International Solidarity Movement Update
International Solidarity Movement Update
1. PALESTINIAN LAND DAY DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST THE WALL 2. NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE ON TRIAL 3. Volleyball Against the Occupation 4. March 24, 2005: Settler Attack
1. PALESTINIAN LAND DAY DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST THE WALL
Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals will demonstrate, commemorating Palestinian Land Day throughout the West Bank.
These events will focus on Israel's Wall being built within the West Bank, creating isolated enclaves, and separating villages from their agricultural land.
In the village of Bil'in, where the building of the Wall and the new settlement of Menura has resulted in the loss of more then half the village's land, there will be a march beginning at the Mosque and moving to the site of construction.
The neighboring village of Saffa will also march to the construction site, meeting with the demonstration from Bil'in.
This event is the national demonstration called for by the Palestinian Popular Committee against the Wall. --Bil'in Mosque 11.00am speeches 12.00pm march to the construction site Mohammad Al Khatib 0545851893 --Saffa Mosque 11.00am gather 12.00pm march to the construction site
In Beit Hanina Al Balad (Old City), there will be a demonstration protesting the ghettoization of the West Bank as a result of the Wall. --Beit Hanina Old City Village Center 2.00 pm demonstration Khaled Odetalalah +972(0)522.257.130
In the Salfit region, women will march to the sewage dumping site from the Emmanuel settlement, which is located in the Wadi Kanaa natural reserve. --Wadi Kanaa (Salfit) 11.00am Um Milad +972(0)547.514.783 *************
2. NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE ON TRIAL Palestinian and Israeli peace activists stand trial
Wednesday March 30th Mohammed Mansour from Biddu and Israeli activists Neta Golan and Shelly Nativ will stand before Israeli courts for their participation in Palestinian non-violent resistance.
Mohammed Mansour, a community organizer against the Wall from the West Bank village of Biddu, faces trial at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court in the Russian Compound.
On the 26 of June 2004, Mansour was attacked, severely beaten, and arrested while participating in a nonviolent protest against the construction of the Apartheid Wall in Al Ram.
According to eyewitness accounts, Mansour was standing with other peaceful protesters when he was attacked and severely beaten by undercover police. He received medical attention at Hadassah hospital for an injury to his back and chest (from repeated blows by the butt of a rifle), swelling in his face, a chipped tooth, and a ruptured eardrum.
Mansour, the father of five, is accused of throwing stones, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest. His trial will take place at 11:50 in the Jerusalem magistrate's court in the Russian compound before Judge Dotan.
Neta Golan and Shelly Nativ were arrested in April 2001 for chaining themselves to olive trees that were being bulldozed by the Israeli army in the west bank village of Deir Istiya. This Wednesday their verdict will be given in Kfar Saba.
Their verdict will be handed down at 8:30am by Judge Maymon- Sha'ashua in the Kfar Saba court.
The International Solidarity Movement condemns the Israeli legal system defense of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and settlers and its criminalization of non-violent protest against the Occupation. ******************
3. Volleyball Against the Occupation
The Popular Committee Against the Wall and the local sports society of Bil'in organized a night time volleyball tournament against the occupation yesterday.
After four nights in a row of the Israel military entering the village between the hours of 11 pm and 3am, searching homes, arresting young men and photographing the rest, residents of the village decided to creatively resist. The night time volleyball game, organized to begin at 11pm, was a way for the village to show the military that they are not scared of these night time raids.
At 9pm, Bil'in residents, internationals with the ISM and CCIPPP, and Israeli Anarchists against the Wall, began to gather at the local school where the game was to commence.
Construction of the Wall near Bil'in and the creation of the new settlement Menura in the same area is resulting in the loss of more then half of Bil'in's land. The heavy machinery working on the Wall and the soldiers that guard the area could be seen operating until well past 10pm, as the games were beginning.
At 9pm folks gathered in the school playground, in order to warm up for the actual event. Simultaneous games of volleyball and basketball over lapped on the field. At 11pm, teams were picked and rules set. Israelis and internationals, helped out by a few local boys, played against teams made up solely of residents of Bil'in. At the end of every match, although some Israelis disagreed, the score came out in favor of international/Israeli team, as determined by the Popular Committee.
At 12.30am, news came that the soldiers were on their way into the village. The already established teams were split up into emergency response groups in case the soldiers began searching or occupying homes. In the meantime, the games continued.
Over the still protesting voices of some of the Israelis who felt the scoring of the games were erroneous, the Popular Committee and local Sports Club awarded the tournament trophy to the internationals.
Dancing and singing ensued.
New phone calls came in that the soldiers were indeed in the village and had begun throwing sound grenades. The first response team was sent out to check on the situation leaving the rest behind to continue the pick-up game of basketball that had begun.
The response team arrived at the sight of where the soldiers were reported to be inside a home. The team began a rousing rendition of `the International' and other historic resistance songs in the street outside the home. Their tactic seemed to work as the soldiers then vacated the village and the response team was able to return to finish the pick-up game.
At 3am with no more attempts from the military to enter the village, the tournament was ended.
Everyone involved felt the event was a success in raising morale, keeping the soldiers from being able to rule through fear, and in order to simply enjoy life in the face of the occupation and all of its manifestations.
4. March 24, 2005: Settler Attack Camyla Jasis-Wallace
The irony of sending a report of such intensity after telling of my easy moments in Qawawis does not go unnoticed. March 24 in Palestine made the international papers, but to relate my own involvement in the incident is beyond mind-boggling.
The previous night had been spent in the Bedouin-style tent of Khalid and his loving family. When the sun rose, several women of the village decided to make me into a living doll. The elderly mother of Khalid bathed me (one of the most awkward bathing experiences, she later told me it was like bathing her grandson, Nasim) and dressed me in the traditional dress of a Palestinian lady. Black, with an intricate web of embroidery, it reached my ankles, and the steel toes of my boots poked forward. They then changed me into what I considered work garb, and taught me how to milk sheep. I was doing a poor job of it, yet I did find that I had a gift when it came to coercing newborn lambs to nurse. Ryan left to herd sheep with the men of the village, leaving me with the impression that Palestine is run by women; the men just seem to watch.
As I sat and washed the jeans that I had not bothered to change for the past four days, the women I was with motioned in the distance to a tractor that was moving steadily towards the village, and exclaimed "Mustautani" (Settlers.) Ryan and I took to the edge of the valley, me hiking up my skirts to be able to clear the jagged rocksides. It was 9:30. Ryan pulled the video camera from his coat as he ran. The tractor bypassed Qawawis, and went out of sight down the settler-only main road. Thinking the threat to be over, we began our way back to Khalid's tent. That was when we heard the shouts and screams.
We looked to the top of the hill once more, this time seeing the melee. Two cars of settlers had parked near the grove that separates the Palestinian land from what the settlers claim as theirs. About 8-10 settlers were hurling rocks toward the shepherds and flock, shouting at and chasing the people and sheep. When we arrived, out of breath and confused, Robert (Sweden) and Kasper (Denmark) were trying to place themselves between the settlers and the villagers. Many of the settlers hung guns at their sides, and one man was donning a green skeleton mask.
Kasper and Robert had tried to contact the local police, yet each attempt was in vain, for the station would only hang up on them. The village had tried calling the IDF who were supposed to be monitoring the area and warding off extremist violence. Only three soldiers present offered little help and continued to explain that assisting us was not their job.
With our video camera in hand and the film rolling, we had become a threat. The settlers went at the cameras of Robert, Kasper, and Ryan; vile in the hope of destroying the documentation. I placed myself between the villagers and a woman approaching them while spitting racial slurs as if they were a hateful river. I stood with my arms before my face to protect myself, and attempted, from my odd position, to speak with her, perhaps bring forth some reason. She hit my arms, and a moment later, her blonde, curly-haired, heavyset husband appeared, and did likewise, as he ranted in biting Hebrew. Many of her words turned to English when I began to slow her assault. The verbal abuse (from all the advancing settlers) included: "I'll see you dead! Dirty Arabs! F**kers! I'm going to beat you! Nazis! Jew-killers! Go back to Germany!"
The stoning of the shepherds, sheep, and international peace members continued with increasing force. The masked man rushed towards Ryan, screamed in his face, and shoved him repeatedly. He turned to me at one point and did the same, now brandishing his weapon in his white-knuckled fists. The curly-haired man headbutted Robert in the mouth and chin, and more settlers were falling upon the scene, seemingly excited by the chaos.
>From nowhere, a lanky, unhealthy-looking man with glasses, camouflage attire, and a microphone/radio that he continually circled over his head (much like a lasso,) ran towards us, howling "F**king b***h! I'm going to get you!" Being as I was the only girl present, one might guess who this was meant for. (Later, when I was identifying him during the investigation, I learned he was a 37-year old convert from Germany who has been living in Israel for the past 11 years. He is Jochanon Shareth, the ideological leader of the settlement. He is also a strange environmentalist who mistakes his fanatical ideas with Zionism, and fills his metal home with rare flowers and herbs. During an interview he claimed to have "methods for dealing with Arabs.")
He continued to bring his microphone/speaker down through the air, jerky tries at hitting us with it. He charged at Robert and Kasper, forcefully pushing them both and screaming in Hebrew and English. After many grabs for their cameras, he glanced at Ryan and turned to him. He took hold of Ryan's arms and twisted the lens of the video camera, coming too close to snapping the bloody thing off. I called to Ryan to put away the camera, but when I could tell that he simply could not, I put myself between the scuffle. The man, looking like a slice of dried meat, threw me to the brittle ground, straddled me, and began to punch in my chest, throat, and face. At the moment when a soldier and my international friends finally pulled him off of me, my face hit a rock.
Choking on tears and with blood running along my teeth and gums, we managed to start walking towards the solitary building of Qawawis. The settlers continued to taunt and harass us, stoning and still following. Then the final attempt at calling the Kiryat Arba police pulled off; they said they were on their way. We were told to wait by the road. From a distance, we watched as 3 or 4 more cars, loaded with settlers, came to park on the edge of the field.
Upon their arrival, we told of the altercation, told we had evidence of being attacked, told which settlers were responsible. Then, who should drive up, but the beasts who assaulted us. They began to rant (again with the screams! They don't seem to stop!) and point at the cluster of us: internationals, elderly shepherds, village women, young Palestinian couples with their children in tow to see what was going on.
Eventually, they filed into their respective cars, and took to the road. We were told by the police that if we wished to file a charge, that they had a bus in which we would ride to Kiryat Arba. Once we heard that the settlers were to be in the bus alongside us, we made it quite clear that we were not, under any circumstances, riding with the people who had just attacked us. This went on for a while, until our lawyer spoke to the officer in charge and explained that we would need a separate bus. It was then granted, and a shepherd made the courageous choice to come with us. (Those at Kiryat Arba will not hesitate to beat a Palestinian during questioning, and I was to see this first-hand later.)
Kiryat Arba Police Station is, softly put, disturbing. The station lies within the largest settlement in Hebron, a settlement that started when, in 1967, Rabbi Leibowitz held a dinner for fundamentalist Jews. He ended with a speech declaring the city of Hebron "Israel" (when at the time, it was Palestine's industrial center) and occupied the hotel in which the dinner was being held. The IDF came in to make it "legal." Rabbi Leibowitz was later charged with the stabbing death of a young Palestinian boy and sickeningly released after 11 months. Kiryat Arba still holds in high esteem this heritage of hate. While we were there, two Palestinian pre-teens were brought in. Both blindfolded, they trembled and cried behind the blindfold as they were held against the jail wall. We tried to speak with them to obtain their information, but a soldier forbade them to respond.
The ordeal at the station, complete with the most disrespectful and patronizing cops I have ever spoken to, began at 11:00 AM. It did not end until the next day.
We were initially together as a communal report was filled out. Next, each of us gave our testimonies separately, behind closed doors. The cops told us for the duration of our miserable stay what a waste of time this was for them. They also continued to give false accusations, saying we had switched tapes, we had been on settler land, and we weren't neutral peacemakers. Then we began to question THEM when we noticed that only one settler was at the police station and that they were using the words "detain" and "suspect" when referring to us. They then informed us that the settlers had filed a charge AGAINST US, claiming that WE attacked them. What!?
The rest of the evening unfolded like a crumbling circus. All of our testimonies were in defense, and we found ourselves consistently answering accusations. The corrupt cops even had the gall, while we were viewing the film footage frame by frame, to suggest that we were the aggressors, when the film before them displayed the exact opposite. Oh, and as to the film, I would not take it off of my person without a written receipt, or without being able to speak to our lawyer. The officer in charge began to scream. He claimed that we had no right to a guarantee, no right for his time as investigator. When I still would not hand over the tape without the promise of its return, he said I was under arrest, and directed a female officer to take me into the bathroom and strip search me. The three guys, not wanting me to go through this humiliation, told me to give it up. I did so, and I still do not have a copy in my possession. Also, although I had asked repeatedly for medical assistance, I was denied such, and this was brought up later in court.
Later, after the farce of the "investigation," (a cop had informed me during questioning that whatever we said was irrelevant, for the settlers' testimonies meant more than ours ever would) we were presented with what looked like a plea deal. They demanded that we not return to Qawawis for 40 days (later switching to 14, for anything over 15 days is illegal in Israel) and that we discontinue our work in the area. We refused, of course, because the day's events showed that internationals must be in the area to protect the people from the deranged settlers. After our refusal, they exclaimed that we were under arrest and threatened us with deportation.
Shocked, and thinking the words to be part of an elaborate bluff until we were separated, we tried (successfully) to keep each others' spirits high. It dawned on us around 11pm, when they separated me from Ryan, Robert, and Kasper, and took them off to the detainment center located within the station. But ha! Not before Ryan and I shared a lingering kiss.
It was nearing 2am when I was taken to the women's jail, a full 40 minutes from Kiryat Arba, on the way to Jerusalem. I struck up an interesting conversation with Maya, the young female officer who sat alongside me during the ride in the army jeep. Yes, Stockholm Syndrome is possible.
The following morning was the day of our arraignment in the Jerusalem court, but that's for another email. My hands hurt, and I'm tired.
In Solidarity, Camyla ;)