ISM: Update From Palestine
1.Meeting of the committee of ministers against the Wall in Bil'in 2.Crackdown on nonviolent resistance 3.Harassment in Hares 4.Threat to Al-Bustan Neighborhood Not Over 5.Children's theatre in Silwan protest tent 6.Call for Unconditional and Immediate Release of all Palestinian Political Prisoners
1. Meeting of the committee of ministers against the Wall in Bil'in
Today, Saturday June 18th, the Bil'in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements will host a meeting of the committee of ministers against the Wall including ministers Walid Abed Rabbo, Ghassan Khatib, Khaled Kawasmi, Hind Khoury, Ahmed Majdalani, Naser El Qodwah, and Mohammed Shtayeh.
The meeting will take place in the Bil'in village council at 1 PM and will include discussion of the summer campaign against the Wall, the creation of a council against the Wall with neighbouring countries, the creation of a Land Fund, and other related issues.
2. Crackdown on non violent resistance Fri 17th June
For pictures of the demonstration see: http//freckle.blogs.com/photos/bilin_tombs/index.html
Around 1:30pm, around 300 demonstrators, including Bil'in residents, Israeli activists and internationals began marching in the direction of the construction site of the Annexation Barrier. The demonstrators were carrying mock tomb stones that read- "R.I.P. Residents of Bil'in, Cause of death: The Wall 2005".
After about five minutes, the demonstrators approached the last houses in the village where the Israeli army had posted a warrant and a map that declared Bil'in and three other surrounding villages a closed military zone from 6am Friday until 6am Saturday. A large force of soldiers, border police and plainclothes officers were waiting for the demonstrators with a white van that houses the new Israeli army weapon, `the Scream', behind barbed wire.
A number of demonstrators proceeded to lie down in the road under their tombstones while others began to remove the barbed wire. When the Israeli army turned on the Scream the demonstrators remained lying down. The military threw tear gas and sound bombs into the crowd and began arresting people. A Palestinian who was lying on the ground was hit and burned by a sound bomb. Soldiers refused to allow him to receive medical attention despite him bleeding from his leg. He was later arrested.
In addition to rubber coated steel bullets, tear gas and sound bombs, Israeli soldiers used a new weapon- a sponge cap attached to a hard plastic shell that is fired from a 40mm gun attachment and spins at high speed.
The army entered the village and Palestinian youth responded by throwing stones. Fifteen demonstrators, including a 15 year old child who was hospitalized after a gas canister was fired directly at him, were injured in the course of the demonstration from both the new and "traditional" weapons. An Israeli protester and a disabled Palestinian in wheel chair were hit by tear gas canisters and required medical treatment. Israeli army regulations prohibit direct firing of tear gas canisters at people, yet this is a common practice at non-violent demonstrations. The Israeli military spokesperson reported that three `security personnel' were wounded by stones.
Seven demonstrators were arrested, including three Palestinians and four Israelis. One Israeli and one Palestinian were later released. The other arrestees were brought to Giv'at Ze'ev police station and were accused of throwing stones (even though they were arrested before any stones were thrown). A video that was brought by Israeli activists to the police station proves that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians who were arrested threw stones. However, the police interrogators only agreed to watch the part of the video showing the Israeli arrestees. They said that discussion regarding the Palestinian arrestees will take place another day. Subsequently, the three Israelis who were still under arrest refused to be released and all five have been taken to prison cells where they will spend the night.
One of the arrestees is Abdallah Abu Rahma, a prominent member of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements. Members of the committee have thus far been detained, arrested, beaten and threatened, and their families have been harassed in the middle of the night by Israeli security forces. The entire village has suffered from collective punishment at the hands of the Israeli army for their persistence in non-violent resistance. In a recent Ha'aretz report the army commander in the area confirmed the use of collective punishment against villages resisting the wall.
3.Harassment in Hares – written by Suraiya 17 of June 2005 On the evening of Friday 17 June 2005, 2 jeeps entered the village of Hares and threw several sound bombs. Soldiers on foot blocked the entrances to the village. An 18-year-old boy was reportedly taken from his home and beaten before being driven away in a military vehicle. When IWPS members Suraiya and Joy repeatedly questioned the soldiers, they were eventually told that he would be returned shortly. The boy was brought back over an hour later, and 3 jeeps kept the entrance to the village blocked during that time. The boy's family members told us that he was to write his final examination tomorrow. No reason for his detention was given, and his family members say he had been studying when soldiers banged on the door and took him away. _____________________________________________________________________ ___
4. Threat to Al-Bustan Neighborhood Not Over:
PA Calls on International Community to Publicly Condemn Home Demolitions. The Palestinian Authority Minister of State for Jerusalem Affairs, Mrs. Hind Khoury, met with European, American and other international representatives today, asking the international community to publicly declare its opposition to the Israeli practice of demolishing Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Minister Khoury stressed that the home demolitions violate (i) Phase 1 of the Road Map which requires Israel to end "actions undermining trust, including . . . confiscation/ demolition of Palestinian homes/property . . ." and (ii) President Bush's May 26, 2005 statement that "Israel should not undertake any activity that . . . prejudices final status negotiations with regard to . . . Jerusalem."
Minister Khoury highlighted the pending threat to the neighborhood of Al-Bustan in Occupied East Jerusalem where 64 homes remain subject to demolition orders. The Mayor of West Jerusalem stated that he would not issue any "administrative" demolition order against Al-Bustan buildings however, the outstanding demolition orders have not been cancelled. (See background on Al-Bustan below.) (For a map including the Al-Bustan neighborhood, see http://www.palestine-pmc.com/maps/Silwan_Map.pdf.) Israel destroyed two Palestinian homes on June 15.
Mrs. Khoury called on the international community to take measures to ensure:
1. An unequivocal Israeli cancellation of all outstanding demolition orders with respect to Al-Bustan specifically, and an end to all home demolitions in Occupied Palestinian Territory in general. 2. A legally binding Israeli recognition of the legality of all Palestinian homes built in Al-Bustan on privately owned land. "A failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights only teaches Israel that it can act with impunity," Mrs. Khoury told the foreign representatives. FACTS ON AL-BUSTAN NEIGHBORHOOD IN OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM Background • November 2004: Israeli Engineer Uri Shitreet writes a letter to Ofir May, head of Jerusalem's Department of Building Permits, stating that the Al-Bustan neighborhood of the Palestinian village of Silwan (located in Occupied East Jerusalem near the Old City's Al Aqsa Mosque) is an important cultural and historical site for Israel because it allegedly stands on the site where King David established his kingdom. The letter ordered the "removal" of Palestinian homes in Al-Bustan. • Cleansing the neighborhood of Al-Bustan is part of Israel's plans to encircle Jerusalem's Old City with Israeli colonies. New Israeli colonies have been or will be established in the Palestinian villages of Tur (Bet Orot colony), Silwan, Ras al Amud (Ma'ale Zeitim colony) and Jebel Mukabir, and the string of colonies extends to Mt. Scopus, Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jarrah. • The Al-Bustan homes were built after the occupation began on land owned by Palestinians. Despite the legal ownership, Israel declared these lands at the beginning of the occupation "open green space" forbidden to Palestinian construction. • March 2005: The first home demolition orders are delivered to Al- Bustan residents. Currently, 64 homes are subject to the demolition orders. A total of 88 homes, housing approximately 1,000 Palestinians, are slated for destruction. • Israeli settlers have taken over more than 50 houses in the village of Silwan and built a seven-story building in the village. No Jewish owned properties have been served with a demolition order. • May 31, 2005: Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz quotes Shitreet as saying with respect to the residents of Silwan: "If we can't destroy their homes, we will find ways to evict them." • June 7, 2005: The Mayor of West Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, issues a press release claiming that the Jerusalem Municipality does not intend to issue demolition orders against the residents of Al-Bustan and that the Mayor has ordered the planning team to check the "possibility" of cooperation with the residents living there. However, the statement does not rescind any of the existing demolition orders. Furthermore, the statement confirms Israeli plans to cleanse the area by stating "The municipality will work with the authorities to locate alternative land." There is speculation that such alternative land will be East Jerusalem "absentee property" - land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank (or elsewhere) who are unable to access their Jerusalem property. • June 9, 2005: The Defense Committee for the Land and Real Estate of Silwan issues a press statement clarifying that "no official meeting with any official or legal party representing the residents of Al-Bustan has been held" with occupation authorities despite the Mayor of West Jerusalem's claim that such meetings had been held.
5. Children's theatre in Silwan protest tent
The Residents Committee of Silwan invites you to a performance of CHILDREN'S THEATRE (songs, etc. including some in English) at the Protest Tent in The Bustan, Silwan on SUNDAY, JUNE 19TH @ 3.00 pm. These children are likely to lose their homes if the plan to municipalities plan to demolish the neighbourhood is executed. COME AND JOIN THEM ON SUNDAY… ____________________________________________________________________
6. CALL FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL AND IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ALL PALESTINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS.
Over 8,500 Palestinian political prisoners are being held in prisons and detention and interrogation centres in Israel. These prisoners come from all the areas of historical Palestine, but also from the Golan Heights and Arab countries.
Since 1967 – when the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were occupied – over 650,000 Palestinians have been in Israeli jails, which amounts to around 20% of the Palestinian population of the Occupied Territories (40% of the male population). Among those prisoners, some have been detained for several decades.
AMONG THOSE PRISONERS,
•approximately 350 are children, from 12 to 18 years old; •over 120 are women, among them several mothers: 2 gave birth in prison; •over 1,000 prisoners who are injured or seriously ill, are not being treated; •400 Palestinians are `old' prisoners, i.e. they were detained before the 1994 Oslo Agreements; •5 prisoners have spent more than 25 years in jail. •Among those 8,500 prisoners, over 1,000 are on "administrative detention", meaning they have been arrested with no charge and will not face trial. They are under arrest just because they are Palestinians and, as such, the occupying forces consider them as a potential threat. The administrative prisoner's detention is extended on a simple request from the Intelligence Services of the Israeli occupying forces: a minimum of 6 months, sometimes as long as 6 years!
WHY ARE THEY DETAINED?
Asking for the liberation of their country, self-determination in their own homeland and the implementation of the Right to Return of the refugees expelled since 1948. The Palestinian people undergo a merciless war waged by the Israeli State.
The arrest and detention of thousands of Palestinians is one of the aspects of the colonial violence undergone by the Palestinian people for over 60 years.
A lot of prisoners opposed the occupation of their country, and they resisted the occupation, whether armed or not.
For many others, the pretext of threatened security is enough for the occupying forces to throw them in jail during raids or invasions, at roadblocks, or simply snatched from their homes.
In addition to the arbitrary nature of the arrests, interrogations and sentences, these prisoners are held under conditions which are not in accordance with international laws.
Testimonies from former detainees, lawyers and human rights organisations show many violations from the State of Israel.
During interrogations, prisoners have been tortured in many ways: psychological torture, threats of death, rape, reprisals against relatives and house destructions, real in this case, or physical torture. The "shabeh" interrogation consists of breaking the back of the prisoners, sleep deprivation, beatings and physical violence. Several prisoners died following the torture and mistreatment inflicted upon them.
As soon as they are arrested, prisoners are victims of brutality from the occupying army: several prisoners have been injured, or even executed, during their arrest.
In the cells, prisoners are humiliated and deprived of their basic needs. Cells are unhealthy, badly lit and badly ventilated. Violence exerted by the jailers and special units is not unusual. Food is scarce and of poor quality. Prisoners are regularly punished by solitary confinement, fines, and no family visits.
Ill and injured prisoners are not treated properly: several detainees – 38 since 1967- have died in prison due to medical negligence. Others, due to the lack of treatment, have lost their sight, hearing, or have had to have their arm or leg amputated.
In military prisons, prisoners live in tents. Fires have resulted in the death of prisoners.
The work of lawyers and humanitarian organisations such as the International Red Cross is subjected to conditions imposed by the occupiers.
Relatives are often prevented from visiting prisoners: the occupying forces deliver no-visit orders to family members, to mothers or fathers, those over 70 years old, to children over 16, etc. Those decisions are arbitrary but the occupying forces justify them by saying they are necessary "for security" purposes.
ISRAEL VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS
Since Israel refuses to consider Palestinian prisoners as Prisoners Of War, it violates the conventions pertaining to POWs. Since Israel refuses to consider the territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem as Occupied Territories, it violates the international laws pertaining to the protection of civilians, especially children. Israel violates the conventions pertaining to child welfare by jailing Palestinian children - Military Order 132.
It violates the conventions against torture and has legalized the torture of Palestinian prisoners.
Through this policy of mass arrests, targeting particularly the Palestinian youth, the Israeli authorities think they can destroy the resistance of the Palestinian people. That policy, just as the attempt to marginalize an important part of the male population, is part of the global strategy of occupation. It aims to tear apart the Palestinian social fabric.
To the eyes of the Palestinian people, the issue of the Palestinian prisoners is a crucial one. They reject the Israeli criteria establishing a division between the prisoners.
All Palestinian political prisoners must be released, beginning with the old prisoners. We must learn from the experience of the Oslo Agreements, when about 400 prisoners remained hostages in the hands of the occupying authorities.
In Europe, co-operation with Israeli torture regime is well under way, in spite of the blatant violations of the most fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. That is why we must demand from our governments:
•The suspension of the treaties binding them to the State of Israel; •The suspension of all military co-operation with Israel; •Sanctions against this state to compel it to respect the international laws, and notably the conventions pertaining to POWs; •To forbid entry in our countries to criminals who refuse to implement the 1984 International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment To join the information and mobilisation campaign, you can get in touch with the signatories of this call to action, write to your own heads of state and governments, contact your local authorities, get into the media arena, approach various human rights organisations and urge them to take part in this information and mobilisation campaign.
WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE BY ISRAEL OF ALL ARAB AND PALESTINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS.
Signatories : Abnah
Filistine, Mouvement de Solidarité International (ISM France
et Luxembourg), Mouvement Justice pour la Palestine,
Palestine en Marche, Union des Démocrates Arabes en France,
Nanterre-Palestine, Comité Orlysien pour le soutien au
peuple palestinien, Comité de Soutien au Peuple Palestinien
(Ottignies - Belgique), Comité Ivry pour la Palestine,
Palestinian Corporation for University Students, t'int/
theater international CH-Zuric, Sa'wijan schweiz, Comité
Action Palestine (Bordeaux), CAPJPO Euro-Palestine -