ISM Update: Detained Activist & Budrus Report
ISM Update on Detained Activist and a Report from Budrus
1. "The Waiting Room" UK activist arrested Sunday, in Kufr Thulth, Salfit region remains in detention; Report from the detention center
2. The Meaning of Sumud, Budrus, November 1, 2004-11-09
1."The Waiting Room" UK activist arrested Sunday, in Kufr Thulth, Salfit region remains in detention; Report from the detention center
Report via mobile phone from the detention center in Hadera, North of Israel
I'm in the waiting room. I've done a lot of waiting in the last two days; waiting to be questioned; waiting to be charged; waiting to be released; and now I am waiting to be deported. Yet these few hours could never compare to the endless waiting that the dispossessed nation of Palestine has had to endure since 1948. Day in, day out, they wait, at checkpoints, in prison, behind walls and gates, they wait to harvest their crops, to go to school, to see a doctor…and the waiting continues.
Why is it that the kindness and compassion of oppressed people chokes my throat and wells my eyes? A chocolate wafer biscuit was that act of kindness in the deportation room; crying women in post- soviet states, who have to leave this inhospitable land of Israel. Each individual story may be different, but I imagine they are weeping for the same reason-the same shattered dreams of funding their children through school with money earned cleaning toilets in rich people's homes. For the younger women, the thought of returning home to a life without opportunity or ambition; and I think about the reason that they are even here at all-to fill the jobs left vacant by Israel's previous cheap labor, the Palestinians.
I feel overcome with anger, despair and a sick, sick feeling of powerlessness. I know on my stronger days, I believe we can fight the injustice and we must. But, here, today, I don't want to be motivated or energized. I just want to sit here and be sad.
Random conversations with Israelis tend to depress me. My taxi driver last night told me that when he was a child he used to go with his father to Palestinian towns to shop and eat at their restaurants. Now he thinks that the wall must be built, so that the Israeli army can control the Palestinian people. I explained to him that the wall will annex approximately 50% of the West Bank. He says that a fair price to pay for the security of Israelis.
A conversation about British comedy shows on TV with the security guards here in the detention room, becomes an outlet for opinion- that the United States should bomb Iran, because the people who live there are animals, not humans. I think I will stop talking to people now. Instead I will focus on the bland stars on U.S. dating show, with Hebrew subtitles.
Statement from Hannah prior to the report:
So, yesterday I was arrested. I was at a demonstration in the Palestinian village of Kfur Thulth, with a large number of international and Israeli activists supporting the villagers in their protest against the continuing theft of their land by the Israeli military and by illegal settlement expansion. Two plain clothes policemen targeted me and told me they wanted to ask me some questions and asked to see my passport. I didn't have my passport in my bag - it was back at the village. Other activists tried to stop them taking me away in the jeep, but it was clear that they wanted me specifically, so there was little point resisting. They said they were 'confused' about my name, and later in the police station I was told that I was charged with 1. not having my passport on me (although some friends immediately went back to the village and brought my passport to them); and 2. causing confusion about my name (interesting charge!).
I was questioned by Shabak, the Israeli intelligence service, asking which organizations I belonged to. I was co-operative. I was told I didn't have the right to have a lawyer present, so I explained in that case I was unhappy to answer any further questions.
I was released from the police station at 11pm on the condition that I present myself at Ariel Police Station today at 10am. They kept my passport. I don't know what to expect. They may want to deport me, or they may decide to release me on certain conditions. I am remaining optimistic at this stage!
What is clear, is that the State of Israel is pursuing a policy of criminalizing human rights workers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and increasing criminalizing Israeli human rights activists who are opposing the occupation. Hundreds of human rights workers are denied entry to Israel each year. As the occupier, Israel is obliged under international law to facilitate passage to the territories they are occupying. As international witnesses to the crimes of the occupation, human rights workers are perceived to be an enemy of Israel.
For updates see: http://www.palsolidarity.org May be seeing some of you guys soon :-(
xxBig Red Hannah
Latest update from her attorney is that "we are waiting"
2. The Meaning of Sumud: Budrus, Monday, Nov. 1, 2004. We thought that the face-off with the border police would be the end of the action. They had stopped throwing stun grenades and making threats. All was relatively quiet, and some of us thought that they would simply pack up and move on, at which point we could visit a bit with the villagers and be on our way. Instead, it was the beginning of another phase of the confrontation. The place was Budrus, a Palestinian village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Budrus came to nonviolent resistance by its own efforts. Last year, they decided that the entire village - men, women and children - would take part in blocking the efforts of the Israeli Occupation Forces to build the Apartheid Wall on their land, destroying millennium-old olive trees in the process, and separating the villagers from much of their remaining farms and orchards, as well. I suppose that if the villagers had possessed F-16 fighter-bombers, Apache helicopters and Merkava tanks, as do the Israelis, they might not have chosen nonviolence. However, we saw no evidence that they had even small arms or explosives, which is the most that Palestinians have been able to acquire for defense, even in the larger cities. By mid-afternoon, around two hundred villagers gathered in front of the mosque, along with thirty ISM volunteers who converged from Ramallah, Tulkarem and Nablus. As we headed down to where the Wall was being built, a dozen Israeli activists also joined us. The foreigners were planning to be in the front lines, on the assumption that Israeli soldiers are more respectful of their lives. However, the Palestinians were too fast for us and first to confront the soldiers. As the soldiers stopped some, others slipped by, and soon the construction area started to fill up with nonviolent resisters of various nationalities, ethnicities and genders.
The Palestinian women were particularly impressive. They not only were among the front ranks, but slapped the soldiers on the arm when they tried to put their hands on them. A few stun grenades were used (to little effect), but the quarters were much too close for tear gas, which would have overwhelmed demonstrators and soldiers alike. We knew that we had achieved something of a victory when the construction equipment left the area.
As there seemed little point in remaining, we then headed back to the village. The border police had not quite finished with us, however. They set up a line near the village, and although they let everyone pass, they stayed in place. Perhaps they just wanted to make sure that no one tried to return to the construction site, but as we stood facing them, I couldn't help but wonder how long the village youth would let this provocation stand without reaction. The first stones hit the ground and rolled away, but one bounced up and hit a policeman on the leg.
That was our cue to get out of the way, but it was also an opportunity for the cops to lob tear gas and stun grenades at us and the boys. We hauled out our onions and held them to our mouths and noses. The gas didn't slow us down for long. Now the police decided to make the village pay. They broke the doors of several shops and houses and searched them for young men, wrecking furniture and other belongings in the process. They also fired on the boys, mostly plastic-coated steel bullets, as far as I could tell. All of this was gratuitous. After chasing the bulldozers away, we had no reason to return to the construction site, if this was their concern. If the police had left, nothing else would have happened.
Now a small war of attrition was under way, with the kids throwing stones and the police using this pretext to inflict more serious bodily and material damage. We learned afterward that several youth were taken and beaten with batons away from our view, and several more were shot with plastic-coated steel bullets. Everyone but the IOF soldiers and police said, however, that they were glad for our presence.
According to them, it would have been much worse otherwise. One man was detained with fifteen foreign volunteers standing by, and while the detention itself may have been unnecessary, it was apparently done by the book in under an hour, and the detainee's ID card was returned.
I stayed with the man for most of his detention time, and asked the reason for it (harassment) and if he needed anything (no). Afterwards, I asked him to tell me frankly if our presence made any difference. He said that, indeed, if we hadn't been there, he would likely have been detained for a much longer time, his ID withheld for up to a week, and he would probably have been beaten, as well. One vote of confidence.
We were also concerned that the advantages of our presence might be lost soon after our departure. Although most of us left, therefore, a small group decided to spend the night. The soldiers in fact asked us how long we might be staying and where. I responded that we were planning to stay as long as the village wanted and wherever they wished to house us. We therefore spent a peaceful night and left the following morning.
I cannot say that the action went off without a hitch, and our debriefing covered things that we might have done better. However, the most important objective was to show solidarity with the villagers and to participate in their resistance. The Arabic word for this is sumud ("steadfastness"). It means that Palestinians will never accept to leave. It is the job of the rest of the world to assure that they never have to. Paul