:

On Wednesday, August 11 the Freedom March arrived in Budrus. The march traveled thru the villages east of Jerusalem and south of Ramallah brought a sense of hope and success to the freedom march and the villagers. The march is a culmination of work for many of the communities who have organized sustained resistance to the Israeli apartheid wall. Local initiatives with international support have succeeded in slowing down and even stopping the construction of the wall in several areas the marchers passed thru yesterday and today.

After 38 demonstrations from January to February, the village of Budrus succeeded in pushing the walls path out to the green line. A legal battle resulted in a victory for the villagers on February 28, 2004 when the Israeli court issued it's first stop work order. On June 20, 2004 the Israeli High Court decided that the path of the wall here was illegal. "The hope here is that thru mobilization efforts on the ground and higher legal efforts together we can stop the wall." Said one marcher. "The march is very good. Tell all the people on the outside, " said one marcher form the old city of Nablus. A long days walk thru a culmination of successes opened up the possibilities of what the Palestinian people can accomplish.

The march in Budrus filled the protestors with a sense of hope and fulfillment and villagers a strengthened conviction in the power of Palestinian resistance to the Wall.

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3. Update from Nablus: Violence Continues with More Deaths

Eight year old child is shot thru the heart and killed by Israeli army in Nablus, August 17.

The killing and wounding of civilians by the Israeli Army continues unabated today in Nablus occupied Palestine. International human rights activists and Palestinian groups are calling for the international community to act now to stop deadly Israeli military violence against the civilian population of the city. In the past week dozens of residents have been wounded, several fatally. Scores of families homes have been invaded, searched, vandalized and occupied by the army. On Tuesday it was reported that Khaled Al-Usta, 8 years old, was killed instantly by Israeli gun fire. Eight other residence were reportedly hospitalized after suffering from tear gas. Twenty-four people are reported to have been injured on Tuesday.

"Everything they could destroy they destroyed!" reported on International visiting an apartment building occupied by the Israelis in a refugee camp . Rebecca reported the soldiers stole a woman's gold necklace and her gold jewelry after forcing many family's into one apartment while they searched the others. The Ein Beit Al-Ma' refugee camp was also attacked by the army.

Local hospitals reported the following wounded or killed:

On Monday, Zaher Al-Adham, 29 years old, was shot dead in the old city of Nablus while reportedly standing on the balcony of his home. Ali Yousef Ma'rouf, 20 years old, sustained a bullet to his stomach, Majdi Abdo, 18, sustained a gunshot injury to his arm, Hadi Al-sarlaji and Adi Hajjawi, both sustained injuries to their thighs, Jihad Amer, 20, sustained two bullets; one to the thigh and one to his stomach. . The Israeli Army has reportedly blocked ambulances and medical teams from reaching and evacuating wounded residents. Mohammad Al-Fayoumi, 17 years old, sustained a gunshot injury to his chest Mohammad Al-Hourani, 16 years, from Balata refugee camp, was shot dead when soldiers fired several shots at him from a military post. As of Wednesday, August 18, Al Ein Camp has been under total curfew for four days. Israeli soldiers raided and ransacked Palestinian homes in Al Ein Camp and blew-up one home. The Israeli Army ordered all men from the ages 16 to 40 to leave their homes. At the time of this report approximately 200 men are being detained in the school at the edge of the camp. ISM activists attempted to go to the school but were barred by the Israeli Army.

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4. CKUT Radio: Life and Death in Rafah Refugee Camp, Gaza

Listen to an interview with Mohamed Omar, an independent Palestinian journalist from Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Mohamed is the creator of the independent news website Rafah Today, which documents life and death in the Gaza Strip. Mohamed, who's home was recently demolished by the Israeli military, speaks about the importance of an independent media movement in Palestine to document and uncover the often hidden realities of the Israeli occupation.

The interview outlines the current situation in Rafah, focusing on the constant Israeli Occupation Forces incursions into Rafah refugee camp, while also exploring the aftermath of the massive Israeli military incursion dubbed "Operation Rainbow" in late May 2004. The Israeli incursion made international headlines, bringing condemnation from the United Nations and the majority of nations throughout the world. The late May incursion saw many Palestinians killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed, leaving thousands homeless until today.

-> To listen to the interview with Mohamed Omar visit: http://www.radio.indymedia.org/news/2004/08/2244.php

-> To view Mohamed Omar's website Rafah Today visit: http://www.rafahtoday.org

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