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Update From Palestine


1. Update on Yonatan Pollak 2. Children of Bil'in to protest at Supreme court hearing 3. Collective Punishment in Bil'in – by Allison and Rann 4. Tali Fahima's trial continues 5. Free Tomato in Jayyous By Abed AlLatif 6. At-Tuwani: communion tea By Diane Janzen 7. Israeli government proposes blocking Palestinian compensation suits By btselem 8. Week of Palestinian nonviolent resistance met with Israeli military violence Written By IWPS

1. Update on Yonatan Pollak

Yonatan Pollak, an activist from "Anarchists Against Walls", was brought in front of a judge Saturday 11 of June night after being in detention since Thursday. The judge confirmed Yonatan's 3 months ban from the West Bank. Under the advice of his attorney Yonatan signed, and is now filing an appeal to the district court in Tel Aviv. A date for the hearing is still unknown.

Yonatan was arrested while participating in a demonstration against the construction of the Separation Fence on the lands of the town of Salfit. The Barrier, at this place, will penetrate 23km east of the Green Line.

Unlike other protesters, who were released after committing themselves to stay out of the Samaria region" for 14 days, Yonatan was not offered such a deal, but was held over night at Ariel Police Station. He was brought in front of a judge the next day (Friday 10th), and charged with illegal assembly and using the 1945 British Emergency Regulations charged with being in a closed military zone. Judge Nava Bechor ordered for him to stay out of the entire Occupied Palestinian Territories for a period of 3 months. Yonatan refused to agree and sign his disproportionately hard ruling, and was taken back to prison, only to have another judge confirms Bachor's verdict.

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2. Children of Bil'in to Protest at Supreme court Tuesday

June 13, 2005

Tomorrow, Tuesday, a request will be submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court that Bil'in lands will be included in the appeal by the neighboring village of Harbata against the confiscation of the villages' lands for the separation wall.

As Bil'in residents above the age of 14 are not allowed to enter Israel, even in order to attend a court session so crucial for them, the children of Bil'in will go to Jerusalem alone - to demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court when the request is being made. Internationals and Israelis will attend the court session in support of Bil'in's children. The deliberation will start at 9:00 am and the demonstration will start at 8:30 in front of the court.

Following this Friday's morning prayer, residents of Bil'in, internationals, and Israelis will once again protest the building of the annexation barrier.

Despite indications of reviving the `road map' which requires a freeze on Israeli settlement growth, the route of the Wall near Bil'in hasbeen specifically designed to incorporate future expansion of Modiin elit.

In 1991, 1,300 dunam of agricultural land used for regional crops were confiscated by the state of Israel for the construction of Kiryat Sefer settlement, but 200 dunam of olive trees remained in Palestinian hands. The basis for the confiscation of Bil'in's agricultural land was based on an Ottoman land law, still being used in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which states that land unused for over a certain period of time can be confiscated by the state. Bil'in residents claim the photos of the land which were presented to the court when the confiscation was approved were taken in the summer.

In 2003, the state claimed that the 200 unconfiscated dunam had been sold to the settlers by Bil'in resident Sami Bornat. The Bornat ownership papers were forged, a fact well known by the Israeli authorities because they had previously recognized the owners of the land in the court case for the confiscation. Despite this, the land was approved for building the settlement.

Now Bil'in will lose an additional 1000 Dunams behind the Wall. The planned route of the Wall comes four meters from the last house in the village.

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3. Collective Punishment in Bil'in – by Allison and Rann

It was 12am on Sunday morning. We were headed to bed in Bil'in when we were alerted that Israeli soldiers had again entered the village. We, along with countless residents of Bil'in standing watch on rooftops, watched the military jeeps driving around the land near the annexation barrier, away from the village itself, for close to an hour before deciding to give up our post and go to sleep.

We were not able to quite lie down before we were called back to the roof — the soldiers had entered someone's home.

In a pattern that has been repeating itself over the last week or so, the Israeli soldiers, approximately 25 in number, had chosen to harass a new member of the Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall in Bil'in, the local Palestinian organizing body. We, the two ISMers along with one resident of Bil'in, drove toward the soldiers, stopped the car, and got out in order to investigate the situation. Immediately we were faced with a group of soldiers directly in front of us, all pointing their M-16s at our faces. They began speaking to us in Hebrew, but then in English they ordered us to back away from the house, return to the car, and drive away. The soldiers stated that they were executing a military operation and that we were interfering with it.

After a few more questions, we decided to follow the orders of the soldiers and drove back to the ISM apartment, where we stayed up waiting for news from the Palestinians whose homes were searched. The 'military operation' in question involved no more than casual harassment and intimidation. Try to imagine for a moment that a gang of soldiers entered your home at 1am, pointed guns at your family members, demanded identification and searched the house for no other reason than your involvement in non-violent organizing. Just one more example of Israeli democracy in action.

We found out in the morning that the Israeli soldiers had searched several homes, taken identification cards, and verbally harassed the Palestinians of Bil'in that night. They left several hours later.

What happened early Sunday morning in Bil'in was not an isolated incident. The Israeli army has repeatedly come to harass the people of Bil'in at night, choosing different areas to 'search' each night.

Bil'in is also not the only village in the West Bank that is being intimidated, stripped of its privacy and peace of mind. Boudrus has also experienced similar harassment by Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night. The pattern seems to be similar every time: the jeeps come to Boudrus, spend some time harassing the villagers, then drive over to nearby Bil'in and do the same again. Incidents like these are well-documented and have been ongoing for many years.

Why is this happening? According to Lieutenant Colonel Tzachi Segev, commander of the 25th Battalion of the Armored Corps, which is operating in the Bil'in area: "The stronger the activity against the fence, the stronger our operations will be. We reserve the right to enter the village at any hour ... Sometimes there is no escaping collective punishment, even if it has a negative impact. Collective punishment is closure, prohibiting people from entering a certain village, blocking the Bilin-Safa road [referring to the neighboring village] as a lever of pressure if the village does not behave properly." (Meron Rappaport - Gandhi Redux - http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/586551.html)

Collective punishment is forbidden by the fourth Geneva Convention. It is illegal to punish entire segments of civilian population for the actions of a few individuals, whatever those actions may be. In this case, groups of civilians are being punished for organizing peaceful demonstrations. The right to organize and peacefully demonstrate is protected by the universal declaration of human rights and by Israeli law. In violating these rights, Israeli soldiers are committing war crimes.

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4. Tali Fahima's trial continues

Dear Solidarity Movement Members,

On Sunday, July 17th, Tali Fahima's trial sessions will be continued.

On this occasion, we are calling on all solidarity movements around the world to join us and let the people of the world and the State of Israel know that the persecution and unjust incarceration of a woman who represents hope for a future of friendship and commonality between Palestinians and Israelis will not pass unnoticed.

Tali Fahima, a Jewish Israeli woman of Arab origin, has been harassed by the Israeli General Security Services for over a year now, for defying the Apartheid logic set by the Occupation Forces and showing public solidarity with the people of the Jenin Refugee Camp in their daily efforts to stay alive and resist their oppressors. Her example shows just how little the Israeli institutions (including the judicial system) tolerate camaraderie between the two peoples, and how important it is for the solidarity movements to emanate a different voice.

Spending almost a year in jail now, Tali expresses at every possible opportunity her solidarity with all political prisoners, and stresses the call for the total end of all forms of oppression of the Palestinian people. Hence, on July 17th we will be calling for the immediate release of Tali Fahima and all political prisoners held by the State of Israel.

We urge you to join the international campaign, which is an opportunity for all of us to consolidate our message regarding the reality of warfare in the region – it is neither fate nor natural disaster, but the fruit of intentional and extremely calculated policies on behalf of the State of Israel. At a time when the world seems to be overtaken with exaltation because of the Israel's Prime Minister's willingness to evacuate a small number of illegal settlements in order to fortify a large number of them elsewhere, the treatment of the Tali Fahima's affair by all Israeli state institutions demonstrates as clearly as is possible just how much Israel desires living together in peace with its Palestinian neighbors.

*Means of Action*

Events: rallies, demonstrations, vigils and conferences

1. On July 17th we will be holding a large demonstration outside of the court in which Tali's trial will be held. We will be glad to know that other events are held worldwide during this day.

2. We encourage and are willing to assist you in the organization of conferences dealing with Tali Fahima, political prisoners in Israel and Palestine and Israeli-Palestinian solidarity acts in general.

3. We will be glad if at all events consecrated to solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian people, Tali Fahima's case will be mentioned. Information, photos and materials of all sorts can be found at www.FreeTaliFahima.org

Letters of protest and support

1. Letters of protest and dismay regarding Tali Fahima's incarceration and treatment can be sent to the Israeli general attorney, defense minister, prime minister's cabinet and the president. Copies should be sent to Israeli ambassadors and consulates, and to your diplomatic corps in Israel. An example of such a letter and the relevant e-mails addresses and fax numbers can be found at www.FreeTaliFahima.org

2. Given her isolation, Tali is grateful for all the letters sent to her in jail. The prison address also appears in the website. Contact

We thank you for propagating this call among your activists, and please do inform us about all activities.

Alternative Information Center The Committee for the immediate release of Tali Fahima

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5. Free Tomato in Jayyous written by Abed AlLatif

Dear Friends,

Last month Jayyous farmers let their crop of lemons rot, for the last three weeks the tomato harvest is laying unpicked. Today most of farmers in Jayyous announced to people "go and get tomato form the green houses for free".

The reason for the farmers' strange behaviour?

In Jayyous there are around 80 green houses and 400 dunum of open crops, and most of them are cultivated with tomato. The average annual product of green house is 30,000kg (30 tons). The farmers could sell one box of tomatoes or 15kg for 30 cents in the local market. While the cost of growing one box of tomatoes is $3.5!

No traders can come from the main cities to collect the harvest from the area behind the wall due to lack of permits. There is no possibility to send any produce to the Israeli market.

In addition to that, yesterday the bulldozers started cutting the olive trees adjacent to the eastern side of the wall close to gate 24.

All the best, Abdul Latif Jayyous

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6. At-Tuwani: communion tea By Diane Janzen

running quickly over the hills to approach settlers harvesting Palestinian wheat fields a confusion of angry words, sickles, and wheat churn in the air police and soldiers use threats of arrest to clear the area as we walk away i breathe with the images of the last hours in my mind and on the tape in the video camera slung over my shoulder the family, who is trying to prove ownership of this land, says 'come, come to our house and drink tea'

in broken Arabic we ask, 'where are the soldiers, the house?' 'just down from that hill over there' heavy feet as we approach the family sitting next to the rubble of their house that a bulldozer and bagger demolished in fifteen short minutes 'sit, sit on a mat that we managed to take from the house, and drink tea'

another dash through the hills to document settlers harvesting more Palestinian wheat fields this time with a combine that is allowed to leave the field with the harvested wheat inside police tell the Palestinian family to make a complaint at the police station in Hebron something that takes time, and often feels pointless 'come to our house. eat.' 'drink another glass of tea after you finish eating - it's good for you'

a visit to the village of Mufakara to see how things are the conversation moves to the devastating event of two months ago when settlers poisoned Palestinian grazing land 'Ali, how many sheep have you lost from the poisoning?' 'three large sheep and two small sheep' we talk about the loss of other families in the village 'Mahmoud has lost twenty-five adult sheep and twelve lambs' for all a loss that so far has not had any compensation i finish my first glass of tea Ali tells his daughter, 'quick, pour her more tea'

these are the times when drinking tea feels like taking communion a symbol of brokenness, pain and confusion why? drink, and remember what you see drink, and remember how you feel

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7. Israeli government proposes blocking Palestinian compensation suits

http://www.btselem.org/english/

The Israeli government has proposed an amendment to the Civil Wrongs Law intended to exempt Israel from paying compensation to Palestinians injured by the security forces. The amendment applies to "residents of a conflict area" and "subjects of enemy states." The Government has clearly stated its intention to apply the new law to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Today, Palestinians are not able to sue the state for damages caused by combatant activity, broadly defined as, "…any action of combating terror, hostile actions, or insurrection, and action intended to prevent terror and hostile acts and insurrection committed in circumstances of danger to life or limb." If the Knesset passes the new amendment, it will almost completely block the ability of Palestinians to file for compensation, even for damage caused by illegal shooting, looting, negligence on training grounds, abuse and degrading treatment at checkpoints, or physical violence.

The law is blatantly discriminatory in that it denies the right to sue for compensation based on the identity of the victim, rather than the substance of the claim.

B'Tselem joined together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, HaMoked, and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Adallah and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel to warn against the grave implications of passing such a law. The organizations calls on the government to remove this amendment from the Knesset docket, thereby preventing a stain upon its law books.

Urgent Action: The amendment has passed its first reading in the Knesset plenary and is now under discussion in the Knesset Law Committee. The Committee held its first discussion of the amendment on May 31, and is expected to reconvene to continue discussion shortly. Write to the committee chairman, MK Michael Eitan, calling on him to act to prevent passage of Amendment 5 to the Civil Wrongs Law. Fax: +972-2-6496404 or meitan@knesset.gov.il.

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8. Week of Palestinian nonviolent resistance met with Israeli military violence Marda village, Salfit region, West Bank

Twenty kilometers east of the Green Line, the settlement of Ariel (population 20,000) looms above a village one tenth its size. Marda was one of the four villages named in a recent Israeli court decision that cancelled all previous injunctions halting construction of the Annexation Wall in the area. The government is now free to uproot trees and begin to clear the path for the Wall, and the affected villages have been promised that in the case of a decision reversal on June 21, when the final path will be decided, the damage will be undone. Villagers of Marda recognize this empty promise for what it is, knowing that the damage done is irreversible.

On Wednesday, June 1, Israeli workers with chainsaws began to cut Marda's trees, and in a five day period, they had cut more than 800 trees. Monday, June 6, bulldozers arrived to begin uprooting the cut trees, and they have been working every day since. After years of occupation, land theft, random arrests, and army invasions, this latest offence has caused Marda villagers to say, "Enough!" Ariel already has a fence surrounding it, they note. Why does it need another? And why on our land? Ariel has already stolen most of our land; why take even more?

Determined not to sit quietly while their land is destroyed, Marda farmers, in cooperation with the Popular Committee against the Wall and the entire Salfit region, and Israeli and international groups, decided to reclaim their right to be on their land and on their roads.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

The march from Marda to Kifl Hares was supposed to be proactive, preventative. Little did Marda know when they scheduled the demo two weeks in advance to coincide with the anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank that their land would begin to be destroyed so soon. Little did they know that their march from Marda to Kifl Hares, along the main settler highway (which had been used by Palestinians for decades before Israel's occupation), would be more than symbolic. That they would be marching not only for the impending land destruction, but for the hundreds of trees whose crop had been cut from them just two days before.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the center of Marda to begin their march to Kifl Hares, which would end directly next to the entrance of Ariel settlement. More than 50 soldiers met demonstrators at the entrance of Marda before they left the village, telling the crowd it could not proceed beyond a white ribbon the army had placed across the road. The front line marched directly through the ribbon with arms linked, and came face to face with a line of soldiers, also with arms linked. Soldiers were armed with guns and batons, demonstrators with flags and signs, proclaiming, "Build trust, not walls," and "Uproot settlers, not trees."

As villagers and supporters continued to move forward, soldiers lunged at the crowd, beating several people, including one Israeli who had to be taken to a hospital. After Palestinian village leaders and officials including Mustafa Barghouti and Kadura Fares spoke with the army commander, the army finally allowed the crowd to walk through the olive groves and across the main road to get to a new road that Israel is building on Palestinian land. Villagers slowly made their way across, happy to see that the army had closed the road completely, to both Palestinian travelers and Israeli settlers. One boy who stayed in the road longer than soldiers wanted was grabbed and taken to a jeep, only to be taken back by three Palestinian leaders just minutes later. Demonstrators successfully made their way to Kifl Hares, followed the whole way by soldiers who continued only to let one lane of traffic pass on the settler highway. The demonstration was a huge success: Villagers completed their intended walk, closed the settler highway for some time, and made a statement to the settlers and soldiers of Ariel that their land could not be quietly stolen from them.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Sunday morning, villagers saw Israeli workers with their chainsaws once again, cutting trees near the top of the hill as they had been the previous week. Again, farmers would not let this destruction happen without trying to stop it. About 20 adult men and one IWPS woman started up the hill, and were quickly followed by about 30 boys who ignored their elders' order to stay below. We made our way towards the cut trees, and shortly before arriving, security guards and soldiers, whom most of us still could not see over the terraces and through the olive trees, began yelling at us not to come any further. When villagers advanced, one of the security guards fired a shot towards the ground directly in front of the crowd. "Do not move!" they screamed. "Can we talk to you?" people asked. Each time the response was, "Do not move!"

Despite the fear inspired by the private guards and army, Israeli workers had left the area quickly upon the group's arrival, a major victory for the farmers, who had also stopped the work with a quiet confrontation the previous week.

The standoff continued for a while, with occasional pushing and shoving on the army's part and chanting on the young men's part ("hayalim labayta" – "soldiers, go home"). One man was hit on the arm and leg with the butt of a guard's gun.

Soldiers briefly entered the village, throwing sound bombs and leaving quickly. The villagers stayed above, surveying the damage to their land. No soldier would claim responsibility for the situation or for the other soldiers' or guards' behavior, so there was no person to speak or negotiate with until Gilad from the DCO arrived. After brief negotiations, Gilad promised that the work would stop for the day and that the army's lawyer and the village's lawyer would have a meeting the next morning to decide how to proceed.

About a half hour after we returned to the village, the work resumed. The army had broken its promise.

Monday, June 6, 2005

At 7:30 Monday morning, farmers gathered in hopes of walking to their land to sit and stop the cutting of their olive trees. 10 farmers, 8 internationals and Israelis, and approximately 40 young men and boys walked up the hill towards the settlement of Ariel where 100-200 soldiers were spread out across the land, concentrating in two different locations on the hillside.

No Wall work was happening at first, but the farmers quickly noticed that a bulldozer had begun to uproot trees near the top of the hill east of where we were standing. The group walked towards the olive trees and was immediately met by tear gas. Soldiers fired approximately 200 canisters of tear gas in the next two hours, hitting two Palestinians directly. One farmer was taken to Rafidiya hospital and two Red Crescent ambulances treated 20 Palestinians.

At 11:00, 3 army and police jeeps entered the village and began to throw sound bombs. Palestinian boys threw stones, hitting a jeep, and four border police entered a Palestinian home, presumably looking for the stone throwers. Many cameras filmed this and the police left quickly without arresting any one.

The uprooting of olive trees continued unobstructed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

At 5:30 Wednesday morning, curfew was imposed on Marda, and the entire area of Marda, Iskaka, and Salfit was declared a closed military zone. The army and border police repeatedly entered the village from 5.30 am, throwing sound bombs and firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition into the air. Three internationals attempted to enter Marda at 6:45 am, but were stopped by soldiers and border police and threatened with arrest. Later, 5 Israelis and 2 internationals were able to enter the village and were also ordered to leave and threatened with arrest.

One young Palestinian man had his identity card taken but it was later returned to someone else in the village. Just before midday occupation forces arrested a 25 year old Palestinian. After many hours of confusion and concern, his family discovered that he had been taken to Qedumim. He is still being held.

Approximately 20 Palestinians were injured, among them a Red Crescent ambulance worker.

Friday, June 10, 2005

As villagers in Marda tried to make their way to their fields to pray the Friday midday prayers on their land, accompanied by media, internationals, and Israeli peace activists, tear gas clouded the skies. Four bulldozers that had been uprooting Marda's trees stopped working as soon as the villagers began their march.

Mere minutes into the ascent upwards and only a few hundred meters up the slope, Israeli soldiers began firing tear gas and sound bombs at the villagers. While a number of soldiers fired from the hill, other military vehicles made their way into the village. Tear gas and sound bombs turned into rubber bullets, and the rubber bullets into live ammunition, reportedly fired directly at children. Soldiers shot tear gas towards the mosque and into a sewing factory where dozens of women were working. Four were taken to the hospital for gas inhalation.

Three Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, one in the stomach, one in the leg, and one in the arm. One Palestinian's thumb was broken when a tear gas canister hit his hand. Others were treated for tear gas inhalation. One international was detained for several hours and taken to Ariel police station, but was later released.

The DCO later claimed that the Israeli army fired only one rubber bullet and no live ammunition, and that a Palestinian had been shooting a Kalachnikov rifle. Villagers and Israelis collected the bullets and casings, however, and they were clearly from M16s, the rifles that the military uses.

Israeli soldiers threatened to return later that night.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

It is now Saturday, Shabbat, the day that most Israelis do not work. This apparently includes the chainsaw and bulldozer operators who have been coming daily from Ariel to destroy Marda's land. It is a quiet day. The Israeli holiday of Shavuot begins tonight and will last for two days, hopefully ensuring that the work in Marda will not resume during this time. Shavuot commemorates Moses' ascent to Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. Will the villagers of Marda be able to ascend their own mountain and receive anything other than tear gas and bullets?

Text: Hannah, Joy, Suraiya

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