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Picnic in a cloud of tear gas

3 June 2005

Picnic in a cloud of tear gas

1. Picnic in a cloud of tear gas - Beit Surik Resists The Wall By M 2. Salfit Demonstration By Ran 3. 500 trees cut in Marda, upcoming demonstration By IWPS 4. Protest Tent Silwan, 96 East Jerusalem homes to be Demolished 5. International Boycott Week 6. Free Speech Radio Report on Bi'lin Anti-Wall Action May 7. Sharon's Agenda BY Mansour 8. Settler Violence and Theft, and IOF Home Demolitions By operation dove

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1. Picnic in a cloud of tear gas - Beit Surik Resists The Wall Written By M June 2nd 2005

At 8-00 AM a hundred Palestinians from Beit Surik including men, women, old, young, residents and village officials had gathered on the hillside overlooking the construction site. They were joined by a handful of international and Israeli activists who brought along footage from the demo the day before which had been very violent, resulting in the injury of seven villagers.

Five of the young boys from the village managed to get very close to the construction machines and broke a window on one of the bulldozers. The protestors who were mostly just standing on their lands were scattered around a vast area. Suddenly, Police on horses and border police came from a different direction than the construction site. They were throwing tear gas and the protestors scattered. This resulted the young boys being left down in the valley while the family whose land was currently being destroyed remained in a restricted area.

AT 12-00 The Israeli Military declared the area as a closed military zone, but the villagers stayed insisting that it was their land. The Military then claimed that since the area we were in was a closed military zone we forbidden to leave it and return to the village!

Spontaneously, villagers of all ages were joined by an international group and Israelis sat down on the site where the construction of the wall is planned. Food was brought in the midst of the sound of teargas being shot in the valley, and we found ourselves having a picnic, between the border police who were bringing boxes of teargas to shoot toward the village and the police mounted on horses. We sat by the olive trees listening to the sound of teargas being shot toward the valley.

At 2-00 PM We managed to return to the village grateful that no one was seriously injured or arrested.

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2. Salfit Demonstartion Written by Ran June 2nd 2005

We arrived in the town of Salfit (pop ~20,000), center of the Salfit district for a demonstration against the building the Annexation Wall in the area. Salfit is located south of Ariel, the largest settlement in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem). Ariel Sharon has promised Bush that the wall will not be built in this area prior to further consultation. The village has obtained temporary rulings from the Israeli Supreme Court stopping the building. However, with the eyes of the world distracted by Gaza disengagement, the court reversed this decision May 16th. The army has proceeded with construction, saying that they will return the land to the people if the final court ruling on June 21st goes the villagers' way. This will result in the destruction of even more land. Construction restarted last week.

We left the municipality by car and began the march around 11am. We- around 100 Palestinians, five internationals, and six Israelis, started walking up the hill to the village lands, only to be met by around 20 soldiers and two or three border police. The commander declared the area a closed military zone and said that any internationals and Israelis who 'didn't want to spend the next few hours in jail' should leave immediately. We didn't. A number of Palestinians pleaded with the soldiers to be allowed to their land, only to be ignored. Israelis and internationals were then invited to say some words.

We sat around for a while, chanting slogans while the border police filmed us standing around, seeming to focus on a group of three Israelis. The Palestinian minister for Wall affairs, Khadoura Faris, began giving a speech. After a few minutes, a soldier shouted 'that's enough' and shoved him. A number of boys were provoked and started throwing stones, to which the army replied with sound bombs and tear gas. The confrontation continued for a while, and one boy passed out from tear gas inhalation. We then returned to the village, only to find out that the army had begun cutting trees in the nearby village of Marda, location of the next Salfit-area demonstration, this coming Saturday…

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3. 500 trees cut in Marda, upcoming demonstration Written by IWPS June 2, 2005

500 trees have been cut in Marda, 20 km from the Green Line, making villagers even more determined to demonstrate on Saturday against the Wall and settlement expansion in the area. Meet at 10 am, Saturday June 4, in the center of Marda, to march to Kifl Hares along the main settler highway, parallel to the proposed path of the Wall.

On Wednesday and Thursday, June 1 and 2, Israeli workers, protected by soldiers and Ariel settlement security, cut approximately 500 trees in the southeast of Marda village. When approached by villagers, Israeli activists, and internationals around 3:30 pm on Thursday, the workers left. Trees were found with red paint and ribbons, presumably marking the path of the Annexation Wall that Israel intends to build around Ariel, on the land of Marda, Kifl Hares, Hares, Iskaka, and Salfit. The trees are still alive - although this year's crop is ruined - but villagers suspect that bulldozers will come soon to uproot them and begin to clear the path for the Wall.

The trees that were cut belong to at least 6 different families, none of whom were notified in advance. Some of the trees are 150 meters from the current fence around Ariel, whereas others are up to 500 meters from Ariel. Villagers estimate the number of trees between the Wall path and Ariel to be in the tens of thousands.

This is the first time the Wall work has reached Marda.

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4. Protest Tent Silwan, 96 East Jerusalem homes to be Demolished 1 June, 2005

On Tuesday May 31st at 5:00PM, 300 villagers of Silwan raised a tent in protest against the Israeli Municipality's decision to demolish ninety-six homes in their village. Speakers at the demonstration included residents of the neighborhood slated for demolition, the leader of Silwan's Land Defense Committee, leaders of the Palestinian National Authority, the Fatah party, Muslim and Christian religious organizations in Jerusalem, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The protest tent was erected on the site where ongoing educational activities will be held, including screenings of documentary films about Palestine and the Apartheid Wall. The tent will also host cultural events, and provide information to international delegations.

Dimitri from the Association of Palestinian National Institutions in Jerusalem, Israel's decision to demolish the neighborhood is based on "law 212" enacted in 1965 (before the l967 war). It authorizes Israel to demolish any structure in the vicinity of an archaeological site,and was used in 1968 when the Mugraby neighborhood in the Old City of Jerusalem was leveled to make way for a landing in front of the Wailing Wall/ Al Barak mosque site. In both cases, Israeli authorities have used "law 212" in defiance of the Geneva Convention and International Codes of Conduct covering an occupied people.

The Israeli authorities plan to build a park on the land, after they destroy the homes of over one thousand Palestinians in this village in the heart of Occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions will conduct a tour of the area for journalists and diplomats on Thursday, June 1 at 5PM.

To read more see: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml? sw==silwan&itemNo=X2340

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5. International Boycott Week www.bojkotta-israel.nu

Between the third and the tenth of June the international boycott week will take place. Solidarity groups in several European countries and in Palestine will organize actions against Israeli products, distribute information about Israel's occupation of Palestine, and lobby politicians in each country's parliament.

---------------- Background:

The occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has lasted for 38 years. Since day one, the Palestinians have resisted the occupation in order to be able to stay on their land. The first popular uprising - the first Intifada - broke out in 1987. A "peace process" was initiated in 1993, but didn't establish anything remotely similar to sovereignty for the Palestinian people. On the contrary, the construction of illegal settlements and by pass-roads intensified during the entire period of peace negotiations and accords.

A second Intifada broke out in September 2000. Since then, under the yoke of brutal Israeli repression, life in the occupied territories has become almost unbearable.

The wall Israel has been constructing since July 2002 cuts deep into the West Bank, levelling and confiscating enormous amounts of arable land and olive groves, while the Palestinians are isolated in Bantustan-like enclaves. Children are barred from schools, pregnant, sick and old can't reach hospitals, family members are cut off from each other, and people are prevented from reaching their jobs so that unemployment hovers at 70 percent: the wall is being built as an insurmountable obstacle to any kind of normal life. It constitutes a humanitarian disaster.

The Palestinians have tried every method imaginable to reach independence - from popular non-violent resistance and negotiations to armed struggle. Nothing has proved efficient. The basic reason for these defeats are the extremely asymmetrical power relations between the occupiers and the occupied.

On a daily basis, the state of Israel violates UN resolutions, international law and human rights. The International Court of Justice in Hague has condemned the Wall as illegal and demanded it be removed and the construction halted immediately. Nevertheless, Israel continues to build it as if nothing has happened.

The Palestinians are in great need of our support. Together, we can wage a boycott campaign against the state of Israel until it withdraws from all of the Occupied Territories. By increasing the costs of occupation and forcing the state of Israel to chose between trade, normal diplomatic relations, prosperity and prolonged occupation we can make a crack in the wall. No just peace will be realized until the occupation is abolished - but Israel will withdraw only if the international community intervenes in the power relations and makes the occupation a heavy burden to carry for the state.

Already, the state of Israel allocates no less than 6.5 billion dollars every year for military defence, and the price of the wall so far - with a third of it finished - amounts to more than 1 billion. It is expensive to maintain the occupation with its massive army operations, settlement construction and protection and the wall - and it will be even more costly if the boycott campaign advances. Spokesmen for the Israeli government have openly stated their fears of an international backlash against Israel: the Wall, they say, could provoke the world to brand Israel an apartheid state, launch a boycott and create severe new problems for the Israeli state.

It's time to prove them right.

The international boycott week is a way to show the strong support for the freedom fight of the Palestinian people and put pressure on the EU to suspend it's free trade agreement with Israel. We - grassroots movements across the world - will assume the responsibility until our governments wake up. We are many!

The international boycott week will take place from the 3rd to the 10th June 2005 in the following countries: Groups will make actions and launch lobbying towards politicians.

Once a grass roots-movement managed to build a massive boycott campaign against the South African apartheid regime, until South Africa finally became a democracy. This success can be repeated today.

For a free Palestine

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6. Free Speech Radio Report on Bi'lin Anti-Wall Action May 31 http://www.fsrn.org/news/20050531_news.html

********************* 7. Sharon's Agenda Written by Mansour June 2, 2005

Many names and ideas come when we hear removing the settlements from the Gaza Strip, some call it disengagement, withdrawal or disconnection…I want to talk abut how we think about it as Palestinians. Or at least to talk about how in my village, a village that struggles non-violently against the Apartheid wall and the military occupation, we discuss the issue.

The Israeli prim-minister Ariel Sharon delays the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip again. He claims that he will discuss it in the Israeli Parliament. The international community is talking about the great step that being taken by Sharon; they seem to think that this is the most urgent issue right now, that Sharon is making peace.

In Palestine, we are painfully aware that so far nothing has changed. Sharon can continue delaying the withdrawal and it will continue to be the most important issue or even the only issue that international community will talk about. Then when he implements the withdrawal the international community will describe it as the most important step towards peace, the greatest, most generous offer by Sharon.

Sharon hopes to succeed to frame the entire Palestinian plight during the years of occupation within one issue and its solution by the Gaza withdrawal.

We need other issues added to the Agenda. Issues of prisoners, The right of return for the refugees, a Palestinian state in west bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as a capital and stopping the settlements and the wall that are being built in our land. These issues are the reason for our resistance for over half a century and they are not part of Sharon's agenda.

We think Sharon thought about withdrawal from the Gaza strip to since the cost of protecting a few thousands of settlers who controlling more that half of Gaza that has over a million Palestinians is very heavy. The natural resources of the strip have been destroyed through out the years of occupation. Gaza used to produce more than 382,000 tons of citrus yearly but now less than 62,000 tons. So he prefers to control it from outside.

It is clear to us that Sharon plans to enlarge the illegal settlements around and inside Jerusalem as long as he can keep the international communities eyes on the withdrawal. Israel is building the Apartheid wall and immediately establisheing infrastructure to confiscate land behind the wall; the agricultural land of the farmers is turned into settlements.

I was shocked when I saw donation for planting trees to build a green Israel organized by the Zionists while at the same time they are uprooting the olive trees some of whom are more than a hundred years old, What kind of state will be green by uprooting trees and people from their land? .

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8. Settler Violence and Theft, and IOF Home Demolitions near Hebron Written by Operation Dove May 22-May 26, 2005

An Israeli court has ruled that children in this area should be escorted to and from school because of ongoing settler attacks from illegal settlements such as Havat Maon.

Sunday, May 22 7:43 am l3 children walked to school from Tuba with a hummer driving behind them. Although the children had asked the patrol to be there by 6:30 am, the Israeli patrol was more than an hour late.

10:20 am CPT members, Kristin Anderson and Diane Janzen on their way to monitor the 10:30 am school patrol were stopped by a Palestinian from Muffagara who told them that the IOF was demolishing a house that belongs to Ali Mohamed Jaber Debebzee, located on the outskirts of Mufaggara. Soldiers had arrived at 9:30 am with three jeeps and two bulldozers. Soldiers gave the 11-member family only a few minutes to remove their belongings before tearing down the house. l5 to 30 minutes later, the house was completely destroyed. No demolition papers were ever served to the family, and they are now sleeping outside on the ground.

10:50 am 13 children walked back from school with a Hummer (n.702865) driving behind them. Once again, the patrol was late, this time 20 minutes.

Military helicopters flew over the area all day and all night.

Monday, May 23 7:13 am A Hummer escorted l4 children to school. There were no soldiers walking.

11:00 am 14 children walked back from school with a Hummer (n.702865) and three soldiers walked behind them. The patrol was 30 minutes late.

2:30 pm CPT member, Kristin Anderson, and an OD member went to as- Sarara, a small village near Jinba. At 10:15 am the day before, soldiers from the IOF demolished six homes, roaring into the village with jeeps and bulldozers. The homes were completely flattened in an hour, and the 30 people who lived in them are now sleeping outside on mats. Also, two homes in Al-Fakheit (next to As-Sarara) were demolished, putting a man, his two wives and 13 children out in his fields.

4:30 pm Kristin Anderson and an OD member caught some Israeli settlers forcing small goats into their car on a dirt road near the illegal settlement of Havat Maon. Since they had a video camera, they taped the entire episode. The car, a blue Kadett, drove toward the settlement with the goats inside. Local Palestinians said that the goats belonged to Shadi, a shepherd from a nearby village.

The police were called ten minutes later.

4:55 pm The blue car came back from the settlement and stopped in the same area on the hill.

5:45 pm Police arrived and talked to the people in the blue Kadett, as an OD member went to talk to the police and say they had shot video of the people stealing the goats. One policeman watched the video and asked the OD member if he could keep it for evidence, because without the video, he couldn't arrest the settler. The OD member turned over the video to the police officer, who promised he'd make a duplicate copy to return to the OD member. They then arrested the driver of the Kadett.

The OD member then walked back behind a high hill and saw five or six settlers from Havat Moan harvesting wheat with a machine and tractor. The wheat belonged to a Palestinian family of Magher al Ghamid. About ten minutes later police arrived, and the settlers had to stop their illegal harvesting. However, when they returned to Havat Moah, they kept close to 10 dunams (approximately 2.5 acres) of the wheat.

Tuesday, May 24 7:40 am l6 children walked behind a police jeep (n.22262) and one policeman walked with them.

9:00 am The OD member went to the police station in Kyriat Arba to get a copy of his video. As he was waiting, he saw the settler who'd taken the goats go into an office with an inspector and stay there for 40 minutes.

At about 10:45 am, the High Commander of the Police in the West Bank came to visit the Kyriat Arba station. The OD member also saw a Palestinian under arrest, with his hands tied with cloth string and a cloth string around his eyes.

Finally, at 12:13 pm, he was asked to come into the inspector's office and make a testimony as to what had happened the day before. After doing so, he asked for the copy of his tape. None was given to him.

11:10 am l6 children walked with a police jeep behind them. No policemen were walking with them.

Wednesday, May 25 and Thursday, May 26 7 children were escorted to and from school without too much delay. On Wednesday, they were escorted both ways by a police jeep (n. 22786). On Thursday only 3 children went to school, a military Hummer (n.703817) drove behind them, and soldiers accompanied the Hummer.

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ENDS

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