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Allegations on Biliin protest crumble in court

1. Allegations against Bili'in protest crumble in court – Ha'Aretz
2. The Day After – ISM Nablus
3. Action Call to demand the opening of Gate 47 in Mas'ha- Gush Shalom
4. Israeli army takes seven boys and young men from Marda village-IWPS
5. Israeli army enforced arbitrary collective punishment, - IWPS
6. IDF officer arrests Israeli cameraman – Ha'Aretz
7. Border Policeman Dies, Police Lie About Cause - Ha'aretz
8. 4,050 Palestinians killed during intifada – Xinhua report

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1. Allegations against Bili'in protest crumble in court

By Meron Rapaport

July 4th

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/595283.html

Are the demonstrations in Bili'in against the separation fence really non-violent, as claimed by their Palestinian and Israeli organizers, or are they in fact violent protests involving the throwing of stones, as charged by the Israel Defense Forces?

As expected, ever since the demonstrations there began, both sides have offered conflicting versions on the issue. Last week, however, a military court ruled that at least in the case before it, IDF soldiers had opened fire while Palestinians and Israelis were demonstrating in a non-violent manner and had not thrown stones. Military Judge Captain Daniel Zamir called for an examination of "the actions of the troops at the scene and the use of the force at its disposal."

In recent months, the demonstrations in Bili'in have become the focal point of clashes between the IDF and Palestinians over the separation fence. Last Friday saw one such demonstration, with the IDF reporting that one soldier was moderately hurt and the demonstrators reporting 16 injuries, including four Israelis and one disabled individual, by IDF gunfire. A month or so ago, soldier Michael Schwartzman was struck by a rock during a demonstration in Bili'in, resulting in the loss of sight in one eye.

Last Friday, as usual, the Palestinians charged that the shooting started without any provocation on the part of the demonstrators, while the IDF claimed that the shooting began "only after the demonstrators continued to throw stones at the troops despite efforts to end the incident in non-violent ways."

Some three weeks ago, on June 17, a very similar incident took place in Bili'in. A few hundred Palestinians and Israelis began a march toward the route of the separation fence, which passes through village property and leaves some 2,000 dunams (around half the village's land) outside the fence. The Bili'in residents, who claim to be inspired by Gandhi's methods, declared the march a non-violent demonstration. The marchers were stopped by soldiers and Border Police a few hundred meters from the route of the fence.

The demonstration ended with the security forces deploying riot-dispersal means and in the arrest of a number of protesters, including Abdallah Abu-Rahma, one of the leaders of Bili'in's Popular Committee, and his brother, Ratab, a lecturer at the Al-Quds University and a member of the Seeds of Peace organization.

The indictment against Ratab Abu-Rahma was based primarily on testimony from Wahil Sabit, a border policeman present during the demonstration. Sabit testified that demonstrators started throwing stones at the security forces immediately after the area was declared a closed military zone. Sabit said he saw Abu-Rahma throw stones at the soldiers and then shot him with a sponge bullet.

Sabit was the only policeman who claimed to have seen Abu-Rahma throwing stones.

Abu-Rahma's attorneys, Tamar Peleg and Gabi Lasky, presented the court with video clips that were filmed during the incident and that show Abu-Rahma asking the demonstrators to walk "slowly, slowly." Two of the clips show the demonstrators moving the barbed wire barrier set up by the security forces, but not crossing it, only lying down on the road in quiet protest. Immediately thereafter, the soldiers are seen throwing stun grenades and tear-gas canisters toward the demonstrators, without the latter having thrown a single stone.

Abu-Rahma is seen getting to his feet and then immediately being hit with a sponge bullet. Contrary to border policeman Sabit's testimony, Abu-Rahma is not arrested there and then, but only some time later, after the security forces apprehend his brother and begin beating him.

Ratab Abu-Rahma is seen intervening in an effort to help his sibling, and also takes blows from the soldiers.

Judge Zamir upheld all the arguments of the defense, ruling that the demonstration was quiet, that no stone-throwing was seen on the videotapes, and that Abu-Rahma took a blow to his stomach without any provocation on his part. "There was no reason for the defendant's arrest; there was no reason for the shooting that wounded him or the blows he received from the soldier," concluded the judge, adding that the reality was "strangely different, to put it mildly, from the testimony of the prosecution witnesses."

Zamir ordered Abu-Rahma released on bail and advised the prosecution to reconsider its actions against him. The prosecution, however, did not capitulate, and appealed the judge's decision in a hearing on Thursday. The appeal was rejected.

It emerged during the appeal, however, that a border policeman also filmed the events. This tape has yet to be seen by the prosecution.

Until such time, Abu-Rahma remains free

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2. The day after

ISM Nablus

July 4th

It's several days since the Israeli army's large daylight invasion of Nablus and the surrounding refugee camps. While there is much speculation, there has been no official word on the reason for the operation.

What can be said with certainty is that it was clearly not within the terms or the spirit of the ceasefire. Further, the scale of the invasions shows that it could not have been an abuse committed by a single group of soldiers. To mobilize tens of ground vehicles, a drone, apache helicopters and F-16s requires the authority of somebody relatively senior. Someone with rank and responsibility, someone aware of the consequences of invading a town in the heart of the West Bank of Palestine. Someone who knew they were audaciously and conspicuously breaching the peace in front of television cameras. Someone with a mind like that of Ariel Sharon, who once stood at an Islamic holy site willfully provoking Palestinians. Sadly, the lack of response from outside powers shows that the Israeli tacticians and their troops have also, once again, acted with impunity.

While the world ignores the wrongs committed against them, the people of Nablus are continuing to live with the hardships to which they have become accustomed. This town has suffered terribly. While there has been no respite from the nightly incursions, the arrests and assassinations, the harsh socioeconomic sanctions or the indignity of the checkpoints, the full scale military attacks have abated since the Sharm Al Sheikh talks. Although there were no killings and no home demolitions in this invasion, the effects were real and lingered beyond the time the troops withdrew.

A whole generation, in a place where children are more than half of the population, is being raised with one experience dominating the formative years, that of witnessing death and destruction at the hands of an army invading their streets. According to a survey of the relatively privileged Bir Zeit University students, 18% had personally witnessed the killing of classmate by the Israeli army. In a place like Balata refugee camp, all the children will have seen homes turned to dust by missiles, bulldozers or explosives. Many will have seen charred bodies in the rubble, or classmates gunned down in their homes or schoolrooms, or brothers martyred or parents imprisoned. All will have seen the adults in their family humiliated by teenage soldiers.

After this latest invasion we heard our neighbors' children crying all night as those memories were reawakened. The youth of this society, its future, is scarred.

The adults too are deeply affected. When the army came, everyone stopped work and fretted about a resumption of the big invasions. "All this is not for nothing," we heard people repeatedly comment on the presence of scores of soldiers, "This is a big operation, they will kill lots of people." or, "They will shell us tonight." they speculated. We waited, watching jeeps and hummers for five hours, tense and alert, preparing for the attack. When they left, we thought of the apache still above and wondered if it would fire. We waited and worried, only occasionally actually assisting medics and the sick.

Mostly we all just waited, thoughts and feelings dominated by the lurking army. The next day, anxious and sleep deprived, residents were dazed or fractious. Violence between youths noticeably increased.

The damage is long lasting. If the people are not now given respite from the military harassment or the resources to rebuild their society, the damage will be irreparable.

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3. OPEN THE MAS'HA GATE - A Call to Action

By Gush shalom and Dorthy Naor

PLEASE, MAKE PHONE CALLS AND/OR SEND FAXES:

(This is an example which gets to our attention. Getting one gate for one village opened is worth a few minutes of your time -- and it DOES work sometimes - no less than participation in protests on the ground. sometimes even more!)

- Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt, Gush Shalom

Dorothy Naor (dor_naor@netvision.net.il) writes:

Dear All,

A week or so ago, I related to you that the IOF decided to close the sole gate through which Mas'ha farmers have access to their lands, gate 46.

Farmers never had unlimited access since the fence has been up. The gates opened twice a day for farmers who had permits: at 7:00 AM (or whenever the soldiers decided to come) and at 1:00 PM (or whenever the soldiers decided to come).

About 8 days ago, the IOF arbitrarily declared the gate to be a `seasonal' gate, and informed villagers that the gate will be closed for 6 months. This is the first time that such a thing has happened.

And, if the 6 month closure is indeed implemented, farmers will be prevented from going to harvest their olives, since the harvest period is mainly during October and November (but in some areas begins as early as September and lasts as late as December).

The present closure additionally prevents farmers from tending their vegetable crops, plowing the grounds around their almond trees and olive groves, and shepherds from grazing their flocks. Farmers are told to use the `other' gate, but this is fictive advise. The `other gate' is some 11 kilometers away (nearly 7 miles) and in an area that one needs a permit to get there. Most farmers do not have the necessary permit, nor would be allowed to have one. And the distance makes it almost impossible, particularly for the older men. They not only have to cover the distance to the gate, but then many have to walk back on the other side of the fence to get to their fields.

Mas'ha, prior to being closed off by the fence in September 2003, had 6200 dunams of land; of these only 500 dunams remain within the fence.

In other words, within the fence are the built-up areas (residential and business), while all the agricultural lands are on the other side of the fence.

Please protest this closure and demand that farmers be allowed to go to their lands. Some 4-6 farmers go daily at this time of year, although there are days when 20 (of the 70 or so who own lands) go.

But even if only 1 farmer wanted to go, and if only to sit under his tree, is the IOF to prohibit him from doing this! I surely want no one to prohibit me from going to my garden to sit under my pecan tree or merely to stroll in my yard! Would you? Why should the IOF lord it over farmers who have never done harm to anyone, and who want merely to live and let live?????

Please protest by phone and/or fax (I have no email addresses):

1. DCO Qalqilya: Phone: 050 623 4034; Fax 09 792 2331 (from abroad +972 50 623 4034; fax +972 9 792 2331)

2. Civil Administration Spokesperson: Phone: 050 623 4081; Fax: 02 997 7341 (from abroad +972 50 623 4081; Fax +972 2 997 7341)

3. IDF (i.e., IOF) Spokesperson: Phone 03 6080 220; Fax 03 6080 343 (from abroad +972 3 6080 220; fax +972 3 6080 343)

Thanks to all.

LET'S OPEN THE GATE!

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4. Israeli army takes seven boys and young men from Marda village.

By: Nijmie, IWPS

Date of incident: July 4, 2005

Place: Marda, Salfit district

Witness/es: Marda residents, IWPS

On the afternoon of Monday July 4, the Israeli army entered the village of Marda with approximately eight jeeps. They proceed to round up youths they accused of throwing rocks at soldiers who were guarding the building of work on the Wall. The Israeli army has been a continuous presence in the village of Marda since preparation for the fence around Ariel settlement, situated above the village of Marda, began in early June. Eight youths were gathered and detained at the Western entrance of the village for approximately one hour.

One of the youths was injured, reported Palestinian residents, and another one is ill with kidney problems. IWPS members and Palestinian Red Crescent workers asked to know where the youths were being taken and also attempted to alert the soldiers to the chronic illness of one of the boys. We were given no assurance, however, that the boy's medical needs would be attended to. The boys and young men are of the following ages:13, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, and one is of unknown age. The boys were first taken to Ariel police station and then to Qedumim, where they are as of this writing.

Date report written on: Tuesday July 5, 2005

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5. Israeli army enforced collective punishment, prevents villagers from entering or leaving.

By: Nijmie IWPS

Date of incident: July 1, 2005

Place: Hares

Witness/es: Villagers

On the evening of Friday July 1, the Israeli army entered the village of Hares with two jeeps. The jeeps stationed themselves at the entrance to the village, and the soldiers proceeded to prevent any Palestinian resident, whether on foot or by car, from entering or exiting the village for approximately 1.5 hours. No explanation was given to the Palestinian residents for the cause of this collective punishment. The jeeps exited the village at approximately 8:30 p.m.

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6. IDF officer arrests Israeli cameraman By Meron Rapaport July 4th

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/595280.html

An Israel Defense Forces deputy brigade commander confiscated the Government Press Office-issued press card of an Israeli journalist, informing him that he was revoking his card and ordering that he be arrested for terming him "insolent." The director of the Association of Israeli Journalists, Yossi Bar-Moha, defined the incident as severe, and as one that "can only take place in totalitarian states."

The incident occured last Friday during a demonstration in the Palestinian village of Bili'in and involved cameraman Shai Carmeli Pollack, who is filming a documentary for Channel 8 on the protests against the fence. During the course of the demonstration, Pollack exchanged words with IDF officers about the way in which the security forces were dealing with the protesters and their demand t Brigade deputy commander Shai Malka then asked Pollack if he was a journalist.

On receiving an affirmative response, Malka said, "I am revoking your press card." Malka then ordered that Pollack be arrested, and seized his credentials, accusing him also of insulting a public official.

This was Pollack's third arrest during demonstrations against the fence.

"Clearly the IDF doesn't want coverage of what is happening there," said Adi Arbel, program director for Channel 8.

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7. Border Policeman Dies, Police Lie About Cause: Ha'aretz

By Jonathan Lis

July 4th

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/595276.html

A Border Policeman died yesterday after suddenly collapsing while policing the separation fence near Har Adar, outside Jerusalem.

Police initially said that Natan Yasais, 21, of Lod had been hit by a rock thrown by a Palestinian. However, hospital officials said they saw no signs of him having been hit by anything. They said that he arrived with a high fever and apparently died either of an existing illness or of dehydration. They added that he was in critical condition upon arrival and died very shortly afterward.

Police officials said they initially assumed Yasais had been hit by a rock because when he died, he was helping to disperse a violent demonstration against the fence that involved dozens of rock-throwing Palestinians. The demonstrators were eventually dispersed by means of shock grenades, the police reported.

Anarchists Against the Fence, which is involved in many anti-fence demonstrations, insisted that there was no demonstration at all in the Har Adar area yesterday, either by Israelis or by local Palestinians.

They accused the police of deliberately spreading misinformation in order to "delegitimize the nonviolent demonstrations that take place in this area" - a charge that the police termed "a gross lie

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8. 4,050 Palestinians killed during intifada: report

Source: Xinhua

An official report said on Sunday that 4,050 Palestinians were killed and 44,848 others injured by the Israeli army since the beginning of the intifada, or uprising, against Israel's occupation in September 2000.

The report, issued by the State Information Service, said that Israeli military actions persisted even after Palestinian militant groups accepted in March a one-year halt of attacks against Israel.

According to the report, the number of Palestinians killed during the intifada, is 4,050, including 751 children, 236 women, 344 security men, 836 students and teachers and 325 militants.

The report said that 50 people were killed during Jewish settlers' assaults on Palestinian residents in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

It said that among the dead, 1,922 people were from the West Bank and 2,128 from the Gaza Strip, adding they were killed from Sept. 29, 2000 to June 30, 2005.

It also said that 8,200 Palestinians are detained in Israeli jails, 614 of whom were arrested by the Israeli army before the intifada.

Meanwhile, the report said that some 272,000 Palestinians are jobless in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while the rate of the Palestinians living under poverty line reached 76.6 percent in 2003.

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ENDS

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