One Small Village, Many Ariel Sharons
I. ONE SMALL VILLAGE, MANY ARIEL SHARONS
II. OTHER DEMONSTRATIONS TAKING PLACE FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
III. INJURIES MOUNT AS ISRAELI MILITARY RESPONDS VIOLENTLY TO PALESTINIAN PROTESTS
IV. AN OPEN LETTER FROM SHORA ESAMILIAN, written while detained at Ben Gurion Airport
V. IMPORTANT LINKS TO MAIN STREAM MEDIA ARTICLES
I. ONE SMALL VILLAGE, MANY ARIEL SHARONS
BIL'IN — A gaggle of Ariel Sharon’s will start constructing makeshift settlement structures in the West Bank village of Bil'in on Friday at 1 p.m.
No, cloning technology hasn't gotten that far out of hand just yet. Residents of the small village located not far from Ramallah and surrounded by illegal settlements and an annexation barrier that threatens their livelihood are donning Sharon masks and costumes and will begin building faux settlement structures to be moved on the road toward the area of farmland seized by Israel to build it's illegal wall.
Prime Minister Sharon, while gaining praise form international Leaders for the alleged Gaza pullout and his disengagement plan, has vowed to strengthen and expand West Bank settlements on Palestinian land.
While the villagers have taken the creative route to directly protest the wall, they are usually met with a blunt, violent response from soldiers.
During the Black Thursday SOS action, peace activists in Bil'in were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas. The previous Friday, several were kicked and injured by soldiers while standing at the roadblock, repeating slogans and asking for the right to pass freely onto their land.
II. *OTHER DEMONSTRATIONS TAKING PLACE FRIDAY AND SATURDAY *
1. PROTESTING THE "BARRIER" IN JENIN: Israel's illegal barrier near the northern West Bank town of Jenin consists of a patrolled labyrinth of chain fences. At noon Friday, residents of the town will be joined by several organizations and foreign activists as they head toward the barrier which cuts across agricultural land to protest the lack of access to their own territory.
People will gather at the city center of Jenin at 10 a.m. to travel to the nearby village of Zububa, which is close to the green line, the Israeli/Palestinian border that was stipulated in 1967. At noon, the demonstration will begin with a prayer in the agricultural fields near the fence. Following that, participants will march toward the fence to display banners and Palestinian flags. In the past, protesters approaching the fence have met with a violent response from Israeli soldiers.
2. REMOVING ROADBLOCKS ON THE ROAD TO ASIRA:
Peace activists are planning to remove roadblocks from the road directly connecting Nablus to the small farming village of Asira on Friday. The road has been blocked since the start of the Palestinian uprising against the occupation. The Popular Committee of Asira has requested the presence of Israeli peace activists.
The people of Asira are prevented from farming even their land that has not been confiscated by Israel. The road from the village to the land has been blocked with an earth mound by the Israeli army. Five families live outside of this block and are unable to reach their homes by vehicle. Israeli army jeeps regularly patrol the area and prevent people from accessing their land. Students, workers and the sick are all adversely affected. Even ambulances are not allowed a quick passage to the village.
Last Friday, as villagers demonstrated to demand their freedom of movement, the army cracked down on the protest with an assault that included use of live ammunition. The Army also invaded the village and confiscated cameras and film from demonstrators.
A CALL FOR FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT IN HEBRON
The city of Hebron is dissected by a labyrinth of checkpoints that keep people isolated not only from elsewhere in the occupied Palestine, but often from the other end of town.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., Hebron citizens plan to demonstrate against this limit on travel by marching to one of the internal checkpoints with Israeli and International activists. At 11:30 a.m., residents along with a number of Israeli and foreign activists will gather at Bab Al Zaweya town square to begin the march.
Being that Hebron is under a constant siege due to the round-the- clock military presence, a violent response is expected to this peaceful call for the freedom to move from one end of town to the other.
III. INJURIES MOUNT AS ISRAELI MILITARY RESPONDS VIOLENTLY TO PALESTINIAN PROTESTS
Five people thus far have been wounded in Bil'in from rubber bullets, the Israeli response to protests taking place across the West Bank against Israel's illegal annexation wall on Black Thursday. Starting at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank village of Budrus, soldiers have launched house-to-house searches for those who have participated in protests of the wall.
Palestinians in communities from Marda to Qalandia are burning tires to send out an SOS to the world. International and Israeli peace activists have joined this direct action to bring the world's attention to the wall being built on Palestinian land. While the situation today is ongoing, injuries are being suffered by those who seek nonviolent direct action against .
Injured in Bil'in so far today are: -Imad Buranat, the Camera Man for the Bil'in Popular Committee against the wall, shot in the chest with a rubber bullet. -Rann Bar- On, - an Israeli activist, shot in the back with a rubber bullet. -Ribhi Al Khatib, - 15, shot in the back with a rubber bullet. -Rashed ABu Rahme, - 15, shot in the leg with a rubber bullet. -Muhammed Ashal, - shot in the leg with a rubber bullet. -Muhhamed Yasin, - shot in the leg with a rubber bullet.
IV. AN OPEN LETTER FROM SHORA ESAMILIAN, written while detained at Ben Gurion
The letter below was written By Shora Esmalian while she was denied entry and detained At the Ben-Gurion airport by the Israeli authorities, she has since been forced on a plane accompanied by police and is currently on her way to Austria.
* As soon as I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, 15.00 on Tuesday, I was taken away by Israeli police. After five hours of waiting, I was placed under interrogation by a man from the Israeli Defence Department. He spoke to me in farsi, my mother tongue.
His accusation: I am a member of the International Solidarity Movement, ISM, and have been involved in activities against the wall in the West Bank. The man, presenting himself as "Sami", told me that he knew I am – as he said – "one of the high stars in ISM here and in ISM in Sweden". He asserted that he possessed no less than 168 files on me. He showed me some of the documents: press releases from the ISM and newspaper articles with my name featured. Sami also claimed that he was in contact with the Swedish secret service, Säpo. This was his source of information about my political activities in Sweden.
It is true that I am a member of ISM. During spring and summer 2004 I was a coordinator in the villages northwest of Jerusalem, working in solidarity with the local Palestinian NON VIOLENT resistance against the Israeli apartheid wall. We staged peaceful demonstrations week after week trying to stop the bulldozers from uprooting trees, destroying lands and turning the villages into surrounded gettos. Five Palestinian protesters were killed by snipers during this period; over the last months another three were killed. As ISM-activists, we're trying to give the Palestinians some protection and support in their struggle against the wall – a wall that, according the International Court of Justice, is blatantly illegal and has to be torn down immediately.
The court has also made clear that all nations in the international community are obliged to make sure the wall is stopped and the parts already built are demolished. So this is my "crime". I have, together with my friends in the ISM, been working to prevent the building of this wall, deemed illegal by the international community. Because of this "crime", I am denied entry into Israel/Palestine. I share this fate with more than 20 Swedish ISM-activists and hundreds, possibly thousands of others who have tried to come here to show non-violent solidarity with the Palestinians. Last week, more than a hundred European peace activists were turned away at the border.
To keep us out, the Israeli secret services are doing everything they can to trace us, monitor us, track our movements and collect documents "proving" our "criminal" activities. This, however, is not much of a suprise. All the more remarkable is the obvious collaboration of Säpo.
In what way do I and ISM threaten the national security of Sweden?
How could it possibly fall within the purpose of the Swedish secret service to control our activities in Sweden, which are perfectly legal?
For all of the debate about the outrageous monitoring of political activists in Sweden in the 1970s: this is going on right now, and the information is being handed over to the Israeli secret service in order to prevent us from participating in the non violent resistance against the wall.
"Sami" interrogated me for four hours. He threatened to throw me in a cell where I would not be able to reach anyone. He called my mother in Sweden and yelled at here in farsi. He screamed and yelled most of the time and behaved very aggressively, photographed me and my belongings numerous times, told me that he himself had been educating agents in the infamous Iranian secret service SAVAK – "those agents you and your mother are so afraid of" – before the revolution of 1979, or "when Iran was Iran" as he said.
But first of all, he demanded that I would give him information about others in the ISM and about certain Palestinians. This kind of collaboration was his condition for letting me into the country. Of course I refused. I was then told that I would be expelled from the country. Yesterday I was forced on a plane, but I refused to cooperate and the police hade to take me back to the detention center.
Since then, I am under arrest. I refuse to accept that we who resist the wall are being treated this way – by Israeli and Swedish secret services in cooperation – and insist on my right to, in accordance with international law, work for the demolition of the wall. I call on everyone in Sweden to make all their possible efforts to resist the wall and the occupation – not the least by coming here to Palestine.
For a free Palestine
Ben Gurion Airport 28/7 2005
V. IMPORTANT LINKS TO MAIN STREAM MEDIA ARTICLES, Whenever possible, please write letters to the editor or journalist!
PCHR, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Date: 28 July 2005 http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2005/87-2005.htm KNESSET PASSES 2 ANTI-PALESTINIAN DISCRIMINATORY LAWSIN 1 DAY press release
ALJAZEERA.NET July 28, 2005 http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/FF9C3D38-1F36-494C-9357-1CD656076C8 2.htm PALESTINIANS PROTEST GAZA SMOKESCREEN By Laila El-Haddad in Gaza
HAARETZ DAILY Thursday, July 28,2005 http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/605856.html MK DEMANDS PANEL DISCUSS VIOLENCE AGAINST FENCE PROTESTERS By Amos Harel and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondents
THE WASHINGTON POST Thursday, July 28, 2005; Page A25 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/07/28/AR2005072800517.html
DISENGAGEMENT FROM JUSTICE By Laila El-Haddad
I spent eight hours at Gaza's Erez border crossing with Israel last month, waiting for Israeli approval to attend a reception in the West Bank, only to be denied entry based on dubious "security reasons."
I'm a Palestinian mother of a stir-crazy 16-month-old boy, a journalist and a Harvard graduate. I'm not sure exactly what's threatening about me, though my son might disagree, if he could sit still long enough to do so.
Being Palestinian is enough, an Israeli army spokesperson told me.
"As a Palestinian from Gaza, you are considered a security threat first, a journalist second."
And that equation is not set to change anytime soon, not even after disengagement.
Under the plan, Israel will start evacuating the 21 Gaza settlements and four small settlements in the northern West Bank next month. But it will also maintain control of Gaza's air, sea and borders, and will reserve the right to reenter the Strip at any time, effectively making Gaza the world's largest open-air prison, with 1.5 million Palestinian inmates.
The Gaza disengagement will simply restructure Israel's occupation. Instead of controlling our lives from within, Israel will control Gaza from without.
Ariel Sharon's plan, in his own words, is strategic in nature. It is a politico-strategic maneuver intended to stop a negotiated peace in its tracks.
In withdrawing from Gaza, Sharon intends to consolidate his grip on the West Bank by holding on to the four main West Bank settlement blocs, a move that has been publicly endorsed by President Bush in a reversal of the U.S. position since 1967. That position had labeled the settlements "an obstacle to peace."
The withdrawal aims to minimize military casualties in Gaza, ensuring Israel's security according to a shortsighted equation that will render a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, derailing the negotiated peace deal envisioned in the "road map."
Palestinians in the West Bank are reminded of this reality every day. Israel's barrier, whose route was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice last year, continues to snake its way around their villages and towns, annexing their land and livelihoods in the process.
In the West Bank village of Bil'in, where nonviolent demonstrations are held weekly to protest the wall's encroachment, 60 percent of the village farmland is being annexed to make room for settlement expansion.
And earlier this month, the Israeli cabinet approved a new route for its West Bank barrier that will isolate 55,000 Palestinians, more than a quarter of the Palestinian population of occupied East Jerusalem, from the rest of the city. They will be forced to endure the uncertainty of checkpoints on a daily basis to attend schools or work or receive medical care. The barrier will also complete the isolation of East Jerusalem, the Palestinian capital, from 3.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
So, while disengagement will bring some relief for Gazans, it is by no means the end of the Israeli occupation. In June, my son and I spent 10 hours at Rafah Crossing -- Gaza's only route to the outside world -- waiting for Israeli approval to return home from Egypt. We waited, crammed with 80 others like sardines in a tin, in a bus without air conditioning in the scorching June heat, as the air thinned and my son nearly fainted.
During those long hours waiting at borders, with all that entails -- uncertainty, arbitrariness and humiliation -- it becomes painfully clear how little Sharon's much-lauded Gaza disengagement plan will change the lives of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Like the much-maligned Oslo peace process before it, which for 10 years was just that, a process and nothing more, this disengagement cannot yield a lasting peace unless it brings justice for the Palestinian people. So long as the Bush administration continues to turn a blind eye to illegal settlements in the West Bank and Israel maintains its control of Gaza's borders -- including its sea and air space and land crossings -- the disengagement will suffer a fate similar to that of Oslo.
And another generation of young Palestinians, including my son, Yousuf, will grow up prisoners in their own land, with only their imaginations left free to wander.
The writer reports from Gaza for English Aljazeera.net.