ISM Update From Palestine
In this Digest:
1) Apartheid Wall Foundations Dismantled in Bilin: The Resistance Continues 2) Israeli Army Invades Bilin, Imposes a Curfew on Saffa 3) Soldiers attack a peaceful procession in Bilin 4) Israeli land seizures undercut hopes for Peace 5) The Palestinian Water Crisis 6) Future Actions
1) Apartheid Wall Foundations Dismantled in Bilin: The Resistance Continues
From: The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, June 24th, 2005
Clashes ensued for several hours in Bili'n on Friday June 24th as Occupation Forces attacked Palestinians confronting the Apartheid Wall with an array of sound-bombs, rubber bullets and tear gas. Later a section of the Wall path foundations - built by Occupation Forces over the last week - was destroyed as Palestinians continued their resistance to the Occupation and the Apartheid Wall.
Several hundred villagers from Bili'n gathered at 1 pm and marched to the east of the village where the Apartheid Wall is currently being constructed. Occupation Forces closed off the road leading to the village's confiscated lands with layers of barbed wire. Protestors dismantled the roadblock and marched towards their lands where around 6 Occupation bulldozers are uprooting the land for the Wall on a daily basis.
As Palestinians moved towards their lands Occupation Forces unleashed a torrent of sound bombs and fired tear gas canisters at the demonstrators.
Clashes ensued for several hours as Occupation Forces beat demonstrators back and peppered the village with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets. Palestinians responded with stones vowing to continue their defiance of the Occupation's Wall which will steal the village's land for the expansion of the settlements.
After the clashes ended Occupation Forces withdrew and bulldozers came to the end of their days work. A section of the Wall path holding the foundations for the concrete slabs of the Wall was then destroyed as Palestinians continued in their resistance. Intricate foundations of the Wall were dismantled and torn apart as Palestinians made it clear that they would implement the International Court of Justice decision to tear down the Wall with their own hands…
For the full story and pictures, see:
2) Israeli Army Invades Bilin, Imposes Curfew on Saffa
On Sunday, June 26th, the villages of Bil'in and Saffa were invaded by the Israeli Army, and curfew imposed on the inhabitants of nearby Saffa. Roadblocks were placed between the two villages, and a further roadblock prevented entry from the direction of Ramallah.
The village of Bil'in has been organizing non-violent demonstrations against the barrier being built on their land for many months now. The entire village has suffered at the hands of the Israeli army for their persistence in non-violent resistance. The army commander in the area, Lieutenant Colonel Tzachi Segev was recently quoted as saying: "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 as a lever of pressure if the village does not behave properly." (Meron Rappaport - Gandhi Redux - http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/586551.html).
All forms of collective punishment are illegal under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
3) Soldiers attack a peaceful procession in Bilin Saed Bannoura, IMEMC & Agencies - Friday, 24 June 2005, 19:09
For pictures of this incident, see:
http://news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/050624/ids_photos_wl/r3380181028.jpg http://news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/050624/ids_photos_wl/r948170311.jpg http://news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/050624/ids_photos_wl/r3032034633.jpg http://news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/050624/ids_photos_wl/r1334938929.jpg http://news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/050624/photos_wl_me_afp/050624163101_2p3ck37p_photo0
[On] Friday afternoon, [June 24th] Israeli soldiers attacked a peaceful procession against the Separation Wall in the village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah.
A local source in the Ramallah reported that soldiers attacked dozens of residents, and peace activists, and fired at them using shotgun which fires small rounded metal bullets capable of penetrating the body, and fifteen residents and activists were injured, and 13 protesters were arrested, including one Israeli peace activist and two internationals.
The procession was conducted on Friday following the prayers which were conducted at the mosque in the village; the protestors marched towards a construction site of the Wall.
The protestors carried huge posters painted with images of horses, sheep, trees and residents.
"Your wall kills every beautiful thing in our village" was also written on the posters.
A source at the Popular Committee Against the Wall reported that soldiers used in previous protests a weapon which makes special sound waves making the protestors lose consciousness for a short period…
For the full story and pictures, see:
7 wounded in Bil'in anti-fence rally By HAVIV RETTIG AND MARGOT DUDKEVITCH
Border Police use teargas to disperse a group of Palestinian, Israeli and foreign demonstrators during a protest against the construction of the security fence near the village of Bill'in
A border policeman and at least six demonstrators were lightly wounded Friday during a protest of some 200 Palestinians, Israelis and international activists against the West Bank security fence in the village of Bil'in, east of Modi'in.
According to the police, 12 Israeli demonstrators and three foreigners were arrested during the demonstration and taken to the Givat Ze'ev station for investigation. The arrests came after the demonstration had turned violent and security forces declared the area a closed military zone.
Bil'in has been the site of nearly weekly demonstrations by groups opposed to the construction of the fence.
Yonatan Pollak, a member of Anarchists Against the Wall, told The Jerusalem Post that security forces fired rubber bullets at the demonstrators, wounding several Palestinians, one Israeli and one foreign activist.
Pollak said the Israeli demonstrator "was wounded in his back from the barbed wire and from being dragged during his arrest."
The IDF described the protest as a violent demonstration, during which security forces were pelted with stones, resulting in the wounding of one policeman. Security forces were forced to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets, according to the army.
Pollak told the Post that the demonstration was intended to protest "wall construction on the village's land and the blueprints of a new settlement to be constructed there."
Once the demonstration began, Pollak said, the army erected a barbed- wire fence and declared the area a closed military zone. "Whenever there's a demonstration involving Israelis and Palestinians the army automatically declares a closed military zone, using its authority to block peaceful demonstrations."
Once the demonstration began, Pollak said, the army erected a barbed- wire fence and declared the area a closed military zone. "Whenever there's a demonstration involving Israelis and Palestinians the army automatically declares a closed military zone, using its authority to block peaceful demonstrations, which is obviously not what it was meant for."
Demonstrators also said that the army gave the protestors 10 minutes to disperse. Pollak said that when the allotted time passed, soldiers charged at the demonstrators, at which point the demonstration turned violent.
According to Pollak, members of Hamas who are residents of Bil'in also participated in the demonstration. "Every demonstration includes members of Hamas from the village. High personages in the organization have been there previously, but did not participate in today's protest," he said.
Earlier this month, head of Hamas in the West Bank, Hassan Youssef, participated in the joint Israeli-Palestinian demonstration against the construction of the fence in Bil'in. Youssef told the Post at the time that he felt comfortable joining a protest that included Israeli demonstrators, and that he would be willing to join hands "with anyone who speaks out against the occupation," including Israelis.
4) Israeli land seizures undercut hopes for Peace
By Abu Murad Manasra
Originally published June 23, 2005
WADI FOQUIN, West Bank - Many foreigners I meet believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on the path to being resolved. They are familiar with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' recent upbeat visit to the White House and Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
But the realities that Palestinians experience in West Bank villages like mine contradict hopes for peace and instead signal a deepening of Israel's occupation.
The Israeli army recently delivered a seizure order to Wadi Foquin and three neighboring villages about 12 miles southwest of Bethlehem for 189 acres of our land. The army justifies this seizure as necessary to prevent terrorist attacks and to build a security wall. The order has left our small village in crisis, its very existence threatened.
Wadi Foquin lost 80 percent of its original land when Israel was established in 1948. Later, the creation of the Israeli settlement of Betar Illit consumed about 175 acres of village land. The army now wants to seize our remaining property.
Wadi Foquin's fertile agricultural lands are the main source of life for 1,200 residents. Inherited from our forefathers and planted with olive trees and grapes, the area marked for seizure has been cultivated by its Palestinian owners from time immemorial.
The land is pivotal to present life, too. It is the source of our children's food. It is work and joy derived from nature. It represents our sense of community and self and the basis of our future hopes.
The land at issue is clearly within the occupied West Bank, outside Israel's borders. The main justification given in the army's seizure order is that it is "land with no registration," an arbitrary classification. Israel wants to claim it as "state land," implicitly Israeli land, even though our ancestors have cultivated it for generations.
Historic Palestine was ruled by foreign powers for hundreds of years. The Turks, British and Jordanians all left behind their own legislation, which is used by Israel's occupation. The Israeli government cherry-picks from this legal legacy, drawing upon whatever laws of the previous rulers will ensure victory in court. Palestinians, therefore, face incredible odds demonstrating legal ownership of their land.
The slogan the Zionist movement used to justify the settlement of the Jewish community in Palestine was "a land without people for a people without land." But people were already here on the land. Perhaps the new Zionist slogan will be "state land for state people" because the land of Palestine is being incrementally identified as Israeli state land even though it is being tended by its rightful owners.
The injustice of this situation wounds Palestinians deeply. We are not recognized as residents of any state, including our homeland. With no Palestinian state, we are only a people who define ourselves as Palestinian and who have an ancient and unbreakable emotional bond with the land.
If Israelis feel the need to build walls and fences to ensure their security, surely these should be erected on Israeli land rather than harming Palestinian security and rights. Most Palestinians would not object to a wall on the Israeli side of the Green Line, the pre-1967 war border.
I have many Israeli Jewish friends. They love their country and want it to be loved by others. So they are raising their voices to criticize the erection of the barrier, insisting it should be built on Israel's land. These people are working side by side with Palestinians to lay the foundations for coexistence. They are wise enough to realize that they cannot achieve a peaceful life by taking security, dignity and peace away from others.
Most of us work hard to teach our children to love their neighbors. But they quite naturally expect not to be hated by their neighbors in return. We need the support of all who believe in peace to make it a living reality here.
I believe an equal level of peace and well-being can be achieved for both nations. It will not be achieved for either if both continue to be led by a handful of shortsighted radicals.
Israel is imprisoning Palestinians in countless unconnected ghettos, turning the Palestinian territories into a series of open-air prisons. We must stop the wall. It is a monster, rapidly swallowing Palestine's body and endangering its very existence. The world must act immediately before this damaged body becomes a lifeless corpse. Abu Murad Manasra is a tour guide in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and a peace activist from the West Bank village of Wadi Foquin.
Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun
5) The Palestinian Water Crisis
An Open Letter from: Fareed T
Every summer, the Palestinians suffer from the water crisis, when the Israeli authorities slow down the running volume of water which feed the Palestinian communities. This summer, Israeli began that procedure very early. For more than 2 weeks, the village of Qira (my village) and other villages suffer from disconnected water, now the crisis is very serious, the villagers are thirsty and very angry. There is no water in the pipes and the rain water reserve in the wells is finished.
The village council of Qira, wrote many letters to the DCO [District Coordinating Officer], the Israeli water company, the ministry of local government, and the Palestinian authority of water who told us the crisis caused by Israelis, who are not responding to our appeals.
On behalf of the villagers of Qira, I appeal to you to provide help for the residents of the village.
The water goes to settlers to irrigate their gardens and to fill their swimming pools while we are prevented to use water for drinking.
[Note: the Israeli settler consumes seven times as much water as a Palestinian. Not because Palestinians don't need or want the water, but because they don't have it. - Dorothy.]
Dorothy goes on to write:
Fareed calls attention to the water crisis in Qira - while settlers use the water for swimming and gardens, the residents of Qira are deprived of water. Among the several consequences for the villagers is one that Fareed omits to mention: a high proportion of children in Qira suffer from kidney problems. One possible reason for this, it has been suggested, is insufficient water. Water problems are endemic for Palestinians throughout the West Bank. For more information about the problems and their sources, see:
B'tselem [the Hebrew for 'In the Image of'; a human rights org.] http://www.btselem.org/English/Water/Index.asp [click on each of the topics on the right side of the screen for an overview of the problem]
PHG [Palestinian Hydrology Group] after the link, click on background, and read as many of the items as you can. http://www.phg.org/campaign/campaign/campaign.html
In addition to these, please write to your local authorities that might be able to pressure Israel to change the situation and to inform them, where ever in the world you live.
6) Future Actions
a) The village of Khirbet Imnazil, located South of Hebron, will protest against the building of the Annexation Wall on Monday, June 26th, at 12:00 noon.
The villagers intend to make a non-violent protest against the Annexation Wall that the Israeli Government wants to build on their land, depriving them of their livelihoods and annexing their land to Israel.
Work has just started on leveling the land ready for the construction of the Annexation Wall. If the wall is built, approximately 5,000 dunams of land will be stolen from the village. Without this land, the survival of the village is questionable.
b) The village of Ramadin to demonstrate against Annexation Barrier on Tuesday 28th June 2005
On Tuesday, June 28th, at 10:00AM, the village of Ramadin continues its non-violent campaign against the Annexation Wall that is being built on its land.
The wall will deprive the villagers of their livelihoods and annex their land to Israel. Ramadin is in the ultra-impoverished district of South Hebron.
The Annexation Barrier, if completed in this area, will cut the village off from its olive groves, throwing the community into further poverty. The village has demonstrated several times recently and on one occasion managed to stop the work of the bulldozers.
The response of the army was very violent.