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Belfast women protest over expanding settlements

1. Israel's Next Step: Destroying Financial and Economic Structures in Idna August 23, 2005 Mira, Lo and Nils

2. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall August 19, 2005 Sarita

3. Belfast Women Protest expansion of settlements on West Bank August 19, 2005

4. Protest, Grief as Barrier Segregates Palestinian Village from Farms John Elmer, New Standard August 19, 2005

------------------------------------------------------------- Israel's Next Step: Destroying Financial and Economic Structures in Idna August 23, 2005 Mira, Lo and Nils

Idna is a village just outside Hebron, with 21,000 citizens. Since 1948, Israel has stolen more than half of Idna's land for illegal settlements.

The most recent loss has cut Idna off from 3,000 dunams (667 acres)of their own land, because of the illegal annexation wall. The vast majority of this stolen land had once been used for growing olive trees and vegetables. That land also fed the farmer's sheep and goats. Since the wall's completion, the local economy has been ruined. About 20,000 olive trees had been located on the other side of the wall, many that the Israeli army burned while building the wall.

During the first Intifada, many homes in Idna were destroyed by the Israeli military, and they haven't stopped that destruction, with two farms destroyed just three months ago, including the homes situated on the farms.

One of the families, formerly prosperous shepherds with 500 to 600 sheep, now lives in tents provided by The Red Crescent. The same day that this family's farm was demolished, the military also destroyed a local shop and trading post. Villagers say that the military has started to focuson destroying the financial and economic structures of Idna.

Most of the houses that have been demolished during the last years have been outside the city. The army either claims that the people don't have a license and permission to live there, or insists that they are too near the wall. When the farmers try to receive permissions to be on their own land, they have been repeatedly denied.

In most cases, the military comes in the morning without any announcement, and demolishes the houses. Now, there are about 10 houses outside Idna that the army has threatened to demolish for over a year. But, since they can come in at any time, no one really can really prepare for what might happen.

Also, electricity has been destroyed for some of the farmers, and more than 20 wells and springs have been ruined. Idna has a problem with water resources, because an Israeli company delivers the water, and they never get enough. Outside the town is an illegal settlement with 1000 people; those settlers receive more water from the company than Idna does city for its 21 000 people.

Idna villagers have suffered a lot because of the wall. Before it was built, many worked inside Israel. Now unemployment is about 65%, and farmers can't make a living, since they have lost most of their land and their houses are being demolished.

So the situation here is very uncertain, and, like the rest of Palestine, Israel is making life as difficult as possible for the Palestinian people, trying to make them leave their own land.

-------------------------------------- Mirror, Mirror on the Wall August 19, 2005 Sarita

Two days after the disengagement deadline for the four settlements in Jenin District, the villagers of Bil'in and their supporters challenged the ongoing Israeli occupation and illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank. Over 40 Israelis and 30 Internationals accompanied the villagers to the path where the Israeli army is constructing it's illegal Apartheid Wall, carrying mirrors that reflected written slogans such as "No to the Wall", "Gaza Disengagement means more West Bank Settlers", "End the Occupation" onto the soldiers blocking the way.

Four international peace activists were detained Friday in Bil'in. Two were arrested.

While the demonstrators sat in front of the barbed wire chanting and singing, the army suddenly started shooting sounds bombs and tear gas into the crowd. People dispersed quickly, but the soldiers chased down the protestors and began to arrest them. Four Israelis and four internationals were detained; some were severely beaten as demonstrators attempted to de-arrest them.

Two internationals are still being held at the police station and will be brought before the judge tomorrow to face their charges. So far only one international has been officially accused, falsely charged with throwing stones. Supporters have gathered at the police station with video clips to prove that no stones were thrown by internationals. All the Israeli activists and one international have been released with no charges.

-------------------------------------- Belfast Women Protest expansion of settlements on West Bank August 19, 2005

A group of women from the Falls Road, Women's Centre in Belfast, Ireland, today joined the International Women's Peace Service in a demonstration against the expansion of settlements in Palestine's West Bank.

About 60 women, many from an international organization called Women in Black, protested outside the Ariel Settlement, the largest of the illegal settlements in the West Bank. They were pointing out that although Israel is disengaging 8,000 settlers from Gaza, there are another 400,000 in the West Bank, and there are plans to expand these settlements further.

The women protested in silence and held up signs declaring "This is stolen land" and "End the Occupation," however, as soon as the women arrived the area was declared a closed military zone, and they were told to disperse. They were met with hostility by the settlers and were spat upon. At one point a man stopped his car and attacked the demonstration, ripping up a Palestinian Flag.

While the demonstration was under way, a few miles away in Shiloh, close to Ramallah, four Palestinian workmen were shot dead by settlers.

One of the women in the group from Belfast, Brenda, said of the demonstration:

"I feel that the demonstration was very positive. You can see that these people want peace. They just don't want to be caged like animals, but to be treated like human beings. Since I have been in Palestine, I have seen tear gas and stun grenades used, and it is commonplace for children to be killed by plastic bullets. My husband was shot dead by the RUC, and there was never a conviction. I see the same impunity being enjoyed by the Israeli army."

While the world is being told that disengagement is the beginning of the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories, the people here see it as it actually is; it's a diversion meant to distract attention from rapid expansion of settlements in the West Bank. So long as the Israeli government continues to violate international law with the construction of illegal barriers and settlements, any talk of peace will remain nothing more than words."

Ariel Settlement is the largest of settlements in the West Bank. It was established in 1978 during the Camp David Accord. About 62% of land belonging to villagers in Salfit, Marda, Iskaka and Kefl Hares will be confiscated to construct the wall, expand the settlement and build a settler-only road. This area was initially declared a military zone, but was later transferred to civilian use. Benjamin Netanyahu once declared Ariel the capitol of the region.


Protest, Grief as Barrier Segregates Palestinian Village from Farms John Elmer, New Standard August 19, 2005

Please see also: Bil'in: A Struggle in Pictures: Photo essay of demonstration against the separation barrier in Bil'in

A small farming community amid the stony, rolling hills of the West Bank, spotted with olive groves and sage bushes, Bil'in is a quintessential Palestinian village.

In recent months, it has become a symbol of the impact that Israel's massive barrier - a network of concrete walls and electronic fences that will stretch some 670 kilometers when all is said and done - is having on Palestinian life in the West Bank. Likewise, Bil'in has become a symbol of the Palestinians' resistance to the expansion and cementing of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank while all eyes are on Gaza...

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